Richard V. : Last year '2112' received a luxury makeover. This year the 'A Farewell To Kings' released forty years ago received the same treatment. Packaged with completely new artwork Rush' fifth studio album is still a delight for our ears. The progressive rock of Rush does not sound dated and the compositions still stand as strong as way back in the seventies. The instrumental spectrum is even broader on this album than on the previous Rush albums and producer Terry Date ensured a nice balance and crystal clear production.
'A Farewell To Kings' was released decades before streaming services became the norm. Both the beautiful title track and the breathtakingly 'Xanadu' have long and mellow intros. The layered compositions contain imaginative texts and both subdued and intense passages that best can be listened to lying on the couch with headphones. 'Closer To The Heart' is a smooth, short composition that was part of the band’s set list for many years and in those days probably the most radio friendly song of the band. The rather joyful 'Cinderella Man' is followed by the relatively simple song 'Madrigal' after which the grand instrumental 'Cygnus X-1' closes the album.
The complete concert from February 1978 in the Hammersmith Odeon in London has been added as a bonus. A large part of that concert also appeared on a bonus CD with the live album 'Different Stages'. Now finally the complete concert is released. Rush musical performance is great, as usual. Geddy Lee’s vocals could be better, but have become an integral part of Rush’ music through the years. Naturally the set list shows a considerable overlap with the live album 'All The World's A Stage' that was released prior to this studio album.
As a second bonus, a quartet of covers has been added. The Dream Theater version of ‘Xanadu’ sounds pretty decent although singer James LaBrie sings out of tune. The other covers remain true to the original versions and are not the expected vocal leap forward. 'Closer To The Heart' by Big Wreck is no enrichment either. The unknown band The Threws delivers the best cover, but the performance of 'Madrigal' by a certain Alain Johannes comes up empty. The set ends with a studio Rush’ outtake called 'Cygnus X-2 Eh', a lukewarm synthesizer experiment that was best left on the shelves. Hopefully the band will refrain from using covers by other artists on the deluxe versions 'Hemispheres' and 'Moving Pictures.'