There have been so many amazing milestones to raise a glass to so far this year and now it’s time to get the Prog out with a quick toast to the fourth album by the legendary Progressive Rock masters Rush and their epic concept album “2112”. As with all of these, the toast is purely my own first impressions of the work since all the super duper detail is so well documented on the Wikipedia entry that I’ve linked below. The history of the album is an interesting one and if you watched the Rush documentary “Beyond The Lighted Stage” they cite that after their “Caress Of Steel” album how they were instructed by the record company to avoid any lengthy tracks since the release barely performed. Figuring it didn’t really matter at that point the delivered a twenty-minute track entitled “2112” which was broken down into seven suites. It would also become the title of the album and with this epic tune the band was on the way to becoming the stuff of legends. The first half of the “2112” album portrayed a Dystopian future for our Earth for that year which is now four years ago at the time of this writing and thanks to the creative stories painted by drummer Neil Peart, it was truly some interesting stuff. The opening “Overture” is a timeless favorite of many a drummer and only the most skilled of their number ever attempt it in public for fear of scrutiny from their peers. I knew 80% of it but never quite the 100% to perfection myself Let’s take a quick look at the whole track listing and then discuss a little bit more.
1. “2112” (Overture, The Temples of Syrinx, Discovery, Presentation, Oracle: The Dream, Soliloquy, Grand Finale)
2. A Passage to Bangkok
3. The Twilight Zone
6.Something for Nothing
Now when it comes to “2112”, I was not yet listening to Rush back during this time. I would hear this seminal work eventually and to the best of my knowledge it would have been after “Permanent Waves” but before “Moving Pictures” would get released. As I noted above I played some drums but that was not until the “Tom Sawyer Years” and when it came to Peart I was like “how is this even possible”. One of my nearby neighbors down the street used to jam to the “Overture” and “Temples” and it always blew my mind to watch it be done back then. As far as the rest of side one was concerned I liked it but didn’t love the rest. It wasn’t as exciting to me as the beginning was until it got to the “Grand Finale” part with all its flourishes. “Attention all planets of the Solar Federation, we have assumed control”. Heavy duty stuff for sure. So those numbers amount to my own favorites from side one. This is where the concept ends because the second side are just additional tracks by the band that are in no way related to the “2112” storyline. When it comes to side two I only ever enjoyed “A Passage To Bangkok” and “Something For Nothing”. The entire side was also penned by Peart with the exception of “Tears” and “Lessons” which were done by Alex Lifeson and Geddy Lee. The musicianship was top drawer across the whole album which was to be expected from players like these three who were now ready to start being referred to as Prog-Rock Gods among us.
Another standout point about the “2112” album and its effect on the fans of the band would be the “star man” emblem which I am sure you have seen this on numerous occasions over the years. If not, it’s the red star with a naked man holding his arms up at it. Peart lined out in a legacy interview that this was man against the masses and the star itself is the collectivist mentality that the album speaks about across its tracks. The image is nothing less than iconic at the time of this anniversary and has adorned rocker jackets, buttons and patches along with being scribbled on notebooks by fans ever since it was first seen on the back of the album. I’m pretty sure that I have a button and patch with this image on it somewhere in the box of such things from these carefree years myself. Do you?
At the point of this particular music milestone the future of Rush is uncertain because its looking like drummer and lyricist Neil Peart has retired and while new music might come at some point in the future, it’s not been lined out as to when that will ever happen and touring seems very unlikely without him. A shame for sure, but the band has given us all so much over the decades and they truly deserve to rest upon laurels such as works like this. Congratulations on “2112” achieving its fortieth year Rush, I raise a glass to you in honor. Readers with their own special reflections on this work are most welcome to add them into the comments section below.
The link below will take you to a remastered edition on Amazon.com and that is the one that I have since I cannot fully appreciate the 5.1 surround stuff on my stereo system. I also included a video that speaks about this classic along with “Moving Pictures” and the special edition Blu-ray version of the album.