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Rush - 2112 CD (album) cover




Heavy Prog

4.11 | 1930 ratings

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Andy Webb
Special Collaborator
Retired Admin
4 stars We have assumed control.

Here we have one of those truly classic albums in prog rock that is slightly flawed. The album, Rush's commercial turning point, is prog rock's favorite "half concept album," as so many people call it a concept album, but they overlook the second side of the album, which is comprised of much shorter, unrelated tracks. The album truly is crucial in the Rush story. The band had been buffeted by critics who despised the band's previous album, the highly progressive giant Caress of Steel, and the record label they were signed to didn't want the band to continue in the trend of extended pieces of music for fear of loss of sales. What happened next was the complete opposite of what the label wanted, 2112, a 20 minute long epic, and a (half) concept album about rebelling against the system (A.K.A. Mercury Records). Of course side 2 is compiled of short, poppier tracks, but we traditionally don't look at that ;-). This album exploded as the band's first real hit, with the album's lead single "Overture/Temples of Syrinx" exploding as a huge success, driving the band into the limelight of rock music success. One can really see this on just the liner notes. On 2112, the band is listed as "Alex Lifeson - Acoustic and Electric guitars, Geddy Lee - Bass, Vocals, and synthesizer, Neil Peart - drums and percussion," while on A Farewell to Kings, just one album and one year later, the band is listed in a verbose manner as "Alex Lifeson - electric, acoustic and classical guitars, bass pedal synthesizer, Geddy Lee - vocals, bass guitar, twelve string guitar, Mini-Moog and bass pedal synthesizers, Neil Peart - drums, cymbals, cowbells, orchestra bells, wind chimes, triangle, bell tree, vibra-slap, tubular bells, temple blocks." That's quite an improvement, especially financially! Even just in the liner notes, one can see the importance of this album for the band, the rock world, and the music scene forever.

Of course the album is more than just money and pop hits. The album is a fantastic display of the band's compositional prowess and ability to mesh musically as a band. Whether it is Lee's piercing vocal capacity, Peart's incredible rhythmic prowess, or Lifeson's fantastic guitar work, the entire album is brimming with musical virtuosity and ability. The title track, full of fantastic melodic, rhythmic, and compositional qualities, is a crowning achievement in the band's discography. The lyrics, geniusly crafted by master lyricist Neil Peart, are some of the best there are in the rock world (and are influenced by the genius Ayn Rand), and tell a fantastically creative and inventive story. Whether the band is churning out a fantastic riff or playing an extremely well-coordinated solo section, the entire masterpiece is a fantastic prog rock epic. The song has a fantastic amount of dynamic, transitioning effortlessly between hard rock sections and mellow prog sections. Overall, this song is truly fantastic. In the end, with this song, Rush truly did assume control.

Sadly, however, the album is not all just one giant 2112. Side 2 is comprised of five, shorter, unrelated proggish rock tracks. Although these songs aren't bad in any way, they are truly dwarfed by the magnitude of the track on the opposite side. Each song follows a similar format, with a verse, a chorus, a verse, a chorus, an instrumental section, and then a final chorus, with each track averaging around three and a half minutes. Each of the five songs present themselves as pleasant, pop rock songs, with a nice beat and (usually) some interesting lyrics.

One thing I found rather interesting is how obvious it is when Peart's lyric writing ends. After "The Twilight Zone," Lifeson and Lee pick up the lyricist duty (excluding the closer, which Peart writes lyrics for). I have to say Lifeson and Lee's lyrics are a bit... well... a bit cheesier. Although the songs still have that signature Rush style, they have the typical classic rock feel of that era that would have made the album more popular, which undoubtedly what the label wanted. Obviously, this seemed to work, as I doubt the massive epic was all that attracted thousands of people to buy the album (although it was a huge hit still, especially the concept among rebellious youths). Overall, these shorter, poppier tracks add little to the massive side one, but rather fill out the second side to appease the label. Good, but not essential.

In the end, this record is more of a balancing act between the two sides of the record. Side one is an absolute masterpiece and one of the most incredible prog epic out there. However, side two is a less fantastic side compiled of some pretty good proggish hard rock songs. In the end, however, this album is truly one of those classic progressive rock albums, and if it were not for this album, we may not have hat the innumerable masterpieces the band produced in the next few years, from 1975 to 1981. Overall, this album is truly an excellent addition to any progressive rock collection. 4 stars.

Andy Webb | 4/5 |


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