Hemispheres (Rush album)

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Rush Hemispheres.jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedOctober 29, 1978 (1978-10-29)
RecordedJune-July 1978
GenreProgressive rock[1]
Rush chronology
A Farewell to Kings
Rush Through Time
Singles from Hemispheres
  1. "Circumstances" / "The Trees"
    Released: January 1979 [2][A]

Hemispheres is the sixth studio album by Canadian rock band Rush, released in October 1978 by Anthem Records. After touring to support the band's previous release, A Farewell to Kings, during which the group gained popularity in the UK, Rush started work on their next album. As with the band's previous studio album, Hemispheres was recorded at Rockfield Studios in Monmouthshire and Trident Studios in London with longtime engineer and arranger, Terry Brown. Rush continued its progressive rock sound with the side-long "Cygnus X-1 Book II: Hemispheres" and the nine-minute instrumental "La Villa Strangiato", which was the band's first instrumental piece.

Hemispheres received acclaim from music critics. It reached number 14 in Canada and the UK, and number 41 in the United States. The album's two shorter tracks, "Circumstances" and "The Trees" were released as singles in early 1979. In 1993, the album was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for selling one million copies. Rush supported Hemispheres with a concert tour from October 1978 to June 1979. The album was re-released in various expanded formats on November 16, 2018 as part of the band's ongoing 40th Anniversary editions, including the previously unreleased live set by the band at the Pinkpop Festival from June 1979.

Background and recording[edit]

In May 1978, Rush completed a nine-month tour of the United States, Canada, and the UK to support its fifth studio album, A Farewell to Kings (1977).[3][4] The tour helped the band break through the UK market, following a series of well-received shows and "Closer to the Heart", the lead single from A Farewell to Kings, reaching number 36 on the UK Singles Chart.[5]

Rockfield Studios where the album was recorded

Following a short break, the band regrouped to start work on its next album. In a departure from the band's previous album, they entered the songwriting process without any preconceived ideas, which proved to be a struggle; guitarist Alex Lifeson said: "the trouble started from basics."[6] The band had enjoyed the experience of recording A Farewell to Kings in Wales at Rockfield Studios, situated on a farm in Rockfield, Monmouthshire, and agreed to record there for Hemispheres. They initially chose the studio having recorded four albums in Toronto and wanting a change; bassist and vocalist Geddy Lee said the United States did not appeal to them, and since they were influenced by many English bands, recording in the UK became a "natural" option.[5] Before entering the studio, the band spent two weeks in intensive rehearsal, which sparked worries from the band regarding the direction the album was to take.[6] The conditions of the studio, located on a farm, lacked the standard facilities, including a sofa; Lee described it as "really funky".[7] In one incident, a latch that failed to shut the studio doors frustrated Lifeson who, in a fit, took it off, installed a hydraulic door opener, and built a handle on it.[7]

Rush recorded Hemispheres in June and July 1978 at Rockfield Studios with longtime producer Terry Brown, also credited as co-arranger, and engineer Pat Moran.[6] It marked the longest studio time booked for the band. In comparison, 2112 (1976) was recorded in five weeks and A Farewell to Kings was completed in four.[8] After the music was put down, the group settled in Advision Studios in London to record the vocals.[9] The album was then mixed in August at Trident Studios in London by Brown and assistant John Brand.[9] In the three-month period of putting the album together, Rush took just one day off.[10] Costs of the album were calculated to be around $100,000, making it the band's most expensive album at the time.[10] Drummer Neil Peart recalled the band were exhausted by the time of completion and took a six-week vacation to recover,[8] while Lee explained that they "greatly underestimated the level of overachievement that [they] were shooting for".[11]


Side one[edit]

"Cygnus X-1 Book II: Hemispheres" occupies the album's first side. An 18-minute track and sequel to "Cygnus X-1 Book I: The Voyage" on A Farewell to Kings, the song has six distinct parts.[9][10] Initially, Lee had a different idea for the album's centerpiece track, but after some music had been written the group felt it right to continue the story.[12] Book I concerns the journey of the Rocinante, a spaceship that enters a black hole in outer space. Peart ended the story without a set conclusion, and only began to write Book II three weeks before the band was set to travel to Rockfield Studios. The process was stressful for Peart, took "hours of tearing my hair out", and was only half complete when they arrived.[8] The sequel, like Book I, uses mythology and symbolism to depict a conflict between the gods Apollo and Dionysus, which is resolved when Cygnus intervenes, claiming a balance of heart and mind are what is needed for humans to live well.[13] Peart introduced the gong and timpani to his percussion set for the first time; he hadn't thought of adding the instrument on previous albums but thought Hemispheres needed it.[12]

Side two[edit]

"Circumstances" is the first of two shorter tracks on Hemispheres. With the band having accustomed its audience to longer, more elaborate formats, this song is qualified by Lee as an experiment,[11] an attempt to break away from the prog formula that would steer the band into new directions in later albums.

"The Trees" tells the story of a forest of oak and maple trees, the latter causing an upheaval because the oak trees grow too large and take all the sunlight. The maple trees form a union in an effort to have the oaks cut down to a smaller size.[6] Lee explains that the fact that the band was recording in the Welsh countryside set the overall tone for the song: "You're watching English television, walking in the Welsh countryside; there are sheep talking to you in the early morning when you're trying to sleep ... lyrics came first, and we wanted to construct a dynamic little tale as a soundtrack to those lyrics".[11]

"La Villa Strangiato" is a nine-minute instrumental in 12 distinct sections and a subtitle of "An Exercise in Self-Indulgence". According to Lifeson, it is based on the various nightmares he would have, particularly while on tour, which provided the theme to what he described as a "musical re-creation" of them.[6][14] The track was the sole piece that developed from the two-week rehearsal period the group had prior to entering the studio.[6] Rush encountered great difficulty in recording it, as the band wanted it put down as a single live performance, rather than a more produced and edited piece. Lee said it took them around 40 takes to produce a take they were satisfied with.[7] Peart and Lee pointed out that they spent more time recording "La Villa Strangiato" than they did recording the entire Fly by Night (1975) album.[15][11] Peart recalled the group spent four days and nights playing it repeatedly, playing while their hands were sore and their minds tired. "We were determined to get the whole thing perfect, but in the end I just couldn't do it, and we ended up putting it together from a few different takes."[16] The segments "Monsters!" and "Monsters! (Reprise)" are adapted from "Powerhouse", a 1937 jazz instrumental by Raymond Scott.[17]


The cover was designed by longtime Rush collaborator, graphic artist Hugh Syme. The front depicts a figure that resembles the one in the painting The Son of Man by surreal artist René Magritte who is standing on the left side of a human brain. He is looking in the direction of a nude man in a ballet pose who is standing on the right side. The overall image was Syme's own creation, but it developed from discussions with Peart about the idea of left and right and the Apollonian and Dionysian parts of the brain. The Magritte figure is Syme's longtime friend Bobby King, who was also the nude model for Rush's Starman logo on 2112 that Syme had also designed. The naked male is a dancer from the Toronto Ballet School. The brain was loaned to Syme from the Department of Anatomy at the University of Toronto Faculty of Medicine for him to photograph and the final design was completed with a composite. The background was a combination of airbrush and paint. Syme started working on the design before he had heard any music on the album.[18]


Prior to the album's release, Hemispheres aired in its entirety on Night at 11, hosted by Rick Ringer on CHUM-FM in Toronto, on October 5, 1978.[10] It was released October 28, 1978, and reached number 14 on the Canadian Albums Chart[19] and UK Albums Chart,[20] and number 47 on the US Billboard 200.[21] For a short time, Hemispheres was released in Canada on red vinyl with a gatefold sleeve with a poster (catalogue number SANR-1-1015) and as a limited edition picture disc (SRP-1300). The album was awarded a silver certification in the UK.[22] In the US, Hemispheres proved to be a steady seller in the band's catalogue; it was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) in December 1993 for selling one million copies, 15 years after its release.[23]


Professional ratings
Review scores
The Encyclopedia of Popular Music[25]
Rolling Stone (1979)(favourable)[26]
Rolling Stone (2018)[27]
Sound & Vision[29]

In a poll held by Rolling Stone titled "Readers' Poll: Your Favorite Prog Rock Albums of All Time", Hemispheres was ranked at No. 8.[30] Reviewing the album for the magazine, Michael Bloom stated, "Overall, especially in 'La Villa Strangiato', Lifeson, Peart and Lee prove themselves masters of every power-trio convention. In fact, these guys have the chops and drive to break out of the largely artificial bounds of the format, and they constantly threaten to do so but never quite manage."[26]

In the review for AllMusic, Greg Prato favourably compared the album to the band's previous work, "While the story line isn't as comprehensible as 2112 was, it's much more consistent musically, twisting and turning through five different sections which contrast heavy rock sections against more sedate pieces."[24]

PopMatters ranked Hemispheres the 12th best progressive rock album of all time.[31]


Year Label Format Notes
1987 Anthem CD[32]
1997 Anthem CD Digitally remastered[33]
2011 Anthem CD Digitally remastered[33]
2013 Audio Fidelity SACD Digitally remastered[33]
2015 Mercury LP Digitally remastered, 200 g audiophile vinyl. Also available in 24-bit/96 kHz and 24-bit/192 kHz digital formats.[34][35]
2018 Anthem/Mercury CD, LP 40th Anniversary Edition with previously unreleased live content.[36]

Track listing[edit]

All lyrics are written by Neil Peart[9]; all music is composed by Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson, except "La Villa Strangiato" written by Lee, Lifeson, and Peart. All tracks arranged by Rush and Terry Brown.

Side one
1."Cygnus X-1 Book II: Hemispheres"
  • I. "Prelude"
  • II. "Apollo (Bringer of Wisdom)"
  • III. "Dionysus (Bringer of Love)"
  • IV. "Armageddon (The Battle of Heart and Mind)"
  • V. "Cygnus (Bringer of Balance)"
  • VI. "The Sphere (A Kind of Dream)"
18:08 4:29
Side two
2."The Trees"4:46
3."La Villa Strangiato (An Exercise in Self-Indulgence)"
  • I. "Buenos Nochas, Mein Froinds!"
  • II. "To Sleep, Perchance to Dream..."
  • III. "Strangiato Theme"
  • IV. "A Lerxst in Wonderland"
  • V. "Monsters!"
  • VI. "The Ghost of the Aragon"
  • VII. "Danforth and Pape"
  • VIII. "The Waltz of the Shreves"
  • IX. "Never Turn Your Back on a Monster!"
  • X. "Monsters! (Reprise)"
  • XI. "Strangiato Theme (Reprise)"
  • XII. "A Farewell to Things"

40th Anniversary Edition (2018)[edit]

Disc two: Live at Pinkpop Festival (June 4, 1979)
1."A Passage to Bangkok"  4:03
2."Xanadu"  12:32
3."The Trees"  5:10
4."Cygnus X-1 Book II: Hemispheres - The Sphere (A Kind of Dream)"  0:54
5."Closer to the Heart"Peart, Peter Talbot 3:16
6."La Villa Strangiato"  11:22
7."In the Mood"LeeLee2:37
8."Drum Solo" Peart7:31
9."Something for Nothing" Lee4:21
10."2112 (Parts I-IV, VI-VII)" (live)  19:46
  • Track 10 recorded live May 28, 1979 at Stadthalle Offenbach, West Germany; incorrectly credited as Live in Arizona: November 20, 1978


Credits are adapted from the album's sleeve notes.[9]



  • Rush – production, arrangement
  • Terry Brown – production, arrangement, mixing at Trident Studios
  • Pat Moran – engineering at Rockfield Studios
  • Declan O'Doherty – engineering at Advision Studios
  • John Brand – mixing assistance at Trident Studios
  • Ray Staff – mastering
  • Simon Hilliard – tape operator at Trident Studios
  • Mike Donegani – tape operator at Trident Studios
  • Reno Ruocco – tape operator at Trident Studios
  • Ray Staff – mastering at Trident Studios
  • Hugh Syme – graphics, art direction
  • Bob King – art direction
  • Yosh Inouye – cover photography
  • Fin Costello – inner sleeve and poster photography
  • Moon Records – executive production


Chart (1978) Peak
Canada Top Albums/CDs (RPM)[19] 14
Dutch Albums (Album Top 100)[37] 178
UK Albums (OCC)[20] 14
US Billboard 200[21] 47


Region Certification Certified units/sales
Canada (Music Canada)[38] Platinum 100,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[22] Silver 60,000^
United States (RIAA)[23] Platinum 1,000,000^

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.



  1. ^ "Circumstances" A-side for Canada. "The Trees" A-side for the US
  1. ^ Prato, Greg. "Rush - Hemispheres review". AllMusic. Retrieved November 9, 2021.
  2. ^ "The Great Rock Discography".
  3. ^ "Tour Dates – A Farewell To Kings Tour". Rush.com. Archived from the original on 11 January 2020. Retrieved 7 October 2017.
  4. ^ "Tour Dates – Archives (1978)". Rush.com. Archived from the original on 7 October 2017. Retrieved 7 October 2017.
  5. ^ a b Linden, J. J. (December 9, 1978). "Rush – Into The Global Village". RPM Weekly. Archived from the original on 9 August 2018. Retrieved 7 October 2017.
  6. ^ a b c d e f Barton, Geoff (30 September 1978). "This Man Has Nightmares". Sounds. Archived from the original on 18 October 2017. Retrieved 6 October 2017.
  7. ^ a b c Fricke, David (5 December 1978). "Rush's Music of the Spheres". Circus. Archived from the original on 9 August 2018. Retrieved 7 October 2017.
  8. ^ a b c Hicks, Graham (December 1978). "Hemispheres: Shattered By Latest Rush Opus". Music Express. Archived from the original on 9 August 2018. Retrieved 7 October 2017.
  9. ^ a b c d e Hemispheres (Media notes). Rush. Anthem Records. 1978. ANR-1-1014.{{cite AV media notes}}: CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  10. ^ a b c d Penfield III, Wilder (5 October 1978). "Pregnant Power Trio Births a Beauty". Toronto Sun. Archived from the original on 9 August 2018. Retrieved 7 October 2017.
  11. ^ a b c d "Geddy Lee on Rush's Prog-Rock Opus 'Hemispheres'". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 25 October 2018. Retrieved 22 October 2018.>
  12. ^ a b Hooper, Neil (November 3, 1978). "Rush Decision". Musicians Only. Archived from the original on 9 August 2018. Retrieved 8 October 2017.
  13. ^ Unknown (November 21, 1978). "Two Sides To Their Rock'n Roll Story". Circus. Archived from the original on 9 August 2018. Retrieved 7 October 2017.
  14. ^ Fricke, David (December 5, 1978). "Rush's Music of the Spheres". Circus. Archived from the original on 9 August 2018. Retrieved 7 October 2017.
  15. ^ Wagner 2010, p. 26.
  16. ^ Peart, Neil (December 1982). "Notes on the Making of Moving Pictures by Neil Peart". Modern Drummer. Archived from the original on 24 September 2017. Retrieved 23 September 2017.
  17. ^ "Rush's la Villa Strangiato sample of Raymond Scott's Powerhouse | WhoSampled". WhoSampled. Archived from the original on 2015-02-16. Retrieved 2015-02-15.
  18. ^ Wilding, Philip (March 2018). "Classic Sleeves Dissected, Rush - 'Hemispheres'". Rock Candy. Archived from the original on 26 January 2020. Retrieved 29 January 2020 – via 2112.net.
  19. ^ a b "Top RPM Albums: Issue 0076a". RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 6 February 2022.
  20. ^ a b "Rush | Artist | Official Charts". UK Albums Chart. Retrieved 5 February 2022.
  21. ^ a b "Rush Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard. Retrieved 5 February 2022.
  22. ^ a b "British album certifications – Rush – Hemispheres". British Phonographic Industry.
  23. ^ a b "American album certifications – Rush – Hemispheres". Recording Industry Association of America.
  24. ^ a b Rush: Hemispheres > Review at AllMusic. Retrieved 5 January 2019.
  25. ^ Larkin, Colin (2007). The Encyclopedia of Popular Music (4th ed.). Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0195313734.
  26. ^ a b Bloom, Michael (22 March 1979). "Rush – Hemispheres". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 2014-03-28. Retrieved 2011-11-20.
  27. ^ Shteamer, Hank (16 November 2018). "Review: Rush's Hemispheres Reissue Celebrates Band's Prog-Era Peak". rollingstone.com. Archived from the original on 1 February 2019. Retrieved 1 February 2019.
  28. ^ "Rush: Hemispheres". Sputnikmusic. Archived from the original on 2021-04-02. Retrieved 2015-06-11.
  29. ^ Mettler, Mike (9 April 2019). "Rush: Hemispheres – 40th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition". soundandvision.com. Archived from the original on 18 May 2019. Retrieved 9 May 2019.
  30. ^ "Readers' Poll: Your Favorite Prog Rock Albums of All Time". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 2012-07-29. Retrieved 2012-07-30.
  31. ^ "The 25 Best Classic Progressive Rock Albums - PopMatters". 17 November 2015. Archived from the original on 2019-10-04. Retrieved 2019-10-16.
  32. ^ Hemispheres (Media notes). Rush. Anthem Records. 1987. WANK 1014. Archived from the original on 2017-10-08. Retrieved 2017-10-08.{{cite AV media notes}}: CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  33. ^ a b c Hemispheres (Media notes). Rush. Anthem Records. 1997. ANMD 1080. Archived from the original on 2017-10-08. Retrieved 2017-10-08.{{cite AV media notes}}: CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  34. ^ Hemispheres (Media notes). Rush. Mercury Records. 2015. B0022378-01. Archived from the original on 2017-10-08. Retrieved 2017-10-08.{{cite AV media notes}}: CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  35. ^ "12 MONTHS OF RUSH: 14 ALBUMS FROM MERCURY ERA FOR RELEASE IN 2015". Rush.com. Archived from the original on 11 July 2015. Retrieved 10 July 2015.
  36. ^ Hemispheres 40th Anniversary (Media notes). Rush. Universal Music Canada. 2018. B0029020-02. Archived from the original on 2019-09-23. Retrieved 2020-06-05.{{cite AV media notes}}: CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  37. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – Rush – Hemispheres" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved 6 February 2022.
  38. ^ "Canadian album certifications – Rush – Hemispheres". Music Canada.


External links[edit]