Rush - 2112
On April 1, 1976, "Rush's" fourth album "2112", was released.
This is the band's fourth album in a span of two years, since the release of their debut album "Rush".
Following the release of the band's third album "Caress Of Steel", Mercury Records was not satisfied with the sales of the album and attempted to end the band's contract.
After a massive campaign of persuasion, the record company agreed to give "Rush" one last chance, but demanded that the band will go in a more commercial direction.
The band members, of course, did not really care about the record company's demands. They were sure they were going to record their last album and preferred to go with their heart and music to the end.
So, instead of "bending over" and creating a fun and sweet record, full of "friendly" and commercial songs that would fit the radio, they opened the album with a 20-minute sci-fi epic consisting of seven parts, that tells a dystopian science-fiction story set in "2112", based on the book "Anthem'" by Ayn Rand.
The epic musical piece opens up with an instrumental section (Overture), which is intended to introduce the listener to the atmosphere of the futuristic story. A synthesizer effect followed by a simple but sweeping riff by Alex Lifeson, with a solistic and unique Geddy Lee's bass playing and a thunderous and rolling drumming by Neil Peart, with a small tribute to Tchaikovsky's "1812" (4:07). This intro serves as a build-up for the second part of the musical piece (The Temples Of Syrinx). The encounter with the "priests of Syrinx" - the bad guys of the story, who took over the planet and led a collective culture that forbids, among other things, listening to music.
It is worth mentioning that the album's inner sleeve combines the lyrics of the songs and other reading parts that together complete the full fabric of the story.
From there we move on to the third part of the musical piece (Discovery), where the protagonist of the story finds a guitar in a cave behind a waterfall. The protagonist of course does not understand what instrument he has found, he begins to play it and is fascinated by the sounds that emanate from it. Enthusiastically, he ran to the priests of Syrinx to tell them about the miracle he had discovered.
In the fourth part, the protagonist introduces the guitar to the "Priests" (Presentation). It is impossible not to be impressed by Geddy Lee's amazing vocal range that moves in the dialogue between the soft and caressing voice of the protagonist to the rough screams of "The Priests". The priests protest the "discovery" of the protagonist, who they claim helped the deterioration of the race and they smash the guitar to pieces in front of his eyes.
In the fifth part (Oracle: The Dream), the protagonist falls into a deep sleep and sees in his dream the prophet (Oracle) who foretells the existence of a different, free and optimistic human culture, freed from the shackles of the "priests of Syrinx".
The sixth part (Soliloquy) is the hero's monologue, who lusts for the life that the Prophet introduced him to in his dream. The hero can no longer come to terms with the world as ruled by the "priests" and puts an end to his life.
The seventh and final part (Grand Finale) is a "fast and furious" instrumental piece designed to illustrate a fearsome war. The section ends with the words "Attention All Planets Of The Solar Federation We Have Assumed Control" and allows the listener to choose the ending. Were humans able to win the revolution that would overthrow the evil establishment, or did the "Priests of the Syrinx" suppress the revolt?
Although the musical piece "2112" captures the full focus of the album, it is impossible to ignore the other side of the vinyl, which includes 5 great songs.
It opens up with "A Passage to Bangkok". The ultimate stoner song that is supposed to describe a fun journey to all the good places to smoke "marijuana". The title of the song corresponds with the novel "A Passage to India" by E.M. Forster. Alex Lifeson remembers starting to write the melody on acoustic guitar and claims he was influenced by Led Zeppelin's song "Kashmir".
After that comes "The Twilight Zone", in which Neil Peart based its lyrics on 2 episodes of the mythological series "The Twilight Zone", of which he was a big fan. The first, "Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up?" (Episode 28 from Season 2, aired on May 26, 1961), takes place in a diner where the seller at the counter is a three-eyed person. The second, "Stopover In a Quiet Town" (Episode 30 from Season 5, first aired on April 24, 1964), tells the story of a couple who gets drunk at a party and wakes up in an empty house in a deserted city with no residents and at one point they look up and see a huge child, then they realize they have turned into toys.
The third track on the second side of the vinyl "Lessons", begins acoustically and folky. It is somewhat reminiscent of similar pieces by "Led Zeppelin", but it develops into a Hard Rock track with hoarse singing by Geddy Lee. The musical roller coaster ride continues throughout the song, with excellent bass work by Geddy Lee, heavy riffs by Alex Lifeson, and a solo that accompanies us to the end. Rarely in the "Rush" catalog, this song was written solely by Alex Lifeson, lyrics, and music.
"Tears" is a romantic and minimalist ballad written exclusively by Geddy Lee. This is the band's first song using a mellotron played by the band's cover designer Hugh Syme. Geddy Lee noted that the song was meant to add a bit of variety and depth to the album.
The album ends up with a big bang with "Something for Nothing", a song that opens slowly and calmly but quickly becomes rhythmic, powerful, and energetic. The lyrics are based on graffiti that Neil Peart saw in Los Angeles during the band's visit to the city. As is well known, freedom of will and liberty are topics that preoccupied Neil Peart, and therefore the caption "Freedom is not for free" immediately caught his eye and soon after became the ending song of the masterpiece "2112".
40th Anniversary edition:
In 2016 an expanded edition of the album was released, to mark the 40th anniversary of the album's release. This expanded edition a few covers of the band's songs, the most notable of which is "Overture" performed by Dave Grohl, Taylor Hawkins, and producer Nick Raskulinecz, a fan of the band who produced the album "Snakes & Arrows" and plays here on bass.
Another interesting cover version is that of "Alice In Chains" which performed "Tears". The version was released as a single in 2016. It was the first song the band recorded since the album "The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here", which was released 3 years earlier.
You can also find Steven Wilson's cover version of the song "The Twilight Zone", "Billy Talent"'s cover for "A Passage to Bangkok" and more.
In conclusion, "2112" is an excellent album that greatly influenced the development of the prog-metal genre. Although the band thought the bold move of recording an inconspicuous concept album would lead to the elimination of their musical career, "2112" proved to be a huge success not only in Canada and the US but also in Europe and around the world.
"2112" even gave the band full creative freedom in the albums that followed and allowed the band to continue experimenting and developing musically for 40 years of a glorious musical career.