2112 (40th Anniversary Edition) by Rush (Mercury Records)
In late 1975 the Canadian rock trio Rush was looking at a poor reception from their third album Caress of Steel, and was getting pressure from their record label to shorten their songs and be more radio friendly. 2112 is the album that made Rush a worldwide phenomenon and put them in the drivers seat of their career as one of the most popular and successful bands in the world.
Singer/bassist/keyboardist Geddy Lee, guitarist Alex Lifeson and drummer/lyricist Neil Peart instead wrote one of the most classic rock songs ever in the form of 2112, taking up the first side of the album, along with five shorter songs including Passage to Bangkok, Something for Nothing and The Twilight Zone. 2112 has since sold over three million copies and has inspired many musicians to be bold and take chances and has entertained music fans the world over for decades. It has also been a live favorite in part or whole.
2112 is now getting the 40th Anniversary treatment, with lots of extras depending on what edition you get, with new artwork by Hugh Syme and liner notes by Rob Bowman. The second CD features covers from Alice In Chains and Dave Grohl as well as outtakes from Massey Hall and the Capitol Theater from 1976. The DVD includes footage of Grohl and company, concert footage and videos from some of the cover bands and the full Capitol Theater concert and 25 minutes with Alex Lifeson and 2112 producer Terry Brown.
Neil Peart told an epic tale of a dystopian future, the Earth ruled by an alien federation, the people subjugated and music outlawed. 2112 is the story of one man who finds a guitar and uses it to inspire the citizens to rise up against their enemies. The science fiction trappings and synthesizers drew many in yet the underlying themes of finding your strength and purpose in the world are truly timeless. Part III: Discovery is the sound of Lifeson tuning up his guitar with burbling water in the background draws you in to the mind of the character, played beautifully, with Lee joining in with tremulous voice at the magic created from strumming six strings pulled over a hollow wooden body. As the guitars and vocals are played with more confidence, the band rocks out in heavy rock mode and Part IV: Presentation is the moment when Rush honored their past and boldly stepped into the future of music and their careers.
The second side contains the exotic and hard rocking A Passage to Bangkok, the creepy whispered vocals of The Twilight Zone and the exultant and rebellious Something For Nothing, showing the band could do epic in under four minutes.
The second disc of the 2112 (40th Anniversary Edition) begins with a raw and swinging Overture as played by Dave Grohl, Taylor Hawkins and current Rush producer Nick Rasculinecz. Billy Talent keeps up the energy with his throaty vocals on A Passage to Bangkok, the band batting for the fences. Steven Wilson puts his own stamp on The Twilight Zone, using acoustic guitar and clean production on the drums, yet still creeping out with those whispered vocals. His electric piano playing is quite wonderful. Alice In Chains draw Tears with their bluesy rendition of the song, William DuVall’s soulful vocals and Jerry Cantrell’s soaring guitars are a joy to hear. Rounding out the covers is Canadian singer/songwriter Jacob Moon‘s version of Something For Nothing. The song rocks out yet Moon puts his own folksy-bluesy stamp on this classic. The second disc begins with the isolated voice of Neil Peart’s “We have assumed control” and ends with a deep voiced announcer man on a radio commercial for 2112.
For fans of rock’n’roll music, Rush’s 2112 (40th Anniversary Edition) is highly recommended in your collection and with 2016 marking the end of Rush as a touring band, a fitting introduction to the Canadian trio at the beginning of their storied career.
(Review by Bret Miller)