on 22 September 2001
Between 1976 and 1981 Rush released what were arguably their finest recordings. Starting with "2112" and ending with "Moving Pictures", Rush released music that was quite simply untouchable. The quality of the musicianship has to be heard to be believed and it was quite obvious that the group were giving everything in an attempt to create something special. During those peak years Rush released two classic albums in "A Farewell To Kings" and "Hemispheres". The first album is packed full of intricate solos and amazing inventiveness that nearly 25 years on still sounds as fresh as ever. Along with Hemispheres, this is progressive rock at its best and I can't reccommend it enough. Although Rush went on to create some great music, I don't think they have ever recaptured that spirit from those years. A great album from a great band
on 15 June 2006
Being a little teenager person right now, I wasn't around to see Rush in their heyday and had to content myself with gleaning snippets of information out of my dad. He told me to get this album because it was the best one ever in the whole wide world ever, and I see no reason to diasgree with him.
The entire album is marvellous. Closer to the Heart remains my complete favourite, hence much naffed-offness when they didn't play it on the R30 tour. People might say that it's tedious and prog - prog it is, tedious it ain't. The soundscapes created vary hugely and the melodies and harmonies are beyond contestation.
Rush are the bedrock on which all modern prog - and a whole heaping load of other weird genres - are founded, and this album proves why. Essential.
on 3 February 2001
After the critically acclaimed "2112", a lot was expected of Rush. Slowly ascending out of the heavier vien of their first 4 studio offerings, a more diverse and innovative side was being introduced into the arena with the release of " A Farewell To Kings" (1977).
The album starts off with the beautifully crafted title track, that shows the universe what an underrated guitar talent Alex Lifeson is. Beginning with classical guitar, which belongs in a masterclass, which then progresses into a solid piece of trademark Rush, complete with thumping, intricate bass lines and precision percussion, which is perfectly intertwined with virtuoso guitar work. Track 2, "Xanadu", is one of the greatest pieces of music, that we were privalleged to listen to in the last century. From the synthesized vision into a utopian dreamworld, we are taken on a journey by sublime guitar work and percussion that is still ahead of it's time, almost a quarter of a century later (check out the version on "Exit....Stage Left", for a masterclass in perfect live music). Geddy Lee's bass is precise and uncompromising, whilst his keyboard skills are introduced with virtuoso precision.
"Closer To The Heart", was one of the earliest single releases by Rush in the United Kingdom. A classic song, that is still a mainstay of the live show, with a beautifully phrased classical guitar intro, that bursts into an intelligent anthem, which is both excellent ant timeless, a very underrated classic. Next up is the strangely titled "Cinderella Man", which shows the audience just how deep and thoughtful a lyracist Niel Peart actually is. Showered with accoustic sublimity and precision vocal delivery by Geddy Lee, this is definetly more than a mere album filler. The penultimate track, "Madrigal", is a wonderous journey into the mellowness of music heaven. Again sublime to the limit; definetly not just another album filler. The grand finale is "Cygnus XI (Book 1)" (which served as a prelude to side 1 of the brilliant "Hemispheres"). The musicianship and unit solidarity was in full flow on this epic masterpiece. The bass line is powerful to the extreme, whilst the drumming needs to be heard to be believed. Alex Lifeson's guitar work gels the whole track together. Pure excellence in motion.
One of the best albums of the twentieth century.
on 20 August 2004
In their early years, Rush were very much a band of their time - the 70's - and were unmistakably "prog rock". From their third album "Caress of Steel" to their sixth, "Hemispheres", Rush reached the zenith of their ambition in terms of lengthy, musically complex song suites. Although their outstanding musical talent was really never in doubt it can fairly be argued that at times their ambition exceeded their ability. As a result, some of their work now feels uncomfortably dated.
However, with "A Farewell To Kings" they reined in their excesses just a little and created an album of enduring worth and listenability. Okay, this album contains two long, musically complex pieces and totals only six tracks, but it manages to stay interesting by constant changes in theme and musical style both between tracks and within them.
The range here is staggering - from the two-minute "Madrigal" to the 14-minute-plus "Xanadu", from blistering full-on rock through folk, Spanish and classical guitar, and from complex chord changes and and twiddly bits to the perfect pop-rock of "Closer To The Heart".
Even the most obvious target for critics, "Xanadu", works as well today as it did 25 years ago. The tale of someone seeking Kublai Khan's fabled pleasure dome and the terrible fate which befalls them as a result is a masterclass in writing decent lyrics and then surrounding them with ever-changing, ravishing music - an object lesson in how to do "prog" well. Oh, and anyone who thinks abrupt "quiet-loud" dynamic changes were invented by the Pixies or Nirvana should listen to this.
Much that seemed like a good idea in the 70's has turned out not to be. "A Farewell To Kings" is one of the rare exceptions.
on 1 August 2015
After the disappointment of the '2112' Blu Ray which I didn't think was up to much, I held off buying this for a while, but eventually gave in, as along with 'Hemispheres' this is my favourite Rush album. The clarity is quite astounding although I think some of the highs still spend better on the original vinyl, but this is leaps and bounds ahead of any CD reissue. Also, the mix seems slightly different to my ears, most noticeably on 'Closer to the Heart' where the synth under the bells, just doesn't sound as full. The 5.1 mix isn't overly gimmicky, but really comes into its own with 'Cygnus X-1'.Like I say, this is worth buying for the sound quality alone, if you're expecting the 5.1 mix to totally blow you away, you might be slightly disappointed. The music of course gets a full 5 stars!
This is my favourite Rush album, to me it represents them at their creative best. I first bought it on vinyl back in '79 and came to love it very quickly. This was the first album where Geddy and Alex were able to show off their new toys and talents, namely the bass pedals and keyboard playing. There was a new depth to their playing and to their music. 2112 is a classic album but it was still basically guitars, bass and drums. Here, after the break for their first live album, they really expand their sound, and how it pays off. Side 1, for those who still remember such things, had just two tracks, the title track and the majestic Xanadu. This, to me, is the perfect example of prog rock at height of its powers. Eleven minutes long, it starts out quietly with keyboards and chimes and then the guitar quietly enters, it then builds up to the main theme, and not a lyric in sight for the first five minutes. And oh what bonkers lyrics they are, a tale of a man seeking immortality and being rather disappointed when he finds it, but let's face we never turned to prog rock for insights into the daily drudgery of life, that's what punk rock was for.
Side two had four tracks, three of them being on the gentler side of the Rush universe. Starting off with concert favourite, Closer To The Heart, and then followed by Cinderella man, a song loosely based on the Gary Cooper film Mr Deeds Goes To Town. It starts off as a bit of a rocker then calms down and then all of a sudden in the middle section things get slightly funky before calmimg down again. Madrigal, as the name suggests, is a gentle acoustic number before the album finishes off with more bonkers Sc-Fi in Cygnus X1 a tale of a spaceship sent to investigate a Black Hole and getting sucked into it. As with Xanadu it starts of slowly and quietly before building up to an almighty climax (No giggling at the back). It's a two part story that is finished off on all of side one of the Hemispheres album.
This is the kind of album and artist that we are told punk killed off. Funnily, Rush are still around as popular as ever and prog has had yet another re birth with the likes of Mastodon, Opeth and Dream Theater enjoying great success and rave reviews, whilst punk stuggles to offer us anything new. Something the trendy music press can't bring themselves to admit.
on 25 February 2000
Arguably the Canadian trio's finest album release, even if only for the monumental 14 minutes of 'Xanadu'. Starting with the title track, medieval acoustics give way to the crunching power of Alex Lifeson's guitar and Geddy Lee's distinctive falsetto vocals screeching "Scheming demons dressed in Kingly 'guise" (more wonderful Neil Peart poetry).The superbly melodically crafted 'Closer to the Heart' leads us on to the gentle 'Madrigal' and intriguing 'Cinderella Man'. The brilliant 10 minute Space Odyssey of 'Cygnus X-1' perfectly finishes the album. A must for any Rush fan.
on 8 October 2015
At last, record companies are catching on to DVD audio in blu ray!!! This is my favourite Rush album, an absolute classic. The musicianship on this album is stunning, from Peart's complex drum patterns right through to the multi talented Geddy Lee. In surround you get to hear lots of subtle little touches normally lost in stereo, the benefit of spreading the sound across 5 speakers. A new twist on an album 40 odd years old making it sound brand new.
on 22 April 2012
A Farewell to Kings is a solid if somewhat short release less than forty minutes which is actually perfect for an album like this if it was longer it would only end up being filled with stuff that was either filler or made some of these awesome songs feel like filler. No you get some brilliant songs like Xanadu and Closer to the Heart and also cinderella man I like alot too and don't forget the cyngnus part 1 which forms the first song on the next album making a nice cohesive package.
this album is far more diverse and varied in terms of sounds and rhythms and ideas than the four previous albums.
the playing is very good particularly I feel the guitar playing has been worked on alot, the drum tones and mix is very good and the bass playing is quite fiddly and interesting and is mixed with a lot of highend and less low end.
there is a few keyboard synthesiser sounds used but not as much as later albums.
All in all a nice solid little album
on 8 February 2013
Following an album like 2112 was always going to be a challenge but RUSH managed to do it with their customary skill and intellectual rigour.
Many fans of the band salute this album for the majestic set pieces of Xanadu and Cygnus, both showing why Alex should be given a great deal more respect as a guitarist than he sometimes is but it is the smaller tracks which catch my ear, Closer To The Heart, Cinderella Man and Madrigal, particularly Cinderella Man which in my opinion is a much overlooked track with the kind of staccato bass work that will flavour Geddy's direction and development as a musician right up to Clockwork Angels.