Aw, you thought I had forgotten about this Rush listening retrospective, didn't you? Truth be told, these are harder to write than I originally thought. You go through all of your albums for an artist that pretty much spans your lifetime, and write something intelligent about their albums.
Anyway, enough of my excuses. Let's roll ahead, shall we?
A Farewell to Kings marks a second phase of Rush for me. The first album (Rush) through 2112 was the more exploitative phase of Rush, where the band Rush hadn't really found their stride, and their unique sound. Sure, A Farewell to Kings sounds much like Fly by Night and Caress of Steel, but A Farewell to Kings is what truly starts the second phase of Rush. Gone was the polyester from 2112, but still omnipresent in the album was the epic songs and tales from Neil Peart's imagination. The lead song, A Farewell to Kings, is a longer piece dealing with the fall of monarchies. Yep, that's right... monarchies. Only a bad like Rush can make a the fall of kings and queens into a compelling track. If you think a song about monarchical rule is a bit odd, how about Samuel Taylor Coleridge? Xanadu, a favorite at Rush concerts, details the mythical city of Xanadu, decreed by Kubla Kahn. I think this song alone helped me remember the opium-induced story better than anything out there. The next song used to be a favorite of mine, but if there is a song that has been played into the ground to the point where I can't make it through this song. It's played at every single concert, it's on every single live album. It's not a bad song, but it is one I'd rather avoid. Thanks. Cinderella Man is an odd song, about a man who gains prominence in his field, and gains lots of money, only to go slightly insane and spend it all to try to help the needy. I don't recall the literary reference right now. Madrigal is an uncharacteristic song for this album, but is one of my forgotten favorites (I never remember it, but I love it when I hear it). Last, and certainly not least, is Cygnus X1. Bound for the back hole Cygnus X1 know the Rochinante (named for Don Quixote's horse) makes it's way. Along the way, the ship is tossed, until it is drawn into the back hole itself.
There's still an element of fantasy in this album, but the album has it's more mature moments. The juxtaposition may seem a bit odd for newer listeners, but this is an album that shouldn't be overlooked. Maybe not a great first album, but definitely one to round out the collection.