Released in 1976, “2112” (pronounced twenty-one twelve) was Rush’s fourth album and made them the number one Canadian rock band in the world. Massive by any standards, and although 2112 did not chart very highly they suddenly became one of the largest pulling power stadium bands in the stratosphere.
This in itself was quite a feat as when they first toured England (as headliners naturally), punk rock was at its height of popularity and these three silk kimono clad, long haired prog-rockers did not exactly endear themselves to the safety pin brigade. But out of the suburbs came all these pale faced spotty, long haired urchins, desperate for a bit of mystical heavy metal with its prog-rock leanings.
Vinyl records were at their peak in 1976 and “2112” came on two distinct sides. The first side was an epic saga at over 20 minutes long about a future time when the world has been at war and all forms of entertainment are banned in a new dystopian world. When one lost soul discovers an old electric guitar he goes out to battle the establishment to bring light and joy back to the world. (Ring any bells with the story for the Queen Musical ‘We Will Rock You’?)
Of course the glory of writing a story about 2112 is that only the Methuselahs amongst will realize if Rush will prove to be right or not. When George Orwell wrote 1984 it was in the late 1940’s and although he was alarmingly right in some respects, he never for example predicted the success of the Bay City Rollers. And when Stanley Kubrick wrote a Space Odyssey 2001 he could hardly know that America would have other things on its mind other than space travel. So for now Rush are safe.
“2112” is still held in the highest regard by the Rush faithful and when played in its entirety in concert it is an event of almost evangelical proportions.
The original version is played with great finesse by all of three musicians: Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson wrote the music whilst Neil Peart took care of the lyrics and as a 20-minute conceptual piece it all hangs together beautifully. For those of you with more hard rock feelings there is also a version of “2112” on the live album “All The World’s a Stage” (1976.) where Rush rip into it and really give it some fierce welly, foregoing finesse for pure power. For a trio they certainly kick up a fiery racket.
Sadly the second side of the vinyl did not live up to the first. Six throw away tracks that only hold any interest for us locals in Thailand as one song is about a train journey to Bangkok. Two of the tracks allow Lee and Lifeson the chance to write the lyrics, not a good idea; one sounds like a reject from a Crosby, Still, Nash and Young session (the one with lyrics by Lee) while at least the final song “Something for Nothing” attempts to rock, but Lifeson’s guitar solo is cut short in its prime as the song fades away.
In short, it’s a fine album overall but you will play the “2112” track far more than the others – 3 stars.
Geddy Lee – bass guitar and lead vocals
Alex Lifeson – lead guitar
Neil Peart – drums
The Temples of Syrinx
Oracle: The Dream
A Passage to Bangkok
The Twilight Zone
Something for Nothing
Note: Written by Mott The Dog and Hells Bells. Mott can often be found bouncing around Jameson’s on Soi A.R, North Pattaya.