Richard V. : On August 1, 2015 Rush closed the lid on four decade career with a concert in Los Angeles. Drummer Neil Peart quit because he was struggling with physical complaints and because he wanted to spend more time with his family. A decision that we can only respect after losing his previous family (daughter and wife) in such a terrible way. Bass player and vocalist Geddy Lee recently stated that there are no plans to record new music or go on tour. Both Lee and guitarist Alex Lifeson would like to tour, but they will not go on the road with another drummer. Without Peart there will be no Rush. Such loyalty is a rare these days.
Fortunately, not everything went quiet on the Rush front because the band started issuing luxurious reissues a few years ago. It started with a box set from their debut album, followed by an extensive reissue of '2112'. Last year was got 'A Farewell To Kings' and now there is 'Hemispheres'. The album was remastered for a vinyl release in 2015, but is now also available on CD. The sound quality is excellent and the recording sounds more dynamic compared to the original vinyl edition, and certain details are better reflected.
'Hempispheres' is still a rock-solid progressive rock album. The arrangements are ingenious in each other even though it sometimes sounds a bit contrived. The musical performances are top notch and Lee was already a better singer than in the early days. In terms of composition strength, the band was close to its top, underlined by the complex and completely instrumental La Villa Strangiato on which the band masterfully melts jazz and rock. The opening track 'Cygnus' X-I Book II', a sequel to the 'Cygnus' epic on' A Farewell To Kings', is also world class. The lyrics of master drummer Neil Peart are imaginative and poetic.
The legendary Pinkpop gig from 1979 is included as bonus material. That show has been very popular among bootleg collectors and proves once again that Rush was a phenomenon on stage. Unfortunately, the person who recorded the concert was not very smart because during '2112' he had to change tapes, so a large part of that song was missing. The band has chosen to add an integral version of '2112' that was recorded in Arizona. The sound quality of that recording is not that good. This re-release features new, beautiful artwork by Hugh Syme, an insightful essay that learns that the band went into the studio without any material. Rush fans will have to pick this up and anyone who wants to start listening to progressive rock, this is an excellent starting point.