Rush’s Hemispheres: What This Album Means For Prog-Rock

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Rush‘s Hemispheres turns 40 this year, and the album proved to be another milestone for the prog-rock legends.

In May 1978, Rush went on a nine-month tour throughout Canada, United States and the United Kingdom to support A Farewell To Kings. The band saw its first glimmer of success in the UK with “Closer to the Heart” reaching the Top 40 on the singles charts.

Rush took a quick break before getting back to work. None of the members had any ideas of what the album would tackle before recording–which proved to be a frustrating first. Alex Lifeson described it as “the trouble started from basics.”

They returned to the “really funky” (as quoted by Lifeson) Rockfield Studios in Wales where the last album was recorded, and wanting to continue a change from Toronto. The studio was located on a rural farm, and didn’t even have a sofa. A broken latch on the studio doors frustrated Lifeson to the point he created a hydraulic door to remedy the issue.

Two weeks of rehearsals worried the band that they wouldn’t be able to settle on a direction. But over the course of June and July 1978, alongside producer Terry Brown and engineer Pat Moran. A Farewell to Kings only took four weeks.

Rush then moved to London to record the vocals and to mix the album. Over the course of the three month process, the band only took one day off. It is estimated Hemispheres took over $100,000 to make, the band’s most expensive album at that point.

Peart says the band needed a six-week vacation to recover. Geddy Lee says that the band “greatly underestimated the level of overachievement that we were shooting for.”

The 36-minute project was certified Platinum (sales of one million units or more) in the United States over fifteen years after its release in December 1993. It also hit Silver certification (60,000+ units) in the UK and Platinum (100,000+ units) in Canada in 1978.

For prog-rock fans, Hemispheres proved to be another solid entry into Rush’s discography, complete with complex arrangements and kinetic energy. Although the recording process proved to be tough, the final result, and Hemispheres’ resulting legacy, was well worth it.

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