Tag Archive: Geddy Lee


Rush – 2112


 

Rush - 2112

 

Genre:  Hard Rock/Progressive Rock

Year of Release: 1976

Record Label: Anthem

Recommended for fans of: Led Zeppelin, Cream, 70s Progressive Rock

Track Listing:

  1. “2112″ – 20:33
    • I: “Overture” – 4:34
    • II: “The Temples of Syrinx” – 2:11
    • III: “Discovery” – 3:29
    • IV: “Presentation” – 2:00
    • V: “Oracle: The Dream” – 2:21 
    • VI: “Soliloquy” – 2:14
    • VII: “Grand Finale” – 3:44
  2. “A Passage to Bangkok” – 3:34
  3. “The Twilight Zone” – 3:17
  4. “Lessons” – 3:51
  5. “Tears” – 3:33
  6. “Something for Nothing” – 3:58

                                

Review:

Well, it’s about time!

I’ve put off reviewing this absolute gem of an album for a while, and it’s been bugging me, so let’s get to it!

This review may be a little larger than normal, I’m also placing emphasise on the title track and will only be quickly looking at the songs on Side B.

As I said when reviewing the last 2 Rush albums, the band were really experimenting with unusual song structures and finding their feet, which definitely proved useful!

‘2112’ is a concept song, a 20 minute track that takes up all of Side A on the album. The premise is simple; the story contained within the song is this:

‘A Man living in the future under a totalitarian oppressive government finds a guitar in a world where all forms of culture have been banned, in his excitement he goes and shows his leaders who are annoyed with him and then banish him. The Man realises he cannot carry on living in a world devoid of music, so secludes himself in a cave and dies, as he does so the oppressive government he has been living under is attacked by invaders. The ending is left deliberately ambiguous ’

That’s it in a nutshell, what ‘2112’ does though is tell this story through a 20 minute musical landscape.

The song itself can be broken down into sections as seen above, so I’ll go through them one at a time. The song opens up with the very powerful instrumental ‘Overture’ which most certainly sets the scene, after some swirling sound effects, hard rocking guitars enter the fray soon joined by the drums and bass; in typical Overture fashion. There’s plenty going off and I never get bored of listening to this dramatic entrance, amazing solo by Alex to boot!

‘The Temples of Syrinx’ continues the story straight after the Overture concludes with the first lyrics on the album ‘and the meek shall inherit the earth’. This part of the song serves as an introduction to oppressive government being the priests, Geddy’s voice is fantastic in portraying their controlling nature ‘We’ve taken care of everything, the words you hear, the song’s you sing, never need to wonder how or why’ – excellent stuff!

The Man facing the Solar Federation

The next piece ‘Discovery’ is very clever, we are introduced to the Man, who has found a guitar in a cave, the song starts off with rushing [no pun intended!] water, and you can hear the Man manipulating the guitar as he is discovering it, Alex does a great job by building up the complexity of the music being played. Geddy sings the Man’s emotions upon this discovery:

What can this strange device be?
When I touch it, it gives forth a sound
It’s got wires that vibrate and give music
What can this thing be that I found?
See how it sings like a sad heart
And joyously screams out it’s pain
Sounds that build high like a mountain
Or notes that fall gently like rain’

 

The amount of joy this discovery has brought to the man is immense, he’s completely overwhelmed and in his moment of passion without thinking, he runs off to show his leaders what he has found, with not quite the results he was perhaps hoping for. ‘Presentation’ has Geddy sing on behalf of the priests and the Man, as he tries to convince them:

‘Listen to my music, hear what it can do, it’s as strong as life, I know that it will reach you!’ he pleads!

They are not convinced.

‘Don’t annoy us further, forget about your silly toy, it doesn’t fit the plan!’ is their rather closed minded response.

The music battle that happens here is one of sheer enormity, every note is perfectly placed, and you really start to feel sympathy for the Man in his endeavour.

In desperation, the Man then runs away from the city and holes himself in a cave (‘Oracle: The Dream’) with his beloved Guitar, and inevitably dies of starvation (‘Soliloquy’), this sounds sad but the Man cannot continue to live in a world where music has been banned!

‘2112’ ends with the oppressive government being attacked by another entity, left entirely up to the listener’s interpretation, in a rather energetic finale during the last segment of the song which is called ‘Grand Finale’:

‘To all planets of the Solar Federation, we have assumed control!’ is the rather ominous sounding announcement as the track finishes.

Utter genius!

The Band in a promotional shot for '2112'. Nice Garments Guys!

The rest of the album is great, starting with the oriental sounding ‘Passage To Bangkok’ which conjures up images of traveling across Asia, the Alex Lifeson led riffage is quite awesome.

 ‘The Twilight Zone’ is a straight forward rocker, nothing too remarkable. The next 2 songs are quite special though, firstly ‘Lessons’ is a wonderful cheery acoustic number that always makes me smile, by way of a 12-string guitar no less!

‘Tears’ is up next and it’s a wonderful slice of melancholy which Geddy sings beautifully:

‘All of the seasons and all of the days
All of the reasons why I’ve felt this way
So long…
So long
Then lost in that feeling I looked in your eyes
I noticed emotion and that you had cried
For me
I can see’

 

One of the highlights of Side B!

Concluding the album is ‘Something for Nothing’ which after listening to ‘2112’ is rather underwhelming, as a finisher for the second side it does work though, it’s a nice little rocker with some nice guitar work from both Alex and Geddy.

I’m giving this album top marks, because as I explained in my first Rush review, it’s a very special album for me, and one of the reasons I’m into Music big time. I remember being blown away by the album the first time I listened to it, and it still has the same effect today.

Truly a musical classic, which will remain timeless.

Forever.

Lineup:

  • Geddy Lee – lead vocals and bass
  • Alex Lifeson – guitars and vocals
  • Neil Peart – drums

5/5

D.P

Rush – Caress of Steel


Genre:  Hard Rock/Progressive Rock

Year of Release: 1975

Record Label: Mercury

Recommended for fans of: Led Zeppelin, Cream, 70s Progressive Rock

Track Listing:       

  1. “Bastille Day” – 4:37
  2. “I Think I’m Going Bald” – 3:37
  3. “Lakeside Park” – 4:08
  4. “The Necromancer” – 12:30
  5. “The Fountain of Lamneth” – 20:01

Review:

Interesting fact: The album cover as seen above for Rush’s third studio album should have had an embossed silver ‘steel’ look. The reason why it looks like ‘copper’ is due to a printing  error! I’d have been pretty annoyed at this and is something that could be fixed today pretty easy, back in 1975 though this probably would have been a nightmare to resolve!

So the album is hardly getting off to a great start already is it?

Released the same year as their 2nd album ‘Fly by Night’  their 3rd attempt was supposed to be the breakthrough album, it’s easy to look back today and simply state ‘well it wasn’t…’ but back then the boys from Canada were coming under increasing pressure from the record label to deliver the goods and produce a hit album.

On examining the track list, the first thing that is noticeable is that there are only 5 tracks on the album, one of which is 12 minutes, the other a more epic 20! One wonders whether it was a good idea to have songs of such length on a breakthrough album. I would argue it shouldn’t matter, but many people have the attention span of goldfish so need something in smaller concise chunks!

Anyway, it was the 1970s and Prog-rock was in fashion, so why not do an album like this anyway and promptly ignore your record labels advice and the critics flaming tongue!

Which they did!

‘Bastille Day’ opens the album, and the subject matter is the French Civil war and heads on guillotines. This song is considered prime classic Rush, and typical of their 1970s output, strong melodic hard  rock! After his debut antics, Peart seems to have settled into his role of drummer and prime lyricist role, the song screams of his trademark writing style, with strong support from Lifeson and Lee on their instruments of choice. It’s a great fun opening song!

 

I wish I could say the same for the 2nd track, Rush fans tend to disagree on lots of different issues surrounding the band,  but one thing that unites them is that ‘I Think I’m Growing Bald’ is the WORST song the band have ever written. I tend to agree, terrible lyrics and subject matter, the song doesn’t go anywhere and has nothing really remarkable to say. The band sound like they enjoyed it though and I guess that’s what matters the most!

‘Lakeside Park’ is the token soft number on the album, which after the terrible second song has a lot to live up to. Luckily it’s a strong piece that’s reflective of the Neil Peart spending his youth at the aforementioned park located in St Catharine’s  on Lake Ontario.  Geddy Lee has gone on record saying it’s one of his least favourite songs, and in general he has a hard time listening to anything ‘pre-2112’, it does hold a certain charm to it though.

After 3 small concise pieces we encounter the first long progressive attempt on the album in the form of ‘The Necromancer’ – it’s typical 70’s  progressive rock with its fantasy lark, the song even opens up with a narration given about ‘3 intrepid travellers’ setting out on a fantastical adventure. I have a soft spot for this song if I’m being honest and it’s definitely the strongest composition on the album. It can be broken into 3 sections of which are clearly listed on the back of the album, the first section is called ‘Into the Darkness’ which sets the scene and is deliciously dark as its title suggests, the second section is called ‘Under the Shadow’ which opens up with some heavy reverberated drums and polished guitar work. The suite closes with ‘Return of The Prince’ which is far more upbeat compared to the earlier sections and can’t but help make you smile!

The last track on the album is the albums magnum opus, although not one I’m overly fond of to be fair. ‘The Fountain of Lanmeth’ is an epic song, and it must have taken some long hours of writing and practicing to get the piece down. Musically its fine, however I find it hard to indentify anything I really, really enjoy about it! It contains a short drum solo by Peart, and I whilst I like drum solos in a live setting, on an album? No thanks! The song does showcase some of Alex Lifesons fine guitar work though, even though admittedly everything else he does after this album is far superior.

For me this album is stronger than ‘Fly by Night’ but not by much, so I’ve awarded it the same score as seen below.

I think it’d be fair to sum up albums 2 & 3 as laying the ground work for the following record, the album that catapulted Rush to dizzy heights and heavy weights in the Progressive Rock world, for their next album was ahead of its time and conveniently as such entitled ‘2112’ .

Lineup:

  • Geddy Lee – lead vocals and bass
  • Alex Lifeson – guitars and vocals
  • Neil Peart – drums

2.5/5

D.P

Rush – Fly by Night


Genre:  Hard Rock/Progressive Rock

Year of Release: 1975

Record Label: Mercury

Recommended for fans of: Led Zeppelin, Cream, 70s Progressive Rock

Track Listing:

  1. “Anthem” – 4:36
  2. “Best I Can” – 3:24
  3. “Beneath, Between & Behind” – 2:59
  4. “By-Tor and the Snow Dog” – 8:36
  5. “Fly By Night” – 3:21
  6. “Making Memories”  – 2:58
  7. “Rivendell” – 4:57
  8. “In the End” – 6:48

Review:

A year on from their Led Zeppelin inspired debut effort; Rush’s 2nd album hit the shelves back in good old 1975!

This album curiously titled ‘Fly by Night’ would be more important than anyone realised back in the day, for this album would see the addition of Neil Peart to the band replacing John Rutsey on the skins.

 Here he is, sporting a very impressive drum kit:

 

…and so the band line-up would remain unchanged to this very day, the days of Rush as a major rocking power were about to begin, however not quite yet, this album would turn out to be a bit of a mixed bag, with some rather underwhelming material taking up much of the album.

Neil Peart turned out to be a dab hand at writing lyrics as well as a very proficient drummer, so the lyrical duties defaulted to him, marking a dramatic change of themes then seen on the debut album. Peart a wide reader of much literature would incorporate a lot of serious themes into his writing for the next couple of albums.

This is evident as soon as the first track kicks in ‘Anthem’, with the lyrics heavily inspired by a novella of the same name written by a Russian Author called Ayn Rand, the story takes place at some unspecified future date when mankind has entered another dark age due to the all the failings of society in general. I’ve read the novella myself and its extremely interesting, highly recommended reading!

Anthem is a great opening track, there no doubt about that, you can tell the drumming style is completely different, far more technical. There’s some excellent guitar work from Alex  Lifeson who is now starting to find his own unique playing style. Geddy Lee also having no trouble singing the lyrics penned by Peart!

Next up we have ‘Best I Can’ a by the numbers kind of song which sounds like something which could have been on the debut, it’s nothing too special to be honest but does feature a rather quirky guitar solo by Alex Lifeson.

‘Beneath, Between & Behind’ is by no means a terrible song, but I can’t honestly say I enjoy it too much either having nothing really exciting going for it. The first true progressive effort by the band is in the form of the next track ‘By-Tor and the Snow Dog’ and the longest track on the album being 8 and ½ minutes long. It contains some decent instrumental sections most notably what the band have described as the ‘battle’ segment between By-Tor and the Snow dog, this can best be described as a guitar solo vs. bass guitar movement section. This typical of 1970s progressive music and is quite enjoyable to listen to, it’s by no means their best work though, and the quiet bit during the middle is a complete yawn fest.

The next track ‘Fly by Night’ was actually released as a single along with ‘Best I Can’ and to be fair is a fairly decent stab at radio friendly rock. One of the stronger efforts on this sophomore release, and showcases Lee’s vocals and Lifesons neat guitar work.

‘Making Memories’ is an acoustic lead affair and has a certain charm to it, but is very repetitive despite its short length of 3 ½ minutes, and the next track ‘Rivendell’ doesn’t fair much better with its obvious connections to Tolkien’s Lord of The Rings, thus gentle guitars and Plant like vocals abound, but not really achieving much.

The closing track ‘In the End’ falls a little flat on the ears, it’s important for an album to have excellent opening and closing pieces, but this just doesn’t work for me at all and being over 6 minutes in length you’d think something would happen that would leave a lasting impression.

It’s probably fairly obvious from the above that I’m not a huge fan of this album, yes it’s an important album as it marks the addition of Neil Peart and the move to progressive song writing, however it shows a band still getting to grips with these changes so isn’t as cohesive as some of their excellent later releases.

I’ve listened to it quite a lot this last month in order to review it fairly and to be honest I shall not be revisiting it anytime soon. It contains some very interesting music and as an evolution piece fits into their discography well, but you’d be best to try their later efforts for something far more fulfilling.

Lineup:

  • Geddy Lee – lead vocals and bass
  • Alex Lifeson – guitars and vocals
  • Neil Peart – drums and vocals

2/5

D.P

Rush – Rush


 

 

Genre: Hard Rock/Heavy Metal

Year of Release: 1974

Record Label: Moon Records

Recommended for fans of: Led Zeppelin, Cream

Track Listing:

  1. “Finding My Way” – 5:05
  2. “Need Some Love” – 2:18
  3. “Take a Friend” – 4:24
  4. “Here Again” – 7:37
  5. “What You’re Doing” – 4:22
  6. “In the Mood” – 3:33
  7. “Before And After” – 5:34
  8. “Working Man” – 7:11

Review:

It was only a matter of time before I got round to writing my first Rush album review, and what better way to start this endeavour off then by reviewing the debut!

This is a special review for me to write, and if you permit me I shall explain why; Rush are the entire reason I am addicted to music to this very day, they were the catalyst for my obsession and along with Pink Floyd the entire reason I ever picked up a guitar in the first place!

I will always remember the day when I was 15 years old mooching around the house bored out of my mind, it was this boredom that got me scouring my Dads record collection, to this day I do not understand why I did this, only that I did. Before the age of 15 I had no interest in music at all, something that seems hard to believe now!

As I was looking through the various albums, not really knowing what I was after, something caught my eye, it was this:

 

I looked at the album art and read the name of the artist ‘Rush’ and the name of the album ‘2112’ – My eyes lit up, I didn’t know why but I had to play this record. So off I went up to my room, donned my headphones and there started my love affair with not only Rush but MUSIC.

‘2112’ is a magical album and I will get round to reviewing it, but I thought it’d be apt to start from the beginning of their discography and look at the self titled debut first.

So ‘Rush’ marks the only album out of their 42 year career without Neil Peart on the drums, here the percussive duties are left to original stickman John Rutsey who left the band after this album not wanting a life on the road touring. I have always admired Mr Rutsey for this decision and was very sad to hear of his passing away in 2008, his drumming is very different to Neil Pearts but is still very strong.

The debut opens up with ‘Finding My Way’ with a roaring guitar riff from Alex Lifeson and it’s clear to tell the Led Zep influences straight away, Lifeson’s licks reminiscent of Jimmy Page and Geddy Lee’s Falsetto voice screams Robert Plant! It is however a great album opener and is very tight, something that would serve them well considering the progressive direction they would take over the next couple of albums.

‘Need Some Love’ keeps things flowing quite nicely, the first signs of Alex Lifesons soloing ability is showcased here with a slightly blueish edge to it. The song is only short but punchy, a straight up rocker with some excellent singing from Geddy Lee about wanting to take some sweet young thang out for a good time!

‘Take a Friend’ is next, and what’s apparent about this debut is that quality of the recording is quite superb for the 1970’s, the album having been recorded at the Toronto sound studios in Canada. This track showcases a groovy rhythm section and some brilliant guitar playing from Alex, keeping a rather upbeat mood to the proceedings, the song is about friendship and considering that Alex and Geddy were about to spend the next 42 years writing platinum selling albums and touring round the world in the best stadiums it’s just as well they started off like this!

‘Here Again’ is a slow paced downbeat number that is essentially blues-rock, the theme seems to be about the music writing process and how it feeds/emotes the soul. Powerful stuff from a young band indeed! The guitar solo itself is introverted yet powerful and closes the song quite fetchingly. It’s also the longest song on the album clocking in on 7 and a half minutes, but has perfect pacing and interest factor.

‘What You’re Doing’ is my personal favourite on the album, it’s a dead cheeky little number that’s full of fun and exciting musical motives, the main riff for one just makes me smile every time I hear it!  I especially love the staccato guitar that accompanies Geddys singing during the verses.

‘In The Mood’ is a song about… well y’know. It conjures up images of the 70’s man during a night out, finds his crush is out at the same time and the excitement that he is feeling. As a result the lyrics are slightly clichéd. It’s probably one of the weakest tracks on the album, but considering this is a debut this is forgivable.

‘Before and After’ is the only track on the debut featuring some acoustic guitar [at least to my ears] and starts off at a slow pace with some nice arpeggios before building up with the addition of an electric guitar. The track then completely changes pace half way through and goes all funky with some nice jangly guitar parts and a solo complimenting the rhythm section, before a nice and concise outro.

The last track entitled ‘Working Man’ is a sure fire sign of the direction Rush would probably take with their next album that of Progressive Rock. Although short by Prog standards at 7 minutes, the song encapsulates many things within this length. The subject is about Working Class life ‘Well I get up at 7 yeah, and I go to work at 9, they call be the working man, I guess that’s what I am…’ and I can imagine that for many young bands at the time [and still the case now] it was a case of having to go to ridiculous day jobs in order to fund their main passion being music. The riffs in this song are straight to the point which misleads slightly when the mid-section comes around, we have a great jamming section which showcases that Alex Lifeson is no sucker when it comes playing ability. Indeed all the band members skills are highlighted on this track, there is so much going off it can be hard to believe that there is only 3 of them. YES 3!

All in all, whilst not a massive representation of the direction the  band were to head into, there are clear indications on this debut that this band were [and did] going become a huge success. Geddy Lee being able to belt out falsetto vocals WHILST playing complicated basslines, the texture and emotion that Alex Lifesons guitar added to the mix, and the strong drumming of John Rutsey complimented each other to perfection.

It’s possibly one of the strongest debuts I’ve ever had the pleasure of listening to by any band, it’s not their best by far but you could do worse than spend a cheeky 40 minutes listening to this, I guarantee you one thing:

If you do it’ll have you yearning for the decade you never grew up in!*

*unless you did, in which case – lucky!

Lineup:

  • Geddy Lee – lead vocals and bass
  • Alex Lifeson – guitars and vocals
  • John Rutsey – drums and vocals

 3/5

D.P

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