The 'Fish Out of Water' Blog

written by Tom Edathikunnel

Month: July, 2012

Album Review: 2112 by Rush

2112 is one of the most musically creative and impressive progressive rock albums I have ever heard. Rush’s musical ability is only trumped by their longevity, as this album stills to this day delivers a fusion of stunning musicianship and thought-provoking lyrical content.

The A side of the album contains the song ‘2112’, a sweeping piece that runs over twenty minutes. Based on the novella Anthem by Ayn Rand, ‘2112’ tells the story of a dystopian future in which all forms of media, books, and music are controlled and regulated by the malevolent “Priests of the Red Star Federation” from the “Temple of Syrinx”. The protagonist of the story stumbles upon a guitar, an item completely new to him, and realizes his ability to create, think, and explore. As he tries to presents his gift before the priests they reject it as a waste of time, and destroy the guitar in attempts to continue to pacify the population. In the wake of the destruction, the protagonist is greeted by an oracle who shows him the true potential of man, and the creative force mankind possesses by conjuring images of cities, paintings, and sculptures. Stricken by grief and loss, the protagonist decides that life is not worth living under the rule of the Federation, and takes his own life.

Rush’s sweeping story is only amplified by the incredible music. This album is rather early on in their decade spanning career, but it still displays spectacular talent and vision. Part I- The Overture begins with the iconic whoosh of intergalactic synth and the entire piece progresses into the multiple acts of the story, concluding with part VII- The Grand Finale, which in my opinion is one of the best displays of Rush’s talent. The sheer epic feel of the conclusion always leaves me with an overwhelming sense of awe.

Side B contains five non-sequential songs, which are often overlooked when compared to the density of Side A. These songs still remain quite fresh and each display the dynamic talent of each member. One of the favorites is ‘Something for Nothing’, Neil Peart’s lyrics truly inspire me, and the guitar work of Alex Lifeson and bass playing of Geddy Lee are simply astounding.

The cover art is simple, and shows the bands name along with the title of the album. The gatefold contains the lyrics as well as the now iconic ‘Starman’, which has become a symbol of band since its release. 2112 is a fantastic album, challenging the audience to think, listen, and question. If you have never heard this album before, I highly recommend it, and for those who have, it is time to listen to it again.

2112 by Rush
Alex Lifeson: Guitars
Neil Peart: Percussion
Geddy Lee: Bass and Vocals

Images:
2112 cover and interior gatefold design by Hugh Syme

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Yes at the Theatre at Westbury

This was my first Yes concert, and I can quite honestly say it was one of the best concert experiences of my life. I have never been more impressed with a live performance than I have with Yes’s powerful concert at the Westbury Theater in New York. The band has been touring for over forty years, and has only improved with time, fine tuning their stage presence and musicianship.

Before Yes’s set began, the crowd was treated to Procol Harum, an interesting band that has also stood the test of time and continues to tour and perform. It was a rare treat to see both these influential bands perform in one night, and I hope this trend of older progressive rock bands sharing a stage continues.

Yes’s set list did not disappoint and seemed to be aimed for the loyal long time fan, versus the causal listener. The band performed a sweeping array of songs, with a direct focus on older material, particularly from ‘The Yes Album’. Steve Howe’s performance of The Clap, was phenomenal, and I could easily imagine him on stage 30 years ago, performing it for the first time. Another fantastic surprise was seeing the band performance of America, a rendition of a Paul Simon song, which was first featured on the 1975 compilation album ‘Yesterdays’. The song was spectacularly performed and I was stunned to see how well each band member performed both as an individual and together. The band went on to perform Fly From Here in its entirety, which provided a nice balance of both contemporary and classic Yes. I must admit that I was quite dismissive of the album when it was first released since Jon Anderson was not a part of it, but I thoroughly enjoyed the song live, and am curious to re-listen to the album.

What really solidified this to me as one of the best concerts of all time was watching the group’s performance of ‘Awakening’, which to me possesses everything impressive about Yes as a band. I was genuinely moved by the performance and was floored watching all the band members, particularly Chris Squire, who played a triple neck, double bass/ 6 string guitar. The band’s replacement singer, Jon Davidson, did a great job carrying on Jon Anderson’s lyrics and style. Geoff Downes was exceptional on the keys, providing a unique and equally skillful performance of Rick Wakeman’s impressive organ solo.

The band concluded the night with an encore performance of ‘Roundabout’, a hardedge track that still holds enchantment to this day. Overall I was overwhelmed with the skill and presence of Yes, and although this was only my first Yes concert, it will certainly not be the last.

Images:
Fly From Here by Roger Dean

Album Review: L.A. Woman by The Doors

L.A. Woman is the sixth and final studio album by The Doors, and is the last recorded album with vocalist Jim Morrison, who died shortly after the release of the album in 1971. What makes this album unique compared to the previous works of The Doors, is the incorporation of  studio bassist Jerry Scheff and rhythm guitarist Marc Benno. The addition of these two musicians, compared to the normally 4 person line-up gives this album a much more unique depth of sound and style, creating a very blues album with the classic rock dexterity.

What predominately  interests me about this album is the fusion of deep blues rhythm and hard rock melodies. Songs such as ‘Love Her Madly’ and ‘L.A. Woman’ still stand the test of time compared to contemporary rock songs, and are radio hallmarks. to this day. In pervious albums The Doors did not feature a proper bass line, and keyboardist Ray Manzerek and drummer John Densmore led the band’s rhythm. With the inclusion of a bassist, the rhythm of the entire album stays consistently engaging, providing a rich depth of sound with the familiar Doors style.

Morrison’s lyrics remain cryptic and mystically poetic as ever throughout the entire album. Songs like ‘The WASP’ and ‘L’America’ always challenge me to listen closer and to question perception. These accents and tweaks to The Doors already signature style culminates to, what is in my opinion their greatest song, ‘Riders on the Storm’. The simple blues bass line really stands out, but is further complimented by the smooth lead guitar work of Robbie Krieger and the impressive electric organ work of Manzerek. What is really great about this song is the impressive breakdown in the middle, which features some interesting instrumental movements that completely remain unique to The Doors. Although this album may not contain the chart toppers of their previous works, such as ‘Break on Through’ from the eponymous 1966 debut album, I still consider L.A. Woman to be The Doors creative masterwork.

L.A. Woman by The Doors
Jim Morrison: Vocals
Robbie Krieger: Guitar
Ray Manzarek: Piano and Organ
John Densmore: Drums
Jerry Scheff: Bass
Marc Benno: Rhythem Guitar

Images:
Album concept/design: Carl Cossick