2112 (40th Anniversary Edition)

(Universal Music)

      Let's face it; the bulk of the would-be music and entertainment journalists at the gap-toothed epicenter of the blogosphere are often far too eager to mercilessly abuse and overuse the terms 'groundbreaking', 'revolutionary' and even 'breathtaking' when describing the artists and groups they feel are deserving of additional or renewed recognition. Unfortunately for you, the increasingly-faithful reader, listener and viewer, this has resulted in you being repeatedly subjected to my painfully adjective-riddled prattling concerning the virtues of pre-Persistence Of Time Anthrax, Dream Theater, Nitro axeman Michael Angel Batio and post-Metal Health Quiet Riot (most notably QR III, QR and Terrified) on a semi-regular basis throughout the course of my oft-checkered career. Not surprisingly, when approached regarding coverage of the highly-anticipated 2112 (40th Anniversary Edition) re-issue from Canadian Progressive Rock legends Rush, we were once again only more than happy to overindulge.

      On the oft-brilliant 2112 (40th Anniversary Edition) (2016), an expertly assembled three disc, sixteen song collection of prototypical Progressive Hard Rock, each track, beginning with the uniquely exhaustive suite “2112” (I. Overture, II. The Temples Of Syrinx, III. Discovery, IV. Presentation, V. Oracle: The Dream, VI. Soliloquy, VII. Grand Finale) and the gleeful, sitar-fueled “A Passage To Bangkok”, immediately commands the rapt and undivided attention of even the most jaded and unimaginative of listeners, myself most definitely included. Driving home each genre-defining focal point with the razor-sharp intensities that would define their later releases (i.e. A Farewell To Kings and Hemispheres), the group effortlessly distances themselves from their few would-be contemporaries. Seething with a previously-unparalleled level of lyrical and musical adventurism, their multi-faceted approach, while initially relegated to 'cult' status, would essentially re-vitalize their career(s).

      Continuing with the maddeningly infectious Sci-Fi parable “The Twilight Zone” and the thought-provoking lament “Lessons”, the now legendary combination of vocalist/bassist/keyboardist Geddy Lee (born Gary Lee Weinrib), guitarist Alex Lifeson and drummer/chief lyricist Neil Peart steamrolls ahead at what can only be described as a carefully calculated pace. Wasting little--if any--time engulfing all parties involved amid an often thunderous, multi-dimensional display of soaring vocals, razor-sharp riffs and imaginatively intricate rhythms. Admittedly drawing heavily from the Ayn Rand classic Anthem (causing them to be mislabeled as right-wing extremists), the group presents a stark, quasi-dystopian landscape in which every aspect of life is controlled by the Priests of the previously-mentioned Temples Of Syrinx. Offering redemption in the form of a man who discovers an ancient guitar and an ambiguous ending, the storyline remains both timeless and arguably relevant.

      Fortified throughout by newly-recorded 'covers' by Alice In Chains (“Tears”), Billy Talent (“A Passage To Bangkok”), Dave Grohl, Taylor Hawkins and Nick Raskulinecz (“Overture”), Jacob Moon (“Something For Nothing”) and Steven Wilson (“The Twilight Zone”) and a gleefully nostalgia-inducing 2112 1976 Radio Ad, other standouts, including a truly stunning live rendition of “II. The Temples Of Syrinx” (taken from the group's 06/25/81 performance at Edmonton, Alberta-based Northlands Coliseum) and the equally impressive closer “Something For Nothing” (taken from the Live At Massey Hall FM Radio Broadcast), only further reinforce the group's rightful status as veritable Godfathers of the Progressive Rock genre. While primarily geared towards their most obsessive constituents, what ultimately separates the mighty 2112 (40th Anniversary Edition) from it's prosperous contemporaries is an overall fixation on maintaining the unabashed spirits of the original recordings.

      Believe me; I know what you're thinking. Is 2112 (40th Anniversary Edition) really worthy of your time and, more importantly, financial resources? Absolutely. Deftly re-examining (and, in some cases, fully re-imagining) one of the improbably long-running group's most treasured and revered pre-Moving Pictures and Grace Under Pressure releases, the majority--if not all--of the decidedly wares contained herein are seemingly guaranteed to appeal to both die-hard completists and clueless newcomers alike regardless of the relatively daunting MSRP. Love it or loathe, it, this is quite possibly as good as Progressive Hard Rock gets. Accordingly, if you've once again found yourself in search of a deluxe Classic Rock re-issue that effectively delivers the goods without the unnecessary fillers that have plagued so many multi-disc compilations of such ilk, then this, my friends, might just be the high-octane 'universal remedy' for whatever it is that ails you. Trust me, you will not be disappointed.

Select Discography

2112 (40th Anniversary Edition) (2016)

Clockwork Angels (2012)

Snakes & Arrows (2007)

Feedback (2004)

Vapor Trails (2002)

Test For Echo (1996)

Counterparts (1993)

Roll The Bones (1991)

Chronicles (1990)

Presto (1989)

Hold Your Fire (1987)

Power Windows (1985)

Grace Under Pressure (1984)

Signals (1982)

Exit...Stage Left (1981)

Moving Pictures (1981)

Permanent Waves (1980)

Hemispheres (1978)

A Farewell To Kings (1977)

All The Worlds A Stage (1976)

2112 (1976)

Caress Of Steel (1975)

Fly By Night (1975)

Rush (1974)

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