Rush, 2112

Given that half this album is consumed by an overwrought, hackneyed high-concept space fantasy of a hapless figure struggling (having rediscovered the guitar, no less) against priestly institutionalized oppressors, what's left? Other than "A Passage To Bangkok," an amusing if hazily transparent marijuana-fueled odyssey, and the licks if not the lyrics of libertarian fetish "Something For Nothing," not a lot. The actual music is well produced and I am the last person on earth who will begrudge a prog band an artistic excess or two in their suites. But even Geddy Lee's generally on-pitch banshee impersonation goes flat at times, particularly in "Tears," and then there's the lyrics and "2112"'s story. Didn't space rock die in 1969? (Content: sly drug references in "A Passage To Bangkok.")