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Rush - Permanent Waves CD (album) cover

PERMANENT WAVES

Rush

 

Heavy Prog

4.31 | 1338 ratings

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lazland
Prog Reviewer
4 stars At about the time this album was released, my other favourite heavy /classic rock band, Rainbow, released the LP Down To Earth following the departure of Ronnie James Dio. The title was a deliberate attempt by Blackmore to signify to the world that sci fi & fantasy was now no longer needed, or, indeed, wanted. Songs, in future, would be rooted in the real world most mortals inhabited.

Well, Permanent Waves is Rush's Down To Earth. This is the album where they ceased to amaze us with fantastical tales and myths, and, instead, got on with the serious business of moaning about the crap playlists on mainstream radio and other such important daily considerations. Consider the epic Natural Science, which closes proceedings. Just short of ten minutes long, it is a wonderfully tight, chirpy track which deals with the microscopic world and its science. Real life and real themes, all set within a wonderfully epic backdrop which easily holds together far better than the epic on Hemispheres, and yet is only half the length.

A lot of people hated them for it. There are no tracks on this more than ten minutes long, but what they did was to pack as much action and adventure into the shorter songs than they did on much of what went before. The album even garnered a (shock, horror) hit single in Spirit Of Radio, still played on FM stations the world over and a classic Rush track.

They did still, of course, stay true to their roots, and nowhere is this better exemplified by the cracking Jacob's Ladder, a track which would not have felt out of place on A Farewell To Kings. There is, though, a heavier reliance on Geddy Lee's synths, but the heavy riffs are pounding, and the live version on Exit Stage Left is, if anything, even more effective. They did, however, literally lyrically strip away the mystique and fantasy dragons on Different Strings, a lovely acoustic track featuring some marvellous piano work by Hugh Syme.

With this stripped down album, we can, in hindsight, see the bridge between old Rush, and the sound that was perfected on Moving Pictures, and taken in a more "modern" direction with Signals and later albums.

This was down as much to commercial pressures as much as Peart's wish to move outside of the band's mythical comfort zone. At the time, punk had done its work, and bands such as Motorhead, Saxon, and Whitesnake (to name a few) were belting out classic rock tracks which sold truckloads and captured the imagination of the buying and listening public. They did it with songs which lasted less than five minutes long.

What Rush started to do with this album was to lay down the foundations of modern heavy prog with commercial nous. That they did so without selling out or losing their fanatically loyal fanbase was a testament to this great band's determination to face a new era positively, without fear, and retaining their credibility as serious artists.

Four stars, but damned close to being a true masterpiece. That, of course, would be achieved with the follow up, Moving Pictures.

lazland | 4/5 |

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