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Rush - 2112 CD (album) cover




Heavy Prog

4.11 | 1923 ratings

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TGM: Orb
Prog Reviewer
3 stars Review 20, 2112, Rush, 1976

Here is a case where my criteria for a masterpiece harpoon me. I would love to give this album the full five stars, I absolutely love it pieces, I enjoy every listen, I know all of the lyrics, and always end up singing along to many parts. I even play the world's worst air guitar ever to a couple of songs. However, it's not truly perfect, and it's not a really challenging album, so it doesn't get a fifth star from me. Nonetheless, quite possibly the most-listened album in my collection, and so a very favourable review is forthcoming:

There are a few things that mark out this album from its followers: Alex Lifeson is still a bestial guitar soloist, while his later solos often feel rather sterile to me. Neil Peart's lyrics give the album a very individual feel, a lot of visual ideas, and a great concept: overblown, absolutely, pretentious?, perhaps, but still I feel his lyrics here are superb. His drumming, while often praised, usually leaves me cold on albums like Moving Pictures and Permanent Waves, but at this point in time has a real warmth and fluidity as well as technical competence. Geddy Lee's bass, as always, is superb, and his vocals are at their peak, with very high, high-energy singing throughout, that really brings out the lyrics, as well as some basic vocal fiddling around on various tracks.

Starting a review with the second side first, because I feel it could otherwise be neglected:

A Passage To Bangkok is one of those cases of superb verses being brought down slightly by an over-repeated chorus. Still a great song, but I could have done without so many repeats of the chorus (even if there is some quite neat variation in them). The opening and verses are absolutely classic, with Geddy Lee's memorable bass riff, and Lifeson and Peart both coming in very neatly. The chorus, slightly less so. It's still decent but lyrically I felt it didn't really match up to the powerful verses. Let us not forget a stunning Lifeson guitar solo prior to the final two chorus repeats. Standout performances from all involved, and only one small issue.

Twilight Zone is quite a weird song, since it begins with a potent guitar riff, then changes into a weird upbeat acoustic thing with Peart largely working around the guitars and characteristic high, slightly straining vocals. The chorus section (which is repeated with a whispered accompaniment that I've grown to like) features slightly softer vocals and a 'ni-ni-ni' thing that might annoy some people. Lyrically it's not up to the standards of many of the tracks here, but is nonetheless tolerable. The real highlight of the track for me is the slow-paced, tasteful electric guitar solo that harks back to The Necromancer.

Lessons (lyrics [of an acceptable standard] from Lifeson, here, IIRC) is a good rocker, with a particularly amazing bass performance from Geddy Lee, great vocals and a general energy that's always fitting. The song again combines acoustic and electric guitar. The long guitar solo is decent, but the way it's slowly faded while the acoustic strumming remains pretty constant just doesn't work for me. I'm not the biggest fan of fades, even if the one here isn't particularly offensive.

Tears is no ordinary acoustic ballad, it's an acoustic ballad with a mellotron, delicate bass playing and superb vocals. Geddy Lee's lyrics feel right for the song. I really don't have much to say about the song, except that everything comes together very neatly, and it has an emotional impact on me.

Something For Nothing was evidently the way to end this album. The rhythm section stands out, and Lifeson's rocking guitar is great. The lyrics and vocals are immaculate, motivating and extremely energetic, even managing to go to a mantra-like forcefulness without feeling aggressive or overblown. Another stunning guitar solo on this one, and a better, uplifting closer would be hard to find. With such a great opener and closer, the album certainly feels a little stronger than it perhaps really is.

Now. 20+ minutes of assorted drooling over the title suite. Firstly, this song was a first-time-blown-away-and-still-recovering-from-the-effect song (Caress of Steel, conversely, was a first-time-blown-away-and-still-recovering-from-the-effect album), and features Peart's superb lyrics, with emotional resonance, moral ideas, obvious real-world parallels and the advancement of the fairly basic sci-fi plot all taking place at once. It is, admittedly, a selection of seven songs, with parts from several of the later songs being foreshadowed in the Overture, and one fluid storyline.

The Overture begins with swirling synths, and throbbing bass, establishing the sci-fi atmosphere before the guitar-and-drums hammer their way into the mix, foreshadowing the later Oracle, Priests and Soliloquy moving straight on into the rocking main theme (with bits of background keyboards and acoustics added). Peart provides a sterling drum performance, connecting Geddy Lee's jabbing bass and Lifeson's rhythm/solo guitar cross, before the trio move into a brief jumping section, followed by the 'And the.

The Temples Of Syrinx is the album's almost-unchallenged high point (I didn't like it so much when I first heard out of context, though) - everything that makes early Rush for me stands out on this track. High-energy, powerful vocals emphasising the lyrics that establish the setting, introduce part of the story, question political conformity and fit in with the theme of the piece, as well as being awesome. Powerful, unindulgent, flowing rock drumming. A great rocking bass and guitar combination, rounded off by a short acoustic reminder of the Overture.

Discovery is in my mind the weakest section of the suite, the acoustic stylings (slowly developing from random strumming to more typical, upbeat acoustics) and the waterfall effect were both decent ideas, and work fairly well. Where this song falls down a little is lyrically. I think Peart did the best job he could with his idea, but it is simply very difficult to poetically describe a guitar without seeming a bit lightweight, despite the clever context he puts it in. Not weak, but not as great as the rest of the suite.

Presentation is where the ideas of the previous two songs are merged somewhat, with the two sides being represented. The protagonist presents his guitar to the priests, who break it, and Geddy Lee voices both sides very convincingly, and his bass seems to go along with it. Really, the argument between the two songs within this is very impressive, with all three musicians changing their sides very neatly. The lyrics are again excellent. When the argument's been concluded, Alex Lifeson provides his style of solo, very powerful and emotional, fairly fast, with a twisting, defined edge.

Dream: The Oracle begins with a distorted acoustic shimmering and gentle vocals, and moves into a much harder, slightly pompous, theme, with great vocals, lyrics and percussion. One of my preferred Neil Peart drum-parts.

Soliloquy is another of the absolute stunners, bringing back the light, beautiful vocals and acoustics (as well as the waterfall effect) of some earlier parts, before exploding with one of the most honest lyrical lines I've yet heard ('Just think of what my life might be/In a world like I have seen!') into an amazing, soulful hard rock song with one of my favourite guitar solos of all time. Perfect.

The finale is equally stunning, hammering through some altered bits of the Overture. Another great performance from all involved, ending with a tortured guitar sound, dark humming and the return of the elder race of man.

As said before, I love this album. Highly Recommended.

Rating: Four Stars, but I'd love to say five.

Favourite Track: 2112, especially Temples and Soliloquy

Edit: Snippity-snip. Well, I guess I'd say some of my enthusiasm for this one's worn off. The title suite is still great fun... the second side hasn't got the same sense of freshness or energy, really... it's not a wreck, but I felt that maybe this amount of non-first-rate-material, a four was out of line with how much I actually like the album as a whole.

TGM: Orb | 3/5 |


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