Currently enjoying “2112″ by Rush

I’ve been on a bit of a Rush renaissance lately. Just last night, after mentioning that I “wouldn’t really mind” if our national anthem was just Sarah Polley yelling “Neil Peart is the best drummer ever,” I went home and finally started watching Beyond the Lighted Stage, the rather excellent documentary on the band that was released this year.

I bought the film when it first came out on DVD, but it’s been sitting on the shelf for months. It was only last night, after hitting iTunes in search of a digital copy of 2112 to replace the cassette copy that I haven’t heard since high school, that I came home and put the movie on.

2112 is the band’s fourth studio album, and certainly their most notable. But until I watched the film, I didn’t know that it was also an album that many feared would mark the end of their career. Following Caress of Steel, which sold below expectations, Rush’s label pressured them not to do another “concept” album. But the band stuck to their guns, and 2112 went on to storm the charts and become their first commercial success. In short, the album was a turning point for the band, who went on to enjoy greater label support and more creative control.

The title piece, which spans the first side, certainly isn’t short on “concept.” Set in a distant future after an interplanetary war – and based on the writings of Ayn Rand, for crying out loud – it definitely wasn’t the stuff of bar bands and casual listeners. Hell, you might even say it was a bit pretentious and overblown. But the sheer musicianship on the record is undeniable, and there’s more than enough straight-ahead rock on the second site to appease a broader fanbase.

By the way, what I’ve seen of the film so far is also excellent, and I’d highly recommend it. Among other things, the depth and diversity of musicians that lined up to talk about Rush’s influence on their careers is staggering. It’s like the opening montage in CB4, except it’s genuine.

Come to think of it, I wonder if 1221, the first of two solo albums Phil Western released in 2008, is named in reference to 2112. It doesn’t seem like much of a stretch to think that a weird Canadian electronic music producer would be into Rush, does it?

Posted in Currently Enjoying