Bow to the Temples of Syrinx

In the continuing chronicles of indefensibly cheesy 70s metal bands…

So the story goes that after Caress of Steel stiffed, undoubtedly because of tracks like the super indulgent and fairly leaden, 20-minute, “Fountain of Lamneth,” an early misguided attempt at heaviosity, the Canadian trio Rush knew they were about to be dropped by their label, if not the music business, the listening public and the entire human race, so they figured WTF. Deep into what Geddy Lee now calls their “kimono period,” the band wrote and recorded, 2112, (“Twenty One Twelve”) a record that makes them incredibly pretentious dorks or prog rock gods (in kimonos) depending on your taste and tolerance for Neil Peart-penned lyrics based on the turgid writings of Ayn Rand and a tale about worlds being taken over by The Priests of the Temples of Syrinx (pronounced Sear-Rinks).

In this futuristic tale, an innocent finds a guitar, presents it to the priests as a panacea for humanity, is rejected as being frivolous and eventually kills himself. Nothing dark or ridiculous there. A spoken word section that blares in a Big Brother monotone, “Attention all planets of solar federation: We have assumed control,” ends the epic “2112” that fills side one. While the ending is as muddled as the tale, all this is secondary to the band’s instrumental prowess which clearly by this time is growing more focused and real. And Lee’s one-of-a-kind high voice, ever the fall line for those who love or dismiss the band, is now in full wail. Most importantly for the future, and after 2112 they actually had a future, this is a band learning to write and ornament their prog rock jams with melodic hooks. The ballad “Tears,” where Geddy’s career as a tender crooner began and ended, is so soft that it’s almost a joke. Yet “Something for Nothing” is the kind of crisp rock tune they began to specialize in after this record. They also learned about iconography on 2112 when they came up with the Starman logo which appears inside the original album jacket. A naked white man, seen from behind, arms out as if to cushion the blow or push something away (probably those pesky priests), is set against a red, five-pointed star. This bit of Rush lore was memorialized for many years on the kick drum(s) of Neil Peart’s legendarily massive kit.

One of the ageless touchstones of prog/stoner rock, 2112, was quickly followed in the same year (1976) by a double live record, All The World’s A Stage, which in certain pressings was packaged in a purple trifold sleeve with lots of classic 70s backstage/onstage photos. Ahh, the halcyon days of the platform heel and the bell bottomed white suit. The live record, which like all 70’s live records was tweaked later in the studio, confirmed that the band had honed their material to a fine edge. Again, like a lot of live records from that period, it served as a greatest hits collection that ultimately broke the band to the larger world. Recorded at Toronto’s Massey Hall and opening with the one-two punch of “Bastille Day” and “Anthem” (after the introduction, “Oh won’t you please welcome home, RUSH!”) All The World’s a Stage roars through the entire “2112,” a spirited performance of the band’s other great teenage boy epic, “By-Tor and the Snow Dog” and closes its 12 tracks with the band’s first hit, “Working Man.”

Taken together, these two records close out the “early” Rush period, and both have now been reissued on LP for the first time since the mid-1980s by Universal Music. Compared to both the original LPs and two generations of CDs, the new 200 gram pressings hold their own as far as presence and power go. Both are DMM (Direct Metal Mastering), and both come with a download card that boasts that it accesses 320 kbps vinyl-ripped AAC MP4s. These new reissues have also put a serious dent in the market for original pressings, which until recently had reached the kind of prices that could make Rush fans with sensible limits on their bank accounts, strike the same pose as the Starman.

Allen Fant's picture

A great, great album for sure- RB. And yes, RUSH was prog!

Allen Fant's picture

A great, great album for sure- RB. And yes, RUSH was prog!

roig's picture

I have the new vinyl 2112, still need to take it for a spin. I loved the funny and so true comment at the end about the pricing of these new vinyl releases, they are so pricey. Not sure what $10 back in 1976 would be in 2015; is it $24?. Funny how SACD did not take off like the vinyl is taking off recently. I would think it would be the same target audience since price drives much of it.

Nevertheless, the ones that can afford to re-buy their favorite LP's as new pressings will do it.


roig's picture


Please consider reviewing/writing about some of the new Genesis vinyl releases.


Osgood Crinkly III's picture

Rush is the favorite of the Trailer Park Boys, esp. Bubbles. Need more be said?

mikerr's picture

Check out my youtube vid of the limited edition 'Hologram' version that I have.

Best album of all time. I have many copies !

look for Rush 2112- 2015 Hologram Edition LP

Catch22's picture

Love, love, love Rush. Lots of great memories growing up listening to these three guys create sound that defies what any sane person would consider possible from only three people. And, three of the most decent guys in rock-n-roll. There isn't an ounce of pretense in any of them.

Btw, there is a really funny youtube video of them having dinner at a hunting lodge. It's well worth watching if you are a Rush fan.

Catcher10's picture

All bands in their early years were dorks on some scale or another, the issue is did they grow out of this period? Rush most certainly did.....They dropped the kimonos LOL!! But the writing, musicianship, cohesiveness improved beyond anybody's wildest dreams, even theirs.

When you go back now and listen to these early albums you can hear the brilliance, it's totally undeniable who and what Rush are to rock music in general, let alone what they mean to the progressive rock community.

esroberto's picture

Robert, I love your reviews, and I have for many years now. I'm surprised how much you missed the story and recorded execution of the 2112 storyline, however. I know there's no way to say this without sounding like the ultimate RUSH nerd, pulling up my pants and pushing up my glasses with indignation at this slight against my heroes, but I do have a couple 'notes'.

The gods in the Temple don't think the guitar is frivolous, but the opposite -- they think it's dangerous, a threat to their control over the people, calling it "another toy that helped destroy the elder race of Man". Even the word "toy", meant as a cruel belittlement, can't diminish the weight of an artifact that wiped out an early version of humanity.

The confession of the narrator is that he realized, after having a dream led by an oracle where creativity flourished and was valued and rewarded (remember when we used to be able to say that for the music industry?), he could not continue to live in such an oppressed world, and thusly took his own life. I don't find that as unreasonably far-fetched as it sounds like you might. Dark, certainly. Ridiculous? Not so fast.

The admittedly ominous voiceover at the end, over all the explosions and bombast, was intended to signify the arrival of the saviors who have come to destroy the Temples and release humanity from the shackles of oppression. Had the ending music been written/performed a bit more hopefully, that plot point may have been clearer, it's true. (I missed that one for decades until RUSH mentioned the intended meaning in an interview.)

Regarding the "tweaking" of "All the World's a Stage", if you mean "mixing", then yes, it was recorded to multitrack and later mixed for the record's release. But in today's practice, "tweaking" could be interpreted as "fixed", i.e., altered to be better than the actual event by overdubbing parts that could've been performed better. RUSH has said in a number of interviews that the lack of that sort of "tweaking" is precisely what they hate about that first live album. (They've also said they considered "Exit... Stage Left" somewhat over-fixed, sterile, and disconnected, the result of too much "tweaking". The 3rd live release, "A Show of Hands", was the first live album they felt had the right balance or rawness and refinement.) I (and, I'll wager, THEY) would sure hate for someone to misinterpret the "tweaking" you mention here as "fixing", and then listen to the record RUSH considers too raw for their own standards.

Anyway, thanks for the RUSH coverage (the 200g DMM records are easily the best pressings in terms of sound, you're certainly right about that!), and for the many years of great reviews.

And yes, I'm aware I need to get out more. :-)

mvs4000's picture

Cat Stevens on Salman Rushdie:

"He must be killed. The Qur'an makes it clear – if someone defames the prophet, then he must die."

He later recanted this as "a joke" (yea, right) but not a word from Baird on this. Yet Rush gets the sneering take down for its association with the "turgid" writings of Ayn Rand.


Mycophile's picture

Geddy Lee’s one-of-a-kind high voice: not quite... ;-)

David Surkamp's singing on Pavlov's Dog's (from St. Louis) debut LP, Pampered Menial (released in 1975 and produced by Sandy Perlman and Murray Krugman of Blue Oyster Cult fame). In particular, the song "Julia" or even better / shriller, "Song Dance" if you can stand it, as a follow-up.

Their music is (they are still semi-active in one incarnation or another, and still include Surkamp) kind of a fun hybrid of Kansas (violin and piano) and Rush (plus mellotron). Surkamp really sings like that (having seen them perform in NYC about 25 years ago to a rather sparse audience in a Tribeca nightclub).

fork's picture

I had Rush albums as a kid, but when I bought a $10 original copy of Fly by Night in a record store a few years ago I was blown away. Ditto for 2112 and Moving Pictures, essentials with amazing sound quality. I didn't spend much for any of these albums (they pressed millions of these things). Can't see buying a reissue. The band has admitted in interviews that many of their tapes were not well cared for and didn't hold up with age and their new issues tend to be overly compressed. Anytime I hear someone say 200g vinyl I think, that's approximately 60 extra ounces of mediocrity.