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 ·
"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.
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