With their records now charting in the US and UK, what must have been a confident Rush flew to England and Rockfield Studios to record A Farewell To Kings, their fifth studio album. It represents a substantial leap in their development. The title track opens, and it's a typical Rush construct: Propelled by Neil Peart's masterful drumming, Alex Lifeson and Geddy Lee hammer away until Lifeson's lead guitar takes full-flight. The epically constructed "Xanadu" takes the concept of 2112 one step further; Lee also doubles on keyboards, providing a new augmentation to the band's sound. Clocking in at a near-perfect two minutes and 55 seconds, the straightforward "Closer to the Heart" earned considerable airplay in the US, and even charted as a single. "Cinderella Man" comes from the same mold, but "Madrigal" is a bit of a miscue. Still, by no means had Rush become a pushover: "Cygnus X-1" is the prog rock opus, complete with multiple sections, heavy metal plodding and a "to be continued" byline. Again, it's not that far off from their previous works; in that respect, it's a splendid illustration of the band's musical progression to date. If there is a formula to Rush's success, it's radio-friendliness; their virtuosity always manages to remain commercial even as it progressed. Rush would become the new face of prog rock; and somehow, this more than fit into the changing commercial landscape of rock music. In fact, while most prog rock bands dropped their "progressiveness" as they moved into the 80s, Rush relished in it. A Farewell To Kings was their first to chart simultaneously on both sides of the Atlantic, straddling each shore in the Top 30.
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Taken from The Strawberry Bricks Guide to Progressive Rock, here is an Album of the Week to enjoy and discuss.
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"Always ready with the ray of sunshine"