Rush: The (Partial) Series – A Farewell To Kings (1977)

Let’s get in there and give ‘er!

A Farewell To Kings’ medieval-sounding acoustic intro is fun, but it doesn’t last long before it tkes off into a decent Rush rawk song. I like the instrumental bit best.

Xanadu is epic. It takes a couple of minutes to build, but once it does, it immediately takes on all comers. It’s another of those Rush tracks that has an albums’-worth of ideas packed into one 11-minute song, and it’s all huge. I loved it. What a workout!

Closer To The Heart is a total classic. Radio has been trying to kill this song with overplay for years, and they’ve never succeeded. Great to hear it within the context of its album proper. It fits.

Cinderella Man is another great Rush rawk song, meaning intricate instrumentation, both heavier and lighter spots, and that completely classic Rush sound. Yes. Yes! YES!

Madrigal is a short, pretty little tune. Has the feel of being a segue track, glueing two others together.

Cygnus X-1 has a weirdo intro, which becomes a funky, bluesy jam before taking off into an all-over-the-map rock-out. When the vocals arrive, it’s a full-on rock track, then some more jamming. Sprawling at over 10.5 minutes, this is  monster track.

In sum: At only 6 tracks, one could look at it and feel it’s a light effort. One spin, though, will confirm there’s at least two albums’-worth of tracks in that truncated track list. I need to play this again, listening even more closely, really letting it seep into our blood. This one feels like it truly deserves the attention. Thanks heaps, Mike! I am so loving this record (and all of them, thus far!)

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Posted on May 13, 2014, in posts by aaron and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 26 Comments.

  1. This album gets better & better the more you get to know it. I initially discovered Rush in 1980 when Permanent Waves came out and then worked my way back through their catalog. I’m not sure if I got this or Hemispheres first, but I’ve always considered them to be companion pieces so I look forward to your thoughts on that one next. I believe this was the first Rush album where they listed every instrument & effect each of them played, which my musician friends & I always found amusing & impressive. I’m sure some people thought it was a bit pretentious for Peart to be credited with timbales, crotales, wood block, wind chimes, etc. instead of simply “drums & percussion,” but it was one of the endearing things about them to geeky teenage drummers like myself (and I still feel that way as a less-geeky late-40s drummer).

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    • Thanks Rich! I, too, am a geeky drummer. I don’t have a kit, currently, but I wants one the preciousssss! 😉

      I’m having so much fun going back through all of this stuff. Funny story: as noted in my Super-Daddy post, my daughter (who is 2) rocks all these albums with me. But yesterday, she fell asleep during Cygnus X-1. Loudly snoring. I don’t know how anyone can sleep with Geddy howling away but, there ya go.

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      • Wow, a geeky drummer with a 2-year-old who listens to Rush? You are truly a “new world man.” (cue rimshot)

        Hope you get a drumkit soon. For years my drums were in storage, only coming out for gigs (although most rehearsal studios already had them set up). Since I moved into my house 8 years ago I’ve had my kit set up and play several times a week. It’s like being a teenager again.

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      • Geeky? Hell no, I’m a total dork! 😉 But yeah, I love Rush and AC/DC and we just went and saw Gojira and Mastodon (both bands have MONSTER drummers) and there’s just a lotta rawk in the house.

        I am envious. I would LOVE to have a kit, set up and ready to go. I’ve been working on my lovely wife for years about it, but she has not yet relented. I toyed with the idea of an electronic kit, that way I could wear headphones, but even that has not yet met approval. I don’t like the feel of them, anyway. I need old school traps. So, my ever getting a kit keeps getting shoved back into the “someday when maybe we have an outbuilding or barn and my lovely wife won’t have to listen to me bash away” category. Right now, that’s adding up to never.

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    • My thoughts exactly Rich. If we ever meet in person I’ll share more details with you which I won’t do publicly. 🙂
      As long ago as 1984, I remember someone saying “I miss the bells” when discussing (then) modern Rush (the height of their synthesizer phase).
      For me, Xanadu has everything which a classic Rush song should have.
      You really do have to listen to it until you know it by heart so that you can appreciate the things you know are coming.

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  2. It’s been so long since I listened to this one actually. I know I’ve always enjoyed this one but looking at the song-titles I can’t remember how some of these go… I’m going to give it a spin and get back to you!

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  3. I won’t embed videos on your blog, but you really need to see Rush play Xanadu live.

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  4. My first intro to this album was yrs ago when a buddy had put Cinderella Man on a good ol Maxwell…..after I heard it I went whoaaah??!
    Cuz I started with Moving Pictures/Signals and went back to All The Worlds A Stage….so there’s that gap but I quickly filled it with what was missing….

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    • Yeah, Rush’ll do that to you. All of this early stuff is making me realize I need to try to collect everything else they ever did! 😉

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      • Fortunately there are no B-sides, rare tracks, demos, radio sessions etc! There are remastered CDs, but with no bonus tracks.

        I hate it when someone brings out a remastered CD or whatever with bonus tracks. It’s a slap in the face of those who had bought the original release. If the stuff is interesting, release it on its own, like Tull did with Nightcap.

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      • Yeah, the CDs Mike gave me are the remasters. I’m torn about the idea of re-releases with b-sides. I mean, I can see how (at the time of a release) a band would want an album to make a picture, and any extra tracks would get left off because they don’t fit. These would in evitbly find their way to a re-release or box set somewhere down the line. And I benefit from these, sometimes, because that’s how I get Mike’s old CDs! As soon as there’s a Deluxe, and he buys it, I get to play his old copy!

        However, I like the idea of just putting everything out there and letting it be what it is. Maybe as a second disc with the original release. Let the album be what it is and then the extra disc can be what it is. Live albums are ideally released around the time they were recorded, but even with this Pantera Far Beyond Driven release, it’s pretty cool to get a live record from that period even now, so… I’m on the fence with that one.

        The one thing that slays me is all the 20th Anniversary releases that have been coming out. I can understand 25th. That’s cool. But 20th? And what’ll they do when they hit 25th, re-release things again? Can they be THAT cynical?

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  5. I remember reading somewhere that the first side of A Farewell to Kings is essentially live in the studio and that the engineer was blown away when they did it all in one take.

    Another live in the studio album, and also one of similar complexity, is Iron Maiden’s A Matter of Life and Death.

    Those of us struggling to get the Renaissance-style intro and outro to “A Farewell to Kings” down pat can only marvel at such virtuosity.

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