Hemispheres (Rush album)

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Rush Hemispheres.jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedOctober 29, 1978 (1978-10-29)
RecordedJune–July 1978
GenreProgressive rock
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 the Canadian rock band Rush, released in October 1978 by Anthem Records. After touring to support the band's previous studio release, A Farewell to Kings, which saw the group gain popularity in the UK, Rush started work on its next album. As with the band's previous studio album, Hemispheres was recorded at Rockfield Studios in Wales 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".

Hemispheres received critical 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, "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 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 the band's nine-month tour of the United States, Canada, and the UK to support its fifth studio album, A Farewell to Kings (1977).[1][2] 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.[3]

The music on Hemispheres was recorded at Rockfield Studios.

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."[4] 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.[3] 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.[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 longtime producer Terry Brown, also credited as 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] Drummer Neil Peart recalled the band were exhausted by the time of completion and took a six-week vacation to recover.[6], while Lee explained that they "greatly underestimated the level of overachievement that [they] were shooting for".[9]


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.[7][8] 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.[10] 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, which took "hours of tearing [his] hair out", and was half complete when they arrived.[6] 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.[11] 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.[10]

Side two[edit]

"Circumstances" is the first of two short tracks on Hemispheres. With the band having accustomed its audience to longer, more elaborate formats, this song is qualified by Lee as an experiment,[9] 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.[4] Lee explains that the fact that the band was recording in the English countryside set the overall tone for the song: "you're watching English television, walking in the English 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".[9]

"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.[4][12] 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 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.[5] Peart and Lee pointed out that they spent more time recording "La Villa Strangiato" than they did recording Fly by Night (1975).[13][9] 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."[14] The segments "Monsters!" and "Monsters! (Reprise)" are adapted from "Powerhouse", a 1937 jazz instrumental by Raymond Scott.[15]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic4/5 stars[16]
Rolling Stone (1979)(favourable)[17]
Rolling Stone (2018)4.5/5 stars[18]
Sputnikmusic5/5 stars[19]
Spill Magazine4/5 stars[21]
Sound & Vision5/5 stars[22]

In a poll held by Rolling Stone titled "Readers' Poll: Your Favorite Prog Rock Albums of All Time", Hemispheres was ranked at No. 8.[23] 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."[17]

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."[16]

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[24] and UK Albums Chart,[25] and number 47 on the US Billboard 200.[26] 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.[27] 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.[28]


Year Label Format Notes
1987 Anthem CD[29]
1997 Anthem CD Digitally remastered[30]
2011 Anthem CD Digitally remastered[30]
2013 Audio Fidelity SACD Digitally remastered[30]
2015 Mercury LP Digitally remastered, 200 g audiophile vinyl. Also available in 24-bit/96 kHz and 24-bit/192 kHz digital formats.[31][32]

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


Chart (1978) Peak
Canada Top Albums/CDs (RPM)[24] 14
Dutch Albums (Album Top 100)[33] 178
UK Albums (OCC)[25] 14
US Billboard 200[26] 47


Region Certification Certified units/sales
Canada (Music Canada)[34] Platinum 100,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[27] Silver 60,000^
United States (RIAA)[28] Platinum 1,000,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone


  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.CS1 maint: others (link)
  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 c d "Geddy Lee on Rush's Prog-Rock Opus 'Hemispheres'". Retrieved 22 October 2018. Cite magazine requires |magazine= (help)>
  10. ^ a b Hooper, Neil (November 3, 1978). "Rush Decision". Musicians Only. Retrieved 8 October 2017.
  11. ^ Unknown (November 21, 1978). "Two Sides To Their Rock'n Roll Story". Circus. Retrieved 7 October 2017.
  12. ^ Fricke, David (December 5, 1978). "Rush's Music of the Spheres". Circus. Retrieved 7 October 2017.
  13. ^ Wagner 2010, p. 26.
  14. ^ Peart, Neil (December 1982). "Notes on the Making of Moving Pictures by Neil Peart". Modern Drummer. Retrieved 23 September 2017.
  15. ^ http://www.whosampled.com/sample/39397/Rush-La-Villa-Strangiato-Raymond-Scott-Powerhouse/
  16. ^ a b Rush: Hemispheres > Review at AllMusic. Retrieved 5 January 2019.
  17. ^ a b Bloom, Michael (22 March 1979). "Rush – Hemispheres". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2011-11-20.
  18. ^ Shteamer, Hank. "Review: Rush's Hemispheres Reissue Celebrates Band's Prog-Era Peak". rollingstone.com. Retrieved 1 February 2019.
  19. ^ "Rush: Hemispheres". Sputnikmusic. Retrieved 2015-06-11.
  20. ^ Clouse, Matthew. "Rush: Hemispheres Album Review". theodysseyonline.com. Retrieved 9 January 2019.
  21. ^ Harris, Gerrod. "SPILL ALBUM REVIEW: RUSH – HEMISPHERES: 40TH ANNIVERSARY SUPER DELUXE EDITION". spillmagazine.com. Retrieved 12 February 2019.
  22. ^ Mettler, Mike. "Rush: Hemispheres – 40th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition". soundandvision.com. Retrieved 9 May 2019.
  23. ^ "Readers' Poll: Your Favorite Prog Rock Albums of All Time". Retrieved 2012-07-30.
  24. ^ a b "Top RPM Albums: Issue 0076a". RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 5 January 2019.
  25. ^ a b "Rush | Artist | Official Charts". UK Albums Chart. Retrieved 5 January 2019.
  26. ^ a b "Rush Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard. Retrieved 5 January 2019.
  27. ^ a b "British album certifications – Rush – Hemispheres". British Phonographic Industry. Select albums in the Format field. Select Silver in the Certification field. Type Hemispheres in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
  28. ^ a b "American album certifications – Rush – Hemispheres". Recording Industry Association of America. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH. 
  29. ^ Hemispheres (Media notes). Rush. Anthem Records. 1987. WANK 1014.CS1 maint: others (link)
  30. ^ a b c Hemispheres (Media notes). Rush. Anthem Records. 1997. ANMD 1080.CS1 maint: others (link)
  31. ^ Hemispheres (Media notes). Rush. Mercury Records. 2015. B0022378-01.CS1 maint: others (link)
  32. ^ "12 MONTHS OF RUSH: 14 ALBUMS FROM MERCURY ERA FOR RELEASE IN 2015". Rush.com. Retrieved 10 July 2015.
  33. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – Rush – Hemispheres" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved 5 January 2019.
  34. ^ "Canadian album certifications – Rush – Hemispheres". Music Canada.