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Rush - Permanent Waves CD (album) cover




Heavy Prog

4.28 | 2167 ratings

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4 stars Permanent Waves gets off to a promising start with a good opening riff, in "Spirit of Radio". Drummer NEIL PEART is what DREAM THEATER's MIKE PORTNOY aspired to be.technical but still fitting into the groove like SYMPHONY X drummer JASON RULLO. In some ways I give RUSH credit for being an ancestor to the later prog and technical metal I enjoy, hence my interest in the band. Even in this obvious single, the band still managed to do some innovative things--the reggae section is a fun little change. The first two songs have suffered from some overplaying on the radio, unfortunately. PEART's lyrics are fantastic here--what's said about the music industry is just as timely in these times of RIAA fascism. Ironically, I noticed that GEDDY LEE's vocals are much higher-pitched and screechy on the pop tracks than on the rest of the album.could it be they did do it because it sells?

"Free Will" is also enjoyable as a song.the lyrics are well-written but a little bit narrow in that they create a false dichotomy between having faith and taking personal responsibility. As for why I feel I can criticize, since PEART's lyrics are of such a high standard, I believe the criticism should be much more advanced as well. However, it was the lyrics that first got me into RUSH, most particularly the very true "If you choose not to decide you still have made a choice." Later, the RUSH-influenced DREAM THEATER seems to quote this recognizable set of lyrics with their reference to God as the "unearthly guide" in "The Great Debate". Musically, we have excellent bass work in the interlude, and this is made an especially good album for its time by not going the 80s drum-machine route.

What convinced me to buy this album was that I had the fortune to hear this whole album on the radio when a classic rock station in our area was preparing to change to a different format.I remember that moment of shock when I realized the twofer was going to be an entire album! When "Jacob's Ladder" started, it had a totally different feel to the rest, slower-paced, and that really intrigued me. To me, the prog begins in earnest here. The lower-range vocals are very effective for him and it was good to see some versatility in his voice. The heavy feeling as the song builds up definitely shows why this group influenced later prog-metal offerings like DREAM THEATER and AYREON.and possibly even the power-metal genre. This is probably my favorite "first-generation" prog group after PINK FLOYD, and to be honest, I'm pretty picky about the first-generation stuff. There's some extremely nice synth work in the interlude of this song, not excessively fast, and has a definite mood to it.and as an added bonus, the overall production is pretty good for the time, and it really stood out here!

"Entre Nous" is another that might've had a crack at being a single, but perhaps it didn't catch on because there was a little less of the screeching stuff from LEE. I also noticed that the lyrics were a bit lighter compared to PEART's usual fare, so while certainly not a bad song, it does seem a little strange in comparison to the rest of the album. On "Different Strings", I love the chord transitions--unusual but not overly strange. The lyrics are simple and sweet-again, relationship based. PORTNOY has tried to do the same thing with the cymbals that you hear here, but failed for some odd reason.too little variance as one should expect from a human? PEART pulls it off quite well. While I understand the bass was a real signature instrument for RUSH, it does seem to be mixed slightly loud here.

"Natural Science" is the other more strongly proggy piece in both music and subject matter. DREAM THEATER seems to have been inspired by the riff you hear around the "Quantum leap forward" bit and I'm pretty convinced I've heard them "quote" it somewhere. As to this song, I especially give RUSH credit for having good length control; they seem to know exactly how long the listener is willing to listen for and provide that--no more, no less. That's a balancing act that not all prog bands learn to master.

Overall, this is an album well-done with only minor critiques--my main one being that it is way too short (though that could be a generational bias).

FloydWright | 4/5 |


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