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Rush - Permanent Waves CD (album) cover




Heavy Prog

4.28 | 2167 ratings

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Permanent Waves is the beginning of a shift in the sound of the band. Those permanent waves carry them for a hard rock approach, but there is still a strong edge towards progressive rock, even in the shorter songs. The originality and level of musicianship also leaves no room for much doubt or argument.

Even when they are suposedly making straight rock songs or adding pop influences, they make it in a very unique, thoughtful way. Thoughtful: here's the keyword. This music is made with the brains.

It starts up with two of the best songs Rush ever made, regardless of phase or style. The Spirit of Radio: what a way to open procedures. The recurrent guitar riffs make way for the main theme, followed by Geddy Lee singing what is possibly the best lyrics Neil ever wrote. Alex's guitars are a show in particular. They hit hard, fast, melodic, distorted, but with so many different sounds and melodies one may get dizzy trying to follow them up. Some very well placed keyboards and thunderous drums also contribute to a most exciting song. And just when you thought things were done, there comes a brief reggae interlude with the last lyric lines, and then a breathtaking guitar solo to end in the highest possible note. All this in just under 5 minutes! There's one for every taste here: changing moods, styles, time signatures and improvisation. No way one could say this is not progressive rock. And most important: a great, exciting, state-of-the-art song.

It is really hard to pick it up from where this one left us, but the guys give their best shot with Free Will. The song structure is quite similar, indeed. Guitar intro and many guitar sounds, fast pace, subtle keyboards. The main difference is that this one has a chorus that make it a bit more of a traditional rock song. But then, as it reaches the third minute, a sudden change and yet another terrific guitar solo. The main theme and chorus come back to close the song.

Jacob's Ladder is a moodier song, actually combining with the lyrics. The parallel between storm and battle is not to be taken serious, but in their play of images and excellent match with the music, make it a smart move. Divided in three parts, it could be described as more progressive then the previous, but in fact it cannot match the constant change of moods, times and sounds we find in The Spirit of Radio. Not to say it is a bad song. Some great guitar and bass work here (it would be redundant to say it about the druming). The third part of the song, with a guitar crescendo (that reminds me of Echoes) and the three playing unisone to introduce the last lyric lines are another great closing.

Unfortunately, after two genius and one great songs, the album loses momentum. Entre Nous is a traditional rock and roll song, even slightly softer than the former songs. Not particularly memorable, though still enjoyable and, obviously, very well played. Different Strings is their semi-acoustic, renaissance-flavored song, that reminds me of Madrigal from A Farewell to Kings. Better then is immediate predecessor, but not at par with the opening songs.

Natural Science is also a more traditional song - only a traditional PROG song. Divided in three parts, ambitious theme. But it doesn't get even close to the level of their counterparts, such as Cygnus X-1, or even Jacob's Ladder, that has a similar structure.

So, after a fantastic start, the guys kind of slow it down. True, it is very hard keep the standards set by The Spirit of Radio, even for Rush. Still, it is a drop in quality, but not a flop. In the end, an album with some of their best songs and one of the most original and impressive guitar play ever delivered by Alex Lifeson. Not a masterpiece, but a great album.

bfmuller | 4/5 |


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