- Over Christmas break, my friend Keith Kodish raved to me about a cover of the song “Tears” that the band Alice in Chains had recorded for Rush’s 40th Anniversary re-release of 2112 (Although I’ll likely be deaf, I do hope to live 93 more years so I can buy the holographic –or whatever technology exists in the next century– version that comes out in the year 2112.). I had heard the song before (because I’m a huge fan), but was pleasantly reminded of what a great cover it was.
- My coworker Mick, who normally sings cheesy 80s songs by artists like Bryan Adams and Michael McDonald, out of nowhere started singing, “You have entered the twilight zone, beyond this world strange things are known…” from the song “Twilight Zone.” Which I probably don’t have to say, is from the album 2112.
- I follow a group on Facebook called “Prog Magazine Readers” which is where old white guys go to complain about how there are no bands as good as early Genesis, Yes, Pink Floyd and King Crimson anymore. Most of the posts in the group are a variation of: “Classic Album from (year between 1666-1978): the greatest album ever recorded or an overrated piece of shite? Discuss.” Today, one of these geezers picked Rush’s 2112 as the album to berate.
So, whilst stringing up cable ties to hundreds of video and audio cables at my job, I put on 2112, for, likely the 2112th time.
It’s not even in the top 3 of my favorite Rush albums. But goddamn if listening to it this afternoon didn’t make my day about 2112% better. If you were to force me to rank my favorite Rush albums right this second (and even the second you are reading this), I would have to push 2112 up to the top 3. Anyone who says their top 3 albums are always the same, that this highly subjective listing isn’t as variable as the weather, is either a liar, lives in a bubble or is simply a rigid, unfeeling human.
What I love about 2112, is that the album is a microcosm of everything that Rush has recorded. There’s the epic, 20-minute title track, synonymous with so many prog-rock concept albums (some might use the word bloat – I’m not one of them). Then, on side 2 (or the rest of the album, to the CD/streaming crowd), we get a wide range of fairly short songs, touching on a variety of musical genres. In fact, of the five songs on side B, none is longer than 4 minutes. I don’t think Rush ever recorded an album before or since with 5 songs that brief.
It’s side B that, in my opinion, brings 2112 to the top tier of their recorded output. “A Passage to Bangkok” is a catchy, Asian-tinged rock song that celebrates all the cities of the world that offer the best weed. “The Twilight Zone” is a mid-tempo, slightly-creepy, ode to the classic TV series. It reminds me a bit of Blue Oyster Cult, if you take out Geddy Lee’s high-pitched (some might say screechy – I’m not one of them) vocals. “Lessons” is a sweet, acoustic tune, one of only a few ever written by guitarist Alex Lifeson, about, well, learning lessons. “Tears” which I mentioned above, is the first true ballad and love song Rush would record in their oeuvre. And the side ends with a future crowd favorite, “Something For Nothing,” a classic, hard-rocking song about a topic that gets repeated attention on most every album since: freewill and taking responsibility for one’s own life.
If you know me, you are probably surprised that it took me 17 days into this project to include Rush. But, really, all I’m doing is following the Signals. (Yes, that is a reference to another Rush album, which is also a top candidate for top 3 Rush albums, as well for receiving the 365 album treatment in a later entry.)