We entered the twilight zone several months ago really, but 2017 appears primed to become the most surreal, insane, bat-shit crazy year in our collective history. How wonderful would it be to be completely wrong and be posting here in the Warbler 365 days from now, writing about how dull the previous year had been. How all our fears were unfounded and unnecessarily apocalyptic.
And with the start of a new year come new resolutions. One of mine is to attempt to write about a different song each day, or at least three times a week. Feel free to use tough love on me; I respond well to a swift (literal or figurative) kick in the ass when I start to slack off.
Rush released a 2-CD/1-DVD remastered reissue of their 1976 landmark album, 2112, a couple weeks ago, in honor of the 40th anniversary of its initial release. It includes (as explained in this unboxing video above) a bunch of extras, such as a never-before-released live concert of the entire 2112 album during that first tour. This, to me, is the best way to hear this being performed live, as Geddy Lee was able to hit the high notes back then.
But as much as I used to play side one of 2112 religiously back in my early teenage years, air-drumming along with complete abandon (setting up pillows as couch cushions in my youthful attempt to emulate Neil Peart’s massive drum kit), I played side two even more. And on the rare occasions that I play this album today, I usually skip to side two, which, to me, is far more musically rich and diverse than the 23 minute prog-rock self-titled side-one epic. None of the 5 songs are longer than 4 minutes, which no subsequent album ever matched in terms of brevity. It just might be the most un-proggy rock-n-roll album side in their discography. And the most diverse. There is a “world-music” song (“Train to Bangkok”), a ballad (“Tears”), an acoustic guitar featured mid-tempo track (“Lessons”), a hard-rocking anthem (“Something for Nothing”), and finally, the song that this post is named after, the moody, creepy tune “The Twilight Zone.”
4 of these 5 songs get interesting cover treatments on disc 2 of the reissue. Billy Talent (who I hadn’t heard of before this) performs my favorite of the interpretations, infusing “Train to Bangkok” with a post-punk Green Day-esque energy. Porcupine Tree founder Steven Wilson gives “Twilight Zone” a jazzy, delicate touch. And Alice in Chains does an admirable job with the quieter “Tears.” The only cover that doesn’t work so well is Jacob Moon’s “Something for Nothing” which turns the epic rocker into a lazy grunge cliche. It sounds more dated than the original.
So, I do think this reissue is worth purchasing for true Rush fans. For the rest of you, you probably stopped reading a couple paragraphs ago. You were probably thinking that I was going to write about Golden Earring’s 1984 hit song “Twilight Zone” which is surely a more relevant song to today’s current climate. Also, a more ear-wormy song. And there it goes – it’s now embedded like the bugs in BrainDead.
I love how popular this song became back in 1984, especially since Golden Earring had been around for almost 20 years already at the time. They broke into the New Wave scene old enough to be the fathers of the new New Wave generation. Were we simply more open minded back then? We did buy albums by other “dinosaur” bands like Asia and Yes (see my earlier posts on this concept) so maybe we were less caught up in “image” and “youth” back in the mid-80s. I think it probably had more to do with MTV and the heavy rotation of some videos. Or maybe it was the fantastic bass-line in this song. I could listen to that riff all day. Or perhaps it was the paranoia laced imagery in the lyrics.
Whatever it was or is, whether you prefer the proggy-stylings of Rush or the New Romantic tinged swagger of Golden Earring, it is undebatable that we have two classic songs to choose from to represent the Rod Serling-hosted TV series (which I still watch regularly) of the same name.
Or maybe it’s this song by Manhattan Transfer that turns you on. It is a new year and we need to accept all of our unique differences….