Few bands nowadays can match Rush’s technical achievements from their heyday. The Canadian group was always interested in pushing the limits of what they could do with their instruments, even by progressive rock standards. One song proved to be too difficult for them to execute jointly, despite the fact that each member pushed themselves to the limit when performing.
As soon as Neil Peart joined the band, Rush’s discography grew increasingly complex, with tunes that went well beyond the parameters of a typical pop song. The band expanded their horizons in numerous ways during the following several years, with bassist/singer Geddy Lee introducing a synthesizer to the mix after ‘2112’ bought them independence at their label. Rush reached a roadblock when composing Hemispheres, despite the fact that they may have attempted to surpass themselves on every record.
The project only has four songs, despite being a full-length album, and one of them picks up where the band left off on A Farewell to Kings’ narrative. Although they were all able to persevere through the first half of the album without incident, the instrumental ‘La Villa Strangiato’ couldn’t quite a gel. They were keen to truncate the track live due to its nine-minute length.
Producer Terry Brown revealed to Rush: Beyond the Light Stage how challenging the process had gotten when it came time to record the song. “It was so complicated and had so many different movements and time signature changes that it would have had to be charted out just to keep track of where you were at any given point.”
Before deciding to compose the song in sections, Lee noted that everything came together slowly. He said, “It took us 11 days to get the bed track only, and we finally had to admit defeat. We had to do it in three parts.”
They didn’t play it properly in one take, but the flexibility of overdubbing to let them explore. For example, Alex Lifeson played a lengthy open solo that intensified until the song’s thunderous finale. The sessions were out of control, according to Alex Lifeson, who said, “It was quite manic, and our hours became later and later.” It came to the point where we were getting up at seven in the morning and going to bed at noon. Despite the fact that the band may not have taken care of themselves, this song started to foreshadow what was to come.
Their following album, Permanent Waves, focused on writing simpler songs than what they had been doing because no one enjoyed working on the final product. Although songs like “The Spirit of Radio” contained many time signature changes, it was simpler to polish the material into a pop song than to create a song to demonstrate the musicians’ skill.
In the following ten years, Rush’s fresh perspective on recording propelled them to even greater heights, making songs like “Limelight” huge hits without sacrificing their prog inclinations. Although ‘La Ville Strangiato’ was extremely challenging to play and arrange, the subtitle ‘An Exercise in Self-Indulgence’ was not chosen by accident.