Farewell to Kings (and Faith): Neil Peart, 1977

In honor of the 40th anniversary of the release of A FAREWELL TO KINGS.

rush farewell
40th Anniversary Edition

What followed, 1977’s A Farewell to Kings, though, had far more in common with 1976’s 2112 than it would with 1980’s Permanent Waves.  Not appearing on the market until September 1, 1977, A Farewell to Kings ended the new album every six months schedule Rush has followed thus far.  A brilliant album in and of itself, A Farewell to Kings still belongs to Rush 2.1 as I have defined it.  So does the follow-up album, Hemispheres.  Certainly, Rush tried many new things—in terms of album structure, lyrical depth and story telling, and musical complexity—than it had on the first several albums.  “We had written material that was a little beyond us, considering our level of musicianship at the time,” Lee later admitted.[i]  But the progress is in continuity, a major reform rather than a revolution.  “Our progress has always been sincere—not in an arrogant way, but for our own pleasure,” Peart stated in 1982.  “We’ve always incorporated music from people we liked, so it has made us stylistically schizoid.”[ii]

While there are no side length tracks on A Farewell to Kings, the album revolves around its two major songs, “Xanadu” at 11 minutes in length and “Cygnus X-1” at almost ten and 1/2 minutes.  Thematically, Peart continues to embrace both the fantastic—“Xanadu” based on the iconic romantic English poem, “Kubla Kahn,” by Samuel Coleridge—and science-fiction, “Cygnus X-1.”  At the time, Peart lauded fantasy writing in lyrics.  “It’s a way to put a message across without being oppressive.”[iii]

Continue reading “Farewell to Kings (and Faith): Neil Peart, 1977”

RUSH: A Farewell to Hemispheres, Part I

by Kevin McCormick

Rush appears to be a band without a retirement plan.  This past year saw the release of the highly acclaimed studio album Clockwork Angels, the subsequent world tour promoting the album and the fourth remastered re-release of the 35-year old classic album 2112.   With the re-release of that epic work and the renewed attention it has garnered, it is worth noting that the recording and the subsequent live shows were really, as the liner notes say, “The end of the beginning, a milestone to mark the close of chapter one in the annals of Rush.”

From Rushvault.
From Rushvault.

Neil Peart hardly could have known how accurate that statement would be.  Today the band is approaching its 40th year since its first full-length album.  Most artists of their age lucky enough to be still performing spend most of their time coasting on the tails of decades-old hits and playing as shadows of their former glory.  Rush seems to continually push itself into new territory creating an ever-changing sound yet with ever constant sensibility.  Something about Rush feels contemporary but remains rooted in the sound of three guys from Toronto four decades past.

Rock artists worked more quickly back then. By 1976, a banner year for Rush, the band had produced four studio albums.  Having resurrected themselves from the brink of extinction (or at least from being dropped by their label) with the inexplicable popularity of their futuristic totalitarian opera “2112,” the band toured extensively throughout the US and Canada.  Their “brief” stretch promoting the new album ran from February to August and included opening for Blue Oyster Cult and Aerosmith.  Somehow the band found time to put together a double-live album of those recent shows and, with but a week in-between, again headed out on the road from August and into the new year promoting that record, All the World’s a Stage. By the time they wrapped up in England in June of 1977, Rush had been touring for nearly two years without a lengthy break and receiving accolades not only for their recorded work but for the power, skill and intensity they brought to the stage.

Continue reading “RUSH: A Farewell to Hemispheres, Part I”