By the end of the summer of 1976, Rush had completed touring off of their most successful studio album to date “2112″. A true turning point of an album for a band that was on the verge of being dropped by their Record company (Mercury Records) if they did not produce an album in which they felt would be more palatable for commercial audiences & more radio exposure. To put it another way, they did not want “Caress Of Steel – Part II”. Thankfully for us, the listener & fan, they did not submit to their demands. Which leads us to today being September 1st 2017. Why is this significant? Forty years ago today as I write this on September 1st 1977, Rush released their follow up to their most successful album at this point when “A Farewell To Kings” officially hit stores. Rush fans would soon find out that they would not abandon the formula that led to huge success for it’s previous effort.
In continuing their creative & recording partnership, once again Terry Brown would be behind the production of the album, as they would begin recording at Rockfield Studios in June 1977. While “2112” would begin with a 20 minute suite that would encompass all of Side 1 followed by the flip side featuring 5 shorter tracks averaging three and a half minutes each, this time around “A Farewell To Kings” would begin with a shorter opener in the title track (which features one of my all time favorite pieces of Rush music beginning at the 4:00 mark) followed by the mini epically excellent fan favorite “Xanadu” encompassing all of Side 1 while Side 2 would open with what would be their most successful single peaking at #76 on the US Singles chart with “Closer To The Heart” (until “The Spirit Of Radio” was released in 1980 and peaked at #51 on the US Singles Chart). To be followed up by the 2nd single “Cinderella Man”, the surprisingly short “Madrigal” (topping out at a whole 2:35) and closing the album with one of their greatest pieces of work with “Cygnus X-1 Book I: The Voyage”. Book 2 would follow as it would open their next album “Hemispheres,” but that’s for another day and another anniversary.
The extension of the working partnership between Terry Brown & Rush would produce what may now be considered to be one of their most overlooked and somewhat under-appreciated albums. When you consider that I’m writing this mini piece and there’s no 40th Anniversary Deluxe Edition & Super Deluxe box set released by now as there was at the end of 2016 for the 40th Anniversary of “2112” it may just support that thought. However, I highly recommend that fans of this album seek out the most recent 200 Gram Vinyl Reissue as it was given an excellent remastering treatment. As a bonus with purchasing the album, you can download free Digital files containing high-end direct Vinyl to digital transfer MP4’s which interestingly were completed at Abbey Road Studios as was the actual remastering of the album to vinyl. Having been asked to contribute this article and listening to the album myself three times over the last 24 hours I can truly say that “A Farewell To Kings” is an album that should be more appreciated in the overall canon of Rush studio albums from the 70’s.
Written by Pete LaRussa on September 1, 2017. Connect with him on Facebook.