Genre: Hard Rock/Progressive Rock
Year of Release: 1976
Record Label: Anthem
Recommended for fans of: Led Zeppelin, Cream, 70s Progressive Rock
- “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
- “A Passage to Bangkok” – 3:34
- “The Twilight Zone” – 3:17
- “Lessons” – 3:51
- “Tears” – 3:33
- “Something for Nothing” – 3:58
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 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:
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?
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.
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 reasons why I’ve felt this way
I noticed emotion and that you had cried
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.
- Geddy Lee – lead vocals and bass
- Alex Lifeson – guitars and vocals
- Neil Peart – drums