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Rush's 2112 - Assume control of this breakthrough concept album...
Pros: A musical, lyrical, poetic and science-fiction masterpiece. One that will survive beyond the year 2112...
Cons: They don't make them like this anymore...
The Bottom Line: A break-through performance that is still unequaled today...
And so we come to a pivotal point in the, thus far, short history of Rush. After surviving the 'Down the Tubes' tour that was spawned from their wonderfully poetic, yet poorly received 'Caress of Steel', the boys from the Great White North had a decision to make. Continue with their own vision of Rock, and chance losing what fan base they had established from 'Rush' and 'Fly By Night' or continue with their vision and damn the critics. Their recording label warned them not to produce any more epic songs. Their producer kindly suggested coming out with more traditionally-sized tunes.
The trio dismissed them all and the result was 2112.
History lesson over (for now). On to the music.
'2112' derives its name from the title 'track' 2112 - a space opera/epic consisting of 7 interwoven segments that dared the listener to dream and imagine a different world, a different time ... a dark future...
Beginning with 'Overture', Rush launches into an intense instrumental that is quickly recognizable as one of their signature sounds. It ends with the foreboding words sung by Geddy Lee "...and the Meek shall inherit the Earth..."
Immediately, you are thrust into the heavy sounding and powerful 'The Temples of Syrinx' where the beginning of the story is revealed - the oppressed world of the Solar Federation. This segment ends with heart pounding fury that only Rush could pull off and it magically transform into the next segment...
'Discovery'...where Alex Lifeson's intricate guitar work beautifully conveys the discovery of a guitar in a water-filled cavern. It still gives me goose bumps to listen to the progression of this segment from simple plucking of the strings, to a masterful acoustic revelation that both describes the scene to the listener as well as compels him to appreciate the developing story.
'Presentation' is pure magic. An argument between the Priests, who want to hold fast to their way of life, and the man who has brought them his discovery of music...and magic. Geddy Lee's performance here has been often overlooked, but it is sheer genius how he switches from the hard-edge condemning singing of the Priests, to the disbelieving and shy singing of the discoverer. Truly magical.
'Oracle: The Dream' follows with an elegant ride of emotions that sends the listener on a voyage to the past to discover the true reason for the present-day oppression...and what is yet to come...
'Soliloquy' is perhaps the most powerful and moving segment to 2112. It tells a common story of futility, but one that leads to the ultimate decision - suicide. Neil Peart has written some powerful lyrics, but few measure up to the final few lines of this segment, which are sung with immense power and feeling by Geddy Lee. "I don't think I can carry on...carry on this cold and empty life...Oh No...My spirits are low in the depths of despair. My lifeblood...Spills over..."
'2112' then ends it's triumphant 20 minute romp with 'Grand Finale'. As it began, '2112' ends with a powerful instrumental that hauntingly reminds you that oppression has won over ... for now as Alex Lifeson proclaims (in triplicate) "...Attention all planets of the solar federation... We have assumed control...".
It's magic and, thankfully, recognized as such.
But what is often overlooked is 'Side 2' of this concept album. True, nothing could compare to the title track, but Side 2 makes for some excellent music as well.
2. A Passage to Bangkok
This was an early fan favorite...for many reasons. Listen to it and you'll understand the mass appeal to this song...and why a certain aroma always seems to waft throughout a Rush concert...
3. The Twilight Zone
This song eerily continues the Science Fiction feel of the album. It's slower paced than most of the songs on the album, but it does a wonderful job of creating mood. Listen to the music 'move' from one speaker to the next and you'll see, er hear what I mean.
This track is a musical roller-coaster of speed changes and lyrical highs and lows. As has been said many times before, only Rush...and Geddy Lee...could pull off a tune like this and make it work.
Up next is yet another grossly under-appreciated song by Rush. Tears, written by Geddy Lee, is a heart-wrenching love song. Yes, I said Love song... It's quiet, beautiful, and an unexpected change of pace for this album. But surprisingly, it fits very well with the rest of the songs.
5. Something for Nothing
2112 finishes up with Something for Nothing - another exercise is speed and tempo changes that leaves you wanting for more...
And there you have it. It's been called "A Masterpiece", "A Breakthrough Album", "Epic Science Fiction at its best...".
It's been called all this, and more.
Now it's time to call it your own.
Listen to this timeless classic. It may be over a quarter of a century old, but its sound is as fresh and awe-inspiring today as it was all those years ago.
Thanks for reading and enjoy the Rush...
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