‘Seminal album’ is a phrase that gets thrown around a lot these days but what does it actually mean?
Well the dictionary definition of the word seminal states:
‘Seminal – (of a work, event, moment, or figure) Strongly influencing later developments’.
I think that when you take this in the context of the platinum-selling, landmark album ‘2112’ by Rush it is pretty much spot on. Unbelievable to think that it was released just over 36 years ago in 1976 when the average house price in the UK was just £12,704 and people watched in awe as Concorde set off on its first commercial flight.
These things seem dated, from another time, but when you listen to 2112 today it has a timeless quality that keeps it sounding as fresh and as relevant as it was back then.
The longevity of the album is not the only contributing factor in its success, the format, imagery and story all went together to help captivate audiences young and old. With lyrics written by drummer Neil Peart, and influenced by author Ayn Rand, side one of the original record kicked off with an ambitious seven-suite title track.
Set in the year 2112, a galaxy-wide war has resulted in the union of all planets under the rule of the Red Star of the Solar Federation, in turn controlled by the ‘Priests of the Temples of Syrinx’. It is these priests who regulate ‘every single facet of every life,’ which includes books, music, work and play.
Our hero in the tale discovers an ancient guitar and learns to play his own music. Thinking he has made a wonderful discovery that needs to be shared with the world, he goes to present the guitar to the priests of the Temples, who angrily destroy it and rebuke him for unearthing one of the “silly whims” that caused the collapse of the previous civilisation. He retreats in shame and goes into hiding, dreaming of a world before the Solar Federation. Upon awakening he becomes distraught and commits suicide. As he dies, another planetary battle begins resulting in the ambiguous ending “Attention all planets of the Solar Federation: We have assumed control.”
The second side to the record features 5 ‘standard’ length songs that though often overlooked when mentioning 2112 served as proof to doubting critics of the time that there was more to the band than simply producing epic concept songs and that they were credible as a rock band. A fact that has been reinforced with the recent news that Rush are going be entered into the Rock n Roll hall of fame… at last!
The 21st of December (or 21/12) has long been considered by fans as ‘Rush day’ but the fact that this year the date will be 21/12/12 means it is a fitting point in time to celebrate the album with a re-release.
The album will be available in three different configurations: The deluxe editions contain the remastered 2112 CD with 3 live bonus tracks and a DVD or Blu-ray™ disc with a 5.1 surround sound audio mix and an interactive digital comic book, a new album cover by original album designer Hugh Syme, liner notes and unpublished photos. The super deluxe contains the CD/ Blu-ray™ and is meticulously assembled in a hardbound bookcase packed with a 40-page comic book representing every song on 2112.
While this is fantastic news for fans I think it is a shame they aren’t releasing the remastered version to vinyl, especially considering the dual side format is perfect for how the album was intended to be consumed.
That being said it is a perfect way for fans to celebrate this masterpiece and to make it available in all its glory to potential new fans who might be intrigued by music that isn’t packaged for the 3 minute, X-Factor world we live in today.