Responding whom must I kill for a set on learning that the good folks at Universal Music Enterprises (UMe) are releasing the super-deluxe 40th anniversary edition of the 1976 album/rock opera "2112" by Canadian prog rock gods "Rush" on December 16, 2016 expresses the extent of enthusiasm for this multi-media godsend. Actually getting the set confirms that doing so is worth going to the chair.
One of the most awesome things about this aptly epic release is that it includes remastered LP and CD versions of "2112" and the tons o' related recordings. Not being cool enough to currently own a turntable prevents commenting on the LPs. Having a CD drive on my laptop and a player in my car and being able to transfer recordings into an iTunes music library (and subsequently my iPhone) shows how far things have come since 1976 and allows sharing that the 40th anniversary CDs are spectacular.
UMe goes one step further in including the novella-length 40th anniversary liner notes in LP and CD-friendly versions. This narrative begins with the early history of "Rush" up to recording this fourth album. One aspect of this is the third album not doing well commercially creating a potential rush (of course pun intended) to judgment to not gamble with a third.
The liner notes do equally well describing the concept of this classic album. This synopsis explains that the time of the conveyed events occur "in a world 136 years in the future where individualism and creativity are outlawed with the population controlled by a cabal of malevolent Priests who reside in the Temple of Syrnix. In this bleak society, music is no longer known. The narrative (in one of the best tracks on the album) revolves around the discovery of a long abandoned guitar in a cave by the story's central protagonist and his consequent vision of a different way of life."
The similarities between this imagined world roughly 100 years from now and our current existence provide yet another reason to obtain this time capsule from the music era of synthesizers and hard-hitting rock operas.
Before discussing the music around which this release centers, it is worth noting that UMe shows even greater love for the New World Men from the Great White North by loading this treasure with tons of incredibly cool SWAG. The STARMAN art consists of an original pencil sketch litho and a turntable mat. You also get buttons with photos of uniquely shrill lead vocalist/bassist Geddy Lee and his boys. Wait, there's more. You additionally get a a litho of a ticket stub for the June 1976 Massey Hall concert, which is the source of some bonus tracks on one of the LPs and a CD, and a couple of other surprises.
Side One of the titular album consists of the aforementioned narrative. This begins with an incredibly ambitious instrumental "Overture" that clearly shows the influence of fellow prog rock '70s group Yes. The story goes from there.
The following YouTube clip of the performance from the aforementioned concert provides a good sense of the great creative style that is Rush.
Side Two of "2112" takes a more traditional approach in having stand-alone songs. The two best-known of which include the wonderfully tongue-in-cheek "A Passage to Bangkok" and the homage to classic scifi television "The Twilight Zone."
The copious extra recordings include official and "contraband" performances by Rush and must-own covers by Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters and his contemporaries that include Alice in Chains and the band Billy Talent.
The centerpiece of the DVD (and the primary motive for offering to end someone to get a copy) is a 1976 Rush concert (with two encores) at the Capitol Theater in Passaic, New Jersey. Anyone who doubts that the band rocks hard while maintaining stereotypical Canadian politeness need only watch this one. This presentation further demonstrates that the great ones do not need FX or Vegas-style sets to fill seats and satisfy fans.
The DVD extras include a great interview with Rush guitarist Alex Lifeson and band producer Terry Brown; their fondness for the good old days is infectious and offers great insights. Another feature takes us into the studio for the recording session of Billy Talent for "A Passage to Bangkok."
The "Grand Finale" to all this must be that "2112" provides fans from the '70s and '80s to rediscover this music in an enhanced version of its original format and score cool stuff in the process and for their kids to expand their musical limits (and love it).
Anyone with questions or comments regarding "2112" is strongly encouraged to use either modern method of email or Twitter. Using the latter requires directing a message to @tvdvdguy.