A Farewell to Kings
RUSH

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RUSH - A Farewell to Kings cover
4.34 | 107 ratings | 11 reviews
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Album · 1977

Filed under Hard Rock

Tracklist

1. A Farewell to Kings (5:53)
2. Xanadu (11:07)
3. Closer to the Heart (2:54)
4. Cinderella Man (4:22)
5. Madrigal (2:35)
6. Cygnus X-1, Book I: The Voyage (10:21)

Total Time: 37:15

Line-up/Musicians

- Geddy Lee / Bass guitar, twelve string guitar, Mini Moog, bass pedal synthesizer, vocals
- Alex Lifeson / Six and twelve string electric guitar, six and twelve string acoustic guitar, classical guitar, bass pedal synthesizer
- Neil Peart / Drums, orchestra bells, tubular bells, temple blocks, cowbells, wind chimes, bell tree, triangle, vibra-slap

About this release

Studio album
September 1, 1977
Produced by Rush and Terry Brown

1977 - Anthem (Canada): gatefold
1977 - Mercury(US)(Europe): gatefold
1987 - Mercury(Germany) CD
1990 - Mercury(US) CD
1997 - Anthem(Canada) CD: remastered
1997 - Mercury(US)(Europe) CD: remastered

Thanks to cannon, Time Signature, Pekka for the updates

RUSH MP3, Free Download/Stream

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RUSH A FAREWELL TO KINGS reviews

Specialists/collaborators reviews

Modrigue
Rush's most uneven album?

This fifth record by RUSH is a mystery for me. "A Farewell To Kings" pursues the same musical approach as its great and mindblowing predecessor, but unfortunately not the same inspiration and constancy. As groundbreaking as "2112", this disc is full of contrasts, as it contains two of the best mini-epics the Canadians ever composed, but also their least convincing short songs of their 1974-1984 period.

The combination of changing rhythm structures, progressive approach, fantasy and science-fiction themes with hard/heavy rock/metal songs was quite risky in 1977, during the punk revolution. Although not as complex as YES' or GENESIS', the music is nonetheless more direct and catchy. Synthesizers become slightly more and more present in the band's vocabulary.

The title track opens with a delicate medieval tune to then become more aggressive. Containing rhythm changes and variations, this song is a bit strange and uneven, but overall rather enjoyable. Unfortunately, this is the best short piece of this disc. The first mini-epic, "Xanadu" is simply a little fantasy prog gem. Unique, the music transports you to a magical world that can remind YES, but however different, as it alternates calm, epic and ferocious moments. A part of the hidden missing link between symphonic and neo progressive, really unique. Then begins the weak middle of the record. The hit single "Closer To The Heart" is over soapy and cheesy. It will unfortunately become one of RUSH's most popular song and a concert favorite...

Don't really understand how RUSH could have composed the boring "Cinderella Man", as this track sounds not very personal. Concerning "Madrigal", it's an average peaceful ballad. But at least comes the highlight of the record, the somber "Cygnus X-1 Book One". The title comes from the name of the first officially identified black hole ever, in 1971, in the Cygnus Constellation. This mini-epic is the first part of the "Cygnus X-1" dyptic, which will be concluded on the next album. "Book One" describes the journey an astronaut in a spaceship diving in to the black hole. Despite its title, the music is no space rock but rather complex prog metal. Beginning with electronic effects like "2112", the different sections weaves terrifying, powerful and cosmic ambiances. Quite ahead of its time, the song is full of syncopes and unusual rhythm signatures. Mindblowing! The general oppressive impression is coherent with the title and retranscripts well the idea of being absorbed by a black hole. One of my personal favorite from RUSH!

As a conclusion, the fantasy progressive "Xanadu" and the dark suite "Cygnus X-1" are truly the main interests of "A Farewell To Kings". No other bands was creating this kind of neo-heavy-prog music at the time. These compositions really display the talents and the originality of the Canadians. In contrast, the short tracks are not that interesting, which is hardly understandable as the ones from "2112" and from their next albums are overall very good. This record stands as an exception, a kind of black hole concerning the short songs... If these were of the same quality as the two mini-epics', this opus would have clearly been a masterpiece.

Anyway, although uneven, any RUSH or hard / heavy progressive rock fan should listen to this disc, at least for "Xanadu" and "Cygnus X-1"!
Unitron
Rush - A Farewell to Kings

"A Farewell to Kings" is the fifth studio album from hard rock/progressive rock band Rush. "Caress of Steel" had shown Rush first appear with their complex epic heavy rock style, which was continued to a greater extent with the following album "2112". However, "A Farewell to Kings" marks a new era for Rush, as the album sees them incorporate a plethora of instruments going beyond the standard rock instruments as well as a bit more of a spacey sound.

The album isn't a stark difference though, as it does continue some of the sounds of the previous album, such as the space rock elements. It acts as a lot more than a background minor element here though, the album having an overall spacey atmosphere to it. It's most notable in the two epics, 'Xanadu' and 'Cygnus X-1', which continue similar lyricism to the 2112 suite. Before Metallica popularized classical intros to heavy albums, Rush opened up the title track with quite the serene classical guitar intro.

While the rest of the shorter songs are great too, especially the underrated 'Cinderella Man' with it's menacing opening riff and great solo, the real main event are the two epics on the album. 'Xanadu' is a killer hard rocking space epic that begins and ends like a soundtrack to a Sci-Fi film. Peart's philosophical lyrics really shine here, relating to man's search for immortality and the consequences that would come with it. It's hard to pick favorite albums, but it's even harder to pick favorite songs. However, without a doubt, 'Cygnus X-1' is one of my all-time favorite songs. It simply gets everything right and perfectly. A sinister foreboding intro, funky bass/heavy guitar jam, descending guitar, crushing guitar, and menacing ambiance all lead up to a thrilling conclusion. The grinding guitar at the end mixed with Lee's piercing screams are simply spine-chilling, and honestly scarier than the most kvlt black metal band could ever attempt to be.

The killer album cover says it all, by the time the album is finished, that scene shows what happens. That's the effect of one of the most brutal hard rock songs, it leaves your mind blown and all surroundings in flames. I admit I'm a fanboy with this album, but this is an essential listen for any heavy rock/metal fan. One listen, and there's no going back, forever in the beautiful black hole of Cygnus X-1. Hope you found this review helpful.

Feel free to comment!
siLLy puPPy
After the huge leap in progressive songwriting on 2112 which saved their music careers, RUSH continued down that road and created their first true 5 star masterpiece with A FAREWELL TO KINGS. In fact, I do believe this to be my personal favorite RUSH album with “Xanadu” being one of the greatest pieces of music ever laid down on tape. It is a musical gem that incorporates everything that makes progressive music so wonderful including a long duration, complex melodies, diverse instrumentation and fantasy based lyrics.

On this album RUSH incorporates keyboards expands their sound and musical boundaries and continues the complex compositional approach that worked so well on the title track of 2112. Alex Lifeson utilized classical guitar, Neil Peart experimented with a huge number of new percussion instruments including woodblocks, tubular bells, wind chimes, a glockenspiel and a bell tree. Geddy Lee wrote much of the basslines on acoustic bass and has a more mature sound on this release.

This is one of the few (if not only) albums that has a two-part composition in the form of “Cygnus X-1” that includes part 1 on this album and part 2 on the following album “Hemispheres.” It is a progressive science fiction tale about the discovery of two conflicting ways of life focusing on the logical and emotional aspects of the human mind. Some of the most complex lyrical content to be had in a totally satisfying musical package. I deem this the absolute pinnacle of RUSH's creative output and although they would go on to produce more excellent music, it slowly begins to decline in quality as the albums go by.
Warthur
Having saved their careers with 2112, and noting the appreciative reaction to that album's ambitious prog epic on side 1, Rush increased the prog rock influence on their formula on this album. In terms of lyrics and themes, this is almost like Caress of Steel Take Two - it's still rooted in sci-fi and fantasy with objectivist ideology poking its head up here and there (though not so obnoxiously that you can't look past it if you're not a Rand fan).

The big difference is in the compositions; not only had Rush clearly advanced as musicians by this point (Geddy Lee's bass work in Madrigal and Cygnus X-1, in particular, is pretty damn amazing), but their songwriting had also matured. On preceding albums, songs were either comparatively short or of absolutely epic length, with comparatively few in-between; this time around, they show much more willingness to compose songs of moderate length, and only stretch out to the ten minute and beyond mark if they really have enough ideas to fill that much time.

With an infectious amount of energy and enthusiasm for the songs here - Rush know that they are playing unabashedly geeky material here, and they are absolutely cool with that - Rush deliver a performance which takes their music to the next level. With strident declarations of intent, acoustic romanticism, and foreboding black hole rhythms all in the mix, this is also one of the most varied Rush albums of their early career. The first Rush disc which is a flat-out great album from beginning to end, Farewell to Kings is a must for anyone interested in fusions of metal and progressive rock.
arcane-beautiful
Rush continue their string of masterpieces with another masterpiece. This album seems to be credited as their best, but I slightly disagree (saying that this album is their second best).

This album differs from the later, 2112, in that the big long song had been split into 2 slightly shorter epics. But these 2 epics are amazing, and the other songs remaining incredibly strong album tracks and in my opinion are better than the ones on 2112 (even though I think the ones on 2112 are amazing).

1. A Farewell To Kings - The intro is very beautifull with some amazing classical guitar work. Amazing lyrics and an amazing chorus. A very underated classic Rush song.

2. Xanadu - The first epic. What a song, the amazing build up in ambient synths that lead to clashing of Rush' symphonic like structures. The vocals are amazing in this song, with them keeping on top of the pacy rhythms. My favourite section of this song is the unison between moog and glockenspiel, it really is something.

3. Closer To The Heart - An amazing piece of pop like music, with an amazing chorus and a very classic guitar solo. This song always puts me in a good mood.

4. Cinderella Man - An amazing lyrical contribution from Neil. Amazing chorus with some great instrumental work and amazing drumming from Neil. Another underated classic from these guys.

5. Madrigal - An almost ballad like song (their is always one of these). Amazing lyrics.

6. Cygnus X-1 - The best song on the album. This song is so dark for Rush and for the time it was made. Geddy's bass playing in this song is phenomanal and flawless, he really is a beast on the bass. The whole band really act as an amazing ensemble. One of my all time favourite Rush songs.

CONCLUSION: I actually was going to buy Strapping Young Lad's Alien instead of this (another amazing album), but I'm glad I bought this.

Conor Fynes
'A Farewell To Kings' - Rush (6/10)

Contrary to popular opinion, I don't think 'A Farewell To Kings' is that amazing of an album. Rush have certainly done alot better, and there are only two songs on here that stand out as being masterful (the mystical and textured 'Xanadu,' and the very progressive sci-fi epic 'Cygnus X-1.') The rest of the songs are good, but aren't necessarily the sort of stuff that would be found in the ideal masterpiece.

'A Farewell To Kings' is good enough, and has a very pleasant acoustic introduction. But the rest of the song only ranks as being 'alright.' Listenable and energetic, but there's definately better stuff out there.

'Xanadu,' as I've stated before, is one of the two highlights. This is an amazing song, and somehow conveys a very strong feeling of oriental phantasm, without using far-east instrumentation. There are alot of references to the Coolridge poem the song is based off of. The keyboard work by Geddy Lee here is fantastic, as well as the atmospheric soundscaping Alex Lifeson does at the beginning.

'Closer To The Heart' is a song that I've never liked. It's Rush's 'hit single' but I think it's annoying; especially Geddy's vocal delivery. The optimistic guitar intro is a nice touch, but the majority of the song is disposable for me. The guitarwork is the only thing that makes this song enjoyable at all. This is the sort of song that you might find on a two star, or three star Rush album, not a record that is considered by many to be one of the greatest Prog-Rock masterpieces of all time!

'Cinderella Man' is pretty forgettable, but pleasant enough. It's a bit of a weak track. Even now, after a few hours after, I'm having a hard time remembering it, besides it's chorus, which has an interesting melody.

'Madrigal,' despite being about two minutes long, is probably the third best song on the album. The vocal melody is gorgeous! Geddy's voice is in top notch here. Amazing.

'Cygnus X-1' is very proggy, and verges on being metal. It's even better than it's 'Hemispheres' counterpart! It builds up with some great sci-fi textures into an epic finale to close the album.

I'll probably get hung by other ProgArchives fans for this, but this isn't that amazing of an album. It's good, but I'd rather listen to a better album, like 'Moving Pictures.' Worth checking out if you're a Rush fan, though.
AtomicCrimsonRush
"All that musicality, all the intricacies, all the power from just three guys": Thin Lizzy's Scott Gorham.

A Farewell to Kings is the first album I purchased of Rush and I knew instantly I would be building up a collection of Rush albums as they are masters of heavy prog, like nothing I have ever heard. The three piece trio of power sizzle on this album from the opening track to the awesome last track. Only 6 tracks but each one is an instant classic.

The album begins with the title track that heralds the instantly recognizable Rush sound. Alex Lifeson's jangly, jagged guitar riffs and Geddy Lee's high soprano and pounding bass, complimented by Neil Peart's erratic drums. This is Rush at their best.

'Xanadu' is the longest track clocking in at some 11 minutes and is a representation of a quieter contemplative Rush that has moments of blazing fury, and ripping lead guitar. The lyrics are based on Coleridge's classic (in the same way that Iron maiden's 'Rime of the Ancient Mariner' is based on a Coleridge poem). It is pomp-rock with an edge of humour interlaced within it's structure. The percussion is way off the scale for inventive genius utilising such favourites as the vibraslap, temple blocks and bell trees amongst others. It's pure prog bliss.

'Closer to the Heart' is the most accessible and as such was the single off the album that has been played ad infinitum live in concert, captured beautifully on the live masterpiece 'Different Stages'.

'Cinderella Man' is the more forgettable track on the album but has some nice moments.

'Madrigal' is a short 2 ½ minute blast that prepares us for the epic to follow.

'Cygnus X-1' is one of the reasons I bought this because I had read it was one of the best Rush tracks. I was not disappointed. It begins with a voice narration that transports us into a space fantasy as we are about to embark on an exhilarating but terrifying journey into the abyss: a black hole - the Cygnus X-1. It's a hard rock excursion into the unknown and ranks as one of the best of Rush's stratospheric moments, as we travel through the void we are treated to memorable guitar riffs, and scintillating existentialist sci-fi drama.

In conclusion, this album is a prog-metal masterpiece. It is a mighty model of bombastic rock power and highly listenable inventiveness.
Phonebook Eater
One of the many many masterpieces by this unbelievable band, one of the best progressive rock bands ever. A Farewell To Kings is seen as an album that stands in the middle of their masterpieces: before this we have 2112 and Hemispheres, and after we have Permanent Waves and what is probably their best album, Moving Pictures.

A Farewell to Kings has at least three HUGE Rush classics, but my opinions are a little different.

the title track opens the album, with the beautiful guitar intro, and a pretty good riff kicks right after. Very good song, but not my favorite.

"Xanadu" is definitely the best song of the album. After the majestic intro, with a beautiful arcane and medieval tone, we have the start of the song. The whole thing contains a couple of riffs, one greater than the other, that form one great masterpiece, without any bad points. Essential song for a Rush fan. "Closer to The Heart" and "Cinderella Man" are two big hits, I always tend to prefer "Closer", because of its great melodic part, played with the acoustic guitar. I was never crazy about "Cinderella Man", don't really know why.

"Madrigal" is a great interlude, or better an intro to the second longest song in the album. Even this song has some medieval tones, combined with Lee's very unique voice. Extremely underrated song.

"Cygnus X1" is a fantastic song. After the spacy intro, an aggressive bass comes in, followed by the rest of the band. The song has some amazing riffs and moments, absolutely unforgettable and outstanding.

A tiny bit overrated, but I still consider it a masterpiece.
Nightfly
A Farewell to Kings was the album that brought Rush to my attention in 1977 and I was instantly hooked. It comes from the era when they were at their most "Progressive" in terms of how most people view progressive rock. As much as I loved the major prog players like Yes and Genesis what I particularly enjoyed about Rush was their infusion of heavy rock into the genre.

The album opens in fine style with the title track with a medieval acoustic intro before the band come in full force with a great Lifeson riff. I particularly like his guitar sound from this era too, heavy and rich without being metallic and his solo on this track has long been one of my favourites.

The eleven minute Xanadu follows and is rightly regarded as a Rush classic. A slow atmospheric intro gives way to some of the finest playing on the album, lots of light and shade with the heavier elements and enough time/tempo changes to keep the most demanding Prog fan happy. Of course it's well known what a fantastic drummer Peart is and over the years since this release has become regarded as one of the finest players in any genre, but what I like about his playing in the earlier days is he also had a looseness to his style (as well as the technical chops) that he seemed to lose (deliberately?) over Rush's 80's, more keyboard dominated albums.

Side 2 of the original album opens with Closer to the Heart, a perennial live favourite and was even a minor hit single at the time! Cinderella Man is a fairly straightforward (by Rush standards) rocker which is followed by the more laid back Madrigal. Side 2's highlight though is Sci-fi epic Cygnus X-1 which has some of the most ferocious playing the band ever committed to tape. What tended to divide music fans over Rush was Geddy Lee's high pitched vocals, you either loved them or hated them and he hits some of his highest notes here. Personally I loved them and thought they gave the band an extra stamp of originality and let's not forget what a fantastic bass player he is too.

Rush would go on to make one more album in this style (Hemispheres) before changing tack for Permanent Waves and as good as that album is it can't compete with this as my favourite by the band.
Sleepwalker
A Farewell To Kings is Rush's fifth studion album, being released in 1977. The album has a more progressive sound than previous Rush albums did and shows a glimpse of what would become essential to Rush's sound on following albums: synths. The album isn't full of them, but some songs do contain some synth sounds. The album is not very consistent I must say, as it has some of Rush's masterpieces and several weak and uninteresting songs. Some of those weaker songs are the poppy "closer To The Heart" which I absolutely dislike, the soft "Madrigal" and the title track. The title track is also the opening of the album. With a pleasant classical guitar intro the song sounds very promising. Unfortunately the song turns into a pretty uninteresting track, what a shame. Much more decent is "Cinderella Man". This song is not a classic, but it's a nice piece with lyrics by Geddy Lee.

Fortunately the album has some great songs too. "Xanadu" might be Rush's best song ever. It is a very progressive piece, with lots of different riffs, changes etc. It also is one of the only Rush songs, though I am a big fan, that really manages to make me shiver. The other song on the album that is among the best in the bands catalogue is "Cygnus X-1". After the introduction the song has an incredibily evil and striking sound. Alex Lifeson does a great job on this song, and manages to make his chords sound even more striking than most solos. This song also knows several different riffs and vocal parts.

This really is a tough album to rate, as it features both Rush's best and worst songs. Because of that I will rate the album with three and a half stars. I do recommend this album to all Rush fans though, as both "Xanadu" and "Cygnus X-1" are essential pieces for any Rush fan.

Members reviews

kluseba
A Farewell To Kings" is another visionary progressive rock record by the Canadian legends "Rush". It unites rather catchy and commercial songs like "Closer To The Heart" with epic conceptual science-fiction pieces like the brilliant "Cygnus X-1". Any fan of progressive music can hear that this record largely influenced bands such as "Ayreon" and "Dream Theater" many years ago and it is interesting to discover the roots and influences of those outstanding bands. Personally, I adore the diversity and visionary works of Rush and prefer them to "Genesis" that got to commercial and "Pink Floyd" that were not always able to get their inspirations to the point. "Rush" are neither very commercial nor handicapped by heavy drug abuse so that they are free to do what they want. That's what this album is all about: diversity and freedom. In the progressive rock world, there are only "King Crimson" and "Tangerine Dream" that I like as much or more than Rush.

Nevertheless, there are a couple of flaws on this particular record. First of all, the band starts with the most incoherent and weirdest song "A Farewell To Kings" that really takes some time to grow. It's not the best choice as an opener and title track and probably the uneasiest song on the record. I can't get a healthy approach to it as there is a lack of addicting elements in this experimental song that goes a little bit nowhere.

Second, this record is technically well crafted and even perfect but I miss some emotions and some human warmth in the songs. That's a flaw that many progressive rock bands have but some exceptions prove that this is possible and that's what divides the small path between an excellent and a very good band.

The third negative point is the vocals, probably the only truly weak point in this band, Rush's Achilles' tendon if you want to call it like that. Geddy Lee screams and yells like an angry woman from time to time and especially the more complex epics are too much interrupted by his surely unique but pretty much annoying voice. Most people might pardon those flaws and I agree that they don't really do any harm as I appreciate discovering this record over and over again but those points are the reasons why this isn't the band's best work and why some people might have some difficulties to get into this.

The instrumental parts are the true highlight on this record and I mostly appreciate the longer tracks that have less lyrics and concentrate on a conceptual atmosphere like "Xanadu" and especially the outstanding "Cygnus X-1" that surprises with its dystopian and mysterious moods and offers many changes of style, rhythm and melody and is one of the best progressive rock tracks in history.

In the end, this early masterpiece of the band is amongst their best albums but not yet in the top notch because of a few little flaws. The longest and most important tracks are all great and add something new and unique to the genre while the shorter tracks are less impressive. From an intellectual and technical point of view this record is close to perfection but concerning the emotional and coherent point of view, there are a couple of aspects that could be further worked out.

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