Hemispheres (Rush album)

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Rush Hemispheres.jpg
Studio album by Rush
Released October 29, 1978 (1978-10-29)
Recorded June–July 1978
Studio Rockfield Studios
(Rockfield, Monmouthshire, Wales)
Advision Studios
(London, England)
Genre Progressive rock
Length 36:08
Label Anthem
Rush chronology
A Farewell to Kings
Permanent Waves
Singles from Hemispheres
  1. "The Trees"
    Released: 1978
  2. "Circumstances"
    Released: 1979

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

Hemispheres received mixed to positive reviews from music critics. It reached number 14 in Canada and the UK, and number 41 in the US. The album's two shorter tracks, "The Trees" and "Circumstances", were released as singles in 1978 and 1979, respectively. 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 music on Hemispheres was recorded at Rockfield Studios

In May 1978, Rush completed their nine-month tour of the United States, Canada and the UK to support their fifth studio album, A Farewell to Kings (1977).[1][2] The tour helped the band breakthrough 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.[3]

Following a short break, the band regrouped to start work on their next album. In a departure from their previous album, they entered the songwriting process without any preconceived ideas which proved to be a struggle; Lifeson said "the trouble started from basics".[4] They 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 as they had recorded four albums in Toronto and wanted a change; 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.[3] Before they entered the studio, the band spent two weeks in intensive rehearsal which sparked worries from the band regarding the direction the album was to take.[4] The conditions of the studio, located on a farm, lacked the standard facilities including a sofa; Lee described it as "really funky".[5] 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.[5]

Rush recorded Hemispheres in June and July 1978 at Rockfield Studios with their longtime producer Terry Brown, who is also credited as their co-arranger, and engineer Pat Moran.[4] 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 complete in four.[6] After the music was put down, the group settled in Advision Studios in London to record the vocals.[7] The album was then mixed in August at Trident Studios in London by Brown and assistant John Brand.[7] In the three-month period of putting the album together, Rush took just one day off.[8] Costs of the album were calculated to be around $100,000, making it the band's most expensive album at the time.[8] Peart recalled the band were exhausted by the time of completion and took a six-week vacation to recover.[6]


"Cygnus X-1 Book II: Hemispheres" occupies side one of the album. An 18-minute track and sequel to "Cygnus X-1 Book I: The Voyage" on A Farewell to Kings, the song is in six distinct parts.[7][8] Initially Lee had a different idea for the album's centrepiece track, but after some music had been written the group felt it was right to continue the story.[9] Book I concerns the happenings 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 were set to travel to Rockfield Studios. The process was a stressful one for Peart, which took "hours of tearing my hair out", and was half complete when they arrived.[6] The sequel, like Book I, uses mythology and symbolism and depicts 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 life.[10] Peart introduced the gong and timpani to his percussion set for the first time; he had not thought of adding the instrument on previous Rush albums, but thought "Hemispheres" needed it.[9]

"Circumstances" is the first of two short tracks on Hemispheres.

"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.[4]

"La Villa Strangiato" is a nine-minute instrumental that has twelve distinct sections and a subtitle of "An Exercise in Self-Indulgence" in the liner notes. 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 recreation" of them.[4][11] The track was the sole piece that developed from the two-week rehearsal period the group had prior to entering the studio.[4] Rush encountered great difficulty in recording it as they 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.[5] Peart said they spent more time recording "La Villa Strangiato" than they did recording Fly by Night (1975).[12] He 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".[13] The segments "Monsters!" and "Monsters! (Reprise)" are adapted from "Powerhouse", a 1937 jazz instrumental by Raymond Scott.[14]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic3/5 stars[15]
Rolling Stone(favourable)[16]
Sputnikmusic5/5 stars[17]

In a poll held by Rolling Stone titled "Readers' Poll: Your Favorite Prog Rock Albums of All Time," Hemispheres was ranked at #8.[18]

Commercial performance[edit]

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.[8] It was released on October 28, 1978, and reached number 14 on the Canadian Albums Chart and UK Albums Chart, and number 47 on the US Billboard 200.[19] 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.[20] 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, fifteen years after its release.[21]


Year Label Format Notes
1987 Anthem CD[22]
1997 Anthem CD Digitally remastered[23]
2011 Anthem CD Digitally remastered[23]
2015 Mercury LP Digitally remastered, 200 g audiophile vinyl. Also available in 24-bit/96 kHz and 24-bit/192 kHz digital formats.[24][25]

Track listing[edit]

All lyrics written by Neil Peart[7]; all music 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
3."The Trees"4:46
4."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"


Credits are adapted from the album's sleeve notes.[7]



  • 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


  1. ^ "Tour Dates – A Farewell To Kings Tour". Rush.com. Retrieved 7 October 2017. 
  2. ^ "Tour Dates – Archives (1978)". Rush.com. Retrieved 7 October 2017. 
  3. ^ a b Linden, J.J. (December 9, 1978). "Rush – Into The Global Village". RPM Weekly. Retrieved 7 October 2017. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f Barton, Geoff (30 September 1978). "This Man Has Nightmares". Sounds. Retrieved 6 October 2017. 
  5. ^ a b c Fricke, David (5 December 1978). "Rush's Music of the Spheres". Circus. Retrieved 7 October 2017. 
  6. ^ a b c Hicks, Graham (December 1978). "Hemispheres: Shattered By Latest Rush Opus". Music Express. Retrieved 7 October 2017. 
  7. ^ a b c d e Hemispheres (Media notes). Rush. Anthem Records. 1978. ANR-1-1014. 
  8. ^ a b c d Penfield III, Wilder (5 October 1978). "Pregnant Power Trio Births a Beauty". Toronto Sun. Retrieved 7 October 2017. 
  9. ^ a b Hooper, Neil (November 3, 1978). "Rush Decision". Musicians Only. Retrieved 8 October 2017. 
  10. ^ Unknown (November 21, 1978). "Two Sides To Their Rock'n Roll Story". Circus. Retrieved 7 October 2017. 
  11. ^ Fricke, David (December 5, 1978). "Rush's Music of the Spheres". Circus. Retrieved 7 October 2017. 
  12. ^ Wagner 2010, p. 26.
  13. ^ Peart, Neil (December 1982). "Notes on the Making of Moving Pictures by Neil Peart". Modern Drummer. Retrieved 23 September 2017. 
  14. ^ http://www.whosampled.com/sample/39397/Rush-La-Villa-Strangiato-Raymond-Scott-Powerhouse/
  15. ^ Prato, Greg. "Hemispheres – Rush". AllMusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 2011-11-20. 
  16. ^ Bloom, Michael (22 March 1979). "Rush – Hemispheres". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2011-11-20. 
  17. ^ "Rush: Hemispheres". Sputnikmusic. Retrieved 2015-06-11. 
  18. ^ "Readers' Poll: Your Favorite Prog Rock Albums of All Time". Retrieved 2012-07-30. 
  19. ^ "Hemispheres Billboard Albums". AllMusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 2011-11-20. 
  20. ^ "BPI Awards – Certified Awards Search". British Phonographic Industry. Enter "Hemispheres" in the search bar. Retrieved 8 October 2017. 
  21. ^ "RIAA Database Search for Rush". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 2011-11-20. 
  22. ^ Hemispheres (Media notes). Rush. Anthem Records. 1987. WANK 1014. 
  23. ^ a b Hemispheres (Media notes). Rush. Anthem Records. 1997. ANMD 1080. 
  24. ^ Hemispheres (Media notes). Rush. Mercury Records. 2015. B0022378-01. 
  25. ^ "12 MONTHS OF RUSH: 14 ALBUMS FROM MERCURY ERA FOR RELEASE IN 2015". Rush.com. Retrieved 10 July 2015.