After forming in 1968 it took nearly a decade for Canadian rock band Rush to make it over to England. A Farewell To Kings represents a departure from the hard rock redolence of AC/DC and Led Zeppelin, and a marks out the direction the band would continue to take. The broader, more progressive sound they were developing certainly hit a nerve with fans around the world.
Recorded at the iconic Rockfield Studios A Farewell To Kings sounds and feels like a very British prog rock album; while the band's experimental style encompasses everything from the Allman Brothers to, glam rock, classical and medieval. After the live album All The World's A Stage, the band re-examined where they wanted to take their music next. With a nod to the future and the past A Farewell To Kings defiantly steered clear of too many radio friendly tracks (except Closer To Heart) and focused on their own vision.
Album favourites Xanadu and Cinderella Man sound as fresh as ever and their ten-minute sci fi opus Cygnus X-1 shows Rush at their creative prime. Geddy Lee's bass lines that draw on funk and sound suspiciously modern: it's almost as though they have tapped into the futuristic black hole of the track. Madrigal is an underrated piece of work but demonstrates the band's abilities to create a subtle beauty in their work as well as heavier sounds. Lee's piercing vocals fluctuate between elfish banshee to full-bodied rock God in a way that is unmatched by any other vocalist. Alex Lifeson's guitar work is also unrivaled, offering textured electric and acoustic riffs throughout the album and let's not forget Neil Peart's fantastical lyrics that cement the work together in a dynamic musical vision. The addition of live tracks from Hammersmith Odeon (mixed by original producer and engineer Terry Brown) really shows the band at their progressive best. There is over half an hour of previously unreleased material including the full 2112 suit. A further addition of four cover versions of tracks from the album from Dream Theater, Big Wreck, The Trews and Alain Johannes help support the lasting legacy of the album.
There are a variety of collectors editions available too: Super Deluxe Edition, three-CD Deluxe Edition, four-LP Deluxe Edition and the Deluxe Digital Edition, each more elaborate than the last – just like a Rush album.
Groupie Rating: 4/5