2112
RUSH

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RUSH - 2112 cover
4.19 | 103 ratings | 10 reviews
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Album · 1976

Filed under Hard Rock

Tracklist

1. 2112: I. Overture / II. The Temples of Syrinx / III. Discovery / IV. Presentation / V. Oracle: The Dream / VI. Soliloquy / VII. Grand Finale (20:33)
2. A Passage to Bangkok (3:34)
3. The Twilight Zone (3:19)
4. Lessons (3:52)
5. Tears (3:34)
6. Something for Nothing (3:57)

Total Time: 38:51

Line-up/Musicians

- Geddy Lee / bass, vocals, keyboards
- Alex Lifeson / acoustic and electric guitars
- Neil Peart / drums, percussion

with
- Hugh Syme / mellotron on "Tears"

About this release

Studio album
April 1, 1976
Produced by Rush and Terry Brown

1976 - Anthem(Canada)
1976 - Mercury(US)(UK)
1990 - Mercury(US) CD
1997 - Anthem(Canada) CD: remastered
1997 - Mercury(US)(Europe) CD: remastered

Thanks to The block, cannon, Time Signature, Pekka for the updates

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2112 [Remastered]2112 [Remastered]
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2112 [Remastered] by Rush (1997-05-06)2112 [Remastered] by Rush (1997-05-06)
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RUSH 2112 reviews

Specialists/collaborators reviews

UMUR
"2112" is the 4th full-length studio album by Canadian progressive rock act Rush. The album was released through Mercury Records in April 1976 (and through Anthem Records in Canada). "2112" was Rush first major commercial success. They were actually asked by their label to write more mainstream material after the commercial failure of "Caress of Steel (1975)", which sold less than "Fly by Night (1975)" had done. But Rush chose to ignore the advice and continued to write more progressive inclined material. In retrospect that was of course a great idea, but back then it was a major gamble, where they fortunately ended up collecting the reward. Had they not succeeded with "2112", who knows what the label would have done with them?

Stylistically "2112" is more or less the natural successor to "Caress of Steel (1975)". The album features one 20:33 minutes long progressive epic (the title track) and five shorter tracks. The "regular" length tracks vary in style from hard progressive rockers, to more mellow progressive rock tracks. None of them are overtly complex in structure, but they still feature a progressive edge, which makes them quite intriguing. The real attraction here is the title track though, which displays a lot of different sides of Rush. Their instrumental superiority, Geddy Lee´s incredible vocal range, Neil Peart´s adventurous lyrics (in this case set in a future sci-fi universe), and their songwriting skills.

"2112" is a very well produced album too, and the sound production is a great asset to the album. It´s powerful, warm, and organic, and especially the drums feature a great sound. "2112" is in many ways an impressive release, and it´s obvious why it´s often mentioned among the highlights of the band´s discography. One of the things which makes "2112" stand out compared to the next couple of releases by the band, is that it still features quite a lot of hard rocking riffs, rhythms, and vocals. Sure that has always been a part of the band´s sound, also on subsequent releases, but this is the last album by Rush to feature the primal aggression of their early material. I´d even go as far as to say that the most hard edged and aggressive moments on the album feature heavy metal leanings. A 4 - 4.5 star (85%) rating is deserved.
Modrigue
The very first progressive metal album?

After the experiments and commercial failures of "Fly By Night" and "Caress Of Steel" - where the band still searched itself - and the disastrous tour that follows, RUSH was at the edge of bankruptcy. The record label Mercury urged the musicians to abandon the progressive approach and compose solely radio-friendly songs. So what was the decision of our Canadians? The exact opposite!

By combining their punchy heavy / hard rock with the complexity of their rhythmical structures and their instrumental virtuosity, the Canadians simply possibly created the first prog metal album, and also delivered one of the most iconic record of the progressive world, all that in 1976. Although not as sophisticated as YES' or GENESIS', the music is however more direct and catchy, as well as a bit ahead of its time in terms of aggressiveness. This disc has inspired future prog metal bands such as DREAM THEATER, and maybe even IRON MAIDEN. It also marks the first appearance of synthesizers, played here by cover designer Hugh Syme, in the band's universe. With "2112", RUSH has at least completely emancipated from its initial British hard rock influences, and delivers their first major opus.

The title track is of course the highlight. A science-fiction musical story, taking place in year... 2112, in a dystopian world where totalitarian priests have banished art and a young man discovers a guitar. Beginning with a spacey electronic introduction, the "Overture" and "Temples Of Syrinx" are the best sections: thundering and ferocious, with epic galloping riffs! I was just completely blown away the first time I listened to it. Grandiose and perfect progressive metal! "Overture" evens contains a short tribute to TCHAÏKOVSKI's heroic "1812 Overture". The rest is also very good. The discovery of the guitar beneath the cascade is reproduced by a gentle hesitating acoustic solo from Alex Lifeson and aquatic sound effects. The opposition between the hero and the priests is rendered by an alternation of soft and hard rock passages. Concerning the ending, it simply rocks! One of RUSH's ultimate compositions, needless to say more.

The second side consists in of short songs, but is nonetheless also quite good. "A Passage To Bangkok" combines a funny little Eastern theme with heavy punchy riffs. Powerful and original! Based on the TV show of the same name, "The Twilight Zone" is a calmer ballad, delicate and touching. Not much to say about "Lessons", except the fact Lifeson wrote lyrics. An enjoyable rock piece, alternating soft and harder passages. With lyrics by Lee, "Tears" is another melancholic ballad, pretty but a bit repetitive and finally average. Don't rely on the sweet beginning of "Something For Nothing", this track is a ferocious and epic proggy metal song that truly rocks! The best song of Side 2.

If you want me to nitpick, the only negative points I can find are a few strange transitions in the title track and "Tears". Otherwise, "2112" is a great album, thundering and innovative, with an overall constant quality. Originally accused of being a LED ZEPPELIN copycat, RUSH have at least found their identity with this signature record. The music is definitely not just hard prog rock like their neighbors KANSAS, but truly pioneering progressive metal. No wonder future bands such as DREAM THEATER refer to the Canadians as a major influence.

The musicians were right not to follow their record label's instructions: "2112" will be the band's first commercial success and will save them from bankruptcy.

This fourth studio offering is the one to start with if you're not familiar with RUSH. Geddy Lee's high-pitched teenage vocals may not please everyone at first listen, however they're finally well adapted to the ambiance. A cult and iconic disc in the progressive world, opening new musical horizons. This elaborated and complex hard/heavy metal was quite unique at the time, I can't think of comparable bands venturing in this territory with such power in the 70's.

One of RUSH's best albums, an essential listen for progressive hard rock and heavy metal fans!
Unitron
Rush - 2112

"2112" is the fourth studio album from hard rock/progressive rock band Rush. Rush's previous album, "Caress of Steel", was released to much negative reception. Because of this, Rush's record label had wanted them to start making more radio-friendly two-three-minute songs instead of the lengthy epics that the band had started to create. So, instead of bowing to the record company, Rush decided to create a 20-minute long suite as one gigantic middle finger. This would end up being Rush's real major breakthrough.

What can be said about this masterpiece that hasn't already been said? Adding some space-rock sounds to the mix fits in well with the lyrics of the suite. From the sounds of space from 'Overture' to the aggressive guitar and Lee's screams on 'The Temples of Syrinx', The calm melodies of 'Discovery' to the guitar solo of 'Presentation', and The dramatic heaviness of 'Oracle: The Dream' to the suspense of 'Soliloquy' when Lee screams his last in the suite, shows how varied this suite is. The grand finale when a robotic voice repeats 'We Have Assumed Control' signals that Rush has indeed assumed control.

As far as side two goes, the remaining five songs are all much shorter all being under four minutes long. The first two of these, 'A Passages to Bangkok' and 'The Twilight Zone', both have a dark and brooding sound to them fitting perfectly in with the side one suite. The latter I find to be a really underrated song, as it's such a chilling ominous track. The guitar solo at the end is also pretty foreboding. The final song, 'Something for Nothing' is another favorite and is another great dark heavy rocker with some of Rush's best lyrics.

My only issue with the album is how out of place the song 'Lessons' is. I used to hate the ballad 'Tears', but I've since grown to enjoy it and I think it fits in with the rest of the album. 'Lessons' on the other hand, despite being a great rocking song, feels really out of place with the spacey/dark sound of the rest of the album. I think it would've fit better on an album like "Fly By Night", as it's in the vein of the rocking songs on that release.

Overall, despite having a song that interrupts the mood, "2112" is still a killer album and an essential album for any hard rock/metal collection if only for the grandiose title track. While "Caress of Steel" and "2112" showed Rush move into an epic direction, the following albums see that fully take form. Hope you found this review helpful.

Feel free to comment!
siLLy puPPy
RUSH's groundbreaking album that kept them from becoming a footnote in history. 2112 took what was insinuated on the previous two releases and really upped the ante to make their first classic album. The title track is one of the best examples of classic heavy progressive rock out there. It excels in lyrical content, instrumental prowess and most importantly the ability to shift from act to act while remaining thoroughly exciting throughout its entirety. This is not a grower. This is something that is instantly lovable yet only becomes more so upon repeated listens. This title track is often cited by RUSH fans as the absolute best thing they have ever done. I can't say that I disagree although i'd be hard pressed to pick an absolute favorite this certainly is up in the higher ranks.

One of the things that has always (slightly) disappointed me about this album is that is isn't a full-on concept album. I would have loved to hear an entire album dedicated to the exploration of the theme set about on the title track. However, not imposing my futuristic will upon an album that was cutting edge at the time, I have to admit that despite it not being what I really want it to be it still is a great album. The songs on the second side are excellent. “A Passage To Bangkok” is one of the best songs they have ever recorded and although the other tracks took me a little longer to appreciate, I have succumbed to their charm as well.

Despite really wanting to give this album 5 stars, I have to think what would my most ideal RUSH masterpiece be. After giving it a little thought I think it would be “2112” from this album plus “Xanadu” and “La Villa Strangiato.” THAT would be the perfect RUSH masterpiece. This album has one of those ingredients but unfortunately the rest of the tracks are not that great but I do enjoy them. They are not masterpieces and this just falls short of the top honors but I really love this album anyways so 4.5 will do.
Warthur
By the time Rush came to record 2112, Caress of Steel had been a commercial and critical flop and the band fully expected it to be their last album. Kicking off with a side-long prog metal epic despite their advice of their label, the band suddenly and unexpectedly turned out to be quite good at this prog thing after all. The title track from this one blows away the false starts of Fly By Night and Caress of Steel with stellar performances from all concerned, tighter compositional structures in which there's always something interesting happening, and a plot which is unashamed of its nerdiness and which is still exciting to hear after a dozen listens. (Oh, come on, tell me you don't get a shiver down your spine when you hear the distorted voice declaring the Elder Race's conquest of the solar system at the end of the song.) So what if the plot might be a thinly-veiled Objectivist allegory (or, more likely, a swipe at the music press for not accepting Rush's musical vision) when it's so good to listen to?

The second side of the album provides a tight set of shorter songs which proves that the band had also got the knack of producing these as well. As goofy as the thinly-veiled weed worship of A Passage to Bangkok is, it's still one of the catchiest songs they've ever done, with its thunderous guitar solo by Lifeson being a particular highlight of the album, Lessons is enjoyably upbeat and manages a nice blend of acoustic and electric guitar lines, and Something for Nothing is a great barnstormer to close the album.

The album isn't quite perfect - The Twilight Zone lacks the boundless energy the rest of the songs have, and doesn't quite hit the spooky atmosphere it aims for (though it comes close), and Tears is a lacklustre, melancholic ballad which even the generously applied heaps of Mellotron can't save from being bland middle-of-the-road slop. But even with these roadbumps on the second side, the album is still an enduring classic and the first sign that Rush might be able to stick it out for the long term. Finally mastering the progressive metal style they'd been tinkering with for two albums, the band took their place at the spearhead of the nascent subgenre, and with 2112 they more than earned it.
The Block
Welcome to the twilight zone.

2112 is Rush’s fourth studio album and is arguably their best. It is also one of their most successful albums reaching 61 on the album chart tin 1976. It is also a three-time multi platinum album, definitely making it their best selling album to date. The main track, “2112”, talks of a man who finds a guitar and discovers how to play different music than that of the Priests of the Temples. When they find out they destroy his guitar and goes to a cave to commit suicide. Musicians on the album include Neal Peart on drums, Geddy Lee on bass and vocals, and Alex Lifeson on guitars.

The first song, “2112”, begins with a spacey opening that dies down into an awesome riff by Alex Lifeson. Rush employs a cool echo effect on the riff, which blends in nicely with the synths and brilliant drumming of Neal Peart. They then transfer to the main lick which is speedy and totally instrumental for the first couple of minutes. The riff keeps repeating until Alex Lifeson has a great guitar solo, where the music slows down to accompany it. Then a very good sounding banjo joins the party, making it a very well rounded song. There is also a soft vocal section right after the instrumental section that then leads into harsher vocals. Neal Peart does a very nice job in this section drumming wise. Overall this is a great effort by Geddy Lee in terms of writing this song. It has very nice guitars and vocals, which become awesome licks and choruses.

A “Passage to Bangkok” starts off with a really cool riff, which sounds a lot like the Oriental Riff, by Alex Lifeson. The chorus is good, though the vocals are a bit high and squeaky, but they somewhat blend with the rest of the song. It then transfers to a cool instrumental section which is all guitar and bass, but than quickly goes back to the choruses and electric guitar. Tool uses the main riff of this song to introduce their song “Cold and Ugly” when they play live.

“Twilight Zone” starts off with just electric guitars and drums, which then transfers into a chorus that is much slower than the rest of the songs. The drums in this song seem to be much more basic and plain sounding. At the end of the song there is a really cool echo effect on the chorus that leads into a screaming guitar solo by Alex Lifeson. The song is based on two episodes of the Twilight Zone by Rod Serling that are “Will the Real Martian Stand Up?” and “Stopover in a Quiet Town”.

The next song, “Lessons”, has a cool acoustic opening with soft vocals that go back and forth from high pitched to a little lower. The chorus is a bit weak but it sounds good in the song, which employs the symbol very well. There is also another guitar solo to end the song.

“Tears” has a very good use of synths that go along nicely with the slow beginning vocals. Since it is slower it really breaks the album up because it is a lot different from the others, which are much faster. Rush also has the first guest performer of the album in Hugh Syme who plays mellotron on this song.

“Something for Nothing” features a nice riff opening up the song with the rest of the instruments joining in eventually. It starts a little slow put then it builds up to have a similar riff to that in “Passage to Bangkok”. There is very solid drumming, and yet another guitar solo to round it off.

Yet another great release from Rush has come to my grasp and I have enjoyed it deeply. One thing I find curious is that almost every song ends with a guitar solo by Alex Lifeson, though this necessarily is not a bad thing since he is a vey solid guitarist. For their solid effort the deserve 4 stars, easy.
arcane-beautiful
Like Darkside Of The Moon, this album is a wee bit overrated, but it's one of those albums that lives up to it's standards. After the positive feedback of Caress Of Steel, Rush decided to take things one step further, and make their songs even longer.

Yes, there is only one epic on this album, but my God, is it epic. Yes the title track is monumentous and is an amazing piece of music.

The other songs are extremely strong album tracks and are the perfect songs for releasing singles (Rush aren't a singles band, as you may know by now.

1. 2112 - The title track really is something. This song is actually quite special to me, because it was the first ever Rush song that I had heard from start to finish, and I was addicted to it straight away. I also have a very odd memory of this song, having listened to it from start to finish while I was pondering around a hospital (my brother had a seizure, and he reviews on this site now, yay). The song starts off with an amazing space like feel with some amazing sound effects that makes me ponder did they even exist in the mid 70's. The Temples Of Syrinx is a classical moment of the song with an amazing chours that's really anthemic. The Discovery part is quite calm and I love how it tells the story of the album using sound effects. The next part, Presentation is amazing, with Geddy changing his voice to suit different characters. The Oracle part is very magical followed by a quite sombre Soliloquoy. The last part is amazing with the fading line, " we have assumed control," that sends shivers down my spine every time I hear it.

2. A Passage To Bangkok - A song about drugs I believe. Yes this song has an amazing chorus, and I love the oriental like sections.

3. The Twilight Zone - I'm not too fond of the lyrics of this song, their a bit too childish in the verses. The chorus is great though, presenting a really eerie tone.

4.Lessons -A very Led Zeppelin like happy song. Very cheery and another great chorus (this album is full of these.)

5. Tears - A more solemn ballad like side of the album. I love the mellotron sections, very prog.

6. Something For Nothing - Very kick ass way to end the album. Another great chorus. This is one of those songs that paved the way for Iron Maiden, I expect.

CONCLUSION: Classic album. If you don't have it, then there must be something wrong with you.

Conor Fynes
'2112' - Rush (7/10)

This is generally considered by Rush fans to be the band's 'breakthrough' album, and the album that essentially saved their career. Although they definately had some stuff (particularily 'Caress Of Steel') that was stellar, there were only a few people that really cared about the band until '2112.' While the album itself isn't a masterpiece, the song itself is, and is an essential track for Rush.

The science fiction theme comes front and center in the first few seconds of the song, erupting with a trippy spacy intro that was very rare for the time. While the music is very hard rock centered, the concept and theme of the music gives it a very progressive dimension to it.

There are heavy parts, mellow parts, and an epic, dramatic finale. Everything that an epic should have. It is in fact, the first epic that I fell in love with, and undoubtedly the precursor and influence that drove suceeding band's like Dream Theater to write their epics.

The rest of the songs range from being just alright to great. 'A Passage To Bangkok' is a great song, with oriental influences. The only really forgettable song on the album is 'Lessons.' The rest of it is actually really good.

I don't enjoy this album so much anymore (although I've had it for quite a few years) but I figure that if it really was a masterpiece, it would still hold alot of virtue for me. Good, great even. But it's too hard-rock oriented to stand the test of time, at least for me.
AtomicCrimsonRush
32 years later and this album still has the power to captivate thanks to an almost obsessive conceptual framework on the theme of discovery and enlightenment. Hard prog rockers Rush released in 1976 perhaps their most famous album, '2112'.

A strong narrative text is evident in the title track that rocks with moments of high complexity merged with the simplistic standard song format. '2112' begins with narration and a brilliant instrumental workout in 'Overture'. Rush were a musical virtuoso band, primarily due to the guitar riffing of Alex Lifeson, but also featured incredible vocal gymnastics with a high falsetto range in the form of Geddy Lee. When he powers into 'The Temples of the Syrinx' he nails it to the wall; such is the incredible high vocal range Lee is unable to repeat this in later years live, as is evident on the brilliant 'Different Stages' CD.

The track merges seamlessly with the rest of this epic as the quieter 'Discovery' begins. The concept concerns the weird tale of a boy who has a dream and consults an oracle to find the answers and has a dream that holds the key (a theme that would occur over and over in concept albums - the tales of discovery by consulting a supernatural force - even Kiss did it on 'The Elder'). I don't pretend to understand all the conceptual content, however, I prefer to sit back and let all the musical arrangements wash over, and Rush were masters of the epic performance.

The other tracks on side 2 include 'A Passage to Bangkok' a straight rocker, and the raucous 'Something for Nothing'. This was a brave album for Rush after presenting their own brand of heavy prog such as 'Caress of Steel' and 'Fly By Night', but it works because the tracks are memorable and superbly executed. The Drums of Neil Peart are a definite highlight and keep the relentless rhythms flowing in perfect sync. This album is highly influential to the likes of Dream Theater's '6 Degrees of Inner Turbulence,' that feature a series of songs wrapped in the cocoon of one long album side track, and each song section has the power to stand alone.

Overall this is an excellent album, but the piece de resistance would come on the incredible followup album, 'Farewell to Kings'.

Members reviews

thellama73
2112 is Rush's fourth album and their first real breakthrough in terms of both record sales and critical acclaim. The band arrived rather late in the progressive movement, their debut self titles album, having been released in 1974, a full five years after King Crimson and their contemporaries brought Prog blazing to the forefront of popular music. In addition, Rush didn't really get progressive until their third album, Caress of Steel, their earlier attempts being competent but somewhat derivative and undistinguished hard rock fare.

They first began to show signs of a more ambitious approach in 1975 with their Fly By Night album. After the departure of the original drummer, the band had the incredible good fortune to find a replacement in Neil Peart. Not only was he a fantastic drummer, but he also turned out to be quite a gifted writer, and his lyrics were a major part of what took the band to the next level, as well as his penchant for science fiction, fantasy and more ambitious subject matter in general.

Hints of this can be found as early as in Fly By Night's sprawling By-Tor and the Snow Dog, a first attempt at an epic that didn't quite work. But fortunately for Prog fans everywhere, the band did not let the raggedness of these early attempts discourage them, and their next release was the even more ambitious Caress of Steel. Once again, critics called it a failure, although fans seemed to be warming up to what the band was trying to do.

Finally, despite fervent objections by their record company, Rush made 2112, and in doing so struck musical gold. Just as bands like Yes and Genesis were running out of steam, and with the arrival of the Ramones in 1976 threatening to shred the very fabric of Prog to ribbons, Rush came out with an epic that experienced a popularity not enjoyed by any twenty minute plus song since Jethro Tull's Thick As A Brick four years earlier. It certainly didn't hurt that the band's reputation was more cemented in hard rock, a popular genre at the time, than in the rapidly waning excess of Prog.

Now let's meet the musicians who brought us this wonderful record. The frontman for Rush has always been Geddy Lee, and it would be hard to find a more unique band leader, whether in looks, sound, or instrumental virtuosity. Geddy sings and plays the bass, also providing support on keyboards when needed. His extremely high pitched voice is often a source of controversy among listeners, and many are turned off by what they deem to be an intolerable, banshee-like screech. Many others, myself included, feel that his voice is powerful and unique, and lends an energy and distinctive sound the band, and makes their music even more appealing. In the early Eighties, Geddy decided to start singing in a slightly lower register, making his voice much more accessible to the masses. Whether this was due to public and critical pressure or whether he finally realized that he couldn't keep shrieking that way without ripping his vocal chords out is anybody's guess, but it helped in gaining the band even more popularity, even though I personally prefer his earlier style of singing.

All that is to say nothing of his bass playing. Now bass guitar is not normally an instrument that gets a lot of recognition. Instead of the flashy excess of lead guitar or even drums, it is often relegated to providing a simple backdrop to whatever is going on in the "more important" instruments, rarely taking solos and often mixed so low that it is difficult to hear, even at high volumes. Geddy Lee proves that all of this is silly nonsense. He plays the bass like a monster and when he does it's impossible to ignore. Never before have I been distracted away from a guitar solo to listen to the bass part until I heard Geddy play. He is a truly remarkable musician.

Equally remarkable is the aforementioned Neil Peart, who is now recognized as one of the top drummers in the world. The energy, power and complexity of his playing adds immeasurably to any track he plays on, but especially lends itself to the ornate shifting time signatures that characterize Rush's style. And that's just on drum kit. He also specializes in percussion instruments of all varieties, including, but not limited to bells, chimes, wooden blocks and innumerable small percussion toys that have worked their way onto Rush albums over the years. His only real competition in this area is from the excellent Bill Bruford, who approaches his craft from a more jazz oriented style than Peart, who is through and through a rock and roll kind of guy. Peart's intellectualism, strong writing ability and sometimes controversial political views have helped transform Rush from a simple garage band into a powerhouse Prog Rock outfit, but more on that later.

The third member of the group is guitarist Alex Lifeson. While he too is a top notch musician with a unique style all his own, for some reason his playing just doesn't grab me as much as that of his bandmates. For one thing, he's not quite as showy in his approach to the guitar, opting for slower, more melodic solos instead of the lighting fast technical flourishes of his peers. This is by no means a bad thing, and indeed, it would probably be tedious to have him playing as furiously as Peart the entire time. What's really impressive about Lifeson is his range. He plays just about every kind of guitar you can think of. - six string, seven string, twelve string, acoustic electric and everything in between. In fact, his sound is so varied and he plays each instrument with such attention to its own unique qualities that at times it's difficult to believe there's only one guitarist in the band.

Power Trios such as Rush have a long and distinguished history in rock music, from early pioneers like Blue Cheer, to later masters like Cream. I was at first skeptical of the concept, because three instruments just doesn't seem like enough to produce a full, rich sound, especially in Prog. However, all these bands have managed to deliver the goods, so I guess my fears were unfounded.

All three of the members of Rush are among the best in the business, so it's no surprise that what they created would be so wonderful What is amazing though is that they've stayed together for more than thirty years with no lineup changes. I recently had the pleasure of seeing them in concert on their Snakes and Arrows tour, and they're still as good as they ever were, if not better.

But enough of that. On to 2112 itself. I bought the album right in the middle of a small progressive rock kick I was on, before I really got into the style. I had never heard Rush before, but I had heard good things about them and I knew I liked long songs, so this seemed to fit the bill. As a matter of fact, the cover alone is enough to pull one in, with its striking image of the Star Man against the black backdrop of outer space, a flaming red pentagram at his feet as he stretches out towards the infinite. This solitary man standing alone against the cold and empty void of space symbolize the strident individualism represented by Neil Peart's personal beliefs and the repeated themes on the same subject that appear throughout the album. I have been meaning to pick up a copy of the original vinyl, as I imagine the full size image would blow me away, especially compared to the tiny reproduction on the CD case.

2112 opens with dramatically swirling synthesizer sounds, conjuring up the kind of science fiction images and otherworldly magic that would later become a hallmark of all Rush releases. This is significant because up until this point the band had been a purely guitar, bass and drums trio, and the entry of keyboards into their sound, especially in such a prominent way indicated right from the get go that something was going to be different this time around. So begins the first section of this multi-movement suite. The first section is designated "Overture" in a nod both to classical form and as an indication that a story is about to follow. Overture was a term originally reserved for opera, and would be a sort of montage of the themes the audience could expect to hear throughout the play. This served to familiarize the music, making it easier to appreciate the second time it came around, but perhaps the primary reason for such a section was to get people to stop talking and sit down before the action of the plot began to unfold.

Rush's overture serves these same purposes. It introduces the main melodies that we will hear throughout the twenty minute epic, being played one by one with the fury and energy of Alex Lifeson's guitar playing. It also succeeds brilliantly at getting the listener's attention. The pounding guitar work and frantic drums, combined with the aforementioned synthesizers immediately get your adrenaline pumping and it is impossible not to feel excitement for what is to come. Slowly, quietly Geddy Lee's voice enters, singing an ethereal sustained melody above the instrumental fireworks in the foreground.

After all the themes have been played, the overture settles down and we prepare to hear the tale about to unfold. Just before the next section begins, Geddy utters a single phrase as though setting the mood and commenting on what he is about to sing, almost like a modern day version of Shakespeare's Puck. He gravely intones "And the meek shall inherit the Earth."

Now, to understand the implications of this phrase regarding the song as a whole, we will need to take a diversion into philosophy and discuss the inspiration and political messages present in the lyrics. Without understanding where the writer is coming from, we can hardly hope to understand or appreciate the art he spent so much time and effort creating. Neil Peart is a very strong supporter of the philosophy known as "Objectivism." It was first put forth by the ex-Soviet writer, Ayn Rand, and I shall attempt to briefly sum up its key points here. Basically, Objectivist philosophy states that every person should live for themselves and watch out for their own best interests (provided, of course, that doing so does not infringe on the rights of others.) It is often considered a branch of Libertarianism, and states that taxes are merely disguised theft and therefore immoral. Individual liberty is highly stressed Ayn Rand believes that no one should be forced to support another, less capable person. Indeed, she discourages even charitable acts towards the inept or lazy, whom she deems "moochers" off of the able and ambitious. Capitalism is viewed as the only acceptable economic system, as no other is based entirely on voluntary cooperation. Therefore, the phrase "And the meek shall inherit the Earth," taken from the Bible when Jesus gives his sermon on the mount, is used here ironically. Ayn Rand has been very clear that she is opposed to the values of Christianity, such as the belief that one should put the welfare of others above that of himself. Furthermore, Rand clearly has no use for the meek, as her philosophy glorifies the rugged individualist who isn't shy about sticking to his principles and being ambitious enough to achieve something great. Ever since the arrival of Neil Peart to Rush, their lyrics have frequently dealt with the these topics, such as in the songs "Anthem," "The Trees," and "Freewill."

In the interest of full disclosure, I must confess that I am, essentially, an Objectivist, although I detest that name. To call your philosophy "Objectivism" seems to me no different than calling it "Correctism" or something similar, which I find rather arrogant. I try not to let politics get in the way of my listening habits, but I must admit that I find it refreshing to hear a band supporting my point of view for a change. That may be part of the reason I like Rush so much. But I digress.

The primary inspiration for 2112 came from a book by Ayn Rand called "Anthem" which is also the name of Rush's music publishing company. The book is similar to other dystopia novels of the time, such as George Orwell's 1984 or Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451. The plot centers around a young man in an oppressive future society where freedoms are almost non-existent and the "good" is viewed as self sacrifice for the good of the community, at the expense of the individual. This is the very antithesis of Objectivist philosophy, and the young man's realization of his imprisonment and escape from the society are the central plot points of the novel, all of which is prompted by his inadvertent discovery of electricity. A discovery to which the community leaders are highly resistant, fearing change and the threat of one individual becoming more or less than any other. I won't give away the ending, but it is a good read and I encourage anyone interested in these sorts of moral, political and philosophical issues to pick up a copy.

2112 is based on Anthem, but only loosely, as many of the details have been changed for reasons known only to Neil Peart. In general he's given the piece a more "science fiction" feel than that shown by the original work. I'll address these in more detail as they come up.

After the Overture, the next section is called "The Temples of Syrinx. It is told from the point of view of the leaders, or so called "priests" that govern this oppressive society, as they explain their jobs. The music here is fast and furious and Geddy sings in an extremely high register, with frenzied energy. One of the interesting things about his vocal performance throughout the song is that when he switches back and forth between different characters, he changes his register or level of energy or some other minor aspect of his singing. This has the effect of very clearly delineating the different characters, eliminating any confusion one might expect to arise from a single voice playing multiple parts. We can hear this again on Rush's Hemispheres album, although it is not so marked as it is here.

The priests sing about how they have taken care of all the needs of their people and how everyone is equal and balanced, but the irony shines clearly through. Here "taking care" of someone is merely a euphemism for enslaving them. This section of the song is important, as it shows how the priests (another jab at organized religion, that they should be so called) use euphemisms and doublespeak to disguise their true actions and motives. If you are constantly saying that you are working for the good of society, bemoaning the plights of the poor or disabled, it is hard for anyone to paint you as a villain.

The term Syrinx used here is an allusion to Greek mythology. Syrinx was a nymph who, after being pursued by that rogue, Pan, begged the Gods to help her escape. In response, the Gods transformed her into hollow reeds that grew along the river's edge. This did help her escape from Pan, although I doubt if it is what she intended. The Gods had a sick sense of humor back in those days. These reeds became known as Pan Pipes and over time Syrinx became a symbol of music itself. Since music is one of the many things outlawed in this imagined society, the use is, once again, ironic. It is interesting to note that when Rush perform 2112 live, they typically stop after the Temples of Syrinx section. However, this is probably just due to time limitations and the fact that the section ends a nice, final sounding cadence, rather than to any ideological point being made.

The third section, called Discovery, is particularly interesting for its uniqueness and unconventional approach to storytelling and programmatic music. In this part of the story, the hero stumbles upon a guitar in a cave, a forgotten remnant from long, long ago, and teaches himself to play. The music begins with a soft background sound of a babbling brook, flowing peacefully away from the prying eyes of the authoritarian government. Slowly, we hear Alex Lifeson begin strumming open strings off his guitar, tuning a little along the way as he goes. This is somewhat reminiscent of the beginning of the classic Yes song "And You And I," in which Steve Howe tunes his guitar before playing, but the important difference here is that the tuning actually fits in with the story line, rather than just being an interesting musical effect. Our protagonist has never seen a guitar before, or even heard music, and this is reflected masterfully in Lifeson's playing. Gradually the random plucking and strummings of an amateur evolve into a coherent piece of music, becoming more and more complex as our hero gains skill on the instrument through countless hours of practice. It is really quite a beautiful thing, as if we are witnessing the birth of an artist before our very ears.

I should mention that this part of the story differs slightly from the original book, in that the book tells of a man accidentally discovering electricity, not a guitar. However, this is a really minor diversion, and let's face it, a guitar is way more rock and roll than electricity (sorry AC/DC.)

After the the guitar playing becomes significantly complex, we segue smoothly into section four of the song "Presentation" in which our hero brings the guitar, quite naively, to the priests, expecting them to reward him for his amazing discovery and use it to better the lives of everyone in the community. The joy of discovery is plain to be heard in Geddy's voice as he makes his offering. However, he is immediately shouted down by the shrieking falsetto of the priests, whose power is threatened by anything that might give the people a sense of individuality. They dismiss the guitar as "another toy to help destroy the elder race of man" and chastise the messenger, ordering him to "forget about your silly whim. It doesn't fit the plan."

The next section, called Oracle: The Dream deals with the frustration and internal struggle of the protagonist after his rejection and chastisement by the priests. He lies in bed, fitfully tossing in his sleep and dreaming of confronting an oracle on top of an ivory staircase. The Oracle tells him of a fantasy landscape where people are free and unoppressed by government or any other kind restrictions, happy with their individuality. Free to produce art and anything else they please. A world that could be, if only.

In the next section, Soliloquy, he ruminates on the new ideas he has discovered and ultimately concludes that, now that he has tasted freedom, he can no longer live in such an oppressive society. Seeing no other way out, he resolves to take his own life, reasoning that it is better to be dead than a slave.

The last section is the Grand Finale, an instrumental section that rocks really hard and brings a sense of climax to the proceedings. The last thing heard in the song is a mechanical sounding voice proclaiming "Attention all planets of the Solar Federation. We have assumed control. We have assumed control. We have assumed control."

This ending is ambiguous and different fans interpret it in different ways. One common belief is that the voice is an arm of the government, announcing that all planets will soon be forced to bow to its will. This is a very dark and pessimistic interpretation, especially following a suicide. Rush are usually a pretty positive band, so I personally reject this view and tend to side with the other common school of thought, that the voice is coming from the original humans on Earth, relieving the tyrant priests from their positions and restoring freedom to the planet. Only Rush knows for sure which is the correct answer.

know I said that I wouldn't ruin the ending of the book, but just know that the last few sections of the song differ GREATLY from the novel, which has a much more uplifting (and much less sci-fi) conclusion. That's all I'm gonna say.

Side two of the original Vinyl is a much lighter and less political affair, which is nice given the heady nature of side one. I just wish the material were a little better. A Passage to Bangkok is about scoring good Marijuana all around the world. (okay, a LOT less serious than side one.) Despite its questionable subject matter, it is actually a great song with a very catchy guitar hook. It has been a concert staple for Rush for years.

Next comes The Twilight Zone, an homage to the 1950's sci-fi television series, created by the late, great Rod Serling. The song is okay, but feels a little pointless and meandering, with a really strong melody or riff to keep it going.

Lessons is a strong song, with another message from Neil Peart about learning from your mistakes, but Tears is un unmemorable ballad penned by Geddy Lee. As much as I love Geddy, his songs are usually not the highlight of any given Rush record.

The album closes with the rocker Something For Nothing. This iss an appropriate closer for the album, because it sums up in a less bombastic way the basic message of 2112. "You can't get something for nothing. You can't get freedom for free." It's a continuation of Peart's Objectivist leanings and a darn good song to boot.

So, to sum up, 2112 is not Rush's best or most consistent record. The imbalance between the two sides definitely hurts it, when compared to A Farewell to Kings or Hemispheres. However, the power and ambition behind the title song is such that I cannot in good conscious give the album less than five stars. It IS essential and every Prog fan SHOULD own it, even if they never bother to flip the record over.

Ratings only

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