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Rush - Permanent Waves CD (album) cover




Heavy Prog

4.28 | 2123 ratings

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Marc Baum
Prog Reviewer
5 stars The album begins with the sound of guitar pull-offs sweeping across the soundscape soon to be joined by bass and drums. The opening track “The Spirit of Radio” is an anthem to the powerful force of the radio and the music industry. In keeping with this theme, most of the album "Permanent Waves" is very radio friendly. With the exception of "Jacob ’s Ladder" and "Natural Science", the songs here are of radio length: around 4 minutes or so. Two of Rush’s most popular songs came from this album. The aforementioned “Spirit of Radio” and “Freewill” still receive radio air time.

At this point in their career, Rush was slowly phasing away from the progressiveness of previous works like “2112” and “Hemispheres”. This is not to say the material here is not progressive, in fact, this is a great album for those that want to hear two different sides of Rush: The longer epic side, and the shorter, more accessible side. Even in the shorter songs, there is an element of experimentation. For instance, in “Spirit of Radio”, near the end the song goes into an unexpected reggae-like bridge section before hitting the guitar solo. A few albums later, they began to add more of the reggae riffs into their sound (Vital Signs and Digital Man being good examples).

For those that like longer, more experimental songs, Permanent Waves has a lot to offer. I’ll be honest, I’m not a huge fan of “Jacob’s Ladder”, however the more I listen to it, the more it grows on me. It’s a seven minute, mostly instrumental song. After an ominous beginning with lyrics about “clouds preparing for battle”, the song goes into a lengthy mid section. Here is where the “short song” crowd will likely tune out. The riffs here have a military march feel to them, very fitting of the previous lyrics. Some synth later comes in, along with Geddy’s vocals shaped into a robotic voice. The guitar returns, slowly growing louder and building up to a loud climax. I can see why some could see this as a boring song, as I used to think that way before, but there’s a lot here that is heard only after a few extra listens.

The big, epic track of the album is “Natural Science”. This is an excellent track and is definitely the highlight of the album. Not only is the concept here noteworthy, the music and atmosphere created as so fitting of its title. It begins gently with the sounds of waves hitting a beach. In comes an acoustic guitar with some reverb added on, making it sound as if he’s playing it on a deserted beach somewhere. Right as the first set of lyrics is finished; the sounds of seagulls can be heard in the background. Pretty cool. There’s some rich visual imagery here in the lyrics. For example: “Wheels within wheels, in a spiral array, a pattern so grand and complex, Time after time we lose sight of the way, Our causes can’t see their effect.” Add to that more strange vocals effects during the “Hyperspace” section and you’ve got a song that’s full of interesting twists. It’s a shame that this was one of Rush’s last “epic” songs.

So putting this all together, there’s a good mix of shorter, accessible songs, and longer more complex ones. Rush may have gotten more radio friendly at this point, but they still had the artist integrity and the brains to come up with some great progressive rock songs. Permanent Waves is a fine album, another classic milestone in Rush's catalogue. They went even further with the monumental "Moving Pictures", their crowning achivement and pinnacle.

album rating: 9.5/10 points = 96 % on MPV scale = 5/5 stars

point-system: 0 - 3 points = 1 star / 3.5 - 5.5 points = 2 stars / 6 - 7 points = 3 stars / 7.5 - 8.5 points = 4 stars / 9 - 10 points = 5 stars

Marc Baum | 5/5 |


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