Wednesday, September 20, 2017
GIK Acoustics - Europe
GIK Acoustics - Europe
The Moshville Times

Review: Rush – 2112 vinyl re-release

Rush - 2112DavidThe word awesome could have been invented to describe this album.

That’s the review in a nutshell but I suspect a bit more detail would be welcome. First some history: Caress Of Steel, the album before 2112, had not gone down well. The band and crew referred to the Caress Of Steel tour as the, “down the tubes tour”. Management felt the problem was the subject matter and length of the songs. “The Necromancer”, for example, was in three parts and weighed in at 12:33 while “The Fountain of Lamneth” had six parts and lasted a whopping 19:57. The solution, at least according to the record company, was simple: forget the long, fantasy based songs and go back to shorter, rockier ones. But Rush weren’t interested in going backwards. They decided to push on… and the result was 2112. I would love to have seen the look on the record executives faces when Rush delivered a seven part story song, lasting 20:34, about a galaxy wide federation of planets which was based on a novel by Ayn Rand (a Russian-American novelist and philosopher). Let’s be honest, put like that, it doesn’t sound promising but when you listen to it, what you hear is awesome! Huge in scope; classical in style, operatic in nature. Awesome. It became their first big commercial hit. Alex Lifeson has said 2112 is where Rush, “…started to sound like Rush”.

For those who complain about Geddy’s high-pitched vocals, 2112 shows that there is a lot more subtlety in his style than he is sometimes given credit for. Listen, for example, to the exchange between the narrator and the priest in Part IV of the title track where the gentle pleading of the narrator is followed by the screeching scorn of the priest. There is also subtlety in the music despite the over the top elements, for example, the lyrics at the end of Part VII Could be seen as ambiguous but listen to the music: there is conflict, then there is triumph and victory. There is, musically, a happy ending. It was a breakthrough song for the band when it was released, it is a song that has stood the test of time and it is a song they still play it live nearly forty years later.

…And that is only side one!

Side two is not as strong, or rather not as consistent, but it starts promisingly with “A Passage To Bangkok”, a song that shows Rush playing with Eastern musical forms. I’m not ashamed to say that my teenage self completely missed the drug references:

Our first stop is in Bogota
To check Colombian fields
The natives smile and pass along
A sample of their yield

Clearly this is about people selling fruit to passengers on a train… isn’t it? Neil Peart has said the lyrics are supposed to be tongue in cheek and I wonder if this was Rush winding the record company up some more: “The first side is a 20 minute song and the second side starts with a song about drugs…”

Side two closes with another great track: “Something For Nothing”. A proper rock song, just like the record company wanted! But a rock song with a message. Some see Neil Peart’s lyrics as pretentious and overworked and looking at the lyrics of the final track, you might want to add naive optimist to the charge sheet:

In your head is the answer
Let it guide you along
Let your heart be the anchor
And the beat of your own song

Yet, as a teenager, I chose this brand of naive optimism over the available alternatives: the nihilism of Punk; the vacuous inanity of Pop; and the hedonism of most other Rock bands. It still appeals to my older, more cynical self.

So should you buy this special edition vinyl of 2112? If you are not already familiar with Rush, 2112 is not a bad place to start (although I would make a strong case for starting with their most recent studio album). If you are a Rush fan, you probably already have multiple versions, for example, I have the vinyl copy I bought in the seventies, a CD copy, an MP3 version, and (possibly still lying in a box somewhere) a copy on cassette. Do I really need another version? Sadly, I find the hologram strangely tempting but even I wonder if a cool hologram is a good enough justification for buying the special edition.

With this remastered vinyl edition, you also get a download code for a high resolution digital audio version which might tip the balance if you are looking for a high quality digital version, though there are those who claim vinyl, and especially 200 gramme vinyl like this release, just sounds better than any digital recording. {Update: the UK version is 180g vinyl. Why the US get 20 more grammes is unclear! For the audiophiles out there, it has been produced using Direct Metal Mastering.}

If improved sound quality alone is insufficient reason to buy, the experience of playing vinyl might convince you. Music forms the backdrop for much of my life. I listen to music in the car while driving. I listen to music at work while marking. I listen to music while walking the dogs. But that is the problem. The music is in the background while I do other stuff. With vinyl, I have to choose to listen. Playing an LP invites me to sit down and pay attention. The experience is enhanced in many other ways too. The sleeve, especially a gatefold sleeve, lets me experience the cover as art and not simply as a means of identification. And I can read the cover notes! (The text on CDs is too small and you don’t get any notes with MP3 or streamed versions.) Call me an nerd, but I like to know that not only did Hugh Syme design the cover of 2112, including the iconic red star, but he also played on two of the tracks. Then, there is the ritual involved in playing an LP: removing the inner sleeve; sliding the record out; removing dust; placing it on the turntable; lowering the stylus; and then the noise of the needle finding the groove…

The whole experience of vinyl is awesome and 2112 is awesome: they were made for each other!

Rush’s 2112 was re-released on limited edition vinyl last month – the whole of their Mercury Records catalogue is being released throughout 2015.

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About The Author

David

David discovered rock music as a young, skinny, hairy teenager. He is still listening to it umpteen years later even though he is now old fat and baldy. The first album he bought was by The Wombles but try not to hold that against him.

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[…] have already reviewed one of the one of the March releases (see Rush – 2112 vinyl re-release) but thought I would fill in a bit of detail for people who are not too familiar with Rush’s […]

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