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Rush - A Farewell to Kings CD (album) cover




Heavy Prog

4.33 | 2289 ratings

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4 stars REVIEW #9 - "A Farewell to Kings" by Rush (1977)

Coming off of their successful "2112" album, Rush travelled to the UK and began recording a new studio album. With improved recording techniques providing a better sound as opposed to their Canadian-produced albums, it brings a whole new life to the Rush sound. Stronger all around than its predecessor, and much more proggy, this is a legitimately good album. Even the band members have expanded their musical horizons - bassist Geddy Lee plays the prevalent synth on this album, guitarist Alex Lifeson begins to experiment with acoustic guitars and a classical sound, and Neil Peart experiments with instruments such as wind chimes, glockenspiel, and gongs. The result is a very diverse album - with ambient and rocking passages.

The title track (4/5) leads off the album, opening up with an acoustic passage before reaching that trademark heavy Rush sound. A pretty long song with a solid Lifeson solo, it has a good chorus and thoughtful lyrics to make a good opener. The song closes and the next song, the beautiful "Xanadu" (5/5) begins. An eleven minute track, deeply prog, and based upon the Samuel Taylor Coleridge poem "Kubla Khan" it combines Rush's heavy sound with a new ambient touch. With a long five-minute build up before reaching the mesmerizing lyrics - describing Coleridge's dream where he visited the Mongol summer capital of Xanadu, the reference to British literature is awesome, with the band capturing the metaphysical nature of Coleridge's poem. We are graced with an epic guitar solo to end this song, and the first side as a whole. A musical journey, this is one to be listened to, and in my opinion, the BEST Rush song.

The second side starts with one of Rush's most commercially successful songs, "Closer to the Heart" (5/5). A very short song by Rush standards at about three minutes, it was written by a friend of Peart's, being the first Rush song to not be written by a member of the band. With simple lyrics and a very pleasing sound, it is no wonder why this song was so successful. It is also one of the band's tracks which still receives frequent airplay on classic rock radio to this day. The next song is "Cinderella Man" (4/5), written by Lee. Better than Lee's last contribution to an album (the boring "Tears" from 2112), it sounds pretty good, especially for a filler track. We then get a reprieve with the short and soft "Madrigal" (4/5) which has beautiful medieval-style romantic lyrics, although it is a little bit out of place having to separate the previous song with the science fiction epic "Cygnus X-1 Book I: The Voyage" (4/5), which closes out the album. Beginning with a little bit of plot background, we learn that the protagonist is piloting a space ship called the Rocinante (a homage to the novel "Don Quixote") towards a black hole, in hopes of being sucked into a different world. This song ends on a cliffhanger, as the protagonist goes into the black hole in a flurry of destruction captured by the music perfectly. As the album ends, the listener anticipates the sequel, which would be released a year later on their next album "Hemispheres". A unique concept, it is largely build- up, but captures a really surreal and potentially scary ambient sound. When this song hits its heavy musical parts, it rocks very well and should not be discredited.

This album was a great step in the right direction for the band. With less filler material, it is a definite improvement over their previous (yet amazing in its own right) album. With two epics that hold their own weight, there is no bad moment on this album. It lacks many "great" moments, which bars it from reaching the five-star mark, but you will certainly not get bored listening to this piece of prog rock art. The band would go on to release another really proggy album and this album and that successor "Hemispheres" marks Rush's magnum opus as a prog rock band. Although panned by critics, this album is solid and a good listen for any fan of the genre, as it encompasses many different musical styles while retaining that prog intricacy.

OVERALL: 4.4/5 (B+)

ProgMirage1974 | 4/5 |


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