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Rush - Permanent Waves CD (album) cover

PERMANENT WAVES

Rush

 

Heavy Prog

4.30 | 1413 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

1800iareyay
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Rush's Permanent Waves is the fourth classic in a row for the band. It is a highly important record, as it marked the transition from heavy, border-line metal prog to the poppier synth sound that would define their 80s output. It also marks the lyrical transition from Peart's sci-fi obsession to mature and deep subject matter. Who'd have thought Peart would be such a great lyricist? This is a polarizing album: old fans point to this as the beginning of the end of the band, while others saw the lyrical brilliance and musicianship that make this album great. As always, the band gels like no other group on the planet, not even jazz bands. Geddy's voice has changed from the mad screams of previous albums into a more restrained but no less powerful tenor, which he maintains to this day. His bass playing is still some of the best you'll ever hear. Lifeson puts his stamps on the songs with beautiful melodies and terrific solos. Peart, well, we all know he's God.

The album opens with the standard "The Spirit of Radio," named after a radio station in Toronto. I don't know why people call this a sellout song. Yes, it's made for radio, but listen to the lyrics. The song attacks the music industry's corruption of radio from a device to hear music into just another tool to sell copies. The fact that it's tailor-made for radio play is genius. The band took John Lennon's "Imagine" approach to songwriting: sugarcoat your message so that many don't realize the attack. Plus, Rush introduce reggae into their music, which would surface from time to time in the future. "Freewill" is another classic with great lyrics. Peart pens an anthem of self-reliance. The chorus is wonderful and Alex's solo is one of his best. "Jacob's Ladder" is weak lyrically, as it details the dream of a prophet. However, the composition is staggering. Pounding bass and incredible guitar that slowly builds for the entire piece. This song bored me stiff the first time I heard it, but another listen and it all clicked.

"Entre Nous" never really did it for me until I saw the band recently. It's a solid song, but it lacks the power of the rest of the tracks here. "Different Strings" is a beauty with melancholic vibes. Rush wouldn't make another song so moving until they released several moving songs on Vapor Trails two decades later. Entre Nous and Strings share a lyrical theme of rocky romance. The album closes with "Natural Science," a look into society's oppression of the individual and how honest men are "an endangered species." This features some jaw-dropping work from the band, particularly Peart, who does things no mortal could ever hope to accomplish.

The album is rather short, but remember that back in the days of vinyl that meant better sound quality. Waves has the misfortune of falling between Rush's two masterpieces, yet it proudly holds its own. This is one of Rush's most enjoyable albums, and it's one of precious few devoid of filler. "Entre Nous" is the only track that comes close to being a throwaway. It falls just short of being a masterpiece, but Rush would ensure that their next album would make that final leap.

Grade: B+

1800iareyay | 4/5 |

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