RUSH — A Farewell to Kings (review)

RUSH — A Farewell to Kings album cover Album · 1977 · Hard Rock Buy this album from MMA partners
5/5 ·
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.
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