Again, like many of the posters here, I first heard this while in my early teens, bought the vinyl, became total Rush convert, etc. True to form, I fancied myself quite the little geek rock intellectual because of this band, and especially because of this record. But sometime in my late teens, Rush’s appeal began to slip away from me, until I reached my present state: total bewilderment for the devotion shown to this turkey of a record. While I confess that I put this album (much to my eternal shame, I still carry the vinyl around with me, as a sort of penance to my teen-aged pretentiousness) on about once a year or so, it’s now for entirely different reason: it’s a fountainhead (!) of unintentional humor. From the joint inhalation sound on the smarmy, pro-drug “Passage To Bangkok”, to the quotation from Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture” on what sounds like an overdriven banjo, to lyrics influenced by the pseudo-intellectual ramblings of Ayn Rand, and, of course, Geddy’s whiny, petulant voice, this is the pinnacle of bad 1970s music. Grudgingly, I’ll admit that these guys are generally good musicians, but the minor matter of taste doesn’t factor into the equation for “2112″ whatsoever. (No, complex music does not necessarily equate to good music…not that the tunes are earth-shattering elaborate.) You can bandy words around like “integrity” and “conviction” until you’re blue in the face, but objectively, this record’s a stinker, folks.
Metal Album Reviews[RSS]
Rush is either a band people love or hate. There’s no middle ground with them, and 2112 is a perfect example of this. For Rush fans, this is the zenith. Well, not so much the album as a whole, but the title track. Over the years, 2112, along with the cover art, has come to symbolize freedom and the triumph of the individual. To critics and nonfans, the band represents the ills of prog rock, with its epic, often pompous, song structure and fantasy/sci-fi themes. I agree with them about most of the progressive rock bands, but not about Rush. Peart’s writing always had emotion in it and at times could be as close to poetry as rock lyrics have come. 2112 is where the band first blendid Peart’s lyrics with dynamic music. The album, as a whole, isn’t great. It’s good, but not great. The title track, however, IS the album’s centerpiece and lifts the album to four stars and perhaps even higher. It is that good. Inspired by Ayn Rand’s novella Anthem, the song tells the story of a futuristic hero who discovers a guitar and leads a revolution through music against a cold “We” society. The idea sounds pompous, but it works here, and that’s an understatement. It’s hard to pick a highlight in a song filled with so many great moments, but for me it is The Discovery. Set against the sound of a sofly running waterfall, Alex Lifeson’s beautiful guitar work combines with Peart’s lyrics to portray the wonderous feeling of what it’s like to pick up a guitar and play. I know every note of this song by heart, and I always play this song every time I pick up my guitar. It captures the spirit and purpose of music, as does the rest of the song. Get this album! 2112 has given me more positive memories than any other album and embodies the freedom of music and thought.
If you’re not interested in 20 minute long songs, hard drving guitar and rhythm sections, sci-fi inspired lyrics, long instrumentals, a high pitched voice singing the lyrics, then 2112 is not for you. This is Rush’s fourth album, their breakthrough which legitimately set them to become one of the most lyrically profound and musically astute power trios in the entire world. 2112 (pronounced “twenty one, twelve”) is the main song on the album. It tells of a society ruled by the communist priests of the Temples of Syrinx who believe in crushing the human spirit so every one lives according to a lifeless conformity. The hero dares to defy them and leads the revolution through music. How does it end? Listen to the album. Also present are five lesslengthy songs like A Passage to Bangkok, which sounds like a shopping list for drugs, Something for Nothing, a song that defines reality itself, the acoustic show-stopper Tears, the Twilight Zone and Lessons. The lyrics of most songs are done by drummer Neil Peart, who sounds like a college professor. Alex Lifeson contributes hard-rocking guitar lines which soar and frighten. And bassist, vocalist, keyboardist Geddy Lee sounds like a Medieval minstrel. At times you almost start to think that he is the hero of the story. A classic album and a must have for any serious lover of heavy metal and lyrical profundity.
Amid the laughable radio offerings of the late 70’s (disco, soft rock, and bad new wave groups) Rush stood out. “2112″ is a great album by an innovative power trio slamming out great tunes.
Alex, Geddy and Neil have a chemistry that you can feel during the galloping riff of the rocking title track. They know what to play and when to play it, perfectly complementing each other. This twenty-minute song changes from blazing rips to mellow guitar work, with waterfall sound effects in the background, and it never loses steam. The awesome rhythm and lead guitar work, heavy growling bass lines, and otherworld drumming makes this one of my favorite Rush tunes. “A Passage To Bangkok” is another rocking tune with goofy lyrics about weed, which seemed a lot cooler back in the day. “The Twilight Zone” is a sort of commercial sounding happy tune, but the guitar picking during the chorus is eerie – nice contrast. “Lessons” is another upbeat tune similar to something heard on “Caress of Steel”, another great disc by the way. The ballad “Tears” (keyboards played by graphic designer, Hugh Syme) is a bit weak but not a bad. However, “Something for Nothing” closes out the disc in grand fashion.
The only possible negative about Rush is many people don’t like the nasal whiny vocals of Geddy Lee. I never noticed this since I was too focused on the musicianship, but his singing seems to have improved with age. I doubt people will listen to this in 2112 and find it as exciting as it seemed in 1976, but musicians (if they still exist) will surely acknowledge the incredible talents of Lee, Lifeson, and Peart.
This album is the one that brought me to the Rush party. It’s still one of the finest rock albums there is.
Before 1976, Rush had released a competent but undistinguished Self-Titled Debut, with bassist/vocalist Geddy Lee (Gary Lee Weinrib), guitarist Alex Lifeson (Alex Zivojinovich, of which ‘life-son’ is a literal translation), and drummer John Rutsey doing a passable imitation of Led Zeppelin. Following Rutsey’s amicable departure, Lee and Lifeson were joined by mad percussionist and thoughtful lyricist Neil Peart, whose influence was evident over the next two LPs (_Fly By Night_ and _Caress of Steel_). But although there was lots of good music on them, the band hadn’t quite found its voice yet.
Then came _2112_ — without which quite a few of us would never have _heard_ of their first three albums. This one got lots of people’s attention, including mine; I was introduced to it by a junior-high buddy who was as blown away by it as I was. As of this release, Rush had _arrived_.
The title piece, as you surely know, is a twenty-minute science fiction ‘rock opera’ inspired largely by Ayn Rand’s _Anthem_. Don’t let that put you off; you don’t have to have a high opinion of Rand’s work in order to appreciate _2112_. (I don’t think much of her as a philosopher myself, although I’ve enjoyed some of her non-ATLAS SHRUGGED fiction.) Peart is nobody’s follower, and when it comes to Rand he knew which bits to keep and which to reject.
Here (as in his other Rand-inspired material) he seizes on the right stuff: individualism, iconoclasm, reason, intellectual self-reliance, respect for human competence and achievement, and a deep commitment to political and social liberty. He and the band also have some things Rand didn’t: the desire to rock out, and the ability to do it extremely well. (All these of guys were, and are, consummate craftsman who have consistently earned the respect of other musicians of all types. Unfortunately they didn’t know, in 1976, what Rand actually thought of rock music.)
The result is an absolutely blistering first track (originally an ‘album side’) and as clear-sighted a hymn to individual freedom and nonconformity as rock has ever seen. Pretty good work for three guys in their early twenties — particularly in heavy metal, a genre not ordinarily noted for elevated philosophical discourse.
The rest of it (’side two’) is decent enough too. The best of it, arguably, is the TANSTAAFL sermon ‘Something for Nothing’, but I also enjoy ‘A Passage to Bangkok’ (devoted, incidentally, to another subject Rand wouldn’t have approved) and the lugubrious ‘Tears’ (lyrics by Geddy Lee). The other two tracks — ‘The Twilight Zone’ and ‘Lessons’ (lyrics on the latter by Lifeson) — are okay but they aren’t Rush’s best work.
Now, as much as I love _2112_, I can’t say I think it’s Rush’s best release ever; they followed it up with a string of magnificent albums, pushing further and further into what turned out retroactively to have been ‘prog rock’, opening our ears and our minds as they went. (And they’re not done yet.) I have my opinions about which albums are their best, and other Rush listeners have theirs.
But this one has a special place in history — both Rush’s history and mine. I still play it, and I still enjoy it as much as I did twenty-eight years ago. Thanks, guys — from me and all the other geeks.