Updated: Aug 3, 2021
Rush’s fourth studio album, 2112, was the album that almost wasn’t. A musical story-telling of a post-war totalitarian theocracy. Priests governed total control over 'the words you read, the songs you sing, the pictures that bring pleasure to your eye.' An album so compelling that the listener can envision themselves as the antagonist and be swept away from reality. Like a reader whose hours get lost in the chapters.
Rush blew up the music scene with their 1974 self titled album, Rush. However, by their third album, ‘Caress of Steel,’ they appeared to be losing their popularity just as fast as they built it. They were losing fans and money. Their own record company was ready to kick them to the curb. After some negotiating by their manager, the record company granted them one more album, as long as it wasn’t a concept album. Little did the record company know that they planned on recording just that, a concept record. An album that would later be considered one of their greatest of all time, and that’s only talking about side A.
The first half of 2112 is a seven-part prog-metal/classical/rock-opera work of musical genius. “We don’t want to change what people think of Rock n Roll; we just want to show them what we think of it.”- Alex Lifeson, Rush’s guitarist.
‘Temples of Syrinx,’
‘Oracle: the Dream,’
and ‘The Grand Finale’ are the seven parts of the album that tell the story of Megadon, the capitol city of the 'Federation' in the year 2112. Individuality and creativity is non-existent and everything you see and know is controlled by the priests of Syrinx. That is until a man discovers a guitar hidden away in a cave, protected by a waterfall. He creates music for the first time. It doesn't take long for him to view life before the guitar as empty. The man takes his findings to the priests in hopes they will see how beautiful his discovery is; unfortunately, they new of these 'ancient ways.' The priests destroyed his guitar. You will need to listen to the album to know what happens next.
The story itself is robust and riddled with hidden meanings and metaphors. Reflecting Rush’s drummer/lyricist Neil Peart’s thoughts, feelings, and perspectives in that time of his life, with inspiration from Aryn Rand’s book, Anthem. The lyrics themselves can be read like a short story.
The music is written by bassist/vocalist, Geddy Lee and guitarist, Alex Lifeson. They secret ingredient in accompanying Peart’s lyrics and adding emotion and power to the story.
The beginning instrumental titled ‘Overture’ tells the part of the story of the societal takeover. The combination of guitar, drum, and bass in ‘Overture’ creates a beautiful arrangement that accurately depicts chaos, destruction, and surrender. You feel it all. The song ends with the lyrics, “And the meek shall inherit the earth…”
With this album, you don’t just get great music choreographed by perfect timing and key signatures. You get a story; every time you listen to it, you hear something else that blows your mind and keeps the story relevant and exciting. If you sat and listen to this album in the dark with your headphones on full blast, you’d be guided to the year 2112.
“It’s built to be played loud on headphones, late at night, all alone, staring at the wall and wondering when your life is going to stop feeling like imprisonment in the towers of Megalodon.”-Rob Sheffield, Rollingstone Magazine.
Dan Nooger, of ‘Creem Magazine' wrote, "features some significant Mellotron meanderings and amazingly eccentric lyrics.”
Ultimately 2112 became what Geddy Lee called “The Skeleton key.” The album that opened up all their doors of creation. The album reinstalled the record companies confidence in the band, allowing them to go into any creative direction they chose...and they definitely did. After 2112, Rush’s fan base grew exponentially. Due to their intricate musicianship, they became known as a musicians band. Meaning people who are music geeks that get off on the technical genius of the arrangements became huge Rush followers (music nerds), and for a good reason. 2112 is a musical masterpiece that offers something for everyone from all walks of the music community. The Audio-Visual Preservation Trust of Canada, a non-profit Canadian charitable organization dedicated to promoting Canada's audio-visual heritage, has sponsored MasterWorks. Which annually recognizes twelve culturally significant Canadian classics in the film, radio, TV, and music industries to preserve for the end of days. In 2006, 2112 was one of the albums.