Tag Archive: Neil Peart


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