In the world of classic RUSH, this is paradise (or xanadu if you will). RUSH’s fifth studio release represents another branching-out of the complex progressive sound experimented with heavily on the prior 2 (or even 3) albums. They slightly tone down the raging intensity of 2112 in favor of more layering and color with 6 very unique and far-out classics. This is the album that came out when I was just becoming a huge fan and going to the first of 4 concerts. I had just bought All the World’s a Stage a few months before and I knew this band would be huge. 2112 was so great that it seemed tough to beat, but this took RUSH to the next stage (so to speak). Closer to the Heart shows the budding radio play genius shown in subsequent albums beginning with Permanent Waves…tight and structured shorter songs with focused storytelling (it has always been a huge radio hit). Cinderella Man shows the reflective and more sensitive (artist’s dilemma) theme played out with the usual RUSH intensity – the guitar lead is power-wah heaven, Geddy’s Bass carries everything higher melodically (great concert song) – Cinderella man sounds fine to me, manic depressive or not. PEART, by the way, has moved to higher ground with this album. Creative approaches and incredible mind-bending technique and power are everywhere (his drumkit is the envy of the western world by this time). A million young males came out of the drumming closet to emulate Neil Peart, you could see them playing air drums everywhere back then. The title song is one of my favorites, mixing a bit of a classical medieval feel with sheer rock power on a political labyrinthian fable. Again, the lyrical and poetic writing take this album to the top of my list, of course the musicianship shown here is RUSH on fire (maybe that’s what scorched the Earth on the cover). Speaking of that, Xanadu is another beautiful epic RUSH classic along the lines of 2112 that has always been one of my favorites. Mind candy that takes you away to far lands and adventure (from Kubla Khan to ice caves). Xanadu is one of the most elaborately decorated RUSH songs, which is a good thing. Part one (or book one – book two is on Hemispheres) of Cygnus X-1 (the space odyssey) clearly places your mind’s eye on a ship traveling through a black hole with electric space dust flying everywhere, echoing in the form of power chords and bass thumpings that knock planets off their axis…swirling to another dimension. Every song is great and let the music world (and other doubters that thought RUSH was a fad) know that you can’t keep a few good geniuses down – RUSH MEANS BUSINESS, SO…farewell to kings…a paradigm shift has laid waste to the world order (cover). Thank you RUSH for rockin’ my world all of these years…three people never sounded so good and so powerful…ENJOY!