Now, for the number one pick. As one of the hardest lists I’ve created, this pick did not come easy. I’ll admit, I was torn between Hemispheres and 2112. Both albums emit the best of Rush, showcasing versatility, drive, and genre bending kickassness. Lord, I never thought I’d say this, but I almost wish the band’s heyday was shorter. Lee, Lifeson, and Peart produced so many consistent records and worthy performances that a top five list serves as an injustice to their catalog. Early Rush was rough, but not without hits such as “Fly By Night” and the classic, “Working Man.” Once they found their sound, however, Rush exploded onto the market with middle fingers held high.
You see, Caress of Steel, is what we, at Reviews From the Other Side, call a colossal failure. A solid effort, with memorable short tracks and allusions to future epics, but the record suffered financially. When it comes down to it, that’s what matters when you want to continue making music. The band needed life, and that meant — and I hate saying this — “selling out” or rolling up their sleeves and letting their sound evolve organically. 2112 was that “fuck you” moment that changed the industry.
Now, look at those assholes.
So, here it is, the album that put Rush on the progressive map. Yes, Caress of Steel tapped into the well of prog, but 1976’s 2112 hits the genre with a closed fist. The musicianship is revolutionary, the concept creative and mysterious. For three young chaps — do they say that in Canada? — just coming off their third album, that’s quite an accomplishment. This was the first Rush album I listened to, and when I heard the first notes to the epic title track, I knew I was on to something. Never had I heard a band make a 20 plus minute track sound so engaging. Shit, the title “Temples of Syrinx” just looked awesome on the sleeve.
The gigantic title track immediately draws the listener in with an accented introduction. Then, Lee, Lifeson, and Peart gallop into “Syrinx,” complete with Geddy’s trademark shriek. I don’t want to go into the full song, because that would tire your little eyes out, but as a whole, the song is a cohesive piece of art, pushing and pulling to catch the listener off guard, all the while showing off each member’s growing talents. With such a large spectrum of music, it wouldn’t be surprising if the piece scattered into a jumbled mess, but 2112 holds onto its structure, always alluding to the main melody. How they came up with those transitions, I’ll never know.
One side done. Yes, 2112’s title track takes up a whole fucking side, that’s how big it is. The other side, many fans and critics claim, is inconsistent and irrelevant in regards to the former monster. Scope and ambition-wise, I’d say “of course,” but there are worthy moments within each piece. “Train to Bangkok” is a by-the-books Rush number, a guitar driven, fun. hard rock tune with a catchy melody. Not exactly the best the holy trinity has to offer, but is a breather after 2112’s explosiveness. “Tears,” meanwhile, is one of the band’s more beautiful tracks. Geddy Lee lowers his register for this tune, creating a soothing, lullaby vibe. Technical noodling takes a back seat for this track. The musicians use more of a subtle approach, accented by mellotron and Lifeson’s expressive acoustics.
2112 is the most important album in Rush’s discography, not only in terms of influence, but the band’s longevity. Rush’s fourth output is the culmination of Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson, and Neil Peart’s refusal to follow industry standards. With one song, they evolved from a so-so hard rock band to a legendary progressive rock outfit.
What’s next? Why, Reviews From the Other Side Rush R40 concert review, of course! Say that ten times, really fast. Check the review out, Saturday, May 16.
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