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5 stars Freewill, The Spirit of Radio, and Jacob's ladder are three of the greatest songs ever. If you are a classic rock fan, this, like a few other Rushs, is something that is important to buy. Possibly the best Rush cd. One of the top 10 or 20 best cds of all time.

Check out 'Moving Pictures' 'A Farewell to Kings' 'Hemispheres' and '2112' too.

Report this review (#20596)
Posted Tuesday, December 9, 2003 | Review Permalink
Dan Bobrowski
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Permanent Waves reminds me of the snow storms I used to experience when I first heard it in the frozen cold of an Upper Michigan winter. Spirit of Radio and Freewill were radio staples at the time, but Jacob's Ladder was the soundtrak to the huge, dark, snow engorged storm clouds of the winter. The throbbing bass line chugged in a JAWS like menacing pulse. Natural Science, my favorite track, rivals any "epic" prog out there, from King Crimson to Yes. It's got some of the best lyrics written. By far their best musical display. Muscular and melodic.

Permanent Waves will always be my favorite Rush album simply because it is connected to me in a special way.

Report this review (#20597)
Posted Thursday, December 11, 2003 | Review Permalink
5 stars Rush comes up with one of their most creative efforts ever, in Permanent waves. Spirit of the Radio, and Freewill have become radio and concert staples, and are some of Rush's most famous works. The latter is an excellent example of a prog song being condensed to radio format: not usually this is a good idea, but Rush has managed to pull this effort off flawlessly. Jacob's Ladder is a purely progressive jam, utilizing synthesizers quite effectively in the middle section. Entre Nous and Different strings appear at first to be throwaways, but are an excellent listen. Natural Science, the epic progressive closer, is one of the greatest songs of all time. One cannot be a prog fan unless one has heard this definitive song. With astounding lyrics, courtesy of peart, the song breaks philosophic ground relating to natural selection, divine ordinance, and social pressures. Equally astounding is the musicianship put forth by all three members, here, and on the entire album. What is ironic is that, even though these guys are all over 50, they can still play better than 90 percent of the content of MTV
Report this review (#20582)
Posted Wednesday, January 14, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars The Spirit of Radio and Freewill have a good blend of the 70's sounding guitar and the 80's sounding synth. Those two songs alone are worth getting this one -- as they are defining moments. Jacob's Ladder deviates from the main stream and takes lots of unconventional chances, but diehard Rush fans savor this one for its uniqueness. Entre Nous has great lyrics. I didn't care for Different Strings at first (the way it's played, the strings really are different), but it grew on me. Natural Science was too long on the introduction, but it contains some of Rush's best moments later in the track.
Report this review (#20583)
Posted Saturday, January 17, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars Sort of a warm-up for "Moving Pictures," or morely aptly put a transition from "Hemispheres" to "M.P." Some people consider that chronolgical seating detracts from this album, but that's just not true! Some of the greatest hard rock guitar work ever produced, Peart's playing and precision really becomes lethal at this point, and Geddy's bass work is flashy but unobtrusive; in other words, he takes the lead at just the right point in the song (i.e. the break right before Lifeson's god-like solo in "Freewill"). This album is just purely amazing, an essential purchase. A "feel-good" record.
Report this review (#20587)
Posted Sunday, January 18, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars No album has hooked me to a band as quickly as this one did. "Permanent Waves" could blow anything out in the public now! "The Spirit Of Radio" is Rush's best song, hands down. No other song can give me goosebumps and make me want to jam out every time I hear like this one can. But then I hear "Freewill" and it is superb as well. Both songs carry a valued rock sound found no where else. But it can't be a great album without having a unique flare to finish it off like "Natural Science" does. Any fan of good rock should own "Permanent Waves." Must hear song: The Spirit Of Radio
Report this review (#20588)
Posted Sunday, February 1, 2004 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
Prog Folk
3 stars This is when the early fans started to wonder why a band commits Hara-Kiri, as the sound had changed drastically. We all had to admit that Geddy Lee could not go on screaming like the madman he appeared to non-fans so he had to change his singing for his own throat's sake. But did they have to change their music so much? As history will point out , they were right because every album brought new fans even though the older ones were bemused.

Only two tracks can be likened to the previous Hemispheres, and this would be the cool and rather calm Jacob's Ladder clearly a highlight and the three part mini-suite Natural Science (especially the last movement) being the other climax.

the rest of the tracks were either meant at radio airplay (Spirit of Radio - In Toronto this meant 102.1 FM) or filler such as Entre Nous. A rather uneven and transitional album.

Report this review (#20589)
Posted Tuesday, February 3, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars Not too add too much too the previous reviews, but PW is more than recommendable. If you seek to find out how much beauty, how muc mind-boggling creativity and lushness can be in rock - prog or not - go and get it! Though Grace ... is my favourite for personal reasons, this one and the next was when they were kings. The Spirit of Rush!
Report this review (#20591)
Posted Friday, February 6, 2004 | Review Permalink
2 stars They had much to prove after the fantastic Hemispheres. I remembered that I was so disappointed when listen to this record 24 years ago. I gave it a chance again, but it is not better now. Lack of ideas and lack anything what could be more than little interesting. Though, Jacob's Ladder is excellent.
Report this review (#20607)
Posted Wednesday, March 24, 2004 | Review Permalink
2 stars Oh dear! After the promise of the previous two excellent studio albums, this one marked, for me, the first major change in direction, and not one I enjoyed much. Don't get me wrong, this is not a bad album, and Jacob's Ladder and Freewill are Rush classics, and rightfully so. But the rest of the album seems thin,and to lack ideas. The Spirit Of Radio is far too jolly and insignificant, and the other tracks are forgettable. (Although the end of Different Strings has some nice fade out guitar work. Vies with 2112 as the second or third weakest album they have done. (Of course, both are superior to the tragic Fly By Night!) Only for die-hard fans.
Report this review (#20608)
Posted Friday, March 26, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars A great change from the epic concept albums, and still a musically challenging endeavor. The mucsical skill and tightness of the band shows through in the punch in the gut intro of "Spirit of Radio" . the enire song incorporates inricate melody, and begs the airband member to play along. Few sound effects or overdubs and little "overproduction" lend to the overall sound of the album, which is lighter than the previous two, creating a live feel emulated in songs like "Freewill" and "Entre Nous". Different Strings is the weak link, but still a powerful ballad. "Natural Science" combines the intricacy of musicianship and Neil's awesome poetic images while still maintaining the epic song format for which Rush is so well known .
Report this review (#20609)
Posted Saturday, March 27, 2004 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Compared to "Hemispheres", this record is just a bit less progressive, being quite complex rythmic hard rock. The electric guitar has a bit less of the overdrive effect than on the "Hemispheres" album. The keyboards are very simple and are rather in the background, and they do not take very much room. On the catchy "Spirit of the Radio", there is a pleasant reggae part, and you can hear a rythmic PIANO on the song. "Free Will" has an OUTSTANDING complex bass part. "Different Strings" is a more mellow track full of melodic acoustic guitar, PIANO and relaxing lead vocals, ending with a slow & moaning guitar solo. The last track, "Natural Science", is one of the best RUSH track ever recorded: it is very progressive, structured and it has varied themes; the instruments, especially the bass and drums, are very complex. This record, coming right before "Moving Pictures", announces a bit how the lead guitar will sound like.


Report this review (#20630)
Posted Wednesday, April 14, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars Where earlier RUSH albums escaped into a fantasy world of their own devising, "Permanent Waves" unlocks the magic from within. It marked a turning point in RUSH's fortunes as they traded in fantasy for reality, diffusive energy for a concentrated beam of brilliance, bygone battles for imminent conflicts. I've never approached "Permanent Waves" as a concept album, though on reflection it usually occurs to me that "Spirit of Radio" presents a problem (where's the integrity in art?) that "Natural Science" offers a solution for (the honest shall inherit the earth and bring art and science under the command of good). And many of the songs are philosophical musings painted in epic detail: "Entre Nous" offers the epigrammatic insight that "The spaces in between leave room for you and I to grow", "Free Will" notes that "If you choose not to decide you still have made a choice." Really, you'd have to look back to GRATEFUL DEAD's ROBERT HUNTER to find that much life wisdom delivered so succintly in a rock song. But the real wonder of "Permanent Waves" is the music, tighter than ever, not bloated with majesty but elevated by it, ascending toward some higher purpose. "The Spirit of Radio" is a bracing beginning that plays out like a life-or-death battle for integrity. "Free Will" puts the power back in the lap of the listener, lest RUSH sound too preachy. On the lyrical surface, "Jacob's Ladder" is no more than an extended haiku, but musically. good gracious! ALEX LIFESON's guitar pierces through like nothing since STEVE HOWE, sublime in its effect, and the whole song could be seen as an equal to the secret wonders of "Fragile": "Heart of the Sunrise" and "South Side of the Sky." This first side of music, in my opinion, ranks as one of the greatest "Sides" of plastic in all progdom. "Entre Nous" marks the entrance to side two, another classic RUSH track infused with the same warm humanity as "Closer To The Heart." A reference to the band's change in direction would seem to occur on "Different Strings", which resurrects some of the old sound (shrouded in mist) and imagery (one could interpret "slaying the dragon" as an end to the fantasy-fueled epics of old). The three-part "Natural Science" finds NEIL PEART seeking in science a fertile allegory for life (and succeeding), themes that would continue on Moving Pictures and (especially) "Signals". From this point on the Future would be RUSH's future, as their heroes put away their swords (their dragons now extinct), entered the battlefield of business, charged the gates of digital domains, and sought personal connections in an increasingly impersonal world. Just between us, it gave them a whole new world in which to grow. Collector's note: It appears only the original Anthem issue features the headline "Dewey Defeats Truman" on the newspaper blowing in the front cover foreground; subsequent issues have the newspaper title whited out (a la BILLY RIPKEN).
Report this review (#20602)
Posted Monday, May 3, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars 6... Yes, six great reasons to own this record. I know my Rush, and this one's a keeper. A different approach but the same comforting warmth. Rush knows what the're doing. For them, 1980 was a great year. They made a solid statement with duo Farewell/Hemispheres and now, they headed for new lands. But they brought luggage. That's what cool with Rush, the changes are made not drastically. They give you time to breathe and acclimate with their art. Great way to keep the ones you love close to you. That includes me. I still see myself listening that wonderful record in high school, in my crappy Sanyo walkman. I didn't even had it on cd. Except for Jacob's Ladder (a real treat), the whole album is positive and upright. Peart's lyrics are talking about understanding and emotional movement. Yay! And the album ends up with a song that aged so well, it's almost unbeleivable it was written 24 years ago: 'Natural Science'. For those who heard it live, it's a perfect 10 in 10 minutes. Rush really got forward in accesible songwriting and performance. A great place to start for the Rush middle-period. A perfect blend or light prog and rock. This album cannot deceive you. It would be illogical when everything falls into place in such a perfect precision. Welcome in the 80's...but in the right way. * 5 EXCEPTIONNAL STARS *
Report this review (#20612)
Posted Tuesday, June 1, 2004 | Review Permalink
James Lee
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars It's a new RUSH! Well, not really- the excellent "Jacob's Ladder" and "Natural Science" give us some continuity with the hard progressive rock, but the accessible immediacy of the songs on this album marks the band's dedication to making their epics more concise and refined. "Spirit of Radio" is the most direct song they've done, focusing on the music business the same critical eye they utilized on tracks like "2112" and "A Farewell to Kings"- and ironically becomes their most succesful hit (at that point). Likewise, "Freewill" sees Peart refining his songcraft and philosophical leanings, and "Entre Nous" brings more emotional depth to a band which had, at best, 'uncomplicated' romantic compositions. "Different Strings" is even more telling a glimpse- we see the maturity and sense of loss that will take over on "Signals" and "Grace Under Pressure". It almost goes without saying that the musicianship is remarkable; they rose to the challenge of fitting their instrumental discipline to the tighter tracks, and still managed to break new ground along the way. Second only to "Moving Pictures" as the band's most effective song-driven album, this one is a great introduction to RUSH and full of wonderful moments. 1980-81 is definitely the time when the RUSH star shone brightest.
Report this review (#20613)
Posted Wednesday, June 30, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars Well an ever-green like this "Permanent Waves" by Rush (even though in a few circumstances for me it should deserve an inferior score in comparison to albums like "Farewell to Kings" or "Hemisphere") , by considering also the opportunity for them to come back on stage in Europe (first time in Italy) on next Autumn 2004,is giving me the opportunity to talk about this successful album in the future. "Permanent Waves" contains the direct song (almost mainstream) "Spirit of the Radio", which is very "radio-friendly", but with a fantastic intro by Neal Peart on drums, being exceptionally and easily supported too, by means of the powerful guitar of Alex Lifeson;nevertheless you can listen also to some other progressive "jewels" , such as "Jacob's Ladder" and "Freewill", which are well worth checking out once again... such an interesting use of mini-moog, fine guitar solos within, as well as a rhythmical and syncopated bass line, which is moreover enriched with an irregular time signature!!Instead Rush nowadays is not able to reproduce such grandeur, but you can recognize the attempt to make another music renewal, regarding of their several music ideas, especially during the long music "excursus" of their career. I don't know whether it's enough or not, but for sure, coming back to the present issue, I appreciate the melodic impact of "Natural Science" and the clever breaks-through inside "Entre nous".... not completely essential, but probably it's the most important work by Rush, who tried in the early eighties to let the crowd know their complex music, passing through the accessible music features within "Spirit of the Radio" and introducing the common listener to the progressive elements in a "gentle" manner...

Clever guys!!!

Report this review (#20614)
Posted Friday, July 2, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars Rush is changing a little bit their style, but the quality is still. These album has great tracks like the classics "Spirit Of The Radio" and "Freewill", but the greatest track on this album is "Natural Science", which shows a new kind of epic that I wish the had recorded more. Also "Entre Nous" and "Jacob´s Ladder are great tunes, and the weak track here is "Different Strings". Excellent album, but a step back to HEMISPHERES.
Report this review (#20615)
Posted Sunday, July 11, 2004 | Review Permalink
3 stars Rush's radio album. Although spirit of radio and freewill are getting old and boring to listen to because of mass radio airplay, They are still great songs no matter how you look at it. Excellent guitaring on both of them. And Neil drums up a storm on freewill. Jacobs ladder is excellent for those of you into strange prog rock. It's erie and cool. :p I even like different strings. Not very common for me because I usually don't like the slow rush songs. Natural science is my favorite on the album. 10 minutes of pure genius. The drumming on that song is also a plus. It's a good album to buy If you like to listen to the same songs over and over again (cough* RADIO cough*) But other than that, You should probably wait until you're more of a rush fanatic like me to buy it. Natural science is the only song on the album that's to die for.
Report this review (#20616)
Posted Sunday, August 22, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars Yeah, yeah...I know I have to know that not every album is a masterpiece and I accept it this album maybe deserves 4 stars. But I just love it and I think is a great album, maybe one of the 5 Rush most important records of the history. Neil Peart decided to go to the commercial lyrics (he probably had enough with the epic and superb lyrics that made Rush a cult band all over the world) but here you have an example, they don't even sacrifice their escence to make change or to survive the punk and new wave era that was dominating by those years. The first side it's pretty damn good Jacob's Ladder along with Natural Science are easily the highlights of the record, just listen to the guitar riff of the 3rd track...Pure Heavy Metal Sound. The Spirit of The Radio maybe one of their most known songs, even if you open their official website, the first that you hear is this song and its amazing riff. By those years Rush was changing, and I would agree that their 80's era is a little bit weak, but they were always great and I'm glad of being a fan of them. Give it a listen!
Report this review (#20617)
Posted Friday, August 27, 2004 | Review Permalink
Chris S
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Knock this album at your peril! OK Permanent Waves marked a move from long epic tracks like on Hemispheres and 2112 but it is filled with such wicked tracks I find that there is more a stubborness to change from some reviews rather than a genuine dislike to the music content.' Spirit of the Radio' encapsulates what short Rush songs are all about and Jacob's Ladder builds to be epic in it's own unique way. " different Strings' has to be one of Rush's most beautiful slow moving songs and ' Natural science' began the epic last track series which was evident on much of the 80's albums.
Report this review (#20618)
Posted Tuesday, September 7, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars Rush dont get much better than this. 'Permenant waves' saw Rush coming down to Earth, rolling up their sleeves and enjoying some commercial success without compromising anything. Musicianship as ever is superb, and the music inspirational. 'The spirit of Radio' still makes me smile, and glow with annoying optimism and positivity even these days. If anyone ever doubted this bands musical prowess they should listern carefully to 'Freewill' Here we see all three of them exploding in an exciting frenzy of musical wizadry, the likes of which I cant recall hearing on any other album by any other band. 'Jacobs Ladder' is one of two more lengthy conceptual tracks on PW. It brims over with moody time signature changes, and perfectly conjures up the intensity felt before, during and after the mother of all storms. 'Entre Nous' is a bit weak, I always skip it, and I rarely skip Rsh tracks. The only reason I refuse to give this album less than five stars, is the classic and flawless nature of everything else on it. This album is a classic rock album and should be recognised as such. 'Natural Science' is one of Rush's best lengthy tracks, and has to be heard live to be believed.

This is an album for lovers of excellent, heartfelt, brilliantly performed music.

Report this review (#20619)
Posted Tuesday, September 7, 2004 | Review Permalink
Cesar Inca
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars A couple of things are clear about the Rush that recorded "Permanent Waves". One, that the trio is less interested in epic themes, while keeping and even reaffirming a noticeable epic attitude instrumentally (more Oberheim stuff comes to the synthesizer fold). The other, that the threesome are beginning to partially flirt with the AOR format, while still maintaining a penchant for complex rhythm patterns and clever tempo shifts. Gone are the sci-fi splendorous tales, but in turn, the revealing dreams of a prophet ('Jacob's Ladder') and the critical views about the system as a vehicle if oppression against the individual ('Natural Science') become the conceptual vehicles for Peart's lucid concerns and cerebral poetry. This serious stuff is perfectly complemented by great musical ideas, which are enhanced by the musicians' tight performances - this results into both tracks being the most prominent in the album's repertoire. But the remaining tracks are nothing to be dismissed, despite the fact that they obviously are not as aesthetically rewarding for the average prog rock listener. The opener 'Spirit of Radio' is one of those classics that never leave the tracklists on every Rush tour: and no surprise about it, since it's a very catchy number, and at the same time, an effective sample of the prototypical combination of complexity and electric energy that has become a trademark of Rush. 'Free Will' and 'Entre Nous' deal with the individual's affirmation and romantic relationships on the rocks, respectively, with a more AOR-ish attitude, that's true, but never getting rampantly accessible: on the contrary, these numbers comprise that flame of inventiveness in its melodic lines and the instrumental interludes that keeps them from being mere radio friendly simple tunes. The ballad 'Different Strings' is one of the most intimately moving pieces that Rush has written during their 77-81 era, and it might as well be extended a bit longer in order to convey the melancholy proclaimed in its lyrics in a more effective manner - Lifeson's solo in the song's closing section is captivating, but it feels so short when the fade-out appears to call it quits. Fortunately, there's still the epic closure 'Natural Science', whose magnificent grandeur has been described before in this review. Overall conclusion: an excellent progressive album.
Report this review (#20622)
Posted Monday, October 25, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars "The Spirit of the Radio" was the first song that I heard from RUSH in 1981, and at that time I didn`t like it because it didn`t have enough keyboards and it sounded to me as "pure Heavy-Metal", not as "Traditional Progressive Rock WITH Keyboards". At that time, GENESIS and YES were "the True Prog Bands" for me because they used more keyboards and "less distorted Heavy Metal guitars". By 1983, I listened to RUSH`s live albums "Exit ...Stage Left" and "All the World`s a Stage", and I changed my opinion about RUSH. So, in 1984, I finally listened to this "Permanent Waves" album. As I still prefer the live versions of "The Spirit of the Radio", "Free Will" and "Jacob`s Ladder" from the "Exit..." album, my favourite songs in this album are the songs of the Side Two of the L.P.: "Entre Nous", "Different Strings" (great song!) and the best of all, "Natural Science", the most progressive of all. In those years, Neal Peart really impressed me very much, as I still was learning how to play the drums (I began to play the drums in a band in 1981, but I played the drums for the first time in 1977) and I was trying to learn something from the albums that I liked and from drummers that I considered very good drummers. Peart is still a very good drummer, with a very original style which is Progressive and Heavy at the same time.This is a very good album, and I could really recommend it as a starting point for new listeners of this band.
Report this review (#20624)
Posted Monday, December 6, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars with the first of two albums that Rush made in the early eighties, they perfected the signature sound of the band at this particular time. In my personal opinion, this album is better than its' much- praised counterpart Moving Pictures, but, as many Rush fans feel, their albums come in twos, and neither should be missed

The Album starts of with the radio- friendly "Spirit of Radio", With a spiraling guitar intro from Alex Lifeson. Geddy and Neal come in soon after, and with as much presicion and timing as they did back in the early days. The song has a reggae- influenced breakdown at one point, and this song serves as an excellent start to a stellar album. The radio- freindliness continues with "Freewill," which is a very solid song, with strong performances from all members of the band. The next track, "Jacob's Ladder, begins with a march- like feel, then starts rocking before a light, airy synthesizer break, and ends with a rocking section. The next song, "Entre Nous", is one of the shorter tracks on the album, and is probably the only weak point, in my opinion, to the album. "Different Strings," the shortest track on the album, is a nice, mellow song that somewhat prepares the listener for the best and most epic track on the album

The final track, "Natural Science", is by far on of the best songs ever created by Rush. Period. It begins with the sounds of an ocean, followed by a nice acoustic intro by Alex, followed by Alex coming with the electric guitar. after he plays a short riff, Neal and Geddy come in, and the song proceeds to show the listener why Rush is such a great band. Peart is in full form on this song, pulling out all the stops. Alex provides listeners with one of his classic solos, and Geddy provides the band's heavy lower end. At a little over 9:00, this song is a great closer to an excellent album.

In closing,I feel this album has a little for everyone. It clearly shines out amongst Rush's catalog as a true gem, and should be included in every progger's collection

Report this review (#20625)
Posted Thursday, December 9, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars There is a point in everyone's carrer when maturity comes. This record is a bright moment in the history of RUSH, of course, the feeling has a past, and a solid path can support greater things. This album is a landmark in the style and in the music by itself, so many of the notes played here has a trascendent power, a very prescise sequence of emotions, yes, is less "heavy" than some others previous records, but has a lot of structure. THE SPIRIT OF RADIO is one of the trademarks of this great band, also, JACOB'S LADDER is one of the most complex and NATURAL SCIENCE is one of the most brilliant ever. The only detail is the short lenght of the record, to be honest, nowadays i can protrait this as the "side a" and MOVING PICTURES as the "side b". However, time has spoke by itself, and showed us that a good record is timeless, like this one, A true jewel of the prog scene and unmistakeable of the ugly 80's. a must have
Report this review (#20626)
Posted Friday, December 10, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars Maybe my opinion would be in favor of rush but I'm gonna give it to you anyway. I am a big rush fan, I like the band since I heard them the first time. I think this album is great, 4 rush classics (The spirit of the radio, Freewill, Jacob's ladder, Natural science) out of 6 songs. And I don't know why the other 2 aren't rush classics because they are as good as the others.

I allways have thought this is one of the bests albums rush ever had made.

About the change other reviewers talk, I think rush has been an band in constant evolution since the beggining. The fisrt album is very different from fly by night (2nd album). And if you look ahead, the band has a very different style right now. You can find several different styles through out their albums and I think it's OK because it denotes appetite for new and better things.

This album contains amazing basses and drums performances, as well as the guitar's. As I play a little bass, I tell you freewill is one of the best of Geddy Lee, althougt he has a lot of songs that could be in this category. I find amazing the bass during the guitar solo.. is like a bass solo that fits perfectly with the guitar.

In conclusion, I recommend this album to any person who likes progressive rock with my eyes closed.

Report this review (#20627)
Posted Wednesday, January 26, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars To anyone who has any doubt that Rush WAS a prog rock group in a true sense of the word, I'd say - listen to this album, and your doubts will be removed. Some people think that if a band does not use keyboards, they cannot be called progressive. Rubbish. Jacob's Ladder and Natural Science are a testimony that Rush was able to create rich and complex music not constrained by commercial concerns. Impossible meter changes, complex chord progressions, epic themes - pure prog rock. The other songs on the album are anthemic mini-epics, not any less brilliant in construction and super-tight in execution. A classic recording which is indispensable to anyone who likes their music crafted with intelligence and love.
Report this review (#20628)
Posted Wednesday, January 26, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars This Album is my favorite. Every single song is a master piece. I listen to this album when I want to be in my own world, relaxed, and just listening with such love, peace and pleasure. When the album reaches Natural science (ahhhh) they really knew why they put that song at the end of it to culminate the masterpiece. I'll listen to it over and over and I'll enjoy it as if it where the first time. Of course, the songs reminds me my good years when I was in high school.
Report this review (#20629)
Posted Thursday, January 27, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars MASTERPIECE! This Rush album holds a special place in my heart... hands down my favorite Rush album, if not my favorite album of all-time. This album catches Rush in a transitory period, taking their hard rock roots and adding a little twist of new wave rock á la the police. Focusing on shorter pieces, Rush truly hones their creative capabilities for this album. There is not a bad song on this album! As Dave said in his review, this album has Rush focusing more on real issues and less on fantasy adventures, although "Jacob's Ladder" does have the band taking its listeners on another adventure. Peart covers some interesting topics here: the nature of the music industry, relationships, human nature, and of course, freewill. Although Rush had trouble balancing the synths with the guitar in many other albums, Permanent Waves strikes the right mix. "The Spirit of Radio" is absolutely classic, and Rush jams out together leaving the synths behind, and then turns a 180 and focuses mainly on synths in "Jacob's Ladder". Besides "The Spirit of Radio" and "Freewill", which are undoubtedly classics, "Natural Science" is definitely an underrated masterpiece in the Rush catalogue. A powerful piece from beginning to end, "Natural Science" shows that Rush isn't ready to leave its prog rock influence behind just yet (wait until Signals for that!). Highly recommended! If you don't have this album, GET IT!
Report this review (#20633)
Posted Monday, February 21, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars 'Spirit of the Radio,' from Rush's Permanent Waves, was my initial introduction to progressive music. I had never heard of the genre before, or Rush for that matter.after hearing it on the radio, all I could think was that "this song is UNREAL." The bass and drum unisons in the intro are played with such precision; it can only be described as surgical. When I finally started getting heavily into Rush (and out of alternative/grunge.thank God), 'Natural Science' was my second taste of prog, and I've been hooked for the last five years now. The 7/8 'hyperspace' section of Natural Science forever changed the way I looked at music. An incredible song.

The songwriting is great from top to bottom on Permanent Waves. Rhythmically and lyrically, it might be flawless. Listen to Entre's pure poetry. The sound quality doesn't quite live up to the material present on this album, but for the time I'm sure it was great.

I feel that this is Rush's strongest album, just ahead of Hemispheres. Five stars all the way!

Report this review (#20635)
Posted Thursday, March 3, 2005 | Review Permalink
Marc Baum
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

Report this review (#20637)
Posted Saturday, March 19, 2005 | Review Permalink
Eetu Pellonpaa
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This album revealed a change in the bands style. The opening track "Spirit of The Radio" is well composed and produced, but somehow I found it a bit disappointing after their mid-seventies material. The next song "Freewill" is similar in style, but it has nicer parts in it, and Peart's lyrics are thoughtful. "Jacob's Ladder" is the other proggy tune on this one along with "Natural Science", the later one being my favorite. I think it's better to give this a listening before buying, especially if you're fond of their earlier material.
Report this review (#20638)
Posted Friday, April 1, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars All the while in the early to mid-70s listening to the likes of Yes, ELP, KC and Genesis and so forth (Hell! To show my diversity, I was also listen to Allman Bros., Lynyrd Skynyrd and the rest of redneck rock as well) along with the fusion of MAHA, RETURN and WEATHER, I managed to pretty much ignore a certain little Canadian hard-rock band completely. It really wasn't 'til this album I started to notice these guys were picking-up on the previous said artists. Alex was getting more into Steve Howe/John McLaughlin styles, I can certainly hear Geddy going for Chris Squire and Stanley Clarke bass lines and Neal was just all over Bruford, Cobham and Lord knows what else. The best part was they just got better all along. While not the most original artist of the 70s and 80s, they certainly maintained a duriability unlike most of their counter-parts like BOC, KANSAS, STYX and the rest of the psuedo-prog groups of the late 70s.
Report this review (#20639)
Posted Saturday, April 16, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Permanent Waves,is the breakthrough recording that gave Rush, a worldwide audience,and its not hard to understand why.To put it simply this is the greatest recording Rush have ever released,the Rush sound finally came together on this album as one .Every track combines so many elements,and they all pay off ,Spirit of the radio is their classic without a doubt.Rush are essentially a hard rock act ,with elements of progressive rock ,and this recording demonstrates this.I would place this recording in any top 100 albums of rock its that good ,i also think the cover illustration of Permanent Waves is one of the greatest covers ever ,she's very...... Permanent Waves is the, classic sound of RUSH.....
Report this review (#20640)
Posted Thursday, April 28, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars You've got to hand it to these guys, at this time they were churning out brilliant albums annually! You know you're on to a winner when the opening track is Spirit of Radio, probably the most recognised Rush song and certainly one of the best. See how the crowd still love it on the Rush in Rio DVD. Freewill is also a great Rush hard rocker, how high could Geddy get his voice in those days. Jacob's Ladder reminds me a little of Xanadu in that it builds slowly throughout. Entre Nous and Different Strings are solid album tracks, but to me Natural Science is a slow burner that I've come to love. Great musicianship throughout, and possibly one of Rush's last great prog classics. Go buy!
Report this review (#20642)
Posted Thursday, May 19, 2005 | Review Permalink
Cygnus X-2
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars After the masterpiece, Hemispheres, it was going to be tough for Rush to top themselves. While they did not topple over Hemispheres, they released one of their best records. This album was one of the first ever to be released in the 80's, coming out on January 1, 1980. The keyboards on this album are more for background purposes, and not to be used in the forefront like in the follow-up albums. Alex's guitar tone on this is immaculate, like all of the tones he uses. Geddy's bass is very complex and he's playing at his creative best, the same with Neil Peart, who pulls out all of the stops. The lyrics on this album are also second to none.

The album opens with a fan-favorite The Spirit of Radio. Beginning with a very hard rock intro, it quickly evolves into classic Rush structure. Geddy plays a mean bass, and Neil creates nice sounds with his bells set. The Reggae section is also a very welcome addition to the Rush sound. Freewill also begins in a rocking fashion. This is a very complex song that has multiple time signature changes, and features one of the best Lifeson guitar solos around. The next song, my personal favorite Rush song right now, is one of the most complex songs they ever crafted. I like to call it the Can-Utility and the Coastliners of Rush songs. Jacob's Ladder is a lyrically short piece, but a musically long piece. Featuring shifting signatures every measure, incredible instrumental sections, and and incredible keyboard by Lee, this song just never gets old. The variety in riffs and structure on this song are incredible. The next two pieces, Entre Nous and Different Strings are both quieter, more gentle pieces. Nothing much to say except Hugh Syme plays a great piano of Different Strings. The finale of the album is another personal favorite, the epic Natural Science. With an incredible introduction, the riff-maestro Lifeson never ceases to lose his creative juices. Each section has it's high points, and they all connect to create a masterpiece of a song.

Overall, I think this album is one of the best Rush albums ever. There are no flaws, and it never gets old. I recommend this to any progressive rock fan. 5/5.

Report this review (#37238)
Posted Wednesday, June 22, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Yet ANOTHER amazing Rush album. Here Rush began their approach to more commercial material (still great though). The album starts off with the hit single "The Spirit of Radio' which has some great jazz influences. It also has a great melody, great ending solo as well. The album continues with what I find to be a slightly overrated song, Freewill. It is just kind of boring to me kind of. Excellent solo though. Jacob's Ladder is the real highlight of this album. Few Lyrics, but tons of music. It tells the story of a big storm. It starts off kind of ominous and mellow, then it starts rocking. What with all the great riffs, I can actually imagine a storm in my head. Near the middle it goes mellow again with great synth lines from Geddy. Then it ends with the truly awesome epicness that gives you the feeling that all song endings should give you. You know a song is good when it gives you goosebumps.

The album continues with Entre Nous, a typical Rush song, still good though. Different strings is the weakest track, although it has great Peart lyrics, with some great Piano played by Hugh Syme, I think. The album closes with the epic Natural Science, with a truly memorable song structure. It goes from a mellow yet ominous acoustic Intro, to the hard and heavy middle verse, then it closes with the uplifting final Verse. Really great song.

This album is great. Almost as good as Moving Pictures, but not quite there. Highlights: The Spirit of Radio, Jacob's Ladder, and Natural Science. All the songs are good though.

Report this review (#37272)
Posted Wednesday, June 22, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Possibly my favorite Rush album of all time- Permanent Waves is full of GREAT songs- in fact- I cant thing of any 'filler' songs here at all. From start to finish the Guitar Riffs, Vocals, Drum Beats and Bass playing does nothing less than impress. Natural Science- one of the greatest Rush songs is on this album- so if you dont own this- then something is horribly wrong with you.

This is the album that jump started them into the 80's- putting out more and more great albums, such as Signals, and Moving Pictures.


Report this review (#40725)
Posted Thursday, July 28, 2005 | Review Permalink
erik neuteboom
4 stars Rush have turned from a Led Zeppelin clone into a pivotal progrock band, what a skills and what a great ideas! This album features sophisticated rocksongs like "Spirit of the radio" and "Freewill" featuring lots of dynamics and great soli, a wonderful build-up piece entitled "Jacob's ladder" (fine use of synthesizers), a splendid guitar solo in "Different strings" and lots of shifting moods and dynamics in "Natural science". Only "Entre nous" sounds a bit mediocre but in general this is a good Rush album.


Report this review (#43268)
Posted Thursday, August 18, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars One of the very, very few Rush albums that I can honestly say I enjoy enough to want to listen to sometimes. The production is light beers better than before (the band actually sounds like they're right in front of the mics, rather than in a bathroom way down the hall) and Geddy's voice has matured to something at least slightly resembling a normal range and frequency. The choppity chops and complex ideas had always been present in the collective Rush mind, but only here did everything really mesh into a gel. Replacing bombast with radio-friendly catchy pop riffs, but leaving in the instrumental fortitude that separated them from the Foreigner/Bad Company animals, Rush erupted with one HELL of a hit single, "The Spirit of Radio," along with a bunch of other calmed-down, well-composed rock songs (including "Free Will," which gets stuck in my head more often than any other tune they ever doodled). It being by Rush and all, it's probably never going to be one of my favorite albums of all time (it seems a little sluggish as it nears completion, too), but it IS my favorite Rush album of all time. At least, so far. Very listenable. Buy it!
Report this review (#45285)
Posted Friday, September 2, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars uhmmm The first time I listened to it I felt dissapointed in the sense that the previous album was just great... though in the first place I realized there were 3 songs that stands out from the average (is that what we ask for such a band?): Jacob's Ladder, Natural Science and Freewill. These three tunes just called and call my attention... they're excelent. Jacob's Ladder & Natural Science belong to the best side of Rush... Progresiveness in its best... well constructed tunes, with good lyrics (enough to be good lyrics) they have the quality to call the attention since they have content... and "something"... and the third one Freewill represents the freshness of rush... within this kind of "tired album" in which in spite the fact that there are good songs and it's obvious it was a transitional album... I "see" some tiredness in the whole aspect of it, probably because of the "other songs": The Spirit Of Radio (a good rock song), Entre Nous (boring!) and Different Strings (the best of "this side" of the album).

Well, I think this album is a good one within the whole Rush catalogue, but there are obviously better than this one... it's just a transitional good album. 3 stars (Good, but non- essential)

Report this review (#45926)
Posted Wednesday, September 7, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Begin the day with a friendly voice ..!

Yeah, what a memorable lyrical part the opening track of this album sounds! I think for those of you who were there when this album was released would definitely connect with the past when this album is spun or you hear the opening track. But last weekend, it was not a good thing happened to me and some classic rockers in my country as the only classic rock radio which has been around us for the last ten years has now completely died. That was the formal news I read in Koran Tempo newspaper where the journalist put the above heading (taken from Rush "Spirit of The Radio") to start his article. Yes, for years already the station quite often start the day with this song to energize the listeners with an energetic and dynamic song composed and performed by RUSH. Spirit of The Radio has been a "national" hit in my country in early eighties altogether with "Tom Sawyer" from Moving Picture album. That news have triggered me to spin the CD for the sake of great memory and a token for the dead of classic rock radio. Luckily, there is a new radio coming out: "Jakarta Alternative Station" that focuses on classic prog and rock . So.. the spirit carries on .

This album of Rush is truly solid in composition and energetic in spirit even with the track that starts mellow like "Jacob's Ladder". My all-time favorite track from this album is "Natural Science". I especially like the hard-edge guitar work and riffs combined with dazzling drums. The changing styles also what makes this track an attractive one.

Recommended album - an excellent addition to any prog music collection. It's a pity if there is someone who loves prog but doe not have this album. Keep on proggin'..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Report this review (#46364)
Posted Sunday, September 11, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Wow, this has many classics like "The Spirit of Radio", "Freewill" and "Natural Science". Not so good as Moving Pictures, but still blows your head with indercible music. Sarting song, "The Spirit of Radio" is a awesome progsong, you will hate and love it, each either!

"Freewill" is good song, but it has bored moments, if you listen it too much, song is bored. Alex's solo will wake you! "Jacob's Ladder" is interesting story with mindkeeping solo and Geddy dont sing lot in this song, this is partitially musical. "Entré Nous" is peacefully and you listen it with big smile.

"Different Strings" tells about friendship and this is very romantic song, every Rush- song shouldn't be progrock- types, this is good example how beautiful songs Rush can do!

If you like, listen "Madrigal", what is in A Farewell to Kings album. It's only 2:32 minutes, but in those minutes you think everything good and etc.

Woah, it's time to have another epic song, totally awesome and Neil's favorite. Four parts, four sciences, four naturals, genius song.

Belongs in "Rush's top 5"!!!

Report this review (#49730)
Posted Sunday, October 2, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars a great LP that has stood the test of time. Spirit of Radio is there as one of the all-time great tracks. For a long term Fly by Night was only the Rush LP I had, and I played that to death.

Spirit of Radio has renewed life, probably because of the airtime it gets on the DAB stations in the UK. Freewill reminds of the 'story' style from earlier releases, but in a way the rest of the album is little downhill from the opening track, with Jacob's Ladder being the standout

Re-discovering them now means my appreciation has changed and Permanent Waves is probably my 'favourite' Rush LP and Spirit of Radio best track

Report this review (#50429)
Posted Friday, October 7, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Utterly perfect. Though I will have to insert some twisted logic here: they would get even "more perfect" on 'Moving Pictures'. But for now, as of 1980, Rush were attaining a peak that produced the marvelous 'Permanent Waves', a marvel in every way: production, songwriting, performance.

The flow of the album is due to its compactness, both in terms of each song's ingredients (unlike the title song on 'Hemispheres', there is NOTHING unncessary here) and also its overall length (proving that shorter albums provide more impact). And with the bristling production job by Terry Brown and the band, the album's crystalline, earthy, crisp recording brings out the best in the band's gear and, of course, their always-increasing abilities.

The album seems to offer 3 pairs or kinds of tracks:

"Jacob's Ladder" and "Natural Science" are the prog epics. "Jacob's Ladder" is patient and slowly-building with a foggy, dark tone, while "Natural Science" flows from part to part in an exciting, ultra-dynamic ride. Some seriously demented metallic riffs appear, showing where Voivod might have taken some influence when they wrote 'Dimension Hatross'.

"The Spirit Of Radio" and "Freewill" are more compact, FM-friendly rock songs, yet still with an abundance of chops, impressive playing and superb songwriting. Geddy's voice is starting to lower in range, slightly, and it's this era (along with 'Moving Pictures') that I feel represents his finest vocal performances. That these are two of the band's most popular radio songs displays the beauty of Rush: this music is substantial and profound, played by gifted artists, yet it STILL works on mainstream radio. Go figure.

"Entre Nous" and "Different Strings" are not only an obvious pair, they're also next to each other in the running order, sandwiched between the epics, giving the album a good bit of depth. Both could be considered ballads, but as ballads go, they carry a lot more depth and believability than previous attempts ("Madrigal" and one I even like a lot, "Tears").

So, did I mention this is a PERFECT album? Chalk it up: this is Rush's SEVENTH in a string of NINE absolutely awe-inspiring albums.

Report this review (#52406)
Posted Thursday, October 20, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars This one is my last 5star review for Rush. Released after the masterpiece Hemispheres was quite a surprise becouse of the change of sound. Influenced by the new wave but having true progresive elements Rush deliver a work of great power. It begins with easy listening tracks like Spirt of radio and Freewill but inside the common structures one can find prog solos , influences from other music styles like regge and some realy clever parts by every member.Jacobs Ladder and Natural Science are the album's epics and they are among Rush' best tracks ever with realy great melodies and twists and turns that are part of Rush' originality. Fialy Different Strings is one of the best prog ballads ever and it gives the album the softer tone that it needs. Highly recomended...
Report this review (#53592)
Posted Thursday, October 27, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Here it comes, a 5 stars masterpiece. I am giving this album 5 stars, because this album 5 stars, simply because permanent waves touches all the great things that rush could do. To me spirit of the radio and freewill are 2 prog-commercial-rock classics, Jacobs ladder is simply irresistible, entre nous sounds quite hard-fm, but the lyrics are nice, different strings is the best balld of Rush (i know that closer to the heart is a good song) , but still one great ballad and finally, but nor least, natural science is a true progressive masterpiece, this song is so powerful, the sounds effects on the voice of Geddy and the very heavy riff made it one of the greatest rush song...5/5 for an album that i sill listen on 33 lp, every now and then, like yesterday...Delightfull !!!
Report this review (#55021)
Posted Monday, November 7, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars As a Prog Rock addict I review this album with a heavy heart. Prog Rock music has been unjustly criticised in the past by many unmusical people. However, this Rush album is a good example of a very good metal band over-extending itself to the point they run out of ideas. The shorter pieces on this album are very good. Jacobs Ladder & Natural Science are structured naively & for me are very irritating pieces. To write a piece longer than say ten minutes requires great musical skill & for me they don't have it. Maybe Rush should have written shorter pieces, whereas Gentle Giant may have benefitted from longer works.

If you want some ultra Prog Rock then check-out these two brutes;



Report this review (#57680)
Posted Thursday, November 24, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars A masterpiece. The album has some shorter songs on this album but the band is in fine form this time around. They still maintain their Prog-ness about them even as they enter the era of punk and new wave. From the pulsating opening riffs of "The Spirit Of Radio" the band ignites fire on the album. The song "Jacobs Ladder is a bit repititious but that riff is a classic amongst the Rush fans. Freewill is a great rocker, Entre Nous has a good feel to it, Different Strings has decent lyrics but is mere fille. The song that has the most Rush-ness about them is "Natural Science". That tune hits it all home where the hardness and the Progressiveness mesh together A la Hemispheres. It's also great heard live!! So despite a new age of music that is about to come, Rush still retained the sound that made them one of the most potent bands of their genre
Report this review (#59652)
Posted Wednesday, December 7, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars It's another masterpiece by Rush!! The band with this album begins to create more direct and mainstrean songs and what songs?!! The monumental "Spirit Of Radio", their best hit, the classic "Freewill"; But they don't give up also for more complex and progressive songs like: the fascinating and mysterious Jacob's Ladder (with a wonderfull psichedelic sound of the moog) and the immense "Natural Science" (my favourite after 2112 and Xanadu), which begins with an acoustic intro and progresses with great energy and several changes of time, it ends with the sound of flood. Overall it's an essential album in every serious progressive rock collection!!
Report this review (#60434)
Posted Thursday, December 15, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is possibly the finest album ever. A masterpiece, timeless, ageless and any other superlatives that I can think of. The opener Spirit of Radio smacks you in the face right from the start, you've just got to sit up and listen. From then on it just gets better, Freewill, Entre Nous, Different Strings, Jacobs Ladder and then the coup de grace the best Rush track ever Natural Science. This album showed how Rush had matured both musically and lyrically, if you listen to this album today you will find that it has like all good things got better with the ageing process. Rush the progmasters!!!.
Report this review (#62587)
Posted Saturday, December 31, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars ok...your on an island...your solar powered cd player just burst into flames.. your straw hut with your desert island selection cds inside. you run in and mangae to save ONE cd, you better hope its permanent waves!

This album is so good my head would explode if i even began to contemplate its awesomeness! But lets try...

Spirit of the Radio - one word to describe this song... RUSH! From the opening guitar line thats so damn good (which i mistakingly thought was a keyboard). This song is about a much simpler time when there was freedom in music and radio, sadly we dont have that anymore.

Freewill - this one is realy an enjoyable little diddy with a nice scream along chorus. The lyrics are sort of meh-meh, so-and-so, whats-the-point. I guess the message is some people think they have no control over whats happening while some do, and...they...choose....freewill, is that one word or two...?

Jacob's ladder - This is one of the last long untriditional tracks that rush did, it makes my heart warm and fuzzy, at first i thought it was an instrumental sinces theres such few lyrics, they're quality. Alex's lead is great, Love the synth in the middle. Great build up towards the grand finale

Entre Nous - i cant remember much of this song, how the hell do you say it anyways?

Different Strings - man this is a nice slow number, if it were upto me freewill would be in the place of Entre Nous, because the combination of Entre Nous and Different Strings is a bit weak, love the outro wish they kept goin and let alex cut loose for a few more bars.

Natural Science - you might hear someone say, "man, if this song was the only one on the album, this would be worth it!!!" , if this is the case... they are wrong, but not far off. i find this song to be above jacobs ladder and the camera eye, the same level as Cygnus, but Xanadu remains my favourite 10 minute rush epic. None of that withstanding i really like this song, especialy that bit at around 3 20 on Rush In Rio, the cameras on Neil and he actualy smiles, i love that bit, My favourite section is III. Permanent Waves, love the vocals and Neil is outstanding on the Drums, all in all a great closer to a great Album

I'd advise people to start their rush journey with this album, i think it defiantly represents teh badn at their best. I give it 4 tide pools out of 5.

Report this review (#64713)
Posted Saturday, January 14, 2006 | Review Permalink
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).

Report this review (#64795)
Posted Sunday, January 15, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars a very excellent album.. is a strange kind of prog, with particular american lines.. the trio solution opens new spaces at strong sounds, like the "heavy" distorted guitar or bass solos, very rare in classic prog..

the best track are, in my opinion, "freewill" and "jacob's ladder"...

Report this review (#69697)
Posted Friday, February 17, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Well, well, well...this is what many consider to be Rush's pinnacle (though I disagree; I think Rush has had several high points). Still, if you want to make a case for greatness, you could do worse by starting elsewhere. A lot of their records come close to matching PERMANENT WAVES' greatness, but here they seem to match each other equally, whereas in other discs, one person seems to dominate. The trio are head and shoudlers above other groups who made discs that year (DRAMA or DUKE, anyone?) Geddy has been slowly introducing synths since A FAREWELL TO KINGS, yet he still uses them to create atmosphere, unlike other discs, in which they often carry the main melody. Alex is in top form, whether it's the biting lead and rhythm work in THE SPIRIT OF RADIO or the slow, moaning outro solo in ENTRE NOUS. Neal chips in with some wonderful lyrics as well. And his drumming is a thing of beauty, with lightning rolls and neck-snapping fills all over the damn place. After hearing this record, you will get on your knees and thank the rock gods for giving Rush to the world. And all who agree...say amen!
Report this review (#69971)
Posted Sunday, February 19, 2006 | Review Permalink
Tony R
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
5 stars This wonderful album is the bridge between the 70s and the 80s for Rush and would see the curtain draw on side-long sci epics of yore and set the stage for shorter more concise pieces.

"The Spirit Of Radio" opens the album and it's the perfect fusion of prog rock integrity and radio-friendly stadium rock that would so elude Genesis and to some extent Yes.The bristling guitar opening,the hammering drums that lead into that incredible arpeggiated riff,the glorious chorus,the reggae finale and inspired outro combine to make this a most singular piece of modern prog. The pace rarely lets up,"Freewill" with the monster bass and guitar solo is another radio-friendly piece that again manages to retain the band's integrity leads into the portentous and beautiful "Jacob's Ladder". Almost an instrumental this track is the depiction of a rural landscape during a stormy day and the music is flawless in its delivery. Very much a timeless Rush classic. "Entre Nous" is a nice track interesting enough to be more than just filler and the slow-burning "Different Strings" features a killer fade-out guitar solo.The final track is the incredible "Natural Science" a song that features many shifts of pace and moods from the atmospheric tidal pool opening through sci fi wheels-within- wheels to the strident punk-like ending.This musical tour-de-force was actually created with bits from an unused piece which was to be called "Sir Gawain and The Green Knight" a potential epic Peart was working on but felt was out of place with the other tracks.

I would have no hesitation in saying that this album is the perfect Rush primer and am absolutely confident in its five star status.Buy it and treasure it!

Report this review (#69980)
Posted Sunday, February 19, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars I first bought this album on its day of release, January 1, 1980, and even though I absolutely love the followup release, Moving Pictures, I feel that this album was not only a watershed work for this incredible band, I also feel that it was also their swan song, as nothing of their post-Moving Pictures albums could even come close to the magnificence of this gem. I think most of you would agree with me ; that's why you are reading this on a prog website, instead of an eighties pop website, resplendant with hints of fake drums, over-processed guitars and cheap-sounding keyboards like the DX7. (things that, yes, even Rush themselves, have willingly been guilty of with such low points as "Grace Under Pressure", "Power Windows", and, *gasp*, "Hold Your Fire." What were they thinking with that one?).

I give it a five star review not so much for its techincal merits (of which it overflows with), but for what this album means to me, for the final statement it seems to make, as well as for the fact that it is a much tearful (for me) goodbye to the classic prog era of Rush. The first two tracks do have their pop moments, but overall, the prog elements far outweigh the pop elements. "Natural Science" is their Magnum Opus because nothing that they will do after that time will ever stand against it, period. Yes, "The Camera Eye" was a long song, and yes, it was great. It had its strengths. However, it lacks the passion, skill, and attention to detail (both musically and lyrically) that "Natural Science" has to offer. Just play them both and I hope you'll see what I mean. The long effect of the crashing, then fading, tide at the end of the track is possibly the most perfect ending for any album. As the tide fades, so does Rush's brief, yet maginificent, reign as one of the last of a long line of kings in the 70's era of classic prog rock.

I also saw Rush live when they toured to support this album. Not only was it my favorite concert of all the shows of theirs I've seen, (I've seen Rush live on every tour from the "2112" tour through the "Signals" tour), the "Permanent Waves" tour was also a kind of farewell of sorts. It was the last time that Rush would play the entire "2112" epic live (for 16 years, and even then they had to play it in a different key because Geddy couldn't hit those high notes anymore), as well as many other songs from the classic songbook, such as "Anthem", "Bastille Day", as well as the entire "Cygnus X-1" saga. It was also the last tour where Geddy Lee really belted (screamed) out the vocals, and the classic songs sounded no different than their studio versions. He started to tone down the vocals during the "Moving Pictures" tour. Listen to the live version of "Freewill" from "Exit...Stage Left." I'm sorry, but Geddy's passionate vocals were a big part of what made Rush, Rush.

If I were ever asked what I would want played on my deathbed, as the last music I would ever hear, I would say play me "Permanent Waves." If that doesn't sum up my feelings for the album in a sentence, I don't know what else would. Cheers!

Report this review (#70808)
Posted Wednesday, March 1, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars 'Permanent Waves' is a true masterpiece of progressive rock, and deserves fully a five start rating. I consider the album one of Rush's greatest works; essential listening for prog fans. All six songs on the album sound great when listened to individually, but this album is much more than a collection of great songs. Indeed, one feels a real sense of continuity when listening to Permanent Waves, both in the music and in the themes embodied by the lyrics.

'The Spirit of Radio' kick-starts 'Permanent Waves'. Alex Lifeson carries this song, with that familiar legato opening sequence and a wonderful main riff (listen to just before the lyrics come in) as well as a great guitar solo. Listening to the opening sequence (which reappears later in the song, and brings it to its conclusion) really does put one in mind of radio waves traced on an oscilloscope, as is undoubtedly intended.

We descend next through Lifeson into 'Free Will'. Much credit to Peart for the lyrics on this song, and the guitar and vocals complement one another brilliantly. Listen in particular to where the song changes first into 4/4, and you will surely agree. The highlight of the song is either the impressive guitar solo, or Geddy's soaring vocals which follow. The solo, impressive in its own right, is accompanied by a fabulous display of polyphony from Geddy Lee and Peart, both with complex instrumental parts. Lifeson makes full use of his tremolo bar, blending it with an impressive display of legato technique to produce a fine solo. This takes us to the final verse, where Geddy treats us to a soaring vocal part, carrying us into a final chorus and conclusion to the song.

Let us now venture onto 'Jakobs Ladder'. The spirit of the previous two songs is very much optimism, enthusiasm and integrity, and they owe their brilliance to the fine musicianship of Peart, Geddy and in particular (in these two instances), of Alex Lifeson. 'Jakobs Ladder' is more profound, owing its brilliance to structural composition. The introduction, grounded in the bass, takes us into a vocal description of setting. The lyrics suggest to us an ominous sky, invaded by storm clouds. Thunder too threatens, reflected by a brooding guitar and keyboard accompaniment. The music following this vocal description of setting enacts vividly the scene described. The primary theme of this section captures the essence of a dangerous sky, clouds writhing violently. This leads the music into an atmospheric guitar solo. Keyboards add depth to the song, at first from beneath the furore, then emerging in prominence to describe to us a new scene; the triumph of light and departure of the storm clouds. The re-entry of vocals expand on this foundation, and the music takes over to give this lyrical description volume and resonance, before a final vocal passage rounds off the piece. 'Jakobs Ladder' is built on unusual time signatures (the introduction alternates between 5/4 and 6/4.) Structurally and compositionally it's brilliant; something more than a jewel in the crown of 'Permanent Waves'.

The introduction to 'Entre Nouse' acts for us as a bridge between 'Jakobs Ladder' and this, a new song of a different spirit. Though still somewhat profound lyrically, this song echoes something of the simple optimism of the first two songs on this album. A punchy drum part and guitar harmony accompany the vocals, present more or less throughout the song. The small hi-hat crescendos take us nicely into the chorus, in which Lifeson accompanies on twelve string guitar.

In 'Different Strings', the themes of optimism and enthusiasm are abandoned, but the theme of integrity is still featured in the lyrics of a short but special song. Special guest High Syme decorates on piano, and a down tempo guitar solo really captures the mood of the work.

'Natural Science' is the final song on 'Permanent Waves'. It is the highlight of the album, bringing it effectively to its conclusion. The sound of the sea introduces us to the first (of three) sections, 'Tide Pools'; taking us first into a beautiful semi-acoustic chordal accompaniment of thought provoking lyrics. Lifeson's cross rhythmic playing now introduces Peart, who explodes into the piece. From this point on, it is he who drives the piece forward, powering us through the rest of 'Tide Pools' and into 'Hyperspace'. A time signature change into 7/4 marks this event, and Peart explosively punctuates the melody and lyrics here present. The lyrics abate, and we a treated to an instrumental passage, decorated by an ascending and descending scale from Geddy on bass, the music still very much driven by Peart. We see a return to 7 beats in a bar, one of the memorable moments in this piece, in which Peart plays consecutive crashes followed by bass drum triplets, and a surge into another vocal section.

We soon encounter a guitar solo, a true work of art, soaring over a complex bass accompaniment and driving drum part, through a rhythmic change and finally morphing into a fine riff. This riff paves the way for a return of the lyrics we have already encountered at the end of 'Tide Pools', and which bring 'Hyperspace' to its conclusion.

'Permanent Waves', the third and final section of this masterpiece, sees the spirit of optimism and enthusiasm central to this album re-instated through the music - in particular through a punchy accompaniment from Lifeson. The theme of integrity is also re-instated through the lyrics. We are treated to another fine guitar solo, full of blistering legato, punctuated by Geddy's bass guitar part and Peart's bass drum. Following the guitar solo, Peart once again drives, taking us into a syncopated drum figure which brings us into the final lyrical section of this, a truly epic work of art. The sound of the sea, with which 'Natural Science' began, brings the piece to its conclusion, and rounds off the album, leaving the listener having enjoyed a defining experience.

Few albums approach the brilliance of permanent Waves, essential listening for all Rush fans and appreciators of prog. I would also recommend viewing the performance of 'Natural Science' on 'Rush in Rio'; this awesome song really captures the flavour of the album, and watching Niel Peart's performance on this track live is utterly breath taking*. One of Rush's greatest works, 'Permanent Waves' is fully deserved of the 5 stars rating and a place in every prog rock listeners collection.

*For those interested, it is Peart's use of the Moeller technique that allows him so much power and precision, whilst playing at such considerable speed. Watch his wrist; when he plays say, eight quavers on the hi-hat cymbals, his wrist only accounts for four of them. You will notice the movement for the other four comes from the arm, at the elbow joint. 'Permanent Waves' is a considerable showcase of Peart's ability, and the merits of mastership of the Moeller technique.

Report this review (#76640)
Posted Saturday, April 29, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars An amazing album...although it does not top Hemispheres or 2112 in my book. The musicianship and composition is top notch on this record. The songs are great, I especially enjoy Jacob's Ladder and Entre Nous. The band is tight and in their best years. Not much else to say, one of their masterpieces but right behind Hemispheres and 2112.
Report this review (#77037)
Posted Wednesday, May 3, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Rush hit new heights in terms of popularity with Permanent Waves in 1980. Compared to their previous albums, Rush opted for a more accessible sound with more concise compositions across the board. Neil Peart's lyrics began to come further grounded with this album, but through this effort he proves his versatility as a writer. Granted, I don't feel Permanent Waves is their best effort and is underproduced compared to the albums bookending it, but Rush still knows how to produce an album of quality. Yet again these three are consummate musicians, and the keyboards continue taking a progressively greater influence in their songs, which isn't always bad. Also notable is that Geddy Lee's vocals come down some on this album, the final bridge of "Freewill" being the only time he really hits near-falsetto highs. "The Spirit of Radio" became their first song to get massive AOR airplay, and the unmistakable guitar riff really sold this song to the public. It's by far one of their best numbers ever. The other recognizable track here is "Freewill," about choice among faith (Peart himself is believed to be a "linear-thinking agnostic"), with a great musical arrangement to go with. Neil Peart write very few pieces about love, but "Entre Nous" has to be his best. Who would think the intellectual love song could exist? Who can forget the three-part "Natural Science," a very moving piece which isn't my favorite epic but is still very solid nonetheless. Overall, Permanent Waves is an excellent effort as Rush really exhibits a shift in direction.
Report this review (#80631)
Posted Wednesday, June 7, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars I'm a big Rush fan, but most post 'Moving Pictures' output is lost on me. So you might think I would agree with people who would see this album as a slide towards the commercial. However, I find that I listen to this album as much as any of those that precede, and more than some. True, 'Spirit of Radio' and 'Freewill' are both radio-friendly and catchy, though not poppy. However, considering Rush's previous catalouge, it's fun to hear the boys being comfortable enough to make some real sing-along classics. And with good, honest lyrics too, no falloff there. Then there's 'Different String', which is a great example of Rush's softer, more elegiac side. This song is well complemented by Entre Nous': a functional if not outstanding mid-album cut that keeps the passing of the album going. Resting in the middle of the album like a storm-shrouded monolith is 'Jacob's Ladder'. The chugging, milataristic feel is vintage Rush tempered by the newer, synthesized Rush. The album's apex is the suite 'Natural Science'. This may be Rush's last pure slice of progressive bliss. Interesting time signitures, philisopical lyrics, everything you could want. The song freely flights back and forth between harsh and agressive and airy and bouyant. In all, this album sets up 'Moving Pictures' whilst providing a last pleasant look back at Rush's heydey. Not essential for the casual Rush fan, but absolutely essential for fans of either or both of Rush's musical stages.
Report this review (#85312)
Posted Monday, July 31, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars This to me is the great forgotten Rush album. People always talk about Hemispheres and Moving Pictures, and forget this little gem that came out in between the two.

Here we se Rush begining the movement towards mainstream music. The album begins with two of Rush's finest mainstream songs, Spirit of Radio and Freewil...both excellent tracks.

But after Freewill comes one of Rush's finest songs Jacobs that took me multiple listens to enjoy...Rush holds back on this track and lets the bizarre sturcture do the talking.

then come entre nous and different strings..both of wich are just OK.

Then comes Rush's Finest epic IMHO...Natural Science. Profound Lyrics and spot on preformances from all the members...a awesome track on this album and even better live...the true highlight of this magnificent record

Report this review (#87217)
Posted Monday, August 14, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Catching famous songs Spirit of the radio and Freewill are very nice, last maybe a bit better being more funny. Jacob's ladder and Natural science are more epical, but less odd songs - interesting and heavy. However, this record is a bit lame.
Report this review (#91465)
Posted Saturday, September 23, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars This album is without a doubt, the best work put out by Rush (one of the most highly respected bands on the earth) For starters, to shut a lot of nay sayers up, on this album, i'm not sure if it was a conscious effort or not, but Geddy Lee brought his falsetto voice down somewhat. It's still kinda up there, but his screechiness is lacking, which is very well appreciated by many Rush fans, I'm sure. All the songs on here are great, but to really appreciate this album, you have to listen to it all at once. Actually, I look at it as a concept album:

Spirit Of The Radio-Machines are taking the heart and feel out of music as we know it

up to...

Natural Science-Science must be tamed for us, not the other way around.

The other songs do a very nice job of making subsequent points along the line, including a "battle" between the two sides, perhaps something Rush themselves went through. This is a must have. Enjoy it, I know I did.

p.s, it's kind of ironic that after this album, Rush actually did let machines take the heart and soul out of their music for almost two decades.

Report this review (#91480)
Posted Saturday, September 23, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars A bit of a question mark between two solid albums. Permanent Waves is the real start to more radio friendly Rush, straying from the long epic style songs they had established on the previous albums. This record is really lacking in a lot of areas, but there's enough there on certain tracks for it to be a keeper.

Permanent Waves starts with arguably the best track, a fun and upbeat song in Spirit of the Radio. Freewill is a huge mistake. The chorus comes in and I just get bored to tears. My favorite track on this album is Jacob's Ladder, one of the most interesting songs Rush ever wrote, a real different style to it than most of their works. The rest of the album is very wishy-washy. Nothing really memorable, just some good efforts that don't exactly hit the mark.

Overall, I really would not reccommend this record for getting into Rush (that is if you already haven't). The other albums of their "prime" are really much better.

Report this review (#94588)
Posted Sunday, October 15, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars With the release of this album Rush moved further along the technology driven path that defines their 80s work. There is also a lyrical shift as they begin to address more real world matters than the sci-fi/fantasy elements in their earlier work. They also reached a wider audience thanks to the radio-friendly "The Spirit Of Radio" which is now a mainstay of the rock compilation album scene. It is a well structured rocker which retains its progressiveness thanks to a couple of nifty time changes.

"Freewill" likewise rocks along and keeps the feet tapping, whilst "Entre Nous" and "Different Strings" set an altogether quieter, mellower mood. Just as well after the brooding majesty of "Jacob's Ladder", an epic which builds to a crescendo with the force of the storm that it describes. The album closes with another epic in the shape of "Natural Science" and its intelligent thought-provoking lyrics about how "Science, like nature / Must also be tamed".

In all another classic from the masters of hi-tech rock and a must have in any prog collection.

PS Anyone else buy this on tape with a sleeve that lists "Entre Nous" as track 1 side 2, and "Between Us" as track 2 side 2? :-)

Report this review (#96226)
Posted Monday, October 30, 2006 | Review Permalink
The T
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars 4.5 STARS.

This album marks an important point in the canadian trio's career, and, for my particular point of view, in prog's history, for a reason I will explain later.

this is the first album Rush released in the 80's. As such, it also draws a line between what was before and what was to come. Why? I think for two main reasons:

- the "short song" era of rush has begun. After a period when (for me) Rush knew how to write excellent long, 10+minute songs (even some close to 20), but weaker regular- length ones, in Permanent Waves that chaneges completely: in this album, the solid tracks are the short, more radio-friendly (maybe less prog, too) ones, mostly the two openers, while the two longer songs, (neither of them really long, 7 and 9 minutes respectively) don't quite reach the same level as older pieces like Xanadu, CygnusX-1 or 2112 (which is more of a "suite" than a single work). Thus, this is the point when Rush begins to release albums made up of almost exclusively short tracks, which become the band's focus (only a few exceptions like The Camera Eye from Moving Pictures are yet to be created after this 80's release), and also the band's most effective songs (Tom Sawyer, Limelight, Subdivisions, Red Sector A). So, I think it's safe to say that Rush learned how to compose brilliant short songs but at the same time they forgot how good near-epics were created.

- Geddy Lee's voice suddenly becomes more "normal", or, for lack of a better word, more human. Yes, the high-shrieking, at times scary halloween-like voice he used in such a talented way in 2112, Kings and Hemispheres starts to leave its place to a more ear-friendly, we can say more mainstream-radio-friendly quiet tone, with less (or almost no) yelling and more actual melody singing.

- Even though they used Synths a couple of times in the past, the trio's music from now on would get an additional voice, that of synthezisers, which will become an integral, at times imposing, part of the band's sound.

And what's the result?

The Spirit of Radio (9/10), a brilliant short song. Don't let the prog-purists scare you away from this and other short Rush tracks, for they are amazing, too, and, for my particular taste, actually better than their longer ones. This apparently mundane track is a pure delight for a true rock-lover prog-lover. It starts with a twirling figure in guitar, then we get to a more pure-hard-rock riff, which suddenly fades in favor of the song's main verse, a melodic, wonderful section with clean guitars and great, not complicated yet effective drumming by Neil Peart with amazing use of the ride cymbal. The chorus has the return of the song's opening guitar figure. A short song with a lot of variation, syncopated cymbal-china-playing by Peart (Portnoy listened to this, I can tell). Then, when the main verse is coming to a point of exhaustion, the hard rock riff appears again, followed by, what I think is the song's only weak moment: a few measures in reggae-like rhythm adorned by the cheesy use of a sampler of a theater audience. After a brief solo by Lifeson, the track ends. Great.

Freewill (9/10), another amazing short track, this one even less complicated that the preceding one (this one in common verse-prechorus-chorus form), the main riff in odd time (again, Dream Theater listened to this), and the first INFECTIOUS chorus by the canadians, an outstanding chorus. Catchy? You bet. Is that bad, anti-prog? Not at all, it's MUSICAL. When you have simple, standard-structure-songs, you want to have a great chorus that makes up for the lack of innovation in the structure department. This song has it. Weak point? The return, for just a few measures, of Lee's shrieking-witch- like voice before the final chorus.

Jacob's Ladder (7/10), this one is longer and illustrates my point: while the short ones were getting better, the long ones were getting weaker. A boring track, starts slowly, in low tempo, with no life; the song up to this point is slowly drowning into oblivion; a calmer, quieter part saves this from complete insomnia-medicine level. Not awful by other group's standards but nothing to do with marvels like Xanadu or Villa Strangiato.

Entre nous (6/10), this one is a weak short track ala older Rush. That the title is in french while not a single verse is sung in that language just adds to the lameness factor. Even pen-master Peart had troubles here writing good lyrics. This one is actually poor.

Different strings, (8/10), this is another new for Rush: a pure, total ballad. There's no attempt to disguise this as hard-prog rock, this is a hard-rock ballad.... but a good one at that. Don't let the "only long, serious tracks" purists take you away from music like this: it may be simple, it may be a little bit cheesy, but when it's done with craft and mastery, it's an enjoyable and irrepleaceble part of this art form, for we all need a moment of rest and reflexion in one's more sentimental side. Also, this one is Geddy Lee's best performance in vocals. Good track.

Natural Science, (8/10), an actually incoherent, boring at times track that is saved by a consideration more historical than musical (or better yet, musical-historical): It's my theory that this song actually contains the first progressive-metal section in all of rock. Yes, the middle section in this track has all the elements, the rhythym, the sound, the edge, the heavyness of prog-metal in the purest Dream Theater way. I can almost swear the New York greats (DT) listened more than 100 times this song before embarking into the Images And Words and the When Dream and Day Unite experiences. A fast, lightning speed solo by Lifeson only supports my position. Not the best track but a relevant one and, also, Geddy Lee's best bass- playing in the album.

All in all, a good, very good album that clears the path for the Rush I prefer and the one I fell in love with. Surely, songs like Xanadu, La Villa Strangiato and CygnusX-1 I remain as some of this band's best (if not THE BEST) tracks ever. But outside of those marvelous near-epics, the rest of the earlier albums was mostly filler material. When Rush learned how to write great short songs, they found their sound. And don't forget: now (well, then, in 1980 onwards) we got a better singer, too.

What do I say about those "rush got worse 'cause they didn't write long songs ever again" comments? Well, I like, I LOVE epics, log songs, but not for the sake of length, but for the sake of music. If the music is great, I would love not to have to quit listening to it 5 minutes after it starts....but Rush's epics were flawed, they were not perfect examples of this kind of composition....

On the other hand, Rush's short tracks were nothing short of amazing (pun intended)....

So, for longer, 20+ tracks, please, give me Yes, give me Genesis, or nowadays, give me The Flower Kings....

For short, great songs, GIVE ME RUSH.


Report this review (#96395)
Posted Tuesday, October 31, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Ironic that the band would open the album with a song titled, "The Spirit Of Radio" which would be the first major hit in the US. Sell out? Hardly, but you must admit, the album does have it's share of catchy tunes. I'm not the biggest fan of Geddy's voice or of Alex's guitar work, and on this album neither shine. Rather, it's Neil's drumming, (what else do you expect from the master) and Geddy's nimble basswork, plus the fantastic lyrics that get my attention. My favorites on this disc are "Jacob's Ladder" and "Natural Science". Yet, it's not until the following album do they get this style of art rock to sound proggy and catchy at the same time. Not that there's anything wrong with this album. All the ingredients are there. It just seems a bit thin here and there, especially the keys which to these ears don't fill in as well as they do on "Moving Pictures". Plus, "Different Strings" is a tad boring. This one would garner a 3 from me if it wasn't the actually first album I bought from them back in 1980. So I'll bump it to 4 for old times sake. Caio!
Report this review (#108615)
Posted Tuesday, January 23, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars First a few comments concerning Alex's guitar playing on this album (plus a Canuck-centric reference) : Alex took the modern sound he'd perfected on Hemispheres & perfected it on this album. It was heavy, but your average housewife (please do not take umbrage at the reference, I did actually read it in Creem Magazine), was not moved to switch radio stations when Spirit of Radio came on, due to its' melodious tone. Indeed, one of our more "pop" groups from Canada - the Barenaked Ladies - even inserted the introductory guitar solo passage (meant to represent a radio or electronic wave form) into one of their tunes. Geddy Lee's vocals would come down a bit in pitch, again allowing a wider audience to appreciate the group's skill at producing highly interesting & enjoyable music. And even today, the radio genre called "classic rock" still plays Spirit of Radio & Trees as if they had been top 40 songs in their time. SO thanks must be given to the heavens that "some" quality music does get through to the so-called masses. Different strings was a bit off the beaten path for the group, but previous albums did occasionaly have these moments. 2112 has Tears, Fly By Night has Rivendell, Farewell to Kings has Madrigal; so they weren't exactly pitching a ballad or slow song for the first time. Perfect album - no. But are there any faults to be found with Alex & Geddy - not likely. The group was continuing on its' path & progressing, for the better or worse, fans can argue. But this album still shines as a team effort.
Report this review (#108624)
Posted Wednesday, January 24, 2007 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
5 stars "Permanent Waves" has the ability to take me back in time to my youth when I drove around the beach in the summer listening to this amazing record. I can't really describe how good this music makes me feel.This is my favourite album and whenever I doubt this (I listen to so much great music) I play it again and the doubts are removed.There is an element of gloominess to this record which I really like, and the way Geddy uses the synths in the background are perfect. Oh, and the cover is unlike any I have ever seen. Nice.

"The Spirit Of Radio" is dedicated to our local Toronto radio station CFNY 102.1, a station I listened to a lot in the nineties. Ironically enough they do not play RUSH on that station."The spirit of radio" used to be their catch phrase before they became an alternative station.This song opens with Alex's churning guitar melody as the familiar drumming of Peart comes in. Check out the scathing guitar solo 4 1/2 minutes in. I remember back in 1998 driving down to Florida and hearing this song 3 times through the different states on the way down. That really surprised me as it had been 18 years since the release of this record. I love it when Geddy screams "Of salesman" this is my favourite Geddy vocal moment, along with him screaming "Each of us..." in the next song "Freewill". "Freewill" is my all time favourite song. It opens with riffs and Neil's steady drumming as Geddy starts to sing. The background synths are a nice touch.The line "You can pray for a place in Heaven's unearthly estate" is outstanding. Alex's guitar solo starts off mournful before he sets it on fire.

"Jacob's Ladder" opens with marching-like drums giving the imagery of the lyrics that speak of dark, ominous clouds gathering overhead for battle.The soundscape is crushing after a minute, then Alex treats us again to a haunting, melancholic solo. Background synths are added to the pulsating rhythm until it all slows down to almost a stop, then it gradually rebuilds. Awesome tune ! "Entre Nous" is as close as RUSH is going to get to a love song.The lyrics are thoughtful and the melody is so uplifting. Great song ! "Different Strings" features Hugh Syme on piano and is a melancholic song with meaningful lyrics. Like "different hearts beat on different strings". More mournful guitar to end the song. "Natural Science" slowly builds until they are rocking 2 minutes in. Neil's drumming is perhaps at it's best on this song as Alex grinds it out, and the synths are again in the background.This song changes moods and tempos often and is a real ride.

The band thanks Michael Shenker, FM and The Maxoids (MAX WEBSTER). They also thank Larry Robinson and Steve Shutt from the Montreal Canadiens for the hockey sticks. Steve Shutt and Geddy Lee were friends in school and they used to hang out in the summers after both became famous up here in Canada. They thank Space Invaders which really takes me back to the early eighties.They mention some of the past times they enjoyed at the time and TV shows. This album is more than just music to me, it's part of my history and a time machine all rolled into one.

Report this review (#116064)
Posted Thursday, March 22, 2007 | Review Permalink
Prog Leviathan
5 stars A smart, tight, concise, wonderfully played and dynamic album which really brings Rush to the next level as both players and songwriters. The just-over 30-minute album contains nothing but excellence, from start to finish, and contains some of the band's most beloved songs.

"Spirit of the Radio" puts me in a good mood whenever I hear it, while "Freewill" always reminds me why I became a Rush fan during my jaded teen-age years. There is so much expression and brilliance contained within Peart's lyrics that I sometimes feel philosophically enlightened after listening. Alex's solos rouse the spirit while Geddy's genre-defining basslines emblazon themselves into one's mind; they are simply so much fun to listen to.

Personal experiences aside, there is so much to like here that it belabors the point to list them. "Permanent Waves" is just awesome and belongs in any rock-lover's library.

Songwriting: 5 Instrumental Performances: 5 Lyrics/Vocals: 4 Style/Emotion/Replay: 5

Report this review (#116604)
Posted Wednesday, March 28, 2007 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Begin the decade with a friendly voice

A new decade arrives and Rush have a hit single! The band obviously only had one thing on their mind when they recorded "The spirit of radio", the commercial nature of the track instantly securing the radio play it was so clearly designed for. We should not be too hard on Rush though, this is not a sell out song. Geddy Lee's vocals and Alex Lifeson's guitar work still stamp the badge of authenticity on the product.

The change of style is however clear with the following "Freewill" also being instantly accessible, with a strong hook and melodic vocals. The chiming guitars are reminiscent of ELO's "10538 overture" the song itself being orthodox pop rock. "Jacob's ladder" is not the traditional song of that name, but it is the slowest and heaviest song on the album. The track builds like a bolero with vocals and drifting synth sounds adding to the overall power of the song. This is undoubtedly one of Rush's most accomplished and finest pieces.

The second side of the album has a similar layout to the first, with two short, commercially orientated songs, and a longer more structured track. "Entre nous" leans heavily on the synthesiser backing, but the song itself is rather dull, lacking any real spark. The ballad "Different strings" which follows is surprisingly downbeat and sparse, with sensitive lyrics. It is not particularly original, sounding a bit like the obligatory ballad which many bands include on an album, but it is pleasant nonetheless.

The closing "Natural science" is the longest track on the album at 9 minutes. The opening section continues the soft acoustic mood of the preceding track, but the volume quickly rises as the band present an altogether more traditional sounding Rush epic.

With a total running time of 35 minutes, "Permanent waves" is somewhat miserly on content. The four shorter radio friendly songs signal that the band is moving away from its more progressive past, but the two feature tracks offer a fine olive branch to those who crave for more of the same.

Report this review (#125211)
Posted Saturday, June 9, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Rush's Permanent Waves is the fourth classic in a row for the band. It is a highly important record, as it marked the transition from heavy, border-line metal prog to the poppier synth sound that would define their 80s output. It also marks the lyrical transition from Peart's sci-fi obsession to mature and deep subject matter. Who'd have thought Peart would be such a great lyricist? This is a polarizing album: old fans point to this as the beginning of the end of the band, while others saw the lyrical brilliance and musicianship that make this album great. As always, the band gels like no other group on the planet, not even jazz bands. Geddy's voice has changed from the mad screams of previous albums into a more restrained but no less powerful tenor, which he maintains to this day. His bass playing is still some of the best you'll ever hear. Lifeson puts his stamps on the songs with beautiful melodies and terrific solos. Peart, well, we all know he's God.

The album opens with the standard "The Spirit of Radio," named after a radio station in Toronto. I don't know why people call this a sellout song. Yes, it's made for radio, but listen to the lyrics. The song attacks the music industry's corruption of radio from a device to hear music into just another tool to sell copies. The fact that it's tailor-made for radio play is genius. The band took John Lennon's "Imagine" approach to songwriting: sugarcoat your message so that many don't realize the attack. Plus, Rush introduce reggae into their music, which would surface from time to time in the future. "Freewill" is another classic with great lyrics. Peart pens an anthem of self-reliance. The chorus is wonderful and Alex's solo is one of his best. "Jacob's Ladder" is weak lyrically, as it details the dream of a prophet. However, the composition is staggering. Pounding bass and incredible guitar that slowly builds for the entire piece. This song bored me stiff the first time I heard it, but another listen and it all clicked.

"Entre Nous" never really did it for me until I saw the band recently. It's a solid song, but it lacks the power of the rest of the tracks here. "Different Strings" is a beauty with melancholic vibes. Rush wouldn't make another song so moving until they released several moving songs on Vapor Trails two decades later. Entre Nous and Strings share a lyrical theme of rocky romance. The album closes with "Natural Science," a look into society's oppression of the individual and how honest men are "an endangered species." This features some jaw-dropping work from the band, particularly Peart, who does things no mortal could ever hope to accomplish.

The album is rather short, but remember that back in the days of vinyl that meant better sound quality. Waves has the misfortune of falling between Rush's two masterpieces, yet it proudly holds its own. This is one of Rush's most enjoyable albums, and it's one of precious few devoid of filler. "Entre Nous" is the only track that comes close to being a throwaway. It falls just short of being a masterpiece, but Rush would ensure that their next album would make that final leap.

Grade: B+

Report this review (#126303)
Posted Tuesday, June 19, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars prog=progressive

if hemispheres was the limit of the epic comfort zone (a what a great album that was) Permanent Waves signalled the start of a cycle of change, a progression from the epic 70s to the new wave of the 1980s.

boy will that not suit everyone, in fact it riled me big time in 1980.with hindsight we have some really meaningful tracks .. redolent with the birth pangs of a new entity

spirit of the radio wowed the masses, entre nous did it for me. Natural Science was the panacea for others ..

but it was free will that epitomizes rush if not musically then ate least in their approach to music as it appears to me

Report this review (#126567)
Posted Friday, June 22, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is one of the two legitimate masterpieces that Rush has produced (the other being 2112.) Every song on it, even Entre Nous and Different Strings, is brilliant. Spirit of the Radio is perhaps the best song that they have ever released, although Subdivisions gives it a lot of competition. Freewill has been one of their concert staples since it's release. The dark and atmospheric Jacob's Ladder goes off in a direction that Rush has rarely explored in a magnificent manner. And finally we have Natural Science, which is a brilliant epic that ranks with the best of anything that has been released by other prog bands. It may not have quite the story that 2112 had, but the music here is unequaled elsewhere.

Only a handful of albums this good have ever been released. If you haven't heard this one, find a copy and listen to it.

5 stars all the way.

Report this review (#128971)
Posted Monday, July 16, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars First i have to say that Permanent Waves has without a doubt, the most stylish Rush album cover ever, and one of the most stylish ones all the way. Black and white for life. The ever-green Spirit Of The Radio works as an excellent opener for the album. The intro is a classic one and Peart's lyrics one of his best. The 'machinery' part blows your mind everytime and Alex's wild solo one of his greatest. Geddy singing is magnificent as always and Pearts trademark fills fill the empty spaces like a glove, heh heh..

Freewill is another cheerful song and it has one of the best Geddy basslines ever. The chorus is a bit cheesy with the lyrics and stuff but they fitt well in this song and i truly like it. And yet again, another whacky and lifefull lead by Lifeson.

Jacob's Ladder, now this here is a bit unusual song by Rush, at least dring this perioid. Very gloomy and dark, but still full of feeling. This one is the King Crimson song by Rush. Actually this one is the 'weakest' piece of the record but still, a one hundred percent rectum kicker. Entre Nous, another cheerfull self-searching lyrics bit by the Professor. The vocal melodies are pretty clever and the athmosphere of the song reminds me a bit from Freewill.

Differerent Strings is one of the most beautiful Rush ballads and one of my all-time favourites on this album. The nice piano and Geddy's vocals, amazing. It could last a bit longer though, much longer, well, you can't get everything.

Now this a bit short record itself is coming to it's end. As a closer, we have the trademark Rush epic Natural Science. The lyrics are typical Peart but work properly. The song itself it's divided into three parts, which all are a bit similar to each other but still enoughly different to keep you interested. Not the all-time epic of Rush but stands on its own two feet next to the ultimate Rush epics like Xanadu, 2112 and Cygnus.

After this one, Rush made Moving Pictures and soon after that, one, and truly the greatest era of their career would be over. Though even today they still kick maximum butt, no one can disagree with that. I'l give this one full points. I yet haven't heard even the majority of Rush's catalogue but at this moment Permanent waves would be my favourite, right after Farewell To Kings.

Report this review (#137073)
Posted Saturday, September 8, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Rush made many great records. Everyone has a favorite and, especially if you were young during the band's heyday, each album brings you back to a certain time, often one of musical discovery and the realization that rock music could be more than just three-minute ditties about broken hearts and drinking. And that was the beauty of progressive rock, it took us away from the confines of the blues and allowed further growth. Rush accomplished this as well as anyone but added cool heavy metal flash and high-tech bravado. A Farewell To Kings was good, Hemispheres was a huge leap forward but Permanent Waves was their most realized, eloquent and precise statement of what they did best.

Alex Lifeson wastes no time ripping open 'Spirit of the Radio' with a Hackett-like riff, Neil Peart and Geddy Lee's accents beginning the day with a friendly voice, a track that shows the dynamic range of these maestros. Quirky guitar lines and a classic lyric from Peart on the importance of independent thinking in 'Freewill', and compelling drama for 'Jacob's Ladder' as the sky grows dark with Lifeson's stern muted chunks, building into a distant overture of synths and great space-filling by Peart. The second half is even better, if that's possible, and features the wise and wistful 'Entre Nous', a sophisticated rocker showing remarkable sensitivity and intelligence for a power trio, even more than they had shown in previous work. Love song 'Different Strings' is a tender tribute, further demonstrating a band with much to say and a drummer-turned-lyricist who knew how to say it. And to top-off an already classic piece of modern rock, the brilliant 'Natural Science', full of light, charged molecules, and a deft commentary on the rhythm of life.

Though they produced albums that were more popular, Rush never did anything that was superior to this. Permanent Waves remains a critical turning point for them and a coming-of-age record for all young people interested in what progressive rock has to offer.

Report this review (#138205)
Posted Friday, September 14, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars One of my fav Rush albums, no doubt, and among their best. From this one they write much shorter pieces, then on previous albums and the result is very good. I'm not agree with reviewers that said they try to go comercial with Permanent Waves, not even the opening track Spirit of the radio is not an every day tune, is prog but in other way put by the band. Again every musician shines on every piece just listen to Entre nous and the slow one Different strings, beautiful as always. Voice of Geddy Lee is outstanding both on slow and smooth pieces and in the pieces with more vein. Not to mention Neil Peart who is responsable with the lyrics did a great job, and the druming, o gosh what a drumer. Alex Lifeson is on of the best guitar heroes of prog music, and here is absolute outstanding on Jacob's ladder and Natural science. The rest are also great. 4 stars and among the best albums of the early '80.

Report this review (#139878)
Posted Saturday, September 22, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Commercial Success!

On "Permanent Waves", Rush continues to develop their sound. They move further away from their heavy roots. The song formats are slightly shorter and the themes aren't so much about hobbits any more. However, this doesn't mean that the quality of music has slipped because it hasn't at all. In fact, this is the reason for their increased popularity over the next few albums. Their music is a lot easier to embrace and listen to. It's not just for prog fans anymore.

The music is astounding. "The Spirit of Radio" was their biggest radio hit at the time and it is about the evils of radio. "One likes to believe in the freedom of music, but glittering prizes and endless compromises shatter the illusion of integrity, yeah". My favorite songs are the two longest ones. "Jacob's Ladder" is very progressive, complex time signatures like 13/8 and something that adds up to 21 (5+5+5+6). The synth is also prevalent. "Natural Science" is just as good. Overall, it is an excellent album. A good starting album.

Report this review (#140091)
Posted Sunday, September 23, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars The second of Rush's three great progressive masterpieces. They really got down the idea of consistency with the last album, and continued into this one. Some of these songs even (rightfully) received airplay from radio stations i.e. Freewill, Spirit of the Radio. Neil continues to write political and philosophical lyrics with Freewill. And comments on the music industry in Spirit of the Radio. Arguably his best writing. Jacob's Ladder is a straight up rocker. I don't know if it's fair to compare it to Xanadu or Villa as some others have done in reviews. Jacob's Ladder has a very memorable riff. Natural science really speaks for itself. Some of Lee and Lifeson's best material. It's a shame Rush didn't release a lot more albums like Permanent Waves. They have all the tools: three of the most talented musicians at their instruments. And a man who's not afraid to shriek in a loud falsetto.
Report this review (#140993)
Posted Saturday, September 29, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars A great halfway point between pop RUSH and hard rocking prog RUSH.

Following up 2 of the best progressive rock albums of all time in 'A Farewell to Kings' and 'Hemispheres' was never going to be an easy task but RUSH managed to do a fine job, cobbling together a great album which although quite doesn't reach the same level as it's predecessors is good in it's own right.

Things start off strong with the hard rocking anthem 'Spirit of the Radio' with some fiery guitar work from Lifeson and we catch a glimpse of the synth-pop RUSH that was to come in the chorus but it isn't too bad at this point, the song on the whole is great and the little reggae breakdown towards the end is particularly good. 'Freewill' is very much in the same vein as 'Spirit of the Radio', and is incredibly catchy, there are some great riffs and progressions here.

Jacob's ladder is the first real progressive song on the album and what a song!, it starts off innocuous enough with some nice chords and a bit of marching snare work from Peart before things become staccated before launching into some brooding middle eastern inspired guitar driven territory with a great solo then coming to rest peacefully - one of RUSH's best prog songs. 'Entre Nous' and 'Different strings' are where the album really dives, there is nothing really to these songs they aren't prog and they are quite poppy and weak. Natural science more than makes up for it, easily the best song on the album it starts off slowly before becoming frenetic and incorporating crazy timings with the best synth work in the album and the best solo in the album (Lifeson shreds!). Things end triumphantly with some lighter music and some great bass work from Geddy and some inspired lyrics "Art as expression, not that much it can change, will still capture our imaginations" and yet more shredding from Lifeson - a brilliantly written prog piece.

Overall Permanent waves is a solid album and most of the songs are good or great, it isn't as proggy as previous efforts from the band and is moving towards the more accessible poppy sound on later albums further along in the decade but it's definitely worthwhile for any heavy prog fan and essential for any RUSH fan.

Report this review (#146647)
Posted Wednesday, October 24, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars On this album Rush went for more simple songs but that was not a bad thing. From start to finish this album is great , Permanent Waves has some of the great Rush classics like Spirit of Radio and freewill. It was 1980 and Rush were going for more straight foreword music and Geddys voice is not as high pitched like in their 70's albums. And the Lyrics are just great in this album "Each of us a cell awareness imperfect and incomplete"from Freewill. There are some great epics on this album like Jacobs Ladder which features great guitar playing by lifeson. And one of the greatest Rush tracks ever Natural Science, Each musician shows of their great musical ability great on this album, that is almost every Rush album though. Permanent Waves is just as good as moving Pictures if not better, very similar albums. One of the 5 Classic Rush albums, this album is not just for art rock lovers its for anyone who enjoys Rock at its best
Report this review (#149103)
Posted Monday, November 5, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars While Hemispheres is my alltime favourite Rush album, it is this album and the following Moving Pictures that to me marked out Rush as an alltime great band. Why?? Because they showed they could change their sound without losing anything from previous albums that was great about them, indeed adding new dimensions to their art. Sure, older fans were alienated by the change (much like hardcore Ozzy fans must have decried the unspeakably brilliant Heaven and Hell album of Black Sabbath at the time of its release) but that is usually the case in rock n roll anyway (post-Uli Roth Scorpions is another such instance, again Lovedrive and Blackout ranking among the best albums of that band).

However, I was not fortunate enough to watch these bands grow and that, fortunately, makes me more neutral about their albums through the years. This is a Rush still belting out proto-prog metal rivalled by none at that time (or even today). Hell, Natural Science possibly rocks harder than Trees and Jacob's Ladder has riffs that would make Tony Iommi proud. At the same time, they show they are able to write accessible, indeed radio-friendly, songs that still retain all the accomplished musicianship we look forward to from Rush. Sure, Spirit of Radio and Freewill are radio-friendly, but in a good way, like Pink Floyd's Money or Jethro Tull's Locomotive Breath. And, IMHO, Different Strings and Entre Nous rank among the finest creations of Rush. Sure, they are not in the least complex compositions but they show the sensitive, mature side of Rush.

Here, I would like to digress a bit with an example based on Metallica. After deeply influencing thrash and making it a more epic and complex beast than its other frontrunners had conceived possible and in turn successfully pulling off mainstream metal/rock, Metallica tripped heavily in covering the seemingly simple Black Sabbath song Sabracadabra. Rush however proved on Permanent Waves that they could write accessible rock that was also intelligent and beautiful at the same time, a dimension they had not displayed till then in their songwriting. In essence, they could straddle the complex epics and the simple, soulful rockers/ballads effortlessly.

Coming to the instrumental attack, this is probably more guitar-oriented than Hemispheres with some uninhibited but inventive shredding from Lifeson as opposed to his tight performance in the previous album. At the same time, Geddy Lee's keyboards too begin to play a bigger role in the mix than before. How is this achieved?? Well, as mentioned earlier, the band expanded and enriched their sound to accomplish that which they could not have in the previous outings.

And that, more than anything else, is the reason to recommend any prog rock album highly. When a band change in a good way and even improve upon their previous work, it means the album is still interesting for a prog rock fan and Permanent Waves certainly passes that test.

Dock points?? What for, this album is perfect in every way. Ok, I will be politically correct and give it 4.75 :P

Report this review (#149550)
Posted Thursday, November 8, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is the best Rush album in my opinion. It has more direction than their earlier stuff but still has the catchy progness missing from some later Rush albums. Moving Pictures comes in close second because this one is more solid overall. Musically the band is at it's tightest here as evidenced in tracks like The Spirit of Radio, Freewill, and Jacob's Ladder, all of which rank among Rush's best work. Freewill would have to be my favorite song on the album, the riff is catchy, the solo is epic, and the lyrics are their best ever. Entre Nous is another somewhat catchy track, Different Strings is a good ballad and Natural Science is a longer track that is interesting enough to keep attention throughout. Overall a great album and one of the best of the late 70's certainly, highly recomended.
Report this review (#153080)
Posted Wednesday, November 28, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars Back to one of my ancient favourite bands. I always thought this is an intrigueing album because it marked the transition form the old to the new Rush. In other words the real symphonic to the more crossover Rush. The predecessor Hemispheres was the apogee of the old period and for many their best album. The successor of PW, Moving Pictures is an already very accessable album, reflecting the new Rush. And Permanent Waves is somewhere in between although I believe it comes closer to Moving Pictures than to Hemispheres.

Next thing that's striking to me is the popularity of this album. It has a real high average but I wonder what the great highlight is. I mean, it's not a bad album but it's far from outstanding I believe. Maybe the last track stands out a little, it still has the symphonic elements but the rest are average songs that have no extra dimension. Spirit of the radio was in the charts if I remember correctly but to call it a breakthrough for Rush in the commercial scene goes too far, don't you think ?

So although this is an interesting one in the history of Rush I can't find the great charme musicwise. So it'll have to settle for 3.

Report this review (#155389)
Posted Friday, December 14, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars It is indeed about time I rated this album. Second only perhaps to Hemispheres, this album is probably the band's most daring album in that it was probably the most dramatic shift of sound the band had attempted, and that's saying a lot. A new album for a new decade of Rush music, and this is the band just after their pinnacle of progressiveness (Hemispheres) and before the pinnacle of their catchy songwriting (Moving Pictures), and the two are intermediated to form this magnificent piece of progressive rock. The atmosphere, riffs, and songwriting overall are probably the most intellectual sounding of any album I have heard yet, and that's definitely saying a lot. As far as the instrumentation is concerned, Lifeson's use of sound effects has never been more effective, and his soloing has never been better. In fact this is the only album that I can say I truly love his soloing. Lee's bass lines have never been more creative, catchy, or popping, and has such a meaty tone to it, it is so satisfying, a bit like Squire's actually. Peart's drumming was probably only really technically better on Hemispheres and his riffs on Moving Pictures, though it is probably better as it was for the band's purposes. He just does such a great job of complimenting the music, especially in this album. What's more, Lee's singing is, IMO, the best and most consistent of any Rush album, very clean and precise. All of the instruments are in a complete balance of activity and fit together to form an album with breathtaking aura, and the use of synthesizers and sound effects is the better than any that they have yet produced. Every song on the album is very unique, though this is also somewhat expected for the band. I don't typically give reviews analyzing every song unless I think the almost truly deserves it, and boy does this album deserve it.

It is also the album that I was raised on from birth, and is probably the reason why I am the die hard Rush fan that I am now. I'm sure it's also the root of my taste for progressive rock, and has probably influenced me as an individual more than any other piece of music I have heard, besides maybe Close to the Edge. There probably isn't a sound in this entire album that I don't have memorized, I have listened to it so many times. Indeed, Permanent Waves is a part of who I am, and any album that can do something like that has to be a masterpiece, period.

1. Spirit of the Radio

This song is one of the only Rush songs that seems to make sense with the band's name. The album starts with Lifeson ripping right into a fast riff and interesting rhythmic interactions between Lee and Peart. This song is a perfect opener for the album, it is so inspiring and so complex, with such smooth changes and such a great playing and sound effects. At one point there is almost a reggae feel in the song, and is one of the band's most unique sounding moments. The band shows in this song that though they may have given their music a bit more appeal, they are still going to show off their musicianship and don't let down on their progressive quality. This and the following song pack a lot of material in a small amount of time.

2. Freewill

This song has some of the best technical playing the band has ever made, the odd time signatures and changes, and the fast and complicated playing would likely make any other band that was popular at the time simply fall flat on its face. The lyrics of this song pertain to mythology, with the Gods and Lotus Land and such, and are among some of Peart's best. It's the only song I've heard so far in my prog listening that his 13/4 as a time signature. Another incredible song on a truly incredible album.

3. Jacob's Ladder

The third track is a bit longer and more spread out and atmospheric than the first two, and relies almost completely on instrumentation, except for a few instances. It is also probably my favorite song on the album, the cloud looming low and ominous and the music reflects this idea so well, and has the best use of atmospheric keyboards of any song I've heard, especially in the middle. Such great vibrato... and it matches so magically with the vocal part... it's like enlightenment. Great riffs, bass lines and drum fills, as usual for this album. The ending is one of the best Rush moments I have and probably will ever experience.

4. Entre Nous

The beginning of this song is a great transitions from the incredible ending of the previous one. I think this is probably Rush's most underrated song, the melodies, 12 string guitar, and structure of the song are so wonderful. I luckily had the privilege to see them perform it live on their last Snakes and Arrows tour, and I felt like the only one out there that knew the lyrics. Synths are almost as good on this song as the previous, and Lifeson's distortion guitar chords are very unique, not mere power chords for sure. 5. Different Strings

This song is definitely the softest on the album, pretty much a pretty, almost sad progressive ballad. I love Lifeson's harmonics and overall guitar work, so delicate, and the piano adds so much to the song. The song leads out with a strange guitar solo. It is probably the least likable song on the album, at least for most people. It's a bit like Circumstances on Hemispheres, it doesn't add much to the album, but neither does it take anything away. I guess if this song does add something, it's a softer moment for an otherwise quite energetic album.

6. Natural Science

This was my favorite track of all time for quite some time (until I found Close to the Edge and Cygnus X-1 Book 2). It is by far the most progressive on the album, though I find it a bit funny when I hear it referred to as an epic - I'd hardly call nine minutes an epic, even if it is supposedly split up into three parts. Though it does start off like a Yes epic would, with the sound of a tidal pool dripping and a twelve string guitar. There's plenty of 7/8 to go around, and has my favorite 7/8 riff actually. Whenever I think of 7/8 by mind flips directly to Lifeson's riff on this song, during a quantum leap forward in time and in space, the universe meant to expand, which is vocalized with reverse reverberation. This song progresses like no other, and is probably Peart's best performance on the album. The best part of this song is the lyrics, probably the most intellectual lyrics Peart ever made. In the introduction with the pool in a short lived galaxy. Each is it's own society, a simple time mirror to reflect upon our own, all the busy little creatures chasing out their destinies. It's the sort of analogy that intellectuals use to put our human race into perspective, and how anyone puts this in the way that the music and descriptions portray this concept in the song is beyond me. I guess Peart is just that much of an intellectual. The exact kind of song nerds like me would like.

I honestly don't see how this album could have been improved, there are no weak tracks, or moments, no awkward riffs, no mediocre melody lines, and no obnoxious screams on Lee's part. With this album everything fell together for the band, and was one of their biggest commercial breakthroughs. I'll be very content if I can ever write anything a third as good as this album. A true 5/5, 100% masterpiece.

Report this review (#160033)
Posted Monday, January 28, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars I have liked Rush a lot more lately. Permanent Waves is no exception at all. It is another great balance between prog rock and hard rock.

The abum kicks off with Spirit of Radio, a powerful and synth-infused rocker. It also features great acoustic guitar music by Alex Lifeson.

Freewill is a lot more progressive. It mostly showcases Geddy Lee's singing. His bass playing is also great here.

There are also 2 great epics, Jacob's Ladder and Natural Science. Jacob's Ladder is mostly about the guitar playing with Alex Lifeson. Natural Science has a lot of singing from Geddy Lee, and also has great solos in the middle.

Permanent Waves is a great album for prog fans!

Report this review (#160579)
Posted Saturday, February 2, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is my firsf review and I hope you , members and non-members of progarchives may find it useful.Rush is a band whose style has changed over the years , always keeping their progressive mood but adapting it to the new tecnologies , this album makes no exception .

This album , altough somewhat short (35 minutes) has memorable songs that have become part of the band`s live set like Spirit of Radio or Freewill and it also shows that you can find prog elements in songs that are shorter than ten minutes (quite a quimera for some proggers) this album and the following shows a perfect mix between hard rock a la Zeppelin and progressive rock.

4 stars for me

Report this review (#160590)
Posted Saturday, February 2, 2008 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
5 stars Released in 1980, Permanent Waves was the album that fused the progressive tendencies that Rush showed on their '70s material with a mint production and it even gave us a few signs of the transition that the band would undergo on their next few albums.

This album was released only a year before Moving Pictures and has unfortunately been overshadowed by that release ever since. I consider it truly a pity because Permanent Waves is a far superior package in every single category. It has stronger hits (The Spirit Of Radio, Freewill, Entre Nous), a ballad that blows Witch Hunt and Vital Signs out of the water (Different Strings) and, most importantly the best progressive rock moments (Jacob's Ladder and Natural Science).

Natural Science is by far my favorite composition that Rush have ever recorded. It has amazing lyrics which are perfectly matched by its music content. The two minute atmospheric intro transitions into one great Alex Lifeson-riff after the other and Geddy Lee adds a few underlying synthesizer melodies that elevate the band's performance to a whole new level. Still it's Neil Peart who once again steals the show for me here. Just listen to all the little polyrhythmic fills that he literally floods the music with! The only minor complaint here is the slightly trivial guitar-solo halfway through the track which sounds a bit out of place compared to all the other difficult patterns that the band has given us so far. Surprisingly enough I actually find this flaw quite charming especially since I don't believe in such a thing as a perfect recording although Natural Science definitely comes close to it!

Seeing the band perform live during their Snakes & Arrows tour was a great experience for me. The fact that they played four out of the six songs off this record during that performance really showed that the album has withstood the test of time! It's simply a great album that everyone should own.

***** star songs: The Spirit Of Radio (4:56) Jacob's Ladder (7:26) Natural Science (9:17)

**** star songs: Freewill (5:21) Entre Nous (4:36) Different Strings (3:48)

Total Rating: 4,61

Report this review (#161659)
Posted Tuesday, February 12, 2008 | Review Permalink
The Pessimist
5 stars Rush's best effort by far: it completely rinses Hemispheres and Farewell, while it marginally beats Moving Pictures, their supposed master work. Every single song on this wonderful album is a classic Rush song, especially Spirit of the Radio, Jacob's Ladder and the finale Natural Science. The musicianship is flawless also, and what's better is despite being pure progressive rock, it is also very rock and roll. Here is why I love this album so much, with a track by track:

1. Spirit of the radio - Dare I say it, the best intro in the whole of rock history, therefore making it the best album intro in the whole of rock history. This is Rush's best known song, and for very good reason! (10/10)

2. Freewill - Another Rush classic here, I especially like the peculiar time signatures and the chorus in this song. The keyboards are also quite pretty. (8/10)

3. Jacob's ladder - Second masterpiece of the album, this is definitely the proggiest of the lot. One of my personal favourite Rush songs, this is direly underated as a song. (10/10)

4. Entre nous - Another great short song from Rush. This one is especially catchy and delivers some nice guitar work from Mr Lifeson. (9/10)

5. Different strings - The penultimate track is probably the weakest on the album, but it still is worthy of being on this masterpiece. The shortness of it also has a certain charm to it. (8/10)

6. Natural science - AHA! The greatest Rush song of all time without a doubt. Everything about this song screams epic and prog in your face. The guitaring, drumming and bass work is astounding on this song and I love everything about it, from the addictive riff at around 2 minutes to the complete rhythm change about halfway through. This song is a necessity to any prog fan! (10/10)

Overall, a masterpiece album. I need not say more, other than buy it if you haven't already got it. 5/5.

Report this review (#163054)
Posted Sunday, March 2, 2008 | Review Permalink
Queen By-Tor
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars ...And the words of the prophets were written on the studio wall...

As the 70s came to an end many of the prog rock giants were unable to produce work of the same caliber that they once had. Being a product of the late 70s anyways, Rush was somehow able to adapt and release this fantastic album. Very different in style from their previous works and yet somehow similar at the same time, Rush pushes into the shorter song format while still leaving some pure prog gems in their wake. For me this has always been a very friendly album, despite it's topics at times. Definitely one of Rush's most accessible works, this is one that will always find a place on my cd player.

Likely fueled by their own dislike for their previous prog-masterpiece, Hemispheres, Rush cranks up the volume and manages to put some some excellent rock music. The album opens with to of the band's biggest hits. The oh-so familiar riff of the concert favorite The Spirit Of Radio warms the listener with it's synths and riffs along with that interesting reggae breakdown near the end. Though better live (it was always a dream of mine to be one of the people screaming when Geddy shouts ''Concert Hall!''... which I got to do last summer) this song is still a great track. Freewill follows this one, with it's objective viewpoint of human nature. Again a familiar, rock-anthem riff from Lifeson and a very catchy chorus that made this song such a hit to begin with.

Coming onto the second side there's some more short rock songs, these ones a tad weaker than their side one counterparts. The spaced out Entre Nous (well performed on the Snakes and Arrows tour) kicks off the fray with some strong synths and melodies. The guitar in this one is a bit less pronounced and the tone is very much more low-key than some of the songs off the first side, but its a good song none the less. Unfortunately, the songs that it's had to compete with (Spirit, Freewill) make it seems weaker on the album. Different Strings is kind of the obligatory slow song. Cool lyrics from Peart, making use of his poetic skills mixed with his normal lyrics about human nature. Good song, reminiscent of something like Tears from 2112, but likely the weakest track on the album.

Then there's the longer tracks. On an album that houses such good short tracks are the longer ones going to be any good? Well, Rush has always been a band that's been great with the longer tracks, and these are no exception. The dark, moody Jacob's Ladder has always been a personal favorite (although I prefer the ...Exit Stage Left performance). It's short use of lyrics and subsequent instrumentalism (that almost seems like it could bring down rumbling clouds over your head) make this song one of the best tracks in the Rush catalog... if one of the least accessible (ironic that it's n the band's most accessible album). A fantastic journey from start to finish, no progger should be without this song. Topping off the album, however, is the even better -- multi-part-mini-suite -- Natural Science (another live favorite). Starting with the sound of gulls and and Alex's subdued guitar under Geddy's echoed voice this song is of to a promising start. It's not long until the song explodes into full motion. A slick riff from Lifeson and some pounding bass from Geddy make his song an even better journey than Jacob's Ladder. Peart is back with his objective lyrics, this time comparing civilization to tide pools, where the creatures liveing in their little worlds forget about the larger picture -- the sea from whence the came. Interesting use of vocal effects on some of the parts and some truly excellent soloing throughout make this song THE definitive standout on the album. AKA -- if you buy the album for one song, it's this one. (There's also an amazing live version of this one on the Rush in Rio live album).

A bit of a biased review? Perhaps, but since this album is likely my favorite album of all time it must have done something right to get into that position. 5 stars. While the first couple songs of the second half may be weaker than the album as a whole they're easily redeemed by the behemoth that is Natural Science. Highly, HIGHLY recommended. The only people who won't enjoy this album are the people who condemn Rush for having Geddy as a vocalist. But even they will likely enjoy Jacob's Ladder.

Report this review (#163257)
Posted Wednesday, March 5, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars Putting aside the errors of prog overindulgence, RUSH settle back and do what they're best at: write good tunes.

Within moments, RUSH's trademark crunchy guitars herald not another side-long prog epic like the ill-advised '2112' or 'Cygnus X-1 Book II', but a radio-friendly sound, marking the beginning of their move away from traditional progressive phrasing. I'm not overly fond of 'Spirit of the Radio', finding it frivolous, but I approve of what they're trying to do. With the benefit of hindsight, the direction they take on this album was a necessary prelude to 'Moving Pictures'. I simply don't think the band had the compositional chops to write the sort of prog epics they attempted in the late 70s: they realised this and moved towards music best described as prog-related with this and subsequent albums.

After 'Spirit of the Radio' comes 'Freewill', a track dominated by a splendid LIFESON solo. There are prog elements here, particularly in PEART's drumming, but they're a necessary part of the song, not paraded self-consciously. 'Jacob's Ladder' manages to avoid overstaying its welcome, but what on earth were they thinking with those harsh, two-bees-in-a-dustbin synths?

I'm afraid the second side of the album does not measure up to the first, continuing the RUSH tradition of unevenness. 'Entre Nous' is a fairly innocuous art rock song, easily culled on an iTunes playlist but unfortunate given that, at 35 minutes, this album has no fat to trim. 'Different Strings' ratchets the pace down a few notches, a welcome change, but ultimately the song is little more than a facile ballad with a defeated fadeout ending, as though inspiration has deserted them. 'Natural Science' harks back to previous albums, though the riffs here sustain the song for its nine minute length. RUSH have learned the virtue of brevity at last. Interestingly, in this song one can hear many of the elements that bands like DREAM THEATER took to heart.

Another in a long line of frustrating RUSH albums, 'Permanent Waves' is actually a misnomer. The waves it makes are uneven and, at best, temporary, a prelude to the tsunami that was their next album.

Report this review (#166132)
Posted Wednesday, April 9, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars Sometimes albums can take several bashes about in order to understand what goes on. If you don't get what my jive is, let me explain it this way; I once thought that PERMANENT WAVES was fluttered with too many flaws to achieve the masterpiece status even though I loved quite a good portion of the album. I even reviewed the album during the growing phase (the original review date was 4/25/2008; the day of re-write is 5/22/2009) hoping there would be an epiphany to come. I already know the euphoria of the two most ''prog-like'' songs (''Jacob's Ladder'' and ''Natural Science'') but I'm going to go on and say that ''Natural Science'' is possibly nine minutes of exactly what Rush represented in their heyday; intricately structured epic-esque pieces of music littered with blistering guitar solos and drum fills, odd metred riffs that harken to hard rock all in a pace that will keep the listener interested throughout.

Even if we don't observe the longer pieces, the shorter ones also deserve their fair share of praise. Songs like ''Freewill'' and ''The Spirit of Radio'' sacrifice the weird fantasy themes and banshee shrieks of earlier albums in favour of bright guitar riffs and pop-like sensibilities with an insane amount of tweaking to them. ''Entre Nous'' might be a little ho-hum compared to everything else, but I still have a soft spot for it. ''Different Strings'' will be filler for most people, but I've found it to be one of the better cases of Rush goes soft along with ''Madrigal''.

I'd say that PERMANENT WAVES is much better than HEMISPHERES simply because on the latter effort, Rush tried way too hard to have prog kudos and ended up having a bloated epic. However, I think PERMANENT WAVES has more focused songwriting and tighter interplay all the while retaining that heavy-progressive edge that characterized Rush's previous two efforts. An absolute highlight for any Rush fan.

Report this review (#168695)
Posted Friday, April 25, 2008 | Review Permalink
TGM: Orb
3 stars Review 37, Permanent Waves, Rush, 1980

StarStarStarStar Permanent Waves is naturally paired with its successor, Moving Pictures. In my opinion, Permanent Waves is a much, much better album, with more genuine and moving atmospheres, the boring moments focused on a couple of shorter tracks rather than creating a sort of inverse magnum opus in The Camera Eye. The high points of the album definitely merit the cost, but there are weaknesses. I enjoy this one.

Noone can accuse Rush of not having a knack for openers, and The Spirit of Radio is proof of this, with great rocking guitar parts, a non-screechy, yet enjoyable and singalongable vocal from Lee (combined with a humming and very liberated bass part), Peart throws in great normal drumming, as well as shining with glockenspiel (or something similar) and tympani in the more progressive sections. Some solid enjoyable lyrics sail behind the music, including a nicely-used reference to Simon And Garfunkel's The Sound Of Silence. The combination of rather progressive sections and harder rock is handled sublimely, and we get a lively and energetic solo from Lifeson.

Freewill's opening comparatively lumbers a bit, with overdone synths and a rather awkward ambling guitar part (coupled with boring, bombastic drums). It doesn't help that the lyrics are, while original in idea and form of expression, very forced at times ('they weren't born in lotus-land'). The choruses pick up a lot musically, but Geddy's voice just doesn't quite make the impact that it sometimes does. A rather mechanically inserted instrumental break features some rather odd bass playing from Geddy, a many-many notes per second solo from Lifeson, that was a bit acquired for me, but I now enjoy it. The conclusion is really no better than the original part, and the song overall a rather bland experience.

Jacob's Ladder is a surprising gem, with a very dark, powerful atmosphere that Rush rarely attempt to build. The Lee-Peart rhythm section outdo themselves, through a rather vicious, military and driving feel. Lifeson shifts adeptly between a dark rhythm guitar and some stunning solos. Geddy Lee handles the vocals with tension and emotion, and his synths are a lighter counterpart to the powerful guitar, rather than ineffectual. In the build-up to a massive crashing section, we get a great decisiveness and a feeling of spontaneity that Rush often seems to lack. Everyone on top form, and the atmosphere is very moving.

Entre Nous is rather a let-down after this, because the vocal is simply annoying and upbeat, failing to provide a real feel (the lyrical idea is good enough, though the wording doesn't satisfy me). The guitars are top notch, using acoustics and electrics well. Peart is responsible, with a rolling style more reminiscent of his earlier stuff on 2112 or Caress Of Steel, for most of the impact of the chorus, but his work on the verses simply holds no real interest for me, getting annoying if I listen too hard. A synth solo actually works better than I'd have expected, and it does give an opportunity to a brief, but no less likable, bass solo from Lee. Not absolutely terrible, but it leaves a lot to be desired.

The gentle song of the album, Different Strings, is a very good piece, with a combination of acoustic guitar and a wonderful piano that weaves into it, an effectively uplifting bass (a rarity) part, and some decent Peart additions on drums from the second verse onwards. Alex Lifeson provides one of the slow emotional background solos we've earlier seen on Into The Darkness, as well as a rather more bulky one at the song's end. Certainly not a weakness.

The long concluding piece, the tri-partite Natural Science, doesn't disappoint, beginning with a slow, gradually appearing-and-disappearing acoustic, some watery effects, some completely odd effects and a watery vocal with the right sort of distant feel for the song. The rocking chorus 'Time after time in a spiral away...' flows right into the next section, concluding Tidal Pools.

The fast beat of Hyperspace, with its speed, mechanical, distorted vocal, a set of interesting drums from Peart and a use of a moog synthesiser as well as Lee's usual array of stuff. A mocking derision of the technological side of society gives way to a moving solo from Lifeson (rather reminiscent of Shine On You Crazy Diamond, only faster) and then a return to the chorus.

Permanent Waves gives us the album's most grandiose moment, with a positive, determined vocal, some of the classic bombastic drumming-guitar ideas that pervade Rush's discography (only, they work!). A whirling guitar solo from Lifeson appears over a static bass drum line. The gradual drive-up to the chorus's alter-ego is perfectly handled, twisting with a concision and constant mobility. The instruments are relaxed in favour of a water effect fade, which works perfectly in context. An exceptional piece of work, with constantly good playing from everyone, an atmosphere of its own and it manages to hold interest throughout. Definitely a much-loved Rush piece, for me.

In conclusion, there are two weak tracks that I don't like on this album. On the other hand, there are four gems that should be in the collection of any (progressive) music lover. Essential, but not a masterpiece. The feel of the album isn't quite rounded due to the aberrations that are Entre Nous and Free Will, but that shouldn't discourage anyone from getting it.

Rating: Four Stars

Favourite Track: Natural Science

Edit: Last listen placed it as a firm three... I can't say that it has the same freshness it did when I wrote this review.

Report this review (#171752)
Posted Tuesday, May 20, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars Simply a must-have album for any prog-rock fan. This is Rush at their late 70's / early 80's pinnacle and is arguable their most complete release with each and every song a 5-star effort. And yet, in m any ways, it signaled the end of their true progressive period and began a more experimental, and poppier, period.

First off, no pieces here, with six individual songs, most clocking in at under 6 minutes. Second, the sound is more mainstream while still maintaining the bands usual high standards. Third, and most importantly, it all works beautifully. Most are familiar with the hits The Spirit of Radio and Freewill, both of which warrant their renown. Two other shorter songs, Entre Nous and Different Strings, work equally well and bring out the (successfully) quieter side of the band.

But it is the two longer songs that push PWaves into five-start territory. Jacob's Ladder is simply amazing, sonically telling the story of an approaching storm cloud, it's thunderous release and brooding retreat. The keyboard used to represent the light shines down in bright unbroken beams gives me chills. It is an truly creative arrangement and captures the originality that is Rush perfectly.

Natural Science is another true masterpiece. The lyrics, contrasting a pool of water to the universe of possibilities, is among Peart's best lyrical efforts. The frantic, urgent opening is another watershed moment. The song is also another outstanding arrangement, with three distinct, completely different sections that wonderfully complement each other.

Simply a must-have for any true prog fan.

Report this review (#174599)
Posted Friday, June 20, 2008 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Permanent Waves is the seventh album from Canadian prog rock legends Rush. Following up on the excellent Hemispheres probably wasn´t easy but Rush have taken their music a step further with Permanent Waves. Released in 1980 this album is still clearly a seventies prog rock album but there are lots of new eighties tendencies in the music as well which will probably scare some away but attract others.

The music is different from the music on Hemispheres mostly because of the mood change which took place in this part of Rush career. Geedy Lee´s singing style and Neil Peart´s lyrics changed from aggressive to more reflective and sometimes melancholic. On one hand I do miss Geedy Lee´s over the top singing from the earlier albums, but on the other hand I love his new more dynamic singing style. It´s great to hear that Rush evolved between every album.

There are some truly excellent songs on Permanent Waves. Spirit of the radio starts the album with a much more commercial approach than usually and it took me quite some time to appreciate this song, but today it´s one of my favorites from Permanent Waves. Freewill is my absolute favorite from the album. It ranks among the best Rush songs ever and could easily have been included on Rush next album Moving Pictures which is my favorite Rush album. In fact I wish they would have included Freewill instead of the weak Vital Signs as the last song on Moving Pictures it would have made an already perfect album even more complete. Jacob's ladder took me a while to appreciate but again this is a song that has grown on me over the years. Entre nous is a good little prog rock song and even though it´s not the most exciting song on Permanent Waves it´s still a very good song. Different strings is a ballad type song which is my least favorite here. It´s allright but nothing more. The ending song Natural science which is a 9 minute long track is a dark and excellent song with lots of great parts. It´s not as good as the epics from the last two albums but it´s excellent anyway.

The musicianship is outstanding as always when we´re talking Rush. It´s always been one of the most exciting things about their albums besides the great music of course. This is the ultimate power trio. They are able ro create so much sound even though they are only three people and this is also true on stage in a live environment.

The production is soft and warm but still has punch when it´s needed. This is one of the most well produced prog rock albums ever. A bit too polished maybe ?

Permanent Waves is one of the best albums Rush have made so far and one of my favorites from the band. Very few prog rock bands made this good music in 1980 and Rush would like many other seventies prog rock bands be influenced by the synth sound of the eighties on later albums, but Permanent Waves and their next album Moving Pictures will forever stand as some of the best prog rock albums from the early eighties. Permanent Waves is not quite a masterpiece in my book but a 4 star rating is very well deserved.

Report this review (#175328)
Posted Wednesday, June 25, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars 4.5 Stars actually

Rush's 1980 release, Permanent Waves, was a great way to start out the 80s. The album does not disappoint, classic Rush sound, some great musicianship, and it even produced a couple of signature Rush anthems (The Spirit of Radio, and Freewill) and prog masterpeices (Jacob's Ladder, and Natural Science).

If you're a fan of the band you're surely familiar with the opening track The Spirit of Radio. One of Rush's classics is a great way to start off the album. It opens with a catchy guitar intro you're guaranteed to hear if you go to any Rush show. The song is quite diverse: some classic rock riffs, a little bit of technicality, and even what sounds like some reggae influence right before the solo.

If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice. The second track Freewill is another Rush classic. Always progressing, never repetitive or boring at all. Not only is the music superb, but there are some very tasteful and memorable lyrics as well.

The next track Jacob's Ladder is just as good as the first two, if not better. The song starts off with the bass of Geddy Lee, shortly followed by the guitar of Alex Lifeson and drums of legend Neal Peart in a similar fashion. A little over 3 and a half minutes into the song, the guitar, bass, and drums are stopped by the soothing sound of keyboards, and Geddy Lee's vocals. After a bit of that, the band comes back in together and near a minute left in the song it changes pace with what sounds like sort of a marching beat to it before ending with another passage of vocals and keyboards. One of two prog masterpieces on the album.

Entre Nous the next track, is the closest to a pop song on this album. It is still a great track, not quite as strong as the first three, but an enjoyable song nevertheless. It follows a simpler formula than the first three as well, a bit predictable at times.

The second to last song Different Strings is the probably the weakest on the album. It starts out with a clean guitar intro, and doesn't change much from there. The drumming is probably the simplest thus far, pretty generic 4/4 beats. It has a weak ending as well, just as it starts to progress a bit, it fades out completely. Most likely a filler track, nothing I'd expect, or for that matter, want to hear them play live.

The last song on the album is Natural Science, the longest, clocking in at somewhere around 9 minutes, and the second of the two prog masterpieces. The most progressive and interesting song on the album without a doubt, my personal favorite. If you're new to Rush and haven't listened to this album, you're probably not familiar with the song but once you hear it, you will find yourself listening over and over, until you become familiar with it. Not only has the music hit its high point, but the lyrics are once again great. Although the song is the longest on the album, it feels like one of the shortest, almost like it's over too fast.

This album has become one of Rush's classics. It feels like it's over a bit to fast with only 6 songs, but I guess that's why people hardly tire from it. The 4 star rating rings true: An Excellent Addition to any prog music collection

Report this review (#176407)
Posted Wednesday, July 9, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars 2112, Caress of Steel, Hemispheres, A Farewell to Kings... All of those Rush albums are widely regarded as landmarks of the progressive rock/metal genre. They influenced lots of new bands and musicians and played an important role in the divulgation of the progressive genre. After composing those technical and complex albums, Rush began a new phase, composing more radio- friendly and straight-forward songs than true progressive epics.

This album represents the transition between those two phases; on one hand, it has Natural Science and Jacob's Ladder, two tracks that wouldn't sound out of place on, for example, Hemispheres, and, on other hand, it has Entre Nous and Freewill, two extremely catchy tunes that would fit well on Moving Pictures or Grace Under Pressure, two records that the band released after this one.

After giving the album some spins, it's easy to find evident differences between Permanent Waves and the rest of the 70's Rush catalog. For example, Geddy Lee isn't shrieking like a madman anymore, as he delivers a more melodic performance. The songwriting isn't so intricate. There is more emphasis on the keyboards. Every song is catchy.

When trying to release a more radio-friendly record without losing their own identity, countless bands failed. Surprisingly, Rush succeeds doing it: Permanent Waves is, probably, a commercial record, but it still has progressive elements all over it, that keep the integrity of the band intact.

The record is an authentic hymn to life. The uplifting lyrics of Neil Peart fit the beautiful music very well, and because of that, the album has an interesting and happy atmosphere (from Entre Nous, an authentic ode to love, to Natural Science, a hopeful track that talks about honesty and sensibility). Despite being a fantastic lyricist, Neil Peart is also, like everyone knows, an outstanding drummer. He proves that again on Permanent Waves, playing hard and complex patterns that fit the music (instead of playing those patterns just to show that he can do them well); he also shows some versatility, adopting a softer approach to the calm Different Strings.

The first track was the first big hit single of the band and is called Spirit of Radio. In fact, despite being a hit single, the song is pretty complex, featuring some interesting transitions, a reggae-influenced (!!!) section and a fine guitar solo. This tune is also an example of the new vocal approach that Lee adopted. As I've already said, don't expect Geddy to scream like on 2112, he now sounds more like a conventional rock vocalist. And that doesn't work bad at all, as he delivers a nice vocal performance, which fits the warm atmosphere very well.

All the other songs of the album are divided into two categories: the catchy ones and the progressive ones. Freewill, Entre Nous and Different Strings fall into the first. Freewill contains, probably, one of the "catchier" choruses I've ever heard. Entre Nous is an authentic underrated gem: contains a bass and a guitar solo (that are just amazing, if you ask me) and great lyrics. Different Strings is the softer song of the record, a tune dominated by the uplifting acoustic guitar work of Lifeson and the astounding vocal performance of Geddy Lee.

Natural Science and Jacob's Ladder fall obviously, into the progressive category. Jacob's Ladder is, probably, the only somber song of Permanent Waves. It begins with a priceless build-up and then Geddy begins to sing about a storm that is about to begin... And then, around the two minutes mark, the storm is unleashed, thanks to a fantastic guitar riff and to the precise drum work of God, err, excuse me, Neil Peart. The middle section of the track is filled with a quiet breakdown, which probably represents the end of the storm. Natural Science contains, again, amazing lyrics and is divided into three sections: Tide Pools, Hyperspace and Permanent Waves (which is my favourite section).

This is a record to be heard as a whole; in my opinion, the songs sound rather weak when heard individually, but, as a whole listening experience, the album is a winner. However, some tunes, especially Freewill, Entre Nous and Spirit of Radio can get old pretty FAST, which is definitely a bad thing. The durability of those songs isn't very good.

If you can, get the remastered version of the record, as the sound quality is thirty times better than the one of the original version. My only complaint about the production is that I can't hear the bass drums on many of the songs, but, otherwise, the production is top notch.

Rush certainly released better albums, but this one is good, nevertheless.

Report this review (#176673)
Posted Sunday, July 13, 2008 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
5 stars Permanent Waves is the latest album I have purchased of Rush, due to the fact that with my other Rush Cds I had somehow accumulated all but two tracks from this album, at least live versions and some on compilations. However, I am glad I bit the bullet and got hold of this as its an absolute masterpiece and quintessential Rush. It is become one of the top 5 Cds in my Rush collection. The main reason this album works so well as there are no filler tracks. It is a new style of Rush in comparison to previous efforts but it is surprisingly mainstream yet still keeping the aspects of prog.

The first track, 'The Spirit of Radio' was a massive hit for the band and it is easy to see why. It has some of the most endearing and memorable guitar work from Alex Lifeson. Listen to that phased out lead work in the intro, and the way the time signature instantly changes only to kick into a standard 4/4 riff. Geddy Lee's high soprano vocals have never been better and you have to love the lyrics: "Begin the day with a friendly voice, a companion, unobtrusive, plays that song that's so elusive, and the magic music makes your morning mood." This example of crazy alliteration that evokes a quirky sense of humour has defined the Rush sound. The track works effectively as a radio jingle promoting the medium, no wonder it was a top 20 UK hit in 1980, one of the greatest rock singles ever. It even features a startling reggae breakdown towards the end that shouldn't work but Rush makes it work because they are masters of song structure. After the words "Concert hall" we hear a crowd roaring, which really adds to the overall effect of the track. Lifeson's wah wah guitar solo is amazing. A short blast of the opening riff and then it ends abruptly.

The next track 'Freewill' is also a terrific prog track with an excellent melody that stays in your head, notably the melodic chorus "you can choose a ready guide in some celestial voice, if you choose not to decide you still have made a choice." Great stuff and a live favourite. Another notable track and the main reason for my interest in the album was the standout epic 'Natural Science'. It clocks in at a little over 9 minutes and is a type of multimovement suite with variations of light and shade in three sections. I had heard this on the live "Different Stages" but this, the studio version, way outclasses the live version for production value. Wind chimes, tubular bells, atmospherics, jagged guitar riffs and all manner of instruments merge together on this epic to produce one of the finest recordings of the band.

In conclusion, Permanent Waves is an essential purchase and a good starting point for those interested in Rush.

Report this review (#177734)
Posted Tuesday, July 22, 2008 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
3 stars Different strings

In my opinion, Rush reached their progressive and artistic peak with the previous Hemispheres. After the masterpiece that was Hemispheres, Permanent Waves is a little bit of a disappointment. The opening track, Spirit Of Radio was the first ever "commercial" Rush track and as such pointed towards things to come on future albums. This song simply seems to be designed for radio play. Freewill similarly is a more simple and straightforward composition than what Rush offered us on 2112, A Farewell To Kings and Hemispheres. These two tracks bring this album down a bit for me, but the rest of the album contains more classic Rush material. But even the best and most progressive numbers add little to what we already was given on the aforementioned trio of great albums and really only Natural Science is up to the standards set by these previous classic albums.

Permanent Waves is for me the least good album of Rush's classic period (2112 to Moving Pictures) and, even if it is indeed another good Rush album, it was the first sign of Rush's imminent decline that started with Signals and culminated with the awful Power Windows.

Not Rush's best, but still part of their best period and contains some great moments

Report this review (#178733)
Posted Sunday, August 3, 2008 | Review Permalink
The Crow
4 stars This is an splendid album... But not a masterpiece in my opinion!

The disc starts in a magnificient way with the hits The Spirit of Radio and Freewill... I specially like the first one, being a really catchy track with even a reggea middle part! Freewill is also another anthem with a great solo and Geddy's bass playing.

Then, comes another great Rush's song... The proggy Jacob's Ladder, a song full of soundscapes in the vein of Vangelis and with a good keyboard's work. I also like the riffing of the song... A Rush's little classic. But then, the album enters in a kind of weak section... Entre Nous is a usual rock song in the vein of Caress of Steel or the short tracks of 2112. Just an OK rock song, but nothing special... And Different Strings is also not very interesting. A slow track with some interesting bass playing, but not really inspired.

Luckily, the end of the album is brilliant... Natural Science returns the power of the beginning, even surpasing it. The first acoustic guitars are the introduction for an amount of catchy and variated riffs, offering the most progressive track of the album, and maybe the best one. Is the perfect good bye for an excellent (but far from perfect...) album.

Best tracks: the level of the album is very high... Only Entre Nous and Different Strings are not great songs. The rest are excellent pieces of music.

Conclusion: Permanent Waves is not so progressive as Hemispheres, and not so high in quality as A Farewell to Kings... Is also maybe a bit under the quality of Moving Picgtures. But it is an excellent album anyway, with a use of keyboards and some song structures wich give a glimpse of what Rush would make through the 80's. This is a brilliant closing to a decade, and a transition to a new Rush's era. And of course, a worthy addition to any collection of good music.

My rating: ****

Report this review (#180795)
Posted Monday, August 25, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars Permanent Waves is smack dab in the middle of what I call their "Mid-Era Progressive" phase. These albums include: A Farewell to Kings (1977), Hemispheres (1978), Permanent Waves (1980), Moving Pictures (1981) and Exit Stage Left "Live" (1981)

Well, it's officially the 80's, and Geddy seems to be following a popular music trend that began to dominate the 80's music scene: keyboards and synthesizers. Permanent Waves is the first album that begins to integrate synthesizers into more and more Rush songs. Permanent Waves offers the most diverse track listing ever put on one album. First up is one of Rush's most "radio-friendly" songs ever, The Spirit of Radio, but we also get Jacobs Ladder and Natural Science, which continue the lengthy epic prog-rock tradition that RUSH has become known for among progressive rock fans. Some people feel that this album reflected way too much change in the "traditional" Rush sound as Alex begins to experiment with a more textured guitar sound that complements Geddy's synthesizer parts.

Many fans think this is RUSH's best album ever, especially as a Prog album, siting that Moving Pictures was just too commercial for them. Permanent Waves is a very good album, and a good lead-up to Moving Pictures. Permanent Waves, Moving Pictures, and Exit Stage Left represent Rush at the pinnacle of their musical career. They won't be as commercially accepted ever again as they are in the early 80's.

Best Tracks: Spirit of Radio and Freewill

Report this review (#182200)
Posted Thursday, September 11, 2008 | Review Permalink
2 stars Another famous album by Rush and another problems for me!

This time even bigger problems. The sound is uncompleted with some sharply changes in the tempo, some jazz fusion and new wave elements from the 80s and mixture of repetitions and lack of synchronous. The album is like prelude to something that never comes. The lack of ideas is tangible. It's hard for me to listen to the whole album at once.

The first song - Spirit of the Radio - is very interesting song with three elements that followed one to other constantly, but developed poorly. The second song - Freewill - is weak enough to comment it. The third song - Jacob's Ladder - again roaming between the genres without reasonable inception of the action. This is the typical for the album. The fourth song - Entre Nous - full of meaningless solos and folk rock elements. The fifth song - Different Strings - a low quality ballad. The sixth song - Natural Science - another long and decent progressive song.

An album without unexpected and fresh ideas only for the fans of the band. 2 stars

Report this review (#184614)
Posted Friday, October 3, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars Without a shadow of doubt (now that could be a Neil Peart title in itself) this is the best Rush LP beating 'Moving Pictures' in my mind by virtue of it not having a single slightly iffy track ('Vital Signs' just takes the edge off that album) and one of those true great prog albums. From the radio friendly 'The Spirit Of Radio', itself a protest at that medium with it's reggae and Simon & Garfunkel referencing, to the quintessential prog classics of 'Natural Science' (checkout that bass line underpinning the guitar solo around 4:00) and 'Jacob's Ladder', the album is beautifully balanced and an example of one of the better produced Rush albums. Even the quiet, overlooked, penultimate track 'Different Strings' with it's fade-out guitar solo - distinctly Lifeson - sets the tone for the first part of the last track. 'Freewill' sits nicely after 'Spirit' with it's classic high-pitched Geddy Lee vocals towards the end and belter of a guitar solo - in fact the only track without a real guitar solo is 'Entre Nous' with it's cleverly constructed, yet simple, chord and arpeggio based guitar work giving Lee a chance to overlay it with some simple and subtle synth. And Neil Peart displays a subtler side to his drumming previously unheard from the maestro. Yes it drew a line under the style of prog that they built their fan-base on but it's a fine example of the way prog was changing and how they help shaped that change, and really one of their last true great albums.
Report this review (#189096)
Posted Thursday, November 13, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars I've never really been fond of this album, buts actually a very well composed and produced album. This is long considered to be one of Rush's breakthrough album, others are 2112, and Moving Pictures. One thing I really don't like about this album is that Geddy dosen't screech on this one, which I have become acostum to on the old 1970s Rush albums, which is lost on this album. The album has many tracks that have made it onto the radio, being radio friendly, as many musicians call it, but this really takes it to the limit to prog-pop-rock. I for one think they went to far with the pop element, but its a good album, non-the-less. I will rate each song on a scale from 1-10, 10 being the best, and 1 being the worst.

Spirit of the Radio- One of the tracks that was very radio friendly, and it received a little too much air- play, in my opinion, but its one of the strongest tracks on the album. The lyrics pretty much mean that you can listen to what kind of music they want. Some people took this into a different way other than what Neil meant. Some people thought they had the freedom to not to listen to this, and others think that they are now open to listening to more Rush. But, other than the less than appealing lyrics, the catchy riffs and music is amazing. 9/10

Freewill- This is definatly one of my favorites from the album for a few reasons. One is that Geddy uses much higher vocals, more interesting basslines, and one of the most interesting, but sticking to the roots, bass solos that he has played. Many people thought that this song was about religion, I, for one, do not know the exact knowing of the lyrics, but they are more amusing than Spirit of the Radios. The guitar solo in this, I may mention, is so amazing. Alex rips it into peices, in a good way. Definatly the best from the album, one track that really saves the album from being bad. 10/10

Jacob's Ladder- I, for one, don't really care for this portion of the album, along with another song, that I might not mention now. I think it would be great if it wasn't aimed towards the kind of instrumental, but with some lyrics. I personally think they should have just made it an instrumental track, because the music is much more amusing than the boring lyrics. The new use of heavy keyboards is also a prominate instrument in this song, with the bridge section of the song using it. Something that only people how have known Rush ever since they have came out would like. 5.5/10

Entre Nous- The second strongest track on the album. The song is in French. The English name is Between us, and it really shows in the chors. This is one of the poppy, but very hard rock tracks that I really like in the album. This also got some air-play back when it was released as a single. The lyrics symbolize the name, that there is something going on between 2 forms of life, hence the name. Really a great little short rocker. 9.5/10

Different Strings- The, in a sense, ending to Entre Nous, but much less popular. This is the only track from the album that the band had never actually played live, and there is a reason. This is somewhat of a ballad song, but it has a guitar solo (which acoustic ballads usually don't have) so I really don't know what to think. One thought is that its a little to polished for many peoples taste, but it serves as a very dark ending to Entre Nous, which, really isn't all that bad. 8/10

Natrual Science- This one, I really think shouldn't be on the album, actually. Its a bit to long, and a littl boring for my taste, so it has similarities with Jacob's Ladder. The lyrics, I really don't know what they mean. I really couldn't tell you what they symbolize with Neil, or anyone else in the band. The only really interesting part of the song is that its got really great guitar solos, but the music itself is a little bit too boring to be listenable. As I have said before, something the album would do without greatly. 4.5/10

The album has really strong parts, and it has many weak parts, but definatly not a bad album.

Report this review (#195292)
Posted Saturday, December 27, 2008 | Review Permalink
Crossover Team
5 stars Rush's 1980 release of Permanent Waves showed a shift in musical priorities for the group and can be considered the first transitional album into a more radio-friendly environment, but still retaining strong progressive rock elements. It also showed the continuing transition of making keyboards a more dominant instrument in the group's sound. This had been evolving steadily on their previous two releases, A Farewell to Kings (1977) and Hemispheres (1978).

While this shift kept the group from composing 10+ minute-long epic (something I surely miss from the later Rush years of the 1980s and 1990s), it attracted a whole legion of fans with their radio hits The Spirit of Radio (appropriately titled!) and Freewill. Entre Nous was also a beautiful example of the effective blend of keyboards into this new, more compact style of Rush's music; a precursor of what would appear on several albums throughout the 1980s and into the early 1990s.

Still, Rush continued to display their talents on the slightly longer songs, like the killer Jacob's Ladder and the amazing Natural Science. Production improved and Lee's vocals continued to mature. The end result is another five-star masterpiece. It may not have the epic-like qualities of prior albums, but it surely makes up for it with the improved production, skilled musicianship, and better vocal deliveries. Highly recommended.

Report this review (#199756)
Posted Monday, January 19, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars A quantum leap forward, in time and in space...

Another extremely powerful release from the trio from Canada during their classic period, Permanent Waves is most well known in the music world for The Spirit of Radio, Freewill, and Jacob's Ladder, all of which have become well-established Rush classics and often performed live. But if you only focus on those three tracks, then you're forgetting the other half of the album. Here marks a clear change away from Hemispheres and towards what would become Moving Pictures, often considered the pinnacle Rush album. However, this one is no slouch either. Absolute musical perfection right here as far as I'm concerned.

My two favorite tracks on here are Jacob's Ladder and Natural Science. The first is one of them because of that great thundering, pompous, and driving bass and drum work, as well as the heaven-esque synths. Everything about that song just speaks of majesty to me. Natural Science has that beautiful sound and feeling of rushing water with Geddy's singing and the acoustic guitar evokes such a tender feeling from me that it sends chills down my spine whenever I hear it. This is of course before the racey guitars and whirling synths come in. To me, this is easily one of the best songs that Rush ever wrote, and very few songs can top it.

I wish I could have made this review a bit longer, but it seems fine the way it is. If I had to rank my favorite Rush albums, this one would round out my top 5. I see no reason to not give this 5 stars. Catchy, yet highly progressive and an absolute masterpiece.

Report this review (#200611)
Posted Sunday, January 25, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars It's not correct to indicate Permanent Waves as an album where Rush leave the prog-rock structures. Because those structures are still present and not less then the last three album 2112, A Farewell To Kings and Hemispheres. But surely is right to say that it is the first step to a more radio-friendly sound. Songs such as The Spirit Of Radio, Freewill and Entre Nous are good to be played on the radio. But also these songs have complex riffs, solos, changes of tempo and melodies in a perfect prog-rock style! But there are still lomng songs such as Jacob's Ladder and Natural Science where atmospheres and passages are il full 70's prog-rock style.

But we're very far from hard rock influences and there is more synthesizer.

This is one of my favourite by Rush and the main reason is the high variety it can offer. Composed of 6 songs, every songs seems different from each other. The Spirit Of Radio is a very good song with complex passages changes of tempo and some little keyboard inserts... and also a reggae-like part! The beginning of Freewill could have inspired a lot of musician of modern prog rock; it is a good song with a good rythm and good synth backgrounds... and also a good instrumental parts were a great bass line is the background of a great guitar solo. Jacob's Ladder is one of the best song Rush have ever written! It has got epic and dark atmosphere with a good work of the synthesizers. Entre Nous is a easy song that alternates traditional guitar riffs, parts with acoustic guitars and hard synths. Different Strings is a melodic ballad with soft guitars and piano inserts played by Hugh Syme who already collabored with them playing mellotron in Tears from the 2112 album. Natural Science starts with the sound of a river with soft acoustic guitars followed by complex and speed guitar riffs and also keyboard background and some heavy synth.

Simply a masterpiece by Rush! But listen to it only after you've listened to the last three masterpieces!

Report this review (#205358)
Posted Wednesday, March 4, 2009 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
5 stars 'Permanent Waves' - Rush (9/10)

'Permanent Waves' represents a new stage in the band's development. Musically, the prog was starting to be melded with a new, more commercial approach. It is through this move that Rush experienced it's most commercially acclaimed period. 'Hemispheres' was obviously going to be a hard effort to top, but Rush was able to put together a record that while not beating it's predecessor, harbours a quality and flavour of it's own.

The record starts with one of Rush's most well-known and radio played pieces, 'The Spirit Of Radio.' The guitar work for the signature riff of this song is intense, and is very hard to play. There is prog to be had here, but unlike 'Hemispheres,' which was content to go on along with it's long song lengths and comparatively uncommercial approach, there's also an optimistic radio-friendly sound on here... An AOR sound that helped Rush to become as popular and influential as they are. While commercialism generally is frowned upon (especially by prog audiences) there's no fault here, and it's done in such a way where it only makes the music more listenable.

'Permanent Waves' is an easier album to simply sit down and enjoy, as opposed to '2112' or 'Hemispheres,' which needs a bit of audience participation and attention to really appreciate. It's music that can be played while driving, or while working out. There's good energy here (for the most part, songs like 'Different Strings' convey a more balladesque style.) The 'epic' 'Natural Science' unfortunately is probably the weakest epic Rush ever composed. Taken into consideration though is the fact that the song was written and arranged in a relatively short time (less than a week.) The production and sound effects on the song are very cool, such as the vocal effects towards the middle of the song. 'Natural Science' also has a strange evocation of progressive metal, despite the fact that the genre itself didn't come into major play until ten years later. The 'intense' part of the song sounds like a very fitting precursor to Dream Theater. If you listen to it, you'll know what I mean.

'Permanent Waves' is worthy of five stars, but not an essential masterpiece of progressive music. Despite some very great songs, it has a comparatively less-strong middle section. A great prequel to the band's masterpiece however, 'Moving Pictures.' This album comes highly recommended, even if it's not as highly recommended as the masterworks.

Report this review (#205799)
Posted Sunday, March 8, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars Permanent Waves was announced as departure from style Rush presented in 70's but in fact it was recorded and released in 70's cos 1980 it's still 70's decade. So I don't know why guys wanted to have this 01-01-1980 date of release and first album of 80's. But it doesn't matter. Permanent Waves still sounds like everything they did in 70's and the difference between this and Hemispheres lies somewhere else. Guys decided to add some new experiments and new riffs. That's why people say it was major departure from archaic style of 2112, Farewell to Kings and Hemispheres. Of course they are right because Rush on Permanent Waves are more mature band and explore new levels. But the sound couldn't differ much. Alex still uses his Gibson ES 355 and it's that raw meaty sound. Spirit Of Radio was a hit and because guys played that reggae like part in the end of that song people could dance to that. In fact it was parody of Paul Simon song but thick head prog fans didn't care. They said "Rush went commercial" so they didn't care Jacob's Ladder was fantastic piece of music with lots of pure instrumental parts and amazing solos, they didn't care Natural Science is great epic concept of three parts played with passion and precision not to mention that technically it's light years ahead of Cygnus 1,2,3,123,456656 and the other stuff they probably wanted to hear on this album. They don't care for Freewill and Entre Nous and of course that beautiful ballad Different Strings which is very similar to Twilight Zone of 2112 they praise. We have 6 songs here, same as on Farewell To Kings. But on Farewell To Kings only 2 songs were truly progressive (the longest ones though). Here it's a real progress. Many progressive bands of 80's and 90's copied Rush and ideas from this album. Voivod on their masterpiece Nothingface or Fates Warning on their perfect Perfect Symmetry. So don't even ask me if it's classic cos it's so obvious. Better than anything done before by Rush.
Report this review (#211963)
Posted Tuesday, April 21, 2009 | Review Permalink
The Sleepwalker
5 stars Permanent Waves is a huge leap forward from Rush's previous album, Hemispheres. In my opinion, this is Rush's masterpiece. It's really easy to hear the progress in the sound of different Rush albums. The synthesizer has a much bigger role than ever before, and its role will be even bigger on following albums. Musically this album is incredible. Alex throws some crunchy riffs and as a bassist myself it's undeniable that Geddy Lee's incredible bass playing is a very important factor for Rush's distinctive sound.

The album kicks off with a striking intro of "The Spirit Of radio". This song is quite radio friendly, but a stunning piece nevertheless. The song features some groovy riffs, making it a very catchy piece. Another radio friendly track follows. "Freewill" is among Rush's very best. It features some catchy riffs and great lyrics. Don't let its radio friendliness fool you though, as the song is very complicated. In this stage of their career Rush relies less on epic tracks and more on shorter pieces, unlike on previous albums. Permanent Waves features two epic tracks though. The first of them is "Jacob's Ladder", an astounding piece of music. The song starts with a march-like rythm with some vocals on top. The vocals are scarce in this song, as it relies mainly on incredible instrumentation. After some ominous and heavy riffs, the songs takes a softer direction, only to slowly build up to a wonderful climax.

The next song, "Entre Nous" was oddly issued as a single. In my opinion songs like "Freewill" would be much better candidates for this. Nevertheless, "Entre Nous" is a very good song, though probably the least interesting of the album. Next is a ballad called "Different Strings". The song is very mezmerizing and peaceful sounding. There is a melancholic undertone though. A fading guitar solo takes the listener to the sound of streaming water. An ambient guitar comes in and the absolute epic of this album starts. "Natural Science" is most definitely the most epic piece on the album. The song takes the listener through various parts and themes. From a soaring acoustic guitar introduction the song moves to what might very well be Rush's heaviest thing so far. This middle section of the song has been incredible important for inspiring the sound of several future prog metal bands. The third part of the song is much less agressive than the middle section, and takes us to the sounds of streaming water again, just to close the album in a brilliant way.

Every time I listen to this album it's a wonderful experience. This truly is the absolute highlight in Rush's career. This masterpiece deserves five stars, and absolutely nothing less!

Report this review (#218394)
Posted Tuesday, May 26, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars While sometimes rather straightforward, this is a good Rush release to have. Permanent waves contains pretty much everything in Rush's 'signature sound' of hard rock with prog and will be sure to please the fans, and it contains a few synthesizers in the mix, a sure indicator of what is to come.

As soon as the album kicks off with "The Spirit of Radio", it becomes apparent that this is definetely a more-intelligent-than-average type band. As Alex Lifeson plays a tricky introguitar line to the song Neal Peart and Geddy Lee do some killer bass and drum interplay with complex runs up and down with tricky rhythms clashing with the tempo of the intro. The rest of the song holds little surprises after that, though it's still a fun song.

The rest of the album is similar to the track, though the moods and overal sounds of the songs vary quite a bit. The hard rock sound is by far the most prominent sound on the album, though there is a clear prog influence with some odd times in quite a few songs. However, sometimes the band suffers from using these, like in "Freewill" where it seems that they couldn't come up with a creative vocal line so Lee ended up singing the lyrics note- for-note along with the riff, creating a song which may leave more to be desired than using odd time signatures for the sake of them. However, they make up for this in "Jacob's Ladder", and while using an alternating 5/4 and 6/4 pattern, there are beautiful synths and vocals above the quietly picked guitar.

Of course, the album is still uneven although it does contain a couple standouts. The beginning tracks on side two, "Entre Nous" and "Different Strings", are really not notable softer type songs, sometimes containing more progressive parts, but those parts really don't do anything to bring up the average quality of the songs. Of course, these are followed by "Natural Science", which is a killer track with all the elements that make a great Rush track, with energetic guitar riffs and weird times all over the place, all over a great 9-minute journey. "Natural Science" may possibly be the track that makes the whole album worthwile, along with "Jacob's Ladder"

Overall, it's mostly just a good album. Rush fans will be all over it, and fans of hard rock and prog should enjoy it too.

Report this review (#219975)
Posted Friday, June 5, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars As soon as they master a style, they wave it goodbye, permanently.

In this case, they wave goodbye to progressive hard rock that relies heavily on their roots, to punching deep into almost symphonic territory. It seems as if they are hell bent on not completely pleasing anyone on this record, which means they pleased me.

Culling resources and musical adventures form their last few albums, they culminate in one of Rush's most powerful releases. Even the supposed radio hits bark ferociously. Spirit of Radio has such a talented and catching introduction. The writing seems very much more carefully crafted, and the band has grown even better at working together. Where previous efforts had them at times going off to "noodle around" without adherence to their fellow performers, which led to a weak and disjointed affair. Here, they coalesce firmly and signal that this is indeed the product of a considerate and meticulously thought out performing band. Spirit Of Radio rocks hard, and the ending solo is quite enjoyable.

Freewill is perhaps a dip in quality, and the keyboard effects aren't brilliant, but it is all solid and cohesive, making for a strong and terse atmosphere adding deftly to the album's flow. This is just too simplistic and shallow for Rush to do more than score a radio hit, though. I like the song, but it is a marked drop in quality over the biting opener.

One thing I enjoy, is the overall darker tone (oh, it is still bright and shiny) but things seem to be different. They seem to want a victory, and Alex's playing is absolutely vicious in its coordinated vitriol. That doesn't save the more plain and shallow moments from being just that, but it does add bite to a barking dog like Rush have been. They prove the size of their teeth match well with the size of their minds.

Jacob's Ladder is the darkest song Rush ever made. It plods along slowly, and uses well of the keyboard effects. The emotional resonance is powerful, and the boys cull a wide range of musical ideas for it. Certainly a career highlight, those dangerous and hateful guitar lines that Lifeson strangles you with. Still, too much "down time" where nothing seems to be happening plagues them. The keyboards need room to breath, but when they are performed admittedly weakly by Rush, I'd prefer them to be smothering it. This is a microcosm of Rush, itself. A highly talented band, and one who works hard to craft their ideas, but ultimately fall to the wayside in terms of compositional reference.

Entre Nous feels like more of the same, and that is a normal occurrence for Rush, but here it is a bit more tolerable. Here, where they are biting hard while other top name progressive bands were toning down their voice, it seems Rush were slowly ascending to venomous spitfire and hard edged fierceness. Still, this is perhaps the worst song on here. It doesn't go anywhere, and adds nothing to the sound. A simple and weak track that makes a stark monolith in a sea of very high quality work. Mediocre. Different Strings wants to dip even farther. I hate this, because if Rush could keep up the consistency, this record could have been mammoth in its release. The downtrodden sound falls short of reaching the gargantuan heights set by Jacob's Ladder.

The finale is left to Natural Science. It builds up well, but fails to interest me for the most part. Geddy reaches to his vocal history the most, here, so I can see why classic Rush fans would enjoy it, but the songwriting is no stronger than say Cygnus or Xanadu, which is to say quite good. The riff bores me, honestly, but the band building up and gaining momentum is only offset by their reliance on the "Rush" sound. The keyboards add a fine touch, and they implement the instrument skillfully into their repertoire, but the song just doesn't have the emotional edge other songs do, nor does the songwriting reach more than a longer version of one of their more rock oriented songs. The guitar wailing at the end is some of the best you'll here from these folks, and that makes up for some of the meandering.

Definitely their most complete and focused release, and a testament to their tenacity. Small filler moments pop up, and a couple songs just don't feel like anything but filler (Entre Nous and Different Strings), but it is competent filler, and certainly isn't pleasant. Too many seemingly mindless drifts in the longer songs also seek to bloat and otherwise maim an undeniably strong release. All that being said, this is Rush at their creative and coherent peak.

Best Moment - Jacob's Ladder

Worst Moment - Entre Nous/Different Strings, but they aren't offensive.

****1/2 Permanent Stars

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Posted Sunday, June 7, 2009 | Review Permalink
Eclectic Prog Team
5 stars I consider this to be one of Rush's finest moments. While the album is admittedly short, even for vinyl standards, there is zero filler, as every second is infused with creativity and intelligence. Geddy Lee fires off some excellent bass parts throughout while sounding at his best vocally. Alex Lifeson mainly holds down the rhythm with some highly inventive riffs, yet does not at all disappoint when he takes off with a blazing solo. Neil Peart contributes with more "in the pocket" drumming on this album, as well as his ever-inspired lyrics. These lyrics are expertly penned, generally scientific and yet without coming across as pedantic.

"The Spirit of Radio" One of Rush's radio hits, appropriately enough, this is a fantastic yet simple song. The music stays upbeat and the lyrics are brilliant. There's some difficult bass licks stuck inside this one, as well as a "bristling" guitar riff. More than anything, this is a fun way to kick off the album.

"Freewill" One of my favorite Rush songs of all time, this piece has it all in a concise five-and-a-half minutes: A stellar main riff, intellectual lyrics, odd time signatures, a catchy chorus, a gritty bass solo that's all over the place, guitar shredding, and killer drumming. The words are some of the best and most thoughtful ever penned.

"Jacob's Ladder" Steady bass, static keyboard, bright guitar, and a light marching snare over an 11/4 time signature make for an intriguing beginning. A synthesizer line, which sounds a bit like the main riff from "Subdivisions," occurs halfway through, with Lee's voice recorded through some warbling effects. This is an extremely great example of restrained progressive rock music.

"Entre Nous" One of the greatest overlooked gems in Rush's vast history, this one has a great opening riff and an equally great vocal melody. I love how the crunchy electric guitar during the verses is contrasted with the acoustic on the brilliant chorus. In addition, there's a basic synthesizer solo over more dynamic bass.

"Different Strings" Yet another often unnoticed work of brilliance, this has soft guitar and a likewise gentle vocal performance. This (like "Jacob's Ladder" is a great example of how a virtuosic band institutes restraint.

"Natural Science" I first heard this song live, and was floored when I did. It begins with watery sounds, simple acoustic guitar chords, and a galactic-sounding lead vocal. The lyrics are quite remarkable- some of the most meditatively scientific Peart has written. They compare a microcosmic world to the one in which we live. There are various sections to this lengthiest track, with different riffs that keep it fresh and invigorating. Lee's bass work during the excellent guitar solo implies a simplistic chord progression, but is incredibly vibrant. What an impressive way to end such a stellar album!

Report this review (#239405)
Posted Tuesday, September 15, 2009 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars First Rush classic album ( ok, to be more correct - "Rush middle period classic album"if you want).

I perfectly understand , that Rush fans are often divided into three groups. Some of them prefer Rush earlier sound ( in fact, hard rock with some prog elements, but heavy in screaming vocal,guitars and rhythm). I like some of their works of that period as well, but don't think that Rush will be known for a years because of that time music.

Another listeners ( generally young generation) like Rush sound starting from "Signals", where they were more synth-driven group with some "new wave"elements. No guitar sound anymore. I don't like it at all, but believe, that some their albums of that period are even better than faceless boring neo-prog of the same period.

As for me ( and I believe, there are plenty of proggers thinking like that) Rush golden period is short time starting from possibly "Hemispheres" and finishing with "Signals" . Excellent mix of heavy rock, complex art-prog, guitar driven multitextured sound and bright melodies. Albums are usually very focused, consists of songs,which are not too long ( often atribute of prog, but without nothing inside,just burning your time), not too short, just as its should be. Best compositions (incl. some perfect instrumentals), highest musician's form.

So, "Permanent Waves"is album from that period, and album is good. Near their peak and one of the best album from american progresive rock of all times - "Moving Pictures".

OK, there are still some unfocused moments, some longevities without serious reason, but generally very good album.

Report this review (#241263)
Posted Friday, September 25, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars Ah, Rush. Canada's primier prog rock band. Rush's history has been a long winding one full of many changes in direction. Starting off as a pure hard rock band, they began to incorporate more progressives elements into their music. Then came an era flooding with synthesizers, before abandoning the synths altogther in favor of a sound not far off from modern rock.

On this particular album, Permanent Waves, the band begins to (somewhat) shed the prog sounds of Hemispheres and A Farewell to Kings and adopts a more mainstream sound, the best example of this is ''The Spirit of Radio'', beginning with a catchy guitar melody, a short sprint of technicality from Neil Peart and Geddy Lee, and moving into the main body of the song. This song in particular is Rush's first flirtation with reggae influences. Synths are gradually becoming more prominent here, though their use is not as full-blown as it would become in the Signals era.

Neil Peart's lyrics remain thoughtful and profound, while his drumming is still of very high standard. Geddy Lee completes the rhythm section with his exceptional bass playing. As should be the case with any good bass player, his basslines really stand out and add many dimensions to the music. His vocal style is changing here, with his voice no longer shrieking, instead opting for a more restrained and controlled approach. Alex Lifeson's guitar skill is marvelous; his solo during ''Freewill'' is his best up to this point in Rush's history.

Rush entered the 1980's in great form with this album, and would only get better with the release of Moving Pictures the following year, 1981. This album is not to be missed!

Report this review (#243764)
Posted Friday, October 9, 2009 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
3 stars Permanent Waves was the turning point that would launch Rush nicely into the new decade. They shed most of the progressive tendencies that had defined the preceding albums and frankly, that was a good thing. Not because I don't like Farewell To Kings or Hemispheres, but because I think Rush would prove to be best at easy when writing in a more concise song format.

It is a difficult album to rate. On one side, it is defining for Rush's career, it has some amazing songs of which Jacob's Ladder is the standout.

On the other hand the album is a bit on the short side. When discarding the trite ballad Entre Nous), I count 30 minutes. But also the other ballad Different Strings is hardly essential and reminds me of the filler tracks they had on 2112 and Farewell to Kings. The remainder of the tracks are very good but are featured abundantly on all live albums.

On top of that the album sounds rather dry and lacks a bit of punch. And to give it a final blow here, the following album Moving Pictures would continue and perfect this style of Rush music. All those reason would point towards 3 stars.

I guess it is justified to put it in between those two and your appreciation may largely rely on the moment when you picked it up. I picked it up in 1986 after I had heard all other albums from Rush's back catalogue and it didn't add much really.

If you have followed a more chronological route, then this album will obviously be more defining and important. But I can't give 4 stars to a 35 minute album featuring Entre Nous.

Report this review (#254254)
Posted Friday, December 4, 2009 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Transition album lacking the best of both styles

Permanent Waves was the transition album from "epic" period Rush of long, winding monsters like Hemispheres to the rock masterpiece of Moving Pictures. It is one of their highest rated albums on the site but I'm in the minority of reviewers who find it a bit on the uneven side. The first two tracks are pointing towards what was coming in earnest on the next release though neither match the quality in songwriting. "The Spirit of Radio" became a huge concert favorite for the band and "Freewill" contains some unbelievable chops by all three that still amaze me. Then comes the highlight which is the dark and brooding "Jacob's Ladder." I just love the snare rolls Peart peels off during the intro. Then Geddy delivers the dramatic, stormy lyrics over the ominous rhythm with some nice keys in the background. It swells into a huge opus with some jaw dropping leads by Lifeson. Like my friend John I have memories of this era Rush which come flooding back when hearing songs like this. Side two is where things drop off pretty substantially with the mediocre "Entre Nous" and "Different Strings". "Entre" is particularly weak with its tiring chorus, "Strings" is a decent piece with interesting downbeat mood but nothing exceptional. The short album closes with its longest track "Natural Science" which despite some interesting change-ups and the usual great playing, doesn't get to where "Xanadu" or "La Villa" took us. Permanent Waves is certainly not a bad album and any Rush fan will appreciate it, but for me it's simply a good album. Each of the next three albums have held up better, and are more interesting and meaningful to me over the decades.

Report this review (#260403)
Posted Monday, January 11, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars This 1980 release has always been my favorite Rush album, with Farewell to Kings being a close second. There is not a weak track on this album with "Different Strings" being a bit less great than the rest but still good. The first 2 songs are fine rock, although not totally progressive. Still- no complaints. "Jacobs Ladder" and "Natural Science" are the prog classics here. "Entres Nous" is also good. This albums sets the stage for a new Rush with Geddy Lee's vocals being more "normal" and less piercing. I think this album segued well into their next effort Moving Pictures. They seem, to me at least, to be very similar albums, although I like this one more and play it more. Not a perfect 5 star album but a solid 4-4/12 effort.
Report this review (#275823)
Posted Thursday, April 1, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars In a 1980's interview, Rush said that they no longer felt like they had "anything left to prove" after Hemispheres. They were now free to "move on" to create the "best songs" they possibly could. Not the most complicated songs. Not the most impressive solos. The "best songs".

While "best songs" is certainly a very subjective standard, I must concede that on "Permanent Waves" the songs are catchier, the writing more concise, the musicianship impeccable, the production professional, and the album a huge success.

Rush doesn't abandon Prog territory as much as they refine, condense and distill it into a more compelling, concentrated form of album rock music. Each album side ends in a prog climax (Side One's "Jacob's Ladder" and Side Two's 3-part closer "Natural Science").

Again we get under 36 minutes of music on the album. But there is no filler! It is no secret that Rush liked to compose a softer song in the studio "off the cuff" so to speak. But even "Different Strings" attains a delicate immediacy from Lifeson's passionate ending guitar solo.

A supurb prog rock album, even if it does mark the begining of a new, streamlined era for the band.

Report this review (#280738)
Posted Thursday, May 6, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars Ok, another masterpiece, even though they were moving into quite damned territories, Rush still were able to do it better than anyone else.

The one thing that I loved about this album was that it was just straight to the point, quite short and compactable and easily digestable with some amazing songs. I always find that short albums can either be good or bad, depending on the quality of all the songs as a whole.

Yes, more synths, less guitar and bass, but a very heavy drum sound.

Neal's lyrics were also probabbly the best they have ever been.

1. The Spirit Of Radio - How can you not love this song, it's basically a prog anthem, and a song that most people use to express their freedom and love of the art of music ( I tend just to use the Telletubbies song, to be honest). Yes, with some amazing guitar work, this song is a classic Rush song.

2. Freewill - Wow, what an amazing bassist Geddy is. God, his fingers must be bleeding everytime he plays this. Great chorus and some amazing guitar work from Alex.

3. Jacob's Ladder - This is a very underlooked Rush song, for some reason it doesn't get the recognition I feel it deserves. The best bits of this song are the accapella sections where Geddy is only accompanied by moog.

4. Entre Nous - In my opinion, the best chorus of the album. I only just noticed that Entre Noue translates to just between us, haha typical me.

5. Different Strings - The more relaxed moment of the album. Great vocals and the atompshere of te song is amazing.

6. Natural Science - It's obvious where Dream Theater got most of their influence from. Yes this song is much shorter than most Rush epics, being just under 10 minutes, but still pretty much affective. Amazing instrumental work, especially from the moog and synthesizers. Amazing song.

CONCLUSION: Their prog years slowly comes to a hault, but this album seems to do them justice, being one of the greatest albums from the 80's.

Report this review (#282068)
Posted Saturday, May 15, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars "Permanent Waves" is rather short, clocking in around 35 minutes, but what a 35 minutes though! Excellent music throughout the album. "PW" seems to be the last of the pack in an array of heavy, progressive rock throughout the 70s era, alongside "2112", "Hemispheres", and "A Farewell to Kings" before the mainstream success of "Moving Pictures". A consistent approach to this album, creating enjoyable songs that will never cease to be. Strong efforts here are clearly seen, producing strong results. Recommended for those who are more ensconced in classic rock and of course for anyone curious about Rush, this would be a great album to begin with.

1. "The Spirit of Radio" - 9/10

2. "Freewill" - 9/10

3. "Jacob's Ladder" - 8.5/10

4. "Entre Nous" - 8.5/10

5. "Different Strings" - 9/10

6. "Natural Science" - 10/10

54/6 = 90%, 5 stars, barely! When listened to as a whole, it's definitely more of a 5 star experience.

Report this review (#287921)
Posted Tuesday, June 22, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars There weren't many bands from the 70's that clearly improved with the beginning of the 80's as much as Rush did. This album isn't as different from their previous work as I used to think, but it feels different, and that means a lot for me. Yes, it's still largely tied to prog rock (I mean, it is a full length album with six tracks), and it's bombastic in places, but this album is not juvenile. It's very geeky in places, yes, and overly simplified philosophically in others, but Rush finally feels to me like it's grown up (or at least advanced further in puberty). The band has taken its core sound and made it more accessible, but without coming within a hundred miles of "selling out" or anything like that. It's my understanding that critics of the day largely knocked them for not coming up with a truly original sound, and that has a point, but the band came up with a plenty enjoyable stew of influences, so I'm not terribly bothered by this brand of new-wave progressive pop rock. The songwriting dips noticably in the middle, but aside from that, this is a very nice album, and definitely the band's best yet.

The first two tracks are two of the best known, and best, tracks the band ever did. "The Spirit of Radio" does a lot of things well, and much of what it does mines familiar territory (the awesome "rolling" guitar riff, a lot of cool processed guitar noise in Lifeson's sound in the middle), but there are some nice new twists. There's a goofy (but great) reggae-ish section near the end (which was used in a Burger King Kids Club commercial in the late 90's), a repeated neat sequence where the riff launches itself off of some simple keyboard lines, a melody that actually has an effective pop feel, and even lyrics that I find very good (if a bit labored in the typical Peart way). Plus, the song has a feeling of joy I've never really felt in a Rush song before; it's so nice to feel such a friendly vibe when Geddy sings, "Begin the day with a friendly voice," and I can feel that the band really has a love for good music and those radio stations that play it. Yup, this here is a great song.

"Free Will" is a classic too, dagnabbit. The lyrics are dumb, yes, and the chorus just sounds a bit too much (both lyrically and musically) like what I'd expect to be the climactic song in a Broadway musical about the life of Ayn Rand, but it's still a great song. The basslines are ridiculously entertaining, the vocal melody is fun, the mid-song jam sounds interesting every time I hear it, and yes, I even like the chorus, despite myself. For better or worse, this song has become one of Rush's calling cards through the years, and I know that, were I ever to go to a Rush concert and not hear it, I'd be very disappointed.

Unfortunately, the album gets noticably weaker after the second best opening 1-2 punch in the band's catalogue. I used to consider "Jacob's Ladder" close to the best song on the album, but I'm much less thrilled with it than I used to be, even though I consider it quite good and overly maligned by many. The song is basically Rush's interpretation of a lightning storm, not from within the storm itself (if so, it would be a lot louder and faster and more spastic), but rather from a distance, watching the clouds gather and lightning flash far away. From that perspective I find it to be quite atmospheric, menacing and even powerful; it has a lot of tension in its leaden, mid-tempo jamming, and the lyrics only enhance the experience and never detract from it. It's kinda boring in terms of not going anywhere and in terms of how few ideas it has, but those ideas are basically done well enough.

The second side, honestly, starts as a bit of a disappointment for me, with two pop ballads that might represent new stylistic ground for the band but don't suggest it was a good direction for them. "Entre Nous" only has a decent introduction and that interesting melody with the "Just between us, I think it's time for us to recognize" part; otherwise, I find the song quite bland. I've listened to "Different Strings" plenty of times, and except for a single line in the middle, I've found it continues not to make any lasting impression on me. I don't hate the track, but I don't really like it much either.

I like the album closer, "Natural Science," way more than I probably should, though. One should always have a slight suspicion when Rush makes 9 minute songs, but I think this one is just magnificent. The lyrics are sometimes hilariously dumb ("A quantum leap forward in time and space!"), but the music is great. The acoustic intro is beautiful, the middle third is memorable, catchy and complex at once, and the final third is grandiose without being annoying. What else could you possibly want from a Rush epic? I could listen to this twenty times in a row and not get as sick of it as I do from one listen to "Cygnus X-1."

I find this album weaker than I used to, but it's still great by Rush's standards. It goes without saying that any Rush fan should have this, and even people who don't like Rush should have this in their collections.

Report this review (#294030)
Posted Tuesday, August 10, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars In the day after their masterpiece, Rush recorded a fabulous album ! Things became different then, the bands sounds softer, the distorted guitar riffs so common in hard rock was attenuated; and this transition was conducted without causing disturbance to our ears. As this is another album I am going to rate as five stars, I will try to be as clear as possible about the supporting reasons ? necessarily strong - for this high rate level :

1 ? There is no weak song in this album. Even a song like The Spirit Of The Radio, considered to be radio friend, presents itself as a high quality and powerful song. This absence of weak songs makes this album better than, for example, A Farewell To Kings, IMHO.

2 ? Jacob´s Ladder and Natural Science are two fantastic progressive songs. To my point of view, both of them are better than Xanadu and equals La Villa Strangiato and Hemispheres (the song).

3 ? This would be a four and a half star, not five. It is strong, but that kind of radio friend touch slightly decreases its flavor. I put it to five stars trying to accommodate things and not make it rated in the same way of Signals or Grace Under Pressure. It may be not fair, but this is the way things are?

4 ? Thirty years ago it was my favorite album. I am more mature by means of music (maybe only in musical issues?), my tastes are now close to those brilliant monsters from Canterbury Scene, for instance; but Permanent Waves has its story with me. I give a great load to this kind of particular story involving music and ourselves?

So this is Permanent Waves. Filled with great songs, master songs and no real weak moments. And a preferred album in those long time passed teen year of mine. Now, next review will be Moving Pictures. Will I get be coherent on all these Rush´s assessments ??

Report this review (#296639)
Posted Sunday, August 29, 2010 | Review Permalink
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.

Report this review (#353602)
Posted Wednesday, December 15, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars Another great masterpiece of the canadians.After albums enough toward a more progressive side and "epic", the sound here is more commercial than previous albums (is it because they had reached 80 years?), but even so the songs become weaker, however, all are very good! This album may not have made the success of its successor (which is still the magnum-opus of the band for me) but here's one of their biggest hits "The Spirit of Radio", which opens the album with energy.The other tracks are no less great, though "Natural Science" really stands out: it is a mini-epic, perhaps not as "2112" or "Cygnus -X1, but highly progressive and good-worked.A perfect music for an perfect album.5 stars.
Report this review (#372631)
Posted Tuesday, January 4, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars Easily the second most consistent Rush album. The band, along with the rest of the musical community, were changing. Rush had always had an amazing way of changing with the times and never getting stale, always selling great records after one another and making some of the best music. Permanent Waves marks a huge musical shift in the bands style, as the pop, punk and new wave influences were more apperant than ever with this album.

1.The Spirit of Radio - The star of the whole album, the opening track is completely killer. The insane technically ability possessed by Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson and Neil Peart has never been put to better use on a pop track than this one. While still retaining the obvious progressive elements, reggea and new wave play a huge role in the bands sound on this track. The lyrics, witty and true, are about the old days off good radio and the newer, yet stale airwaves. Ironically, the band got huge airplay with this track, and without question. Lee's vocal has change hugely since Hemispheres, as he sounds much less like Robert Plant and more like himself. Lifeson's almighty riffage is loud and electric, as are Pearts perfect percussion sounds. A classic track, and one not to be missed. (10/10)

2.Freewill - Another perfect track, two in a row. This song, along with the opening track, have gotten considerable airplay. Incredible lyrics, firey songwriting and tight instrumental play, the band have truely got something on this song. Lifeson's guitar playing throughout is obviously skilled, and Lee's bass lines and solo's are huge signs of the best bass virtuoso this side of the world. Peart's drumming needs no introduction, but his playing still so clean and polished that it may seem like a machine, yet it's totally fluid and emotional in places. The song just kicks so much ass on so many levels. (10/10)

3.Jacob's Ladder - Along with the final track on the album, it stands as one of the more progressive numbers on the album (not saying that the others aren't without their share or Art Rock sensibilites or progressive tendencies). The song is mainly instrumental, yet the lyrics that are here are much more biblical than anything else. Lee sings with pure passion in one of my favourite vocal performances on the whole album. The playing from everyone is excellent and extremely tight, as the band has some type of synergy that cannot be blocked. Lee and Lifeson's riffing is full of soul and power, and Pearts beats are always complicated and intense. Mini-moog flourishes are always there, keeping a symphonic edge on the frightening music. One of the most sopisticated songs on the album. (10/10)

4.Entre Nous - Though not as memorable as the first three tracks, the song has a certain edge of pop to it that makes it seem much more than it really is. The songs riff has been hugely influential to me, as the playing from Lifeson is very stellar. Lee's vocal performance is very laid back, and sounds very mature when compared to the previous year. Pearts lyrics are different from anything he has done from any other song, yet it works well with the music (even if im not particularly fond of the subject). An excellent song, but still not a top cut. (8.5/10)

5.Different Strings - The only "ballad" type of track on the whole album, yet the band plays it off amazingly. The track is one of my favourites, as the chord progressions are my favourite, as are the Tolkein inspired lyrics. The song embodies a type of class within the band, as the clean production and smooth vocal of Lee brings an odd yet true song. (9/10)

6.Natural Science - The final track on the album is a total epic of some sorts. The song starts with slow moving water or shoreline, and slow moving vocal and acoustic guitar from Lifeson. The way that the chords are laid out are amazing, as the two play with such an intense power and stride for the best. Pearts lyrics throughout the whole song are excellent, experience a trip of the concept of natural science. As the acoustic part of the song ends, the song gets much more intense and electric. The song is really symphonic and dark in changes, as it remains a favourite of mine from the album. A classic, even if it is unheard of by the masses. (10/10)

Though many people complain about the more poppy direction that the band was going in, the still released excellent and even progressive albums, as their high skill and virtuosity cannot be matched by many bands in their category. The album gets a 5 stars because it's easily one of my favourites of their great albums.

Report this review (#380516)
Posted Saturday, January 15, 2011 | Review Permalink
Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
4 stars Despite not having a show stopper song like YYZ or La Vill Strangiato, this Rush album manages to be just as good as the other albums from their most progressive period.

The first side of the album, or first half of the CD has some of their most popular songs. But listen to them, and you will notice a complexity that was rare in the other hard rock bands of their time. Odd time signatures, difficult instrument parts and some deep lyrics set Rush apart from their peers. Jacob's Ladder after three decades is still one of my favorite Rush tunes.

The second half of the album tones the music down a bit, with Entre Nous and Different Strings. But both of these songs have a depth that make them compelling to me, as a prog fan. And Natural Science Closes the album on a high and heavy note.

Another must have album.

Report this review (#405847)
Posted Tuesday, February 22, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars Be warned that I am about to gush about this album.

This is right up there with GRACE UNDER PRESSURE and COUNTERPARTS for my favorite RUSH album. The opener "The Spirit of Radio" is a dangerous proposition for me; I feel compelled to do the clapping bit that they do in concert during the chorus regardless of conditions. What can I say? The song moves me. It has some great proggy instrumental work while still maintaining an accessible pop heart to it's rock moves. The reggae bit at the end I find a little weak, but it is mercifully short, so no points are deducted in my book for it.

"Free Will" used to be a song I couldn't stand, given it's narmful lyrics about free will and how if your life is crap, it's kind of your fault, but I eventually learned to tune them out and listen to the music behind it. I really feel that this is the album where they finally grabbed onto the idea of mixing their progressive, pop, hard rock and heavy metal instincts cohesively into songs as opposed to compositions, and this song is indicative of that. Good, but not great track, but a really great riff.

"Jacob's Ladder" was difficult for me to get into at first due to it's very atmospheric approach. If, say, PORCUPINE TREE had released this song, it wouldn't have taken me as long to get into; I would have known how to approach it immediately. But for Rush to release threw me for a loop. However, once you get past how different this sounds compared to their other material, it reveals itself to be a fantastic masterpiece of an epic, featuring rather moody atmospherics and some cool but subtle shifts in time signature.

The one-two punch of "Entre Nous" and "Different Strings" is my second favorite part of the album. To my ears, they're always sounded like a miniature suite, having lyrics that relate to the relationship between two lovers with serious differences. Lyrically, they complement each other well, and musically, they emphasize that Rush has always had elements of pop in them. These are two beautiful, powerful songs.

"Natural Science" is my favorite part of the album and up there with my favorite Rush tracks. It's moody, progressive, atmospheric, heavy, EVERYTHING. You can hear things in this song that would reappear on DREAM THEATER's IMAGES AND WORDS; it is clearly metal, clearly progressive, but dosed with something that makes it distinct from earlier prog rock or contemporary metal. The lyrics are the best that NEIL PEART had penned at this point, focusing on the parallels between science and our lives, especially the ephemeral nature of our existence given our mortality and how this should affect how we treat one another. A beautiful, moving, and powerful song.

All in all, I feel there is only one weaker tune on this album, but even it has some very cool parts to it. The other songs vary between being great and near-perfect. Five stars, no doubts.

Report this review (#409556)
Posted Monday, February 28, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars Okay, let me begin. This is may be my favorite Rush album, though it is definitely tied with 2112 and Moving Pictures. I think that it truly bridged the gap between the epics and the more commercial period. Moving Pictures is more consistent, but the highlights on Permanent Waves seem to be all around better than those on Moving Pictures.

The Spirit of Radio: My favorite track on the record. This song showed Rush incorporating different styles in a more accessible way, which payed off, as this song helped increase their audience by reaching 13 in England.

Freewill: Geddy's second best moment on bass (YYZ being the first) in the middle with Alex's solo makes that middle section one of the most complex and brilliant instrumental passages ever written by these guys, and this is from the guys who wrote La Villa Strangiato . The vocals right after are just insane. I mean really, who can sing that high through a verse except for Geddy?

Jacob's Ladder: Probably the low point of the record. Its not that its bad, but the riffs just seem to drag on for a while before ending.

Entre Nous: One of the most beautiful choruses they have ever done. The middle section helps point the way towards the more keyboard oriented passages, but it seems to drag for a little too long.

Different Strings: This ballad is actually pretty good. The lyrics don't seem to make all that much sense to me, but they seem to reflect on a relationship with someone you deeply care about. Nice tone on the guitar solo, too.

Natural Science: My second favorite on the album. It took me a while to get into, but after listening a few times, I realized the intricacy's of the lyrics and the music. One of Alex's best solos (he had a lot of good solos on this record) and a great vocal by Ged because it is not easy to change from soft to loud singing so instantaneously. One thing about Rush that I always love is that there never seems to be a difference between time signatures. They make 7/8 sound like regular 4/4.

Report this review (#425832)
Posted Thursday, March 31, 2011 | Review Permalink

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.

Report this review (#444034)
Posted Saturday, May 7, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars New Wave hit with a bang in the late 70s and early 80s and Rush came right on board, well sort of. After Hemispheres they were done with the long epic pieces and wanted some middle ground on the newest album which they got. Right from the opening riff of The Spirit of Radio that things were gonna be different for them. This album is full of new lush keyboards, reggae influences and single worthy songs like Spirit of Radio and Freewill. There are still longer pieces for the lovers of the old Rush with Jacob's Ladder and Natural Science which are classic tracks in their own right. Then Rush tries to give a take on the love song format with Entre Nous and Different Strings. In a way they could be one whole song but they split them up and each one is fantastic in the music and lyric department. Overall this album is a big step towards the next album but it showed they weren't afraid to change their sound and do new things. 5 stars. Highlights: The Spirit of Radio, Jacob's Ladder, Different Strings and Natural Science.
Report this review (#463390)
Posted Friday, June 17, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars "And echoes with the sounds of salesmen... "

Rush try a slightly more commercial approach, but still leave their signature sound intact.

The Good: The Spirit of Radio is not only my favourite Rush song, but also one of my favourite songs of all time. Sure it may not have the technical prowess of Xanadu or the lyrical journey of 2112, but for me the overall package is just perfect and I never tire of listening to it.

The term "commercial" is often considered taboo within the world of prog as it is generally associated with bands "selling out", but I find that it can be equally admirable to make music which is both interesting and accessible. On Permanent Waves Rush demonstrate the best of both worlds with Freewill and Natural Science...

The Bad: ...but there are also tracks which are slightly lacking such as Different Strings and Jacob's Ladder. Whilst neither are particularly bad, they aren't all that memorable either with the latter sounding like a pocket-sized rehash of Hemispheres.

The Verdict: A transitional record from Rush, Permanent Waves is to Moving Pictures what 2112 is to AFTK.

Report this review (#484296)
Posted Sunday, July 17, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars Permanent Waves is one of the most accessible and commercial records that Rush ever made and I don't mean that in a negative way. The brilliant opening double pack "The Spirit Of Radio" and "Freewill" are catchy and easy to listen to but contain still enough original guitar riffs, rhythm changes and progressive harmonies to satisfy the fans of the last outputs and not only a new target. Those two songs had everything to become two amazing hit singles and are from that point of view probably the two strongest short tracks Rush have ever written in its long and bold career.

The band still proves that they have kept the spirit of their calm and progressive moments with the strong "Jacob's Ladder". Even if one considers the high quality of many epic tracks from the previous records, this song is still a very special gem and has an outstanding atmosphere that makes it stand out and can be considered as a fan favourite on this record. It's a song that grows one you and needs some attention to dig deeper and deeper into its subtle magic.

Just when the band seems to head for a really great album and a top notch rating, something unpredictable happens. There really is a split between the first and the second half of the record. Seen from a purely technical point of view, the following songs are surely well executed and at least interesting to listen to but they sound somewhat cold, intellectual and too technical to me. They simply don't have the magic and warmth of the first three tracks and rate this album way more down than I initially expected.

That's why I feel a little bit weird about this record in the end. It has its great moments and starts very strong but loses my interest towards the end. I would still not consider it as a bad album but one of the good average records in the discography of Rush. It's definitely not the highlight that it could have been in my opinion but it's without the glimpse of a doubt a great record to kick off a wonderful decade of amazing music.

Originally published on on August 24th of the year 2011.

Report this review (#508334)
Posted Wednesday, August 24, 2011 | Review Permalink
Post/Math Rock Team
5 stars A pattern so grand and complex, Rush's sound finds a new voice with Permanent Waves,mixing strong, accessible songwriting with admirable instrumentation. Clocking in at 35:40 minutes, Permanent Waves embodies the concept of "short and sweet", and oh how sweet this album is.

Opening with "The Spirit of Radio" the album starts with a classic. Peart describes the majesty of music and the role the radio had, both good and bad. Lifeson's guitar sounds just like the radio waves themselves - giving off a sense of fluidity and a penetrable sound. The drums are complementary yet lavish, and tasteful bass licks are the sprinkles on top.

"Freewill" is another acclaimed song from Rush. The lyrics can be looked at from an obvious point-of-view. Talking about freewill and how everyone should have their own voice in society, but beneath the surface their meaning can be about atheism. The drums are in the pocket, letting the killer bass and guitar solo shine.

Like the clouds depicted in the song "Jacob's Ladder" ,the song starts off with an ominous and pulsing build-up, and then explodes into one of Lifeson's best guitar solos and continues with some great rhythm work. Geddy supports the song with strong thumping of his bass and keys that are as soothing as a staring off into the night sky. One of Rush's best and unique pieces.

"Entre Nous" is a beautifully penned song by Peart. Talking about the need for two lovers to flourish on their own, but written in a whimsical way. It's quite the catchy song and all three members are great here.

Writen by Geddy Lee, "Different Strings" is the shortest song on Permanent Waves. I believe this song is talking about the differences between people shouldn't tear them apart, and how they should remain together. The guitar remains the key point of the song, while the drums are subtle and are playing some accents with Geddy's bass.

Tying things to a close is the monster "Natural Science". Opening with the section "Tide Pools", streams of water and gulls echo. The acoustic guitar and quite vocals enter and arrange for the next section "Hyperspace". Just like the title says, the section of the song has strong momentum and feels like you are being dragged throughout a cosmic anomaly. The drums are really great here, along with the ethereal keys. The bass is aerial and flies around for the entire arrangement, blowing your mind. Ending the piece is "Permanent Waves". The vocals are great, and are accompanied by a killer guitar solo, classic Geddy bass and air-drum worthy work by Neil.

Overall Permanent Waves is an astonishingly consistent and accomplished piece of art. Highly recommended for any new Rush fan and anyone who wants to have an album that has both prog and radio quality songs.

5/5 Stars.

Report this review (#555044)
Posted Saturday, October 22, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars Having mastered the accepted conventions of prog rock on Farewell to Kings and the title track of 2112, and having taken them to excess on Hemispheres, Rush then set about changing the rules to suit their ever-evolving sound. Not a single song on Permanent Waves has a running time of more than ten minutes, but whilst Rush's revised sound is delivered in radio-friendly portions, the content of the songs themselves is as innovative and technically complex as ever.

Musically speaking, this album sees the band sitting on the cusp between metal and hard rock, with hard rock winning out on most tracks but metal still creeping in here and there, usually when Alex Lifeson decides to get a little wild with his guitar (as on Jacob's Ladder). Neil Peart's drumming is, of course, whilst Geddy Lee breaks out some really excellent bass solos. Thematically, the band steer away from fantasy and allegory in favour of a more direct lyrical message - Freewill, for instance, is a song which proves that you don't have to be angry, accusatory, or downbeat to endorse atheism, whilst opening number The Spirit of Radio is a simple song about the love of music.

But the real genius of the album is how all these ingredients, plus Rush's love of complex time signatures and so forth, is broiught together in perfectly formed little songs that are as catchy as hell, without sacrificing any of the complexity. Many other prog rock bands were trying to make their style more accessible at this time, but this was usually at the price of damping down the whole "prog" aspect of their music and leaning more towards a poppy, mainstream style. Rush were one of the few who accomplished a broadening of their appeal without compromising their musical vision, and Permanent Waves is the album they accomplished this on.

Report this review (#563269)
Posted Sunday, November 6, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars Maybe familiarity breads contempt ? I don't know.

I have had this album for two decades now and have been listening to it on an irregular basis. Not much lately though. But I have decided to complete the Rush reviews now and put this album in the CD player just to refresh my memory.

I have always rated this album very highly. Since the last time I have listened to this album, I have found some Rush songs on Youtube I really love. Strangely enough, they all comes from this album. That's the likes of Natural Science, Entre Nous, Jacob's Ladder and Different Strings. I love those songs. This is very cleverly crafted songs which in my books is excellent prog rock. This album is mostly known for it's two more straight forward rockers The Spirit of Radio and Freewill. Those are in itself excellent songs.

Permanent Waves is the album that bridges their symph prog era (their previous four albums) with their upcoming more catchy song orientated era. The likes of Moving Pictures & co. For me, this is a perfect bridge with some excellent songs. A close to perfect album in my view and to my surprise. A close to five stars album, but still rounded up to five stars. And that is one star more than I remember this album as being.

5 stars

Report this review (#565658)
Posted Thursday, November 10, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars "Still we saw the magic was fading every year"

This is the final album of Rush's classic period and, in my view, their weakest.That said, it is a deal superior to its over-hyped successor, Moving Pictures. Apart from the first two tracks, which I'm not overly keen on, the album is a thoroughly enjoyable experience. So for the first 10 minutes I'm a bit, "Ok, what's next?" but then I'm in near heaven. 25 minutes out of 35 aint half bad, as relatively weak albums go.

No prizes for guessing that the reason I don't care much for the first two is that they are clipped down, unashamedly commercial efforts by a band eager to broaden their appeal in the world of pop rock. Nevertheless, as clipped down, unashamedly commercial efforts by a band eager to broaden their appeal in the world of pop rock go - they're very good.

Spirit of Radio is incredibly annoying when you think of the reasons it was created. This was the beginning of the end of the honesty of a band which had rejected the pursuit of fame for its own sake; a band content to thrill its loyal fans with epic tales of wizardry and magic. Nevertheless it is a masterpiece of musicianship for all that. The same goes for Freewill.

Like most bands which have been around a long time, Rush get better, musically and technically, with every album; but equally, again like most of those bands, the magic - so prominent in the early years - quickly fades. You can feel it fading on Permanent Waves. In fact the magic had all but gone in Moving Pictures - gone completely after that one, never to return.

Report this review (#615712)
Posted Sunday, January 22, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars My favorite Rush album, and here's why: Through all of their previous albums, they had written many great hard rock songs, and many great progressive rock songs, some even on the same album, and their instrumental talents were continously improving with each album, but all of those elements are present and magnified on Permanent Waves. The hard rock songs here are just as good as those on Fly By Night and Side Two of 2112, but even better, with the band's ever developing prog approach woven into the songs ideally. What would "Freewill" be without the opening decending riff from Lifeson with Lee and Peart punctuating in time, and the awesome reverb applied to the chillingly expressive vocal line Lee contributes right after Lifeson's rhythm and lead alternating solo (one of his best), or "Entre Nous" without the majestic synth powered intro, with it's creatively catchy chord sequence contrasted by the "just between us" break to the chorus, or "Different Strings", a beautiful love song like none you would expect from Rush giving way to an introspective hi-hat and harmonics jam at the end, or "The Spirit of Radio" with it's ironic lyrics (I still can't believe that song gets airplay considering how cynical it is towards radio) and the mind-numbingly complex unison part right before the reggae/calypso section? Great songs, they would still be, actually. Then we have "Jacob's Ladder", a song that had to take a little time to grow on me, but I'm really glad it did - it's one of the most vision inducing musical poems (as many have called it) that I've heard, with Lee's sustained synth chords and Lifeson's distorted bursts creating just the atmosphere it's going for. "Natural Science" is right up there with the best of their prog epics, having an unorthodox structure, very original musical ideas, and great playing. The lyrics Peart contributes to the album are, while all great, more straightforward than usual this time around, but that only serves to make the album stand out even more in their discography. After Permanent Waves, they would start to get even more creative in terms of sound, but I would consider this to be their overall peak. A definitive album for Rush, and a great starting place if you're new to the band.
Report this review (#623161)
Posted Monday, January 30, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars Permanent Waves marks the beginning of a shift from the bombastic epic music of the past into a more concentrated, if simpler, sound. That isn't to say all the great prog that graced their past albums isn't here. The album contains some of Rush's most complex and progressive songs, but still manages to be more focused in the songwriting department.

'The Spirit of Radio' and 'Freewill' are both up-tempo rockers which received considerable airplay. The former sees the band playing with some reggae sounds, while the latter has some phenomenal time signature changes throughout.

'Jacob's Ladder' shows that the band wasn't about to put away the prog that adorned their past few records. There are a plethora of time signature changes throughout, and the song is even more rhythmically complex. It opens with an almost "marching" riff in 4/4 which leads to an instrumental section which alternates between 5/4 and 6/4. The band stops the complex insanity for a short atmospheric keyboard interlude. The remainder contains more time signature changes, and Neil's drumming gives a rather interesting rhythmic feel.

'Entre Nous' didn't have the same commercial success as the first two songs, which is interesting as I consider it almost as strong. There's nothing really noteworthy in its structure or complexity, it's just a plain good Rush song.

'Different Strings' is a quieter, down-tempo tune that features some great guitar work from Alex along with some rare piano as well.

'Natural Science' is probably the highlight of the album. This multi-parted song features some of the band's most instrumentally intricate moments. The song opens with a rather calm section that sets the image and mood of the lyrics. The second part is based on a cool riff in 7/8. The third section hits you suddenly with its riff driven melody. . Neil Peart comes up with some truly amazing dynamic drum parts throughout, making this pretty rhythmically challenging.

Overall, Permanent Waves is a good mix of accessible songs and prog, and clearly shows the direction they're headed in. Like, Hemispheres, the album doesn't have any true flaws, making this a consistent listen from beginning to end.


Report this review (#771346)
Posted Friday, June 15, 2012 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Rush have a lot of fans outside of Canada who sing their praises and are highly regarded in the 'prog' community, but to your average Canadian they are just another rock band who gets played on the radio all the time. "The Spirit Of Radio" and "Freewill" are two songs which get played to death on Canadian radio (the country and dance stations are probably required by law to play these songs). Not only on the radio but you hear these songs at hockey games as well. You can't shake a stick in Canada without hitting some electric device playing one of those two songs. "Closer To The Heart" and "Limelight" are the only other songs that get as overplayed. (For what it's worth, you hear "Subdivisions" and "Time Stand Still" a lot too).

The trio were starting to move away from both the extended song format as well as the more science-fiction oriented lyrics of previous albums. Their music was now more accessible and contained more contemporary influences. The record buying public responded by making Permanent Waves a huge chart success. It went to #4 in the US and #3 in the UK (#1 in Canada). Rush were now officially Canadian's Favourite Canadian Band, a title previously held by The Guess Who and later to be taken by The Tragically Hip. They are still using analog synths instead of the digital ones they will use in a few years. The proggy moments are still there but now there is more room made for shorter, more 'song' oriented tracks.

"The Spirit Of Radio" was named after the slogan of the Toronto radio station CFNY. The lyrics mention the Concert Hall in Toronto. That section of lyrics is a parady of some of the lyrics from Simon & Garfunkel's "The Sound Of Silence." Here you hear the beginning of the trio's New Wave and reggae influences, while the main riff shows their hard rock roots. I love Lifeson's guitar tones during this period. Nice piano at the end (if you blink your ears you will miss it). "Freewill" contains one of my favourite of Peart's lyrics: "if you choose not to decide you still have made a choice." The best part of the song of course is the dual bass and guitar solos.

"Jacob's Ladder" is the proggiest track up to this point; you can tell this is the same group that made Hemispheres (along with Geddy's vocals obviously). Love the subdued but effective keyboards. Always loved the build-up after the drumless section which features some of Peart's best playing on the album. "Entre Nous" is a more accessible and upbeat song that forshadows what Rush will sound like in the 1980s. Features a very simple but effective synth solo. "Different Strings" in places reminds me of another Canadian trio, Triumph. Another accessible song and my least favourite on the album. Always liked the blues-rock vibe they go into at the end; it fades out too quickly as Lifeson is just about to 'take off'.

"Natural Science" is the best track and another proggy mofo. Nice use of natural(get it?) sounds. Features Lifeson's best playing on the album. Love that abrupt change into a harder rocking section after 2 never see it coming. Love the vocal effects but at one point there is some synth sounds that are annoying, especially on earbuds/headphones. They would only get bigger after this but also less 'proggy'. The two albums that bookend this one are my two fav Rush albums, but this is one I rarely play (mainly because I can hear the first two songs any time I turn on a radio). Overall this is a very good album but they have better albums. I'll give this a 3.5 and round it up to 4 stars.

Report this review (#895516)
Posted Saturday, January 19, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars Now we're talking - for me Rush's best release since 2112. A more refined and mature sound from this great band. This album paves the way for the brilliant next offering. I love "Natural Science". There are no throw away tracks on this album whatsoever. The only critisism that I could make is that sometimes Lee sounds like he's singing the lyrics as if he's reading from a philasophic work as he's going along however on this album he could almost sing the words to a phone book and I don't know that I would mind all that much as the music is just that brilliant. Where on the previous album I had to pause to wonder whether that was a 3 or a 4 star album to me I have no hesitation in awarding this offering a solid five stars. Rush had garnered a new fanboy in me with this release and I say that unashamedly. Man! these three could light up the music in my head as few 5 member acts could.
Report this review (#940057)
Posted Saturday, April 6, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars Rush moves into the 80's, taking with them all they have learned from their prog forefathers Yes, King Crimson & ELP and fusing it with the dynamic new electro sound of the decade. Still, however, they cling to their hard rock influences as well, Alex Lifeson refusing to give up his love of virtuoso soloing. So, Rush are still very much a heavy prog band, but nevertheless, they are moving more and more towards that 80's new wave sound.

"The Spirit Of Radio", for Freaks & Geeks fans at least, is one of their most recognisable songs, and even though it's still very guitar-oriented, with it's mesmerising riff, it almost has a Queen-esque AOR feel to it. An excellent tune, with some strong lyrics & vocal belting from Geddy. "Freewill" is much more a traditional Rush hard rocker, feeling like it could have been lifted from the first few albums, and it's pretty great. "Jacob's Ladder" starts to get a little more atmospheric, & electronic, with the band still flexing their prog muscles. "Entre Nous" is one of my favourites, slow and involving. "Different Strings" is another obligatory slow number, a charming tune. And then "Natural Science" is another hybrid of 70's prog & Rush's new direction, but is an excellent prog opus.

So, still clinging to old values, this is more or less the last Rush album of it's kind, as for the next few they would really alter their sound, and move off in new exciting directions. But as a "last hurrah" for the classic era, it couldn't be better. Fantastic songs, brilliant riffs & solos, strong songwriting & vocals, and of course incredible drumming. Another classic.

Report this review (#988752)
Posted Saturday, June 29, 2013 | Review Permalink
2 stars Permanent Waves starts out with a massively popular "Spirit of Radio". Great tempo and lyrics for an exciting starter. It's not as technical and, ahem, "proggy" as many would expect of Rush based off their previous few efforts, but hey. The album kicks off loud and enforcing.

Unfortunately I feel it just wanes after that until the closer, "Natural Science". Some poppy numbers with prog twists, verses in odd time signatures or choruses with unusual melodic/harmonic intervals, all more concise and less hectic. It's up to one's own to decide if the shift was a good one. For some it may be, but I feel some of the life Rush used to have is not present in this album. The simplification of the old Rush style on tracks like "Jacob's Ladder" and "Entre Nous" just feel like filler, easy math experiments and the band deciding to not play to the expressive extremes they were once known for. They almost sound Neo-Prog in a way, which is strange to me. "Different Strings" is an alright tune, but it's more restrained than even the previous tunes, which never find themselves getting up and going. The group really held back on this record. I understand that was their choice. On "Natural Science" the first minute alone says to me "By the way, we ARE still Rush". It's not because it's a speedier song than the rest. The middle tracks just feel empty to me.

Sure, different hearts may beat on different strings, but there are too many caged songs here. It's hard to listen and be excited for this album. "Natural Science" most definitely feels as if it belongs on a different album, and "Spirit of Radio" sets a tone that is not held up throughout. 2 stars from me.

Report this review (#993885)
Posted Tuesday, July 9, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars This album is not the collaborators' favorite Rush outing, mostly on the grounds that the songs are shorter, and the music accessible enough for airplay. Here's the thing though - in Rush's case, this is a very good thing!

A few elements are gone forever, and they will be missed. Never again will Rush create a sidelong epic such as Cygnus X-1 Book 2 or 2112, and that is a tragedy. Neil has also shifted the focus of his lyrics to more earthly matters, rather than the Tolkien-inspired tunes of old. What we are left with is an extremely refined version of Rush, combining first rate songwriting with incredible technical wizardry.

The strength of this album is this: Rush no longer needs a whole side of an LP to display their creativity. Within the first ten seconds of the first track, it is clear that this is still a group of extraordinary musicians bent on pushing their music to the extreme. The only difference is efficiency. They do not need to write an overture or a twenty-part bridge to get their point across. So skilled and focused is the band that they can accomplish in five minutes what other bands require ten minutes to say. There are catchy yet complex hooks that can entertain the most particular music nerd yet satisfy even the casual listener.

There are still a few more spacious numbers where Rush explores the studio space. Jacob's Ladder and Natural Science are unconventional multi-part suites (albeit more restrained than the longer numbers on Hemispheres) featuring hypnotic time signatures, diverse instrumentation, ambience, and all the charm of the last two albums. This is still 100% prog rock, rest assured!

This album has a slight case of musical anorexia which was very in vogue during the eighties. At only 35 minutes, you will wind yourself wanting much more quantity from this album, so high is the quality. At any rate, this album is still a masterpiece of eighties progressive rock, guaranteed to satisfy any fan of their last two albums.



Report this review (#1171796)
Posted Tuesday, May 6, 2014 | Review Permalink
siLLy puPPy
PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams
4 stars RUSH begins the new phase of their career with an in-yer-face advertisement in the form of "Spirit Of Radio" to begin their 7th studio album PERMANENT WAVES. This leading track not only signifies that they are now more radio friendly and ready to acquire a more diverse following in the process but also it incorporates all of the sounds that represent past, present (of the time) and future RUSH. Throughout their career they have always carried the hard rock torch on every album they put out but on this album they are the closest to a progressive metal sound with a heavy addition of synthesizers to add a thick layer of atmosphere. While they have not totally jettisoned their progressive songwriting prowess that reached its apex on the previous album "Hemispheres," they have toned it down and packaged it into smaller digestible morsels that fit within the context of radio friendly hard rock. They also added newer 80s elements including hints of new wave and the inclusion of the offbeat and staccato reggae chords of Alex Lifeson.

RUSH found enormous success with this album which honed all their talents and synchronized them giving music lovers something easily digestible and yet complex at the same time. A sound that would take them even further on the following release. The huge airplay that this received is one of the reasons I have neglected this album as I have heard songs like "Spirit Of Radio" and "Freewill" enough for a life time despite them both being excellent tracks. Despite the overplayed tracks this album has a few flaws that have always bugged me. One is that "Jacob's Ladder" has recycled parts of "La Villa Strangiato" that are just too obvious for my tastes. There are other less obvious borrowings from previous works as well. For whatever reason I just can't get into "Entre Nous." I can come up with no reasonable explanation. It just creates a cognitive dissonance that I cannot reconcile. The real gem in my opinion is the final longer track "Natural Science" which like the leading track perfectly exemplifies the triumvirate of sound that RUSH featured on in the different stages of their career. The difference is that while "Spirit Of Radio" focused more on the newer sounds, "Natural Science" is kind of a respectful farewell to the old as not too many more tracks of this length would be included in their albums. An excellent but not outstanding album in my book.

Report this review (#1186914)
Posted Friday, June 6, 2014 | Review Permalink
5 stars After the exceptional level in terms of heavy progressive rock (full of classical elements, experiences with new instruments- specially synthesizers, electric 12 strings guitars, bass pedals and tuned percussions) achieved with "A Farewell To Kings" and "Hemispheres", RUSH surprisingly again with "Permanente Waves". Although this "surprisingly" is not so impressive as in the case of transition between 2112 and AFTK, but exists.... The track 1 "Spirit of the Radio" starts with a introduction which Rush's most recognizable "addict"... " We must overcome themselves all times" ... and they make it... The overture of this track is one of more spectacular and difficult to execute overtures of all Progressive Rock Muisc in all the times, but the lyrics/musical parts are much more simple ( but with energy ) and before the ending section of music this overture returns ( a little different ) opening space to reggae intermission and the final wah-wah guitar solo !!! The track 2 "Freewill" is a song more close from Rush's compositions from a AFTK and HEMISPHERES with a solo middle section which remind a little the track "A Farewell to Kings". The track 3 "Jacob's Ladder" is the more "weak" ,in my opinion in the side A of the vinyl. The side B track 1 "Entre Nous" is exceptional in lyrics theme and shows Lifeson's capability of captivate the audience with a exceptional knowledge of chords progressions and musical harmonies. The track 2 "Different Strings" shows a single characteristic the reverse guitar solo in counterpoint with the normal sequence. The last Track of the album "Natural Science" comes in three parts , with a exceptional riff ( crossing the two initial parts) besides the track have broken beats, fantastic bass guitar and drums executions, and two fantastic guitar solos, in a general way this track as close from HEMISPHERES arrangements but more simple. My rate is 5 stars !!!
Report this review (#1276064)
Posted Sunday, September 14, 2014 | Review Permalink
5 stars January 1st, 1980 was a very important day for Rush. After a large string of commercial successes in the 70s, Rush returned to the studio to work on their first album of the 80s, Permanent Waves. Not having released an album during 1979, many people were wondering what the band's new record would sound like; was it going to follow in the hard-hitting progressive rock and long-winded epics of previous albums, or would it signal a rebirth for the band's sound? Released on New Year's Day, you'd expect this to be a completely new phase for the band, right? Well, Permanent Waves certainly sounds a bit different from its predecessors, but it has that noticeable Rush familiarity in terms of overall sound as well.

To be honest though, a mix of the old and the new is a great method for a band like Rush; it's interesting to hear them integrate the sounds of the specific era while retaining their progressive rock approach. Points of interest include: Geddy Lee toning down his voice (like the near-absence of high Robert Plant-esque wails), more synthesizer use, and more accessible arrangements. The latter point is the most notable one, considering that new wave was very popular at this time and Rush were heavily influenced by UK rock band The Police around this point. However, Rush were one of the biggest influences on The Police's earlier material, so the influence essentially became the influenced; it's pretty ironic to say the least. Anyway, no song goes over the ten-minute mark, so while you may consider album closer "Natural Science" an epic at 9:17, it isn't separated into individual segments like the previous epics by the band.

Instrumentally, the music is a bit more conventional this time around. Despite heavy synthesizer use and the introduction of more eclectic rock elements (even reggae rock!), the overall sound is more reserved this time around. "The Spirit of Radio," "Different Strings," and "Entre Nous" are all mostly in 4/4 time with only a few variations rhythmically; the former in particular is a very tightly structured hard rock tune that switches frequently between a slow swinging rhythm and the driving guitar riffing that occurs around the verses. Nonetheless, the song is still fantastic as it seems to be a perfect mix of emotion, accessibility, subtle technicality, and anything else it may tie together. "Freewill," despite its popularity, seems to be the real odd man out on this album when you get down to it. The sound of the verses is slightly sparse, mixing a mildly heavy guitar riff (syncing with the bass) with light guitar chord "bursts" as the drums are keeping everything in place. The 7/8 rhythm is also a bit off-putting initially as well, but it grows on you, as with the rest of the song.

So with all of these details, what's the big reason the record's so good? The consistency. Even in the two "epics," "Jacob's Ladder" and "Natural Science," there's not much musical baggage to bring the record down. Nearly every note feels where it should be; the band also know when to space out their dynamics, such as how the acoustic ballad "Different Strings" follows the energetic rocker "Entre Nous." The album's running time is only about 35 minutes, but the record feels completely satisfying at that length when you consider the replay value of each track. While the album is safer than some other Rush albums as I said, there are plenty of "wow" moments to offset the conventional ones. For example, the solo break in "Freewill" has Geddy Lee showing off his impressive bass playing with some exceptionally tricky runs as Alex Lifeson is adding his own soloing to the fray and Neil Peart is performing complex nuanced drum patterns underneath. It's cool to hear the interplay between every member of the trio as they play so technically and fluidly at once. "Natural Science" is a song full of surprises; the soft acoustic opening is pretty unexpected as it is, but a surprisingly heavy riff comes in after the main motif ends. Suddenly everything sounds frantic and tense as the song starts frequently switching between time signatures and tempos. It's stuff like this that combines well with the more accessible moments of the record, and it's a great balance all around.

So yeah, this record is an awesome follow-up to Hemispheres. It's not as technical or intense, but rather a nice mix of accessibility, technicality, dynamic variation, and consistency. The amount of control on display is actually very beneficial to this album and that's why it works. However, the band had yet to really reach their commercial peak... as Moving Pictures would definitely prove.

Report this review (#1445872)
Posted Tuesday, July 28, 2015 | Review Permalink
4 stars A permanent shift towards the radio waves?

Stuck between the great "Hemispheres" and "Moving Pictures", "Permanent Waves" is RUSH's transition album from ambitious epic suites to more accessible songs. Released January 1st, 1980, this seventh studio opus makes the junction between their 70's neo-heavy-prog style and the more radio-friendly and electronic compositions the Canadians will develop in the 80's. Musically speaking, the synthesizers' presence is growing in the band's universe, and the trio slightly starts to incorporate elements from other genres, such as reggae. Furthermore, the lyrics become more oriented towards human nature, society and technology than fantasy and science-fiction. So, has RUSH abruptly left the progressive sphere? Don't worry seventies fans, this a transitional record, so there are still hard/heavy prog rock/metal pieces with complex rhythms structures, uncommon time signatures and changing atmospheres.

The hit single "The Spirit Of Radio" is powerful and evolving. Simply rocks! In the ending section, RUSH even made their first (slight) incursion in the reggae territory, a style that they will further explore in their next three albums. The hard catchy "Freewill" is also quite nice and contains cool spacey guitar soli. However, the highlight of the disc is undoubtedly the somber progressive "Jacob's Ladder". Referring a meteorological phenomena, this track features multiple time signatures, epic riffs, oppressive metal passages and a spacey interlude. Great!

On the contrary, "Entre Nous" ("Between Us" in English) is a much more conventional rock. Average and not very original, this is the weak song of the record. "Different Strings" is a kind of soft and melancholic ballad, with cover art designer Hugh Syme performing a piano solo. Enjoyable. The disc concludes with the 9 minutes "Natural Science", the longest track. Beginning with river and forest sound effects, this hard/heavy prog metal piece has a few futuristic moments. The ending, named "Permanent Waves", is quite heroic. A pleasant but somehow uneven mini-epic.

"Permanent Waves" is definitively a transitional album, as well as a short one. Despite songs not as remarkable as its predecessor's and its successor's, the quality and inspiration are nonetheless overall constant and the trio's hard/heavy prog rock/metal is still efficient. Even if more accessible, the music should please all fans of the late 70's period of RUSH. Once again, the multiple breaks and complex time signatures may have influenced an important number of progressive metal bands.

That's why there is finally no reason not to give it a listen!

Report this review (#1581744)
Posted Thursday, June 23, 2016 | Review Permalink
2 stars I could almost call this review "A Tale of Two Sides." Side A is vey good, whereas it's hard for me to reconcile the unfocused Side B as part of the same album.

Permanent Waves opens with "The Spirit of Radio," five minutes of focused rock which richly deserves its status as an AOR classic. Another radio staple, "Freewill," follows. Whereas the band would revisit and improve upon "Freewill" on Moving Pictures in the form of "Limelight," there was no need to improve upon "Spirit," and to their credit, they never recorded a "Spirit of Radio part 2."

The first side of the LP ends with "Jacob's Ladder," which, despite some repetitiveness, accomplishes as much in seven and a half minutes as most of their "epics" do in nine or more - - epics including "Natural Science" here and "The Camera Eye" on Moving Pictures. The second section of "Jacob's Ladder," which begins at its geometric center, opens with a synthesizer part reminding me (favorably) of "The Remembering" from Yes's Tales from Topographic Oceans, and at around five minutes, a rhythmic guitar part fades in which sounds Genesis-like, not all that different, say, from "Eleventh Earl of Mar." By 1980, Rush's Led-Zep-fanboy days had been over for at least five years, and they were winding down a period in which their influences were still occasionally apparent. At some point, of course, Rush would establish a sound that would be much more influential than influenced.

Side B begins with "Entre Nous," a cringeworthy song even for Rush. Lyricist/drummer Neil Peart is occasionally saccharine, he really outdoes himself here on this plea for English- and French-speaking Canadians to sit down and try to understand each other because we're all brothers and life's too short and can't we be friends. OK, actually that's always been my interpretation; I don't actually have proof that this is the song's meaning. But the words are embarrassingly corny, and the music doesn't make up for them.

While I think I can see what the band was trying to accomplish with "Entre Nous," the last two tracks on the album are truly baffling to me. "Different Strings" occupies a place on the album suitable for a mellower song, or a softer or slower tune, and it delivers on these counts, but strikes me as uninspired - - it seems like the band had four minutes to fill but no creative raw materials to work with. Perversely, I would've preferred that they recycle higher-quality from elsewhere on the album - - as they appear to have done on Signals by cloning "Subdivisions" to create the album-closing "Countdown."

Permanent Waves closes with "Natural Science," which a considerable number of people consider a classic work by the band. The first two of the three sections, "Natural Science," to my ears, are as unfocused and uninspired as "Different Strings" was. I'll admit that things pick up a bit for the last section of "Natural Science" (entitled "Permanent Waves"). It's hard for me to tell whether these last two songs - - "Different Strings" and "Natural Science" - - represent poor composition or album padding, but either way, along with "Entre Nous," they make up one of the weakest album sides on any Rush album.

Whatever the case, twelve months after finishing Permanent Waves, Rush would enter the same Québec studio with the same producer, and would create the great Moving Pictures album.

As is the case with nearly every Rush album, the production and the performances on Permanent Waves range from very good to excellent. But while the half of the material is strong, the other half is tough to sit through. At three songs and 18 minutes, Side A would've been a four-star EP. Consider getting their 1981 live album Exit...Stage Left, which has all of the songs from the first side of Permanent Waves, and, perhaps tellingly, none from the second.

(P.S.: I wonder if now, forty years later, the guys in Rush cringe a little at the cover of this album. Duh, they have every right to have whatever image they want on the cover, and yeah, it's not pornographic at all - - I get it. But I wonder.)

Report this review (#2151389)
Posted Saturday, March 2, 2019 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Never a band that attracted my attention, I've long resisted listening to any of their post-All The World's A Stage albums just cuz I felt that I had "outgrown" their music (as I had Sabbath, Led Zepp, Heep, BöC, and all the heavier proto-prog rock bands of the 1970s).

1. "The Spirit of Radio" (4:56) tight, refreshing, radio friendly. The reggae section is weird--as is the solo section at the end. (8.75/10)

2. "Freewill" (5:21) Nice instrumental passage in the fourth minute, otherwise, a forgettable song. (8.75/10)

3. "Jacob's Ladder" (7:26) long, slowly developing introduction period before Geddy's singing joins in around 0:45. Thereafter, sounds like a song lifted by Spinal Tap for their 1985 mockumentary before switching to a little more disciplined version of a Led Zeppelin song for the instrumental passage in the second and third minutes. A sparse, slowed down passage in the fourth minute, which builds and eventually comes back to a protracted jam that ends with a return to Geddy's singing for the finish. Not bad. (13/15)

4. "Entre Nous" (4:37) a solid construct with little emotional impact until the instrumental section in the third and fourth minutes. (8.75/10)

5. "Different Strings" (3:48) one guitar being picked while Geddy sings. This sounds like a template and precursor to many of the hair band hit ballads in the 1980s. Greatly engaging chords, palette, and construct. My favorite song on the album despite the bluesy lead guitar solo at the end (that, interestingly, gets faded out). (8.75/10)

6. "Natural Science" (9:17) (/20) - i. Tide Pools (3.5/5) - ii. Hyperspace (4.25/5) - iii. Permanent Waves (8.25/10)

Total Time 35:25

All in all, an album of solid compositions, very solid performances, that definitely show the band's development and maturity as both instrumentalists and songwriters since their earlier days. But, in the end, this is not the kind of music that draws me in or even interests or impresses me. (I have, after all, heard lots of Yes, McLaughlin, Zappa, Area, PFM, Banco, and RTF. These guys are tight but nowhere near as impressive as the former. As we say, "Nothing to write home about.")

B/four stars; an excellent contribution to prog world and a solid indicator of this trio's evolution into the icons that they've become.

Report this review (#2287758)
Posted Monday, December 16, 2019 | Review Permalink
5 stars Rush is one of those bands that have improved with each album. First they cut the excesses of hard rock in favor of progressive rock structures (initially with Caress of Steel and definitely with 2112), and when this stage reached its limit in Hemispheres, they made a new stylistic adjustment: shorter songs and incorporation of elements of new wave and reggae. In other words, Rush started inspired by Led Zeppelin, then had a Yes phase and in the 1980s was influenced by The Police. By the way, although the peak of the band is with Moving Pictures (1981), the following albums from the 80s are quite pleasing to me, precisely because they have a sound more based on synthesizers (and I really like post-punk, new wave and synthpop). A fundamental point in this trajectory of constant change and improvement is the album Permanent Waves. It is on this record, among other things, that Geddy Lee's high-pitched vocal was softened, and he expanded his vocal range. In addition, as already mentioned, the tracks became more economical: what was previously expressed in 10 (or even 20) minutes is now done in 5 minutes. Not that it meant a technical or creative setback; quite the contrary, it reveals Rush's ability to more efficiently use every second of his songs. Even the epic "Natural Science" can play in various lyrical and musical territories in 9 minutes without becoming tiring. The economy is such that the record lasts only 35 minutes; some fans regret that there was room to lengthen the "Different Strings" guitar solo, which is shortened by a fade-out. The disc already starts with two classic songs. First, the nostalgic "The Spirit of Radio", an ode to a Canadian radio that still favored artistic value over commercial appeal despite the increasingly voracious music industry: "All this machinery / Making modern music / Can still be open-hearted / Not so coldly charted". The end of the track, in the midst of an unusual reggae rhythm, shows that this was less and less possible: "For the words of the profits / Were written on the studio wall (...) And echoes with the sound of salesmen" . The riff on this track (or rather, the three riffs that succeed each other in the first few seconds) is one of Rush's best. The second one is the libertarian "Freewill", who emphasizes freedom of conscience - and the responsibility that comes with it - instead of religion or any ideology that sacrifices our autonomy: "You can choose a ready guide / In some celestial voice / If you choose not to decide / You still have made a choice / You can choose from phantom fears / And kindness that can kill / I will choose a path that's clear / I will choose free will ". Although its rhythm variations are typically progressive, it is the hardest track in Permanent Waves; the final verse, with very high-pitched vocals, seems to be Lee's "farewell" to his singing style in the 70s. The dark "Jacob's Ladder", according to Peart, tries to musically create a heavy storm. "Entre Nous" is one of the rare lyrics written by Geddy Lee instead of Neil Peart, and has a romantic atmosphere that continues on the next track, "Different Strings". The expansive "Natural Science" starts out acoustic and becomes heavier. The chorus melody is unforgettable, and the final part contains verses marked by a poignant metalanguage that sound like a response to the cultural pessimism of "The Spirit of Radio": "Art as expression / Not as market campaigns / Will still capture our imaginations / Given the same / State of integrity / It will surely help us along". Permanent Waves is one of Rush's best records, and perhaps one of the most accessible to start listening to this band. Although it is tempting to treat it teleologically (that is, as the one who set the stage for Moving Pictures), this is an album that has a lot of value in itself.
Report this review (#2309441)
Posted Sunday, January 26, 2020 | Review Permalink
4 stars As many have stated, this album marks a change of direction Rush took when talking about their discography.

Beginning with the energetic Spirit Of Radio, I would say this is a prog-related song, and not a properly progressive rock song, but that doesn't mean it's a bad song. It has that pretty energetic feeling into it and of course, its intro is pretty good. But I believe indeed, this song had a little bit of commercial aim, and it doesn't feel as essential as other songs do. But still, it's one of the Rush songs and I really enjoy when it pops from the radio.

Now, talking about Freewill, what a hell of a song. As simple as it is as a whole, the lyrics are provacative in a good way and the melody is pretty enjoyable and catchy. I would go as far as saying this is the best track in the entire album.

The other songs in this album are well constructed too. Different Strings is a high point, with what seem to be very personal lyrics, with a well fitting melody that talks well with the meaning behind the song. Actually, the big majority of Rush songs are like this, so not really mentioning it after all.

Excellent album.

Report this review (#2458455)
Posted Thursday, October 22, 2020 | Review Permalink
4 stars Permanent Waves is one more demonstration of the excellent state of form of Canadian virtuosos, incorporating some less harsh sounds and new wave touches to their progressive proposal. It is thus that the keyboards that Geddy Lee alternated with the bass, acquire greater weight and begin to look at Alex Lifeson's guitar riffs more closely, challenging part of their prominence. On the other hand, Neil Peart's percussion does keep the same old line, a master class on how to play the drums.

The album unfolds with a lot of vitality, from Alex Lifeson's meandering guitars in the festive and captivating The Spirit of Radio, a brushstroke of reggae in between and crowned by the interaction of an audience that responds to the challenge, through the epic and hypnotic Jacob's Ladder that reminds us of a biblical passage from Genesis, up to the final and indisputable jewel of Permanent Waves, the magnificent and super progressive Natural Science, ideal for the instrumental display of the trio in the 3 sections that compose it in their most of 9 minutes, being this one of the last extensive pieces of Rush (the last one ended up being The Camera Eye of the mega-successful Moving Pictures).

In between, the dynamic and more digestible Freewill and Entre Nous, and the delicate and at times inconsequential ballad Different Strings, perhaps the most debatable song on this great album. The duration of these three pieces would be the example of the new standard from now on, themes not so extensive and more direct, leaving little by little the intricate conceptual developments.

Permanent Waves implied one more evolution in Rush's musical career, they extended their horizons into new territories, but without neglecting or betraying their essence. Excellent work starting in the eighties.

Report this review (#2478019)
Posted Saturday, November 21, 2020 | Review Permalink
4 stars Review #86

RUSH's seventh studio album was released in 1980 and it was called "Permanent waves"; the album featured six songs from 4 to 9 minutes average and even when the band preserved the Progressive Hard Rock style that characterized their previous albums, this record was different: more oriented to short and not-so-full-of-guitar- and-drums-solos type of music that would later become in the sound that RUSH kept in the eighties. This album was like the transition from one style to another.

"The spirit of radio" is one of the most popular songs of RUSH: its unmistakable guitar riff is unique; this is my favorite song of the album. "Freewill" is also very popular among the fans of the Canadian trio. About the following songs of the album, well, they have very interesting moments but nothing really impressive if we compare it with the three previous albums. Probably "Jacob's ladder" and "Natural science" were my next picks from this record, but I like those in a very neutral way, they're not mind-blowing but only entertained.

I like this album more than "Moving pictures", but not as much as "Hemispheres" so the rate would be right in the middle.

Report this review (#2494212)
Posted Friday, January 15, 2021 | Review Permalink
5 stars Permanent Waves by Rush is Rush's seventh studio album, which released in January of 1980. Permanent Waves is an amazing Rush album without a bad song on it, the instrumentation by everyone is great, and the production is clean. With songs like The Spirit Of Radio, Freewill, and Jacobs Ladder you cant go wrong with picking this up. I do not think this is Rush's best album but I cant help but give this a 5 out of 5. Its an excellent addition to any progressive rock or classic rock collection. And its one of my favorite albums of all time.
Report this review (#2508515)
Posted Wednesday, February 24, 2021 | Review Permalink

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