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Rush A Farewell to Kings album cover
4.34 | 2479 ratings | 184 reviews | 53% 5 stars

Essential: a masterpiece of
progressive rock music

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Studio Album, released in 1977

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. A Farewell to Kings (5:49)
2. Xanadu (11:04)
3. Closer to the Heart (2:51)
4. Cinderella Man (4:19)
5. Madrigal (2:33)
6. Cygnus X-1 (10:21)

Total Time 36:57

Line-up / Musicians

- Alex Lifeson / guitars (6- & 12-strings electric & acoustic, classical), bass pedals
- Geddy Lee / bass, bass pedals, Minimoog, 12-string guitar, vocals
- Neil Peart / drums, orchestral & tubular bells, wind chimes, vibra-slap, percussion

- Terry Brown / co-producer, engineer, spoken vocals (6)

Releases information

ArtWork: Hugh Syme with Yosh Inouye (photo)

LP Anthem - ANR-1-1010 (1977, Canada)
LP Mercury - SRM-1-1184 (1977, US)

CD Mercury - 822 546-2 M-1 (1987, Europe)
CD Anthem - ANMD1079 (1997, Canada) Remastered by Bob Ludwig & Brian Lee

FLAC (2015, Ponomusic) Hi Res download in 192kHz/24bit lossless files from remaster by Sean Magee

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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RUSH A Farewell to Kings ratings distribution

(2479 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(53%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(33%)
Good, but non-essential (11%)
Collectors/fans only (2%)
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)

RUSH A Farewell to Kings reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
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.

Review by chessman
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!
Review by lor68
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!!

Review by greenback
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR 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

Review by Menswear
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.
Review by James Lee
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR 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?

Review by Chris S
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR 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.
Review by Cesar Inca
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR 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.
Review by 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!
Review by Tony R
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR 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.
Review by Philo
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.
Review by Cygnus X-2
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR 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.

Review by Eetu Pellonpaa
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR 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.
Review by 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.
Review by richardh
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.
Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR 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

Review by kunangkunangku
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.

Review by slipperman
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.

Review by OpethGuitarist
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.

Review by The T
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR 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.

Review by 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.

Review by laplace
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.

Review by 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

Review by Zitro
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-)

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR 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.

Review by obiter
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.

Review by Dim
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!

Review by SoundsofSeasons
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!

Review by FruMp
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.

Review by Tapfret
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
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

Review by apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR 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.

Review by Nightfly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR 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.

Review by Queen By-Tor
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR 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.

Review by russellk
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.

Review by Sinusoid
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.

Review by 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

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR 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.

Review by CCVP
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).

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
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.

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
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

Review by 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.

Review by progrules
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).

Review by horsewithteeth11
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.

Review by progaardvark
COLLABORATOR Crossover/Symphonic/RPI Teams
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.

Review by 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.

Review by Epignosis
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
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.

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
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.

Review by Ivan_Melgar_M
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
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.

Review by 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.

Review by Finnforest
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR 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.

Review by tarkus1980
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.

Review by EatThatPhonebook
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.

Review by Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
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)

Review by progpositivity
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.)

Review by lazland
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.

Review by Isa
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.

Review by Warthur
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.

Review by Chicapah
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.

Review by FragileKings
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.

Review by siLLy puPPy
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.

Review by TCat
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
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?

Review by Necrotica
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.

Review by Modrigue
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"!

Review by Magnum Vaeltaja
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
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.

Review by 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: ****

Review by jamesbaldwin
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+.

Review by Hector Enrique
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.

Review by VianaProghead
5 stars Review Nº 708

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

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

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

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

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

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

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

Latest members reviews

5 stars Following the tour for 2112, Rush set about recording A Farewell to Kings, which was released in late 1977. During the recording process, the band members challenged themselves to incorporate more instruments and more complex song structures. As a result, Alex Lifeson made extensive use of acoustic ... (read more)

Report this review (#2904236) | Posted by TheEliteExtremophile | Monday, April 3, 2023 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This may be my favourite Rush album. It has two great lengthy pieces and no weak track. Where 2112 had a great side and a weaker side, this issue is resolved with AFTK. A Farewell to Kings: This is a brilliant way to open the album. We are in for the ride. But as a piece in itself, it is great to ... (read more)

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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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#2492650) | Posted by Uruk_hai | Monday, January 11, 2021 | Review Permanlink

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 co ... (read more)

Report this review (#2451216) | Posted by progtime1234567 | Saturday, September 26, 2020 | Review Permanlink

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 complex ... (read more)

Report this review (#2448761) | Posted by Heart of the Matter | Friday, September 18, 2020 | Review Permanlink

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 belov ... (read more)

Report this review (#1908817) | Posted by ProgMetaller2112 | Friday, March 23, 2018 | Review Permanlink

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 t ... (read more)

Report this review (#1695648) | Posted by Walkscore | Tuesday, February 21, 2017 | Review Permanlink

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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#1647836) | Posted by ProgMirage1974 | Tuesday, November 22, 2016 | Review Permanlink

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 br ... (read more)

Report this review (#1452785) | Posted by Progkid | Friday, August 14, 2015 | Review Permanlink

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' ... (read more)

Report this review (#1171789) | Posted by TwoCents | Tuesday, May 6, 2014 | Review Permanlink

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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#1126496) | Posted by maryes | Sunday, February 2, 2014 | Review Permanlink

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 a ... (read more)

Report this review (#1099657) | Posted by stefano | Wednesday, December 25, 2013 | Review Permanlink

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 releas ... (read more)

Report this review (#1047422) | Posted by LakeGlade12 | Sunday, September 29, 2013 | Review Permanlink

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 th ... (read more)

Report this review (#1044944) | Posted by Dark Nazgul | Thursday, September 26, 2013 | Review Permanlink

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 ba ... (read more)

Report this review (#984564) | Posted by Xonty | Sunday, June 23, 2013 | Review Permanlink

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 t ... (read more)

Report this review (#934152) | Posted by sukmytoe | Saturday, March 23, 2013 | Review Permanlink

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. ... (read more)

Report this review (#915074) | Posted by Lord Anon | Sunday, February 17, 2013 | Review Permanlink

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. Th ... (read more)

Report this review (#771344) | Posted by Mr. Mustard | Friday, June 15, 2012 | Review Permanlink

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 w ... (read more)

Report this review (#621674) | Posted by 7headedchicken | Friday, January 27, 2012 | Review Permanlink

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 reco ... (read more)

Report this review (#499363) | Posted by kluseba | Sunday, August 7, 2011 | Review Permanlink

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