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Rush 2112

“The first thing you notice about Rush, according to one observer, is that they’re not as gross-looking as Bachman-Turner Overdrive and they have a somewhat lower thud weight than most other Canadian bands. True enough – Canuck rockers do seem to have some sort of an uglier-than-thou competition going among themselves along with a tendency to pounce on unsuspecting ears like a carnivorous dump truck.”

“For the record, those three are drummer Neil Peart, who writes all the band’s lyrics and takes fewer solos than might be expected; guitarist Alex Lifeson, whose mile-a-minute buzzing is more numbing than exciting; and bassist, keyboardist and singer Geddy Lee, whose amazingly high-pitched wailing often sounds like Mr. Bill singing heavy metal. If only Mr. Sluggo had been on hand to give these guys a couple good whacks…”

“The most obnoxious band currently making a killing on the zonked teen circuit. Not to be confused with Mahogany Rush, who at least spare us the reactionary gentility. More like Angel. Or Kansas. Or a power-trio Uriah Heep, with vocals revved up an octave. Or two.”

Reviews like these were common when Rush broke onto the music scene in the early 70s. I know these foolish people had to make a living by writing what they thought were ‘objective’ reviews. But as I and millions of other fans around the world knew from the beginning, they were dead wrong!

When I read last week that Neil Peart, the third greatest drummer (you really have to ask?) in the history of rock ‘n roll, had died of brain cancer, I immediately put my headphones on and listened to 2112…again.

With the opening sounds of Side 1, I was immediately transported back to 1976 when I was a sophomore in high school. I was at a friend’s house at the time. He had just bought the album and we listened to it together. I’ll never forget it! One song, seven movements, 20 minutes and 33 seconds of the best rock music I had ever heard!

“And the meek shall inherit the earth.”

Geddy Lee’s voice was at its searing best.

“What can this strange device be?

When I touch it, it gives forth a sound

It’s got wires that vibrate, and give music

What can this thing be that I found?”

Alex Lifeson’s guitar playing was brilliant. His quiet interludes between movements, with water flowing in the background, only built anticipation for the exact second when he would bring the hammer down at his punishing best!

In the background, Neil Peart’s drumming, a cascading cacophony of sound, drove the music forward and brought the story to a most satisfying conclusion!

“I stand atop a spiral stair

An oracle confronts me there.”

When I left my friend’s house that day, I drove straight to the record store and bought my own copy of 2112. I wore that record out. To me, it remains the perfect album. I’ve always said that if I were consigned to a deserted island to spend the remaining days of my life and could only bring one record album with me, I would bring 2112. There’s not even a close second. Even today, each time I listen to it, I get goosebumps.

“The sleep is still in my eyes The dream is still in my head I heave a sigh and sadly smile And lie a while in bed.”

You can say a lot of things about Rush – they were ugly, pretentious, out of touch with mainstream rock ‘n roll – but you can’t deny they were outstanding musicians who produced some technically perfect soundtracks. They were meticulous performers whose live shows were among the best. After a career spanning more than four decades, I think it’s fair to say that Rush has established itself as one of the greatest bands in rock ‘n roll history!

“Attention all planets of the Solar Federation

We have assumed control.

We have assumed control.

We have assumed control.”

R.I.P., Neil Peart.

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