A good candidate for the most well-rounded of Rush's albums around this period. The highlight here is "Xanadu", the best example of their early prog style, breathlessly shifting from one riff to another. Thankfully they only pick a very few lines from Coleridge's poem, and focus on the music, so it ends up more compact than, say, "2112". OK, the instrumental intro seems to go on for ever, but that's the point of symphonic rock. Elsewhere, the robust "A Farewell to Kings" and the simple one-tune "Closer to the Heart" show off their straightforward rock side well. The relatively ordinary "Cinderella Man" and the sensitive ballad "Madrigal" pass the time before the dark and heavy finale "Cygnus X-I". This is a bit less accessible and I have never managed to get into this, but it might appeal more to those approaching Rush from the metal side.
June 21, 2004