Farewell To Frankfurt (Shout To The Top STTP 134/135)
Stadhalle Frankfurt, Germany – May 28, 1979
Disc 1 (69:41) Anthem, A Passage To Bangkok, By-Tor And The Snow Dog, Xanadu, Something For Nothing, The Trees, Cygnus X-1, Cygnus X-1 / Book 2 Hemispheres, Closer To The Heart
Disc 2 (48:40) A Farewell To Kings, La Villa Stangiato, 2112-Overture, Working Man, Bastille Day, In The Mood, Drum Solo / In The Mood Finale
The Frankfurt soundboard recording has excited Rush fans for some time, and with good reason. It was recorded from the soundboard by the bands live sound engineer and is one of the best recordings you will ever here. When the recording first circulated fans noticed that Something For Nothing and Cygnus X-1 were obviously from a different source for two reasons. Firstly the songs have a different sound and timber than the rest of the show and secondly the band was playing a shorter set towards the end of the tour and both songs where dropped. Enquiring fans want to know so I added this bit of history of the tape that explains the mystery and gives some background on this incredible recording. Speaking of the source for this show, as stated it is a perfectly mixed, although bare bones, recording and could pass as a legit release.
From Ian Grandy (Rush’s sound engineer who recorded the show):
(via personal email, June 2007) I was the engineer for Rush in those days. The added two songs were recorded at the Hammersmith Odeon in London earlier on that tour. When we went to Europe those two songs were dropped because the band was playing a shorter set. I edited them in when I got home. The tape was originally called two different things, Alex’s copy was called Blitzkrieg and Geddy’s was called Road to Germany after the old Bing Crosby & Bob hope road movies. I always loved that tape and I only recorded that day because the sound in the hall was excellent. There was a lot of low end naturally and thats why the tape w/b a little high endish. I think half the crowd was American servicemen stationed in Germany. You say Skip released that tape but I dont know that he ever had a copy, I sent a copy to a guy in Hartford CT who used to call me in 1994 so that might be where it started. I doubt that Alex or Geddy gave their copies away. You say you have a live tape from Detroit but I can’t recall recording there. The Tucson tape was originally called Indians Out West and the copy I gave Neil had a cover I made with the boys dressed as Indians…
“Would you please welcome all the way from Toronto Canada…Rush” is the introduction as the band hits the stage with Anthem. The first thing you notice is the sound is crystal clear and bright sounding, the band is close to the end of the tour but do not sound lethargic in any way. Alex is on top of his game during the song and plays the twists and turns with precision. Geddy greets the Frankfurt crowd with a brief introduction and the band goes into A Passage To Bangkok, I love Alex’s solo during this song, it has a whimsical feel to it that is complimented by Geddy’s synthesizer. I was glad when the band brought this song back to the live stage during the Snakes and Arrows tour, finally giving me a chance to hear it live.
Geddy introduces the next song as “from the second record” and they plow into By-Tor and the Snowdog. Although the song is structurally the same it sounds much fuller than versions from the early days, the band has embraced the newer technology and at times it is amazing to think that the sound is generated from just three musicians. The effects Alex uses enhance the song so much and Geddy plays some great bass during the song to boot. The transition between the song and Xanadu is very mystical although there is some interesting what sounds like a transmitter tuning in there. Neil’s use of chimes, percussive instruments and bells if perfect and the song carries the listener to foreign landscapes. The crowd seem to enjoy this song and at times you can hear them, ever so distant in the background. The mix of this recording is so good, you can really enjoy Neil’s intricate drum work on this song, he goes from very simple and laid back to amazing fills in an instant. At the songs conclusion out of nowhere comes Something for Nothing from the 2112 record. The recording, while an excellent soundboard, has a compressed sound to it, Alex’s guitar is not as prominent in the mix. This does not detract, the band plays with aggression during the song. We go back to Frankfurt for a wonderful version of The Trees and back to the Hammersmith Odeon for Cygnus X-1. Again one of my favorites the beginning of Terry Browns introduction is missing, the crowd cheers in between Gedd’s bass breaks at the beginning as the song is a set favorite. He evens breaks into some vocals while jamming on the opening section of the song before he hits the keyboards, the microphones do not miss a thing. He sounds as if he is whispering the songs opening lines and then shouts the next lines, great stuff indeed. The sailing section if fantastic, Alex leads the flight for the band and listener and is very rollicking, again his use of effects and wah pedal is incredible. The Rocinante swirls out of control toward the black hole and the entire trip is a galloping trip thanks the rhyme method the band.
The transition is noticeable just before Ged introduces Cygnus X-1 book 2 Hemispheres, We are blessed to have such wonderful recordings of this song live. Probably the bands most ambitious piece of complexity this wonderful recording picks every nuance and detail. I love the way to song intertwines with Cygnus X-1 during the Armageddon sequence, it gives an out of body experience, sort of an aural homage to the Twilight Zone that gives way to the robotic style vocals of Cygnus Bringer of Balance. About 15 minutes into the piece there are some digital sounding pops, not sure how to expand on this. I read other versions have the same phenomena but this is my only version of this tape and cannot comment, perhaps Chambau can offer his opinion ? The song segues into Closer To The Heart to end the first disc.
Alex on the acoustic guitar starts the second disc, the very beginning has a little wobble to it but clears up quickly. This is a very powerful version of the song, in thanks to the beautiful recording and hits you like a ton of bricks. The transition into La Villa is incredible, Alex rips into the opening storm of notes before Ged does his vocal introduction. Gedd’s vocal tonight is “aided” by vocal effects, the first part sound demon like while the second line chirpy and robotic like, the band have an incredible sense of humor. The song itself is music perfection, this version is fantastic, Gedd even gets into some more vocal improvisation making for a wonderful version of the song. Of course the highlight of the second disc is an incredible sounding version of 2112, while Hemispheres is a much more cerebral piece 2112 is full of aggression and angst. Honed to perfection by years of playing the song, Temples of Syrinx is very heavy during this show. A lot of cheering from the audience can be heard during the beginning of Discovery, the audience obviously is enjoying this incredible piece of music. Soliloquy and Grand finale are also particularly devastating, the audience loudly salutes the band at its conclusion.
The pauses is quick and the band returns for the encores, Geddy introduces working Man as being from your parents record collection as they play a 60’s beach music sounding kind of shuffle before Alex rips in the metal riff. He plays his first solo and the combination of leads, bass and drums is simply thundering, the transition into Bastille Day is flawless and the song storms into the audience. The song abruptly ends and the final encore of In The Mood and Neil’s solo is performed. In The Mood always gets the crowd on their feet and I am sure many people were wondering, what no drum solo ? Well worth the wait, old school Neil solos are incredible, he had the huge array of instruments and uses most all them in an incredible pattern that literally had my walls shaking (this recording is meant to be played loud).
The packaging is simple and standard fare, full color inserts with album graphics and photos from the era. The recording is essential to any Rush fan and Shout To The Top did a nce job on this release, if you can find it grab it as you will not be disappointed.If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)