Time for another vinyl record review. This is the second review in what I hope will be an ongoing series of music reviews targeted at spinning plastic discs, better known as "vinyl". My first review was of KISS Alive and it was quite a while ago, and very early in my analog music revival. I am a music lover, but by no means a music expert so my reviews will be more about the general listening experience of the album, not the small details of each and every song. I am having a lot of fun "rediscovering music" by listening to it on my Project Debut Carbon turntable and I want to share that with anyone who is interested. On to the review.................!
A Classic Rush Album Remastered
2112 was released on April 1st, 1976 and was the fourth album by the Canadian progressive rock trio. The album reached 5th on the Canadian charts and 61st on the US charts. The album is a double-platinum in Canada and a triple-platinum in the US. Over the years there have been a number of reissues/remasterings but the 40th anniversary of the Band happened in 2014 and that prompted a "12 Months of Rush" promotion that included a remastering for vinyl by Sean Magee at Abbey Road Studios. In addition to vinyl, high resolution digital files (24-bit/96kHz and 24-bit/192kHz) were made available for sale. The new Rush 2112 Remastered "audiophile" vinyl LP was released in March of 2015. I purchased my copy for $26.40 on Amazon a couple of weeks ago.
My "Rush" to Rush
I have to admit that I am not a Rush fanatic. My initial exposure to the band was in high school when their two best selling albums were released (Permanent Waves in 1980 and Signals in 1981). I enjoyed those albums back then but kind of got away from them as I went through college. A couple years after college (1989 or so) I picked up Signals on CD and listened to it quite a bit. But since 1994 or so I have been mostly out of the loop as far as Rush music was concerned.
That all changed when I got my turntable last year and began my search to get all of the music I enjoyed as a kid on vinyl. That's when I rediscovered Rush and the remasters that were in progress. I kept up with the release dates of the remastered albums and purchased Hemispheres and Moving Pictures in hi-rez digital a couple months ago through ProStudioMasters to reacquaint myself with the band. I decided to get at least a couple of the vinyl editions after hearing generally good reviews on several music forums. 2112 was the one I decided to start off with even though I really hadn't listened to the album in its entirety, as people seem think that it is "the one Rush album to get if you just want to listen to one Rush album. It also seemed to the be one that had the highest overall quality in the newly remastered vinyl release.
Where The Future Meets The Past
2112 is a "concept" album with side one consisting of a 20 minute suite in 7 parts. Side two's songs are unrelated to side one's. The side one suite is apparently influenced by the writings of Ayn Rand and is based in the future, telling the story of the fate of the galaxy's planets in 2112 under the rule of the "Red Star of the Solar Federation". It was a futuristic theme that was originally executed on a decidedly "un-futuristic" format of pressed plastic. Now, nearly 40 years after the original release the album has been remastered using "state of the art Digital Metal Mastering" methods that promise a superior vinyl listening experience.
I ordered the album from Amazon on Monday and received it on Wednesday in typical speedy Amazon Prime style. But, because of a busy week at work I didn't have a chance to open the box until Friday. When I did finally open it here's what I found:
The album was shrink-wrapped featuring a sticker proclaiming "200g Hologram Edition, Audiophile Vinyl". The front cover features the famous "starman" emblem that has become synonymous with the band. When I flipped the album over I was greeted with "high fashion", circa 1976:
For those of us old enough to remember, the 1970's was quite a time when it came to fashion. For those of you who weren't alive then, boy did you miss out! Rush was definitely strutting their stuff! I then opened up the album, revealing the gatefold:
The "starman" emblem makes another appearance inside along with lyrics to the songs. The album came with a free digital download coupon as well:
I downloaded the 320kbps AAC files and the quality seems pretty good though I may go ahead and get the true hi rez version at some point. When I took the album out of the sleeve and put it on the turntable I was greeted with a cool hologram of the starman symbol in the deadwax of side 2.:
The addition of the hologram is definitely a feature of the new remaster and I think it's pretty cool :-) Overall, I was impressed with the packaging of the album. Everything seems to be a faithful reproduction of the original based on everything I could find. The vinyl seemed to be well pressed with no obvious artifacts from the pressing and no visible warping. I gave it a quick cleaning, tossed it on the turntable and sat down for a listen.......
How Does The Future Sound?
Having never listened to the album in it's entirety before, I spent some time with the digital version while at work through my Fiio X1 music player (a great deal for $99!). After a couple of times through the complete album I put the vinyl on the turntable and sat down for a "critical" listening session.
Here's a listing of the tracks on the album (courtesy of Wikipedia):
|2.||"A Passage to Bangkok"||3:32|
|3.||"The Twilight Zone"||3:16|
|4.||"Lessons" (Lyrics: Lifeson)||3:51|
|5.||"Tears" (Lyrics: Lee)||3:30|
|6.||"Something for Nothing" (Music: Lee)||3:59|
The more I listen to 2112, the more I enjoy it. So far I've listened to the album 3 times (twice digital and once on the vinyl) so I'm still getting the full feel for the music. I've found that it really takes me about 4-5 listens to really become familiar with a complete album but so far I'm really enjoying it. Their music is a good mix of "hardish" rock, blues, and progressive rock. Side one's 7-part suite is well written and performed. I'm becoming a fan of Geddy Lee's vocal style the more I listen to him. Side 2 has 5 separate tracks, with my favorite at this point being "A Passage to Bangkok".
As for the quality of the vinyl I can find no complaints. The vinyl is solid (200 grams) dead flat and also super-quiet where it needs to be. I got a few static pops but those were very minor. The album has a slightly more open feel to it that the digital files and the reverb/echo on "Ovature" (part 1 of 7 on side 1) is great, both on my Hawthorne Open Baffle speakers as well as my Mad Dog headphones. I haven't detected any dropouts or missing channel either which is usually a sign of a quality mastering/pressing. Overall. I'm very happy with the listening experience and with the quality of the vinyl and packaging.
Conclusion And Thoughts
I am really enjoying 2112.
The recent remastering of Rush albums has definitely caught my attention and I have a new appreciation for the band and their music. I only wish I had paid more attention to them earlier in my life. The good news is that with the newly remastered music I think I will get a better overall listening experience than before. The remasterings seem to have kept true to the original intent of the band and the sound is very good. I plan on getting a few more Rush albums on vinyl because of it. The price for the albums is in line with most new vinyl these days ($20-$30). I might even seek out some of the earlier releases on "original" vinyl just for comparison. Currently on Discogs, a 1976 original 2112 in Near-Mint condition will run $20-$30. If you have been a fan of Rush and haven't tried any of these newly remastered albums, I encourage you to give one or two a go in either digital or vinyl. If you have never really listened to Rush this is a perfect time to give them a try. Just make sure you get one of the recent (2015) remasters as the quality is much better than many of the previous attempts.
What Are Your Thoughts
I'm interested in hearing any of your feedback on the Rush remasters. If you have purchased any of the 2014/2015 remastered albums (digital or vinyl) and want to share your opinion please leave a comment with your thoughts.
That's it for now. Stay tuned for another vinyl music review fairly soon as I have picked up some vinyl (both vintage and new) over the last few weeks that I'm looking forward to sharing my thoughts on.