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Rush - A Farewell to Kings CD (album) cover




Heavy Prog

4.33 | 2289 ratings

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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.

Easy Livin | 4/5 |


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