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Rush - A Farewell to Kings CD (album) cover




Heavy Prog

4.33 | 2367 ratings

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4 stars An album with a very distinctive production, and Rush's first real progrock album. Maybe it was the location they recorded in (the English countryside), the introduction of synthesizers (yessss!!!) or just natural evolution, but 'A Farewell To Kings' sees a seriously refined Rush, less aggressive and more complex. The sharp edges of their earlier sound are rounded off here. It's a pleasing listen, and as a production piece it's one of Terry Brown's best. But it misses "masterpiece" status, as some of the songs are lacking a bit in memorability.

The personality in the performances has never been stronger. They almost overshadow the songs...when I think about this album, I think about great individual parts and the stellar recording job more than I do most of the songs. The title track is like that, as is "Cinderella Man" and "Madrigal". "Closer To The Heart" deserves the popularity it has gained over the years, a perfectly-composed song with remarkably poignant lyrics from "Peart and Talbot". "Xanadu" is a challenging piece, weaving a myriad of ideas into a gorgeous 11-minute epic, but that almost laid-back feel of the album makes some of the parts lack a bit in energy. I've always felt distant from "Xanadu", and I have a friend and fellow Rush-lover who feels the same. Great song, no doubt, but much of it feels disconnected somehow. The parts are indeed wonderful, it's the whole that fails to grab me totally.

There are two moments that shine brighter than anything else here. The whole of "Cygnus X-1" is insanely good. The first couple minutes are amongst the most foreboding in all of music, Geddy's bass locking tightly into Peart's sharp drum accents. The arc of the song is huge...a compelling, frightening, exciting journey (into a black hole, if you're reading the lyrics). With some wacko Lifeson guitar and one of Geddy's most communicative vocal performances, it's easily one of Rush's prime crowning moments. The other highlight illustrates the magic of the Lee/Lifeson/Peart union, and that is the jazzy breakdown in "Cinderella Man". A fine song, but the whole is eclipsed by one particular section: that moment combining funky bass with well- planned open spaces, whining guitar, and professorial percussive syncopation. Each member is playing his heart out, for the part as well as for himself. It's a joy to witness. It all occurs between 2:26 and 3:15, for those with nothing better to do.

A fascinating listen and an important piece of work, but really a textbook- definition "transitional" album. They would capitalize and improve on this new, more progressive direction with their next album.

slipperman | 4/5 |


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