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'Hemispheres' and 'Permanent Waves'
Out Now

Joe Geesin

joe geesin


As keen fans of the superior rock/Metal format of vinyl, we at MetalTalk have already taken a shine to Universal's vinyl reissue campaign, and the Rush campaign has already been well documented here.

One of the biggest, foremost and successful progressive rock bands, the trio of Geddy Lee (bass, keyboards, vocals), Alex Lifeson (guitars) and Neil Peart (drums) are renowned for their technical virtuosity and complex concepts that embrace science fiction, philosophy, fantasy and whole sides of albums.

Formed in the late sixties, Rush signed to Mercury in the mid 70s, and these two albums were originally released in 1978 and 1980 respectively. The band had broken through with their fourth and fifth albums, '2112' and 'A Farewell To Kings' respectively. These two albums continue with the Mercury vinyl reissue campaign (sadly Universal couldn't provide us 'A Farewell To Kings') which began with their second album 'Fly By Night' on 200g vinyl and with high quality digital versions to match.

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The band's roots date back to 1968 and schoolmates Lee and Lifeson. After some changes, the line-up in 1971 saw drummer John Rutsey complete the trio. Playing the local club and college circuit, they released a single release but it didn't sell well.

The band released their eponymous debut in 1974, on their own Moon label. Much more Led Zeppelin oriented, it sold well locally, and when it success started to build the band were picked up by Mercury, who re-released the album. Shortly before the US tour, Rutsey left the and and replaced by Neil Peart; Peart immediately took over much of the lyric writing (providing the literary and fantasy angles), allowing Lee and Lifeson to focus on the instrumental side. The albums 'Fly By Night' and 'Caress Of Steel' followed in 1975, cementing the more progressive approach.

1976s '2112' was a landmark, and a breakthrough, and the double live album recorded on the tour, 'All The World's A Stage', was a good account of the band thus far. A MetalTalk review of both can be found here.

1977s 'A Farewell To Kings' achieved further acclaim, augmenting the strengthened song-writing as well as use of keyboards. The stand out tracks here are 'Xanadu' and 'Cygnus X-1 Book 1: The Voyage', both running to over 10 minutes.


And that brings to 1978s 'Hemispheres'. This superb album kicks off with 'Cygnus X-1 Book II: Hemispheres', which follows perfectly from the previous album. This 18 minute track sees the band update their sound in a more modern slick manner, yet keeping the progressive story telling (both lyrically and musically).

From the quiet acoustic interludes to the searing vocals and guitar (of the kind that would have influenced Boston), it's a technical and artistic accomplishment.

Side two kicks off with 'Circumstances', some big crunchy chords amongst the mellower prog moments.

'The Trees' starts off acoustically before building – it changes pace between the acoustic and power prog a couple of times and there's a more than decent bass line here.

The nine minute instrumental, 'La Villa Strangiato', finishes the album; the slow start gradually builds and there's some guitar progressions that work rather well other the intricate rhythms. There's enough story in the music, changes that flow smoothly, to keep you engrossed for the duration.

A marvellous album and great on vinyl. There were red vinyl and picture disc editions (in Canada at least) at the time of release and replicating one of those would have been a nice additional touch.

It was all change for 1980s 'Permanent Waves', where shorter songs were explored, making for a more radio friendly approach. In fact the opening track, 'The Spirit Of Radio', is still played on Radio 2 now.

The intricate guitar work that works for a riff is memorable and sees the band becoming more experimental with rhythms – some not so much rock. The sound is still classic Rush and this track is a classic 80s signature for the band. 'Freewill' is a solid track that sees the band's first real use of shred guitar.

The seven minute 'Jacob's Ladder' opens with a marching drum rhythm and moves in some interesting rhythmic directions, and the guitar work hints at eastern at times. The harmony with the keyboards, now in a more permanent position, works well. This track has dark undertones – a good variation in sound.

Side two opens with 'Entre Nous', a bright track not too dissimilar to 'Freewill', is also radio friendly. 'Different Strings' is quite a gentle song by Rush's standards, hinting at more 80s pop/rock.

The album closes with the nine minute 'Natural Science' and explores some interesting and enjoyable feels and rhythms, the punchy vocals over a dark driving riff is an excellent segment and the guitars and keyboards interplay well.

Both albums stand out in their own right, and highlight the progression and modernisation period of the band, sowing the template seeds of what was to come.

Rush are a band whose sound and quality come over great on this heavy duty vinyl format.

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