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Rush - Permanent Waves CD (album) cover

PERMANENT WAVES

Rush

 

Heavy Prog

4.30 | 1424 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Nhorf
3 stars 2112, Caress of Steel, Hemispheres, A Farewell to Kings... All of those Rush albums are widely regarded as landmarks of the progressive rock/metal genre. They influenced lots of new bands and musicians and played an important role in the divulgation of the progressive genre. After composing those technical and complex albums, Rush began a new phase, composing more radio- friendly and straight-forward songs than true progressive epics.

This album represents the transition between those two phases; on one hand, it has Natural Science and Jacob's Ladder, two tracks that wouldn't sound out of place on, for example, Hemispheres, and, on other hand, it has Entre Nous and Freewill, two extremely catchy tunes that would fit well on Moving Pictures or Grace Under Pressure, two records that the band released after this one.

After giving the album some spins, it's easy to find evident differences between Permanent Waves and the rest of the 70's Rush catalog. For example, Geddy Lee isn't shrieking like a madman anymore, as he delivers a more melodic performance. The songwriting isn't so intricate. There is more emphasis on the keyboards. Every song is catchy.

When trying to release a more radio-friendly record without losing their own identity, countless bands failed. Surprisingly, Rush succeeds doing it: Permanent Waves is, probably, a commercial record, but it still has progressive elements all over it, that keep the integrity of the band intact.

The record is an authentic hymn to life. The uplifting lyrics of Neil Peart fit the beautiful music very well, and because of that, the album has an interesting and happy atmosphere (from Entre Nous, an authentic ode to love, to Natural Science, a hopeful track that talks about honesty and sensibility). Despite being a fantastic lyricist, Neil Peart is also, like everyone knows, an outstanding drummer. He proves that again on Permanent Waves, playing hard and complex patterns that fit the music (instead of playing those patterns just to show that he can do them well); he also shows some versatility, adopting a softer approach to the calm Different Strings.

The first track was the first big hit single of the band and is called Spirit of Radio. In fact, despite being a hit single, the song is pretty complex, featuring some interesting transitions, a reggae-influenced (!!!) section and a fine guitar solo. This tune is also an example of the new vocal approach that Lee adopted. As I've already said, don't expect Geddy to scream like on 2112, he now sounds more like a conventional rock vocalist. And that doesn't work bad at all, as he delivers a nice vocal performance, which fits the warm atmosphere very well.

All the other songs of the album are divided into two categories: the catchy ones and the progressive ones. Freewill, Entre Nous and Different Strings fall into the first. Freewill contains, probably, one of the "catchier" choruses I've ever heard. Entre Nous is an authentic underrated gem: contains a bass and a guitar solo (that are just amazing, if you ask me) and great lyrics. Different Strings is the softer song of the record, a tune dominated by the uplifting acoustic guitar work of Lifeson and the astounding vocal performance of Geddy Lee.

Natural Science and Jacob's Ladder fall obviously, into the progressive category. Jacob's Ladder is, probably, the only somber song of Permanent Waves. It begins with a priceless build-up and then Geddy begins to sing about a storm that is about to begin... And then, around the two minutes mark, the storm is unleashed, thanks to a fantastic guitar riff and to the precise drum work of God, err, excuse me, Neil Peart. The middle section of the track is filled with a quiet breakdown, which probably represents the end of the storm. Natural Science contains, again, amazing lyrics and is divided into three sections: Tide Pools, Hyperspace and Permanent Waves (which is my favourite section).

This is a record to be heard as a whole; in my opinion, the songs sound rather weak when heard individually, but, as a whole listening experience, the album is a winner. However, some tunes, especially Freewill, Entre Nous and Spirit of Radio can get old pretty FAST, which is definitely a bad thing. The durability of those songs isn't very good.

If you can, get the remastered version of the record, as the sound quality is thirty times better than the one of the original version. My only complaint about the production is that I can't hear the bass drums on many of the songs, but, otherwise, the production is top notch.

Rush certainly released better albums, but this one is good, nevertheless.

Nhorf | 3/5 |

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