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Rush - Hemispheres CD (album) cover




Heavy Prog

4.37 | 2483 ratings

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The T
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars A short review of a short album: Rush's Hemispheres is the one I like the most from the 70's set of records by the canadians (I for one prefer some of their 80's works) and probably the most progressive they had released up to that time in history.

If I have a complain about most ALL Rush's works in the 70's is their LENGTH: they are way too short. Yes, I know there were no cd's yet and bands had to deal with vinyl so they didn't have that big of a room to venture into gigantic projects (I wonder what would've become of The Flower Kings if they were around those days), but, let's be honest: Yes, Genesis, Crimson, Tull, VDGG, GG, all of them constantly delivered between 39 and 45 minutes of music, while the canadians rockers didn't get past 35! (actually, two minutes over that mark in this album). Off course, that's not a major MUSICAL complain, for a masterpiece is a masterpiece even if it's only 25 minutes long, or crap is crap even if it lasts 80 minutes.

But there's more to the point I'm making: in this particular album, we have one great epic clocking at about 18 minutes, one fantastic instrumental closing the record at almost 10 minutes, and in between we have two short, FILLER songs not longer than 4 each. This is my major problem with 70's Rush: the songs that were not the main focus of each album (2112 in 2112, Xanadu and CygnusX-1 in Farewell to Kings, the first and last ones in this one) were usually rather simple, filler songs. They had their moments (Bangkok, Closer to the heart), but most of the time they just ocuppy the room available in the vynil after the inclusion of the main tracks. Rush's short tracks from the 70's feel a little bit RUSHed (couldn't resist, apologies for lameness).

Cygnus X-1 Book II (8/10), a great track that completes the narrative started in the previous album. It begins with a atmospheric prelude that grows into full rock. I have two minor objections to this track: one, at times it's not diverse enough, some parts tend to reappear more than needed, and even with that in mind, the track just doesn't click as a whole musical entity. Two, I don't like the long pause between the prelude and the remainder of the epic: it takes away from the "epic" feeling and makes it look like two separate songs.

Circumstances (7/10), an almost forgettable track, enjoyable but forgettable. Pure rock, almost no prog, with that poor sound that Lifeson's guitar had during the 70's. (He played great but the instrument's sound was rather thin and weak).

Trees (7/10), another short unimportant song that is saved by the lyrics. Yes, in this case, the funny and ironic concept of the battle among trees (canadians and americans that take too much light, do the math) is masterfully crafted by Rush's great drummer and amazing lyricist: Neil Peart.

La Villa Stragiato (10/10), THE track of the album, best Rush's instrumental and, even more so than the first epic track, the most progressive statement in Hemispheres. Geddy Lee's bass makes up for the absence of his voice in such a way that at moments we feel the man should focus only in the bass playing, for he's fantastic. Neil peart amazes everybody as usual and Lifeson performs at the regular outstanding level even if his guitar sounds like an electric saw. This "song" (again, is a piece) is coherent, it has variety but unity at the same time, amazing performances, starts acoustic, there's an actual crescendo (growth in volume level) till the main, fluctuating, zig-zaging guitar riff makes his entrance. We have a middle section with some almost jazz sounding bass lines and Peart using the most out of his hi-hat for effect and bright. Great track.

So, I would say this is a great album but, again, like every Rush album from the 70's, it ends almost before it starts. It's my opinion that Rush, in the 80's, learned how to write great, really amazing short songs, starting with Moving Pictures (maybe even with Permanent Waves), but, off course, sadly, they forgot to include the epics and long tracks that made them one of the progressive giants at the second half of the 70's, a time when, vice versa, they just couldn't get their short tracks to be as good as the longer ones.

Recommended for: Everybody. Every Rush lover, every 70's prog lover, every prog-rock lover.

Not recommended for: Those who can take only 75+ minute albums, no shorter. Elephantism was not one of Rush's characteristics.

The T | 4/5 |


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