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Rush - 1978 Hemispheres

ALBUM: Hemispheres
LABEL: Mercury
SERIAL: SRM-1-3743
YEAR: 1978
CD REISSUE: 1997, Mercury (USA), Remastered, 314 534 629-2


LINEUP: Geddy Lee - vocals, bass, taurus pedals, keyboards * Alex Lifeson - guitars * Neil Peart - drums, percussion

TRACK LISTING: 01 Cygnus X-1 Book II Hemispheres * 02 Circumstances * 03 The Trees * 04 La Villa Strangiato


There are many Rush fans here, and it's an interesting exercise to discuss their back catalogue. I prefer to look at their 70's albums as imprints in time, because like anything in life, entities grow and develop over time. So it is with Rush's albums. 'Hemispheres' maybe short in terms of tracks on the album (technically only four), but back in 1978 when this released, it was all the rage. Coming off the rather excellent 'A Farewell To Kings' album from the previous year, we see a continuation of the sci-fi concept presented by the band on this album, through the tale of 'Cygnus X-1'. I'm not sure if many are aware of the story, but it involves the gods Dionysus and Apollo, and the disembodied spirit of the protagonist who helps resolve the godly conflict. In fact, the protagonist becomes Cygnus - the God of Balance. I think I've seen/read better concepts in music, but remember kiddies, this was 1978 after all!

The Songs
The entire side one is taken up with 'Cygnus X-1 Book II Hemispheres', containing six parts: I: Prelude, II: Apollo Bringer Of Wisdom, III: Dionysus Bringer Of Love, IV: Armageddon The Battle Of Heart And Mind, V: Cygnus Bringer Of Balance and VI: The Sphere - A Kind Of Dream. It's a very complex but tightly woven piece at 18 minutes, with pure hard rock references with some change up moments as well, including the acoustic ballad 'The Sphere - A Kind Of Dream'. Side two picks up the remaining tracks. 'Circumstances' is perhaps the straight-forward track on the album without any reference to a concept. 'The Trees' could also be considered normal, but the use of such a word in the Rush universe could mean just about anything. A run-through of tree species is undertaken, with Maples and Oaks mentioned but ultimately, what does it all mean? The finale 'La Villa Strangiato' is another mini-epic, broken down into several sections. It was (from memory) the band's first instrumental, and features some scorching guitar work from Alex Lifeson.

In Summary
It's not a long album by any stretch, clocking in at 36 minutes. 'Hemispheres' has certainly gathered a reputation among Rush fans as one of their best albums, but because their discography is so vast, you've got plenty to choose from. If you're a Rush fan, you'll already have this, but it is good to give it a mention.

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#1 | thejbl on November 07 2009 09:46:35
easily one of my fav Rush albums - possibly one of the very best prog rock albums ever made
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