Quoted from tscottn:
well I guess everyone has a opinion.. but sorry yours is wrong.. Rush's first album was just ok, but after Rutsey was replaced with Peart ( for creative reasons as Rutsey just did not have the chops nor was he at the level of musicianship that Ged and Alex was at that time) the band really shined.. 2112 is considered one of their greatest albums, if not just for the sheer scale of the work, but the broad echoism of Ayn Rand that Peart brought to the lyrics.. Without Peart there would be no Moving Pictures,( Tom Sawyer, YYZ, etc) No Hemispheres, ( Book I II, Cygnus X-1, the Trees, La Villa ) and the list goes on and on and on. If you consider their first album to be their best work then im sorry my friend you are hugely mistaken in this area.
But Like I said, everyone is entitled to a opinion.
Rutsey quit, he was not directly replaced by Peart for quite a while. He quit because he had diabetes, and was realizing he would be unable to manage it on the road. They added Peart months later - it was nothing to do directly with his skill level, although once Neil joined, I'm sure they realized what they'd been missing.
The Ayn Rand-ish stuff is an unfortunate chapter in Peart's grand book of lyrics. He always maintained it was not an intentional rip-off or homage of anything specific of hers (though clearly they were reading her stuff at the time - hello, "Anthem"!), but in later years he is on record as being regretful that he and the band were ever associated with her nonsense.