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Subject: 12/06/90 - The National Midnight Star #121  ** Special Edition **

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          The National Midnight Star, Number 121

                Thursday, 6 December 1990
Today's Topics:
                   SOUNDS Article 1978
----------------------------------------------------------

Date: Mon, 19 Nov 90 16:51:08 +0100
From: tools!fl@relay.EU.net (Frank Lancaster)
Subject: SOUNDS Article 1978

Hi there!

Here's and old (1978) article from the British magazine SOUNDS I had
lying in some dusty corner. 

Taken without permission from SOUNDS September 30, 1978

                 Psychiatric Care By Geoff Barton

                    THIS MAN HAS NIGHTMARES

         [Picture of Alex, subtitle:
          Alex Lifeson on the couch where he belongs]

                    He's also lead guitarist
                      for RUSH and writes
                        songs about the
                      politics of oak trees,
                      shapeless spirits and
                         The Real Truth

Determinedly striving for perfection, Canadian power trio Rush have
been hard at work on their new album 'Hemispheres' since June. And
now, a couple of months later, with the mixing of the record half
complete, the strain is showing.

As with their last disc 'A Farewell To Kings', Rush recorded the new
LP at rural Rockfield Studios, Monmouthshire. The choice was a
natural one --- away from the stresses of city life in their home
town of Toronto, the Welsh studio retreat gave the band a unique
opportunity to sever all contacts with everyday life, regular rock
routine, and just immerse themselves into the activity of laying
down a seventh album.

However, unlike last time when ideas were well-defined and fairly
concrete, on this occasion Rush started from scratch... and it's
been an uphill struggle all the way. Or, as band guitarist Alex
Lifeson puts it, "This time around the troubles started from
basics".

Two weeks prior to entering the studio were spent in intensive
rehersal, during which time ideas were developed and discarded,
germinated and jettisoned. As I understand it the band started to
retreat within themselves, get somewhat insular... and began to
worry a little about the exact direction the new LP should take.

And maybe because of this undercurrent of (mild) panic, the single
number to emerge from the 14 day period has turned out to be very,
very odd indeed.

"It's called 'La Villa Strangiato'," Lifeson reveals. "It's a nine-
and-a-half minute long, 12 part instrumental track... it's really
peculiar, really off the wall and totally unlike anything we've ever
done before."

'La Villa Strangiato'?

"That's right," Lifeson continues. "It's a --- would you believe ---
musical recreation of some of my nightmares.!"

The plot thickens.

"Yes, seriously," interjects drummer Neil Peart, noticing the look
of incredulity that's suddenly spread across my face. "Alex has some
of the _most_ bizarre bad dreams, especially when we're away touring
on the road. Sometimes, when we're all supposed to be fast asleep
in our hotel rooms, he'll wake up either Geddy (Lee, the band's
vocalist and bass player) or me with a phone call in the middle of
the night and start telling us all about these terrible dreams he's
been having. When you're barely conscious, some of the stories he
comes up with can be quite mind-blowing."

As is 'La Villa Strangiato', too. The first couple of times I heard
it (at London's Trident Studios, where Rush recently began putting
the finishing touches to the LP) it struck me as being uncon-
ventional in the extreme and totally at odds with the band's usual
sword and socery/heavy rock musical stance. Frantic jazzy passages
collide headlong with mellow, acoustic-based interludes... and
although all of the dozen aforementioned sections of the track have
individual titles, some are shorter than even a Wire cut. Initially
the number left me terribly confused and (gasp) even uncertain if I
actually _liked_ it or not. And even now that I've got ahold of an
advance tape of the LP and have had the opportunity to listen
through 'La Villa Strangiato' a few more times, I still feel much
the same way. Funnily enough, it keeps reminding me of 'The Sabre
Dance'. Is that a good or bad thing?

Whatever. Accompanying 'La Villa Strangiato' on one side of the
album are two other tracks. 'Trees' and 'Circumstances', both short,
snappy and concise, very much in the same spirit as 'Closer To The
Heart'.

'Trees' has an endearing, almost fairytale-type storyline, although
it undoubtedly has deeper connotations.

"The song's about a forest full of maple and oak trees," Peart
explains. "The maples begin to get uptight because the oaks are growing too big and tall and are taking all the sunlight away from
them... so they form a union, and endeavour to get the oaks chopped
back down to a reasonable size."

The other side of the album is taken up by the 'Fountain Of Lamneth'/'2112'-style, 20 minutes long title track 'Hemispheres'. And, as
expected, it's the conclusion to the story begun by the number
'Cygnus X-1' on the previous platter. If you remember, the 'first
episode' ended with Our Hero plunging his spaceship the Rocinante
through a Black Hole in the constellation of Cygnus... never to be
seen again?

'Hemispheres' ties up the tale in totally unexpected fashion. Even
though Peart, in his own words, racked his brain, but still had 'no
idea' how to end the story even when the band started recording, I
think you'll agree that he's managed to concoct a convincing
conclusion. And no, he hasn't copped out with any 'matter trans-
portation' or 'other dimension' schtick... it's far more complicated
than that.

I won't give too much away here and now as it'll spoil the enjoyment
of you finding out for yourself, so for the moment suffice to say
that Rush's full-blown 'Hemispheres' flight of fancy introduces two
new characters into the scheme of things (Apollo, god of the mind;
Dionysus, god of the heart), relates a battle between these two that
brings a world to its knees and to the brink of armageddon, and
includes the appearance of a 'shapeless spirit' that emerges from a
Black Hole to act as mediator. And, as ever, it's not all as
cut-and-dried as it may seem at first.

"I hope that whoever buys the album will feel moved to delve beneath
the basic storyline," says Peart, "and find a _real truth_. It'll be
worth the effort, believe me. I think it's something worth bringing
to people's attention".

The album comes out in early October, so get delving.

Talking about more general matters, I was surprised when Peart
revealed great admiration and respect for UK, that 'new British
supergroup'. Previously I'd dismissed them as 'just another Hugh
Fielder band', but Peart seemed so enamoured with them ("Especially
Bill Bruford's drumming," he says. "He's flowered, improved vastly
with this new outfit") that maybe I'll start from scratch, acquire
another copy of their album and listen to it with an open mind...
not to say ears.

And as far as the next British tour goes, you'll be delighted to
hear that Rush _definitely_ (no messin' around, as it always was the
case with Kiss) will be playing this country in April and May of
next year. Even now, at such an early stage, the band's date sheet
is jam-packed with all of 30 shows, including several nights in
London, Newcastle... just about every major city in Blighty, in
fact.

Says Peart: "Despite the great receptions we enjoyed last time ---
when the Glasgow Apollo crowd started singing along to 'Closer To
The Heart' it was magic, one of the best moments of my life ---
it was really difficult touring Britain in February, what with all
the snow, ice and freezing cold dressing rooms...

"This time we're going to do it right."

----------------------------------------------------------

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