Hemispheres (40th Anniversary Edition)
by David Chiu
(Promo pic by Enrico Frangi, via Wikimedia Commons)
The newest reissue of Rush’s 1978 album Hemispheres, celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Canadian progressive rock band’s sixth studio album—follows in the footsteps of the previous re-releases as far as presenting the original record with new bonus material (in this case of Hemispheres, a 1979 performance at the Pinkpop festival in Holland); a new cover art design by Hugh Syme; and a Blu-ray edition featuring the record in 5.1 surround sound and several promo videos. Certainly Hemispheres can be seen as the spiritual cousin to its predecessor A Farewell to Kings; the cinematic -sounding, sidelong track “Cygnus X-1 Book II: Hemispheres” is the sequel to Kings‘ “Book I: The Voyage,” verging between loud and quiet. The other shorter songs include the hard-driving “Circumstances,” as well as two of the band’s beloved and popular songs: the environmentally-conscious “The Trees,” which begins with an acoustic folk intro before morphing into heavy rock; and La Villa Strangiato, that carries Alex Lifeson’s distinctive guitar riffs and amazing runs. As earlier mentioned, this new expanded edition of Hemispheres contains a 1978 performance at the Pinkpop Festival in which the band plays tracks form the then-new album as well as other favorites such as “Closer to the Heart,” “A Passage to Bangkok,” “Xanadu,” and “Something for Nothing”; it’s an explosive show furthered by bassist Geddy Lee’s high pitched vocals performance and an electrifying Buddy Rich-styled drum solo by Neil Peart. Technical issues involving “2112” from that show prevented its inclusion on the set; instead a 1978 performance from Arizona of the full “2112” suite is featured in its place. In retrospect, Hemispheres was a key record for Rush in that it would really mark the last time the band would engage in sidelong epics like it did for “Book I” and “2112;” the group’s next album, Permanent Waves, would see the band write shorter and more accessible material. This new reissue is definitely for fans of the band’s wild and experimental side of the first phase of its career.