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Rush - A Farewell to Kings CD (album) cover

A FAREWELL TO KINGS

Rush

 

Heavy Prog

4.34 | 2493 ratings

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VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer
5 stars Review Nš 708

This Canadian rock size enjoys worldwide popularity, but strangely, Europe was an exception. The power trio consists of the copywriter and drummer Neil Peart, the singer, bassist and drummer Geddy Lee and the guitar virtuoso Alex Lifeson. The latter two are responsible for the compositions. All musicians of the band are regarded as absolute top performers and appear in many acknowledgments of renowned progressive bands or are called role models to follow.

"A Farewell To Kings" is the fifth studio album of Rush and was released in 1977. This album continues the band's explorations of their music style and sounds. It's the album that represents the final musical and stylistic breakthrough.

"A Farewell To Kings" represents the first studio album of the band that belongs to their second musical phase that ended with their eighth studio album "Moving Pictures" in 1981. The other two albums released by the group between this two studio albums are "Hemispheres" in 1978 and "Permanent Waves" in 1980. In this musical phase, the band moved more into the progressive rock and for the first time synthesizers were now employed by the band. This musical phase marks the end of transition from their long epic pieces of music to shorter, more concise and intricate songs.

The line up on the album is Geddy Lee (lead vocals, bass, twelve string guitar, Mini Moog and bass pedal synthesizers), Alex Lifeson (electric and acoustic six and twelve string guitars, classical guitar and bass pedal synthesizers) and Neil Peart (drums, orchestral bells, wind chimes, bell tree, vibraslap, triangle, tubular bells and temple blocks).

"A Farewell To Kings" has six tracks. All lyrics were written by Neil Pearl and all music was composed by Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson except "A Farewell To Kings" and "Cygnus X-1 Book I: The Voyage" composed by Lee, Lifeson and Pearl, "Closer To The Heart" with lyrics by Lee and Peter Talbot, and "Cinderella Man" with lyrics by Lee. The first track is the title track song "A Farewell To Kings". It's a nice slow paced song with a unique and very beautiful acoustic introduction and a great feeling in the singing. This is the kind of songs that makes a magic trick and confuses all of us with its enjoyable and hypnotic rhythm. This is a very strong opener for the album that shows the growing power and the magnanimous force of Rush's songs. The second track "Xanadu" represents the first great epic on the album. It has an atmospheric introduction and a multiple exchange between bass lines and the guitar, and it's impossible to forget after we heard it. As an electric storm, the strong grows until the grand entrance by the vocals. Lee sings this song magnificently and he simply owns you. The simple sole presence of this song makes of this album a truly masterpiece. The third track "Closer To The Heart" is a short, peace and love song that starts with an acoustic guitar riff that is joined by vocals, drums and bass. This is a nice and enjoyable track to hear. After hearing the serious opening track and the epic second track, this is quite welcome. It's a song with simple lyrics, simple music and simple and short solos. This is an uplifting and very good song. The fourth track "Cinderella Man" is a mid-tempo song with a slower chorus. It's another simple and good song, especially appropriated for those who still feel the powerful effect of the two first tracks. It only picks up a little bit than "Closer To The Heart". Lyrically is a lovely song and it has musicianship enough to make of it a very good track. The fifth track "Madrigal" is the shortest track on the album. This is a simple love song, very slow and almost too simple even for a ballad. This is, in my opinion, the weakest track on the album and represents its Achilles' heel. Fortunately it doesn't last for long and we soon get what we were waiting for. The sixth track "Cygnus X-1 Book I: The Voyager" is the album's second lengthy track. With it Rush managed to perfectly convey what a daring and dramatic quest into space would sound like. Completed with dark unsettling synthesizers this track is akin to "Xanadu" in that it opens quietly and then explodes into its musical splendour. It's dark and brooding, slow and pulsating, and builds into a great spiral of chaos, and then it leaves the listener in a soft and contemplative mood. All over the song there is a real feeling of menace and of mystery. It closes the album in a brilliant and fearless manner.

Conclusion: "A Farewell To Kings" is one of the best Rush's albums. This is also probably one of their most balanced albums with great progressive songs and short but catchy songs. Faster tunes and slower ones are also another point of balance. The flow of this album is just amazing and the warm sound, tons of unconventional musical instruments and brilliant lyrics make of it a classic. "A Farewell To Kings" was the first in a series of must have Rush's albums. The only weak point "Madrigal" doesn't spoil the album and even is excusable for being under two and a half minutes in length. As I wrote above, this was the beginning of the second chapter in Rush's musical career and unequivocally the most successful of all. "A Farewell To Kings" would set the stage for years to come. This is a great entry point for those willing to explore the most acclaimed portion of Rush's musical catalogue and a great album for all progressive lovers.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

VianaProghead | 5/5 |

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