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Rush - Permanent Waves CD (album) cover

PERMANENT WAVES

Rush

 

Heavy Prog

4.31 | 1389 ratings

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daveconn
Prog Reviewer
5 stars Where earlier RUSH albums escaped into a fantasy world of their own devising, "Permanent Waves" unlocks the magic from within. It marked a turning point in RUSH's fortunes as they traded in fantasy for reality, diffusive energy for a concentrated beam of brilliance, bygone battles for imminent conflicts. I've never approached "Permanent Waves" as a concept album, though on reflection it usually occurs to me that "Spirit of Radio" presents a problem (where's the integrity in art?) that "Natural Science" offers a solution for (the honest shall inherit the earth and bring art and science under the command of good). And many of the songs are philosophical musings painted in epic detail: "Entre Nous" offers the epigrammatic insight that "The spaces in between leave room for you and I to grow", "Free Will" notes that "If you choose not to decide you still have made a choice." Really, you'd have to look back to GRATEFUL DEAD's ROBERT HUNTER to find that much life wisdom delivered so succintly in a rock song. But the real wonder of "Permanent Waves" is the music, tighter than ever, not bloated with majesty but elevated by it, ascending toward some higher purpose. "The Spirit of Radio" is a bracing beginning that plays out like a life-or-death battle for integrity. "Free Will" puts the power back in the lap of the listener, lest RUSH sound too preachy. On the lyrical surface, "Jacob's Ladder" is no more than an extended haiku, but musically. good gracious! ALEX LIFESON's guitar pierces through like nothing since STEVE HOWE, sublime in its effect, and the whole song could be seen as an equal to the secret wonders of "Fragile": "Heart of the Sunrise" and "South Side of the Sky." This first side of music, in my opinion, ranks as one of the greatest "Sides" of plastic in all progdom. "Entre Nous" marks the entrance to side two, another classic RUSH track infused with the same warm humanity as "Closer To The Heart." A reference to the band's change in direction would seem to occur on "Different Strings", which resurrects some of the old sound (shrouded in mist) and imagery (one could interpret "slaying the dragon" as an end to the fantasy-fueled epics of old). The three-part "Natural Science" finds NEIL PEART seeking in science a fertile allegory for life (and succeeding), themes that would continue on Moving Pictures and (especially) "Signals". From this point on the Future would be RUSH's future, as their heroes put away their swords (their dragons now extinct), entered the battlefield of business, charged the gates of digital domains, and sought personal connections in an increasingly impersonal world. Just between us, it gave them a whole new world in which to grow. Collector's note: It appears only the original Anthem issue features the headline "Dewey Defeats Truman" on the newspaper blowing in the front cover foreground; subsequent issues have the newspaper title whited out (a la BILLY RIPKEN).
daveconn | 5/5 |

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