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Rush - Signals CD (album) cover




Heavy Prog

3.95 | 1322 ratings

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4 stars Geddy Lee has said before that he was not satisfied with this album. He wanted more out of the production and it was because of this largely that the band decided that long-time producer, Terry Brown and the band would part ways. Some fans have also complained about the heavy use of synthesizer and the lack of guitar. Indeed, on many tracks the rhythm guitar seems buried in the mix while the bass and synth come out clear and strong. But this album is to me, still one of Rush's great works and I don't think of it as the beginning of their foray into synthesizer new wave rock but the end of their period of shorter progressive songs that began with Permanent Waves.

The album starts off with the synthesizer driven Subdivisions and sure enough, the guitars are hard to hear in the mix. But the guitar solo rocks out in Alex Lifeson's new-found 80s style playing. This is one of those classic Rush songs that reach out to so many fans both musically and lyrically and a clear champion of Rush's success with pushing the synthesizer to the forefront of their sound.

In contrast, Analog Kid starts with a fury of bass playing as the guitar and drums provide the vehicle. The bass has become the lead instrument here, taking over where the guitar would normally be going wild. For this song, the synthesizer is employed only during the chorus and during part of the solo. The verses are clear guitar, bass and drums and Alex's solo here is furious and wild, melding beautifully with the melodic synth chords.

Chemistry lets you know that the synthesizer is no freak instrument here and that it will continue to come up song after song. The sound is really early 80s but this song is full of more excellent Rush music: great drumming, cool guitar solo work, and stand-out bass work.

The band adds some Reggae in Digital Man, reflecting their Police influences. While this is one of the more well-known songs off the album, I only recently started to get into it. I much prefer The Weapon, which has a long instrumental section and gives the keyboard, guitar and drums room to move and develop dynamic music and tension that finally come to a release near the end of the song.

New World Man continues in the Police vein, and Losing It is a song of depressing lyrics about a formerly great dancer and a popular writer who can no longer perform well enough to carry on their profession. There's an electric violin in this song and depending on your mood this one is either a really great track exploring music and lyric or a skipper.

The final track, Countdown, captures Neil Peart's feelings upon witnessing the launching of a space shuttle. The song is just under 6 minutes long but has some strong music and instrumental sections where synthesizer and Geddy's bass take over the lead rhythm word. Alex's guitar is surprisingly left way in the background here as if he was out of town at the time most of this was written and recorded. There's a keyboard solo here instead of a guitar solo, and maybe this is why so many people said Alex had lost his guitar by this stage in Rush's career. But I disagree. This album features some awesome guitar playing and soloing. The bass and loud and chunky and the drums sound super as always.

For my money, this is almost as good as Moving Pictures and as good as Permanent Waves. Together with these two other albums this makes a trio of unique and remarkable works by a band that just never slows down.

FragileKings | 4/5 |


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