Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography
Rush - A Farewell to Kings CD (album) cover



Heavy Prog

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Bookmark and Share
5 stars Probably has its place in the Rush top five studio releases. The title track features the usual Rush majesty while 'Cinderella' man features a great instrumental section with a groovy bassline from the master Lee. It also features two of the obligatory Rush epics. It seems impossible for Rush to falter, they're just too good at what they do. Standout track: 'Closer to the heart'.
Report this review (#20450)
Posted Monday, November 17, 2003 | Review Permalink
4 stars The songs are original and the musicianship is impeccable. If you like 70's progressive rock, this is a must-have. If you are new to Rush, I'd skip it. Gerald Ford was president when this came out. It's the type of CD that you sit in your living room and listen to -- it's not a cruising CD or one that you jog to. Geddy sings instead of screams -- a vast improvement over earlier 70's albums. Xanadu is my favorite - even though it's a bit too long. The shorter tracks -- Cinderella Man and Closer to the Heart -- are timeless and more mainstream. The rest of the songs may sound "dated" to some people. It's like your first beer -- an acquired taste. Cygnus X-1 really rocks (in a 70's kind of way) if you chop off the first minute of the track. Rush's 80's fans probably wouldn't like this one.
Report this review (#20445)
Posted Saturday, January 17, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars The title track is incredible; definitely some of Lifeson's best guitar work. "Xanadu" takes long to build, but the payoff is worth it. "Cygnus X-1" is another freak-fest ala Caress Of Steel's madness. The other trackss are marginal. For some reason the songs on this album don't mesh together or flow very well, which may be why a previous reviewer claimed the album seemed short. Still, a must have from one of Rush's most interesting periods in their career.
Report this review (#20446)
Posted Sunday, January 18, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars Rush, tempted by their success with their prog epic 2112, have decided to expand on the musical ideas they created previously. Hence, A Farewell to Kings, one of Rush's most art-rock inspired album. Although some flaws were apparent, Rush released such great songs such as the progressive rock journey through space in Cygnus X-1 (there really is a black hole by that name) and the astounding song Xanadu (Every time I listen to Dream Theater's Glass Prison I am reminded of this.) This album also spawned one of Rush's most popular songs, and their first major radio hit: Closer to the Heart. The only criticism one can find about this album is that it seems to 'slow down' on the second side with the songs Cinderella Man and Madrigal. Nonetheless, they are songs worth a listen. Altogether, Rush's sound is very precise and emotional, and they have created another timeless progressive classic with this album.
Report this review (#20447)
Posted Monday, January 19, 2004 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
Prog Folk
4 stars Rush at their peak . This album , every young Torontonian knew how much of a classic it was right from the moment we bought and could not wait for the band to get recognized around the world . Expectations were so high after the great 2112, and did Rush ever answer those fantastically .

Xanadu is my fave track from Rush but I think it is also the case of many other. This is another track were Rush excells in passing emotions in their music. Every time I listened to this , I saw Kubilaï Kkan running with his mongol tribes through the Steppes - Grandiose. Cygnus X-1 is the best attempt at making science-fiction on record as you feel so lost after the spaceship got sucked in by the black hole . We could not wait until the next album to discover what happened next. Closer To The Heart soon became a concert favorite and Cindarella man is yet another typical Rush song. Madrigal is another Geddy Lee tune (if memory serves me well and is slightly weaker).

With superb tracks like Xanadu and La Villa Strangiato in the following Hemispheres , it is now clear that Rush had come of age and write great epics worthy of some of the original early 70's English giants.

Report this review (#20448)
Posted Tuesday, February 3, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars I remember buying it as soon as it hit the record store, and disliking it intensely because it didn't sound enough like 2112. Good thing I stuck with it, though... it's their best studio album ever. Great songs, great playing, and some incredibly inspired singing from Geddy: "the HYP-ocrites are SUH-landering the sacred halls of TUH-ruth."
Report this review (#20453)
Posted Friday, February 6, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars Now we're rocking! This is the first contender for best Rush album. They hadn't done, and didn't do another studio album to rival it until Moving Pictures. Every track on here is excellent and the musicianship is superb. Probably, if someone put a gun to my head and asked me the weakest track, I would say, Cinderella Man, but that is comparatively speaking, as it is a fine song in itself. Xanadu of course is the Coleridge-Kubla Khan inspired epic. And another favourite of mine is the often glossed over Madrigal. Short but sweet with beautiful guitar and bass. Closer To The Heart needs no introduction,and the title track is a good powerful opener. Cygnus, whilst not as good as Xanadu, is a great ending to the album. A must for prog rock fans, and Rush fans especially!
Report this review (#20462)
Posted Friday, March 26, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars Probably the best album by RUSH and the most "Progressive effort" as well, except on a few prolix parts (anyway such defect typically belongs to almost the whole music stuff in the seventies, so never mind...). The suite "Cignus X1" for instance is a classic which can put into the list of some 20-30 "progressive songs" to have in a desert island, but also the other tracks are well worth checking out. The unique minor defect (if you admit that is true that's a problem...) there's not a great pathos or emotional feeling,as this concept album was constructed in a perfect way,from the point of view of the harmonic solutions...but never mind once again, because a certain fascination always remains.

Highly Recommended!!

Report this review (#20463)
Posted Saturday, April 3, 2004 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This is their really first progressive record, with pleasant keyboards and percussions (tubular bells and cowbells among others). On the previous album, "2112", the rare keyboards are still at the experimental stage. Here again, the rythmic guitar sound is slightly different, being very controlled and defined, and still being very rythmic hard rock. The guitar has not the perfect sound like on "Hemispheres", because it lacks some overdrive pedal effects. "Closer to the Heart" is a simple accessible song, having a good acoustic guitar rythm. "Cinderella Man" is very pleasant and catchy, with an outstanding bass playing. "Madrigal" is a sentimental, tender & mellow song, having a very special fretless? bass sound. The epic & progressive "Cygnus X-1" starts with a very remote & echoed bass, progressively approaching, while complex drums make their entrance. Then, a very repetitive rythmic guitar makes the law through miscellaneous fast drums parts. After, there is a bit where only 2 guitar notes are repeated, just before the craziness reaches its peak when Geddy Lee near the end starts to scream like an hysterical person in crisis! "Cygnus X-1" is a bit strange & dark I must admit.

On the other side, "Farewell to Kings" has a curious metallic studio guitar sound. Be careful while listening the guitar solo: I've rarely seen a faster solo than this one: UNBELIEVABLE! The solo is a bit coarse, but just enjoy the speed at which it is played! The last track "Xanadu" is the best one by far: it is VERY structured, very epic and progressive; the drums, bass, percussions and guitars form a strong ensemble, loaded, very catchy and addictive. Some floating & melodic keyboards add the perfect final touch to this masterpiece. Geddy's voice is superb. Actually, "Xanadu" has more the "Hemispheres" style, although the guitar sound is not yet the same. The "Xanadu" intro sounds a bit like Alan PARSON'S PROJECT - "Sirius" ("Eye in the Sky").

Rating: 4.5/5

Report this review (#20484)
Posted Wednesday, April 14, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars Originally I was going to buy Moving Pictures because I was bored and missing those 7th grade days that went by too quickly but the title and photo sparked my interest and I forgot to take it out of the shopping cart so it came home with me. I'm not a huge RUSH fan but I will agree with those hardcore fans this is one hell of an album. I must add, it may take some time for it all to sink in but when Alex Lifeson's dirty guitar comes crashing in on Getty Lee and Neal's wigging out on some crazy time signatures you'll wish your stereo could play it louder!!! Take a listen to the sample, Cygnus X-1, and you'll appreciate their 1977 effort. These were those in-between years when RUSH was raw and unfiltered like a dark murky ale yet refined enough to not give you heart burn. If you are looking some old school progressive that has intelligent lyrics, stunning syncopation and lasts for more than 3 minutes do yourself a favor and buy this album.
Report this review (#20449)
Posted Saturday, April 17, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars The most magnificent offering from the Canadian trio. "Xanadu" and "Cygnus X-1" alone make this a classic, but the other songs do not fall short, if only in length. I have to admit, when I first purchased this album, the immediate effect was not there, but like a fine wine, with age it gets that much better. Where they had fallen just short on Caress, and 2112, it all came together musically here. This is where Geddy's bass shines (ok, as a bass player I'm prejudiced!), and really drives the songs to new heights. But Alex has some great moments as well, especially on the title track. This would be the first album that critics would harp on their "over active rhythm section", as if that were a bad thing. The band would continue in this vein, and we can thank the stars it all started here. BRILLIANT!
Report this review (#20465)
Posted Saturday, May 29, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars Probably, the best Rush album, and so the most complete. The intro with "A Farewell to Kings" is a real purpose declaration. "Xanadu" is another wonderful theme, 11 minutes of Rush in pure state. The third track, "Closer to the Heart", a clasic. "Cinderella Man" and "Madrigal", still themes, but not less beautiful for this reason. And, at last, "Cygnus X-1", this album's pearl, which includes, in my opinion, the best minute of the History of Rock, with a master Geddy Lee that could make anybody stand up from his chair. Simply, genial.
Report this review (#20466)
Posted Thursday, June 3, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars 1977 was the year Rush has been named Group of the Year at the Junos. And what an album. Rush uses a formula that worked pretty well with 2112. But this one's higher in songwriting. With Moving Pictures it's the album with the most Rush' classics. It's basically Part 1 of what Farewell and Hemisphere should be. Just like Rubber Soul and Revolver from the Beatles. A very cosmic guitar-driven album with themes from litterature and space travelling. Hard rocking in almost every number, my favorite stays the title song. Beautiful intro with classical guitar and cute chimes by Peart. Pure magic. Xanadu and Cygnus X-1 stays concerts favorites and heavy sounded. Such power and determination makes this album a solid and reliable addition to your essential Rush collection and classics of the mid- 70's. Simply cannot go wrong with this one. A total winner.
Report this review (#20467)
Posted Wednesday, June 9, 2004 | Review Permalink
James Lee
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I can't add much to what has already been said. Along with "Hemispheres", this is my favorite RUSH album; they had a perfect balance of hard rock and exploration on these two releases. The raw rock sound of 2112 had been refined but not yet as smooth as it would get on "Moving Pictures" and beyond. The transitions and style changes are smoother (although "Cygnus X-1" is still a bit choppy in parts), and they can establish a textural mood with more finesse.

The title track is grand, soaring, and allegorically critical, displaying some of the most successful lyrics that Peart had yet penned. "Xanadu" is as fine a soundscape as they ever created, evocative and faithful -though probably presented a bit different than Coleridge envisioned. It's also probably what inspired IRON MAIDEN's later metal epics (especially their Coleridge-authored "Rime of the Ancient Mariner"!), and thereby the birthsong of prog-metal. "Closer to the Heart" is their first really good pop song, accessible and yet loaded with notable sonic details (a fine synth solo, for instance). "Cinderella Man" is less well done, but still full of good moments. "Madrigal", on the other hand, is a suprisingly impressive and simple piece, the successor to "Rivendell" but so much more polished- and it really is a madrigal.

It's hard to say that this is the best RUSH album, or the ideal place to start with the band, but it and "Hemispheres" are the best expressions of the band's progressive journey. It was only three years before this that they released their debut- can you believe it?

Report this review (#20468)
Posted Wednesday, June 30, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars The second masterpiece, A Farewell To Kings was a preview of what was going to be the best album, HEMISPHERES. But this album has great cuts like " A Farewell To Kings", "Cinderella Man" and "Closer To The Heart". But the main reason that I call this a masterpiece is becasuse of "Cygnus X-1", an epic which is so great with all of it´s complex time changes, and we can easilly call CLOCKWORK to Geddy and Peart, they play as if they were one. Amanzing.
Report this review (#20470)
Posted Friday, July 9, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars This one is great. From the opener, "A Farewell to Kings" to the long and spiraling Cygnus X-1, this a is prog rock classic. This album contains some beautiful arrangement and lyrics while the whole album flows seamlessly. "Xanadu" is one of Rush's all time best songs and "Cinderella Man" is an underrated track in my opinion. It even contains a classic rock track in "Closer to the Heart". The name of this album is certainly fitting as its gothic sound and lyrics sounds like rock music would had it been around a couple hundred years ago. Truly a masterpiece to most Rush fans and definitely one of my favorites.
Report this review (#20471)
Posted Friday, July 16, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars Great album. Cinderella man, Farewell to kings, Cygnus x-1, Xanadu, Closer to the heart. All amazing songs. I deem this rush's best album for lyrics. Cinderella man has some good ones, but xanadu definately stood out for me. I suggest listening to that song ASAP. This is one of the first rush songs I heard that got me hooked on them. This album is a good one to have. Another one that should be bought up, and fast.
Report this review (#20472)
Posted Sunday, August 22, 2004 | Review Permalink
Chris S
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars What a treasure...Farewell to Kings marked a serious step in the Art Rock genre. It is without question one of their top five albums. It is hard to pick out any weak songs on this album, my only criticism is that the album is unusually short even for the 70's.' Xanadu' and the title track for me show the strength in side one although side 2 still has bundles to offer.
Report this review (#20473)
Posted Tuesday, September 7, 2004 | Review Permalink
Cesar Inca
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars "A Farewell to Kings" is a landmark album in the long, prolific career of its threesome perpetrators. The progressive colours that had been part of Rush's sonic landscape in their previous two studio efforts are now taken to the next level, becoming now an integral element of a hard-rock driven progressive power trio sound. Another important factor is that Peart's lyrics are getting increasingly better at alluding and eluding things along and behind the lines. The intro theme to the opening namesake track is not misleading at all: the classical guitar motif seasoned with lines on piccolo-like Moog and glockenspiel is a proper announcement of the band's commitment to progressive exquisiteness and symphonic pomposity. They never leave that metallic aggressiveness, which is still administered with skill and fire, but it is also clear that the rhythm section is riding headlong for a complex ideology of pretentiousness, while the guitar parts are in many, many passages designed to fill an orchestrating role in company of the synth harmonies and textures. Well, the opening track is quite amazing, with its catchy riffs, jazz rock interlude, and a dramatic guitar solo soon after. The percussive arsenal handled by Peart serves as a fundamental basis for the band's renewed symphonic orientation: that is mostly obvious in the album's absolute highlight 'Xanadu', a 12-minute epic where the heavy and the texturial alternate with full splendour. The other epic is the more directly heavy metallic 'Cygnus X-1', which exhibits obvious hints to their 75-76 albums. Though I find it less inspired compositionally than 'Xanadu', I still regard it as an impressive number where all three musicians exhibit their own individual capacities and their combined ability to function as a perfectly united ensemble - the explosive neck-breaking finale is something that leaves the listener stunned long after the song has ended. In the middle, here we've got one of Rush's undisputed anthems (the high-spirited humanist chant 'Closer to the Heart'), a serene acoustic-based ballad ('Madrigal'), and a 'Caress of Steel'-like rocky number ('Cinderella Man'), whose sense of irony is attractive enough to keep the listener's interest after the emotional candor exhibited in 'Closer to the Heart'. In short: "A Farewell to Kings" is one of Rush's masterpieces, and a masterpiece in itself in the overall context of the history of prog rock.
Report this review (#20475)
Posted Sunday, October 17, 2004 | Review Permalink
erik neuteboom
5 stars Their first two albums were inspired by the progressive blues rock from CREAM and LED ZEPPELIN but from "A Caress Of Steel" RUSH started to experiment with a more symphonic approach: longer track and more changing climates. Unfortunately this LP almost led to the demise of RUSH: no sales, no money, no musical direction. But the Canadian trio regained their self-confidence, the result was the album "2112", legendary progressive hard rock! Inspired by the pivotal symphonic rock from the mid-GENESIS line-up (Hackett, Banks, Rutherford and Collins) RUSH began to mix more acoustic guitars and synthesizers and the compositions showed more symphonic elements like changing climates, many accelerations and lots of dynamics. My love for RUSH started with "A Farewell To Kings" ('77), I read the critics in the known Dutch music magazine Muziekkrant Oor (the author was Kees Baars, nowadays a friend of Geddy Lee) and I rushed (sic!) to the music store. At home I was blown away by the music: the dynamic atmosphere on the title track (acoustic guitar intro, heavy electric guitar riffs), the super-progressive 'magnum opus' "Xanadu" (what an exciting changing climates and biting guitar solo), the pleasant rock song "Cinderella Man" (another great guitar solo), the beautiful "Madrigal" and the very original composition "Cygnus X-1" with that ominous bass guitar intro, the splendid drum work and the exciting guitar play, this sounded like a 'power-sympho' version of CREAM. To me this album is one of the milestones in rock music, I'm not allowed to give it more than five stars!
Report this review (#20477)
Posted Saturday, November 13, 2004 | Review Permalink
Tony R
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
5 stars One of the defining moments in my (then) young life was going into town to buy A Farewell To Kings, the first Rush album to be put out on official release in the UK. The wondeful gatefold sleeve, yet another Hugh Syme masterpiece,only served to heighten my excitement and expectation as I impatiently waited for the bus that would return me home. From the moment I placed it on the turntable and the first acoustic chords thrummed out from the speakers I knew this was going to be a classic album. A Farewell To Kings (the title track) immediately struck a chord with me- "cities full of hatred fear and lies" reminded me instantly of the atmosphere of fear that hung over Punk- era Britain. Gentle acoustic guitars and ringing synth give way to a tumult of powerchords and muscular drums and bass. Almost anthemic, sometimes brutal,this is really the song that defined Rush for me at this time, even loved the "yadda-yadda" vocals on this track that oddly sound treated in some way.The instrumental/solo break is one of their best a combination of "Bastille Day" and the later "Freewill" with the final few acoustic chords and cymbals setting the scene nicely for Xanadu. For me Xanadu will always be Rush's greatest epic and the track I always play to anyone I want to convert to the "Rush cause." It has the finest opening of any Prog Rock song, one that will always bring the goosebumps up on me:tubular bells and atmospheric guitar building up to a crescendo of foreboding before the more complex chops of drum, bass and rock guitar kick in.The mystical story provided by Coleridge's "Kublai Khan" is nicely judged as a framework for an epic musical workout, and boy do Rush do it justice.The guitar solo at the end of the piece is one of Lifeson's best and spawned a host of imitators ( Pallas & Def Leppard to name but two.) Closer To The Heart next and what can you say? Two minutes and fifty-five seconds of pure genius.This was always going to be a crowd favourite-hopeful lyrics, jangly guitars, a synth solo and gasp, more tubular bells! A minor hit in the punk rock-bloated Uk charts was the outcome. Cinderella Man is a pretty straight-forward (for Rush) song,echoing the title track in tone and execution. Madrigal is a pretty little soft-rock ballad that allows Geddy Lee to sing "normally" for a change. Sci fi sound effects lead us into another classic "Cygnus X-1." The bass throbs in with a pulsating riff, joined by strident guitars and drums.The band move into a pulsating, rhythmic jam that wonderfully evokes space travel, pulsars,black holes and all things Steven Hawking.I always remember my parents baulking at the strangulated vocals especially as our hero plunges into the Black Hole, but to me it readily evoked the cataclysm of that mysterious space phenemenon.Bludgeoning guitars, bass and drums in unison-play at volume 10 for maximum impact! This is such a good album that any review would fail to do it justice.Go out and buy this if you dont already own a copy.
Report this review (#20478)
Posted Friday, November 26, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars I believe this album to be Rush's masterpiece, surpassing what they attempted with 2112 and an obvious precursor to Moving Pictures. It is as well-rounded as could be asked. From the lengthy epics Cygnus X-1 and Xanadu to the shorter, radio fare Closer To The Heart (which gained them quite a bit of extra populartiy away from their already established fanbase), a solid opener in the title track, and a couple extra goodies, Cinderella Man and the beautiful Madrigal. Each song delivers, and the overall package is something Rush could never top, only equal. I believe they equalled this on Permenant Waves and Moving Pictures, but this was obviously a benchmark.
Report this review (#20479)
Posted Monday, December 6, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars After the first golden age of progressive rock started to fade, one of the few bands that learned from all of their predecessors mistakes, triumphs, and experimenting, was a Band called Rush. And they never show it better than in this album. The whole album, "A Farewell to Kings" is a total trip. It's almost like listening to Jethro Tull and Yes at the same time, but it is more a Rush album than anything.

The work starts of with a very good impression of Steve Hackett, in a song titled of the album, done with more feel and character than most impressions. The lyrics are very Peart at this point. Emitting the same feel as '2112' as far as political opinion and statements are concerned. It's a strong opening, like most good, non- Pink Floyd albums have. The album then pulls a 180, going straight into a mythical, trippy, 11 minute Progressive Rock masterpiece, known as 'Xanadu', with a great riff, and a powerful guitar solo. The song this album is most famous for is probably 'Closer to the Heart', a fiery little song that is just fantastic. Followed by two 'okay' songs, much like in 2112, leading to a grand finally, at this point, the average amount of 'concept' pieces per album was 1.499 (my own research) in the realm of progressive rock. However, after this album is counted, it raises to 1.5. And boy, is it a worthy milestone. Doing something that most artists only can do because of this songs influence, combining Jazz and Heavy Metal in a psychedelic space rock epic, about- what else? Being insane and flying into a black hole! Wonder what inspired that? *wink*

But in all seriousness, this album is damn good. Must have for Progressive Metal enthusiast or a casual + Rush fan, and I personally recommend it for all Prog-fans.

Report this review (#20480)
Posted Wednesday, December 8, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars Another classy album from Rush. The title track is a little underrated, but serves as a good introduction for one of the bands greatest tracks Xanadu. There's everything great about Rush in this song. Brilliant percussion from Peart, Geddy's soaring vocals, and just love the way Alex's guitar builds in. To follow this with the much shorter catchy anthem Closer to the Heart works well too. This would be a five star job only for the closing tracks. Madrigal is pleasant enough but no show stopper, and Cygnus is just a little repetitive, overshadowed by the majesty of Xanadu.
Report this review (#20481)
Posted Friday, December 31, 2004 | Review Permalink
3 stars A Farewell To Kings was Rush's first album in around two years and it saw them move in a different direction, or a new phase as they started to write with a different edge than the hard rock based fundamentals of their earlier work. 2112 was to date their most successful album and this ( A Farewell...) collection of songs was a sizable shift in musical styles which is more in keeping with the emerging new wave, although subtle as may come across. But while some of this album certainly works well and sounds cohesive there is still much of the music which comes across to me as naive and even unfinished. "Cinderella Man" being one side of the coin. A simple throwaway piece with a sympathetic vocal and some of Lifeson's better guitar playing but it not as enjoyable as "Closer To Heart", a short song that provided Rush with some airplay during and after the release of A Farewell To Kings. It is a song which would almost defy Rush's prog like tendency and veers toward middle of the road and safety. But while the band take on new structures with varying key signatures and time changes some of it, for me at least, sounds forced and unfocused. "Cygnus X-1" starts off promising but soon turns very ragged and that electro/robotic voice definitely sounded dated by the end. "Cygnus..." also serves as a prelude to another self same track on "Hemispheres", as part of a suite, which would follow this album a year later. "Xanadu" sounded a trite unfinished to my ears and the chorus very uninspired. To me it sounded as if Rush were forcing themselves to become a staple prog band, Yes were never a million miles away from this sound at their peak a couple of years earlier but they may have defined it better. Rush may well have been a progressive rock band but there may well be a generic identity with the tag prog rock. With a Farewell To Kings I think Alex, Geddy and Neil nailed it. Personally I feel it lacks the earthy and honest quality that made 2112 or even the much criticised Caress Of Steel so successful. But of course like this one, that argument is arguable. For what it's worth the lyrics on 2112 come across more convincing and with more passion. A Farewell To Kings has a cold and distant feeling for the most part, though certainly not a bad album. In my opinion it just lacks a drive to make it more memorable.
Report this review (#20482)
Posted Monday, January 17, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars This was the bands turning point. Like you have seen in previous reviews, Rush started out as a LED ZEPPELIN-like band. With AFTK they really go into YES territory, though Lps like 2112 and COS, they have expanded their sound but it all comes full force with this album. The epic Xanadu is the prime example, howeever, you also got the heartwarming Closer to the Heart, and the power rocker, Cygnus X-1. But the title track has something to offer with the great classical guitar opener. A winner!
Report this review (#20483)
Posted Saturday, January 29, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars With AFTK , Rush released one of their unquestionable masterpieces. The blending of terrific metallic riffs with prog and pop touches is really appreciable and attracts the attention of the listener. Geddy Lee perfectly modulates his voice ( evocative, screaming, pop,...) while guitars and drums have a wonderful dynamics. AFTK, Xanadu ( one of my favorite best song ever ) and Cygnus X-1 are killer songs. No flaw on this LP, highly recommended to those who appreciate the intrusion of hard-rock in prog music...
Report this review (#20487)
Posted Saturday, March 5, 2005 | Review Permalink
Cygnus X-2
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Rush were always trying to expand their sound. They went into a more intricate direction starting with this album. Featuring some of their best epics, and some of their best "singles", this album is easily one of their best efforts. This is the first album where Geddy plays the Moog, this addition would be arguably the best thing Rush ever did. With great textures created by the Moog, great riffs and solos from Lifeson, awesome bass work from Geddy, and some of Peart's best drumming, this album has a special place in my heart.

The opener of the album, A Farewell to Kings, begins with quiet acoustic guitar accompanied with some Moog and some bells, then the electric guitar kicks in and a real rocker is revealed. With lyrics alluding to corrupted politicians, a very underrated track. The next track is often considered the best Rush epic, the groundbreaking and phenomenal Xanadu begins with eerie chimes and percussion and volume swells from Lifeson, one of their best introductions to date. When the main riff comes in and the band kicks in, the listener is taken for a wild ride. With lyrics inspired by the epic Kubla Khan by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Peart gives it the personal twist that the poem did not have.

The second side opens with the quintessential Rush "ballad" Closer to the Heart. Beginning with quiet acoustic guitar, and some bells from Peart, it quickly evolves into another AFTK type rocker. Add a fade-out and you get one of the great Rush singles. Cinderella Man is Geddy Lee's adaptation of "Mr. Deeds Goes To Town" is another rocker that used to close their shows during the tour that would follow. Add a wah solo from Lifeson, and another Rush masterpiece is born. The final of the contemporary songs is the quiet, soft-spoken Madrigal, which really is one of the softest things Rush had ever did. Predominantly lead by Moog, it is the weakest track on the album, but still a great showcase of Geddy's Moog work.

The finale of the album is my personal favorite track, the epic Cygnus X-1. With an eerie intro guided by a distorted voice (Terry Brown I believe), the scene is soon set for Geddy's awesome bass intro. The riff quickly evolves into an all-out jam between the group. Then the metal-esque riff is played, and the mood and tempo of the song is in place. At about the middle of the song, the vocal comes in. Then ending with screeches from Geddy, so ends one of the best Rush albums available.

Overall, one of my favorite albums from Rush. I give it my highest recommendation. 5/5.

Report this review (#20489)
Posted Thursday, March 17, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars It's hard to choose a Rush masterpiece album. A Farewell To Kings have all to be considered the best album of the band, and more: can be considered one of the progressive music masterpiece! One of the best prog rock album ever made. This Album is the first with keyboads in Rush career and the first using complex effects in the songs, so this album marks definitivily the pure prog era of rush. A Farewell To Kings stablished them as a progressive rock band. So, what makes A Farewell To Kings essential? The album begins with a medieval atmosphere, the classic guitar intro in A Farewell To Kings (first track) do it. After the classic guitar the music starts to rock on, and the agude voice of lee, his very strong and well played rickenbacker bass and the effects of lifeson guitar make this track a great prog rock song. The drum of peart is fabulous too. Than Xanadu is the second one! The best song of the album, one of the best prog rock sound ever made! It's a complex and beauty music, with gently and heavy melodies which catchs the listener and put him in the other world; this world is XANADU! The atmosphere is this music is magic, words aren't sufficient to describe it. The guitar intro, the big monster drummer peart make excelent drumming passages. The mini-moog, the guitars, the bass and other percussion instruments are in an amazing harmony! This song get your soul and put into the higher good feelings. The instrumentation in this album is complex and the lyrics well written, the feeling and the techinique accurated are elevated at the maximum level of the band. These guys play with heart and great techinique in this album. The other songs are excelente too. Closer to the heart became a rush hit, Cinderella Man shows more hard rock approach with a great guitars, Madrigal is a beutiful song with a misterious atmosphere. The final track is other prog rock anthem: Cygnus X-1 Book One, The Voyage Prologue. The lyrics of this song is about science fiction, Cygnus is a black hole. The music is a heavy/hard/prog rock! This inspired many of the prog metal bands! Cygnus X-1 Book One can be considered with 2112 the great roots of prog metal. All the effects and instrumentation in Cygnus makes the listener think he is in a starship...yeah, this the Rocinante!
Report this review (#20490)
Posted Tuesday, March 22, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars One of my favorite albums of all time, and possibly my favorite Rush album, A Farewell To Kings sees Rush's fascination with bands such as Yes and Genesis come to full fruition. This is where it all came together for the trio, in my opinion. It takes the great, intricate arrangements of 2112 and Caress Of Steel and enhances them by throwing an array of new instruments and sounds into the mix. In particular, Neil Peart's exotic percussions such as chimes and tubular bells and Geddy Lee's use of the mini-Moog add all sorts of new flavors. The title track begins the album with a lovely classical guitar intro, enhanced with some highly melodic synth work. Then the main electric guitar riff kicks in and we're off on one of Rush's most under-appreciated and complex pieces. Angular distorted guitar madness gives way to jazz fusion a la Rush in the middle section, with Neil doing his best Bill Bruford impression and Geddy and Alex Lifeson playing ultra-tightly while still being all over the place. "Xanadu" comes next and is one of the album's classic songs, with a beautiful, extended intro that is part "Close To The Edge" and part "Shine On You Crazy Diamond". Alex shines here with his ghostly volume swells, as does Neil's fancy percussion embellishment. The main riff is Rush at their progressive best, and if they are inspired by bands like Yes on this album, then it is somewhat ironic that Yes would almost-plagiarize this riff a few years later on the song "Tempus Fugit". "Closer To The Heart" is next, and to be honest, I have never enjoyed this song much, and not just because it is popular (I happen to love "Tom Sawyer" and "New World Man"). Despite having some of Neil's most philosophical and brilliant lyrics, it seems musically out of place on this album. Not bad at all, though! "Cinderella Man" is better, and fulfills much the same role as "Circumstances" on the following album: a short, concise, uptempo rocker in between the long epics. It is also one of Rush's hardest guitar riffs to play (to this guitar player at least; my right hand just doesn't move that fluidly). "Madrigal" is very similar to "Tears" from the previous LP, but I enjoy it infinitely more, and it's richer with more instrumentation, and better lyrics. Now to the last track: reading through the reviews here, I am surprised so many people rate "Cygnus X-1" so lowly, or at least don't rate it as one of Rush's best. It has always been one of my favorite 2 or 3 Rush songs, and is for just about every Rush fan I know. Oh well, to each his own. I feel it is an essential song for anyone, especially fans of Rush: great atmospheric, eery intro; killer, angular riff, and some of the most flat-out scary interplay between three musicians I have ever heard. A killer for sure, and definitely a precursor to bands such as Dream Theater. And the storytelling aspect is brilliant as well, leaving the listener to wonder what the heck happened to the Rocinante. A great, classic Rush album and the first of many five-star releases, in my opinion.
Report this review (#20491)
Posted Wednesday, March 23, 2005 | Review Permalink
Eetu Pellonpaa
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars The second LP of Rush's "dark future trilogy" starts to depart from vinyl-side long compositions towards more compact songs, and the player's instrumental arsenal has grown to amazing amounts. The lyrics are certainly maturing, and the instrumental arrangements grow yet more sophisticated. Melodic patterns of the title track and "Closer to The Heart" hold clear hit potential, but still forming convincing and solid entity with more unconventional rock songs. "Xanadu" is certainly one of the best compositions of Rush's 1970's era along with the album closer "Cygnus X-1". The first mentioned contemplation of humanity's problematic relationship to dream of immortality and more entertaining sci-fi tale of dangerous obsession with black holes (you know I mean the cosmic one's) contain really pleasant contrasts on the song sequences; Ethereal sound realms and complexly rhythmed parts bite the bullet of straightforward rocking blasts, and keep the drive of the music blazing through cosmos and sociological movements of mankind. The only factor which slightly lessens my own appreciation to this album is not due the content of this album itself, but my own fixation to their "Exit...Stage Left" live documentations, where I felt many of these songs were performed even yet better.
Report this review (#20492)
Posted Friday, April 1, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars My favorite album by far. The first from the band I heard and the one of the first albums to teach me the real meaning of Progressive Rock. It's the finest collection of songs gathered together in one album. The title track has a delicate and medieval acoustic guitar and a nice stop-and-go section that drives me crazy. 'Xanadu' is so perfect with its spacey introduction and imaginative lyrics and the intricated parts of the epic saga 'Cygnus X-1' fits perfectly into the mood of the album that you ask for more when it's over.

'Cinderella Man' is catchy and has a nice drumming and even the famous hit 'Close to the Heart' and the beautiful 'Madrigal' has its weight to make this a huge classic. Go buy it if you don't have it!!

Report this review (#20493)
Posted Saturday, April 9, 2005 | Review Permalink
Tony Fisher
3 stars This was Rush's first real attempt to move towards the prog genre and it doesn't really work that well. There are some good moments, such as the title track and Closer to the Heart, but there is too much which doesn't reallly sound fully completed or thought through properly. Both the long tracks, Xanadu and Cygnus X1, have good moments but don't really hang together convincingly and sound slightly (dare I say it, yes I dare) - pretentious. Madrigal and Cinderella Man are pleasant and show the lighter side of the band well and, as ever, the playing is top notch. Their earlier albums were better because they stuck more to hard rock which is what they did best. But honestly, to see Rush at their best, you had (have?) to see them live, where they are unforgettable. Buy All the World's a Stage instead for a taste of them at their best.
Report this review (#20494)
Posted Sunday, April 10, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars Before I make any evaluation I should do an introduction. Yes, Genesis and Rush changed their styles when entered the 80s. We call the hitherto period the classical or artistic and the later period the commercial or light. Still, there is a lot of art in their hits and vice versa, there is a lot of catchy light elements in thier highest opuses. Frankly, I had come across these bands within their light period as a teenager-begginer and I fell in love with this music (ie. 90125, Mama, Moving pictures). Afterwards, I found all the missing pieces of the jigsaw and I was really enchanted. These were definitely those of the moments determining I would love music for the whole my life (in addition to classic music). Nevertheless, as a young chap I discovered only the old works of Genesis and Yes. Concerning Rush, Moving pictures had been for a long time the only production I knew. Now, I do not understand why I was not attracted by the others in that time. It had been waiting for me till I was more than 30. And that was Some discovery then. Hold your fire, presto, roll the bones and so on. And also Grace under pressure. Just fantastic. Great, catchy songs after one another. And importantly, the simplicity and clarity do not prevent being musically brilliant and lyrically serious and profound. Breathtaking. Oh, the first track must be the best, no the 2nd seems better, no, the third takes it all, unless the fourth one starts to sound, and so on as long as till the end. From the very first listening I have been trapped completely. Simply great. And then, I got a nice present from my brother - all old works on CDs. So I started to discover them retrogradely. And now, I have to addmit that the older piece I examined the less I liked it. And still I am not in the beginning (not listened to the first three albums). And I tried more times, particularly the Farewell to kings which I had learnt to be the hallmark of the artistic period. No, I cannot compare this to later stuff, eg. Grace under pressure. Why? Actually, I do not know. I realize that FtK is the great music, perfectly played and composed, but anyway. I try to express it by a methaphore. Once upon a time there was an young very gifted musician. And he played his music and sang his songs and everybody was charmed because as he played and sang it was like he was telling 'listen, I am great, look what I can', and he reached the stars and music served him. But after years he grew wiser and found that not the music served him but instead, he was serving music to be born. His fingers and his voice were just a modest mediator..... nevertheless, the truth is likely different: I am simply to old to this type of heavy cosmic music and I enjoy much more simple common songs. Perhaps, if i had not missed that in that time (I was listening mainly Deep Purple), I would have loved it very much. But now, not. So, who do not know the music, do not let you be dissuaded. Grace under pressure....5* Farewell to kings..........
Report this review (#20495)
Posted Saturday, April 16, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars Album number 5(in four years) Rush has found its stride with this release.Great songs,production,cover art etc..the whole package is just Quality! the only gripe I have with this album and its not their fault but I've over played this album and have gotten a bit weary of it! All in all one of the top 5/6 rush albums for sure and not one to be missed!
Report this review (#20498)
Posted Tuesday, May 24, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars I first saw Rush open for BOC in the mid 70's and was immediately struck by the power. I was a young guitar/bass player at the time and was quickly addicted to combination of meter and melody. When I saw them again a year later on the AFTK tour it was amazing the difference. They were raw before but now they were polished. Having been a musician for 30 years I can say that very artists can manitain the combination of inspiration and passion that comes from being young. The guys were mid-20's when this album was released. They had the phyiscality and passion that comes from youth yet just enough experience to sound very focused. It all came together on AFTW and Hemisperes to a lesser degree. I was stunned when first heard it. Myself and my cohorts wore out many vinyl copies learning Xanadu and Cygnus. There is simply no weak material on this album. I consider Xanadu as perhaps Rushes finest hour. I had read once that the song was recorded essentially live which explains the fact that the song while in the key of Emajor is actually a little flat from concert pitch. Guys, this is a very difficult song that Rush makes look easy. The nuance of the whole album is amazing. Even more amazing is watching them do it live. Closer to the Heart might be Rush's theme song, it's simply perfect. Madrigal might be considered a little lite for the album but it segues perfectly into Cygnus. Nobody plays a "forbidden third" like Geddy Lee While most bassist's at the time were sticking with a root and a fifth Geddy was playing melodic yet very rythmic bass in a way that was previously unknown. The fills on the theme song are amazing and through out the album. Little can be said for Neil Peart that hasn't already been said, he's in the top 2 or 3 drummers of any genre in all of drumming history. Poor Alex, imagine a band where Alex Lifeson is your weak link??!! Listen to the early performances like some of the bootleg live stuff and you can really hear the Jimmy Page influence. Somewhere between Fly by Night and 2112 ALex found his own voice and it really shines on AFTK. Only Steve Howe could top him at the time. 1977 was a very good year for prog rock and AFTK tops the list
Report this review (#20502)
Posted Tuesday, May 31, 2005 | Review Permalink
2 stars Where to start?

This was my first 'new' Rush album - the first one to be released after I was indoctrinated to the cause, and I still vividly remember the anticipation before it hit the shops in 1977. On the day it was released, I literally ran out of my final class of the afternoon, and ten minutes later I had a copy in my trembling hands. I ran all the way home, too. I was so excited, and proud, finally to be part of a new Rush album from the very beginning. In those days my devotion to Rush was more or less an obsession. It was like a religion to me, still the closest I've ever come to religion thankfully.

I ran upstairs, closed the bedroom door. Somehow my shaking hand managed to apply the stylus to the groove and I sat down to listen to Rush's latest gift to humankind.

Oh dear.

My anticipation and excitement was replaced with massive disappointment. I tried to like it - I was almost desperate to like it - but, I didn't (and I still don't). In the weeks following its release, I would wake up each morning, remember A Farewell To Kings, then feel sick and disheartened. I played it over and over and over again, hoping that I would grow to love it. No chance.

I have never quite forgiven Rush for A Farewell To Kings. It was a cruel blow to inflict on a 17 year old.

It's not quite a stinker, but it's most certainly a dud; the songs aren't particularly strong and at times it's unbearably pompous. More importantly, it has none of the purity of form, the passion or the finely-crafted edge of its magnificent predecessor - where 2112 was sharp, graceful, dramatic, assured, A Farewell To Kings is blunt, awkward and overblown. I admire their eagerness to develop their sound for the opening page of 'chapter two', but I think that - at least as far as this album is concerned - perhaps they were too ambitious. It's an experiment that emphatically failed.

Xanadu, I quite like. Admittedly, it takes what seems like half an hour to get going, but the guitar work is particularly strong, and it's a very imaginative piece. But even this suffers from an extended, pointless self-indulgent instrumental section. The bit where Alex and Geddy start practicing their scales in the middle - what's that all about?

But Cygnus X-1 - oh please. Indigestible chunks of thoughtless heavy metal riffola clash with sequences of overlong, repetitive guitar noodling that seem to have been lifted from an entirely different song. I wouldn't go as far as Neil Peart, who is reported to have said years later "I hate that song", but I certainly don't like it. It still beggars belief that the band who came up with 2112 should have been putting out nonsense like this a mere eighteen months later.

The shorter songs often work better, but are not particularly strong. Closer to The Heart is a perfectly inoffensive but ultimately not very stimulating pop-rock tune. The title track has a lovely acoustic guitar intro, then turns into something very jerky and brash indeed, with a wholly inappropriate instrumental section where Lifeson delivers a savage heavy metal solo while Geddy twangs away, pointlessly jumping octaves on a single note. I still wince when I hear the wanky major key lead guitar fills that pipe up every now and then in this track. Cinderella Man has a boring folk-rock verse, a nice chorus and (this time) a lovely, inventive funky instrumental break - but ultimately, it fails to convince.

More generally, Peart's lyrics - take "we turned our gaze from the castles in the distance" for example - are often as pompous and inappropriate as his selection of attire for the inner sleeve photo. And the production seems so very 'in your face', mostly graceless and crude instead of atmospheric.

I can't deny that A Farewell To Kings has a certain naive, inelegant charm in places, and the passing years have afforded it a patina of nostalgia that has made it slightly more palatable in retrospect. There are some good bits. There are some REALLY good bits - the lovely nylon-strung intro to the title track, Alex's lovely harmonic intro to Xanadu (although it gets a bit tedious after the first half-hour), its riff and its expressive guitar solo, Cinderella Man's catchy, affecting chorus - but these are the icing on a somewhat unappetising and haphazardly thrown-together cake.

A very interesting album. Not a very good one. It just doesn't 'gel'.

Happily, Rush's next recording project brought forth an album which was a stunning artistic achievement, every bit a worthy successor to 2112, and which rekindled my faith in Rush to a bright, blazing flame. But, that's a story for another day.

Report this review (#35958)
Posted Friday, June 10, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars farewell to kings was the first album i bought from Rush. it may sound strange but i believe it's equal to 2112, hemispheres and Moving pictures. This is the most epic album by Rush. Great cover great lyrics and great music. The 11 minute saga xanadu, the 10 minute saga cygnus x-1 and the mainstream but wonderful closer to the heart are all time progrock classics. This was the album that made me buy 2112 and hemispheres and the album that surely turned Rush into a widely accepted group. Thank God for Rush!!!!!!
Report this review (#35964)
Posted Friday, June 10, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Rush follows up their 2112 launch into the stratosphere with one brilliant song after another. Here we begin to sense that Rush will be a cut way above the average rock band. This release marks their first European recording session and shows us a band willing to punish us roundly with staggeringly compelling progressions.
Report this review (#36619)
Posted Wednesday, June 15, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is another fantastic offering from Rush. It features hard rocking riffs, great acoustic passages, great synth melodies, driving bass and drum beats, great solos, great vocals, and superb lyrics as usual.

The album starts off with what I think is probably the weakest track on the album, although it is still fantastic. It starts off with a great classically- themed classical guitar intro, and then it rocks hard from then on. Next comes the highlight of the album (for me, anyway): the epic Xanadu. Great synth parts, great riffs, great lyrics, and a great solo at the end. It tells the story of a man who sought the mystical land of Xanadu, and when he found it, he was trapped there, and I guess he went insane. Although the music is never very dark, so I don't know. It's a great song either way.

Side Two starts off with the classic hit single, Closer to the Heart. With its great acoustic intro, hard rocking main body and great lyrics, this track gets an A++++ from me. Next comes Cinderella Man, a great song with great keyboards played by Geddy. I think for some reason Geddy wrote the lyrics. They're not as good as Peart's, but they're still great. Next comes the super mellow Madrigal, great synths here, great melodies, great lyrics, just great. Cygnus X1, the epic closer, rocks really hard and tells of people who got sucked into 'the black hole of Cygnus X1.' This leads on to Rush's next album, Hemispheres, in which the first track is Cygnus X1 book two.

So all in all this is one of Rush's best album, hard-prog rock at its best, Highlights: Xanadu, Closer to the Heart, and Cygnus X1.

Report this review (#37271)
Posted Wednesday, June 22, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is indeed a masterpiece of prog music, and of rock in general. It only contains six songs and to some it may look a bit short, anyway two of the songs (Xanadu and Cygnus X-1) exceed the 10 min. length.

I have to say that RUSH's music is something you must grow accustomed to, because especially when you first hear it, you may think they're not that good. But as you explore their music and you slowly enter their world you become addicted (that's what's happened to me, at least :) ).

Let's take a look at the tracklist:

1) A farewell to kings: this is a great rocker with a beautiful intro played on classical guitar and synths and with a great solo section, which is simple but very effective. It throws me right into the middle ages! Great atmosphere, great lyrics. It may be a bit easier than other Rush songs (just a bit!) but it's a great track anyway.

2) Xanadu: This is where the real epic shows/starts. This is a 11+ min. song, telling about the fantastic dreamland created by the mythic Kubla Khan, as described by Coleridge's poem, but seen in a personal way (as Rush's usual). The long atmospheric intro is just great, and i think the guitar riff that swells into the main theme of the song is one of the best things ever written by Alex Lifeson. The song develops in many different moods and goes in circle revisiting the prevoious sections until it goes through a beautiful guitar solo to the grand finale. Great epic track.

3) Closer to the heart: This is THE classic Rush ballad, a radio favorite, but clever anyway. Great acoustic intro, a Beatles-like structure, great Queen-like solo by Alex, a great 3 min. tune. Here's an example of how you can sound great with simplicity.

4) Cinderella Man: This may sound like an easy song at first, but it's deeper than it seems. I find it very nice, especially for the lyrics, which tell about a man with a big sensibility who gets mocked by some people and then finds his own special revenge. Another great solo by Alex, this time with a wah.

5) Madrigal: A very short song with a very deep feeling to it. Geddy here is fantastic, he really makes you think he is a weary dragon-slayer who longs to go back home to his mate. The song has a very mellow and relaxing atmosphere, very sweet. Beatuiful lyrics. This one was described by Neil Peart as the album's "production song", something that later on became a tradition in Rush's discography.

6) Cygnus X-1: Now let me talk about this one: This may be my favorite Rush song ever, it's just crazy. It's straight metal for me, and it leans heavily on the sci-fi side, telling a story about a brave astronaut who throws himself with his spaceship (the "Rocinante") inside the black hole called Cygnus X-1 to discover its secret. The song starts with an ominous bass intro, which is joined by the drums after some beats (just listen to the tightness of the Peart/Lee rhythm section), and then by the guitar. The song then explodes into its main riff, always very nasty, almost thriller-like, and it leads to the moody Cygnus march (scary and HEAVY). The vocals start very late in the song. After a sung section in which we find one of the great riffs heard before, the song comes to its only "happy" section (as i call it), which describes the journey of the Rocinante through the galaxies. Very epic. Then comes the dramatic part. This part is VERY good. It almost feels like you're on the ship in your furious journey ready to be sucked into the black hole!!! In the very end Geddy screams like a madman, I think he must have blown a microphone here :) . Listening to the final spooky guitar chords you can just see the debris of the ship floating in space. Impressive. This song alway leaves me speechless after i hear it, it is more than a song, i guess it's kind of a space trip, with horror too!!! I love it.

In conclusion, I highly recommend this album to anyone who doesn't already have it in their collection. This is what i call an "essential" album. FIVE STARS!!!

Report this review (#38098)
Posted Thursday, June 30, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Symphonic rock wise Rush reached their zenith with Farewell To Kings.The title track is a catchy little prog number with a nice little instrumental break that was to become a feature of future Rush tracks.Xanadu is a much loved classic slice of prog.The construction of this peice is highly original,inventive and wonderfully satisfying. The side 2 opener Closer To The Heart is a poignant song about with a clear message about humanity that hits home well.Cinderella Man is a good song while Madrigal is ok.The final track is a bit special though.Cygnus X-1 does exactly what groups like Dream Theater can only dream of doing! PROG METAL WITH A CLUE!! Overall this has to be rated a masterpeice.4.5 stars.
Report this review (#39722)
Posted Monday, July 18, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars This album brings great memories for me as I got it when I first entered Bandung city at first time for my enrolment as engineering student at Institut Teknologi Bandung (ITB). Well, pretty late actually - roughly close to two years after official release date in 1977 - but I had no regret at all because for the past one year I had worked really hard to get the entrance to ITB, due to a very tough national competition while I was just a village boy coming from small city Madiun, 800 km away from Bandung. Yes, I was born with the heart of Lothian. I built my rock spirit when I was grown up in Madiun with all of limited availability of rock albums - but it's OK. On my first day in Bandung, I visited a rented house where my senior from Madiun (who had been an ITB student) had stayed. I heard from his room a rock music being played from the car stereo in his room. The vocal quality was very unique and very easy to identify. So, I asked him: "I it Rush?". "Yeah!" he replied while handed over me the cover of a cassette with provoking label: "RUSH - A Frewell to Kings". Wow! What a great cover and great music. That day, I went to down town Dalem kaum to buy the same cassette of this album. This represented my first collection during my study at Bandung. Bandung was the place where I met many prog mates who introduced me to diverse music styles, especially progressive rock.

The Album

The wonderful acoustic guitar work which is performed energetically, augmented with key synthesizer and vibraphone works at the intro part of opening track "A Farewell to Kings" reminds me back to "Horizon" by Genesis's Steve Hackett even though it's totally different kind of music. This excellent opening sets the overall atmosphere of the album. The music flows in a rocking style with some variation All musicians fill their roles excellently as the music produced is really solid and packed. Lifeson's guitar combined with Lee's inventive bass lines and Peart's syncopated drumming has given great enjoyment pleasure for me. Memorable segment for me is when Lee gives his bass guitar solo augmented with powerful drumming at approx minute 3:12. Lifeson then gives his guitar solo part after drum and bass works. Really nice!

The second track "Xanadu" starts off with an ambient music exploring synthesizer with soundscapes, congas, triangles and bells. This long introduction that consumes approx 2 minutes has become a pivotal part of this excellent track. The music enters slowly at minutes 2 through the soft touch of guitar fills and drum work. This instrumental part gives an excellent work of bass guitar that serves as main rhythm section of the music which is led by guitar solo plus drums. The music turns into quiet passage when Geddy Lee's voice starts to enter the music but it then moves into more complex arrangements. Synthesizer solo also enriches the textures of this track. Surely, this is one of my favorite Rush tracks.

"Closer to the Heart" (2:51) is another excellent composition which starts beautifully with acoustic guitar work and vibes to bring Lee's voice enters the music. The song moves into rockier part as the lyrical part requires the higher register notes to present. "Cinderella Man" (4:19) is another excellent track combining acoustic guitar rhythm and guitar solo. "Madrigal" (2:33) is mellow track with synthesizer and guitar rhythm that provides a good break into quiet passages.

"Cygnus X-1" (10:21) is my favorite track from this album. I enjoy the opening part on quiet passage for approx 2 minutes time. The music then enters with heavy and solid bass lines combined wonderfully with machine-gun drum work and guitar riffs. The music flows smoothly in a rocking style until vocal enters the scene in quiet mood. Structurally, this epic comprises various forms of music with a balanced combination between high and low points. In some segments there are atmospheric nuance combined with dynamic combination between bass guitar and drum. Geddy Lee's voice changes throughout the epic from high to low and returns to high points. It's very enjoyable.


Overall, "A Farewell To Kings" is the first progressive efforts by the band as all tracks are truly progressive. With this album, Rush established its strong standing as a full progressive rock band expanding its creation with various styles and forms of rock music. Most of song structures are not straight forward - even some tracks feature frequent tempo changes. It's one of finest albums by Rush. Highly recommended! Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild, GW

Report this review (#41894)
Posted Sunday, August 7, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Being the first Rush album in my collection, with a lot of memories attached to it and all, "A Farewell to Kings" could have easily led me to jump into a very subjective view. Fortunately, the band indeed come up with very strong, if not mighty, materials, ranging between concise straight-to-the-point songs and longer but tight and well- structured songs.

The opening title track, "A Farewell to Kings", kicks off with a crispy classical guitar over a light synthesizer layering passage, before exploding into a thundering rock song and Geddy Lee sings "When they turn the pages of history...." This really is a splendid choice to set the tone, from which the band firing the other (five) songs with sharp focus and bold confidence. Apart from the popular radio hit "Close to the Heart", two outstanding songs worth mentioned are the 11-minute "Xanadu", an excellent showcase of superb musicianship and arty lyrics, and the 10-plus-minute "Cygnus X-1", a tale of a swallowing black hole.

This album should be at least in the same place with what most fans consider as the band's commercial breakthrough, its predecessor, "2112". But for me this is a well- rounded and better work.

Report this review (#43390)
Posted Thursday, August 18, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars Not one of their best (not that they've had that many "good" albums to begin with). The production still doesn't do the band justice, and Geddy's voice is still way up there in that tree in the backyard. Horribly so, as a matter of fact, especially since this music is pretty damn complex and interesting on its own. Then his voice comes in and starts wailing like Yoko Ono all over everything. If you happen to locate a fully instrumental version of this LP, pick it up and give me a call on the radiograph, but as it stands, the only song that doesn't make me want to rip Geddy's larynx out with my bare hands and... oh heck, is it larynx? Or pharynx? If you decide, "Closer To The Heart" is a nice song. "Xanadu" is also a winner -- very complicated and cool. The rest is fairly iffy, mostly because of the singin'. As Grand Funk probably should have said, "Bad singin', good playin'!"
Report this review (#45283)
Posted Friday, September 2, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars What I WON'T say about this album is that it's their best, reserving that accolade for 2112. The epics are great, beginning with "Xanadu". What a creepy tune. So is Cygnus, which manages to be eerie and creepy without being scary. The production is raw, but, guys, think about was the SEVENTIES! We didn't have things like computers and ProTools at our disposal. If we did, do you really think that albums like COS and 2112 would have been even half as good? Heck no! My personal favorite on the album...yeah, I know; everyone and their mother likes this track...CLOSER TO THE HEART. Cool acoustic/synth intro, good bass work and melodic guitaring that leads into a blistering lead. Geddy's voice wasn't the polished throat we've come to expect from him, but I don't believe that we should fault him. After all, everyone in music was singing in the castrati range. Instrumental interplay is good, but the drum work is a bit buried, and that's why my rating is a bit low.
Report this review (#46103)
Posted Friday, September 9, 2005 | Review Permalink
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.

Report this review (#46696)
Posted Thursday, September 15, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars Here is where Rush finally shows what they're made of. After the brilliant career-saving, yet slightly flawed "2112," Rush show their most mature songwriting yet. Arguably one of their most progressive albums, "A Farewell To Kings" refines the hard-rocking Rush we got to know on previous albums while adding the progressive elements that make this album wonderful. The title track is a great rockin' tune with a wonderful touch of classical guitar from Lifeson. Also, the lyrics have to be some of Peart's most accomplished and pointed he's ever written. "Xanadu," one of Rush's most accomplished songs, begins by creating a peaceful yet eerie atmosphere thanks to the atmospheric guitar and keyboards, along with bells and chirping birds. The tune soon kicks in for an adventure you'll just have to hear, closed by one of Lifeson's best guitar solos he's ever recorded. "Closer To The Heart" was one of Rush's first big commercial hits that may not appeal to all prog fans, but I find a worthwhile song with yet another wonderful set of lyrics provided by Peart along with Talbot. "Cinderella Man" is often an overlooked song on this album. Though not as awesome as "Xanadu" or the soon-to-come, "Cygnus X-1," it is certainly a valid rocker with some nice riffage provided by Lifeson. "Madrigal" is a very short, mellow tune with some contemplative lyrics. Most may find it a throwaway track, but it really provides a balance for what has come before it on the album, and the monster that's after it: "Cygnus X-1: The Voyage." Probably another one of Rush's greatest songs, it begins the tale of a space explorer and a black hole that will be continued in the next album, "Hemispheres." The song starts off with some quintessential "spacey" sounds (though not a la "2112") and some spoken (yet kind of geeky) lyrics. The song builds and builds off of one of Lee's thumping bass lines before entering into some nice barre-chord riffing. The story continues up to a guitar solo until they turn down the volume a bit to come back for another build up. What ensues is just chaos, complimented nicely with some shrieking provided by Lee. "A Farwell To Kings" proves to be one of Rush's most progressive and best albums they have released. The album (in my opinion) doesn't have any glaring faults, but still is not a masterpiece. But don't let that deter you from it, for "A Farewell To Kings" is surely not to be missed!
Report this review (#46912)
Posted Saturday, September 17, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars This one is realy great. It has almost anything. The opening trak is a dynamite with great melodies and powerfull structures. From the clasic guitar to the great rhythm section when lifeson plays his solo this trak is amaizing. The second one is even better. The magnificent Xanadu... this is one of the band best ever. Great percussion in the begining which make it atmospheric, Lifeson's guitar at its best and some very dexterous basslines from Geddy. The melodies and the guitar solo compete a masterpiece. Closer to the heart is a prog hit which doesn't mean that it isn't a very good song. Cinderela man is one of my favorite short traks by Rush with very meorable chorous and very good performance by the band. Madrigal is the light tone the album needs with some very nice keys. The closer is one of Rush's most complex songs with Lee and Peart leading to another masterpiece. Lifeson's riffs are just powerfull and his solo is just what the track needs... This is a superb album overall. If you like prog you should get it.
Report this review (#51409)
Posted Wednesday, October 12, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars I bought A Farewell to Kings after hearing that it was even better than isn't. There are no truly bad songs on this album, but nothing stands out as a masterpiece. I'd go for 2112, Moving Pictures, and Hemispheres before this one.

It's hard to name anything specifically wrong with this album, but it's just as hard to name anything good, except for the classical guitar that opens the title track. More than three stars, but not enough to earn it four. 7/10

Report this review (#52881)
Posted Saturday, October 22, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Why is this album so underappreciated on progarchives? A Farewell to Kings is one of the greatest prog albums of all time and ought to rank in the top 10 (it's certainly better than Moving Pictures!)

Although relatively new to prog when I first found this sight I knew my Floyd and Genesis thoroughly, my Rush well, and Yes weakly. What I found is that the top rated albums are all indeed superb and even ranked in a manner similar to what I'd rank them as. As I added artists to repertoire (Tull, Crimson, Camel, etc.) I graciously thanked progarchives for being such a remarkable guide for prog songs. That is until I came across the and partially disregarded A Farewell to Kings. My message:

Don't be fooled, A Farewell to Kings is masterful!

This album showcases Rush at their finest: Geddy singing with his signature voice and propelling songs with his bass; Peart playing powerful and appropriately; Lifeson running structuredly wild; and, most importantly, Rush layering the aforementioned individual performances.

Below is a brief review of the individual tracks.

A Farewell to Kings rocks as the album starter and I especially love the acoustic introduction. When I listened to the album for the first time I became very excited and anxious to see if the album holds up. It is bold starting so soft and melodically. To my great relief and happiness, the rest does.

Xanadu - my favorite Rush track. The vocals soar, the precision of the synths and keyboards often makes it sound as if they're playing themselves. I don't find 11 minute tracks very often that I simply cannot wait to hear again - immediately.

Closer to the Heart is catchy enough, although it strikes me as their effort to hit the radio, which isn't always bad. Great songs like WYWH fall into the same category (although granted WYWH holds onto its integrity 100%, while Closer certainly loses some).

Cinderalla Man rocks effectively, Madrigal personifies the important role of melodic filler before epicness. This of course being Cygnus X-1. Rush went in the futuristic direction that I don't hear as often as the medieval, and they did it superbly. A thorough prog song to finish Rush's best album.

Report this review (#54785)
Posted Saturday, November 5, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is definitely my favorite Rush album; A Farewell to Kings is one of Rush's finest hours. Their fifth album, it really shows the culmination of the progressive side of Rush that was experimented with on the previous two releases.

AFTK begins with a soothing, almost hypnotic acoustic intro from Alex Lifeson on the title track. It soon kicks into a rocking song with some excellent guitar work from Alex Lifeson. Great lyrics from Neil Peart can be found here, though one of my favorite aspects of this song might not be noticed by many - the way that Geddy Lee sings the word "down" in the phrase "beating down the multitude." The way he vibrates his voice on this one note sounds so awesome! (Not really that important in very many aspects, but I just thought it would be neat to mention it.) Overall, the band's abilities comes together perfectly to create a progressive rock tune that I almost always have stuck in my head.

However, the extended prog epics are definitely the highlight of AFTK. "Xanadu" is probably one of Rush's greatest epics because of its exceptional balance of musical technique and precise timing; it is also more concise and fluid than previous songs like "2112" or "The Fountain of Lamneth". "Xanadu" starts out quietly with Lifeson's "violining" on the guitar and Lee's keyboards to create a placid atmosphere. One might think of a purple morning, when the creatures have come back to life and the dew is still young. With this image, the song suddenly erupts into an explosive rock song with a catchy riff (in the same vein as the title track, but more dynamic) and some amazing drumming from Peart (cow bell!) and great bass from Lee. The song soon returns to the atmospheric form as Lee's vocals come in. As you probably expected, not for long. As if the song could get any crazier, it heads full speed into the lightning fast verse section, and repeats this cycle once more before finally culminating with Lee's shriek of "For I have dined on honeydew, and drunk the milk of paradise!" and Lifeson's brilliant solo before relaxing at the end. This is probably the most mature song on the album, and along with "Closer to the Heart", has aged the best.

Starting the next half of the album is one of Rush's earliest popular songs that still gets much airplay today. The acoustic guitar in the beginning is beautiful. The song is very short, under three minutes, but in that short amount of time Rush manages to create an unforgettable song with Peart's metronomic drumming, Lifeson's masterful guitar, and Lee's unbeatable bass and vocal performance.

The next song, "Cinderella Man", is NOT a throwaway. It is NOT filler. However, I wouldn't quite put it on the level of, say, "Xanadu" or "A Farewell to Kings", but it IS a solid song with some great work from the whole band, especially Lifeson's solo. Hey, not all the songs on an album can be classics, right? But they can certainly all be pretty darn good, and that's what this song is.

The shortest track on AFTK, "Madrigal", is appropriately named; a quieter ballad about love, this song has a very laidback mood, with acoustic guitar, melodic bass, echoing drums, and sincere lyrics from Peart sung in an equally sincere voice by Lee. Seems somewhat unfinished in my opinion, but compliments the album well.

.And just as you've lain down to relax to "Madrigal", the music screeches to a halt and turns full circle. Chilling spacey sci-fi effects start off the grand finale of the album. A haunting recital by Neil Peart tells the story of the death of a star in the constellation of Cygnus: this is "Cygnus X-1". Slowly fading in is Geddy Lee's awesome bass hook, which sounds almost percussive on the "Rush in Rio" DVD. This is soon complimented by rapid- fire drums, and then guitar (all in 13/8 time), before launching the listener headlong into lightning-fast riffs and bewildering time changes. 6/8 to 11/8 to 12/8 to 11/8. it's insane! As the 11/8-12/8 (23/16?) switching section comes to a halt, Lee's vocals cut in. The song starts rocking again, but takes an unexpected turn - an excited, almost adventurous segment of the music tells the story (and sets the mood) of a space explorer of sorts journeying into the uncharted Cygnus constellation, only to slip melancholy as his ship is pulled further towards the black hole of Cygnus X-1 (funny, as it's a real location that's believed to be a black hole!), which is apparent in the lyrics in the sudden change of tempo and switch from C major to C minor. As Lee's singing of "Control" echoes into darkness, Alex Lifeson's wah-heavy solo truly squeezes distress into the listener's ears. As the solo ends, a quieter section of more spacey sounds builds into a rock-hard segment in a tricky 11/8 beat. Returning to the original riff (from the section RIGHT AFTER Lee's "bass hook" portion), but faster, more insane, and the manic shrieks of Geddy Lee, all the bands musicianship comes together to create a truly intense finale as Lee shrieks his last and most effective on the album. "Cygnus X-1" ends with an almost inaudible unsteady drum beat, and Lifeson's strumming of barre chords. Trust me, you WILL feel lost after listening to this song. Though one of Rush's most progressive rock songs, it doesn't quite fit the rest of the album. But it is necessary. That's the magic of one of Rush's most progressive albums. A Farewell to Kings is right up there with 2112 or Permanent Waves. I VERY HIGHLY recommend this to any fan of progressive rock music, specifically "art rock". I'm sure you won't regret it.

Report this review (#55985)
Posted Friday, November 11, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is a Rush Classic, it starts out great and carries it to the end.

A Farewell To Kings: Very catchy, and Alex Lifeson's solo as mentioned by others is just breathtaking.

Xanadu: This track is extremely impressive, the more I listen to it, the more I like it. -- I admit I thought it was average on first listen, but once you 'get it' it's all worth it.

Closer To The Heart: Rush has probably played this at every concert since, I think it's a cute track, but highly overrated. It's great, but only when your in a mood for more ''accessible'' stuff but with talent.

Cinderella Man: This track will neither dissappoint or impress, alot of Rush fans seem to think it's a filler, I dunno about that, but it's not on the level of the other tracks.

Madrigal: It starts off extremely nicely, and is a short beautiful song.

Cygnus X-1: This track is a huge turning point from Madrigal, and one of the best on the album. Lot's of time switches, if you are a fan of prog music, this song is a musthave.

This album just like 'Hemispheres'' I think suffers from only 36 min of music, that's not very much. The songs themselves are worth it, but it does leave you wanting more.

Overall: 4.5/5

Report this review (#58473)
Posted Monday, November 28, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Another masterpiece from the band (one of mine favorite album by Rush), with a sound more progressive and less heavy than the preceding one, it is enriched with acoustic parts and with the sound of minimoog and bells that give it a magic and mysterious atmosphere, especially in the Wonderful song "Xanadu" based on a Samuel T. Coleridge's novel, which talks about a lost eastern land. Others great songs are the title track with a very nice acoustic baroque intro by Lifeson, their first hit "Closer to the Heart" with great lyrics and the Wonderful "Cygnus x-1", with its sci-fi lyrics, it's the longer and more complex song of the album. Good songs are also the delicate ballad "madrigal" and "Cinderella Man". Surely it's an album that recommend it for who still don't know the band!
Report this review (#60432)
Posted Thursday, December 15, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars Personally, I think "A Farewell to Kings" is the best Rush album. If I had to rank them though, it wouldn't be number 1 (difference between my personal tastes and what deserves a high rank). This would still be top 5 in my book at least, because this is one great album right here. "Xanadu" is arguably one of Rush's Top 10 songs, and it is even given tough competition when trying to decide what the best song on the album is. This album has a very odd style, but it is very enjoyable to listen to. Sometimes you'll think your in the middle of a jungle paradise or something, and the next minute they all shift to a hard style. Very unique album, and I highly reccommend it to everyone who likes Rush (or can at least stand them). Not a bad song in the bunch, and a few of them are some of the elite throughout Rush's entire career.
Report this review (#61716)
Posted Monday, December 26, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars A Farewell to Kings - the best Rush album? Well, Moving Pictures, 2112 or Hemispheres are pretty close too, but this is an absolute masterpiece from one of the best bands in the history of rock music. Everything is in it's place: the high pitched vocals and the pounding bass sound of Geddy Lee, the hard rocking guitar and the fantastic solos of Alex Lifeson and the brilliant drumming of Neil Peart.

It's quite interesting that Rush were at their peak during the late 70's and early 80's, a period of time that saw the rise of punk and the fall of prog - yet there they were, a young trio from Canada playing an innovative mix of prog and hard rock. A Farewell to Kings is a brilliant showcase of their compositional talents, their incredible skill and the huge amount of feeling they managed to inject into their music.

The album has a wide range of different styles and moods. Side 1 and the title track start with the blissful acoustic guitar intro, wich then turns into one of the best songs of Rush; driven by the amazing riffing of Lifeson and backed up by the solid rhythm section and the strong vocals and lyrics. This sets the overall tone for the album perfectly. Xanadu is a great epic with extremely catchy melodies and vocal lines and a brilliant, elegant guitar solo from Alex Lifeson.

At the beginning of Side 2 we have a bunch of shorter tracks. Closer to the Heart starts as a ballad and then slowly picks up pace and ends up as a great rock tune. CInderella Man is a beautiful track with another brilliant guitar solo. Madrigal is the only real ballad on the album, and a good and successful one. But then in the end we have Cygnus X-1, the first part of the epic space explorations of Rush. It's a heavy track with some quite hard riffing and drumming. The Hawkwind-type keyboard sound and the lyrics also give it a space rock edge. An utterly brilliant song!

So as a conclusion, I really can't say enough about the brilliance of this album and my words can't possibly do enough justice for this one, not in the least. Truly a magnificent album. The words "Essential: a masterpiece of progressive music" are rarely as appropriate as here.

Report this review (#62276)
Posted Thursday, December 29, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is what I consider to be Rushes finest record. A well structured and consistent masterpiece that firmly established Rush as one of the leading progressive acts of the late 70s. Every member of the group is on great form and the songwriting is exceptional.

The opening track "A farewell to kings" seems to be somewhat overlooked by prog fans as it is overshadowed by the longer pieces "Xanadu" and "Cygnus X-1". The track begins with some excellent classical acoustic guitar, and in true Rush style, explodes with ear splitting guitar riffs, powerful rhythms and Geddy Lee's high pitched yelp. The centerpiece piece of the album however is the second track "Xanadu", one of the most unique songs to appear on a Rush record. For this track, drummer Neil Peart wasn't afraid to use everything at his disposal, using drums his bandmates had never even heard of. Yet what really makes the track stand out is it's wonderful intro, sounding almost "spiritual" and taking a full five minutes before the vocals enter. "Xanadu" is Pearts take on Coleridges classic verse and it holds up excellently, featuring some of Pearts most powerful drumming. Quick to become a fan favourite the song has stayed in the bands setlist for a long time.

Side two opens with Rushes first big hit, the short but effective none the less "Closer to the heart", the song recieved a lot of air-play and a reworking live to include some hearty jamming to finish. The albums closer "Cygnus X-1" is another elongated jem that was to be continued on the next album "Hemispheres". "Cygnus X-1" is complete with it's own sci-fi storyline (of a blackhole) and some fierce playing from each member, not forgetting Lee's wonderful bass line at the beginning. The track screams violently out of your speakers, mind blowing and powerful, one of the greatest tracks from Rush in the 70s.

Rush would soon crack under the pressure of having to follow up the storyline to "Cygnus X-1" and as the band would later admit "the music was becoming a slave to the concept, instead of being lifted by it" But on this record, everything sounded perfect.

Report this review (#63667)
Posted Saturday, January 7, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars AH Rush one of my all time favorite 70s prog bands not to mention this is one of my favorite Rush albums. i must admit 2112 was a big takeoff for the career of Rush but A Farewell to Kings really stepped them up into prog stardom. Plus its the first where Geddy Lee does Synths COOL!!!!! anyway well first i will admit i am a big fan of Hard Rock and this is where Rush really took off combining prog and hard rock into one big rock----well you know. Anyway this starts off with well A FAREWELL TO KINGS which isn't very proggy but a nice medium tempo hard rock song with a very great solo by Lifeson. Then comes the first epic of the album with 11 minutes of great progressive melodic madness of XANADU one of my favorite Rush songs with awesome synth parts as well as a great guitar solo as Lifeson put some aweomse feeling into this solo. Then comes a very ballady i guess you can but a big hit for Rush CLOSER TO THE HEART dispite its length it really is a great track and the solo is just freaking awesome. then comes CINDERELLA MAN which is just another great Rush with cool bass, great drums, and i love the panning with Lifeson's Solo, Madrigal is okay its nothing more but a Geddy Lee inspired mellow song. BUT THEN COMES THE DARKNESS OF RUSH with CYGNUS X-1 as you get some spacy inspired PEART LYRICS along with a funky bass intro and just pure darkness of Rush surprised me how dark this song is but hey sometimes Rush will surprise. So either way this album is great a must have for Rush fans as Geddy Lee does well with his Funky bass licks high pitched singing and screaming for that matter, and somewhat cheesy but oh so catchy synth soloing, Alex Lifeson once again shows us why he is so admired by young guitar players as he shows off his aggresive but some what emotional side with his soloing, and Neil Peart cheez what hasn't been said about him one of my most inspirational idols as a drummer i totaly respect him and well i don't think i've ever heard a bad Peart performance as he definitely shines in this album especially in XANADU. So for all Rush fans definitely an album worth a price of 9.99 5 STARS.
Report this review (#76056)
Posted Sunday, April 23, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Rush continued to progress with every album they made (even with some of the elements on Caress of Steel. Many of those progressive elements come together here on A Farewell to Kings, and it proves to be one of their most balanced records the trio would ever record. There is a great sense of variety on each of the tracks here, which is really nice to see in a progressive outing such as this one. The opening title track features some of drummer/prime lyricist Neil Peart's best symbolism; musically, it starts with a soft acoustic/moog piece before erupting into a nice rocker with a great instrumental break midway. "Xanadu" is the big gem here, with a great concept and a score that practically takes the listener to such a place. I was one of those who really didn't mind Geddy Lee's vocals that much, and he really brings the lyrics out here and across the entire album, and he is a hell of a rock bassist, giving a new accent to the bottom lines. Rush had their first radio hit since "Fly by Night" with "Closer to the Heart," a short but musically complex piece; Alex Lifeson has some great guitar work on both the lead AND rhythm parts...just try nailing the signature beginning. "Cinderella Man" is okay, with Lee providing the lyrics this time. The romantic "Madrigal" is an excellent number, with Peart showing off his lyrical talents in terms of a "mythical" love song, if you want to call it that. The album closes with the mysterious "Cygnus X-1," a ten minute epic about a spaceship, that would be continued on their next and best (and my personal favorite Rush) album, Hemispheres. The extra synthesizers and expansion of themes add a new dimension for Rush, and A Farewell to Kings helped to bring them further into the spotlight, as they always wanted to do it different from the rest.
Report this review (#80630)
Posted Wednesday, June 7, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars considering that the 70's Rush albums are the more representative of the band i would definitely choose this one to stand up among the has more mature compositions not the 'nessecary' long superficial epics but strong melodies, anthemic refrains and progressive orgies... a real masterpiece..
Report this review (#81452)
Posted Monday, June 19, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars AFTK is in my opinion the best Rush albums and one of the greatest rock and prog rock albums of all time. It contains three amazing, epic songs: the fantastic rocking title track with a lovely intro on classical guitar, the epic of them all "Xanadu" and finally the sci-fi classic "Cygnus X-1". There are also three nice songs in between, "Closer to the Heart" being the most recognized and the biggest radio hit, then "Cinderella Man" and the short but beautiful "Madrigal". Geddy Lee's singing may be an aquired taste, but like the Cinderella Man he does what he can and does it well. Alex Lifeson plays delivers one of his best performances on this album and specially on "Xanadu", where he soloes like never before. Neil Peart is as always great behind the drums and as lyricist.

This record would be followed by a more pretentious Hemispheres, which offered a sequel for Cygnus, but there is no doubt that both the original song and the album are better. This one truly deserves five stars. It's a tragedy that Moving Pictures are recognized by many as Rush's greatest album, 'coz its not. A Farewell to Kings is and remains their greatest achievement.

Report this review (#83882)
Posted Sunday, July 16, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars Rush has such a passion when they play. A great majority of their songs touch me, whether by lyrical intelligence, musical adrenaline, or just the atmosphere. A Farewell To Kings is an extremely intelligent, moving, and plainly entertaining piece. Xanadu has an absolutely astounding introduction, segments that make you jump out of your seat and head bang, and more sections that send chills through you. Cygnus X-1 is deeply thought provoking, darkly mysterious, and serves as a jagged prequel to Hemispheres. True, it is uneven in places: there's a guitar segment that could easily have been its own song and felt a little light for such a malevolent song, but nonetheless, is great.
Report this review (#84333)
Posted Thursday, July 20, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Cities full of hatred, fear and lies!

Wonderful album. 3 great songs make this a worth of purchase. Though Geddy's vocals are quite annoying sometimes, the music just corrects everything.

A Farewell To Kings is an amazing rocker with prog elements. Amazing musicianship from every member. The chorus is just damn great. This could have been made to a 20min epic. And the guitarsolos, oh my god how much emotion...

Xanadu might be the best song. Everything is quite in place here. Sometimes I find myself listening to this 5 times a row. Damn great song.

Closer To The Heart, a filler? Naah, a great rock song. I like this one.

Cinderella Man is quite streched, but still wonderful Rush song, the chorus is the weak link but awesome song anyway.

Madrigal is quite nice shorty. Giving some time to relax before Cygnus, which is a damn great rocker. The intro last like 4 minutes which is quite long but the the last 6 is darn amazing.

4½ so 5 stars! A must have!

Report this review (#85467)
Posted Wednesday, August 2, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars A Farewell to Kings is by far my most adored album of Rush's releases. This album is a prodigy to the industry of Rock, Prog Rock, and Art Rock. Whatever you want to classify them as this album is the greatest of them all. Not only does this album have my favorite song on it from all of Rush's great releases. Having been raised off of Rush from when I'd been sucking my thumb my family has given me a chance to listen to music as great as this. Here's my review:

1. A Farewell to Kings: 5/5 this song is not only an awsome song, but I also love the lyrical content that Peart applies. Great intro to the CD, and a very enjoyable song!

2. Xanadu: 5/5 Xanadu is by far my favorite song ever created by Rush being a great tale about a man who becomes immortal, it's just a great tune with progressive written all over it. It's an epic I still haven't gotten over quite yet.

3. Closer to the Heart: 5/5 a song I love and wish it could only be a little bit longer. Short and sweet and to the point Closer the heart is an adorable song that's only about 2 3/4 mintues long.

4. Cinderella Man: 5/5 great tune with plenty of room for lyrical value Cinderella Man is an awsome song that I absolutely love!

5. Madrigal: 5/5 bit slower but still great all the same Madrigal takes my enjoyment to a good level. It has some great melody to it in my belief.

6. Cygnus X-1: 5/5 an epic that I love all together. A great story about a space traveler who gets sucked into the black whole Cygnus. The story brings an excellent progression that is to die for. First part to a two part epic which is continued in Hemispheres.

Over all this shorter album is an incredible creation by Rush. If you've ever been thinking of getting some Rush I recommend this album above all others. It's worth the buy and won't disapoint. This masterpiece is something to listen too. Geddy, Alex, and Neil make the best band in the world.

Report this review (#87173)
Posted Monday, August 14, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars The pinnacle of Rush. A wonderful blend of hard rock and prog, Rush made themselves here. The inclusion of additional instruments(the moog) add more dynamics to Rush's sound, and in addition Rush brought out some of their best melodies and rhythm sections on this album.

Xanadu is by far my favorite Rush track, and probably their most "progressive" effort. If you heard this song by Yes, you wouldn't doubt it to be prog for a second. Xanadu is a mystical atmosphere, which envelopes you and takes you in for a journey of sonic bliss. If you are looking to get into Rush, look no further than this track.

My only complaint about this album is Cygnus, which I have never been too fond of. I understand why a lot of people like it, let's just say it's not for me. A Farewell to Kings(the song) is underrated, a great opener to the cd. Rush defined their progressive nature firmly with this album, cementing their status as Canada's finest.

Report this review (#93454)
Posted Thursday, October 5, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Following the breakthrough of 2112, the three-piece Canadian prog-power trio faced a daunting task. How to follow-up a breakthrough release (that would eventually rank among the greatest prog-rock epics of all-time) while still continuing the growth the band had shown throughout its relatively brief career? The truth is the band was conflicted. They wanted to expand their possibilities and explore the sci-fi themes first touched on Caress of Steel and 2112. To do so, they felt they needed to add another element to their sound, specifically the synthesizer. Initially, they looked outside of their inner circle, looking to add a fourth band member. But after an unsuccessful search the band decided the answer lie within, with Geddy Lee assuming primary keyboard responsibilities and both he and guitarist Alex Lifeson filling out the sound with extensive use of foot-controlled Taurus pedals.

Thus began a great and successful experiment that saw the band move from (what many considered) a Led Zep-wannabe to iconic prog-metal trailblazer. Beginning with AFTK and extending over the next 10 years the band would continue to grow and experiment, releasing an outstanding album at breakneck speeds. A Farewell to Kings was the initial footsteps on that great journey.

Perhaps lacking the great ambition of the 20-minute opus 2112, AFTK nevertheless contains greatness, especially Xanadu, which is (in my opinion) the single greatest song ever. Like many of the band's mid-70's releases the album suffered from the challenge of combining long pieces with shorter "songs" often used as filler. Still, the sequence works successfully, more so as a modern day CD than as a 2-sided album release.

The opening title track is as good a five minute prog rocker as you'll find, combining many elements that would become signature Rush over the next several years. This is followed by the magnum opus known as Xanadu. Based on the great Samuel Taylor Coleridge poem "Kubla Khan" the song is simply perfection. The outstanding, slow-burn opening is classical in many ways, and leads into a musical tour-de-force. The lyrics, aptly capturing the poem's grandeur do not kick in until the five minute mark, but it all works and blends perfectly. The climactic buildup successfully concludes an 11-minute journey through the best that Rush has to offer.

Side two is reminiscent of side two from 2112 with three songs and "Cygnus X-1", a 10-minute intro to the Hemispheres piece. Amongst the three short songs is perhaps Rush's most well-known and popular song, "Closer to the Heart". It's basically a 3-minute rocker, about as concise of a "pop" song as the band ever penned. "Cinderella Man" and "Madrigal" are relatively forgettable in the overall Rush pantheon, but work well enough.

Finally, there is "Cygnus X-1". Even though the song logged in at over 10 minutes, the album's liner notes said the story was "To Be Continued". This was manna from heaven for die-hard Rush fans like myself. The song itself was quintessential Rush prog indulgence, combining sci-fi lyrics, time changes, and a story that's damn hard to follow. Anything that contains the lyrics "I set a course just east of Lyra, And northwest of Pegasus, Flew into the light of Deneb" deserves direct passage to the prog hall of fame.

Still, it al worked, combining the best elements of 70's prog rock and was, in many ways, just another chapter in the massive tomb the little 3-piece from Canada continues to write to this very day. A classic progressive masterpiece.

Report this review (#94777)
Posted Monday, October 16, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars I find it difficult to be entirely objective when reviewing Rush as they have been my favourite band for 30 years - ever since I picked up 2112 on LP as a kid at school. Anyway, here goes.

I prefer this album to 2112 - edgy start - mainly because of the presence of Xanadu and Cygnus X-1. These are among my favourite Rush songs because of the atmosphere they build and the dynamic nature of the music. Both are 10 minutes plus epics which underline Rush's credentials as a outstanding progressive artists.

The remaining tracks whilst short are by no means fillers. There is not much to say about the anthemic Closer To The Heart which is beautiful in its simplicity, a nice riff and concise. meaningful lyrics. Cinderella Man and Madrigal are widely considered as weaker, perhaps non-prog tracks but they both stand up well in their own right. Their mellowness is very welcome amidst the intensity of the albums two epics. Finally, A Farewell To Kings features one of the best guitar intros ever period. After which the song soars majestically thanks to Alex Lifeson's guitar work and Geddy Lee's emotional vocals.

In all an excellent album marking the continued musical growth an daring of Canada's (and the World's) prog-rock trio.

Report this review (#94793)
Posted Tuesday, October 17, 2006 | Review Permalink
The T
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars The second-best release from Rush's 70's period, this one was a true evolution after the great progressive-ignition that was 2112. If that earlier album had a flawed 20+ epic, A Farewell to Kings finally had the formula corrected and improved, with two long tracks at 10 minutes each, plus 4 short, almost filler tracks (my complain with 70's Rush) in between. As in Hemispheres, which I just reviewed, the album's length leaves somewhat to be desired, specially if we have in mind that the short pieces are not up to par with the near-epic ones.

A Farewell to Kings, (8/10), a good short track with Rush at their most ROCK-prog (not prog-rock). It actually takes two listens to appreciate it (at fisrt It sound rather bland to me) but finally you realize this song works.

2. Xanadu, (10/10), Rush's finest moment from the 70's, my favorite pre-Moving Pictures song, with amazing lyrics by Rush's pen master Neil Peart (who happened to be a masterful cymbal-beater, too). It has a main verse followed by a chorus-like section, with a repetition of both with amazing soloing and a great introduction.

Closer to the Heart, (9/10), a very short song but actually the most memorable from this album, not only because of Peart's intelligent lyrics but because the melody is one of Rush's best. It's not a love song for a woman, is a love song for, well, love. Great.

Cinderella Man, (7/10), weak short track ("weak" in Rush never translates into "bad", that's why it still gets a 7), good lyrics and a good performance by high-pitched witch- look-alike bass-master Geddy Lee.

Madrigal, (7/10), the least memorable track in the album, but enjoyable nevertheless.

Cygnus X-1, (9/10), a near-epic that begins a story that ends in part II in Hemispheres; I prefer this one to its longer conclusion, because this one has all the unity and coherence that the one in the following album lacked. A good, even great song that closes the album in style.

So what we got here is a very, very good album by one of progressive-rock's true legends; I've already stated my general complains about Rush's 70's era (too much fillers, saw sounding guitars) but not one of those has anything to do with their musical talents, which they had and in unusual amount. A fantastic, beyond-his-time drummer, (also one of the genre's best lyrics writers), an amazing guitarist and a excellent bass player and competent, at times great singer. This album contains Rush's best song from the 70's (Xanadu), and as a whole feels more complete than its follow-up, Hemispheres. It only lacks that albums' biggest asset: the outstanding Villa Strangiato. But, those points made, these two albums are the best from that era in the band's history and two necessary cadditions to any prog- collection worthy of respect.

Recommended for: Prog lovers, rock lovers, music lovers.

Not recommended for: again, fans of album-elephantism. You won't get more than 37 minutes from the canadians.

Report this review (#96199)
Posted Sunday, October 29, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars The beginning of my favorite period of Rush. This album, and the next two, were for me the pinnicle of Rush music. That said, I can't quite give this 5 stars.

The opening title track is excellent, and would give a formula that they would use for a few songs on future albums (Freewill comes to mind in terms of structrure). I find it intersting that Rush can use the verse - chorus - verse - chorus - bridge - solo - chorus format so successfully. After all, it is something of a pop music format. In any case, this is a great song.

Zanadu is, of course, one of the best Rush songs ever. A fantastic beginning with excellent volume swells by Lifeson. The dramatic dynamics, the wonderful playing by all, the fantastic arrangements. Simply one of the best songs in all of prog without a doubt.

Then comes the hit single. Not a bad song really, with uplifting lyrics by Peart. But nothing special either. At the end it sounds like they are just getting going on a wild jam, then it fades out. A song I've heard to many times to really like much anymore (a radio favorite, mostly because of its' short length and simplistic structure). But not a bad song really.

Cinderalla Man is a pretty good song about a man who is wealthy and gives much of his wealth to those in need. A good lyric and a decent song, though nothing outstanding.

Madrigal is a short, sweet, classical sounding song. A simple love song type of track with a bit of a medival sound to it. Not bad.

Finally, Cygnus X-1 Book 1. A fantastic track. Very complex and moody, and one of Rush's crazier songs. This is much better in it's place as the middle of Book II (confusing, I know.........but try this: on a cassette or with digital editing software, place this song after Part IV Armageddon and before Part V Cygnus......if you can do fade out and fade in it works perfectly.......listen in to the beginning of Cygnus, the quiet part, and you will hear bits of Book 1 fade in and out). Then it makes a 28 minute masterpiece. But even by itself this song is quite good.

Overall, one of Rush's best albums. A solid 4.5 stars for me, rounded down to 4 because this is not quite a masterpiece but certainly an excellent addition to any prog rock collection.

Report this review (#99783)
Posted Tuesday, November 21, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars I've been an ardent Rush fan since 1981, and I've always wanted to get this off my chest.

The production on AFTK is... ugly! Neil sounds like he's playing a minature toy drum kit... especially the snare. Alex is making his first foray into chorus and achieves one of the muddiest guitar tones I've ever heard. The newly incorporated mini-moog sounds reedy and thin. The bass... hey, I'm a bass player, and I play a Rick primarily, love that sound... but even that sounds twangy and just plain unpleasent. I find all this odd, because the two albums it falls between (2112 & Hemispheres) have quite good production for their day. T. Brown... what happened??

Okay, AFTK is salvaged by the songwriting. This one started a series of albums for me where there weren't any weak songs, which lasted through Hold Your Fire. The writing is outstanding. But this is an album I always find myself wishing Rush would rerecord with the all the benefits of modern technology to serve the remarkable songs.

Four stars because I still view this as a prog rock classic, wretched production aside.

Report this review (#101975)
Posted Thursday, December 7, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is a great album. Each Song is different and memorable, unlike many progressive albums where most songs sound the same. My least favorite track is Xanadu, and I still like that song a lot. The best song, in my opinion, is Cygnus X-1. That song is what prog. is all about. Cygnus X-1 Book 2, on Hemispheres is also an amazing fallow-up.
Report this review (#104119)
Posted Friday, December 22, 2006 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
5 stars This is the first RUSH record I bought when I was around 16 years old, many years ago. I didn't know it was considered Prog back then but I was always fascinated with "Xanadu", and would describe it back then as being like songs within a song, a journey, a story. So yeah, I was being prepared by the masters for the prog world I would one day enter. RUSH does make me proud to be a Canadian, and they have been my favourite band for a long, long time.

I love the way this record starts off with the title track that is a straight ahead in your face rocker. The song starts off so quietly with classical guitar, and then it's like someone turns the volume to ten a minute in. I remember rushing over to turn it down the first time I played this on my record player in my bedroom, knowing my mom would soon be yelling at me if I didn't. Geddy's vocals are at their best on this track, and the guitar is amazing. "Xanadu" is truly a RUSH classic with Geddy playing moog to open, and there is an abundance of tempo and mood shifts. The lyrics for me are like reading a short novel, they're great ! The drumming is incredible and Geddy's bass playing is prominant.

"Closer To The Heart" is a beautiful song with some great bass lines. I love when Geddy goes "Wooooooh" and Alex comes in guitar just a blazing. Priceless. "Cinderella Man" is one of my favourite RUSH songs, that for some reason has popped into my head over the years, and I just will start singing "Cinderrella man, doing what you can..." Just out of the blue this happens. The instrumental passage 2 1/2 minutes in is fabulous. "Madrigal" features Alex on the bass pedal synths, and is a reserved tune giving us time to prepare for "Cygnus X-1". The first 5 minutes of this song are instrumental and the drumming is fantastic ! This is a ride folks. And not your typical spacerock either, parts of this song will peel the paint off your spaceship.The story of an astronaut who travels to the constellation Cygnus in order to go into the black hole. His ride is described in this song. Interesting that the second part of this story is continued with the first song of the next record "Hemispheres".

From the cover of the record to what we hear inside, this record is pure genius.

Report this review (#106687)
Posted Monday, January 8, 2007 | Review Permalink

I have to notice the job of one of the most underrated musicians in Prog as Alex Lifeson and Geddy Lee, both of them are on the top of their instruments. Geddy Lee's voice reaches unexpected tones and explodes on the climatic points of each track.

"A Farewell To Kings". The start of the album is very melodic, Lifeson flirting with some symphonic style with his classical guitar and then he goes for the unique Rush Style, Neil Peart is excellent as always.

"Xanadu" is a Rush Classic, probably one of their best songs ever, a powerful theme that instantly makes you jump over your seat. I think the most remarkable thing of this track is the experimentation with some symphonic passages with the keyboards by Geddy Lee that you'll find in some parts of the rest of the album.

"Closer To The Heart" is like the prototype of the 80's Rush, lyics are pretty intelligent, this is a voice that screams over the Human Race to unite and forget all the differences to make this world a better place to live for us and for the future generations.

"Cinderella Man" is a excellent lyrical exploration by Geddy, a song about a weird man who nobody understood and called them insane, the guitar solo by Lifesonis awesome, makes the song grow on every single bar. THEY CANNOT STEAL YOUR DREAMS.

"Madrigal" is a very moody song, Lee's voice is excellent, it really makes you involve with the story.

"Cygnus X-1" is my favorite track from this excellent release, some psychedelic and spacial sounds at the beginning add a little drama to this song, and they Rush go for it, letting their minds travel and finish this awesome album, as I said before, the bass intro by Geddy along with Neil Peart's ability to follow any rhythm only with two elements of his enormous percussion kit and still sound powerful and marvelous, getting back to their Zeppelin hard rock influences but with a visible achievement of maturity turns this song as one of their greatest. The changing rhythm and the mix of prog elements leaves you breathless.

The Album is along with Hemispheres their best delivers in the 70s. A definitive must have and must love. 5 Stars

Report this review (#109258)
Posted Sunday, January 28, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars In this reviewer's opinion, "A Farewell to Kings" is the first Rush album which is consistently excellent and catches them at the peak of musical balance, where their hard-rocking feel is not tempered by synths but is instead enhanced through sensitive and appropriate play. Of course, there is a ten minute section of the album which has only trace progressive elements but even these concise songs are better than anything written previously.

Despite their popularity, this reviewer considers Rush to be a bit-player in the world of progressive rock. This opinion wouldn't stand under the weight of more albums such as this one and "Hemispheres"; sadly they veer towards the commercial under the influence of *that* decade and never recapture this sort of brilliance, even once they've recovered their wits.

Report this review (#109773)
Posted Tuesday, January 30, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars As with many monsters of Prog (Yes, Genesis, Gentle Giant, King Crimson , Pink Floyd) once Rush hit their stride, they went on to release a string of opuses. From 2112 to Moving Pictures, Rush went from strength to strength. Yes could release a double album of 4 songs. Rush would put out a 2 part epic, with the first part on Farewell to Kings - Cygnus X-1. They also showed they could deliver the goods in a more concise manner too, Closer to the Heart still bring chills when played, & is one of the few "prog" or "heavy" songs to get regular radio airplay at Xmas for its' message. My first concert, too, by the way. I even remember inscribing it on a table I had in my bedroom back then. Oh, & I could talk about the whizzing rifforama that Xanadu is, but others have said it & better than I could. So I'll just sit back & play this one on air guitar now while I sit back & reminisce ...
Report this review (#115753)
Posted Tuesday, March 20, 2007 | Review Permalink
Prog Leviathan
4 stars Another solid release from start to finish, trimming down "2112"s mega-epic formula into several concise-- but nonetheless outstanding-- songs with lots of variety. Throughout "Farewell to Kings" we can see the trio really hammering out their own, now unique style as well as achieving new heights of proficiency on their own individual instruments. Moreover, "Farewell..." is the first of Rush's albums where we can really see the group "clicking", and playing better together and tighter than on any previous album.

While "Closer to the Heart" is probably the most famous of the album's 6 songs (and maybe the most likable Rush to date), it is the two epics "Xanadu" and "Cygnus X-1" which really showcase the band's talents. Each has colossal instrumental sections and a dynamic power which gives them a very timeless quality ("stars stuck in the sky").

While "Cygnus"s complex rhythms and "Xanadu"s gigantic scope draw worthy attention, the forgotten songs-- "Cinderella Man" and "Madrigal"-- are just as good for what they are. "Madrigal", I think, is a really underappreciated Rush song, especially for how different it is than their other output.

All in all a terrific, easily accessible but still brainy, and enjoyable album even after many plays.

Songwriting: 4 Instrumental Performances: 4 Lyrics/Vocals: 4 Style/Emotion/Replay: 4

Report this review (#116599)
Posted Wednesday, March 28, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars As a reviewer, I try to say good and bad things about an album, because it is much more helpful to first time listeners than being overtly one or the other. How am I supposed to do that with this album?

"A Farewell to Kings" was the first real 100% prog rock album I ever listened to, and one of the main reasons I came to this site in the first place. For me, It is the personification of 'prog rock'- equal parts rock jamming and experimental meandering. If a prog album or band has unequal amounts of these two magical factors, then it tends to miss the mark for me. Too much basic rock, and it becomes too mainstream and predictable; too much meandering and it becomes unlistenable.

'A Farewll to Kings' hits the proverbial nail right on the head. Right from the magnificent one-two punch of the opening title track and the mighty 'Xanadu', I knew straight away what this genre called 'prog rock' was all about. Then was the hit single 'Closer to the Heart', giving me my first ever example of a 'hit' prog song; 'Cinderella Man', showing me that prog can sometimes be strightforward rock; 'Madrigal', showing me that prog bands can write excellent slow songs; and then the closing track 'Cygnus X-1', which, like Xanadu, was an introduction into prog epic style.

I really cannot recommend this album enough; especially to first-time prog listeners- if they like this it's a good chance that they will like the majority of stuff listed on this site. If you take the genre name 'prog rock' very literally, then it is easy to imagine that rock + 'prog' = Rush.

Report this review (#117011)
Posted Sunday, April 1, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars 3.6 stars

I admit that the musicians behind the music of Rush are extremely talented, but I've never been too fond of Geddy Lee's vocals at all, and I find their songwriting abilities to be inferior to their instrumental virtuosity. That said, I find "A Farewell to Kings" one of their most consistent and satisfying records in their career.

A musical element that is prominent in this album is the acoustic guitar. The opener and title track, for example, opens acoustically and turns into a good rocker with excellent bass guitar playing and good dynamics. The first epic might be the best song they ever did, composition-wise. It opens with synthesizers, sound effects and pedaled guitars not too different from Yes' Close to the Edge until it turned into a dynamic hard rocker with brilliant guitar riffs and synthesizer melodies that takes your mind to a musical paradise.

The next songs are all of small durations, though they maintain a solid quality. Closer to the Heart is under 3 minutes, but it manages to be very varied and tight, containing more ideas than some songs of over 6 minutes. Cinderella is both acoustic and electric, and very good overall. Madrigal is more stripped down and softer; but is quite pleasant to the ears.

Cygnus X-1 is fun, irritating, and cheesy. It has the silly narration of 2112/The Necromancer, and the weak songwriting of Caress of Steel which makes this sound like a collection of riffs over a long time. Also, the vocals of Lee are at their least listenable. What saves this song is that many of the rhythms and riffs are both complex and very fun, and the musicianship is excellent. I would recommend this album to a hard rock fan, to a casual Rush listener, and of course: if you are a Rush fan, you've gotta get this just for Xanadu alone!

1_A Farewell to Arms (C+)

2_Xanadu (A)

3_Closer to the Heart (B+)

4_Cinderella Man (B-)

5_Madrigal (B-)

6_ Cygnus X-1 (B-)

Report this review (#119981)
Posted Friday, April 27, 2007 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars "Sound and fury drown my heart, every nerve is torn apart"

Having set the bar substantially higher with "2112", Rush relocated to Rockfield Studios in Wales for their return to the studio in June 1977. It is perhaps no coincidence that Budgie, a band who had clearly influenced the sound and style of Rush, called the Rockfield Studios their home.

The introduction to the opening title track immediately indicates that the band are continuing to progress. A soft acoustic guitar and keyboards melody precedes a louder, more familiar guitar driven rock song. A quick check of the credits at this point indicates that it is Geddy Lee who has added a Mini-Moog to his instrumental credits, and both he and Alex Lifeson have gained access to bass pedal synthesisers.

Not to be left out, Neil Peart uses the introduction to the epic "Xanadu" to show off his new toys, in the form of orchestral and tubular bells. As the track develops, the synthesised bass adds a whole new dimension to the sound as it tests the abilities of even the most accomplished woofers. There are Yes like tones and structures lurking just below the surface of the piece as it develops, Lee even sounding at times like Jon Anderson. The unfamiliar lilting Moog sounds which drift in and out are complemented by the expected fine guitar work.

The second side of the album has three short songs and an epic to close. The three songs which kick off the side also benefit from the refined sound the band have adopted, despite the song structures themselves reflecting the band's first two albums. "Madrigal" sees the band sounding surprisingly like STYX when in ballad mode. These are but teasers however, leading up to the closing 10 minute piece "Cygnus X- 1". In true prog style, the track here is subtitled "Book one - The voyage" with the notation "to be continued" at the end of the lyrics on the sleeve. The spaced out sounds which follow the noise of a rocket taking off are more like those of Pompeii era PINK FLOYD, before the more organised sounds we were introduced to on "2112" kick in. The suite develops through many time changes and switches of mood driven on by both Moog and guitar. It really is a remarkably exciting piece with true power and majesty.

As had quickly become the usual modus operandi since he joined the band, Peart is in sole command of the lyrics for most of the album, while Lee and Lifeson dominate the melodies. For me, this results at times in rather unsatisfactory vocal melodies which do not sit well with the lyrics. There is no questioning the calibre of the lyrics, the music, or the performances but for me there are times when the three are not in total unison. The other gripe I have is with the album length, which at 37 minutes is somewhat brief.

In all though, those minor grumbles should be seen in the context of a high quality album which represents a further major step forward in the history of Rush.

Report this review (#123700)
Posted Tuesday, May 29, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars well hello

here we have one of those essential albums. by no strecth is this my favourite rush album. BUT having said that with Xanadu the cannuck youngsters have hit the big time.

cinderella man is lovely, madrigal is quaint. closer to the heart is the sort of track that a million 15 year olds try to impress their mates at parties by playing. A farewell to kings is almost as quaint as madrigal.

THe gem of this albumis Xanadu. be all and end of all of this album.

As far as I'm concerned that's a 5.

Report this review (#126568)
Posted Friday, June 22, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars A few days ago I was introducing a friend of mine to Rush. He said he liked most 70s music and especially Toto. So I decided to show him my favorite band (it is Rush as can be seen by a wall in my room which has all the Rush vinyl albums I own - currently 14 but I'm working on getting more). I showed him this album for two reasons: one, it is easily the most accessible Rush album, with their most well-known (and overplayed) song Closer to the Heart, and two, because, well, I consider it to be the pinnacle of Rush's musical career during the 70s (one of two albums).

This album has a good mixture of long and short songs. Side One has A Farewell to Kings the beautiful Xanadu with both Geddy and Alex playing double-necked guitars. It's a prog masterpiece based off the poem Kubla Khan. This song, like Cygnus X-1, shows how deep Peart was into fantasy and science fiction literature. Side Two has Cinderella Man (it's based off/inspired by the movie Mr. Deeds Goes To Town) and the aforementioned Cygnus X-1 which is only the beginning of a masterful song, as seen by the next album's opening track. These four tracks are my favorites off this album and are what I consider some of the best Rush songs.

Closer to the Heart and Madrigal are my least favorite songs off this album. I do not like Madrigal because I feel it does not reach the standard Rush had set at this time and just seems like a short half-hearted ballad that could have had more effort put into it, or rather taken off the album. My only reason for disliking Closer to the Heart is probably due to overexposure. I feel having 5 copies of a song is more than enough. It may be one of the best known Rush songs, but I am sick of hearing it and rarely play it, if ever.

Overall, this album rocks. It contains the awesome Xanadu and Cygnus X-1, but also contains the mediocre Madrigal. The good outweighs the bad on this album but I feel that Rush could have done better and so I will give this album 4/5 stars.

Report this review (#127383)
Posted Monday, July 2, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars Well, this is kinda the bridge album from hard rock to prog rock. A good album, but I can imagine the hard rock fans listening to the first couple of electric guitar chords on the title song and immediatly take the disc out and shoot it with arrows. My review

A farewell to king's- The first minuete is what makes this song! Just a beautiful classical guitar solo, nothing else suporting it. Now I am not a fan of the word overated, but Alex lifeson is the most overated guitar player on the planet. he is praised for his solo's and his riffing, but for those of us who know guitar probably know he ONLY uses the pentatonic scale, NOTHING else, and it disgusts me coming from one of the prog rock "gods". And this first minuete relieves him of some of his shame. Well, anyways, After the pretty guitar part, the electrics come in and basically ruin the song, I feel nothing has any flow to it, not the vocals keyboards or drums, not the best opener. 3/5

Xanadu- A much better song, with elegant songwriting, courtesy of peart, and excellent and limber bass lines. The vocals are wonderful as well, and the opening riff is very cool! The concept of the song is about a person or traveler hoping to find eternal life amongst the immortals, and he believes he deserves it with all of his discepline and training. Though it is certainly not an epic, a wonderful and great song, best song on the album! 5/5

Closer to the heart- A onderful and uplifting song! Certainly NOT prog though, so I am not allowed to give it over a 4 on my scale rating thingy, but I wont deny it's amazingness. I think it's about world piece or something, anyways really nice twelve string work, bland solo, but an amazing bassline. If this was about the song live, I would consider it prog, but I wont go into that. either way when I was upsest with classic rock, my band and I did a cover of this little tune!3.5/5

Cinderella man- This song makes no sense to me, out of knowhere we have a song that goes against this ongoing flow that this album is creating. Really a low point in rush album making. I usually just skip this song when listening to the album... actually a lot of Rush albums have these "mood ruiners" Moving pictures- vital sighns, Permanent waves- freewill, Hemisheres- circumstances, and plenty more. I refuse to rate this song, cause I do not want to offend.

Madrigal- a pretty little song, filler to the much larger song coming. 4/5

Cygnus x-1- A wonderful song to end the album on a high note. The only problem is that the music is a bit pompous and the intro ends up taking up half the song. Well, afterwards Geddy starts singing, and although I do not know what the song means,his vocals are excellent! Besides the overly done intro this song is quite excellent! 4.5/5

Rush will go on to make better albums, but this one is good to listen to if you want the entire rush sound!

Report this review (#129584)
Posted Friday, July 20, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars This and Hemispheres go hand in hand. However i believe this is the better album, and unlike Hemispheres, deserving of the masterpiece status.

A Farewell to Kings- This is a fairly good song. Works well if you play Closer to the Heart afterwards.

Xanadu- The Proghead favorite. Very atmospheric, from the sound of birds in the forest and the wood blocks Neil brilliantly plays to give the song a real earthy feel. The song just rocks, and the mini story is sweet like milk of paradise.

Closer to the Heart- A favorite with Brazilian RUSH fans, or so ive heard since im not Brazilian. Its a pretty great song, and very catchy. Not one of my favorites, but definitely a favorite of most Rush fans.

Cinderella Man- This song actually really speaks to me. I could be forgettable to some people, but the lyrics have great truth to them and i believe that in itself can make a good song.

Madrigal- Not quite filler, but it's barely an average Rush song. It keeps the album moving quite nicely though, so thats great.

Cygnus X-1- Oh how i love this song. Even if you don't have Hemispheres to finish the story its still an awesome song, and it does end like a finished song, so it doesnt leave you completely hanging. I believe the story of Cygnus X-1 is the greatest epic RUSH has ever done, and I believe the first half of it is actually quite better than the second, because it never lets up and keeps the driving rock rolling the whole way through, no boredome sets in here!

The Proggiest of RUSH albums, very outdoorsie and beautiful. A Masterpiece of Progressive Rock...and Rush!

Report this review (#130470)
Posted Friday, July 27, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars As I listen to Rush album, I want to hear it more heavier, as they are somehow on edge of metal music, and at the end of this album, they go really heavy, with singer screaming, and guitars fast and rough. Real highlight of album is guitar solo in Cygnus X-1, I guess that Lifeson plays in talk-box here and the sound also has wonderfull fruity wah effect.

Lyrics of Rush have always been excellent, because of statements they carry (notice in Cinderella Man). Accoustic guitars are connected well with electric, bass fits great, but my taste somehow needed more melodies here, as most of the music is pushed toward rhythmic performance.

It is notable that there are much more keyboards on this record than on any before. This is made the best in Xanadu, my favourite Rush song, the one about ancient asian emperor in searching of immortality; the way that guitars show his horse riding over fields is quite picturesque.

I doubt that many people would like this album in first listen, but this manage to grow in my soul, for example. And Gedy's voice is somehow cool, although still some of screaming there, but never made me irritated.

This record is really strongl, Rush's classic, worth to listen (a lot).

Report this review (#132850)
Posted Sunday, August 12, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars It is awfully hard to follow up on an album that is widely considered to be a masterpiece.

Well, Rush was most certainly up to the challenge. With "A Farewell to Kings", Rush released their most fluent and brilliant album up to that point. For the first time in their discography, there are no weaknesses whatsoever, it is completely balanced. "Caress of Steel" leaned on their epics and "2112" on it's epic title track. "Farewell" is a masterpiece from start to finish, no doubt in my mind. They also progress their sound a lttle. It is more symphonic than their previous outings. They get further away from their hard rock roots and continue to develop their signature sound. This is essential to any prog rock collection.

Report this review (#139928)
Posted Saturday, September 22, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars 4.5 really. There is a reason for the hype of this album.

I like every single song on this album. Start to finish it is solid. Xanadu serves as it's staple in my opinion. I love it, but it certainly is no to 10 epic. It would have been had it been combined with Book II.

The Good:

Xanadu is the best song on this album. It is a top 5 song for Rush, it's not too long, it has a great science fiction story, and great music all around. Book X-I leaves us in a cliffhanger, which I really question. It is ridiculously complex, which pleases me. Lee's bassline is a highlight as well.

The not so good:

This album makes up where 2112 lacked. It has great music, has great lyrics, doesn't waste time meandering, and is very consistent with no filler tracks. I decided to round down to 4 stars from 4.5 instead of up to 5. I suppose that is because I don't consider this a "masterpiece." It has strong tracks, but my standards for 5 star albums is higher than the average bear. Very VERY close though, I still recommend it to any and all fans of classic/prog rock.

Report this review (#140906)
Posted Saturday, September 29, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars RUSH reach their musical zenith with this varied masterpiece.

'A Farewell to Kings' must have been a difficult album to make, having garnered widespread success and acclaim with their breakthrough album 2112 featuring the side long eponymous track heralded by many as a masterpiece of it's own, expectations were high for a follow up and RUSH certainly delivered with a varied and interesting album full of great music.

'A Farewell to Kings' starts off strongly with the hard rocking title track, with guitarist Lifeson playing a jaunty little neo-classical intro on his acoustic before the band in full voice come cascading in - triumphant and uplifting it's one of their best hard rock songs they have ever made.

Next up is my personal favourite of the album and one of my top 5 RUSH songs the 11 minute epic 'Xanadu'. Xanadu is based on the poem 'Kubla Khan' by Samuel Taylor Coleridge and as a drastic departure from the opening track, it starts off with an instrumental section which is very beautiful and meditative with birds chirping, volume swelled guitar and gentle percussion before the electric instruments come in generating feelings of excitement and contentment. This is one of RUSH's best written songs, nothing is really over the top here it all works together well and is structured brilliantly, it moves from slow to fast and soft to hard effortlessly, a very peaceful song.

The next 3 songs are fairly poppy standard RUSH songs, I feel I should lump them together because they are quite similar in the vibe they give off, quite mellow and subdued. Individually these songs might leave a bit to be desired but in the context of the album they work perfectly, they continue off of Xanadu and are nice and gentle to listen to.

Then things take a turn once again with the closing track Cygnus X-1, which is significantly heavier and different to anything RUSH had done up to date and is a great closer to the album and a great contrast to the rest of the songs certainly indicative of a band at their creative peak. Cygnus X-1 is about a starship getting sucked into a blackhole in the famous Cygnus binary system (the first black hole ever discovered) and is quite cheesy but in a good RUSH way The song starts off very gloomily with some heavily effected vocals and resonant bells before a rising bass appears and the song begins on it's sci-fi journey full of heavy syncopated rhythms and forboding melodies (with a brief happy departure in the middle). Cygnus X-1 is easily up there with the best RUSH songs, well crafted and interesting although it does tend to drag in a few places but it ends very strongly. The famous RUSH power trio really shine here, Geddy's bass is sounding great and there are some groovy riffs, Neil has some great syncopation going and Alex just holds it all together - their musical chemistry and alignment is frightening at times.

Overall this is in RUSH's top 3 albums and is one of the best prog albums of all time all the members are at their creative and technical peaks. There is an amazing variety of musical direction here in a mere 6 songs and every song has it's own merits, strongly recommended to any serious prog fan.

Report this review (#140980)
Posted Saturday, September 29, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars As said by many others, one of Rush's Masterpieces! Every song on this album is Great.

A step up from 2112 (not that 2112 was bad mind you). Definately a classic, and it leads to more greatness! ANyway I'll do a song by song. A Farewll to Kings - 9/10 - Great opening track, it just gets you excited to hear more. At least it does me anyway. Alex's intro is mesmerizing. Xanadu - 10/10 - Great Epic keeps things going strong! I could tell you why this is great, but you should just listen to it if you haven't already!!Alex's guitar is awesome! I love it live. Closer to the Heart - 8.5/10 - Ok it's not prog, but so what!? It's a great and moving song! Definately not filler! Cinderella Man -8/10- Another good quality tune! Has meaning and really gets you thinking. One of the songs that got my wife appreciating rush, so that's saying something! Madrigal - 7.5/10 - A Solid song, a little slow but I like it alot. It really contrasts with whats coming up next and I think it works well. Kind of a juxtaposition.Once again I don't find it to be filler like some people have said, but hey to each his own! =) Cygnus X-1 -10/10- The other Epic masterpiece on this album. Awesome Bass intro! Two 10's on one album are enough to be a 5 imo, even if the rest sucked, but it doesn't. You get one hell of an album here folks!

Report this review (#141003)
Posted Saturday, September 29, 2007 | Review Permalink
Eclectic/PSIKE/JRF-Cant Teams
4 stars *The* Rush Album

This album kicked my butt the first time I heard it way back in 1984. From the word go, A Farewell to Kings displays originality, energy, deep concepts and high level of dynamics. It was one of he first albums I listened to during my 'punk' phase that brought me back to the idea of longer songs that I was attracted to with Yes, ELP and Jethro Tull in my younger years. But it had just enough edge that it did not offend the punk bias that I held at the time. Coming on the heels of 2112, an album that defiantly bucked the trend of artists giving in to critical bullying of longer compositions, Rush maintained the 10 minute-plus motif while creating more cohesion within those tunes selected to be that length. And the band again shows their attachment to literature and science fiction with the album's epics, Xanadu and Cygnus x-1. Additionally, the overall recording quality is quite a bit cleaner than previous releases.

This album is a classic and flat out Rush's best work. Even the radio hit Closer to the Heart is a moving and enjoyable classic. However, it falls short of being a genuine masterpiece. 4 stars

Report this review (#141848)
Posted Wednesday, October 3, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars My first introduction to Rush and my favourite Rush album so far. Not a weak track, inspired lyrics, warm and uplifting (with the exception of Cygnus) hard rock mixed with folk and exotic percussion, I've listened to this album to death. My only complaint would be for a newbie to Rush (such as I was a couple of years ago) will likely find Geddy's vocals to be annoying and comic, but you'll have to look past that because this album is a real gem fully inspired songwriting reaching highr levels of maturity,the first track starts of as a pleasant acoustic track with pleasant synths and percussion then the upbeat rocker starts thats to Alex Lifesons terrific unique style, it reminds me of the Who, Geddy's bass rumbling and Peart fantastic drumming there is a real depth to this song with excellent textures, and great instrumental a grand introduction to this album. Xanadu, again influenced by the Who - Geddy singing a bit like Roger Daltery, took a little longer for me to appreciate I used to skip it but it eventually grew on me, it begins with great guitar percussion and sound effects giving it both a soothing and exotic oriental feel to it the synth pieceand the vocal style add mystery to the song which is a reference to Coleridge's poem; Kubla Kahn (several of the lines come straight out of that poem. It sounds to me that this song influenced Guns 'n' Roses (whom I have very little tolerance for), it is a mixture of ambient music and hard rock, I love the synth parts in it,although brief they add a lot to the music a kind of melodic delicy in contrast to the more rocking parts. I could just about summarise Xanadu in saying its ambient music meets hard rock. Closer to the Heart (which, according to their Rush in Rio DVD, is very poular with the Brazillian Rush fans) is a more succinct and mellow piece, the intro - was stolen and made into the hugely successful single "There she Goes" in the 1990s (I don't remeber the bands name), a great and memorable piece highly pleasant and melodic, yet rich and deep. The next track another short piece lyrics penned by Geddy, based on the film Mr Deeds Goes to Town, it is again uplifting and fun piece I love the line "...Because he was human, because he had Goodness..." The tune Madrigal, is my favourite of the three shorter tracks, I love it Geddy actually sounds like he can sing on this piece, and a nice quiet respite before the darker piece Cygnus part 1. many fans consider Madrigal to be filler but I love it. Cygnus is the piece everyone talks about on this album, I love its sci-fi theme and narration at the beginning, the dark bass playing with its Zep influenced funk and its repetivie musical intro anmd sci fi synths before the vocals is pretty thrilling,resurrecting our inner child othat is excited about fantasy.Then Geddy sings and guides us through the stars in this thrilling dark piece This piece reminds me of doctor Who, Sapphire and Steel and sci fi radio shows made before I was born. Cygnus part 1 is the heaviest piece on the album which make it relatively dark compared to the other tracks with a lot of anxiety and uncertainty in it as well as sci fi eerieness, it is a link to Rush's metal past with many stops and starts excellently executed, and the cliff hanger at the end makes you want to go out and buy Hemispheres to find out what happens next (a great marketing ploy). I give this album five staers its my favourite by them, there is a real richness to the music and at the same time quite its quite relaxing and pleasant with the exception of Cygnus part1 which is more unnerving at places. Just about every song will make you feel good and I recommend it to the clinically depressed (just don't listen to Cyg) or if you are feeling flat - thats the magic of Rush. Five stars I love every track, every one is a masterpiece, brilliant musicianship, fine textures Rush have come of age on this album! Perfection (newbies will have to get over Geddy's vocals)
Report this review (#144227)
Posted Saturday, October 13, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars A Farewell to Kings IMO is second best in the rush discography, only to Hemispheres. The sound is brillant and so are the songs. it opens with an excellent fingerpicked acoustic thanks to Lerxst, and then opens up into a rockin' song with plenty of geddys shrieking vocals and interesting time changes. next is my favourite song ever by Rush, Xanadu. the volume swells in the beginning build to an awesome repeated riff with the wind sound in the background, and the result is excellence. the rest of the song is just as good, and features Alex on the doubleneck, using the 12 for the quieter parts. Closer to the heart is one of the band most well-known songs, and everythig is perfect about it. Cinderella Man is the most underrated song on the album, and it has a crazy wah solo by alex. Madigral for me is just a filler song, but it is a change of pace and fits in nicely between Cinderella man and Cygnus. Cygnus X- 1 is the first half in an epic that would continue on to the next album (Hemispheres), and it is my favourite song about flying spaceships into black holes. All in all, this is one the most unique and diverse albums Rush has ever made, while still keeping a general sound that they are known for. if you don't have this album, find it because you wont be dissapointed.
Report this review (#144844)
Posted Monday, October 15, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars One of the 5 masterpieces made by Rush and this one is my favorite.It starts of with A farewell to kings a great opening song that shows Lifesons great acoustic work.Then Comes Xanadu a great Rush Epic. This song contains everything you would ever want in Rush song.Closer to the heart is next, this is one you hear on the radio a lot, one of the weaker songs on the album but still good. Cinderella Man is good song it flows good with the album. Madrigal is what many call a filler but i don't see it as filler, a good song that leads to Cygnus X-1.This is my fave on the album. It starts of with Geddy's funky bass playing and as the song progresses it turns into almost a metal jam out song. Geddy, Neil, and Alex are some of the greatest musicians in the prog world and in the music world and the display it at their best on this album. Great mystical lyrics by peart also. A Rush masterpeice1
Report this review (#145810)
Posted Thursday, October 18, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Despite the limited expectations of the Mercury head officers, ''2112'' was actually Rush'es first commercial success, leading to a grand tour and the trio's first live album in September 1976 under the title ''All the world's a stage'', captured during a three-night stand at Massey Hall in Toronto.While King Crimson had disbanded and Yes and Genesis were starting to throw in their compositions more accesible beats, Rush were still exploring the intricate structures of progressive music and for their next album ''A farewell to the kings'' they sinked more into this direction.Recorded at Rockfield Studios in South Wales and mixed at the Advision Studios in London, the album came out in September 1977.

What a great opening kick by the trio with the self-titled track, starting with Lifeson's lovely classical guitar string charmness and slowly building an electric explosion of hard-oriented Prog Rock with unexpected breaks and a little dose of keyboards.''Xanadu'' is a complete classic of Rush'es repertoire.A mix of Space Rock and Hard Rock with poweful rhythm guitars and solid bass and drumming, flavored constantly by the sound of spacious synths and twisting around laid-back and more driving guitar themes.''Closer to the heart'' takes us back to the band's early stages, introducing a melodic and tight Hard Rock with both soft and more angular sections, while ''Cinderella man'' is basically an Art Rock piece with an intense lyricism, still counting the spacious linex of synthesizers, but always showered by Lifeson's impressive acoustic and electric switches on guitars.''Madrigal'' is surprisingly close to GENESIS' short pieces from early-70's, lyrical, ballad-esque and harmonic music with mellow electric guitars and soft keyboards.''Cygnus X-1'' is the absolute pinnacle of the album, 10 minutes of cosmic Hard Rock, pretty much defined by Rush themselves, with a distorted spoken intro by producer Terry Brown and Part's bells opening the way for a very complex, monstrous Space Hard Rock, featuring some of the best guitar work by Lifeson and Part's flawless drumming in an epic proportion, supported by Lee's floating synth splashing, dramatic and powerful Hard Prog at its best, no doubt.

Rush matured with each and every release.Elements like the irritating, high-pitched vocals, the cosmic synthesizers and the hard rockin' guitars seem so unrelated, but these guys meld them in an awesome way.Among the best offerings of the year, at a time when Prog Rock was in a decline.Highly recommended.

Report this review (#147747)
Posted Sunday, October 28, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars A Farewell to Kings was the album that brought Rush to my attention in 1977 and I was instantly hooked. It comes from the era when they were at their most "Progressive" in terms of how most people view (including non-believers) Progressive Rock. As much as I loved the major Prog players like Yes and Genesis what I particularly enjoyed about Rush was their infusion of Heavy Rock into the genre.

The album opens in fine style with the title track with a medieval acoustic intro before the band come in full force with a great Lifeson riff. I particularly like his guitar sound from this era too, heavy and rich without being metallic and his solo on this track has long been one of my favourites.

The eleven minute Xanadu follows and is rightly regarded as a Rush classic. A slow atmospheric intro gives way to some of the finest playing on the album, lots of light and shade with the heavier elements and enough time/tempo changes to keep the most demanding Prog fan happy. Of course it's well known what a fantastic Drummer Peart is and over the years since this release has become regarded as one of the finest players in any genre, but what I like about his playing in the earlier days is he also had a looseness to his style (as well as the technical chops) that he seemed to lose (deliberately?) over Rush's 80's, more keyboard dominated albums.

Side 2 of the original album opens with Closer to the Heart, a perennial live favourite and was even a minor hit single at the time! Cinderella Man is a fairly straightforward (by Rush standards) Rocker which is followed by the more laid back Madrigal. Side 2's highlight though is Sci-fi epic Cygnus X-1 which has some of the most ferocious playing the band ever committed to tape. What tended to divide music fans over Rush was Geddy Lee's high pitched vocals, you either loved them or hated them and he hits some of his highest notes here. Personally I loved them and thought they gave the band an extra stamp of originality and let's not forget what a fantastic bass player he is too.

Rush would go on to make one more album in this style (Hemispheres) before changing tack for Permanent Waves and as good as that album is it can't compete with this as my favourite by the band.

Report this review (#149856)
Posted Saturday, November 10, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Another incredible Rush album, second only to Hemispheres in both progressive quality and craft. For a while I had a hard time deciding whether to give this a four or five, and considering my rating record, it fits nicely with the fours, probably the best four I've ever given, along with Images and Words and Fragile. I bought this album after deciding Hemispheres was one of my favorite albums of all time, and at first I was somewhat disappointed. The shorter songs like A Farewell to Kings and Closer to the Heart I knew well from the Rush compilation that I grew up with, and thoroughly enjoyed as always, but the epics like Xanadu and Cygnus X-1 seemed at the time very drawn out and wearisome compared to its follow up, like there was less music in more time. But with a few listens I came to appreciate them very much as well. You kind of have to consider that it came right after 2112 when they were still adapting, I think, to there new found sense of artistic flare. Especially in Cygnus X-1, which has become (along with its sequel) one of my favorite Rush songs ever seeing as it plays perfectly to my obsession with science fiction and black holes, as well as having as much of an intellectual atmosphere as anything the band had made up to that point, and serves as a perfect transition to there next album. Cinderella Man is a really good song as well; though it certainly has its implications, especially in today's context, I love it nonetheless, along with the delightful two and a half minute tid-bit Madrigal. As for Rush's evolution as a band, this album is definitely a significant step up from the already ambitious 2112, moving further into the progressive arena to the point of no return, though I still feel just a hint of their Led Zeppelin influence, which would be (thankfully) thrown out the window for even more progressiveness in their masterpiece that would follow. All in all this album grew on me with some listening (like most great progressive albums) and remains a treasured album in my Rush collection, and thus my progressive collection overall. Thus my official rating is a 4.5 - and excellent album for any progressive fan, if not a masterpiece in itself.
Report this review (#156780)
Posted Thursday, December 27, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars I enjoy this album alot! I think right here and 2112 was when Rush began to find their niche in music. All the tracks here are great, if not superb, especially in the context of the other songs. Xanadu and Closer To The Heart have to be my favorite tracks on this album. This album is for any prog fan, wether unorthadox or not. I especially enjoy this album because Ghetty Lee still has some of the emotion he had back in Caress of Steel and Fly by Night, and I really enjoyed his singing back then. So tom conclude this, this album, and Hemispheres, is probably the first albums that any newcomer to Rush should grab...and for that, 4 stars.
Report this review (#160696)
Posted Sunday, February 3, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars Wow, what a coincidence! The Farewell To Kings reviews keep on coming! I first received this album about a week ago from my friend Scott (Draith) I enjoy Rush's music, they're a major influence on my favorite bands.

So I decided to give it a review! Let's begin with the beginning.

When I first received this album, I looked for the art, I was a bit confused with what it was trying to say but hey, is just a cover right?

I listened to the 1st of a 6 track album....and I enjoyed the Farewell To Kings tune. A Progressive tune with many technical joys in it. We advance to what might be the highlight of the album Xanadu is a concept tour of what this album is about, I didn't pay much attention to the short amount of lyrics but the musicality is beautiful, I love the final 2 minutes of this song, and this album is on the verge of becoming something outstanding. Closer to the heart comes back with a Hard-Rock style, I felt like I was listening to some 70's rock tune, which I was. The next two songs, however, disappointed me...I did not enjoy Cinderella Man nor Madrigal For me they were a bit off place and rather too short or too simple to make an impact. On Madrigal, I felt like the album was a 3 stars, but thanks to Cygnus X-I the album was saved!

An incredible prog tune! G. Lee makes a nice end with the bass and lyrics in this album and this is why the album is so good! A Nice addition to any progressive fan...or someone who wants to know what a progressive album is.

4.1 out of 5

Report this review (#160700)
Posted Sunday, February 3, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars This rush album was a bit of a let down for me, it was the third i bought after 2112 and moving pictures and almost made me lose intrest or it did make me lose intrest in rush for a long time. The opening song is very good the title track A farewell to kings open with sweet acustic guitars and a soft melotrone very very good then heavy guitars kick in and the real song starts a good heavy rocker. Xanadu is no doubt the best song on the album a great mini epic after that my problem with the album starts. in opoist of the last album 2112s short songs which i liked the ones on this one dont realy do anything for me they are simply not good in my opinion or they are all oaky i gues but nothing that moves me. And then the closing track another long almost mini epic have soem intresting parts but as a whole it yust dont do much for me. Most people seems to think theis is thiere masterpcie not for me tough. A great first half and a mediocre second half.
Report this review (#161000)
Posted Wednesday, February 6, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars This album is my favorite Rush album. Each track is strong, especially the opener, Xanadu, and Cygnus X- 1. I know some think Cygnus is silly, and I won't disagree, but I still think it is a fantastic song. Rush knew how to rock out on a level that many progressive act's feared to go; and the music on this album rarely fails to be engaging, even if wasn't as original as many think.
Report this review (#163190)
Posted Tuesday, March 4, 2008 | Review Permalink
Queen By-Tor
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Cities full of hatred, fear and lies.

Rush's Farewell to kings did more than start a tetrad of fantastic albums that would mark the band's classic period. It also put the band on the map as one of the leading hard rock, and indeed, progressive groups of the late 70s while proving that they could be just as heavy and aggressive as the punk rock scene of the time. Likely the band's most unique blend of abstract and more scientific lyrics (paired with it's successor, Hemispheres), starting to focus more on the poetic side of Neil PEART's lyrics with objective observations about society and human nature will still adding a ''swords and shields'' feel t it. Really, this is where Peart's more down to Earth lyrics would start -- having only mild success on their truly poetic Caress of Steel [CoS] album, but more success on their rebellious 2112.

This album also did a number on this young head banger. One of the first albums by Rush that I would acquire, (right after Fly by Night and Grace Under Pressure) this would be the one that would appeal to me the most and make a true fan (and eventually fanboy) out of me. On those cold Canadian nights, treading through the snow after school the warm sounds on songs like XANADU and CLOSER TO THE HEART were incredibly welcome. This is an album that is one of those ones that has that crazy ability to conjure up memories every time it hits my cd player... and what good times those were.

Nostalgia aside, what makes it so good? Let's start the review shall we?

A great mix of old and new (at the time), this is the album that Rush found their niche on. Mixing progressive elements from their newer outings (2112 and CoS) and hard rock elements from their older albums (Rush, Fly By Night) Rush finds a perfect middle ground that is both pleasing to the prog fan, and commercial enough to score a hit. It also seems that the aggression from 2112 has stuck around. This is an album that is heavy and with some truly rebellious moments. Going both more progressive and, at points, darker than ever before, this is an album that demands attention.

Starting with the calm acoustic riff that opens the album, this is a powerhouse. The title track, A FAREWELL TO KINGS, starts off the fray with some excellent keyboards and spacy bits until it's blasted away in Rush's typical Heavy Prog way. More old school-y in style than the sci-fi 2112, the sounds here are more like a better refined version of CoS. The title track is one of those rebellious songs -- a track that shows Peart writing about his view on human nature and questioning what later generations will think of us and our decisions. Abstract, yes... but effective. This is one of the shorter songs on the album, coming just short of 6 minutes (okay, so it's mid-lengthed, but bare with), but definately one of the most memorable. Another song very much in the same vein as the opener is the romantic and accessible CLOSER TO THE HEART. This song is a great one for Rush as it allowed them to score a bit hit, especially here in Canada, where any radio station has likely played it a thousand times... today. This is not without merit of course, Geddy's voice is soothing and the melodies too... the guitar is excellent and the solos fly while the bass and drums provide a mean rhythm section. While definately better in the 5 or 6 minute live blowout version (Different Strings [1996] or A Show of Hands [1988]), this is a song that's always appealed to a wide audience, and has definately earned it.

Among the other short songs are a couple great, often forgotten gems. CINDERELLA MAN is a quirky number driven by some excellent bass and Alex LIFESON's ever wonderful guitar. Certainly not the focal point of the album, this is still a track far too often overlooked. The tranquil MADRIGAL is another one that's often forgotten. This is a short, beautifully composed song highlighted by some excellent keyboards and bass. Geddy is seen singing here in what would later become his normal singing voice (less high pitched), and man does he do a great job anyways.

Of course, this album would not be complete without some kind of Rush epic...

The album houses two Rush classic epics that have been known and renowned as some of the band's best work. Starting with the sublime XANADU, this album is given true life. The calm and subtle intro, highlighted by Peart's background rhythm and Geddy's synths, gives a couple of minutes of ear candy followed up by some heavy riffs by Lifeson. A take on Coleridge's classic poem ''Khubla Khan'', this is a song about the search for paradise and what happens to those who become obsessed with it. Open to interpretation by the song's fans (I myself am guilty of writing a high-school English paper on this song back in the day), Geddy himself has admitted that he doesn't know entirely what the song means. Made great by what Rush does best, mixing heavy elements with traditional prog, this song is one of the best in their catalog. But where XANADU is fairly traditional in it's approach... poetic and floaty... it's counterpart CYGNUS X-1 is the exact polar opposite. This sci-fi thriller that would be concluded on the following album has all the makings of a grotesque (in a good way) heavy-metal epic. Dark and evil narration paired with some very spacey atmospheres and even the sound of a rocket launching make this song's into much different than their previous works. Geddy's pounding bassline soon comes in to overwhelm what was starting to become a Hawkwind song and starts one of the band's best instrumental overtures. It won't be until about halfway through the dark epic that lyrics will come into the fold, and when they do... they do it with a bang. Geddy pulls out all the stops on this one and shows just how high his voice can go coming into the climax of the song. Ending with the same spaceyness as it began, this is a song that might has well have ''To Be Continued...'' written on it (and yes, it does -- in the liner notes, but I'm talking about the music here). Excellent track and a great end to an excellent album.

Slap another great Syme-Peart artwork collaboration on the cover and you're ready to go. This is everything that Rush does best crammed into one album. Some may consider it the band's apex... but between this one and the three to follow it, it's really friggen hard to chose. 5 stars without a shadow of a doubt. This is some of the band's best work and certainly essential to any prog rock collection.

Report this review (#163400)
Posted Friday, March 7, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars I don't usually review an album on this site so sonn after purchasing it (8 days), but this one left such a good first impression and I know i will always love this album. Very rarely do I listen to an album more than once in a row, but I have done with this album several times. The only other album I do hat with is KC's Red. This album is phenomonal and Has reastablished my love for Rush after getting slightly bored with 2112 (my only other Rush album owned).

The classical guitar that introduces the title track is sublime. 'A Farewell to Kings'(the song) is a good showcase of how Ruch can combine progressive rock with hard rock seamlessly. 'Xanadu' is simply awesome and urged me to read Samuel Taylor Colleridge's poem that it was based (after already being familiar with 'Rime of the Ancient Mariner'). I can honestly Rush's interpretation of the poem is better than the original, not merely because of the presence of astounding music, but it is worded in a way that creates more mystery and sorrow. 'Closer to the Heart' is short, sweet and utterly loveable. Rush seem to me like a ver socially conscious band and this song, along with the rest of the album, consolidates this observation. 'Cinderella Man' is a nice rock track, with good morally oriented lyrics. 'Madrigal' is a rather underrated little ballad. I love this track and only wish it was slightly longer. But maybe it's just perfect how it is. As a bit of a sci-fi afficiando I appreciate 'Cygnus X-1'. It creates brilliant moods, and rarly do I hear better screams than in the final moments, despite all my years of listening to heavy metal.

This album comes ever so close to perfection (a standard I measure in comparison to KC's Red, which is perfection). I can not and will not rate this album under five stars.

Report this review (#164097)
Posted Sunday, March 16, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars RUSH's A Farewell to Kings begins a second phase of RUSH music which I call their "Mid-Era Progressive" phase. Beginning with this 1977 release, and going right up to the "Live" Exit Stage Left released in 1981.

A Farewell to Kings kicks off Rush's foray into full progressive rock, which began with "2112", and eventually culminates with Moving Pictures. On Kings, Alex Lifeson continues to use more acoustic guitars. Neil creates more interesting percussion sounds, and Geddy's bass-lines improve to some of their most distinct. Two of the band's most progressive tracks are included here. Coming in at over ten minutes each, Xanadu and Cygnus X-1 are classic examples of 70's progressive hard rock. The album also contains one of Rush's all-time fan favorites: Closer to the Heart.

A Farewell to Kings is one of my favorite Rush albums from this era and many fans put it in the top 5 of all Rush releases. Even discerning Prog-Rock fans put this album in their Top 50 of all-time progressive rock titles. It's only second to the ever-popular Moving Pictures in ranking. I will always have a certain fondness for this title, as it was the very first record album I ever purchased as a youth.

Favorite Tracks: A Farewell to Kings and Xanadu

Report this review (#164932)
Posted Tuesday, March 25, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars Others will tell you this album is essential, and I respect their opinions. However, for me there are too many issues preventing my enjoyment of this record, fine though it may be.

First, and most important, while the songs are vigorous and energetic, they lack cohesion and impact - in essence, they don't have enough punch. This is particularly true of the two 'epics', 'Xanadu', with its misplaced, cringeworthy synths and dragging chorus, and 'Cygnus X-1' with its clunky sfx (though it is a much better track than 'Xanadu'): the shorter songs are more cohesive, leading to the suspicion that RUSH's prog-rock excursion in the late 70s was a mistake. This suspicion is proved correct when, for their most successful album ('Moving Pictures') they abandoned prog grandeur for something a little more streamlined.

I have to say I find their sound a little thin for a supposed 'hard rock' or 'heavy prog' group. The guitars are, frankly, a little lame, lacking the power one expects from those peddling heavy music. There's no excuse for the naive synths, either, not years after PINK FLOYD showed how the instrument could be used to create sophisticated atmospheres. That said, the drumming is a distinctive improvement on '2112', and the rhythm section certainly embraced progressive time signatures, nowhere more apparent than in the title track.

The 'hit', 'Closer to the Heart', passes by unnoticed every time I listen to this record: it doesn't have the bite I'd expect from a concise hard rock track. 'Cinderella Man' is excellent, with a playful instrumental section, and is perhaps the highlight of the album for me - though I can't help feeling that, like every RUSH track, it could do with a better arrangement.

RUSH have my respect but not my adoration. This album, like all their progressive records, fails to engage me. Every prog rock collection should have at least one RUSH album, but probably not this one.

Report this review (#166034)
Posted Tuesday, April 8, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars Progressive rock is starting to dwindle in 1977, yet Rush finds a way to produce one of the genre's cornerstones in A FAREWELL TO KINGS. It has many perks that you want out of a prog rock album, only louder and heavier.

The old Rush fan in me would go out of his way to praise this as a masterpiece, but I've since removed my Rush boxer shorts and realized that in prog terms, this is slightly behind the times; I consider 1969-1975 to be the prime era of ''classic'' progressive rock. However, the wild card Rush has is their hard rock roots, and they merge those roots with a healthy dose of progressive rock into one exciting album that only a few have done before successfully.

Prog fans will no doubt look to ''Xanadu'' and ''Cygnus X-1'' as highlights; ''Xanadu'' is certainly a high point in Rush's career where the epic writing came into full fruition here. ''Cygnus X-1'' is a surprisingly catchy thing that alternates complex and simple ideas very well. Everyone is at their prime performance level on both tracks, but it's Lifeson's guitar work that really shines here, especially the haunting end to the last track.

However, my album highlight has to be the title track. Much overlooked by most everyone, this somewhat hidden gem is six minutes of the best you will get out of Rush; beginning with a soft, acoustic introduction, the track then explodes into a mini-epic of sorts and even has some of Geddy's best vocals. The jazzier ''Cinderella Man'' and the quiet ''Madrigal'' aren't quite highlights, but still excellent in their own right. Only ''Closer to the Heart'' is slightly out of place here being the poppier tune that it is.

A FAREWELL TO KINGS represents one of the highlights of Heavy Prog and is one of the finer Rush albums a prog fan can acquire. Geddy's vocals may take time to get used to, but this is an instrumentally and compositionally sound album that would sit very nicely in any prog collection.

Report this review (#168342)
Posted Monday, April 21, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars At the very least Rush easily matched 2112 with their 1977 follow up A Farewell To Kings. Featuring the first real instance of keyboard playing on a Rush album and much more openly Progressive elements this simply put is yet another perfect record from the Canadian trio. While not particularly sophisticated the synth adds much lush texture to the tension building intro to vast, sweeping Heavy Prog epic Xanadu and Madrigal, a short, almost Baroque style ballad. Fans of the harder edged Rush can hardly be disappointed though, Cygnus X-1, Book I: The Voyage is just as heavy as 2112 and the climatic outro features some of Geddy Lee's most intense vocal work ever. Its status as a fan favourite means little needs to be said to justify Closer To The Heart, a mid-paced rocker that really takes off with Lifeson's staggered guitar solo. Often overlooked Cinderella Man and A Farewell To Kings itself have much to offer especially to bass players; one cannot help but admire Geddy's awesome talent. A Farewell To Kings is yet another Rush album on which they set the bar extremely high for themselves, with hesitation one might even say that this is the ultimate Rush album.
Report this review (#170462)
Posted Saturday, May 10, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars 4 out of 5 and worth every star.

As far as the Rush discography goes this is one of the finest additions to the list. It has stood the test of time with its powerful lyrics and amazing musical performances. The standouts are fantasy oriented, but the others all have great moments.

The album starts off with the title track A Farewell To Kings. It slowly builds up (something the boys must have really enjoyed doing. 3 out of 6 start like this) with an acoustic and birds chirping, then comes Neil with some bells and then it all breaks loose with a very memorable guitar riff. A most excellent track that leaves the listener wanting more.

After the title track comes one of the two mini-epics, Xanadu. Another slow starter but it has one of the most blood pumping effects once it hits full swing. It details a mans adventures through a foreign land searching for the lost Xanadu, a place said to hold the secret of immortality. He obtains immortality but is trapped and longs for death to escape his prison. A haunting track that ends as peacefully as is begun.

Next up is Closer To The Heart, this is the track that go the most radio play because its short, enjoyable, and upbeat. Its a really nice track that has undergone many transformation with the countless live versions available. Cinderella Man an inspirational tale of a man fighting against great odds. Madrigal is slow and contemplative, a nice track to relax to.

Then comes the second mini-epic and finale(sort of) Cygnus X-1. It starts slowly but it has a much darker tone, instead of birds and and acoustic, it starts with silence and creepy vocals depicting the prologue about the Black Hole in the constellation Cygnus. The bass rips in and keeps the song going, screaming vocals and loud guitar moves the song along at a quickened pace. An adventurer travels into the black hole and is destroyed, yet still remains somehow. This is the lead-up into the next album Hemispheres, where the story is completed. It took awhile to get into but it is definitely the strongest, or tied with Xanadu, tracks on the album.

All in all this is an amazing album that deserves to be heard by both Heavy Prog fans, Rush fans, and basically anyone who loves some good music. A great but not essential album, if your a Rush fan you should already have it, if no, go buy it.

Report this review (#170846)
Posted Tuesday, May 13, 2008 | Review Permalink
TGM: Orb
4 stars Review 31, A Farewell To Kings, Rush, 1977


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

Report this review (#170967)
Posted Wednesday, May 14, 2008 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "A Farewell to Kings" is the 5th full-length studio album by Canadian progressive rock act Rush. The album was released through Mercury Records (US/Europe)/Anthem Records (Canada) in September 1977. Originally on vinyl featuring a gatefold sleeve. After releasing three albums which earned Rush some attention but not a genuine breakthrough, "2112 (1976)" proved to be just what the doctor ordered in terms of critical acclaim and commercial success. "A Farewell to Kings" continued that trend and ended up selling 500.000 copies within 2 months of its release (US Gold Certification).

Stylistically "A Farewell to Kings" continues the hard rocking progressive music style of its predecessor, but adds new levels of sophistication in terms of more adventurous songwriting and an even higher level of technical playing (drummer Neil Peart has for example greatly increased the fusion elements in his playing style). Rush now also frequently use synthesizer in their music, and that element is an important feature in their sound on the album. In addition to that we´re as always treated to hard rocking riffs, creative lead guitar ideas, busy and adventurous bass playing, and Geddy Lee´s distinct sounding high octave voice and skillful and passionate delivery. Rush are an incredibly well playing band and paired with their clever compositional skills, it´s a potent cocktail.

"A Farewell to Kings" features 6 tracks. "Xanadu" and "Cygnus X-1, Book I: The Voyage" are both over 10 minutes long progressive rock tracks, featuring complex structures and intricate playing, while the remaining tracks are slightly less progressive in structure, but a little more hard rocking (except for "Madrigal" which is a short ballad type track). "Closer to the Heart" is the most vers/chorus simple track on the album, but no less appealing because of that, and "A Farewell to Kings" is overall a nicely varied release. To my ears "Cinderella Man" and "Madrigal" are slightly sub par to the rest of the material on the album, which affects my rating of the album a bit, but they are not bad quality tracks by any means. The highlight of the album is arguably "Xanadu", which is an absolutely brilliant composition.

The sound production is powerful and organic, suiting the material perfectly, and upon conclusion "A Farewell to Kings" is another high quality release by Rush and the next logical step in their musical development. A 4 star (80%) rating is deserved.

Report this review (#172600)
Posted Friday, May 30, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars Until today, I wasn't convinced by this album. I thought it had more weaker than greater moments, and I was specially disappointed with the last song, Cygnus X-1. Tonight I was in the mood for some Rush, and I completely changed my opinion about this record. It's absolutely awesome and it deserves all the praise it gets. I couldn't have not written a review about this album. Obviously, many reviews before have done a song by song analysis, something I won't do now, since it's a waste of time for me.

So, the standouts are the AMAZING, Xanadu (still I think it's the best Rush song ever), the great opener A Farewell To Kings, and, definitely, the closer Cygnus X-1, which ironically, before, it seemed to me a total mess. Now I can't believe how I didn't give this song more opportunities, since I have this masterpiece for more than a year now.

Overall, an essential album, along with the incredible hard rocking 2112 (the best Rush album, in my opinion), but that's another story. Very recommended!

Rating: 4.6/5

Report this review (#175363)
Posted Thursday, June 26, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars Rush magnum opus is A Farewell to Kings and not Moving Pictures!!!!

Let me begin my review saying that this album was my way into Rush. It was the door that allowed me in to know this fantastic canadian band. However, at first, i was very disappointed, because i heard that this band was amazing, that it rocked, etc, but the second i heard Geddy Lee saying When they turn the pages of history i was immediately turned off. I could not stand his vocals and, to be frank, i still don't like his vocals completely but i learned to not hate them and even like them sometimes, because their music is really good and his vocals are just a little part of the songs. Maybe that is why i like this era of Rush better than the others (the epics era), because in this era Geddy Lee don't sing too much, and also because this is their most progressive era. However, like it or not, Geddy Lee's vocals are the pure representation of Rush, pretty much like Jon Anderson's vocals are the representation of Yes: the band would not work out properly with another vocals since Geddy's fit their stile perfectly.

Anyway, despite the vocals problem, this is my favorite Rush album and that is because this album is pretty constant. Unlike Caress of Steel, 2112 and Hemispheres, both sides of the album are very good instead of, in the case of the albums listed before, having one terrific side and a just decent another side. In th CD era this is not as clear as it was in the LP era, but it still pretty obvious that in those 3 albums one part is definitely better than the other (in the Caress case is the end and in both 2112 and Hemispheres cases is the beginning). Bottom line: this album is the most balanced album of the progressive / epic Rush era.

About the songs, musicianship and other features there are some thing i would like to state:

Well, definitely the instrument that stand out the most here is the bass. Maybe the producer just increased the volume of Geddy Lee's bass and reduced the volume of Alex Lifeson's guitar but the fact is that the bass is clearly with some kind of improvement over both the guitars and the drums. That, however, set the tone for the album, creating a very interesting atmosphere.

This album is also quite technical, specially the drum parts, but not too much if compared to the rest of traditional prog rock: it fall right into the right amount of technicality that is the characteristic of progressive rock, but it still quite technical.

Overall, the music is a very good mixture of hard rock and progressive rock. Well, it is actually more hard rock than progressive rock, but it is still a good blend between these genres of rock and probably was rush the first band to blend those two together for the first time, with great results and being very influential because of that.

Grade and final thoughts:

For being a balanced and constant album, and because it has terrific songs, i think that A Farewell to Kings deserves the masterpiece grade. Besides, this album is very influential: many parts of the Dream Theater album Falling Into Infinity are clearly influenced by this album (i don't know if its a coincidence, but the best parts of Falling Into Infinity are influenced by this album).

Report this review (#177496)
Posted Sunday, July 20, 2008 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
5 stars "All that musicality, all the intricacies, all the power from just three guys": Thin Lizzy's Scott Gorham.

A Farewell to Kings is the first album I purchased of Rush and I knew instantly I would be building up a collection of Rush albums as they are masters of heavy prog, like nothing I have ever heard. The three piece trio of power sizzle on this album from the opening track to the awesome last track. Only 6 tracks but each one is an instant classic.

The album begins with the title track that heralds the instantly recognizable Rush sound. Alex Lifeson's jangly, jagged guitar riffs and Geddy Lee's high soprano and pounding bass, complimented by Neil Peart's erratic drums. This is Rush at their best.

'Xanadu' is the longest track clocking in at some 11 minutes and is a representation of a quieter contemplative Rush that has moments of blazing fury, and ripping lead guitar. The lyrics are based on Coleridge's classic (in the same way that Iron maiden's 'Rime of the Ancient Mariner' is based on a Coleridge poem). It is pomp-rock with an edge of humour interlaced within it's structure. The percussion is way off the scale for inventive genius utilising such favourites as the vibraslap, temple blocks and bell trees amongst others. It's pure prog bliss.

'Closer to the Heart' is the most accessible and as such was the single off the album that has been played ad infinitum live in concert, captured beautifully on the live masterpiece 'Different Stages'.

'Cinderella Man' is the more forgettable track on the album but has some nice moments.

'Madrigal' is a short 2 ½ minute blast that prepares us for the epic to follow.

'Cygnus X-1' is one of the reasons I bought this because I had read it was one of the best Rush tracks. I was not disappointed. It begins with a voice narration that transports us into a space fantasy as we are about to embark on an exhilarating but terrifying journey into the abyss: a black hole - the Cygnus X-1. It's a hard rock excursion into the unknown and ranks as one of the best of Rush's stratospheric moments, as we travel through the void we are treated to memorable guitar riffs, and scintillating existentialist sci-fi drama.

In conclusion, this album is a prog-metal masterpiece. It is a mighty model of bombastic rock power and highly listenable inventiveness.

Report this review (#177698)
Posted Monday, July 21, 2008 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
4 stars You say goodbye, I say hello!

As I pointed out in my review of the previous 2112 album, Rush started out as a highly derivative and generic Blues Rock/Hard Rock band heavily influenced by Led Zeppelin but gradually incorporated progressive elements and structures into their music. 1976's 2112 album was the start of their classic period that peaked with 1978's Hemispheres and continued until Moving Pictures in 1981. But while the side-long, multi-part title-track of 2112 was the first truly progressive piece by Rush, the rest of that album was still a little bit backward-looking. A Farewell To Kings was the first full album of progressive Rock by Rush and what a great album it is. For me personally, A Farewell To Kings is rivalled only by Hemispheres.

Synthesisers were taking a larger role in the sound of the band and here they blend wonderfully with the electric guitars, bass, drums and vocals and especially with the acoustic guitars. I love the unusually strong acoustic dimension of this album, a side of the band that would not be very prominent on future albums. There is a very nice balance between ballads and rockers and there are no weak points whatsoever. While only Closer To The Heart remains a mainstay in the band's set list to the present day, every track here is a true Rush classic. Xanadu is one of my all-time favourite songs and Cygnys X-1 is the first part of Hemispheres.

The next step in the band's evolution would be to add an almost Jazz-Rock/Fusion dimension to their sound with tracks like La Villa Strangiato from the next album. A Farewell To Kings, while highly progressive, is still rooted in Rock 'N' Roll somehow.

They would reach perfection with their next album, but they are very close to their peak already here and this one is also absolutely essential

Report this review (#178731)
Posted Sunday, August 3, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is my absolute favourite Rush album. Every time I listen to it I find myself singing along to every song and air guitar-ing (or bass-ing or drumming for that matter) through every intro and solo. Closer to the Heart was one of the first Rush songs that I'd ever heard. I liked it I thought it had interesting lyrics and sound and decided to follow up on that though. So I went bought, first Chronicles the best of to get a taste then once I decided which songs I'd enjoyed the most I went and got A Farewell to Kings and Permanent Waves. Of the two I loved this one the most.

I'd heard a few of the songs from Chronicles but they felt so much more proper on their album. Not to mention Xanadu and Cygnus X-1 Book I which are in my opinion Rush's best epics. The low point of the album if there is one is Madrigal. Not because it is a bad song, but because it's melancholy feel seems inappropriate for the album which is otherwise so packed with energy. The band is on fire with this album.

Report this review (#182962)
Posted Saturday, September 20, 2008 | Review Permalink
Tarcisio Moura
4 stars I knew one day I had to write a review about Rush. So why not starting with their very best in the 70´s? Ok, they were in a steady development since their debut in 1974, but Farewell To Kings was a milestone! Released after the acclaimed 2112, it still was a big surprise: they not included keyboards as a featured instrument on most of the tracks, but their sophisticated hard rock now reached a stunning progressive status! And it was released in 1977! The year punk rock dominated the scene (at least in the mind of many rock critics).

The album is a masterpiece in prog music for its sheer display of talent, skills and powerful songwriting. It was quite novel the way they took songs and themes (remember, prog metal was not in anyone´s mind at the time!). Great acoustic parts, dashing electric solos, stunning bass and the elegant, wonderful drums of master Neil Peart. At last the band displayed their full potentital, showing those guys were much more than a good, maybe prog influenced, power trio. The use of inspired synthesizers and tuned percussion added to make Farewell To Kings a unique album, specially if you take in consideration the time it was released (and the fact it was a critically, comercially and artisticly successful one). Things would never be the same for Rush after this one. They never looked back, either.

The title track and Xanadu are the highlights of this album, of course. They both put the trio in another level. The epic Xanadu was always a favorite. Side two of the vinyl release was also very good, starting with the classic Closer To The Heart. I must say I never really liked the last song Cygnus X-1. It had an interesting sci fic theme but the music is not that thrilling as the remaining of the album. But still, a great album. It really showed anyone that something´s good and timeless could thrive even at an era when everything seemed going against prog music.

Although I respected and liked Rush long before this release, it was also true it they was never a favorite band. But I was overwhelmed by this work. This is one of once in a lifetime albums. Highly recommended. 4,5 stars.

Report this review (#184449)
Posted Thursday, October 2, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars Actually this is one of my earlier prog albums. I got to know it somewhere in the mid eighties and loved it for a long time. I always considered it inferior to its successor Hemispheres but of course it's a great album. I have to add to the facts that in those days I was more easily overwhelmed by a prog album than nowadays. This is not strange; besides the fact I was younger then and probably more easily overwhelmed it was also an era with far less progalbums in history than now, almost a quarter of a century later.

Anyway, what I'm trying to say is that unfortunately nowadays A Farewell to Kings is not one of my favourites anymore. It has faded from me and in fact already did that more than 10 years ago. Sometimes I tried to reanimate my love for it but to no avail. In earlier days it was especially Xanadu that was my favourite track (as with many of the Rush fans) but unlike many Rush fans I don't care to much about the shorter songs. Madrigal is one of the few ballads Rush has ever done so that's at least an interesting one. But what's so mindblowing about the other 4 I wonder really. The title track is ok for me but no more than that. Cygnus X-1 is interesting but in the end another example of faded glory.

Initially I wanted to give it 4 stars for old times sake and out of respect but I have to be honest to myself and cannot go further than 3 stars (3,25).

Report this review (#185931)
Posted Thursday, October 16, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars Warning: this is a review done by an extreme Rush fanboy. If the mention of even the word bothers you, then move on to another review.

Now that I got that cautionary message out of the way and you probably ignored it...I'll admit, it's about time I did a Rush review anyway. And what better place to start than with one of their classic albums? I think that for me, this album is tied with Moving Pictures and Hemispheres for my favorite Rush album, since I can't really choose one over the other two. An absolutely fantastic album that highlights what Rush's 70s period was all about, and probably one of the best albums ever written.

1. A Farewell to Kings - Starts with an acoustic passage that makes me picture King Arthur and his court at Camelot, since it's very medieval-like. Wind chimes add to that feeling very well. Around 1:15 in though the rocking comes in which lets us know what's coming next. While Lifeson may not be a virtuoso guitarist, I always feel he really knows how to make his guitar "speak" and give it the right feel for any Rush song, especially with solos like the one on this song. A fantastic opener. 10+/10

2. Xanadu - I sought the sacred river Alph to dine on honeydew and drink the milk of paradise...and found this mind-blowing song instead. One of my favorite parts of Rush's classic period, and especially on this album, is the medieval yet spacey feel present, especially on this track's intro. This is definitely the highlight of the first side of this album, and it pulls out all the stops. This is one of those songs that send chills down my spine then across my entire body when I listen to it. A thousand years may have come and gone since the first time I heard this, but it is an absolutely magical, breathtaking journey. 10+/10

3. Closer to the Heart - The second half of the album kicks off with what is a staple of classic Rush and was a mainstream hit. A fairly short, mostly acoustic song with chimes accompanying it, but it strikes with a powerful message. 10/10

4. Cinderella Man - Here we have the only Rush song where all the lyrics were written by Lee instead of Peart. Powerful bass here, but then again when isn't there any of that in Rush? 10+/10

5. Madrigal - Quite honestly, this is my least favorite song on the album. I think at times it makes me think of Closer to the Heart, but otherwise, I can't really think of an enormous weakness in this track (blame it on my fanboyism if you must, but I'm really trying to be objective with this review). 9/10

6. Cygnus X-1 - Ah, yes, the first part of a concept that was continued on the next Rush album. We have an explorer who enters a black hole and in the end becomes a god, almost a deus ex machina if you will. The song starts with a very spacey, psychedelic section until about 1:25 when a fairly heavy guitar riff comes in and slowly builds in volume until a bit after 2 minutes when it seems to explode. A very heavy (for Rush standards) guitar section enters a bit after 3 minutes. Alex is giving that section a real thrashing. Vocals come in at 5 minutes in. I might get some slight criticism about this from others, but I actually might like Part 1 of Cygnus more than part 2, although both are absolute masterpieces. 10+/10

Despite the fact that I may be a massive fanboy of this band, I still can recognize obvious masterpiece work when I see it. This album is no exception. If you are a member of this site and haven't heard any Rush yet, I guarantee that you will get this album eventually. Being a part of Rush's classic period, this is not an album for a prog rock fan to pass up anyway. I give it 6 stars out of 5, and I'd probably give it more if I could. One of the greatest prog rock albums of all time.

Report this review (#191555)
Posted Tuesday, December 2, 2008 | Review Permalink
Crossover Team
5 stars Rush's A Farewell to Kings showed a significant improvement in composition, performance, and production skills for the band. Inspired by their success with the 2112 epic suite, Rush continued in their progressive roots with science fiction themes and two more tracks timing in at over 10 minutes. Again, to keep record executives happy, they provided four shorter numbers, two of them (Closer to the Heart and Cinderella Man) receiving much radio play on the AOR stations of the time (and still often heard on my car radio today!).

Many considered Caress of Steel or 2112 as the breakthrough for Rush and although both albums really showed a band with much potential achieve much progress, A Farewell to Kings in my opinion granted them with their first masterpiece with some wonderfully dynamic musicianship and an increasing use of synthesizers increasing the depth to their developing progressive sound.

The key songs on this album are Xanadu and Cygnus X-1. The former is about the search for Xanadu, apparently a mythical place that grants immortality. It was inspired by Samuel Taylor Coleridge's poem Kubla Khan. Cygnus X-1 is actually the first part (Book I) of a duology which continues on their next album with Book II. The song leaves the listener hanging in that the explorer on his ship the Rocinante gets drawn into the overwhelming gravity of the mysterious Cygnus X-1 black hole.

A stunning album released around the time many prog rockers were streamlining their music into more popular territories. The first of several masterpieces, a must-have for Rush fans, and a great starter for those of you who have yet to hear the music of this great Canadian band. Five stars.

Report this review (#192632)
Posted Thursday, December 11, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars A Farewell to Kings is Rush's first real progressive effort. Unlike 2112, A Farewell to Kings uses more synthesizers, and they are the most prominate instrument being played. There are many interesting songs, touching, and inspirational songs on this album. Now, this has its flaws, but they are not that bad. Rush delivers an energetic album, a progressive album, with lyrics that actually mean something. The lyrics usually mean something of a way of life, something of fantasy. Geddy also produced his own track, Cinderella Man. Cinderella Man was never very popular, but it does show that Geddy can produce his own track, and make it fit with the whole album around it. I will now grade each some from a scale of 1-10. 10 being the absolut best, and 1 being the absolut worst.

A Farewell to Kings- This is one of the stronger, but less known tracks. This did get radio air-play back in the late 1970's, but it was not like some of the other tracks. The song itself starts off with a beautiful acoustic, classical guitar, with some synthesizers playing in the background. Oddly, synthesizers don't play a big part in this song, its the guitar that is the most prominate instrument. This also showcases a unique guitar solo by Alex, with Geddy doing a simple bass solo before the solo, but it fits perfectly with the song. Great track that lets off to another great song. 9.5/10

Xanadu- Easily the best song from the album. It really shows that these guys have talent, and they can produce a song with so much music-manship. The first 5 minutes or so is an instrumental part, which is very soft, and calming. After 2 minutes, a main riff appears, which is a very interesting part of the song. The next riff shows Geddy's bass skills, with a very interesting bassline. The song is an incredible track, and the album wouldn't not be the album without this song. 10/10

Closer to the Heart- This is the most popular of the album, but its definatly not the best from the album, itself. It has a ballad feeling at the beginning of the song, with a very interesting guitar riff. After about 40 seconds of the ballad with just guitar, Geddy enters the mix. The song slowly raises with all of the instruments entering, and turns into a very hard rock, progressive song. This is actually very good, but I really think this is a very overrated song, when it seems to be a very simple song, but its still a very good one, and I see why it is very overrated. 9/10

Cinderella Man- This is the only song on the album to be composed and written by Geddy Lee, and it is also the only one that does not use very many synthesizer elements in the song, its very guitar, and bass heavy, with drums being prominate as well. The bassline is actually very stunning, i'm very suprised that the song has so much spark for being so underrated. Another song that the album would not survive without. 8.5/10

Madrigal- This is the most underrated from the album, but its actually a very interesting ballad. Geddy uses a fretless bass, and a different tone for the bass than all of the other albums. The song is doubled with electric guitar and acoustic guitar, and it has a very polished feeling to it. Geddy sings a little lower in this song, very mellow, and softer than the rest of the album, that I have noticed by listeing to the song. The ballad holds a part in the album that no other song could hold. 8.5/10

Cygnus X-1- Another, shall I say, epic from the album. This song has been considered to be the evil step-child of the other epic Xanadu from the first side of the album. Song starts with a very spacy feeling, and a very dark, heavy metal, almost rock sound. After about 1 or 2 minutes, Geddy does a little repeated bass solo, or I should say bassline, the enters into the darkness of the song. The song lyrically, is very interesting, showing that a man is going into the milky way, the star deneb, and etc. and shows that he is dying, quote from the song, Every Nerve is torn apart! which descends into the darkness of Alexs little guitar riffs that he plays throughout the ending to make a very dark feeling. A great let-off to the next albums side-long epic. 10/10

The album shows creativity, amazing basslines, great guitar playing, amazing drumming, and the new use of synthesizers with this new album that is made from Rush.

Report this review (#195233)
Posted Saturday, December 27, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars This album is magical....and falls from one great piece into the other.....I really love the beginning of the first song 'A farewell To Kings' Really nice how this song begins with some great accoustic guitars and then falls in fully.....when the whole band is joining along. That sets pretty much the rest of the level of the album....the stakes are high and the quality remains constant, if not better. The band really had to prove themself...after 2112 I think it would take many bands alot of effort to come up with another classic...but I think that they dont fall down...and they don't fall down. Not even with in a way it can be defended that A Farewell To Kings is one of the 3 true classical albums of Rush, the ones that earned them the reputation they have today...and their greatest efforts to progressive rock.

Ofcourse the main attention is going to the 2 longer pieces on this album.....Unfortunatly not as long as the amazing 2112, that is for me the best track they ever did...but I think the songs still have great epic propoportions. Both Xanandu en Cygnus are amazing songs. Although perhaps Xanadu slightly better....I really really love the way this song is building up.....starts with some nice effects and suddle guitars and then....slowly builds up more agressive...some great guitarplaying of Aex here....very nice...And ofcourse....Niell, never lets down....This is a fantastic song......Cygnus...also builds up slow with some great effects and distorted voices before in eventually begins...that Bass / drum amazing...and it takes about half a minute before Alex joins in.....and the song really then the song gets really the way they do that bass & drum thing again....and how the bass remains so awsome the rest of the song....typical Geddy ? (And some very high singing)

Closer to the I think till this day a very often played live song...I prefer the way its played live, its much much more dynamic and powerfull (and longer too).

All in all I think 1 of the top Rush albums.....Really a must have !!

Report this review (#201032)
Posted Thursday, January 29, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars The opening minute of this albums gives me goose-bumps. The hair stands upright on my back. This is seriously good, classic stuff. The title track is a true classic Rush composition........ but still only a foreplay to one of their best songs ever; Xanadu.

I have no idea how many neighbours I have scared during the last 20 years with my air-guitar play and seriously maniac behaviour during Xanadu. No, I am not going to film myself and put it on Youtube. No. No. No. No. But it is a seriously stirring track. Alex guitars and the build up is just incredible. In fact, just as incredible today as it was when I first heard it 20 years ago. Timeless. Classic. One of Rush best moments.

If I am not mistaken, Closer To The Heart is Rush biggest ever hit. I am starting to get bored of this song (a view shared by Rush themselves). But it is still a majestic two and a half minutes. I happens to like it. The opening seconds of Cinderella Man makes me sit up and listen. The rest of the song is too easy listening to me and not a great Rush song.

Madrigal on the other hand is a true cracker. This is one of Rush lesser known tracks though. A very sweet and tender song with a truly wonderful tune. It is one of the tracks which makes it essential to get every Rush album because there is a lot of excellent songs here not included on the live albums and the best of compilations albums. Rush has a lot of socalled hidden gems.

Cygnus X-1 is the second of the three opuses which starts at the previous album 2112 and continues here before it finish at the next album Hemispheres. It is a epic song which slowly builds up to a crescendo and some nifty guitars, bass and drums. It is a great epic opus. It would be fun to rip these three opuses from their records and play them as one opus, back to back. Maybe that's an idea for Rush. I like this opus and thumbs up from me.

This is one of Rush best ever albums. I regard 2112, this album and Hemispheres as one entity. You need all three of them to make sense of the music. I love this album.

4.75 stars

Report this review (#202863)
Posted Sunday, February 15, 2009 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
3 stars 'A Farewell To Kings' - Rush (6/10)

Contrary to popular opinion, I don't think 'A Farewell To Kings' is that amazing of an album. Rush have certainly done alot better, and there are only two songs on here that stand out as being masterful (the mystical and textured 'Xanadu,' and the very progressive sci-fi epic 'Cygnus X-1.') The rest of the songs are good, but aren't necessarily the sort of stuff that would be found in the ideal masterpiece.

'A Farewell To Kings' is good enough, and has a very pleasant acoustic introduction. But the rest of the song only ranks as being 'alright.' Listenable and energetic, but there's definately better stuff out there.

'Xanadu,' as I've stated before, is one of the two highlights. This is an amazing song, and somehow conveys a very strong feeling of oriental phantasm, without using far-east instrumentation. There are alot of references to the Coolridge poem the song is based off of. The keyboard work by Geddy Lee here is fantastic, as well as the atmospheric soundscaping Alex Lifeson does at the beginning.

'Closer To The Heart' is a song that I've never liked. It's Rush's 'hit single' but I think it's annoying; especially Geddy's vocal delivery. The optimistic guitar intro is a nice touch, but the majority of the song is disposable for me. The guitarwork is the only thing that makes this song enjoyable at all. This is the sort of song that you might find on a two star, or three star Rush album, not a record that is considered by many to be one of the greatest Prog-Rock masterpieces of all time!

'Cinderella Man' is pretty forgettable, but pleasant enough. It's a bit of a weak track. Even now, after a few hours after, I'm having a hard time remembering it, besides it's chorus, which has an interesting melody.

'Madrigal,' despite being about two minutes long, is probably the third best song on the album. The vocal melody is gorgeous! Geddy's voice is in top notch here. Amazing.

'Cygnus X-1' is very proggy, and verges on being metal. It's even better than it's 'Hemispheres' counterpart! It builds up with some great sci-fi textures into an epic finale to close the album.

I'll probably get hung by other ProgArchives fans for this, but this isn't that amazing of an album. It's good, but I'd rather listen to a better album, like 'Moving Pictures.' Worth checking out if you're a Rush fan, though.

Report this review (#205801)
Posted Sunday, March 8, 2009 | Review Permalink
2 stars I'm probably one of the few people on this website that is going to rate this album so low. But I am. This, to me is actually mostly a step backwards for Rush, and except for Xanadu, almost a complete failure of an album. Reading the rave reviews of this album confuses me, but I think I can understand what's going on here. Many people who like this album seem to love the fact that it's progressive. And it definitely is very progressive. It is, in many ways, their most progressive album. Synthesizers come into the work in a big way. There are two ten minute songs on the album. The song structures are complex and not trivial. The band is playing in many different time signatures, constantly. The playing is complicated, interesting, and definitely shows the band at a peak as far as that goes. The songs here are consistently complex and are always throwing new musical ideas at the wall. And if I were to rate the album in that idiom, I could probably give it five stars and call it essential. Because I can listen to this album for the playing and the imagination of the arrangments alone. I can enjoy this album, and I often have, while reading a book, playing a game, or driving. It is a progressive rock album, and if you want to judge it on a progressive rock checklist, it passes. However, it fails, with one huge exception, to be interesting or captivating to me on any other level besides that of a generic prog rock album. None of the songs grab me by the lapel and catch my interest. None of the melodies move me. None of the lyrics interest me. The band plays and plays, arranges non-trival song structures, complicated riffs, changes the time signature here, has a keyboard solo there, puts in an acoustic guitar there, jumps up and down, screams "WE'RE PROGRESSIVE NOW LISTEN TO US WE'RE PROGRESSIVE." It's a triumph of style over substance and a major embarassment for Rush.

Except for Xanadu. Oh my God, Xanadu. If the whole album could have maintained even half of the quality of this song, I would consider it the masterpiece that everybody else raves about. It's the only song where the band doesn't seem lost in it's own desire to be progressive. It's arranged non-trivially, with twisting song structures, riffs and melodies. The lyrics are good, mostly because they're basically a Samuel Taylor Coleridge poem, and the atmosphere and mood set by the lyrics, music, playing, singing, and arrangment have never been surpassed by the band. THIS is their masterpiece. Not 2112. I can't believe that the band that produced the rest of this album could have produced this song. The introduction is moody and interesting. That intro riff is similar to the "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" riff, in that there's just something about it that words can't capture. The band goes moody and atmospheric during the verses, and retains their dynamics and rocking ability in the chorus. Naturally, this song is, in many ways, the most straightforward of all the songs here. Which is probably why it's the most succesful.

Let's discuss the other songs. A Farewell To Kings starts out with some nice acoustic guitar work, with some chimes, bass, and organ. It's actually a nice introduction to the album, and puts me in a good state of mind. Then a fairly clean electric guitar comes in, and my mood changes. The chord changes remind me strongly of the section in 2112 when the narrator is presenting the guitar to the priests. This isn't good. It's not quite the same, but it's close and it's not a good sign. This guitar plays for a few bars and then a different distorted riff comes in. This plays for awhile, and then the lyrics come in, and I get baffled. Is this the best melody they could come up with? This is Rush pushing the lyrics forward again, and forgetting about melody. This isn't avant-guard noise making. It's prog rock. We still need melodies. This goes for awhile, and then a new riff is introduced, and the melody becomes a bit more memorable. And then ANOTHER riff comes in, and the melody sings along with the guitar occasionally, and then goes against it, which helps make it a bit more memorable. And repeats the verse...then a weird bass line comes in, and Lifeson gets a strange and dissonant guitar solo. A new riff comes in briefly...the band slows down...Neil hits his ride cymbal. Another guitar solo comes in...the verse starts up again (?!) Geddy sings "closer to the heart" immediately reminding me of that song, and then it fades out after a few more riffs.

Now, this song is certainly very complex. In fact, listening to it simply to enjoy it's complexity can be fun. But where are the melodies? Why doesn't the song flow at all? It herks and jerks, and feels disjointed. I can appreciate that approach, and often do, but I don't think the band was going for that. In the best prog rock, even as weird as it can get, even as they segue into sections that have little to do with what came before, even as guitar and keyboard solos come and go out of nowhere, it all has to seem natural and most importantly inevitable. In Close To The Edge, the changes in mood and music feel like that's the only thing that could have worked there. They feel like the band was really smart in chosing the right moments to change, and really smart in choosing the right music to change to time and time again. Rush is no Yes in this regard: they often seem to switch things randomly and jarringly. And while Zappa did this constantly as well, it was basically, in many ways, the idiom that ran through all of his music and even he did it very naturally and inevitably. Rush just seem lost here.

Xanadu follows and the listener might think "oh the first song was just an abberation, the rest of this is going to be great!" Because A Farewell to Kings is not unlistenable, and Xanadu is amazing. Surely the rest of the album exists between there? Well, follow me dear reader, and we shall see...

Closer To The Heart follows and it's tone of the he shortest and simplest songs on the album. Not even three minutes! What kind of prog rock is this? Of course, they throw in a few atmospheric keyboard and chime breaks, but those are so short that they barely matter. The song is based around a Geddy Lee acoustic guitar riff. The melody is memorable, catchy even. The lyrics are beyond awful, but can't even blame Neil: he didn't write them! But I can understand their appeal. I really can. And the song builds and builds to a great head during the ending. It's kind of a "power ballad" for Rush, in that sense, but it still has enough cool moments (those keyboard and chime breaks are pretty) and the arrangments and melodies are strong enough to make this a good pop song. It's WAY too short though...just as it feels like it's building up into something, the band ends the track. Probably so they could tack another six sections to Cinderella Man.

Which comes next. This song reminds me a lot of A Farewell to Kings, in that the band alternates sections that don't go together in a manner that seems haphazard and confusing. The introduction, with the bass and guitar riff, with the keyboards seems interesting and not poorly structured, but then an acoustic guitar jumps in out of nowhere and Geddy starts to sing. "A modest man from Mandrake..." The vocal melody actually seems catchy here. The band jumps in on bass and drums, and the song actually seems like it could be an improvement. But then the distorted guitar comes in, another time signature, and the melody gets non-existent and irritating. And then more acoustic guitar comes in, and Geddy sings a nice melody, and then the intro is back. The song keeps doing things like this: it alternates nice music with not so nice music. They're trying their old dynamic "soft vs hard" game, but they aren't coming up with enough good melodies and riffs to do that. Parts of this song are enjoyable, but only parts.

Madrigal comes on and it's the shortest song on the album. It's a keyboard ballad. One melody is repeated over and over. The lyrics are bad: back to fantasy crap. In fact, most of the lyrics on here are a return to fantasy ideals, and they're a regression for Peart. The music is unmemorable. What happened to the band that wrote Tears?!

The last song is also perhaps it's most controversial. Cygnus X-1 has been called everything from a hard prog masterpiece, to completely unlistenable. I like the intro with the spacey sounds and the weird voices. It's a triffle bit cheesy, but it works. I like the way the band builds riffs up slowly and surely out of the keyboard work, and the way the band suddenly jumps into a weird groove loud and clear. The riff isn't bad: it's played in an unusual time signature, and produces a disorienting effect. In fact, the riffs on the song aren't bad. And the lyrics are definitely unusual: it's about a man being sucked into a blackhole. And they aren't bad. But Geddy ruins the song for me completely. Normally, I don't mind his singing at all. But here, he just...over does it in a bad way. I know, the song is about a man being sucked into a black hole. And it's appropriate that Geddy screams like he's dying at the end of the song. He's being crushed into nothingness by the most powerful gravitational force that we know exists. But more importantly, there is no melody to the song, and Geddy screams the lyrics for the entire track in a way that almost justifies what all the haters say about him. And the construction of the song isn't amongst the finest I've ever heard.

So there you have it. Probably the most negative review of this album on the website. Like I said, I can understand the appeal of the album. And I like a lot of prog. I like the way the bands are complex and all over the place, I like the solos, the time signature changes, the weirdness, the lyrics etc. I love all of that. But I also love a good melody, and songs that make sense in their construction. Songs that are constructed in a way that's obviously inevitable. I mean, I like random noise too, I like John Cage, Phillip Glass, really hard core avant-guard stuff. But this isn't that. This is hard prog. The songs have to make sense. And they don't. They really don't.

Luckily, this album was only a minor abberation in Rush's evolution, and they got much better afterwards. In fact, they produced their best prog album after this.

Report this review (#212409)
Posted Saturday, April 25, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars Rush going really progressive. I mean we can call previous albums progressive rock but it was mostly hard rock just combined into long suites. On this release synthesizers play major role, well at least in two longest tracks. Opening baroqueish theme for the title song is really amazing. But the song itself is pretty obvious happy hard rock tune. Nothing special but very optimistic and I like it. Xanadu is my favorite song on this album. First time I heard that song it was in Exit Stage Left version. There it was a bit slower. Long intro filled with synthesizers takes us to Paradise. Lyrics appear after 5 minutes and the song is compilation of soft proggy tunes and thrilling hard rock. This one is a true masterpiece in Rush's cataloque. Closer To The Heart was the most popular song of this album and the biggest Rush hit at the time. It doesn't move me at all but I can understand why lots of people like it. It's such pop song. Cinderella Man is interesting variation on Making Memories tune of Fly By Night album. Geddy wrote the lyrics which was something unusual since Neil Peart was always responsible for band's texture side. Madrigal is very quiet short piece of music. Typical filler. Cygnus X-1 is second after Xanadu progressive piece on this album. But this time it's more chaotic and not such good. Of course I can't say it's a bad song. In fact it's interesting experiment and the greater extension of that idea was presented on the next Rush album. A Farewell To Kings is solid progressive rock release. I think Rush in 70's were the best progressive band and they started working on original sound at the time. So this release isn't waste of time. It's brilliant.
Report this review (#214854)
Posted Monday, May 11, 2009 | Review Permalink
2 stars Another Rush 'Essential" Get it today if you like Rush.

Overall Rating: 7

Best Song: MADRIGAL (you heard me right, bud)

I think there are some trademark Rush-isms about this album that do well to epitomize everything about Rush in one package. Here you get:1 - Great musicianship, no lie; 2 - Cheap pocketbook fantasy lyrics; 3 - A crappy vocalist; and 4 - no real melodies. There ya go, this is every side to the record and then a bit. Oddly enough I really have a thing for the first couple minutes of the title track( A Farewell To Kings? More like A Farewell To Melodies!) you know, before it goes into heavy rock tofu. I could never proclaim these fellers can't play. Oh how they can play! But, me, I never ever cared for how well someone could play, rather, I care more about what said person is actually playing, and sadly, in regard to Rush, I always hate what they're playing.

It's not that it's bad stuff, it's just about as exciting as a sea of wet noodles. The most prominent factor for my anti-Rush sentiments lie in one thing and one thing only. Ya know, even I can get over Geddy Le's singing, and lately, I actually kinda like it a little, but no amount of sheer ignorant acceptance can get me past how these pricks couldn't write a solid melody if it sprouted wings and thrust itself from their complex little nether regions. Based on my assessment of Lifeson's guitar work, the only truly worthwhile Rush album would be an acoustic folk one.

Not that such a thing would ever happened, and we're all drunk on honeydew, so screw it. Xanadu is supposed to be the grand poobah, and Rush par excellence, but to me, it's just another exercise in generic rock riffs and generic rock lyrics with only complexity to do any spicing up, and I hate complexity for complexity's sake, it irritates my bowels.

And then, smack dab in the middle is the most beautiful, tear-inducing, emotionally rich, intelligent, precious ballad ever made ever! Closer To The Heart! No, that's not right, it's a fine proggy pop song, but I can't see anyone crying to this. If you've ever cried to this song out of pure emotional fulfillment, or hell, ever cried to ANY Rush song, I want you to email me on [email protected], mkay? I have to get you people in the pins and slave farms to save humanity.

I think those last lines could work well as a Rush epic. Seee, 'cause they suck at writing lyrics, too! go figure, huh? Let me rustle up something up for ya. "Cinderella Man, doing what you can, they can't understand what it means. Cinderella man, hang on to your plans, try as they might they cannot steal your dreams". Does that rouse you like a cat in heat under an old ruined overpass seeing a dead salmon on the side of the road?! The song itself sounds just like everything else on here, even if the middle jamming is cool. I always thought Lifeson was a real chap with his guitars when he was allowed to let them stretch out. Too bad it all got drowned in cheap, hollow, hard slush.

Madrigal isn't even three minutes long, and, although a tad twee and undeniably silly, it's still the only moment on the entire record that excited me in any way. I plumb don't care one bit for the closing epic, it sounds painfully like everything else they were doing 'round this time, so shove off, heave away boys, heave away! In fact, I hate this epic eleven minute long track. That introduction is inadequate, which is synonymous with Rush. Plus, as bad as Geddy's singing is, his screaming, now that's cancerous and lethally offensive to my ears. Honestly, if it weren't for the top notch playing abilities, I'd be even more negative toward the album, and the band in general, but they ain't no hot shakes, Mahoney. Hey, if you're a Rush fan, jump off a.... Hey, if you're a Rush fan, buy it today!


Report this review (#220054)
Posted Saturday, June 6, 2009 | Review Permalink
Eclectic Prog Team
4 stars Rush continued in the best direction, experimenting with longer and more developed pieces, and the sound began to become fuller. While not their best effort, this is an exceptional album, full of great music.

"A Farewell to Kings" Alex Lifeson gets the music going with a classical introduction. Otherwise, this is a heavy song with a moderate to upbeat tempo, and a somewhat filled-out sound (primarily due to Lifeson's tone).

"Xanadu" Quiet sounds reminiscent of nature at its most peaceful abound in the beginning of this lengthy track, alongside sweet swells of Lifeson's electric guitar and Neil Peart's blocks. Lifeson plays a static riff while the chords change, and at almost three minutes in, the band finally sounds more like Rush. There's the riff-based rock, but there's also enough variation to keep this piece fresh and lively. Five minutes passes before Geddy Lee even opens his mouth. A synthesizer interlude bridges the vocal sections. This is most definitely a progressive rock track in the richest sense.

"Closer to the Heart" A worldwide favorite, this little song has lots of charm and philosophical musings.

"Cinderella Man" Alternating between somewhat heavier sections and light acoustic sections, this song is a great short progressive rock number, with wonderful lyrics and excellent bass work from Lee.

"Madrigal" Another soft, short song, this has a whistling synthesizer and clean guitar.

"Cygnus X-1" Intergalactic noises and an extraterrestrial voice introduce the second lengthy piece on the album. In the distance, a growling, sputtering bass can be heard as it gradually comes to the fore. Over galloping chords enters a synthesizer lead. Again, five minutes passes before Lee sings. This lengthy track is not as great as some of Rush's others, and it can be difficult to follow, but it makes for an interesting piece of music, and serves as "part one" to the greatest song Rush ever created.

Report this review (#220464)
Posted Tuesday, June 9, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars To form a new reality, closer to the heart.

This is it. This is what Rush is about, no bad moments, different songs with different themes and melodies. The track Xanadu is the real highlight here, but depending on the day, i really can listen more to the title track or Closer to the heart. The real beauty of this album is, that even if it has those "easy rock" songs plus Xanadu, it still leaves room to a real prog effort: Cygnus Book X-1. This track is much more demanding than Rush's usual stuff, but when you get the feel of it, it's a really rewarding tune.

The group effort in this one is also astonishing. Listen to the drumming and bass playing in Xanadu, it's amazing! This album is easily worth 5 stars, and for me it's an unreached milestone by Rush. Rush at their peak.

Report this review (#229218)
Posted Friday, July 31, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars A Farewell to Kings is Rush's turning point from hard rock experimenting with progressive elements to full-on progressive rock. The band has decided to take it far over the top and make a progressive rock opera spanning over two different albums, which are A Farewell to Kings and Hemispheres.

The album begins with the title track, A Farewell to Kings (obviously), starting with a finger-picked classical guitar line similar to the opening of The Trees on Hemispheres, or Closer to the Heart, which comes later on this album. It then evolves into the "major power-chord" Rush we have heard in previous albums. Peart took his drumming down a notch to Rutsey-like drumming, which is not too complicated, or heavy, yet he still has some very good drum fills on this track. This track is still very similar to other Rush tracks such as Fountain of Lamneth in some cases, or The Necromancer, but it still keeps a style of its own. The song is very versatile and colorful, all while keeping a rocking sound!

The end of the previous track marks the start of the wonderful track, Xanadu, which is in my opinion, one of Rush's greatest tracks. With this track we hear the band has a taken a whole new direction in their composing and writing, using many complex time signatures, and a whole different playing style overall. The track is 11 minutes long, featuring a long, instrumental opening in 7/8's. The song then progresses into what would be the verse, which feels nostalgic to the fans of old-school Rush's heavy flanger-riffs and hi-hat beats, but it probably will be the last you will hear of that sound for a while. I really can't explain how good this track is in words, so I just have to tell you have to listen to it to understand these words of mine. Overall, this song IS Rush!

Now comes Closer to the Heart, a song with a trademark guitar opening we must have all heard in some point of our lives, be it television, concerts, or movies. The opening lyrics are very symbolic and mark the fact that Rush is not only 6+ minute progressive rock tracks on this album, but also mellow 2-3 minute tracks, which can also be called rather mainstream, but not the bad kind of mainstream: "And the men who hold high places, must be the ones to start. Mould a new reality, closer to the heart.". A really good track, but not excellent, or awesome.

The next song, Cinderella Man, isn't really, the highlight of the album. Feels too poppy, commercial (not to be confused with mainstream), and just plain bad to me. Geddy Lee wrote the lyrics to this song, and I have to say, I'm not too fond of his writing ever since Tears on the previous album, 2112. Also, Alex Lifeson did a bad job at composing this song. He was trying to make this a guitar song, but the guitar parts just aren't good enough. That doesn't mean this song doesn't have its moments though. I don't "hate" it, I just don't really love, or recommend it.

Ah, good old Madrigal. This song is not a classic Rush song, but that doesn't mean it isn't good, and it is quite the opposite, actually. It's mellow, and very lyric-based, so it gives Peart's lyrics time to penetrate Lifeson's mighty axe sound, which doesn't really exist on this song. This song is not really your average Rush sound, but I really like it's mellowness. It's like the band makes a chill song, but that chill song is fantastic, and awesome, and everything else which is good. This song is great because it doesn't try and highlight any instrument, it just tries to be, a song, and it really isn't that bad at doing that.

Now comes Cygnus X-1, the start of Rush's 2-album progressive rock opera. I cannot say much about this song, as it is so full, and wealthy, and tasteful, and yet, it has its boring and annoying parts. Great song though, it really is a song to show your friends that Rush is an awesome, diverse, awesomer, diverser band than what they say they are. Go Cygnus X-1, as it is a first in progressive rock history, and maybe even music history.

I have to say, it'll really help to understand the Cygnus X-1 storyline if you get the following album, Hemispheres, after you get this one, but it really is not a must. Get this album people! 5/5 because Rush could not have made a better album, and that's final.

Report this review (#235155)
Posted Wednesday, August 26, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars Yes it is a marriage between progressive and Hard Rock. "Rush" is a different group, because it goes beyond the scope of the group do not stop making a silk or metal. The music here is very technical, but it is melodic, it's what's so strange, that is a real réussitte. The shrill cry of Geddy Lee that could façileent compared to a woman's voice is so powerful beauty and sharp. Neil Peart is a brilliant drummer extraordinary great talent, great class, he even bump on the texts of the group-oriented science fiction. Rich in energy and technical quality, powerful, inventive, a lot of compliments, with Geddy Lee, who in addition to singing has a huge bass and flexible. We believe that the 'Rush' has reaches a threshold where it will be difficult thing to do better. Even for fans of progressive rock that does not tear at the Hard Rock it is important to listen to this album that speaks volumes.
Report this review (#235195)
Posted Wednesday, August 26, 2009 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
4 stars Groundbreaking and important as this album was, certainly in my own musical journey, this 37 minute short album is a mixed bag when you approach it without sentimentality.

Xanadu is the real winner here and is just excellent. Also the title track is pretty good if you can stand Geddy's prevalent wail of those years. Cygnus X1 is a personal favourite, even though I can understand somebody else might call it a piece of disjointed rubbish. It certainly is a song bound to trigger divise opinions. Next to those 3 prog masterpieces, there's the hit-song Closer to the Heart and two other weaker cuts that shouldn't have made it unto this album. With another strong 10 minute piece instead, this could have been the quintessential Rush album.

Report this review (#236643)
Posted Thursday, September 3, 2009 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Prog Specialist
4 stars In the early and mid 70's I was not particularly a fan of RUSH, always saw them as an excellent Hard Rock band with little Prog and a vocalist with an annoying voice (Not as annoying as Jon Anderson though), but I had hard time finding Prog in them.

But then came "A Farewell to Kings" and my opinion changed radically, they passed to be on the Prog acts that I respect more, the delicate combination of the strong Hard Rock with melodic Symphonic passages really captured me, specially when Alex Lifeson plays his spectacular 12-string guitar or Neal Peart gives any of his amazing performances, but most important, discovered that even when Geddy's voice is extremely acute, the guy knows how to modulate it, doesn't throw it like other vocalists, he works it and presents delightful variations.

The album is opened with the delicate acoustic guitar intro by Alex Lifeson which blends with the keyboards to create a sweet, somehow Medieval influenced melody, but then the explosion comes, Neal changes the Classic guitar for the electric while Geddy and Neal hit us with all their repertoire and pass to a controlled climax with the vocals making perfect match, an amazing opener.

"Xanadu" is the longest track of the album and they make well use of the 11:155 minutes, at the beginning with a soft keyboard intro an announcing the dawn of a new day just to blow our heads in a frenetic succession of melodies and pure strength, this is how a "Power Trio" should sound, the impeccable drumming of Neal play a crucial role along with Geddy's bass.

The main difference with other Heavy Prog bands is that every change in RUSH is gradual, like preparing the audience for everything, but when they need to free the beast, they open the cage, this guys really care about the arrangements and structure, and that's the touch of a genius.

Before any comment, I must say that "Closer to the Heart" is my all time favourite RUSH song, the double introduction is as beautiful as you can get, it's also amazing to listen such a powerful keyboardist as Neal Peart playing soft bells with extreme delicacy. But the song is not only the intro, the perfectly crafted work of the band, making the music start to grow in intensity and start again is one of the finest moments in Heavy Prog.

"Cinderella Man" is a strange song, the band seems to return to their roots with a touch of LED ZEPPELIN, this is pure Rock without Prog elements, but this doesn't make it less enjoyable, at the end Prog's most important component is Rock.

The fusion of the acoustic and electric in "Cinderella Man" is simply brilliant, like a collision of two parallel universes, but with no destruction, only creation of a new and fantastic sound. "Madrigal" as it's name implies is mostly a vocal composition with Pastoral leanings in which the instruments play a secondary role behind the voice, a good preparation for the brilliant finale.

The weird introduction of "Cygnus X-1" announces that the album is about to finish, but they won't leave without giving a strong closure to this excellent album. The key moment is when Geddy's bass announces the change from experimental and weird to Hard Rock, a perfect bridge between the two main sections from the song.

But it's only when guitar and drums take the joint lead that the song develops in a sonic kaleidoscope, with frantic, calmed, dramatic and extremely elaborate moments that are superposed one over the other in a competent work, that closes the album in a superlative level.

Not my favourite band, but would lie if I didn't recognize the quality of "Farewell to Kings", an album that deserves no less than 4 solid stars.

Report this review (#239412)
Posted Tuesday, September 15, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is my first review here :] A Farewell to Kings - This is the best album opener ever, start easy and get pretty heavy with great lyrics. 5/5 Xanadu - one of my favorite rush songs, epic, complex with geddy's amazing voice :] 5/5

Closer To The Heart - this song amazingly played live with awesome jam part! 5/5

Cinderella Man - Awesome Lyrics! 4/5

Madrigal - Very touching tune with nice lyrics 4/5

Cygnus X-1 - what can be told about this great masterpiece? probably one of the best songs rush ever wrote, Geddy's vocals are amazing on this one, especially the last part. 5/5

This album is the peak of their "Prog Era".

Report this review (#245682)
Posted Thursday, October 22, 2009 | Review Permalink
The Sleepwalker
3 stars A Farewell To Kings is Rush's fifth studion album, being released in 1977. The album has a more progressive sound than previous Rush albums did and shows a glimpse of what would become essential to Rush's sound on following albums: synths. The album isn't full of them, but some songs do contain some synth sounds. The album is not very consistent I must say, as it has some of Rush's masterpieces and several weak and uninteresting songs.

Some of those weaker songs are the poppy "closer To The Heart" which I absolutely dislike, the soft "Madrigal" and the title track. The title track is also the opening of the album. With a pleasant classical guitar intro the song sounds very promising. Unfortunately the song turns into a pretty uninteresting track, what a shame. Much more decent is "Cinderella Man". This song is not a classic, but it's a nice piece with lyrics by Geddy Lee.

Fortunately the album has some great songs too. "Xanadu" might be Rush's best song ever. It is a very progressive piece, with lots of different riffs, changes etc. It also is one of the only Rush songs, though I am a big fan, that really manages to make me shiver. The other song on the album that is among the best in the bands catalogue is "Cygnus X-1". After the introduction the song has an incredibily evil and striking sound. Alex Lifeson does a great job on this song, and manages to make his chords sound even more striking than most solos. This song also knows several different riffs and vocal parts.

This really is a tough album to rate, as it features both Rush's best and worst songs. Because of that I will rate the album with three stars. I do recommend this album to all Rush fans though, as both "Xanadu" and "Cygnus X-1" are essential pieces for any Rush fan.

Report this review (#245813)
Posted Friday, October 23, 2009 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars "To seek the sacred river Alph"

After 2112 the band headed for Wales to record what would become their most accomplished album since Caress of Steel. Farewell would form a nice pairing with their next work Hemispheres, the two siblings reaching for the peaks of the overblown, epic Rush era for better or worse. Of the two I think Hemispheres was a bit stronger but Farewell has a definite charm as well. The two money-shots here are the mini-epics Xanadu and Cygnus, both clocking at about 10 minutes. Xanadu, based on an 18th century poem called "Kubla Khan" is a masterpiece of building tensions, beginning with bird chirps, bells, and Lifeson's gorgeous efforts, and Peart's carefully timed kit slamming home the payoffs. Cygnus is even more fantastic with Geddy's wails and these great angular chords, the most telling of what Hemispheres would deliver. The title track is a great introduction piece which has that "get ready for something big!" vibe to it. The other songs are mostly throwaways but do their job of holding the mood for the good stuff. A good album just a bit behind Hemispheres and Caress, ahead of Fly and 2112.

Report this review (#255073)
Posted Tuesday, December 8, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars Really we need to say Farewell to some Presidents!!

Wow I totally agree with the tag of Essential here in Prog.Archives. This album is just amazing maybe the track A Farewell To Kings was my third listening of them ,of course, the first track of them was Tom Sawyer or The Trees i dont remember exactly, but after listen every song of them i realized that Rush was a great band in every sense of course they are.

This album has a great cover, I love the album cover is just superb, Can you imagine maybe the guy sit down there, is the King in the concept of this album and wow its a great show for my eyes. Now about the music the sound of this album is unbelievable, I mean every track here is like a little history within and whether you have check the lyrics of the first track in the final line you can notice the name of the third track --Closer to The Heart.... This short track sometimes remember me to the trees , but of course with less strenght, in others words amazing song.

Also in this album we have one of the Rush epic´s, of course this one is Xanadu wow Could be this my favorite track of them? mmm i dont think so but closer. Even Cinderella Man is a great song with Hard rock taste, i love the bass line here. But every great album has a weaker moment and in this case the weak track hear could be Madrigal is a short song without drums at full, but is a great track for this album. And finally Cygnus X-1 the prologue of the history for the main song in the next album, yes i agree with some collaborators here, this song is just superb, Lee is killing in the name of his Rick...

Absolutely this album is a Must in every prog rock collection. Its a beautiful album and of course my favorite one of them., in the 70´s era.

If you havent listen this one, Stop reading my review and go to purchase a copy. It wont dissapoint you. Highly Recommended!!.

Report this review (#256894)
Posted Saturday, December 19, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars Rush's Farewell to Kings is absolutely a masterpiece! It was my first Rush record and when i hear it i was totally amazed and the next day i went to a record store and I bought 2112 and Permanent Waves! The musicianship is perfect, the rythm section of Peart and Lee is tight as a rock and the progressive elements such as odd time signatures are a main theme on the album. All of the six songs are perfect but my favourite is the epic Xanadu. I won' t say much more , I 'll just say , go and buy this album!!!
Report this review (#265667)
Posted Thursday, February 11, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is my first review and this album is the reason for my first. You see I recently bought the album and was initially fairly disappointed after loving Moving Pictures so much. I am a music layman as I do not have much knowledge of music theory. I just listen and enjoy progressive rock from a very simple perspective. When listening to prog you have got to focus on the music and give it a couple of listens before you get it. And once you've got it you love it. This was the case particularly with this album and is now one of my favorite albums of all time. Sadly for this reason most people don't appreciate prog as they just don't give it the chance it deserves. I am a layman and love prog thus it is for everyone however only the patient get to enjoy its enduring richness.

So because i am a music layman I cannot fairly give a technical review. However I can from my simple perspective. Give the album the listens it deserves. Once you endure the beginning the joy is to be found on the other side. My favorite song is Xanadu but the album is amazing from beginning to end. The music is clear and precise with every instrument perfectly placed. All three musicians come to the party spectacularly. I give it the 5 starts it deserves.

Report this review (#273416)
Posted Monday, March 22, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars Probably my second favorite Rush album after Permanent Waves. And while this album is not perfect, it is really close and deserves all the 4 and 5 star ratings it has gotten from this web site. This album seems to be the last one that has Geddy Lee singing in a real high registar a lot. After this, he seems to have mellowed out a bit. There are just 6 songs on this disc- 2 good ballads, 2 shorter rock prog songs, and 2 longer classics "Cygnus X-1" and "Xanadu". Both of the longer pieces make this album great. I find I enjoy Xanadu more than Cygnus, but just barely. I have listened to this effort countless times since it first came out on vinyl and I have yet to grow tired of it in the way that I sometimes find my self getting with Hemispheres and 2112, also good Rush albums. This gets a solid 4 star rating, which is as high as I rate any Rush album. While they acheived greatness and goodness many times, Rush just has never made what I consider a "perfect" 5 star album. (As of yet, I have only given 5 stars to 5 records.)
Report this review (#275852)
Posted Thursday, April 1, 2010 | Review Permalink
2 stars Lots of fans consider this at least a minor classic; to me, this is an enormous, unfathomable letdown. This is the album where Rush seriously incorporated the gimmicks, relatively complex song structures and various trademarks of prog rock, and I sense that that's part of the reason that many fans adore this album. Well, after buying who knows how many prog rock albums over the years, I'm well past the point of being impressed by the gimmicks themselves. When I listen to this album, I can only focus on one thought; with one major exception, the songwriting, often solid on 2112, has gone straight into the toilet. Five of the six songs strike me as mediocre or worse, and since they're often quite long on top of it, this makes most of the album into a horrid experience for me.

Ok, first the good news. The good news is that the album's second track is my favorite Rush song by a good amount. "Xanadu" is a magnificent prog epic; I'm probably biased towards it because the atmosphere is rather Yes-ish (it reminds me a bit of the "I Get Up, I Get Down" portion of "Close to the Edge"), but it's a masterful piece in its own right. One thing that strikes me as a little weird about the track is how little of it consists of the (great) "regular" song; probably 2/3's or more of the song is spent on either the bombastic introduction or the grandiose coda. Fortunately, the introduction is freaking great, largely based around an intricate, hypnotic guitar line, mixing in some magnificent ambient guitar noise and some cool riffs. The coda is quite nice too, with some great triumphant guitar solos leading the way. The main part of the song, though, is what produces the bulk of my love for the piece. The lyrical concept is actually quite intriguing (about somebody who achieves immortality but at the cost of never leaving Xanadu), the melody is beautiful (yet mildly rocking in the up-tempo parts), and I totally buy the emotions that the piece attempts to generate. Yup, this was as good as Rush ever got.

Too bad the rest of the album is terrible. The opening title track sounded ok the first couple of times I ever heard it, but quickly became one of my least favorite Rush radio standards. It has a decent classical guitar introduction, but the opening riff strikes me as an inferior rewrite of "Fly by Night," the melody seems boring and rambling, and the lyrics just seem really stupid to me. They're not as stupid to my ears as the ones on the fan favorite, "Closer to the Heart," though. The band brought in somebody else to write the lyrics for the song, but they're worse than almost anything Peart ever wrote. I dislike most of the lines, but one line pretty much takes the cake in terms of making me want to stab out my eardrums: "You can be the Captain, and I will draw the Chart, sailing into destiny, closer to the heart." The mid-song guitar solo is ok, but the lyrics, combined with a melody that's sing-songey in the worst sense of the word, make this one of my least favorite Rush songs ever.

Side two isn't any better. "Cinderella Man" is a generic "complex" rock song with more stupid lyrics (and nothing that I find memorable), while the ballad "Madrigal" passes me by every time I hear it. The closing "Cygnus X-1," then, just gets worse and worse each time I hear it. If "Xanadu" was Rush's masterpiece, then this was Rush's greatest self-parody. There isn't really even a song in here; it sounds like a bunch of lazy warmup riffs pasted together (only made recognizable as Rush by the repeated start-stops for their own sake), all tied together by ridiculous "sci-fi" sound effects and lyrics about traveling through space into a black hole. If I want to hear a song about traveling through space, which actually FEELS like a song about traveling through space, I'll put on "Pioneers Over c" (by Van Der Graaf Generator); if I want to hear a song about traveling into a black hole, which actually FEELS like traveling into a black hole (or something similar), I'll listen to "Into the Void" (by Black Sabbath). I will never, EVER bother with something as half-baked as this.

I know that many Rush fans might want to kill me for this review, but this album mostly disgusts me. Were it not for the greatness of "Xanadu," this album would be close to a * from me; as is, it's still easily Rush's worst album of the 70's. Fortunately, it was pretty much an anomaly; the band's best era was about to begin.

Report this review (#279292)
Posted Saturday, April 24, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars 4.5 stars really!!!!

One of the many many masterpieces by this unbelievable band, one of the best progressive rock bands ever. A Farewell To Kings is seen as an album that stands in the middle of their masterpieces: before this we have 2112 and Hemispheres, and after we have Permanent Waves and what is probably their best album, Moving Pictures.

A Farewell to Kings has at least three HUGE Rush classics, but my opinions are a little different.

the title track opens the album, with the beautiful guitar intro, and a pretty good riff kicks right after. Very good song, but not my favorite.

"Xanadu" is definitely the best song of the album. After the majestic intro, with a beautiful arcane and medieval tone, we have the start of the song. The whole thing contains a couple of riffs, one greater than the other, that form one great masterpiece, without any bad points. Essential song for a Rush fan. "Closer to The Heart" and "Cinderella Man" are two big hits, I always tend to prefer "Closer", because of its great melodic part, played with the acoustic guitar. I was never crazy about "Cinderella Man", don't really know why.

"Madrigal" is a great interlude, or better an intro to the second longest song in the album. Even this song has some medieval tones, combined with Lee's very unique voice. Extremely underrated song.

"Cygnus X1" is a fantastic song. After the spacy intro, an aggressive bass comes in, followed by the rest of the band. The song has some amazing riffs and moments, absolutely unforgettable and outstanding.

A tiny bit overrated, but I still consider it a masterpiece.

Report this review (#279576)
Posted Tuesday, April 27, 2010 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
4 stars 2112 spawned a streak of great Rush releases and although this one is definitely a weird one, still A Farewell To Kings is by no means an exception to that statement!

What makes this album a bit strange is the fact that it's not really a great album but, just like 2112 before it, A Farewell To Kings somehow manages to deliver enough great moments to make it another interesting release for our friendly Canadian rockers. Once again it's the first side that gives us the best material while the second side is mainly good, but non-essential. The album begins with another memorable acoustic guitar section from Alex Lifeson which then transforms into a full blown rocker, that is the title-track. Unlike the previous shorter compositions this one is actually 6 minutes long making it a hybrid between the longer and shorter formats which the band nails completely.

Just like everyone else before me I shall give my highest regards to Xanadu since this track is well worth all the praise that you've heard about it. The lyrics are based on the 18th century poem by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, meaning that the band was expanding their horizons beyond the fictional realm by incorporating the actual poem recital in the lyrics. Musically it's Neil Peart's drumming that completely steals the show here delivering a career highlight on his part. We also get the early glimpses of the synthesizer sounds that would be incorporated more and more into the mix with every consecutive release.

Closer To The Heart might have opened the band to a mainstream audience but the track isn't really all that exciting from neither the historic nor progressive point of reference. Instead, it marks the first signs of a decline that we will observe throughout the rest of the album. Cinderella Man is completely bland and the sentimental lyrics by Geddy Lee don't really make this obviously commercial track any better. I'm on a fence about Madrigal since it reminds me of Different Strings off Permanent Waves, which I like, but to be completely honest there isn't really much to gain from this short performance.

Cygnus X-1 is a track that I really liked a few years back and I even suggested it as a jam session track for my band mates at one point since the track's first part has an excellent bass groove to it. Unfortunately the build-up that is created in the first half of the track doesn't really payoff since the ending can be described a meaningless stab at punk music of the time. Fortunately this wasn't the last that we would hear of the mysterious Cygnus X-1 and the the much anticipated Cygnus X-1 Book II would make for a worthy conclusion to the themes that were set here.

Once again Rush managed to conceive an excellent album by only creating one side worth of masterpiece material and another filled with somewhat of a mixed bag. Luckily their work would be greatly improved on by the next couple of releases!

***** star songs: A Farewell To Kings (5:50) Xanadu (11:05)

**** star songs: Closer To The Heart (2:52) Madrigal (2:34) Cygnus X-1 (10:22)

*** star songs: Cinderella Man (4:19)

Report this review (#279734)
Posted Wednesday, April 28, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars At a little under 37 minutes for the entire album, Rush again values quality above quantity. (Even back in the days of the LP record, and album could contain upwards to 44 minutes of music easily).

Philosophic lyrics are uplifting and optimistic on fan favorites "Closer to the heart" and "Cinderella Man". Xanadu mines a fantasy story from Samuel Taylor Coleridge's famous poem. Was Peart subtly reaffirming the pro-drum message of "A passage to Bangkok"? Or was he fascinated by Coleridge's references to Greek mythology? Or both?

Cygnus X-1 closes the album in high form. We are pulled into a black hole with the promise of "to be continued".

The only dispensable song is "Madrigal", a short and pleasant piece that was composed in the studio. (Writing one mellow song in the studio become a de facto 'tradition' the band would continue with mixed success for years to come.)

Report this review (#280734)
Posted Thursday, May 6, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars Rush continue their string of masterpieces with another masterpiece.

This album seems to be credited as their best, but I slightly disagree (saying that this album is their second best).

This album differs from the later, 2112, in that the big long song had been split into 2 slightly shorter epics. But these 2 epics are amazing, and the other songs remaining incredibly strong album tracks and in my opinion are better than the ones on 2112 (even though I think the ones on 2112 are amazing).

1. A Farewell To Kings - The intro is very beautifull with some amazing classical guitar work. Amazing lyrics and an amazing chorus. A very underated classic Rush song.

2. Xanadu - The first epic. What a song, the amazing build up in ambient synths that lead to clashing of Rush' symphonic like structures. The vocals are amazing in this song, with them keeping on top of the pacy rhythms. My favourite section of this song is the unison between moog and glockenspiel, it really is something.

3. Closer To The Heart - An amazing piece of pop like music, with an amazing chorus and a very classic guitar solo. This song always puts me in a good mood.

4. Cinderella Man - An amazing lyrical contribution from Neil. Amazing chorus with some great instrumental work and amazing drumming from Neil. Another underated classic from these guys.

5. Madrigal - An almost ballad like song (their is always one of these). Amazing lyrics.

6. Cygnus X-1 - The best song on the album. This song is so dark for Rush and for the time it was made. Geddy's bass playing in this song is phenomanal and flawless, he really is a beast on the bass. The whole band really act as an amazing ensemble. One of my all time favourite Rush songs.

CONCLUSION: I actually was going to buy Strapping Young Lad's Alien instead of this (another amazing album), but I'm glad I bought this.

Report this review (#281967)
Posted Friday, May 14, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars A Farewell to Kings was my gateway to Prog as a Teenager. I had the album and I saw them live (with UFO).

The album was recorded outdoors. You can hear the birds chirp during the intro of Xanadu.

The first track, A Farewell to Kings", still resonates with me to this day. Built around an excellent Lifeson riff, they build one of their best crafted songs ever. A rocker with prog overtones.

They follow with Xanadu, is pure prog. Wonderful. It has a wonderful quiet intro that builds into a lovely guitar part.

Closer to the heart was Rush's first attempt at a real single. It succeed for me, if not for the charts. It is a well crafted pop song. My first version of this album was on cassette. How many of you had the cassette that cut the song in half. In the middle of the guitar solo, there was a fade out. When you flipped the tape, you heard the rest of the solo. Yes: I am old.

Cygnus X-1 is also a classic prog song, that is to be continued on Hemispheres.

I have so many fond memories of this album, yet I still enjoy it to this day. Essential.

Report this review (#286691)
Posted Tuesday, June 15, 2010 | Review Permalink

If All the World's a Stage was a monument to Rush's power, A Farewell to Kings is a monument to Rush's talent. Few bands would manage to constantly move and update their sound with such easeness and quality as Rush, specially from this album on.

With A Farewell to Kings Rush finally found their own hard rock approach to prog rock, making their sound richer, more sophisticated and complex without losing edge. With such instant classics as the title track and the inevitable Closer to the Heart, the band managed to keep its newfound hard-prog sound within the boundaries of a traditional song - something they were unable to do in their previous albums, where the shorter tracks pretty much relied on the conventional hard rock approach.

On the other end of the equation, they finally master the epic style in mid-sized tracks (that is, by epic prog standards) Xanadu and Cygnus X-1, both 10-minute plus songs that come together as organic pieces, with no holes and logical, smooth transitions, even when shifting moods radically.

Dealing with such themes as history, mythology and philosophy, Neil Peart's lyrics had never sounded sharper, and he proves himself much more than just the science-fiction lyricist he's often mistaken for - that is, only by those unfamiliar to the band or biased towards it. He does dive - literally - into science fiction in the phenomenal ending track, Cygnus X-1. It sings about a black hole, one from which the band come out well and alive. Rush's best extended song to date.

Musically, the band made room for a whole set of new instruments from classical guitar to tubular bells to mini-moog. The result is complex and baroque, yet balanced. Nothing sounds out of place, not a single note or a single word. Even Lee's singing has never sounded better, a little more restrained.

It is hard to point highlights in an album with no weak tracks and made almost entirely of classic tunes. Aside from singing, Lee also provides a winner - words and music - with his charming Cinderella Man. From Lifeson's trademark heavy, raw guitar solo, to the delicate beauty of Madrigal, the shorter track, from the mystery that brings near such distinct and distant places as the desolate "fearsome force" of Cygnus X-1 and the "Pleasure Dome" of Xanadu, A Farewell to Kings is eclectic, still harmonious and cohese, shifting from weights and moods - often in the same song - without losing pace.

This is probably my favourite Rush album. The work of a mature band, A Farewell to Kings is the album where the band finally develops and displays its immense talent - and only the first one, in a streak that would sail the seventies through, way into the eighties.

Report this review (#295576)
Posted Saturday, August 21, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars A Farewell To Kings is a transition work, connecting the first band´s phase where hard rock was very noticeable and present. The music here is still very heavy, mainly when the album comes to its end in the last moments of Cignus X-1. It is heavier than Caress Of Steel, an album I like so much although lacking a lot of specificities necessary for being labeled as a strong progressive work.

Xanadu is the highlight, very well composed, the second song running towards a real epic they recorded. That's because in Caress Of Steel and 2112 , musically valuable albums, what are called "epics" are IMHO a bunch of songs, good but different songs, just put together. The only exception is The Necromancer, which really makes things better for Caress Of Steel. Two more songs are very good, the proper A Farewell To Kings with its introduction very delightful to play in acoustic guitar; as well as the long closing Cignus X-1.

But all other songs do not match the same quality level. Closer To The Heart is definitively a radio friendly song, and just a few person may expect a job like this coming at that time from Rush . Madrigal is a kind of soft song lower by means of quality than Different Strings or Rivendell; it goes closer of what I call a bad song. The last one, Cinderella Man? well, this is really a bad song.

Well, this may be a three and a half star. I will put it to three, due to some weak moments and the excess of heaviness. It is not simple to make heavy progressive music; I really have difficulties tasting it cause this is not my preferred sub-genre . It was well done by GRANDMASTER Bob Fripp in King Crimson´s second phase (check the fabulous Red, for instance), or even Rush in their next Hemispheres? but this is another story, isn´t it ?

Report this review (#296637)
Posted Sunday, August 29, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars Rush, with the success of 2112, had become a huge band. Certainly in 1977 they were about the biggest live draw in classic rock in the UK, and I still have fond memories of the numbers of correspondents to Sounds music paper calling themselves By Tor.

A Farewell To Kings is, in every way possible, the natural follow up to the record that broke them, and it was also recorded in my home country of Wales. It starts off in fine bombastic fettle with the title track.

Full of fantastical lyrics, nods to poetry greats, mythical references, and commentaries on society, this is an incredibly good album, one that sounds as fresh now as it did when I first bought it. It's one of those towering works that never ages, and, unlike 2112, there is barely a weak link on it. Listening to the first of the two great epic tracks, Xanadu, you are very much struck at how good the synths utilised are, most definitely giving us all a glimpse of the future direction the band would take.

For now, though, this was, essentially, carrying the torch for epic classic rock at the time since the demise of Deep Purple and the sad decline of Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin.

Closer To The Heart remains, to this day, a huge live favourite and is a wonderful piece of music. I love the way that Neal Talbot (the band's first external collaborator) brings us his lyrics with a tale of how we can all pull together to forge a greater and brighter future. The other radio friendly track, Cinderella Man, is also an enjoyable track, and showed us at the time how a heavy rock band could forge together commercial success without jeopardising their artistic integrity. Madrigal is a pleasant, acoustic, interlude prior to the second major epic track on the album.

This is the album closer, Cygnus X-1, and is the type of track which the band did so well, full of sci fi and mysticism and heavy rock, prior to the eventual time when Peart realised he had had enough and that the band could not prosper in a new decade continuing to produce this type of music. It pulsates throughout. Witness the extremely good Lee bassline after the alien announcement at the start, through to guitar riffs and synth backing which clearly carry on where 2112 left off.

I've owned this album for over 30 years now, and I still get as much pleasure listening to it now as I did when I took it home as an excited teenager for the first time.

I will award this album 4 stars, although it is 4.5 in reality. Very close to being an essential masterpiece of progressive rock, this was the start of a sequence of excellent releases by this Canadian trio.

Report this review (#337322)
Posted Sunday, November 28, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars So when you hit it big with an album like Rush did with " 2112," you come into some money and fame.

As a band, you have few options here. One option is to spend your money on girls, drugs, and other Rock and Roll staples, a la Motley Crue and Cinderella for instance. Word of warning though, if you do this, just make sure you can keep selling enough albums to maintain your lifestyle? supposedly Michael Smith (Cinderella guitarist) was a multi- millionaire in 1988, and he now lives at home with this mom, supporting himself on nostalgia tours and eating Kraft macaroni and cheese (for the record, I love Kraft mac and cheese, so no real knock there).

If you're Rush, go you go a different route. You spend most of your money on new instruments and travel to Wales to record your follow up album. Case in Point. On the "2112" album sleeve Alex is credited with "guitars," Neil with "percussion," and Geddy with "bass and vocals". Pretty simple, right?

On the "Kings" album sleeve? it's a little different:

?Alex: Six and twelve string electric guitar, six and twelve string acoustic guitar, classical guitar, bass pedal synthesizer

? Neil: Drums, orchestra bells, tubular bells, temples blocks, cowbells, wind chimes, bell tree, triangle, vibra-slap

?Geddy: Bass guitar, twelve string guitar, Mini Moog, bass pedal synthesizer, vocals

Question is, was it money well spent? The answer is an astounding yes. Nothing quite exceeds the "2112" song from the previous album, but the album as a whole is much better and the new instrumentation is fantastic. It sounds much more layered, textured, and mature than anything else they had released to that point. It's their first truly progressive album, and they nailed it.

On to the songs. You have three epics "A Farewell to Kings," "Xanadu," and "Cygnus X-1". Some may not consider "Farewell" an epic in that it's under 6 minutes, but I do because of its multi-part structure and epic feel. These three songs are perfect 10's, and they are three of the best songs Rush ever did.

Some critics knock "Cygnus," but I'm not sure why. It's my favorite track from the album, and it's really a scaled down version of "2112"? and almost as good. It's structured like a musical staircase that just keeps climbing until it climaxes with Geddy signing the "X-ray is her siren song" section. The arrangement is very similar to the crescendo in "2112".

Everyone loves "Closer to the Heart,". It's a classic and still a staple in the live set. "Cinderella Man" is also great. They perfected this type of song on the next album with "Circumstances," but it's very enjoyable here.

The only weak song is "Madrigal". I get that it's slower and provides some diversity, but the music and lyrics just make think of "Puff the Magic Dragon". It's complete filler and drops the album down a point.

Best Rush album so far, but the best is still to come.

Oh, and the album cover is extraordinary and is one of their best, as is the Hemingway derivative title.

Comment at RMR-

Report this review (#347440)
Posted Wednesday, December 8, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars |A| Rush's sound matures - and soars.

I feel I could never do true justice to any of Rush's works from when the band was in its prime, but the time must come for when I finally must review one of their best works.

On a personal note, I cannot emphasize enough the musical influence Rush had on me, which would eventually lead me to become a musician myself. I would not have been the singer of a rock band, and thus eventually a classical singer, had it not been for this band; how much I loved singing their music and playing it on rhythm guitar, how much I loved performing it in front of hundreds of people at my high school. And through all of the classical training I've had in college, their music has never sounded less incredible to me, less artistic in the context of being simply great, well crafted rock music.

A Farewell to Kings represents what many consider to be the band's full fruition of their progressive sound, when they departed from being simply a hard rock band to being a truly "progressive" hard rock band, aka heavy prog. I agree with this sentiment completely and would add that it was a huge step up from the already decent 2112 in terms of the band's compositional capabilities. I would also argue that it is also the most diverse sounding of Rush's discography; each of the songs sound very unique in the context of the whole, more so than in all of the other Rush albums, which is saying a lot as it is. There is still a hint, maybe even a strong hint of their Led Zeppelin influence, which would diminish substantially with subsequent albums.

To describe the sound of the album, it's a good mixture of elements of 70s hard rock and progressive rock. The former is evident in the guitar work, many great crunching riffs and solo melodies. Lifeson uses open E and B treble strings while playing clashing chords, which combined with chorus effect creates a dissonance very specific to Rush's sound in their highly regarded works. Lee makes even more extensive use in his counter-melody sounding bass lines, and his singing has improved since 2112, especially on the softer side with ballads. The progressive elements are most obvious with the heavier use of keyboard moog, asymmetric time signatures, less conventional song structure, and a sense of dynamic nuance with the transitions from soft to loud and vice versa. Peart introduces more percussion sounds to his set, with the chimes, wood blocks, etc.

In terms of lyrical themes, an element of Rush's music always worth mentioning, there is quite a departure of the objectivist philosophical tone of many previous tracks in previous albums. While a sense of libertarianism is preserved, there is much emphasis on specific intellectual concepts: Xanadu, based on a famous poem about the palace of Kublai Kahn; Cygnus X-1, based on what were then relatively recent astronomical discoveries regarding the existence of black holes; Cinderella Man, based on the intrinsic value of idealism and compassion; A Farewell to Kings, based on the historical transition of government order from monarchism to democracy; Closer to the Heart, the radio hit song about the need for deep, intimate emotion in the artisan works of the modern age; and Madrigal, about love prevailing through the darkness of life. A departure from Randian principles indeed!

Needless to say, this is one of my favorite works of rock music of all time, if not one of my favorite pieces of artistic music in general. To be honest, it took a year of repeated listens for me to fully appreciate this album for the beauty it truly possesses, and only after indulging fully in the three following albums I have. At first I thought the composition too thin and simplistic, but I came to perceive this as a rare virtue for progressive music rather than a detriment to the quality of the album. It has an inspired, youthful, exuberant feel that permeates from the musicians themselves.

Hopefully I have done some justice to the quality of this work of beauty with this review. A Farewell to Kings is the first of a string of masterpiece albums that will be remembered and listened to in future generations, certainly including mine.

Report this review (#357140)
Posted Sunday, December 19, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars While Rush had completed in making a commericial success, the band would need to make a more experimental success. This album is in the middle of a line of fine Rush releases, as the band, from 1976-1982, would start making essential listening and, ultimately, rewarding albums. The band had hit a stride with their 1977 release and did not intend on giving it up.

1.A Farewell to Kings - Though not the longest or most bombastic track, it is a top cut. The shear power and complexity in songwriting make up for the slightest of shortcomings. Sweet and gentle acoustic guitar from guitar virtuoso Alex Lifeson makes this track melt with a classical feel, as Geddy Lee's moogs, bass and vocal take forefront during the main sections of the song. The track has a certain feeling to it, combined with the excellent lyrics from Neil Peart and the impressive instrumentation has a very professional and progressive feel. A short masterpiece, and an amazing start to this album. (10/10)

2.Xanadu - Easily the best song on the whole album, without a doubt in my mind. The song combines elements of ambient, oriental, romantiscm, heavy metal and symphonic all in one track. The song is indespensible from the Rush collection due to it's completely symphonic metal nature and wide variety in music. Lee's vocal on the adaption of Samuel Coleridge's short poem is amazing, as his high register voice has never been put to better use. The slight repetition of the amazing riff and melody after the ambience is needed to make the outstanding track complete, as Lifeson, Lee and Peart roll out some of their sweetest riffs, melodies, rhythms and makes them unique with the hard rock edge of their music. This song is enough to buy the album. (10/10)

3.Closer to the Heart - Though not as intense as the first two tracks, it's amazing that this is one of their most known songs. It's got single written all of it, but the band plays it off very well. Lifeson's acoustics and solo's have never sounded sweeter or tastier, as are Lee's soft vocal performance and gritty bass lines. Pearts drumming is an art form, as are his truely impressing lyrics. An awesome way to rock without selling yourself out. (10/10)

4.Cinderella Man - The song has recieved harsh critism for the inferior songwriting, especially coming off of the two last tracks, yet it's an interesting song. The music isn't really suprising, but it dosen't bore as their is a lot of energy and synergy within the band. The hard rocking verses are coupled with the softer acoustics of the chorus and totally sounds groovy with the movie-uinspired Lee lyrics. In fact, this is one of the few tracks not having lyrics from Peart. It's an intense track that is often overlooked. (9/10)

5.Madrigal - The shortest track of the bunch, and possibly one of the oddest. The song doesn't have a normal Rush feel, as the heavy phasered electric guitar and the Tolkein inspired lyrics play with the acoustic guitar and fretless bass. The song is very soft and is a very interesting and almost psychedelic attempt at fantasy-inspired lyrics. (9/10)

6.Cygnus X-1: The Voyage - One of my favourites off of the album (even if most of them are my favourites...). The song starts off with the cheesey narration of The Necromancer from the commercial flop that was Caress of Steel, yet it's much more acid-trip inspired and almost electronic in nature. After that, it's pure symphonic acid metal. The trip begins with Lee's slow and excellent bass playing, as he is defined by the amazing Rickenbacker 4001 sound. Lifeson's guitar and Peart's drumming cannot be missed either, as the almost punk speed of the track is amazing. Riff after riff and amazing cosmic lyrics conclude at a slower guitar section, where Lifeson's psychedelia really comes in handy. After the bad trip experience, the song goes back into the heavy metal riffing and sounds so fresh to the ears, as it's pulled with fashion and grit. The quintessential heavy metal track of 1977. (10/10)

The album is near flawless all the way through, as Alex Lifeson, Geddy Lee and Neil Peart join their large mind into one and become the King; albeit the king of heavy progressive rock. The album recieves a full 5 stars for it's musical variety, heaviness and complexity. This album you NEED in your collection of Rush albums, or even albums in general.

Report this review (#372215)
Posted Monday, January 3, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is the first full-on RUSH album, with their unique blend of sounds present from front to back, and man, does that make it great.

While I said about 2112 that the music was only worth 3 stars even though its historical value for prog almost necessitated a 5 star rating, this one earns all four stars straight from its music. The title track reminds me of the title track from JETHRO TULL's MINSTREL IN THE GALLERY, being that it shifts from an acoustic number to a rather strident progressive hard rock tune. Placing that song first indicates something; structurally and sonically, it is closest to their earlier songwriting approach, but it demonstrates that they had mastered it. If this song is what they heard in their heads when they wrote all of those earlier, weaker pieces, then it was all worthwhile.

The two epics, "Xanadu" and "Cygnus X-1", are what make this album for me. "Xanadu" feels almost like a heavier Yes track, with it's layered and somewhat sensitive guitar and drum parts matched with some very, dare I say it?, beautiful vocals from Geddy. "Cygnus" sounds like they were listening to a lot of King Crimson and decided to do a redux of "2112" and, honestly, I think it was a worthwhile thing to do. The tones and lines on this song were their strongest to date. It's one of my favorite songs by them.

The three shorter pieces on side 2 are nice, but nothing great. There is something cheesy and schmaltzy about "Closer to the Heart", but I'm fond of it. I can't tell you why, but it makes me happy to hear it. Strange, no? The other two, not so much. They aren't bad and they do offer some breathing room between the two epics, but they aren't great. If those shorter tunes were stronger, this would be five stars, but as it stands, it is merely four. That being said, it's one of Rush's great albums and anyone who likes prog should own it.

I mean, "Infinity, the star that would not die"? Is that not just the coolest line EVER?

Report this review (#409530)
Posted Monday, February 28, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars Another masterpiece of the Canadian trio.

Definitely there's no denying that Rush's best albums are those produced between 1976 and 1981. "A Farewell to Kings" is an album that period.A substantial improvement compared to "2112", but not as good as "Permanent Waves "Or" Moving Pictures "(I'm a fan of the mainstream phase of them), it is still a strong production.

The absolute highlight here is the epic "Xanadu, " which has to be one of the best bands ever of Rush.Unfortunately the another epic, "Cygnus X-1" is disappointing, just a bunch of ideas thrown at random (although one heavy metal sensation at the end of it is interesting), this track does not close the album bem.As other songs are short songs, among which stands out is the title track, the album opener.

5 stars: A Farewell To Kings, Xanadu

4 star: Closer to the Heart, Cinderella Man​​, Madrigal

3 stars: Cygnus X-1

Average: 4.16

4 stars

Report this review (#459196)
Posted Saturday, June 11, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars Now THIS album well how do i say this. It's my favorite album off all time. Not kidding, this album start to finish does wonders for me as a musician, songwriter, reviewer and hell a human being. I love every part of this album from the grand epics like Xanadu and Cygnus X-1 Book I: Voyage to the soft short ballad Madrigal. They also were able to score a hit song with Closer to the Heart which is IMO the greatest under 3 min rock song EVER. The musicianship is top notch. Each member at this time was in their prime and the keyboards weren't too heavy yet they were just enough to enhance the mood without taking it away form the overall effect. I could go on and on about this one but i suggest you listen to it yourself and tell me you don't become a Rush fan after that 37 minutes and 37 seconds of greatness. 6 stars. Highlights: A Farewell to Kings, Xanadu, Closer to the Heart, Cinderella Man, Madrigal, and Cygnus X-1 Book I: Voyage.
Report this review (#463215)
Posted Thursday, June 16, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars A Farewell To Inconsistency...

The first masterpiece from Dirk, Lerxst and Pratt.

The Good: Where to start? Having initially been introduced to Rush through the "Chronicles" anthology I already knew (and loved) Closer to the Heart and the title track. Some years later I got round to buying the studio album and was completely blown away by Xanadu. Whilst only half the length of 2112 it somehow manages to pack in just as much quality and is incredibley intricate without becoming overblown or pretentious. To this day it remains one of the best compositions I have ever heard.

The spacey intro to Cygnus X-1 lasts nearly two minutes before Geddy's guitar kicks in and sets in motion what would eventually become the main event of the next album. A more than worthy predecessor. Even Cinderella Man has grown on me over time with its funky basslines and interesting lyrics.

The Bad: Madrigal is pleasant but nothing more

The Verdict: Rush enter their prime.

Report this review (#483847)
Posted Saturday, July 16, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars "A Farewell To Kings" is another visionary progressive rock record by the Canadian legends "Rush". It unites rather catchy and commercial songs like "Closer To The Heart" with epic conceptual science-fiction pieces like the brilliant "Cygnus X-1". Any fan of progressive music can hear that this record largely influenced bands such as "Ayreon" and "Dream Theater" many years ago and it is interesting to discover the roots and influences of those outstanding bands. Personally, I adore the diversity and visionary works of Rush and prefer them to "Genesis" that got to commercial and "Pink Floyd" that were not always able to get their inspirations to the point. "Rush" are neither very commercial nor handicapped by heavy drug abuse so that they are free to do what they want. That's what this album is all about: diversity and freedom. In the progressive rock world, there are only "King Crimson" and "Tangerine Dream" that I like as much or more than Rush.

Nevertheless, there are a couple of flaws on this particular record. First of all, the band starts with the most incoherent and weirdest song "A Farewell To Kings" that really takes some time to grow. It's not the best choice as an opener and title track and probably the uneasiest song on the record. I can't get a healthy approach to it as there is a lack of addicting elements in this experimental song that goes a little bit nowhere.

Second, this record is technically well crafted and even perfect but I miss some emotions and some human warmth in the songs. That's a flaw that many progressive rock bands have but some exceptions prove that this is possible and that's what divides the small path between an excellent and a very good band.

The third negative point is the vocals, probably the only truly weak point in this band, Rush's Achilles' tendon if you want to call it like that. Geddy Lee screams and yells like an angry woman from time to time and especially the more complex epics are too much interrupted by his surely unique but pretty much annoying voice. Most people might pardon those flaws and I agree that they don't really do any harm as I appreciate discovering this record over and over again but those points are the reasons why this isn't the band's best work and why some people might have some difficulties to get into this.

The instrumental parts are the true highlight on this record and I mostly appreciate the longer tracks that have less lyrics and concentrate on a conceptual atmosphere like "Xanadu" and especially the outstanding "Cygnus X-1" that surprises with its dystopian and mysterious moods and offers many changes of style, rhythm and melody and is one of the best progressive rock tracks in history.

In the end, this early masterpiece of the band is amongst their best albums but not yet in the top notch because of a few little flaws. The longest and most important tracks are all great and add something new and unique to the genre while the shorter tracks are less impressive. From an intellectual and technical point of view this record is close to perfection but concerning the emotional and coherent point of view, there are a couple of aspects that could be further worked out.

Originally published on on May 12th of the year 2011.

Report this review (#499363)
Posted Sunday, August 7, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars Having saved their careers with 2112, and noting the appreciative reaction to that album's ambitious prog epic on side 1, Rush increased the prog rock influence on their formula on this album. In terms of lyrics and themes, this is almost like Caress of Steel Take Two - it's still rooted in sci-fi and fantasy with objectivist ideology poking its head up here and there (though not so obnoxiously that you can't look past it if you're not a Rand fan).

The big difference is in the compositions; not only had Rush clearly advanced as musicians by this point (Geddy Lee's bass work in Madrigal and Cygnus X-1, in particular, is pretty damn amazing), but their songwriting had also matured. On preceding albums, songs were either comparatively short or of absolutely epic length, with comparatively few in-between; this time around, they show much more willingness to compose songs of moderate length, and only stretch out to the ten minute and beyond mark if they really have enough ideas to fill that much time.

With an infectious amount of energy and enthusiasm for the songs here - Rush know that they are playing unabashedly geeky material here, and they are absolutely cool with that - Rush deliver a performance which takes their music to the next level. With strident declarations of intent, acoustic romanticism, and foreboding black hole rhythms all in the mix, this is also one of the most varied Rush albums of their early career. The first Rush disc which is a flat-out great album from beginning to end, Farewell to Kings is a must for anyone interested in fusions of metal and progressive rock.

Report this review (#554726)
Posted Saturday, October 22, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars 2112, A Farewell To Kings, and Hemispheres work together as a trilogy with a sort of loose storyline connecting them, and in my mind, A Farewell to Kings is the weakest of the three, but it's still a very strong album, and in some ways it's the most creative of their 70's releases. The band were starting to experiment with more progressive structures and instruments, and their writing style was definitely evolving further away from the standard hard rock at the start of their career. They had alread started using synths and Mellotron on the previous album, but now both Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson are using those Taurus pass pedals that always give prog arrangements such a warm, full sound, and Neil Peart is using a plethora of extra percussion instruments in addition to his constantly improving skills at the regular drum set, which has at this point reached the level of virtuoso. As stated above, the album is the middle part of a trilogy, with "Cygnus X-1 - Book One" serving as the first part of a half hour long epic that is continued on the next album, Hemispheres, and partly due to that, and some other element that I can't quite pin down - perhaps the brevity of the album, or maybe just an assortment (although at a very low level) of relatively weak moments throughout, both 2112 and Hemispheres work better as standalone albums, but it does contain the classic "Closer To the Heart", and "Xanadu" is not only one of Rush's best, but indeed one of the best prog rock songs ever, and A Farewell to Kings is still essential to all Rush fans and is an essential part of the trilogy. Much great music to be found here. 4.5 stars.
Report this review (#621674)
Posted Friday, January 27, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars By the time Rush put out "Farewell to Kings" in September of 1977 most proggers knew and a growing number of people who simply appreciated energetically performed rock & roll music were becoming aware of how gifted this unusual trio of musicians/songwriters were. I belonged to the miniscule minority percentage of prog lovers that didn't give them the time of day and chose to remain callously oblivious to just how influential they were in the wide-open genre of progressive rock. Sometimes stubborn-as-a-mule stupidity can't be explained. I have no excuse. Nevertheless, 35 years down the pike I'm finally catching up with Rush albums such as this one and am reporting my findings as if it was released yesterday. I must admit that the farther I venture into their impressive catalog of work the more brutally I chastise myself for being such an ignorant fool. Their kind of prog takes a back seat to no one.

The album's title cut starts out with a light acoustic guitar augmented by a simple synth melody line and a tinkling xylophone ringing in the background. Soon they adopt a much heavier approach for the main body of the song, sweeping you off your feet in the process. Bassist Geddy Lee's vocal is a bit screechy (that's not exactly breaking news to anyone) but when the band gets into the first instrumental segment things get very interesting fast. They were still in the process of learning how to be tactful arrangers at the time, though, so the track tends to sound a bit disjointed here and there. "Xanadu" doesn't have that problem. Their patience in allowing a number to grow at its own pace from humble beginnings as they do here is one of their most admirable qualities. Drastic changes in tempo and in overall feel keep things from being predictable while showing off their uncanny tightness at the same time. Geddy's one-of-a-kind singing doesn't appear until they reach the five minute mark and that's a sure sign of confidence in their ability to hold an audience's attention. The song's melody is suitably complex and Lee keeps his renegade voice under control (for the most part, anyway). All told, this epic is an excellent piece of prog. "Closer to the Heart" is the tune that garnered them quite a bit of crucial airplay, providing them with much-needed exposure in the crowded rock music marketplace. It's a good, accessible ditty that did what it needed to do for them without compromising their integrity or their ideals. While the song has never done much for me I certainly can't criticize them for being smart.

The last three cuts are all impressive. On "Cinderella Man" Alex Lifeson's mix of acoustic guitar with his electric is highly effective in concocting a unique sound and identity in the group's presentation. His guitar solo is very adventurous and aggressive (two commendable traits) and, while the synthesizers aren't prominent, their willingness to experiment with them displays a flexibility in their collective attitude that's rarely encountered even today. Within the aura of the short "Madrigal" their fondness for Genesis is unmistakable (in a good way) yet they wisely avoid letting that influence turn the tune into a parody. It's a sweet song that furthers my belated affection for Rush because it confirms that they were much more than just a rowdy power trio from up north and I totally missed the boat due to that misperception. They close with the intriguing "Cygnus X-1." The track's mysterious opening has a cool Pink Floyd texture to it and sets the stage perfectly for what's to come. Geddy's striking bass riff emerges to be joined by Neil Peart's inimitable drums and Alex's boisterous guitar before they take off into an involved movement where Peart showcases his increasing proficiency at guiding the group with a stern, unwavering hand. In listening to this exemplary epic I was struck by how they were able to imaginatively create their own brand of progressive rock by faithfully following their hearts instead of their wallets. They knew their audience and trusted their instincts without hesitation that told them how to please both their fan base and themselves. I found this tune to be totally unpredictable as to where it would take me next. That's one of the most important criteria in producing top-shelf prog and delivering it to my ears no matter what decade it hails from. The tune's finale is surprisingly subdued, as well.

"Farewell to Kings" was the band's first album to achieve gold status and it eventually went platinum over the years. By early '78 the industry had to realize that Rush wasn't going to sell out and turn into Styx despite the solemn predictions of unavoidable doom stemming from their refusal to manufacture a Top 40 hit single. This brave trio had somehow found a niche all their own that made it possible for them to do musically whatever they desired. And their rugged persistence in indulging in that mindset branded them as respectable outsiders, a labeling extremely hard to acquire but, once attained, made them the envy of tens of thousands of wannabes. 3.5 stars.

Report this review (#752955)
Posted Sunday, May 13, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars A Farewell to King's is arguably the first fully progressive Rush album. A lot of the Zeppelin-sounding blues influence is gone on this album. Instead the band has adapted to the prog style they showed hints of in their previous works, with more complex song structures and time signature changes. This is also the first record to make use of synthesizers, which become a subtle, but integral part of the sound.

The title track starts things off with a serene acoustic intro with some keyboard, before going into an unforgiving heavy guitar riff. The rest is an energetic plethora of guitar, bass, and drums. I particularly like the part that begins about three minutes in. Geddy is truly one of the greatest bassists, and Lifeson's tone is like no other.

'Xanadu,' like the previous song, opens with a rather tranquil atmosphere, but explodes with an instrumental fury from then on. The melodies and riffs are spectacular. The song is simply a masterpiece from beginning to end.

'Closer to the Heart' is a very radio friendly hit, and is one of the first songs I had in mind when I first discovered Rush. Though it's not prog, one can't help but love the uplifting vibe given off from this song.

'Cinderella Man' has some great bass and guitar parts in the verses and chorus, but the jazzy bass work in middle is what really makes this song great.

'Madrigal' has some ethereal acoustic and keyboard work throughout its short duration.

The album ends with the first part of the Cygnus duology that is continued on the next album. Part one takes a while to get going, but the buildup is great. A simple but effective bass melody is played by Geddy, which is soon met by Peart's accompanying drums and finally Lifeson. Following are some rather metal riffs with keyboard embellishes, before going into a bass driven section. A gentle acoustic passage sets the listener up for the ending chaotic section for which Peart goes absolutely crazy on drums.

Overall, while A Farewell to Kings may be slightly inconsistent, the stronger songs truly make this one of Rush's best.


Report this review (#771344)
Posted Friday, June 15, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars While not quite reaching the wuthering heights of 2112, A Farewell To Kings is still a brilliant album, every bit a Rush masterwork. Still a hybrid of elder 70's rock and evolving prog, it's clear Rush were already travel further forward in time than their peers, moving towards a new sound. For one thing, there's much more of an emphasis on sci-fi than fantasy, with spacey stuff like "Xanadu" & the opus "Cygnus X-1" making you feel like you're reading an old space opera novel. The title track is suitably epic, catchy and crunchy, with great guitar work and Geddy's staccato singing. "Closer To The Heart" is a nice number, with Geddy singing with gusto. "Cinderella Man" is pretty cool, and "Madrigal" starts to bring in some electro, signifying things to come. So it's a shame this album gets forgotten sometimes, as it's sort of wedged between the epic 2112, and Rush's later more evolved albums. But it's still a fantastic heavy prog release, and there's no reason fans shouldn't revel in it.
Report this review (#915074)
Posted Sunday, February 17, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars 'A Farewell to Kings' was where Rush truly left their hard rock, Led Zeppelin-influenced style behind and pursued progressive rock full throttle. Their two previous albums had been bold ventures into the prog rock world but they were still a hard rock band reluctant to give up their musical roots for following the paths blazed by their contemporaneous prog heroes. The success of '2112' however had given them confidence to fully expand their horizons and the result was the first album in a pair of albums where Rush established themselves as prog rock gods.

Alex Lifeson opens the album with a beautiful composition on classical acoustic guitar which serves as the intro for what becomes a progressive hard rock song in the title track. The style is clearly different from what had been heard on previous albums.

'Xanadu' is for me one of the great prog rock songs of all time. The intro is a few minutes long and takes its time to set an atmosphere and build the mood for an exciting adventure. It could easily be the soundtrack for a short film. The band fills every second with creativity in music and lyrical delivery. The song rocks at times and takes moments to allow room for the story too. Alex's closing solo is short but very sweet. This is what I call one of the big three prog mini-epics which also includes 'Cygnus X-1' from this album and 'La Villa Strangiato' from the next album 'Hemispheres'.

'Closer to the Heart' was a song I often heard on the radio but never took much interest in until I really gave it a chance. It's surprisingly short but in a way it works as a conclusion to the title track because both songs use the lyric 'Closer to the heart' and the themes are similar. Again, another great solo by Lifeson.

'Cinderella Man' is a more or less simple seventies' rock song with a good melody and 'Madrigal' is one of Rush's most unique songs, ranking alongside 'Rivendell' as an odd acoustic track that seems almost out of place in the Rush catalogue. But it's only 2:36 so it passes before you have time to ponder it too deeply.

Next to 'Xanadu' the other highlight of the album for me is what Martin Popoff called in his book 'Contents Under Pressure', 'Xanadu's evil twin'. 'Cygnus X-1' is likely my favourite Rush song among many favourites. It's another example of how music can tell a story as in 'Xanadu'. The story is about a spaceship captain who sets his ship's course to a black hole with the intention of discovering whether annihilation awaits in the crush of gravity or a passage way through to the astral plain. The music goes through several changes as the spacecraft rockets to the stars and travels across the galaxy. The tension mounts as the ship drifts closer to the swirling maw of gravity and then the vessel is caught in the vortex and tumbled about violently as Neal Peart pounds mayhem out of his drum kit and Alex plays a riff that conjures images of the rapidly rotating black hole while Geddy screeches out his highest note ever. Envisioning the cosmic scenes as the music plays gives me shivers of suspense. This is a masterpiece of progressive music and surely a progenitor of progressive metal.

In conclusion, I think this album is brilliant. 'Madrigal' is what it is. The rest of the album delivers wonderfully with 'Xanadu' and 'Cygnus X-1' being top-ranking compositions. I can't give this less than 4.5 stars so I'll give it 5. And as the astute among you may have conjectured, the 'kings' in my user name is derived from this album.

Report this review (#929084)
Posted Tuesday, March 12, 2013 | Review Permalink
3 stars To follow up 2112 with a winner would have been difficult and although this album doesn't quite match up it is very strong. 1. A farewell to Kings - very strong opener to the album. Stunning Lifeson guitar work. 2. Xanadu - Very good epic track but not up there with their best. 3. Closer to the Heart - I believe that this track is almost a peoples' anthem in Brazil. Very powerful track both musically and lyrically. 4. Cinderella man - I enjoy this shorter Rush track very much. 5. Madrigal - quiet short piece. 6. Xygnus X-1. - A science fiction epic track in subject matter. I enjoy it well enough but it isn't one of my all time favorites by a long way.

Strong album that doesn't reach the heights of 2112 in my opinion. It's a now and then visitor to my playlists when I feel like listening to Rush.

Report this review (#934152)
Posted Saturday, March 23, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars One of Rush's many masterpieces, "A Farewell To Kings" takes a step on from "2112" into more progressive territory but still retains its soulfulness, and doesn't get swamped down in synths like their later albums. My favourite album by both Rush and within the "Heavy Prog" sub-genre. It shows the band getting even more progressive (as can be traced from their debut through each album), and reaches a point that is the perfect compliment between rock and progressive music. Despite the better songwriting techniques and structures on "Hemispheres", this album seems to click with me, and I can't imagine what music I'd be listening to now, if I never came across "A Farewell To Kings".

Anyway, the album opens with the title track and Lifeson's gentle acoustic playing - now improved since the band's previous effort "2112" as heard on "Tears". A beautiful little chord sequence, with arpeggios that even non-guitarists can enjoy, abruptly shaken by the dominating blocks of more complex chords. The track suddenly becomes so driving from such an intimate little tune, and somehow links excellently to keep you and probably most Rush fans entertained. Overall, some outstanding songwriting techniques (the time signatures, the A-F-G-E chord progression, etc.) which just culminates just such strength and anger from the whole band in that pounding chorus. Geddy's voice too, has just got such an incredulous tone with a phenomenal grit (difficult at such a high octave) on lines like "Withered hearts and cruel tormented eyes". All of these lyrics are just mind-blowing, and Alex's solo is so unique and innovative, it's just irresistible. Despite its overall twisted feel, he manages to persuade a few little melodies and wails to the listener, but with the risk you can tell he's expressing, it's just awesome, especially going back into that solid 5/4 barricade of power chords. After that, they let you go again with another short guitar interlude, but the whole song is well-crafted, I just can't quite illustrate it.

"Xanadu" keeps the strong consistency, taking the music to a slightly more conceptual area, as it displays a miniature "prog epic". I suppose another reason that this album in particular connects with me, is it appears to have the strongest mythological themes, so it takes you a little further out. Anyway, the second track gradually builds with some mystical guitar harmonies and intriguing occasional drum fills and give it some backbone, keeping you interested. The tinkling chimes are also a great touch, and fill the recording space with their splashy quality. Already, a very embracing atmosphere, suddenly stricken down by that gripping 7/4 guitar riff at full blast with the whole band backing Alex in such simplicity. Again, just a terrific way to bring the energy into the song before it becomes too fully-blown. As the song gets into the swing of things, you hear numerous back-to-back riffs, licks and fills from each member of the band (for instance, those hypnotic bright guitar chords teamed with Neil's cowbells or other alternative percussive paraphernalia, at around 3 and a half minutes). Every second is just packed with excellence and inventiveness in the heaviness, lyrics (of which there are perhaps too few), and of course the songwriting, for the full 11 minutes. There's not much more I can say really - some classic areas of "light and shade", solos from every instrument (including the new addition of the colourful synthesisers), and overall just intensely captivating. Just wish it was longer!

"Closer To The Heart" opens side 2. A more serenading and thoughtful track than the previous hard-hitting and thoughtful. Alex's 12-string introduces you on here, with some more weighted synths and solid chimes to fill the room. The double-tracked guitars backing Geddy are just incredible, especially when the bass comes in. The lyrics again are brilliant, and definitely fit the song, and the track briskly builds to another wonderful Lifeson solo (sorry for going on about him guys). Still a very driving track despite the more radio-friendly, melodic rock that emanates through your speakers. Just a short but sweet song that lifts your spirits so high. Another essential track, going into possibly the weakest of the album "Cinderella Man". This song seems to be a little more uncertain in structure and songwriting, not quite fitting on the album. I adore the verses, especially the lyrics teamed with Alex's guitars, but the intro and chorus seem a bit forced and stifled, a little like a worse version of "Circumstances" in places. Over time, the track has definitely grown on me, so I can accept all the flaws, but it's not so thrilling for a first listen compared to the others. Nonetheless, still a 4-star track, and of course another great solo from Alex, although I'd focus more on the backing - that bass is just genius.

"Madrigal" started off as a weak track for me, but has become one of my favourite Rush pieces. Very short, which kind of makes it more precious in a way, and doesn't stride into particularly dangerous territory, but it just sounds so gorgeous. The intro builds each instrument into the song seamlessly, and becomes a solid work of art as the band instruments soon interlock in such beauty. Each line from each guitar and bass, plus the almost silent percussive activity from Peart, is so elegant and brilliant and, I just love it. It morphs into the unmistakable "Cygnus X-1", one of Rush's most revered pieces. Right from the offset, you can tell it's going to be so spacey, with the distorted words from Terry Brown (producer) and the aircraft launch, plus the alienated electronic bubbling and occasional flicker of fire. The bass and drums gradually enter with some deliciously offbeat passages, before the guitar brings you around to your senses, and you're immersed in the atmosphere. Almost no longer alienated, and focusing in on what's happening around you. Anyway, the chord progressions and drum fills heard shortly after are so intricately pieced together, and flow straight into one another, whilst still displaying a slight feel of insanity/isolation.

The track climaxes to this repetitive section of essentially 34/8 (2 bars 11/8, one 12/8). The melodic synth steadies you out again, and doesn't alienate you from the profound musicality the band has created so far. The whole atmosphere halts for a short while, before Geddy sings his tale of the black hole "Cygnus X-1". As with the whole album, his bass matches and compliments everything divinely. The retreat to 4/4 proves most effective when Alex's chords just resonate throughout the wide space, along with the vocal melodies and strains that seem to even fill and bloat the infinite universe, unapparent to us. Some more unbelievable and otherworldly notes and chords are struck, the just seem to shake existence - I really can't describe it. The track soon kicks off into an ever-building chord progression of C-F-D-G, excellently raising a semitone in each triad. More story-telling lyrics are once again interrupted by possibly the highlight of the album at "The X-ray is her siren song" after a few pounds from the band. Geddy's vocal delivery at this point is just at its peak in the entire Rush career for me. The wailing guitar then enters, with yet another mind-blowing solo backed with yet another min-blowing bass! It's just uncanny how consistently powerful and intense this track in particular is. Another outstanding area of light and shade is brought as the solo fades into oblivion, and the nearing approach of the black hole is encapsulated by Alex's octaves, interrupted by some blissful bass and drum passages, before the piece undergoes another indecipherable time signature and reprises the chord sequence from earlier, with Lee's most chaotic, world-ending vocals ever. The whole thing is just so driving, and the Rocinante is pulled into the unknown dimension behind the black hole. So haunting, and even more emphasised by the mournful chords resounding from Lifeson. The best track of the album, and possibly their whole career regarding some aspects. The concept is fantastic, and if I bought this album back in 1977, I don't think I could possibly wait for the promise of Book II's virtuosity, fulfilled on Rush's subsequent album "Hemispheres".

A+: An inexplicable masterpiece from Rush, and I can almost guarantee you won't (or at least shouldn't) be disappointed as a rock fan.

A Farewell To Kings: ***** Xanadu: ***** Closer To The Heart: ***** Cinderella Man: **** Madrigal: ***** Cygnus X-1 Book I: The Voyage: ****** (yes, 6 stars :P)

Report this review (#984564)
Posted Sunday, June 23, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars To drink the milk of Paradise

I'm not a big fan of Rush, but this album is truly remarkable. Of all the band's albums this is perhaps the work closer to the classical canons of progressive rock, especially for the complexity of songs such as Cygnus X-1 and Xanadu, and also for the use of the synth by Geddy Lee.

Of course Xanadu is the song that stands out most, in my opinion the masterpiece of the entire career of the band and one of my favorite songs of progressive rock. Closer To The Heart is a short but exciting song, with a dreaming atmosphere. A Farewell To Kings, another piece of good standard, has a remarkable rhythmic variation in the middle section. Cygnus X-1 is the hardest song of the album and, despite some excess, is full of memorable moments (in particular great rhythmic variations and changes of atmosphere). Cinderella Man and Madrigal are still good, but not at the level of the other songs.

The members of the group appear in great form. The voice of Geddy Lee is a true primordial rattle. Neil Peart is an out category drummer. Alex Lifeson contributes with hard guitar riff (in particular the one at the end of the silent intro of Xanadu is really memorable).

A "Farewell To Kings" is probably the best album to start listening to the music of Rush, especially if, like me, you do not like particularly heavy-prog music.

Now the stars ... four or five ... what a dilemma! I'll go with four, but is really ... four and a half!

My final rating is 8/10.

Best song: Xanadu

Report this review (#1044944)
Posted Thursday, September 26, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars 4.4 Stars. A welcome to full Prog maturity

There are some bands out there that are talented/lucky enough to have a well developed and unique sound from the very beginning of their career. Rush wasn't one of those bands, it took 3 relatively unsuccessful albums before they produced a solid release (2112). But even then they had not tapped into their full potential. With A Farewell To Kings (AFTK) they are finally reaching the peak of their powers and fully discovered their identity.

AFTK is often credited as one of the first Prog Metal albums and I agree with that statement. Cygnus X-1 has the blueprint that Dream Theater and many other Prog Metal bands would latch on to, which makes this release historically significant for the band and the genre as a whole.

"A Farewell To Kings" begins on a gentle note, with Lifeson tastefully playing the classical guitar for a little while. Then all of a sudden there is a blast of hard rock and things really get going. While the structure of the song follows that of typical Hard Rock, Rush inject a complex, intense and extended instrumental as part of the bridge, so there is something for Prog fans to get their teeth into. A great start!

"Xanadu" is seen by many a Rush fan to be one of their best songs and I fully agree with them. The first half of Xanadu is a instrumental which begins very slowly and then turns into a hard rocking instrumental not unlike the beginning of 2112. Its clear at this point that the band have mastered the art of instrumental intros and now just as good as the other major Prog bands around. The second half of the song is even better, as the tempo is allowed to change naturally in accordance to the story being told (and the story itself is very entertaining to listen to!). Things finish with probably the best instrumental the band have ever done. Definitely a masterpiece!

"Closer To The Heart" was released as single, so as you would expect it is not progressive, but it is very catchy and upbeat! One of their best singles in my opinion.

"Cinderella Man" is the weakest song here. Its mostly a Hard Rock song and is somewhat outclassed by the title track. This is one of the few songs where Neil Peart did not write the lyrics and it instantly shows (in a bad way). There is a story in the lyrics, but it is nowhere near as clear for the listener to understand so the band should have stuck to the status quo.

"Madrigal" is filler, but it is also very pleasant to listen to so I don't mind. Its a very gentle and reflective song and the lyrics perfectly match the melody (Peart is back in control!). There is also a very beautiful instrumental at the end. My only wish is that the song was extended by a minute or two, because there is a lot of untapped potential here.

Finally there is "Cygnus X-1 Book One:The Voyage" (love the title!), which as already mentioned helped form the Prog Metal genre. Why? Because it is full of odd-time signatures, over-the-top Sci-Fi lyrics (some of which is so dated it is actually hilarious to listen to! But that's not the band's fault), fierce rock (which would nowadays be classified as metal) and Geddy shrieking like a mad man at the end of the song. The song finishes with a cliff-hanger (the space ship gets sucked into a black hole), so the drama can continue on their next album.

Overall this is an excellent album and almost deserves the full 5 stars. The title track and the 2 epics are worth 5 stars, but the other 3 songs (especially Cinderella Man) are not quite at that level. I still strongly recommend this album, because the overall standard is high and the 2 epics should be heard by every Prog fan!

Report this review (#1047422)
Posted Sunday, September 29, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars A Farewell to Kings is a good CD. It is just that it does not move me as much as Hemispheres. Of course the music is played very well, but it is lacking that certain something to push it over the edge to get the fifth star. Also the singing pitch is too high for my taste. Cygnus X-1 is a fine song and is probably the best, along with Xanadu, on the CD. Closer to the Heart is one of those pop/ prog songs that Rush does so well. Even my friend Jordan who is not a prog rock fan by any means puts this song on his driving playlist. I would say that every progressive rock fan should probably own a copy of A Farewell to Kings. It is a classic. But the high point for Rush wold be Hemispheres and Moving Pictures.
Report this review (#1099657)
Posted Wednesday, December 25, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars Masterpiece !!!... If you ask for prog rock fans - "What is the best RUSH album ? " The majority of them will answer to you : "Moving Pictures !!!". I respect this opinion, but, I disagree.... my top RUSH album is "A Farewell To Kings" and I explain : After the "impeccable" previous album "2112", RUSH retakes the peak of inspiration and add in their music the synthesizer, a new percussion set and a more effective use of classical elements. The first track "A Farewell To Kings" starts with a gentle classical guitar theme with synthesizer and soft percussion, creating an medieval atmosphere, but at the end of this breath introduction RUSH's characteristic sound "claim" space again and the result is a powerful heavy theme with an "interlude" for a brilliant guitar solo . The secound track "Xanadu" is the best of entire album; different passages including a fantastic pedal-volume electric-guitar introduction , a long riff, great vocal parts and a closing section with a great guitar solo. The third track "Closer to the Heart" in fact becomes a type of hymn due their beauty , even in music or lyrics .The track 4 "Cinderella Man' is a underestimated track.... but is also a great moment, where the detach goes to Alex's wah-wah solo. The track 5 "Madrigal" is a breath bucolic melody .The last track "Cygnus X-1" book one is "suite" in three parts which closes the disk and is the more heavy moment of the album. My rate is 5 stars!!!
Report this review (#1126496)
Posted Sunday, February 2, 2014 | Review Permalink
4 stars Enter the second (and finest) era of Rush's career.

Here is where the band begins making their own brand of stunning, conceptual prog-rock. Lifeson abandons his traditional Zeppelin-esque tone for a cleaner, more refined sound. Geddy's bass lines are beginning to become ultra technical. Neil's drum set has doubled in size to include gongs, bells, chimes, and about a million other trinkets listed fully in the liner notes. Keyboards also make their first serious appearance.

The two long songs are the standouts here. Xanadu and Cygnus X-1, at about 10 minutes a piece, show the band's songwriting skills becoming much more intelligent, blending dozens of different parts into a cohesive whole. The time signatures are odd, in the instrumentation is diverse, but never does the music become overtly intellectual or cerebral the way that, say, Gentle Giant does. Rush puts the rock in prog-rock, if you will.

Though highly recommended, Cinderella man and Madrigal do not soar to the heights of the other tracks here, so I can't quite call it a masterpiece. Hemispheres on the other hand...


Report this review (#1171789)
Posted Tuesday, May 6, 2014 | Review Permalink
siLLy puPPy
PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams
5 stars After the huge leap in progressive songwriting on 2112 which saved their music careers, RUSH continued down that road and created their first true 5 star masterpiece with A FAREWELL TO KINGS. In fact, I do believe this to be my personal favorite RUSH album with "Xanadu" being one of the greatest pieces of music ever laid down on tape. It is a musical gem that incorporates everything that makes progressive music so wonderful including a long duration, complex melodies, diverse instrumentation and fantasy based lyrics.

On this album RUSH incorporates keyboards expands their sound and musical boundaries and continues the complex compositional approach that worked so well on the title track of 2112. Alex Lifeson utilized classical guitar, Neil Peart experimented with a huge number of new percussion instruments including woodblocks, tubular bells, wind chimes, a glockenspiel and a bell tree. Geddy Lee wrote much of the basslines on acoustic bass and has a more mature sound on this release.

This is one of the few (if not only) albums that has a two-part composition in the form of "Cygnus X-1" that includes part 1 on this album and part 2 on the following album "Hemispheres." It is a progressive science fiction tale about the discovery of two conflicting ways of life focusing on the logical and emotional aspects of the human mind. Some of the most complex lyrical content to be had in a totally satisfying musical package. I deem this the absolute pinnacle of RUSH's creative output and although they would go on to produce more excellent music, it slowly begins to decline in quality as the albums go by.

Report this review (#1182071)
Posted Sunday, June 1, 2014 | Review Permalink
Eclectic / Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team
5 stars If I were to say anything about this album, it would only be a repeat of what has already been said. This is Rush at their peak and at their best. This is where synthesizers started to enter the mix, but they were so well orchestrated and melded into the formula Rush had developed, that no one complained. They had their place in the sound and they improved on the sound, so keyboards belonged. Other than that, the songs became more complicated as far as orchestration among the 3 musicians in the band. How in the world could 3 musicians make such full and satisfying music? They did it and they did it better than most.

This album is a masterpiece. There is nothing wrong with this album. "Xanadu" was unbelievable, an epic of majesty and wonder. Cygnus X-1 was a dynamic masterpiece. Even the shorter songs were excellent. Rush's most famous song "Closer to the Heart" is the weakest song on here and yet it was their most. famous. song. What does that say about the rest of the album?

There really isn't anything that I can add that hasn't already been said. I love this album. It was my 2nd Rush album after 2112, and after hearing the greatness of 2112, I instantly went out and bought this one. I thought I had discovered the most amazing music ever recorded. This was the kind of music I wanted to make. Little did I know at the time that Rush was being discovered by music lovers everywhere at the same time. Within weeks, everyone knew who they were and I was high riding the wave of their popularity, discovering a band right when they exploded into the spotlight.

I listen to this and marvel at what their recording sessions must have been like. Surely, they were excited at what was coming together here. This music is genius. It is a perfect example of what progressive music should be. That's all I'm going to say about it because I'm only going to end up repeating all that has been said. If you haven't heard this yet, then all I can do is ask, Why?

Report this review (#1367027)
Posted Wednesday, February 11, 2015 | Review Permalink
5 stars 2112 was such an important album for Rush; not only did it serve as a nice rebound from the disappointing Caress of Steel, but it catapulted Rush into stardom almost overnight. On top of this, it was a great album despite the second half's inconsistencies and occasional filler material. Last but not least, the title track was absolutely incredible and paved the way for the band's future progressive epics. So how did the band follow up a great album? They made an amazing one!

A Farewell to Kings isn't just another album in Rush's discography, but instead a masterpiece that begins a large streak of powerhouse albums by the band. Here we have six tracks (just like with 2112) that range from miniature to being over eleven minutes in length. Something that's particularly impressive about this record is how the band makes such great use of every single second of the running time. For instance, album highlight "Xanadu" could have begun with a typical hard rock opening to get things moving. Instead, it introduces itself with two minutes of atmosphere and allows drummer Neil Peart to reveal his vast arsenal of percussion equipment in a gradual manner. You hear woodblocks, wind chimes, and other instruments that would further enhance the calm atmosphere opening the track. Even with the heavier moments later on, there are still numerous tempo changes and varied dynamics to keep the listener on his/her toes. On the other side of the spectrum, there's the short power-ballad "Closer to the Heart"; with an acoustic guitar introducing the main theme, the dynamics gradually build steam until an energetic hard rock finale closes things off. While this song is more on the conventional side, it's still very well-written and brings out a more heartwarming feeling than "Tears" from the previous album. A song like this goes to show how much someone could do with such a short running time.

This record also showcases more diversity than the band's previous efforts. Along with expanding upon the philosophical themes that were featured on a good chunk of 2112, the music has a few more surprises this time around. With the title track, you get a lovely classical guitar melody kicking things off; with "Cygnus X-1," you get a lot of variety as each member shows his particular skills and a narrator fills you in on the dark story that's going on. With "Madrigal," you get one of Rush's quietest and shortest tracks, complete with soft guitar flourishes and Geddy Lee showing a refreshing sense of restraint in his vocals. The list goes on, and it's all strengthened with a sense of songwriting balance. The music never gets overbearing or underwhelming; the band know when to switch things up within their compositions. Even the ominous guitar line near the end of "Cygnus X-1" never really overstays it welcome; even if it did, the explosion of heavy instrumentation that follows easily makes up for that. If I had to choose the weakest song on the album, it'd probably be "Cinderella Man." It's still a good track, but a little generic compared to the others; the clean choruses (another area of Lee's restraint in terms of singing) are a nice touch to offset the hard rock sections, but those hard rock sections just aren't as interesting. We've heard this work done in previous albums by Rush, and there's not much new material brought to the table with this song.

Either way, A Farewell to Kings is still a remarkable album all around. It remains one of my all-time favorite progressive rock releases, and it seems that many other people share that opinion as well. Buy this if you haven't already; it's truly a masterpiece in 70s rock music and shouldn't be overlooked. Interestingly enough, Rush would actually be able to top this album with their next effort; this would probably be second or third if it had to be ranked, though. It continues the streak of commercial successes by the band and expands upon their already-established sound exceptionally well. If you enjoy progressive rock and/or hard rock, get this ASAP.

Report this review (#1445870)
Posted Tuesday, July 28, 2015 | Review Permalink
5 stars Rush followed the success of 2112 with A Farewell To Kings in 1977, and man this is one heck of a album, all three musicians are in fine form and it features some of Rush's Signature tracks. Geddy Lee plays awesome bass lines and his vocals are best in this album, Neil Peart or 'the professor' is brilliant as usual with deep philosophical lyrics and brilliant drum playing, with Alex playing some great guitar throughout the album

1. A Farewell To Kings- The intro by Alex is sure to get you hooked , I don't understand why is he so less known. Anyways, After some great guitar playing, Geddy follows with his unique and best vocals screaming and shouting, and then showcases his bass plating talent, this song is about common people were oppressed by kings and knights, and were helpless and showed no resistance, now the place is taken up by politicians but the pain remains the same. A perfect Start 10/10

2. Xanadu- I'll like to point out one thing in here, ALEX IS SO SOOOO TALENTED!!, I bet after hearing those mythical lyrics, and guitar playing along with other great song moments, you'll be forced to search for the Lost Xanudu, I love that part around 5:40 , that when the songs kicks in for me, one of the best rush moments, 10/10

3. Closer To The Heart- At around 3:00. in length and one of Rush's shortest its one of their best, what to say about this song, you gotta feel it by yourself, the lyrics show how everything can be accomplished if we work together and not be power hungry, 10/10

4. Often overlooked for its simplicity, its one of my fav lyrics ever, so I'll discuss it in detail, cause its my life story "A modest man from Mandrake, Traveled rich to the city He had a need to discover A use for his newly-found wealth

Because he was human Because he had goodness Because he was moral They called him insane"

How people like us, innocent, always helping, thinking good, trying to change the world are labelled as ' complex and insane', only because we are good and have moral values? I read somewhere Neil faced similar experience in school

"Delusions of grandeur Visions of splendor A manic-depressive He walks in the rain

Eyes wide open Heart undefended Innocence untarnished

Cinderella Man Doing what you can They can't understand What it means

Cinderella Man Hang on to your plans Try as they might They cannot steal your dreams"

Obviously that leads to depression, heart undefended might mean if someone close to you said all those? it hurts 1000 times more cause you wouldn't care if he was a stranger, Cinderella Man? the title suggest of being in love with someone, being nice, doing everything you could, only to be questioned. But one should not give up and continue with what he's doing, cause whatever may happen they can't take away your dreams

"In the betrayal of his love he awakened To face a world of cold reality And a look in the eyes of the hungry Awakened him to what he could do

He held up his riches To challenge the hungry Purposeful motion For one so insane

They tried to fight him Just couldn't beat him This manic-depressive Who walks in the rain"

How once you are betrayed like that, you only come back more strong, there is someone sarcasm at the person who betrayed him too ' a purposeful motion for one so insane' the last 4 lines? how you can't beat a damaged man because he knows he can live his life, once a person decides something nothing can go wrong

I find it strange that it is overlooked for simplicity, this song signifies that there's simplicity in all and one shouldn't be labeled as an outcast complex just goes he does thing , people don't understand overall 10/10

Madrigal: The simple acoustic piece, serves great for me after the dark Cinderella man, Love the way, you can forget all the pain around you, well said 8.5/10

6.Cygnus X-1 Book one the voyage: Great track, funny to end a philosophical album with a science fiction track, but who's complaining when its so well done, Great bass playing, lovely intro(scary tho) and you keep asking yourself what happens to the ship while it is sucked by the black hole, great way to end the album, I won't say much, there are some qualities review about this song in here, but why not forget it And feel it by yourself.

Report this review (#1452785)
Posted Friday, August 14, 2015 | Review Permalink
3 stars Rush's most uneven album?

This fifth record by RUSH is a mystery for me. "A Farewell To Kings" pursues the same musical approach as its great and mindblowing predecessor, but unfortunately not the same inspiration and constancy. As groundbreaking as "2112", this disc is full of contrasts, as it contains two of the best mini-epics the Canadians ever composed, but also their least convincing short songs of their 1974-1984 period.

The combination of changing rhythm structures, progressive approach, fantasy and science-fiction themes with hard/heavy rock/metal songs was quite risky in 1977, during the punk revolution. Although not as complex as YES' or GENESIS', the music is nonetheless more direct and catchy. Synthesizers become slightly more and more present in the band's vocabulary.

The title track opens with a delicate medieval tune to then become more aggressive. Containing rhythm changes and variations, this song is a bit strange and uneven, but overall rather enjoyable. Unfortunately, this is the best short piece of this disc. The first mini-epic, "Xanadu" is simply a little fantasy prog gem. Unique, the music transports you to a magical world that can remind YES, but however different, as it alternates calm, epic and ferocious moments. A part of the hidden missing link between symphonic and neo progressive, really unique. Then begins the weak middle of the record. The hit single "Closer To The Heart" is over soapy and cheesy. It will unfortunately become one of RUSH's most popular song and a concert favorite...

Don't really understand how RUSH could have composed the boring "Cinderella Man", as this track sounds not very personal. Concerning "Madrigal", it's an average peaceful ballad. But at least comes the highlight of the record, the somber "Cygnus X-1 Book One". The title comes from the name of the first officially identified black hole ever, in 1971, in the Cygnus Constellation. This mini-epic is the first part of the "Cygnus X-1" dyptic, which will be concluded on the next album. "Book One" describes the journey an astronaut in a spaceship diving in to the black hole. Despite its title, the music is no space rock but rather complex prog metal. Beginning with electronic effects like "2112", the different sections weaves terrifying, powerful and cosmic ambiances. Quite ahead of its time, the song is full of syncopes and unusual rhythm signatures. Mindblowing! The general oppressive impression is coherent with the title and retranscripts well the idea of being absorbed by a black hole. One of my personal favorite from RUSH!

As a conclusion, the fantasy progressive "Xanadu" and the dark suite "Cygnus X-1" are truly the main interests of "A Farewell To Kings". No other bands was creating this kind of neo-heavy-prog music at the time. These compositions really display the talents and the originality of the Canadians. In contrast, the short tracks are not that interesting, which is hardly understandable as the ones from "2112" and from their next albums are overall very good. This record stands as an exception, a kind of black hole concerning the short songs... If these were of the same quality as the two mini-epics', this opus would have clearly been a masterpiece.

Anyway, although uneven, any RUSH or hard / heavy progressive rock fan should listen to this disc, at least for "Xanadu" and "Cygnus X-1"!

Report this review (#1580956)
Posted Tuesday, June 21, 2016 | Review Permalink
4 stars REVIEW #9 - "A Farewell to Kings" by Rush (1977)

Coming off of their successful "2112" album, Rush travelled to the UK and began recording a new studio album. With improved recording techniques providing a better sound as opposed to their Canadian-produced albums, it brings a whole new life to the Rush sound. Stronger all around than its predecessor, and much more proggy, this is a legitimately good album. Even the band members have expanded their musical horizons - bassist Geddy Lee plays the prevalent synth on this album, guitarist Alex Lifeson begins to experiment with acoustic guitars and a classical sound, and Neil Peart experiments with instruments such as wind chimes, glockenspiel, and gongs. The result is a very diverse album - with ambient and rocking passages.

The title track (4/5) leads off the album, opening up with an acoustic passage before reaching that trademark heavy Rush sound. A pretty long song with a solid Lifeson solo, it has a good chorus and thoughtful lyrics to make a good opener. The song closes and the next song, the beautiful "Xanadu" (5/5) begins. An eleven minute track, deeply prog, and based upon the Samuel Taylor Coleridge poem "Kubla Khan" it combines Rush's heavy sound with a new ambient touch. With a long five-minute build up before reaching the mesmerizing lyrics - describing Coleridge's dream where he visited the Mongol summer capital of Xanadu, the reference to British literature is awesome, with the band capturing the metaphysical nature of Coleridge's poem. We are graced with an epic guitar solo to end this song, and the first side as a whole. A musical journey, this is one to be listened to, and in my opinion, the BEST Rush song.

The second side starts with one of Rush's most commercially successful songs, "Closer to the Heart" (5/5). A very short song by Rush standards at about three minutes, it was written by a friend of Peart's, being the first Rush song to not be written by a member of the band. With simple lyrics and a very pleasing sound, it is no wonder why this song was so successful. It is also one of the band's tracks which still receives frequent airplay on classic rock radio to this day. The next song is "Cinderella Man" (4/5), written by Lee. Better than Lee's last contribution to an album (the boring "Tears" from 2112), it sounds pretty good, especially for a filler track. We then get a reprieve with the short and soft "Madrigal" (4/5) which has beautiful medieval-style romantic lyrics, although it is a little bit out of place having to separate the previous song with the science fiction epic "Cygnus X-1 Book I: The Voyage" (4/5), which closes out the album. Beginning with a little bit of plot background, we learn that the protagonist is piloting a space ship called the Rocinante (a homage to the novel "Don Quixote") towards a black hole, in hopes of being sucked into a different world. This song ends on a cliffhanger, as the protagonist goes into the black hole in a flurry of destruction captured by the music perfectly. As the album ends, the listener anticipates the sequel, which would be released a year later on their next album "Hemispheres". A unique concept, it is largely build- up, but captures a really surreal and potentially scary ambient sound. When this song hits its heavy musical parts, it rocks very well and should not be discredited.

This album was a great step in the right direction for the band. With less filler material, it is a definite improvement over their previous (yet amazing in its own right) album. With two epics that hold their own weight, there is no bad moment on this album. It lacks many "great" moments, which bars it from reaching the five-star mark, but you will certainly not get bored listening to this piece of prog rock art. The band would go on to release another really proggy album and this album and that successor "Hemispheres" marks Rush's magnum opus as a prog rock band. Although panned by critics, this album is solid and a good listen for any fan of the genre, as it encompasses many different musical styles while retaining that prog intricacy.

OVERALL: 4.4/5 (B+)

Report this review (#1647836)
Posted Tuesday, November 22, 2016 | Review Permalink
Magnum Vaeltaja
Eclectic Prog Team
2 stars To put it quite simply, this is a disappointing album, and I think its faults are best summarized with a track by track.

Starting things off, we're greeted to a more serene Rush than we've ever heard before. Classical guitar? Lush synthesizers? What is this blasphemy?!? After about a minute of inconsequential softness, though, the Rush we're more familiar with reenters the picture. A nice hard-hitting riff comes in and sweeps us off our feet. Admittedly, "A Farewell To Kings" is a fine track. It's not the best opener in Rush's catalogue, and even the main body of the song itself shows a marked lack of the exuberance that they so faithfully put into each and every second of their first four albums. Unfortunately, this will serve to be a common motif for the album.

With the opener drawing to a close, it's at this point that I'd like to say something along the lines of "and now here's where the prog awesomeness comes in!", but I really can't. "Xanadu" occupies the remainder of side two, and is the first "epic" of the album. It's really difficult for me to call it that, though, even in quotation marks, because there's really nothing evocative, daring, or thrilling about it. 3 minutes of dated synthesizers open it off, in some futile attempt to create atmosphere, but it does absolutely nothing for me. Fortunately, just as I'm reaching for the skip button, that's when Alex Lifeson saves the day with some more good ol' fashion Rush riff-age. Unfortunately, then, the track never develops past being a collection of riffs, sometimes interspersed with "dramatic" breaks synth effects that wouldn't seem unfit for a 90's new age album, or an Asia b-side. In general, "Xanadu" is simply a flawed track. While there are enjoyable moments, namely when the band actually decides to *rock* a little (Lifeson's solo is quite good, really), the dreadful synth tones, and the start-and-stop tendency make this one really difficult to appreciate as a whole. After sitting through this, I can't help but think "man, this sure makes the last track look good in comparison". And, unfortunately, that sentiment is perhaps the most commonly recurring motif on the whole album.

Side two opens with "Closer To The Heart" and "Cinderella Man", which just let that "man, that sure makes the last track look good in comparison" magic keep on delivering. Forgettable riffs, low energy performances, you name it. These are simply sub-par rock numbers. "Madrigal" just keeps the disappointment and immemorability coming, but it's not until the album's closing "epic" that those sentiments reach an all-time high.

Ah, "Cygnus X-1". No wonder people can't take prog seriously, if this is the kind of stuff that serves as the genre's public face for so many. On the bright side, at least Book I has one redeeming feature in that it isn't quite as bad as Book II (yes, somehow Rush manages to make the "man, this sure makes the last track look good in comparison" motif span multiple albums!). 2 minutes of spacey stock sound effects give way to a mediocre medley of riffs, each one disjointed from the last and never developing into anything substantial. But perhaps the general lack of compositional capability here is at least masked somewhat by the unparalleled cheesiness of the concept. Looking purely at the positives, though, I suppose that I should give this song at least some merit. There aren't many things more hilarious than the mental image of Geddy Lee getting sucked into a black hole.

So there you have it. An album that starts off decent, only to gradually devolve as it runs its course. I feel an insatiable desire to give this flopper a sole, feeble star as fizzled out and lifeless as Cygnus X-1 itself, but I realize that there are a great number of Rush fans who actually enjoy "A Farewell To Kings". So with that in mind, I hesitantly give this 2 stars. If you're already familiar with the majority of the Rush catalogue, and enjoy it a lot, you'll probably enjoy this one, too. But for everyone else, avoid this thing before it tries to suck you in.

Report this review (#1666602)
Posted Saturday, December 10, 2016 | Review Permalink
4 stars As a Canadian who has been listening to Rush for eons (essentially since I began collecting albums), I will go out (slightly) on a limb here and claim this to be Rush's best album, although by a hair (over Moving Pictures). It contains what I think are three of Rush's best compositions (Farewell to Kings, Xanadu, and Cygnus X-1), as well as one of Rush's best and best known hit singles (Closer to the Heart). Indeed, Xanadu is a classic, and although I think it works even better live (e.g. the version on Exit Stage Left), it fits very well on this album. I also think this is where Neil Peart's lyric writing matured sufficiently that it does not get in the way of the music (many of his lyrics are previous albums gratingly ideological), even to the point that the lyrics on 'Closer to the Heart' can resonate (positively) with anyone. The music is sufficiently diverse to keep the album interesting and flowing. The guitar chords/progression on Cygnus X-1 for me defines the Rush sound perfectly. I also think Cygnus X-1 is Rush's most successful epic. Why not a five-star rating? Well, not all of the songs are 5-star quality (Cinderella Man, Madrigal), and even though I love this album, it is not in the top 50, and when I compare it to other 5-star albums (like Close to the Edge, or Harmonium's albums), well it can't quite make it. I give this 8.8 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which is just a bit short of the level needed for 5 stars. So, PA 4 stars.
Report this review (#1695648)
Posted Tuesday, February 21, 2017 | Review Permalink
The Crow
4 stars A Farewell to Kings was a step forward in the right direction for Rush!

After very good but not excellent releases like Caress of Steel and 2112, they managed to improve their epic progressive rock with glimpses of space rock mixed with a more conventional and commercial 70's hard rock in this album, achieving a very good collection of songs with moments of true mastery.

A Farewell to Kings opens with a medieval melody and beautiful classical guitars, but soon derives into a majestic and slow riff, which introduces a typical Rush's hard rock song. After the moment 3'20'' the song transform itself in a progressive wonder, which in my opinion surpasses all that Rush had made until this moment.

Xanadu is even better. A true classic with a mystical and space-rock opening worthy of the best science fiction film. After that, we can hear a great crescendo, which leads to one of the finest Rush's song, with an outstanding instrumental work on it.

Closer to the Heart starts beautifully with precious guitar and vocal melodies, and after that transform itself in a fine rock tune. Cinderella Man is similar, but a bit more complex and a wonderful bass, especially during the rather strange Lifeson solo (this man has a weird technique in his solos in my opinion) when Geddy Lee plays in a rather funky way.

Madrigal is a mellow and slow tune, in the vein of Rivendell from Fly By Night? However, it ends too soon! I don't understand why, because I think this song could have bit better with a bit more complexity and development. Nevertheless, Cygnux X-1 mends that, because it is another wonderful progressive-space rock song with a spectacular bass at the beginning, some dark and mysterious melodies and the best guitar solo of the album in my opinion. It remembers me to 2112, but better in every sense.

Conclusion: A Farewell to Kings is not a masterpiece in my opinion, but it's an excellent addition to any prog-rock collection because it's great musicianship, original songwriting and a pair of outstanding songs. They achieved a more focused and natural sound here, after four good but not splendid albums.

In addition, I think that the band reached its maturity with this release and because of that, A Farewell to Kings is one of their most important records, although I prefer the style that they practiced after Permanent Waves.

Best Tracks: A Farewell to Kings, Xanadu, Cygnus X-1.

My rating: ****

Report this review (#1769042)
Posted Sunday, August 6, 2017 | Review Permalink
5 stars After the success of the previous record (2112), Rush was finally able to breathe. They no longer had the record company on their backs anymore. They finally were able to do what they wanted without hearing it from their label. What did they end up recording after 2112? Well, one of their most beloved and influential albums, 1977's A Farewell to Kings. Prior to the release of this record some prog fans were still not really on board with Rush (even with the release of 2112). They were not really on board because they were not super complex or proggy. Prog to me is very subjective, but that's me digressing and rambling on a different topic. Also, let's face it people, prog fans can be pretty snobby. Anyway, this all changed with A Farewell to Kings. Not only did that change, the band also changed. They changed and matured before our eyes as they started using instruments that they previously never used (such as the wind chimes, tubular bells, synthesizers, etc). They were now exploring what they had potential with to begin with but did not have the means to do so (I don't know if that made sense). Starting with A Farewell to Kings, Rush's music grew exponentially and became more expansive. On to the actual review of the album right?? Let's get this going!!

1) A Farewell to Kings - Just like on 2112, the title track opens up the record. This one is very different though as it begins with Alex playing some acoustics. It is soon followed by some lush percussives and synthesizers (just listen to that interplay, oh my...) before becoming a loud rocker. It is quite a feat and I absolutely love it. I love how it ends. It ends with Geddy singing the following lyrics "Can't we find the minds to lead us, closer to the heart (clearly referencing another track off the album). A very dynamic opener to this album. Fantastic track. 10/10

2) Xanadu - This one is hands down one of my all time favorite tracks ever. Not just in Prog but in music altogether. Its build is unlike anything I have heard (even King Crimson's intro to Larks' Tongues in Aspic doesn't match it for me). It is an amazing song. You just have to listen to it to understand what I am talking about. Listen to it now if you haven't already done so. 10/10

3) Closer to the Heart - A big hit for the band and absolute classic. It is also one of the band's best songs. I know it has been played over and over again but it still has the same power that it did when it first came out. I love everything about it. 10/10

4) Cinderella Man - This is Rush in full effect and with their foot on the gas pedal. It has the band's signature written all over it. A simple yet very complex song. I especially love the instrumental playing. Musically, a fiery track. 10/10

5) Madrigal - To some this is the low point of the album. Not to me though. I see it as the calm before the storm (I am of course talking about the following track and one that we will be talking about next!). It's a very unique track in the Rush discography as nothing sounds quite like it. 10/10

6) Cygnus X-1 - Wow! This one! What a way to end the album. I don't have much to say about it. It makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up! This track has given me the goosebumps on more than a few occasions. If the hairs on the back of your neck didn't or don't stand up you are simply not a human being! This is my absolute favorite ending to any album ever (that's saying something). Perfect. 10/10

Overall, I think that this album is an absolute masterpiece. About as perfect as a band can get. If I could give it a higher rating I would but I can't. 5 stars easily!! Peace out!!

Report this review (#1908817)
Posted Friday, March 23, 2018 | Review Permalink
3 stars With Farewell to Kings starts the Rush's classic era, that last for four albums.

Side A. Farewell to Kings. Acoustic guitar, intro for a minute, then electric guitar, then first verse, beautiful pressing, syncopated chorus bit slow, new verse and chorus, electric guitar solo, refrain. Nice rock, the verse is better than the chorus. Rating 8.

Xanadu start with electronic atmospheric sounds, percussion, bells, then the guitar (Lifeson) takes the control and around the two minutes Peart's bass is at work. The music continues on its own for up to 5 minutes, when, once the guitar tour is over, it returns to the starting point and finally the singing begins at first calm, then with rhythm. At a certain point the rhythm becomes syncopated and similar to the initial theme, then the music stops and the synths arrive. The ending with an overwhelming guitar is perhaps the best thing in this mini-suite that doesn't take off. Overall, rating 7.5.

Side B. The first song begins as an acoustic ballad, which gradually becomes faster and more electric, and in fact ends as a hard rock but very pop song - in some moments they remember the Queen. Rating 6.5. The quality of the disc is falling dramatically.

Cinderella Man starts with a powerful riff on the electric guitar but then develops again as an acoustic song. Lee's voice struggles to adjust to the changes in mood and feeling that music evokes. The text is inspired, and flies high, it is certainly not that of heavy metal. The constant changes of rhythm and atmosphere outline a certain indecision but make the piece unpredictable. Bass sounds are the best part of the song. Final with guitar solo, return of the refrain and syncopated rhythm. Rush believe in what they do, but we are in the commercial and melodic hard-pop world without great pretensions. The difference with pop music is mainly due to the continuous changes of time and arrangement (as well as the technique of the musicians). Rating 7+.

Madrigal is a short and insignificant acoustic ballad, without even a variation. We went down quite low. Rating 5.

The record ends with the Cignus mini suite which starts with electronic sounds that are prolonged too long. The drums come in around two and a half minutes, and then with the guitar they outlines various syncopated instrumental parts that repeat a little too much. Up to 5 minutes, if you take away the technical ability of the musicians, what is left of music? Very little. When Lee's voice comes, the situation improves. Fortunately, we are already halfway through the suite! The rhythm increases and finally there is a enthralling rock piece that continues with the electric guitar. Then, around 7 minutes, the music stops on an obsessive phrase on the guitar, which with electronic noises creates a thriller atmosphere. Finally comes the final paroxysm: amplified guitar, deafening drums, screamed voice. Sensationalistic ending. But then they leave a guitar fade of almost a minute. The second part of the mini suite is very good, but in fact this song should last half the time. Rating 7,5/8.

In conclusion, Rush release an interlocutory disc, with a good initial song and- two not entirely successful suites, which only at times justify their length. The three short and semi-acoustic tracks on the second side are rather anonymous. This is not a masterpiece. Absolutely.

Medium quality of the songs: 7. But without Madrigal (very short) is 7,4. We are between two and three stars. But overall I think three stars are the right evaluation. Rating 7+.

Report this review (#2382171)
Posted Friday, May 15, 2020 | Review Permalink
5 stars A new era in the musical journey of the Canadian trio, in which he enters fully into the world of the most progressive sounds, incorporating from that moment and for subsequent works new instruments (Geddy Lee adds to his work as singer and bassist, that of synthesizers, Alex Lifeson increases his arsenal of guitars and pedalboards, and Neil Peart adds many additional percussion elements to the traditional drum kit). The result is the wonderful A Farewell to Kings, a title inspired by the Ernest Hemminway novel from which it takes the same name. It is a criticism of the monarchical structures and the feudal system. Far from incorporating additional collaborators to increase the textures of the new compositions, the band takes over all the instruments and gives us a clear indication of the virtus and the excellent level of musicians they are.

There we have starting the journey with the song that also gives the album its name, A Farewell to Kings, one of his best compositions, which in less than 6 minutes we find from an introduction with acoustic guitars, to the heaviest and most traditional developments of the group. It is followed by Xanadu, which for me is one of its greatest expressions of progressive creativity, a long introduction with the support of Lifeson's guitar and pedals and constant rhythm changes, with a couple of solos by Lifeson himself that make it a maximum reference of your contribution to gender. Inspired by the early 19th century poem Kubla Khan by Englishman Samuel Taylor Coleridge, it is about the quest for immortality and the negative consequences once achieved. It is 11 minutes of an unmissable trip for those who like long developments.

Closer to The Heart, is probably the most commercially recognized song of the group, a very good composition of less than 3 minutes and a must in their concerts. Both Cinderella Man and Madrigal have a good level but I consider below the previous ones, and finally the album concludes with Cygnus X-1, a plot divided into 3 parts regarding a space traveler who falls into a black hole. This will be the prelude to the excellent performance that will be reported in its second part on the next album, Hemispheres. Again the trio clearly shows its great musical level with a dark and powerful composition.

A Farewell to Kings does not break with the group's past, on the contrary, it takes its best elements and adds more spices that transform Rush, in its second stage until Moving Pictures, into a fundamental band of the progressive world.

Report this review (#2408453)
Posted Sunday, May 31, 2020 | Review Permalink
5 stars Fifth studio album by Rush and (even when composed under pressure during the All The World's A Stage tour) a serious candidate to be their masterpiece, A Farewell To Kings shows a decisive increase in instrumental equipment (new Moog synth, double-neck guitars & basses) as well as in metric complexity, so effective in making a progressive impresion. It's also said that Neil Peart adopted a new stick-gripping technique and an enlarged percussion set including all sorts of non-standard items

The actual recording and mixing process took place in the UK, under co-producer Terry Brown's guidance. Some acoustic guitars and percussion were taped outdoors in order to capture ambiance, natural echo, and bird singing (a bit like Geoff Emerick did with McCartney's "Blackbird" for Beatles' White Album). Listen, for example, the opener's intro by Alex Lifeson on Renaissance-styled acoustic guitar and Geddy Lee on crazy synth harmonies, after which the electric trio takes over with great energy and rythmic intricacy.

There are other small acoustic beauties here, just like the favourite "Madrigal", with pristine melody and outstanding vocal delivery, but the prog core of the album lies within the two major epics:

"Xanadu", the template for so much hard-prog to come, including unforgettable Moog breaks by Geddy.

"Cygnus X-1", a Sci-Fi epic named after the first black hole to be discovered (initially known only as an unexplainable source of X-rays in Cygnus constellation). Here the intro, ascending by a scale of whole tones, averts momentarily any sense of diatonism or modality, depicting the star's gravitatory collapse.

Report this review (#2448761)
Posted Friday, September 18, 2020 | Review Permalink
5 stars A farewell to kings is a classic album by Rush and it is a classic rock album. A farewell to kings has longer compositions on it and the radio rock classic Closer to the heart, which is a lighter and shorter song on the album which serves as a break from the albums longer songs. Geddy Lee and company are great musicians, which was shown on 2112, but here the band members evolve to a whole new level with their instruments. The highlight of the album is the last track, Cygnus X-1, which is a classic progressive rock composition. A farewell to kings not only sticks up as a classic album in progressive rock, but it also sticks up as a classic album in all of rock music. An essential listen for anyone who is a fan of progressive rock or rock music in general.
Report this review (#2451216)
Posted Saturday, September 26, 2020 | Review Permalink
5 stars Review #84

Continuing with RUSH my next review will be about "A farewell to kings".

An album that has become one of the favorites of many RUSH fans all over the world (me included) features some of the more blasting guitar riffs and drum lines that the band never played but in here the band started to experiment with synthesizers as well (they started it in "2112" but certainly, they took it to the next level in "Farewell"). The music the Canadian guys developed in this album and in the definitive masterpiece "Hemispheres" gave the album a quality that none of their albums from the '80s, '90s, or 21st century never had.

1.- A farewell to kings (05:53): The opening track of the album starts with a majestic classic guitar arrangement played by Alex LIFESON and then it explodes into a beautiful Hard Rock piece. I don't know if it is just me, but I feel that Geddy LEE sang this song particularly strong whilst his fingers were jumping intensely over the bass strings. This is an excellent overture.

2.- Xanadu (11:07): One of the most important songs in RUSH's discography; an absolute masterpiece of Progressive Rock. The song starts with a soft vibe of occasional percussions accompanied by the windy sounds of Geddy LEE's Minimoog until the guitar line and punchy drums appear. The song turns more aggressive when its definitive riff appears and Neil PEART starts intercalating the tempos. The changes from a soft slow ballad with sensual electronic sounds to Hard Rock passages are delightful.

3.- Closer to the heart (02:54): This is almost the shortest song of the album but even so it's one of the most popular ones. It starts slow and soft with intense drumming but an acoustic guitar, then it changes to a more intense rock section with a nice guitar solo that reminds a lot to the "Fly by night" album.

4.- Cinderella man (04:22): Another classic tune that came out "A farewell to kings"; also a favorite in several compilation albums of RUSH. Not a very long song either, but with a lot of resemblance to "Something for nothing". It is a pure strong rock with scarce but yet very precise acoustic lines.

5.- Madrigal (02:35): The shortest and softest song of the album; the guitar riff is concise but the bass line has more presence here. The drums are not very complex for what Neil PEART was capable to do.

6.- Cygnus X-I (10:21): The song starts with strange voice sounds, pretty similar to the ending of "2112" but around minute two the mathematical drumming and the intense guitar riff start to punch and give the song its unique sound. This complex Hard Rock piece is a great way to close the album. This song is also the first chapter of a two-song epic story that would be ended in the next album "Hemispheres". It talks about some sort of space traveler riding a spaceship called the "Rocinante" who gets absorbed and destroyed by a black hole in the Cygnus constellation. The second part of this story would be part of "Hemispheres".

"A farewell to kings" is a historical record filled with several immortal songs by one of the most (I believe it's the most) influential rock bands in history. Absolutely essential

Report this review (#2492650)
Posted Monday, January 11, 2021 | Review Permalink

RUSH A Farewell to Kings ratings only

chronological order | showing rating only

Post a review of RUSH A Farewell to Kings

You must be a forum member to post a review, please register here if you are not.


As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: — jazz music reviews and archives | — metal music reviews and archives

Donate monthly and keep PA fast-loading and ad-free forever.