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Rush - A Farewell To Kings CD (album) cover

A FAREWELL TO KINGS

Rush

 

Heavy Prog

4.35 | 1492 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

TGM: Orb
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Review 31, A Farewell To Kings, Rush, 1977

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The title track begins with a touch of acoustics, accompanied by synth and some glockenspiel. It promptly kicks off properly in true Rush style, with a bombastic guitar part, a solid bassline, giving Geddy Lee space to play around a little, some very capable drumming from Peart, and great vocals and lyrics. The chorus and verses are both strong, but the (even if it's good) instrumental break creates a rather poor place for the second chorus to hit in, and I'm never particularly motivated by the Lifeson solo here, which seems rather too surgical for my liking. An acoustic outro concludes the piece. So,

Gentle synths feature prominently in the following Xanadu, an ambitious story of the quest for immortality, replete with references to Samuel Taylor Coleridge . Wind chimes and either a very precise guitar or intelligent synths create a powerful, yet unobtrusive atmosphere, before the guitar and synth duet punches in with a very powerful accompanying rhythm section. So far, an intelligent, developed atmosphere, a perfect progressive opening. A rather sudden burst from the guitar, replete with a confidently wandering bassline and an impressive rolling drum leads through some more whimsical synths and both hollow and pompous percussion.

A more directed section leads up to the vocals, with a clever combination of bass and synths, while a vocal and lyrical whirlwind (delightfully reminiscent of the cutting lines of The Fountain Of Lamneth) takes us on the journey through paradise, ironic twist included. Another seemingly random bit of bass and drum rolling prepares us for the powerful return to the final verse ('A thousand years have come and gone, but time has passed me by/Stars stopped in the sky/Frozen in an everlasting verse'). As our protagonist escapes, the trio provide a rather grandiose conclusion, with a superb Lifeson solo continuing to a return of the earlier synths and some clever variation from Peart with precise drums and guitars leading us again to the end. Symptomatic of both the things I love and hate about Rush. Some music that just feels unneeded and damages the atmosphere, but in between that a lot of classic high-energy performance and some great lines and ideas.

Closer To The Heart is essentially a ballad, even if its subject matter is romantic only in style. Great performances from Lifeson and Lee, and admittedly Peart does a good job, except in his seemingly random tubular bells near the start of the piece, which really just seem like he was trying to add something in. Very complex and intelligent for a pop song, and a classic solo from Lifeson. Great song.

Cinderella Man is the album's weak point for me. Geddy Lee contributes a dose of incredible lyrical pain, which isn't massively helped by everything else emphasising the vocals. Very credible performances from those involved, with acoustics and electric guitar alternated nicely. The biggest problem, really, is some of the short bridges, which feel very out of place and repetitive. An instrumental section closer to the end gives us a nice, even self-deprecating solo from Lifeson, as well as an absolutely solid bass part and a good launching point for a return to the final chorus. Anyway, the lyrics and bridges make this a more difficult thing for me to listen to.

Madrigal is an excellent, short romantic piece, with a combination of interesting, rather uplifting bass, some synths, and an acoustic guitar. a little surprisingly organic drumming from Peart, which manages to merge nicely with the song. Good stuff.

Cygnus X-I, sci-fi theme and all, is my joint favourite Rush song (with The Necromancer... perhaps I have a thing for unrestrained lyrics), with a solid atmosphere sustained throughout, cheesy, but loveable lyrics interwoven with stellar lines and ideas. A series of gradual haunting atmospheric synths with a spoken, distorted voice, kicks off the piece before the bass, drums and guitar mechanically insert themselves, gradually preparing for an bit of rolling chaos from Peart and Lifeson and eventually a rocking theme with its near-hypnotic sound. Everything cuts out, and we are left with just bass and a new-found vocal idea. The piece takes a little time to explore the black hole's legend. The piece soars off to meet the protagonist, complete with a brilliant guitar solo from Lifeson. We are then taken to an uncharacteristically instrospective section before we get a monstrously loud bass-guitar duo and crashing drumming from Peart. The protagonist's maddened voice cries out in the chaos, which ascends to a haunting end before dropping away to a lone, tantalising acoustic voice in the other side of the void. To be continued.

So, some of the things that will really get to me in the later Rush albums that many will call classics, but also a lot of the features I love from Rush songs. Generally solid performances all round, great lyrical content (mostly!), and the stellar Cygnus X-I leave the album meriting a four star rating from me. Great album, highly recommended, the good far outweighs the bad.

Rating: Four Stars

Favourite Track: Cygnus X-I

TGM: Orb | 4/5 |

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