Rush
A Farewell to Kings


5.0
classic

Review

by Edmund Blackadder USER (32 Reviews)
August 2nd, 2009 | 1359 replies


Release Date: 1977 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A step forward for Rush, who manage to hit progressive gold.

Rush
A Farewell To Kings
Anthem Records, 1977

Rush is...

Geddy Lee: Vocals, Bass, Keyboards
Alex Lifeson: Guitar
Neil Peart: Drums

Riding on the wave of progressive rock that had managed to peak the charts, Rush had realized that they had the power to use their talent to make excellent progressive musical masterpieces. Following the success of the epic '2112' and it's subsequent tour, Rush returned to the studio in order to record their newest album, 'A Farewell To Kings'. With this new record, they promised their legions of devoted fans that they would make the perfect progressive rock album, one that would top all those before it...

When discussing Rush with the general public, it is very easy to divide people into two groups; those that hate Rush, and those that love Rush. The chief problem people seem to have with this band revolves around the vocal styles of frontman Geddy Lee. The high pitched falsetto shrieks and yells that often characterize Rush songs are ever present here, and this could possibly be Geddy's strongest performance yet. 'Xanadu' and the title track display Geddy using the full range of his powerful voice, adding in the occasional scream or yell to add to the intensity of the music. 'Closer To The Heart' and 'Madrigal' show Geddy using a much softer, less high pitched voice, and a lower vocal roster. This style would become increasingly prominent on later albums, possibly for the purpose of attracting a wider variety of fans. Although many may find his interesting vocal style to be annoying or distracting, I find that it fits the overall music almost perfectly, and makes the band almost instantly recognizable and unique.

Geddy's talent does not end with his unique vocals. Generally acting as the multi-instrumentalist for the band, he also plays bass and keyboards. While the keyboards are not as prominent here as on later Rush releases, the light synth flourishes on 'Madrigal' and 'Cygnus' help add to the atmosphere of the album, and expand on the progressive feel of earlier releases. When it comes to playing the bass, Lee is considered one of the best. His bass-lines are speedy, catchy, and very audible. Even the slower sections of songs show Geddy playing quickly and intensely, often while singing at the same time. From the speedy lines on 'Xanadu' to the plodding, jumpy-bass line on 'Madrigal', Geddy's performance will surely not disappoint.

Widely considered to be the greatest drummer of all time, Neil Peart provides the extensive rhythms that propel the music to new levels. While '2112' had showcased his more reserved style of drumming, possibly due to slower song structures, 'A Farewell To Kings' show him at his best. Using a massive '360ยบ' drum kit, he uses every form of drumming and percussion imaginable, from the use of wood block arrangements to double bass drum rolls. There are too many amazing drum moments on here to describe in one review, with my favourites including a cowbell solo halfway through 'Xanadu', and the use of bells on both the title track and 'Closer To The Heart'. Peart also acts as the chief lyricist for the band, using philisophical and science fiction- based subjects in much of his songwriting. 'Xanadu' is based on a poem about Kubla Khan, and 'Cygnus' involves a spacecraft entering a black hole. The lyrics are diverse and interesting, and are paired very well with the music.

Alex Lifeson, the guitar virtuoso of the band, is often cast in the shadow of the dexterity and skill of his fellow bandmates. This is unfortunate, as he is an excellent guitarist, capable of producing great, powerful riffs as well as playing delicate acoustic pieces. His soloing is unique and interesting, and his use of various tones and effects ensures that his guitar playing is never boring or overly extravagant.

'A Farewell To Kings' is what I would describe as Rush's masterpiece (closely followed by Hemispheres). The instrumentation is absolutely brilliant, with every musician at the peak of their talents. The songwriting is interesting and cohesive, and there are a wide variety of different song types and structures. I would strongly recommend this to anybody with a love of progressive music, or simply with an interest in some brilliant instrument virtuosos doing what they do best.

Recommended Tracks:
-Xanadu
-Closer To The Heart
-Madrigal
-Cygnus



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user ratings (1254)
Chart.
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other reviews of this album
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Comments:Add a Comment 
fireaboveicebelow
August 2nd 2009


6837 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

this is still growing on me

thebhoy
Emeritus
August 2nd 2009


4461 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

this is tied with Hemispheres as my favourite Rush album. The end of Cygnus is feckin' epic.

Greggers
August 2nd 2009


2375 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Tied with 2112 for me, awesome album.

Good review too

ProgressiveTheory
August 2nd 2009


44 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Good review first of all, however one thing could possibly be changed to make it stronger.

"Generally acting as the multi-instrumentalist for the band..."

maybe could be change to "a multi-instrumentalist" as Lifeson does numerous synth related things (mostly on guitar) and Peart uses an incredible array of percussive instruments (mallets included), so in my opinion they all are multi-instrumentalists. Geddy is definately the most obvious of the three though, so I understand.

This album is totally epic and one of my favs. BTW, has anyone noticed/heard that some of these older songs (2112) get performed down about whole step due to Geddy's voice getting worn out?

XulOnerom
August 2nd 2009


1818 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I guess what he meant to say is that Lee plays both bass and various synths in concert, while Lifeson instead mimics various instruments on his guitar and Peart does mainly percussion stuff

coneren
August 2nd 2009


11111 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Xanadu is awesome

Waior
August 2nd 2009


11461 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

yesssssssssssssssssss
such a good album
xanadu rules

Digging: Hey Rosetta! - Second Sight

Chewie
August 3rd 2009


4532 Comments


is this their best, I've listened to 2112 and it was great

lostforwords
August 3rd 2009


446 Comments


Good review, I wouldn't say this is a classic though. I prefer 2112, Hemispheres and Moving Pictures

Unbeliever03
August 3rd 2009


14 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Excellent album! This is early RUSH at their best.

I would definitely have A Farewell to Kings on the top songs though. It may start slow but the guitar riff and Geddy shrieking during the chorus are classic Rush.

PuddlesPuddles
August 3rd 2009


4787 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I think I'm going to finally try to listen to this today. It seems to be held high

thebhoy
Emeritus
August 3rd 2009


4461 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

is this their best, I've listened to 2112 and it was great


A lot of people think 2112 is their best, which it isn't. I would get this and Hemispheres though, they're better albums. The first side of Hemispheres (the song Hemispheres) is like the first side of 2112, except more cohesive and consistently interesting.

fireaboveicebelow
August 3rd 2009


6837 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

2112 is Rush's Black Album, gets wayyy too much praise just because it's more known

handoman
August 3rd 2009


2386 Comments


i was really surprised by this...i really didnt think i would like it. awesome album.

Nagrarok
August 3rd 2009


8292 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Great review, except for this:

Widely considered to be the greatest drummer of all time

I would definitely change that into 'one of the greatest'

I have yet to hear this, and I shall, for your review is a 5 and Rush have so far only managed to impress me.

@theboy: You didn't find all of 2112 (the song) interesting???

thebhoy
Emeritus
August 4th 2009


4461 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

You didn't find all of 2112 (the song) interesting???


No, I love that song! I meant that Hemispheres, comparing the two epics, is a far better song. It was a little later, and you can tell they ironed out some of the problems they had with 2112, like the second or third part of that song where Lifeson just noodles around for awhile, it gets really boring. Hemispheres is just more cohesive.


shindip
August 4th 2009


3536 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

This>Hemispheres>2112

I think Moving Pictures is Rush's Black Album.

Gyromania
August 4th 2009


15966 Comments


This over Hemispheres? No... no, no, no, no, no, no.... NO

Motiv3
October 8th 2009


8939 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

hemispheres is better than this album.

johnnyblaze
January 4th 2010


2622 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Just bought this on vinyl and it is much better than Hemispheres. Probably my fav Rush album.
The recommended tracks all rule, and the weaker tracks arent bad at all..



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