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Album Review: RUSH – 2112 40th Anniversary

 

Album Review: RUSH – 2112 40th Anniversary

We would like to play for you side one from our latest album….this is twenty-one twelve”. That announcement on All the World’s a Stage was the sign to fold out the deckchair and rummage through the packed lunch as it was going to be a big night. Hard to believe but its 40 years since RUSH released the mind-blowing album 2112. They’ve celebrated the milestone by issuing three separate versions of the progressive rock masterpiece. In this review we will look at what you get in the basic two disc release of what is yet another edition of 2112.

I would comfortably say that it is between this album and the Rainbow ‘Rising’ album for the greatest use of vinyl by the human race. I might as well set my stall out early in the piece. My introduction to the 1976 epic was on a C30 tape furtively handed over at primary school. Getting the vinyl soon after I was utterly blown away by the musicianship and craft on this record. My total joy at this record was probably only matched by my parent’s bemusement. At the time we didn’t know how close RUSH had come to being dropped by their record label due to the poor performance of ‘Fly by Night’ and ‘Caress of Steel’ as they (the record label stiffs in the dark tower) were looking for a return to the rock sound of the first, self-titled album. This was literally a make or break album but there was no way that this would be a straight up rock release as Neil Peart, as the story goes, had other plans. The blistering story telling of 2112 took up one side of the album. On the other side we got two tracks that became the staple of RUSH tours over the years, Passage to Bangkok and Something for Nothing. The remaining tracks were hardly fillers but helped balanced an album that was utterly different and completely absorbing. The album went three times platinum in the States and two times platinum in Canada. Since then the record company haven’t got too involved in RUSH releases.

So this edition, coming so soon after the 2112 Deluxe hologram nerdgasm, is still very welcome because it has a number of artists playing their versions of the classics alongside the remastered RUSH versions. You might recall the Foo Fighters version of the 2112 Overture at the 2013 induction of RUSH into the hall of fame, well a studio version of more Dave Grohl is here and its played differently, it’s no cut and paste and it takes the song in a different direction. After years listening to this track it would too easy to scream heresy but you do have to listen with your memory detached. Grohl is obviously a fan boy and all the better because it’s lovingly recreated. Sadly no one else takes up the challenge to complete 2112 parts two to seven.

Next up is Billy Talent with the song that’s caused more arguments about its lyrics that most others, Passage to Bangkok. Well that’s not entirely true and Neil Peart’s lyrics have managed to cause more discussion amongst the fanbase that you can imagine. Anyway, Bangkok is played well here, almost too well, but then again being Canadian we have high expectations as RUSH is probably on the national school curriculum. Steve Wilson takes on the Twilight Zone and the Porcupine Tree bloke does a fine job. You need a progressive soul to wrap your mind around this one. If anything this is played more delicately than on the album and has a very early Genesis feel to it.

Alice in Chains take on one of the slowest RUSH songs in Tears. It’s also one of my least favourites. But here on this recording it has taken on a new life. Sung a couple octaves lower than Geddy, or maybe it just appears that way, the song has completely changed. It seems bolder and bigger than it has ever sounded. Have I been wrong all of these years, had I forsaken Geddy? Nah, this is just a better version by Alice in Chains as the original sounded too stark and too blunt to get any empathy.

Waiting for the winds of change to sweep the clouds away’, is the start to the mammoth track that is Something for Nothing. Here though it’s done in a folk style by Canadian singer Jacob Moon. It’s honest and totally sincere but it could have been so much better if it just thrashed out. I really struggled here because when this is played live the crowd goes up and Geddy’s vocal goes stratospheric.

After this we get four RUSH tracks with two from a 1976 performance, a commercial and another track that is so scratchy you have to question why it was included.

RUSH could sing the phone book and I would buy it. If you have 2112 you have to take stock of why you would buy this one. Apart from Grohl, Alice and Billy the rest of the new material has questionable value. Personally I would always urge you to get the 2012 vinyl hologram edition as this is perhaps a recording only for completionists.

Reviewer: Craig “Bytor” Grant.

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