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4 stars With signals Rush and Terry Brown threw all production values employed for Moving Pictures and Permanent waves out of the window and started afresh one could only presume for fear of repeating themselves. While its predecessor is immaculate sounding the sound on this album is muddy and the synths are a lot more prominent than before, this superficial gripe aside Rush were still peaking compostion/lyricwise and there isn't a duff song to be heard. Rush also have done away with all long more complex tunes and replaced with more concise but on occasions no less complex songs. Agreed there is more keyboard synth going (not a bad thing in my opinion but may put some off) but if you listen (i mean really listen) there is still plenty going off guitarwise as well. Recommended if you can appreciate composition and content over style.
Report this review (#20786)
Posted Friday, December 12, 2003 | Review Permalink
4 stars Overall this is a very good album, but its not one I can sit through and listen to time and time again. To be sure, there are some good tracks like Losing It, Subdivisions and Countdown, but there are some weaker tracks as well. This is a very competant and musically excellent album ( especially Geddys synth work ) , but it also has a bit of a lazy feel to it. Give it a go, but don't expect 2112 in these travels.
Report this review (#20775)
Posted Thursday, January 8, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars I bought this CD because of "The Weapon." What an awesome song. It evokes images of missile silos, military might and the struggle to survive. This CD isn't as energetic as its more upbeat cousin, Grace Under Pressure -- with the exception of NWM. New World Man stands apart from the other moodier songs. Subdivisions is dark and mysterious sounding, and has great lyrics. You can picture flying in a plane at night and gazing at the "geometric order" of the city. This one and Power Windows are the best albums with some cold-war-themes worked in. This is a Rush collection must, but not their best stuff.
Report this review (#20776)
Posted Saturday, January 17, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is almost a 5 star album, but I just don't listen to it as much as the previous bunch. I will be hated for saying this, but this is the last ESSENTIAL album they did. Synths start to take over... At the time, a bold, almost entirely new sound/direction for the band. Little did we know what was in store... Best track: Analog Kid
Report this review (#20778)
Posted Sunday, January 18, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars Rush ushers in their third 'era' with Signals. While often bing criticized for being overly synthetic, I will have to agree with Steve F, that this album remains one of Rush's essential ablums. Subdivisions is one of the highlights of the album, a song about life in the suburbs. New World Man was another unexpected hit, receiving extensive radio time. Other highlights include Analog Kid, Digital Man, The Weapon, and the prog tune Losing It. While this album is an excellent listen, and obviously a must for any true Rush fan, it lacks the progressive flavour that was found in their previous compositions. If you are a fan of Rush's hard rock influences, you'll find a lot of excellent tunes here.
Report this review (#20770)
Posted Tuesday, January 20, 2004 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
Prog Folk
2 stars This is where I hate MTV and the 80's in general , Rush making videos was excrutiating for me especially Subdivision , where some of those footage were taken two Km from my house. The shorter format song is now definitely installed and what is even worse they take on this verse-chorus-verse-chorus-ten second solo-verse-chorus form which I personally thought was anti-prog. Analog Kid and New World Man were among the hits also.
Report this review (#20768)
Posted Tuesday, February 3, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars Together with Grace..., Moving..., Waves and A Farewell..., this is one of Rush's top 5 recordings. There are a lot of synths on it, but I never heard them played like that. Then, there's impeccable songwriting on Subdivisions (PLEASE PLEASE PLAY IT LIVE AGAIN), Ánalog kid, Losing It or The Weapon. Rush were going brave with that attempt, and I appreciated them doing it very much. Furthermore, it's stil their best cover artwork.
Report this review (#20771)
Posted Friday, February 6, 2004 | Review Permalink
2 stars I don't recall any of the other songs on this, but "Subdivisions" alone is worth the price of this album, and then some. When it came out on the radio, I was still a kid myself, and I wondered how an old Canadian guy like Neil Peart could understand what it was like growing up in the suburbs of Milwaukee. Twenty years later I found myself back in the 'burbs of Milwaukee listening to "Subdivisions" over and over as I drove a rental car through the streets of a hometown I would no longer have any reason to visit. Thank you, Messrs. Peart, Lee, and Lifeson.
Report this review (#20772)
Posted Friday, February 6, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars another big record, massive keyboard sound and progressive guitar lines are essence of the content, great music played by three virtuosos. Sometimes sound is 'darker' but songs are really vital and have mood of the night... fantastic album...
Report this review (#20774)
Posted Thursday, February 26, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars Signals stands inbetween old school rock and 'spray-net' Platinum Blonde- Human League era. But Rush, as usual, tooked an opportunity to blend synths and rock. Not too much rock, though. But, what you get in here is a 'darker' Rush (The Weapon, Losing It, Analog Kid and Subdivions) , with lyrics that you can meditate at. Saying that album is weaker is not thinking in 4 dimensions...

You were in 1983, with bands like Splitz Enz and Devo. They had to follow fashion and technology to survive. Rush proves it's possible to be of your era with sticking to your guns. Subdivisions is a fantastic song with emotion and lyrics that takes you back to the kind of thinking when you were a teen, and is still after 15 years, my big favorite. Subdivisons had a great videdoclip with a little game in it. Try to find the 6 Rush's winks. Fun to do and well thought. Anyway in '83 Rush has evolved. Evolving is normal and Rush made no exception.

Report this review (#20780)
Posted Tuesday, March 2, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars RUSH have released so many great albums over the years that it is very difficult to pick the best of the lot. For me "Signals" is a fav and for all the right reasons. RUSH deliver a concept-like album centered on Suburbanization and the dangers of metropolitan life. Like all RUSH albums musicanship is of the highest quality and each song is delivered with great impact. I find "Signals" delivers powerful synth leads which seem to drive the rest of the musicians. This is a collection of some of RUSH's most powerful work and the clarity of the recording make listening quite pleasureable.
Report this review (#20781)
Posted Saturday, March 13, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars Firstly, let me say that a lot of Rush fans don't much like this album. They reckon it is too much reliant on synthesizers, and that there is not enough guitar. Well, as far as I am concerned, that only enhances the mood of the album! Every track is splendid here. One of their strongest albums, and my third contender for their best album. (Along with Farewell To Kings and Moving Pictures) Subdivisions opens the album in fine style, Analog Kid is excellent, Chemistry is overlooked and underrated, and another classic. Digital Man is also excellent. The Weapon is maybe a little weaker, but still good. New World Man, with its insistent bass line, is one of the best. Losing it, with Ben Mink's haunting electric violin, is tremendous. And Countdown ends the show with style. I love all of this album. (By the way, there is still plenty of guitar on here, despite what some fans think. A well balanced album!) I urge those sitting on the fence to buy it! You won't be disappointed.
Report this review (#20782)
Posted Saturday, March 27, 2004 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars "Signals" is among the best of the RUSH albums. For the first time here, Geddy Lee begins to use the keyboards quite more substantially than on the previous albums: so, the mood is much more fresh, accessible and modern, while absolutely being NOT pop nor easy; with "Signals", RUSH becomes a bit less progressive, but their music is still very refined and complex. Alex Lifeson developed, again, some IMPRESSIVE new electric guitar textures, partly removing the hard rock dimension so present on the previous albums. All the tracks on this album are definitely EXCELLENT! The short tracks formula prevail here, almost each having a VERY crafted melodic guitar solo. The rhythmic guitar sound is really refined and fits well with the background keyboards. Actually, the guitar here is quite less monolithic than on the previous records: it is just slightly more in the background, allowing room to the other instruments: that's why this record is very well balanced! The drums are OUTSTANDING, the cymbals parts are really impressive! Geddy Lee's bass is still excellent, very complex and restless. On the beautiful "Losing It", Ben Mink plays a poignant violin. "Countdown" contains excerpts from a NASA launching event.


Report this review (#20803)
Posted Wednesday, April 14, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars "Signals" returns to the theme of man's alienation in a world of machines last heard on "Moving Pictures". Yet in many ways it is a transitional record, caught between the fiery red of action and the cool blue of reflection. Thematically, it's the last RUSH record to adopt the vantage point of the teenager at the edge of adulthood. "Subdivisions" sets the problem, as the young adult feels the pull of the city from the suburbs, "the timeless old attraction." From there, a final respite in the unhurried world of youth ("The Analog Kid") before love beckons ("Chemistry") and places our hero in the crosshairs of adulthood ("Digital Man"). At first, the young hero looks to be a cog in the big machine ("The Weapon"), but youth is also revealed as the breeding ground for change ("New World Man"). "Losing It" addresses the failed dreams of youth, but "Signals" ends on a high note, with "Countdown" showing how technology can be used for good. In many ways, RUSH's teenage heroes (from ""2112"" through to "Tom Sawyer") reach maturity on "Signals". Subsequent albums like "Grace Under Pressure" and "Power Windows" were as apt to see the world through the eyes of an adult. That transformation can be felt in the music as well: synthesizers have steadily crept into the foreground while ALEX LIFESON's guitar eschews the old pyrotechnics for technically precise textures. GEDDY LEE's voice is also more subdued, less likely to reach the emotional heights of a "Tom Sawyer" or "The Spirit of Radio." NEIL PEART, for his part, remains charged, designed to complement GEDDY's bass lines as dual engines of propulsion (heard to best effect on "Digital Man" and "Chemistry"). "Signals" signaled the end of one musical chapter and the start of another.

It's the last time that RUSH played like their lives depended on it; subsequent albums seemed overly analytical, detached. Even when the trio regained some of their former form, it lacked the naturalness of "Signals", making this for some listeners the last essential RUSH album.

Report this review (#20779)
Posted Monday, May 3, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars What can I say about the album that turned me from a casual listener to a life-long fan? From the first time I heard the haunting opening of "Subdivisions", I was hooked. Lryically? Unmatched. And I'll admit that being a freshman in high school when this came out, it knocked my socks off. I keep coming back to this disc more than any other. 1 star short of a masterpiece, only because that is reserved for FTK. The argument of too much synth is erased by the solo at the end of "Subdivisions"; the whole freakin' riff of "Analog Kid"; and the Police like rip on "Digital Man". Geddy's bass work is absolutely amazing on this whole album, you just have to put your ear to it. One other thing: the songs off this album played live by the band are nothing short of awe-inspiring, especially if you ever had the treat of seeing them do "Countdown".
Report this review (#20788)
Posted Saturday, May 29, 2004 | Review Permalink
James Lee
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars "Signals" begins the most enigmatic time in RUSH's discography. I was disappointed at first with a sound that seemed so sterile and clinical compared to the spirited progressive 70s albums and the harder and more accessible explorations of the last two studio releases. However, I came to appreciate the subtle, darker influence as I realized that the band was finally showing real raw emotion. The lyrics, production, and instrumental usage on this and the following "Grace Under Pressure" is uniquely expressive, and the emotion that flows through these songs is one of nostalgia and loss, seen through a chilly window on a grey afternoon. If you've grown up in a cold northern city, you know the dismal time of year when the sky and ground are dull and dead, too late for autumn glory and too soon for the promise of spring. As upbeat as "Analog Kid" begins, the longing takes over and darkness creeps in. "Subdivisions" doesn't even wait to get dark; the first synth notes sketch out the grey impersonal area in between the bright lights and the outskirts. "Losing It" is a more moody and complicated philosophy than Peart's more typical "Freewill" and "Circumstances". The band is getting more textural, depending less on intricacy and dramatic moments; Lifesons's guitar work proves this by getting better yet fitting more smoothly into the mix. This is not a band jumping on the synth-pop bandwagon; this is a band who has found the same cold evocative power displayed by synth artists like KRAFTWERK, or even later JOY DIVISION. "Signals" is also, unfortunately, the first RUSH album on which I notice the songs sound quite similar to each other; every subsequent album will share this criticism. The strangest thing is, I respect the band more- expression, musicianship and production quality just keeps getting better- yet I like the album less than its less mature predecessors. Maybe that means I'm shallow...
Report this review (#20789)
Posted Wednesday, June 30, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars Even better that MOVING PICTURES, Rush showed us the way the eighties were gonna turn for them. "Subdivisons" is the greatest track Rush recorded in the 80´s, and it worths the money you pay for it. There are also memorable tracks like "New World Man", "Chemistry", "Countdown" and "Analog Kid" to mention some. There are no weak tracks.
Report this review (#20790)
Posted Sunday, July 11, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is Rush all out! This is emotion through music all out! 'Subdivisions' remains my all time favourite Rush-song an d the lyrics by Peart are so incredibly spot on that it hurts, as is the case with almost all the ones he's written. Saying that there is not one bad song on this CD is the understatement of the century. 'Losing It' almost always has me in a tear or two - and it feels great being able to shed some of them whilst listening to great music, be it Rush's or somebody else's! 'Chemistry', 'Analog Kid', 'Countdown' and tutti quanti alone are worth having the CD for. As far as the criticism is concerned about Rush not sticking to the style some people feel they developped throughout earlier CD's, what is that all about? Either a song is great, mediocre, bad or somewhere in between, irrespective of whether it is played on the Nepalese nose-organ, 40 Prophecy's, 20 M1's and 30 JV880's or by the London Philharmonic on steroids! I don't give a **** about how musicians arrive at a great song, it's getting there that counts. And getting there, Rush certainly did with Signals. You touch(ed) me, guys!
Report this review (#20791)
Posted Saturday, August 7, 2004 | Review Permalink
Chris S
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Come on....Signals is a fine album. ' subdivisions' one of their best songs to come out of the 80's. Yes they were changing direction but if you compare the quality of Signals to say Test for Echo from a few years back I know which one warrants a four star rating and which doesn't. Signals was a finely balanced offering from Rush when there was so much garbage around. Check out also ' The weapon' and ' Countdown'
Report this review (#20793)
Posted Tuesday, September 7, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars The eighties era of this band had its uppers and downers, for so many Rush fans this album is the begining of a new era, which meant to leave the epic and long tracks aside and take a new adventure with the sounds that that decade were other words: Pop like music. However, this decade has brought to the same Rush fans some great albums and so many great moments...Just remember the Permanent Waves and the ever-classic and a favorite Moving Pictures...Signals represented something that the trio were trying to show for the future and this one (the last with Terry Brown as a co- producer) is a very good album. Good songs...a great A-side, with the classics Subdivisions and Analog Kid...The Weapon is one of my favorites and maybe above all the parts of Fear my favorite one. Between this and GUP I would rather choose this one. An must have to any prog and Rush fan.
Report this review (#20795)
Posted Sunday, October 17, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars When it comes to Hard Rock combined with prog. no one holds a candle to Rush. (Except maybe King's X and Dream Theater, who come later.) This album, for me, was an acquired taste. However, over time it became one of my favorites. I would consider this Rush's fourth strongest album, following 2112, Moving Pictures, and Permanent Waves. Analog Kid happens to be my personal favorite track here. It showcases strong drumming from Peart (as always) and a very powerful synth phase (which is a feature in many Rush tracks in the 80s.) Subdivisions and New World Man attracted me to Signals, but there turned out to be many more rewards on Signals, including Losing It, Chemistry... I wouldn't say this is a masterpiece, but it is essential to any Rush fan who wants something more than a "Best Of" One more thing, some will disagree, but I believe this is the last great album Rush put out.
Report this review (#20796)
Posted Tuesday, November 23, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars Rush finally come to their senses and simplify their music. The thoughtful Neil Peart lyrics are still in evidence and Geddy Lee has come down off the higher register. I even like the cover of the LP. Basically the theme, lyrically, is rather simple it adresses the difficulties and complications of urban life, but the musical simplification is one of the aspects which really gaied my appreciation for this record. New World Man and Subdivisions recieved a lot of FM airplay here in Canada. These are the standout tracks along with Countdown. I can't believe I'm giving this four stars but the band certainly earned them on this one with a toned down and softer approach from previous work.
Report this review (#20798)
Posted Sunday, November 28, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars Aside from the near perfect "second period," (and 2112 of course) SIGNALS is their best album hands down. I have plenty of memories related to this album and it seemed to have touched me the most out of any of them. I used to only like Subdivisions when I first heard it and boy how young and nieve was I. Now I feel as if every song is pure brilliance. Subdivisions will always be a favorite and I used to always say it was the perfect song to end an album on rather than start it off. (At least when I used to make my own compilations on cassettes from my brother's discs). The Analog Kid is now my favorite on the album. It's perfect and has a good transition in my opinion following Subdivisions. Chemistry is one I enjoy so much more since I have matured musically. Digital Man and The Weapon I really enjoy almost equally as they are both pure fantastic. New World Man is one I used to listen to in my old history class back in the day due to another student absolutely being obsessed with this song. I don't blame him though. Losing It was always my least favorite on the album until I really started listening to it. Every time I hear the album nowadays I think "wow, Losing It was really good actually." Countdown is my least favorite on the album and that is due to the fact that it's the last song. I guess in the end, it does work as the better ending song rather than Subdivisions. Boy how wrong I was...
Report this review (#20799)
Posted Monday, December 6, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars The most interesting thing in this album for me is the music. I`m not very interested in Neil Peart`s lyrics, but maybe I was more interested in the past. Peart`s lyrics about technology and science fiction maybe are more important for RUSH`s greatest fans. But, of all the albums that I have listened from RUSH, this is my favourite. The album starts fine with "Subdivisions", with very good drums, as always, by Neil Peart, plus a very good lead guitar by Alex Lifeson. In general, the most interesting songs in this album are in the Side 1 of the old L.P. (tracks 1 to 4). "Analog Kid" was played in some FM Radio stations in my country in 1982-83. "Digital Man" is a very good song with every member of the band showing their talents. I don`t give this album a five stars rating because I don`t like very much the songs "The Weapon" and "New World Man". Both songs are not very interesting for me, and I think that "New World Man" was released as a single, or could have been released as a single, because it has a "commercial melody". My favourite song from this album is "Losing It", with great atmospheres created by the guitars and the synthesizers, plus very good violins by Ben Mink which interact with Lifeson`s guitars. "Count Down" is another very good song, and it closes the album in a high point. I bought this album in the L.P. format in 1983, and I was surprised of the good quality of the recording. My L.P. copy (made in my country) says "Digital" in the cover, and the sound of this L.P. shows it very good.
Report this review (#20800)
Posted Thursday, December 23, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars A direct extension of Moving Pictures. If you like the direction The Camera Eye was taking you, Signals is the album you want. It would be hard to find a better Rush song than either Subdivisions or Chemistry (although there are numerous that are just as good). The whole album is tight and is one of the better 80's albums Rush put out there. Lots of synth done very tastefully (i.e., moody) along with blistering and whining guitar work. Neil's drumwork is always superb, but only Circumstances rivals the depth he creates in Subdivisions. I would suggest this album to anyone who likes rock music, be it progressive, heavy metal, 80's pop or even gothic/alternative. It's a sign of the times that has not become dated in the least. Pick it up if you want one of Rush's best.
Report this review (#20801)
Posted Monday, January 10, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars For me, this is absolutely one of my favourite Rush albums. The synths are a lot more prominent than previous albums. There is still tons of great guitar work, it's just a bit hidden behind the synths more than previous albums. The guitar in Analog Kid is killer!! I always thought New World Man was the weakest track on Signals. Chemistry, The Weapon and Countdown are great examples of how Rush could write great songs that tread that fine line between what is catchy and what is smart. Excellent musicianship and not just playing standard 4/4 timing kept them true to their previous works, while moving them ahead with an album that production wise, still sounds great by today's standards.
Report this review (#20802)
Posted Monday, January 17, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars I am quite fond of this album. True, The hardcore rock aspect is diminished on this album but it is good on another level. It's as if they turned the next page of their repetoir. Their is alot of great Synth on the album and has a very dreamy feel to it. I like the Scii-fi feel to the album with the great storytelling lyrics thanks to mr Neal Peart. He is a true genius. 2 of my favoritie tracks on the album is Chemistry and the Analogue kid. The band played this song great @ one of the shows that I have seen. I would have to abmit, I like this album better than Moving Pictures!!
Report this review (#20804)
Posted Saturday, February 5, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars Opener 'Subdivisions' is vintage Rush: enigmatic, dark yet uplifting, and the beauty of sheer musical power. The synth leads were kind of new to Rush's driving force. The song is a key soundtrack to the eighties: the alienation in the suburbs and the spirit of materialism are depicted with moving poetic images. The building up to a climax ('Game over') is pure majesty. The other songs stay in the same vein and maintain the state-of-the-art level of the opening track. In fact this is a concept album about lost innocence in a commercializing world. It's also the beginning of new musical experiments for the band, introducing some new wave idioms without losing the unmistakenable Rush sound. Perhaps the opening notes on 'The Weapon' come too close to a disco beat, still Lifeson's rich guitar chords in the second half will astound you. Peart's lyric imagery on 'Losing it' will make you weep. The closing section 'Countdown' is their brilliant tribute to those brave men, out there in space. One of the most moving endings you will encounter on any record.
Report this review (#20806)
Posted Friday, February 25, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars The end of an era in one sense, but the beginning of a new one in another, this is one of Rush's many "transitional" albums, which usually come out immediately following a live album. In the same way that A Farewell To Kings ushered in a new era of epic prog albums, Signals ushers in an era of dreamy progpop with huge, lush synth textures and highly textural guitar work more reminiscent of Andy Summers than what you would expect of Alex Lifeson. If you are a fan of the earlier stuff and have never heard 80's Rush music, you may be put off by this album, as it is NOTHING like it's predecessors. However, you would be missing out, as this is one of Rush's true essential albums, to my tastes. Every song is excellent, which is arguably the last time you could say that about a Rush album. That's what I meant by the end of an era. This was the last in an incredible, virtually unmatched string of great albums that started with "A Farewell To Kings", or "2112" if you rather. Favorites include "The Analog Kid" with its lyrics about adolescent unrest, a recurring Neil Peart theme (i.e. "Fly By Night", "Circumstances", etc.); "Digital Man", which has a very cool modern guitar riff and some of Geddy's meatiest bass lines ever; "The Weapon" with its almost disco-like(!) groove; and "New World Man", which even though it is the highest charting Rush single ever, is still very rhythmically interesting with its reggae- like vibe. I find Geddy's bass playing on this album to be perhaps his best ever, and Neil has rarely drummed so well either. I just wish Alex was a little more upfront in the mix (as he would be in Grace Under Pressure).His solos ARE outstanding, with "Digital Man" being one of my favorites of all time. A great, sometimes underrated Rush album; just don't expect it to sound like the 70's version of the band!
Report this review (#20810)
Posted Saturday, March 19, 2005 | Review Permalink
Eetu Pellonpaa
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This album moved further to the realms of 1980's aesthetics, but it still has some values which pleased me very much (like the wonderful rhythms). "Signals" opens the album with a synthesizer driven sound, and there was a sympathetic music video also done from this number. "The Analog Kid" is a more rocking song, with a quite heavy guitar solo from Alex. "The Weapon" is maybe the best composition of the album. It has some sequenced loops and effects, and it's a quite weird track, but very effective. "Digital Man" and "New World Man" are also good, energetic songs. "Losing It" is a quiet ballad, and "Countdown" is a grand description of a space rocket launch. The only track that didn't please me here is "Chemistry". Peart's lyrics are now oriented to more abstract themes than science fiction, which I see as a good thing.
Report this review (#20812)
Posted Friday, April 1, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars Signals sees Rush embrace a slightly more commercial direction. The elaborate arrangements and fantasy themed lyrics are replaced by concise (though still complex) shorter songs and lyrics dealing with issues that are "closer to the heart" (couldnt resist). There is also a heavy emphasis on synths here and overall a far more dark and brooding atmosphere permeates the album. As usual the playing is immaculate if a little less visceral than previous outings. Highlights are the opener "Subdivisions", "The Analog Kid" and the excellent closer "Countdown". A worthy addition to any prog collection.
Report this review (#20813)
Posted Monday, May 2, 2005 | Review Permalink
Cygnus X-2
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Moving Pictures saw the end of Rush's "classic era" with a fitting farewell, and ushered in the "synth era" of their career. Signals was the perfect opener to that era, with crisp and fresh synths, catchy riffs, and precision timing. Gone were the 10 minute epics about people in New York and London, and in came more concise songs about the aspirations of youth, fear of the weapon, and losing all your composure. Most also consider this album to be the beginning of the "Alex Lifeson Syndrome", which is when he changed his hair, amplification devices, and guitars for every album/tour as well as the loss his "lead edge" that he had in the 70's. Geddy Lee was beginning to experiment with more predominant synthesizers on this one (the Oberheim gets special recognition), and Neil Peart was giving his all with precision patterns and rhythms that fit so brilliantly with the music. This album is nothing short of brilliant musically.

Subdivisions opens the album with a refreshing 7/8 Oberheim pattern in a droning F#. It seemlessly goes into a 4/4 riff that revolves around the same chordal pattern. The lyrics on this one hold true even today, that if you don't conform with what people think is "normal" then you are an outcast (Neil Peart cuts right to the core at this one, he experienced this sort of behavior during his high school years, often being considered an outcast himself). The 3/4 chorus blares with stifling runs by Geddy Lee before the eponymous chorus comes into play. Lifeson's solo on this one is well executed on this song, foreshadowing his future solo styling. The Analog Kid keeps up the theme of the aspirations of youth with a staggering rhythm that is classic Lifeson riffing. Peart precision drumming during the chorus is nothing short of breaktaking, and Lifeson stabs at the solo, performing a tremolo washed solo that gives allusion to La Villa Strangiato in a way.

Chemistry is the only Rush song that gives lyrical credit to all members and has some very nice synth sections and some precision chords during the verses. Digital Man begins with a precision drum fill by Peart, and has some nice open note chords in the beginning. The "reggae" chorus section was up to much dispute when they were recording this album, Terry Brown being against it and the band being toward it (this little studio battle would essentially be the final straw before Rush would seek a new producer on the new album). The Weapon follows it, and as Neil Peart describes, the drum track on this one is his most machine like (because the initial drum track on this one was produced by Geddy on a drum machine). This song is another part of the Fear trilogy and is the strongest of the bunch along with Witch Hunt.

New World Man was initially conceived as a filler of the album, but became a strong track in the end. It's well timed sequencer intro followed by more Lifeson riffing is well planned and the chorus is catchy and upbeat. Kudos to Neil Peart for the lyrics which give a nod to Tom Sawyer of the past album. Losing It is in my opinion one of the best songs on the album. The differentiation between 5/8 and 6/8 on this song and the main theme is creative and a well conceived idea, and the electric violin on it gives a very surreal feel to the song. The 11/8 section in which Lifeson solos is superb and the band keep perfect rhythm together. Unfortunately, this song has never been played live, so no one has ever gotten the chance to see the magic of this song on the stage. Countdown ends the album and is a fitting ending. The main riff and chord structure is tight and cohesive, Geddy's synth breakdowns between the choruses are consistent and fun to listen to, the guitar solo is energetic and full of life, and the lyrics are charming and very visual.

Overall, this is the best album of Rush's synth era. Strong melodies, strong ideas, strong rhythms, strong lyrics, this album has it all. My highest recommendation is given to this album, and no fan of Rush should be without it. 5/5.

Report this review (#20814)
Posted Thursday, May 5, 2005 | Review Permalink
2 stars This is Rush lite to me.I don't know what happened if its was about gaining listeners or what but I perfer the Rush that challenged by ears to this glass of luke warm milk . Rush just don't sound right when they play it safe.
Report this review (#20816)
Posted Thursday, May 26, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Probably the most underrated Rush album ever. Many who feel the album is weaker than other Rush albums usually say that there is too much synthesizer and not enough guitar but I believe that they fail to realise that it's actually the case that Rush mixed the guitars and synthesizers perfectly on this album! There are some truly classic Rush songs on Signals including maybe the best song they ever created (arguably behind only Tom Sawyer, The Trees or Cygnus X-1). The Analog Kid and Chemistry are hugely overlooked as great Rush songs. Digital Man and New World Man are classic Rush songs that again nicely balance guitars and synth. The closing 2 songs are very good songs, though just a tiny notch below the other songs, still evoke powerful feelings due to Peart's great lyrics. A MUST HAVE album from Rush! 5-stars!
Report this review (#20817)
Posted Monday, May 30, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is by far my favorite effort from RUSH. I'm not sure if it's the material itself, stellar as it is, or if it's the quality of production. Whatever the reason, I find it to be a compelling and powerful album. Right from the start with "Subdivisions" it is clear you're in for a treat. It seems as if Geddy Lee's voice has finally matured and becomes a true asset to the music, perhaps for the first time.

After the opening track comes "Analog Kid" which is as good a Rush song as any, but the 3rd track,"Chemistry" is where the CD really takes flight for me. The richness of the keyboards combined with the depth of Neal Peart's bass drum is mesmerizing. Alex Lifeson's guitar comes to life here as well and the trio seem to be in lock - step in a way I personally had waited for, for quite some time. It's a definate improvement over MOVING PICTURES which was the first time the band successfully moved away from the edgier, guitar driven music of their past, and headed toward a more sonic, atmospheric sound. SIGNALS accomplished this with style and grace.

"Digital Man" has one of the best openings to a song I've ever heard, with Peart's mini solo that sets the pace right away.

In short, purists may judge this album as the beginning of the end of greatness for Rush (short compositions and what not) but I prefer to think it was the first album where the boys achieved a true, full sound that stands the test of time. In my mind Rush has never been more powerful than on SIGNALS. Go buy it.

Report this review (#35934)
Posted Thursday, June 9, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars WOW. just wow. I know I've been giving 5's to lots of Rush albums, but I can't help it. A lot of people complain about Rush's overuse of the synth from this album forward, but I think it really helps expand their sound. After all, they have lots of great songs with the synth.

Anyway, the album opens up with my all-time favorite Rush song, Subdivisions. This is pretty much the song that got me into Rush. What with its insanely awesome lyrics and drumming, and that incredible synth riff, this song just dominates all others. To top it all off, it has one of Lifeson's best solos, second only to Limelight. The album continues with The Analog Kid, which features great guitar work from Lifeson, and some great Synth riffing. ALso has an amazing hard sounding guit fiddle solo. Then comes Chemistry, another excellent synth-laden track with some awesome, semi-nerdy lyrics. The Digital Man is a great, reggae-influenced song with some great lyrics. Then comes the Weapon. A great song with some really thought provoking lyrics. Nice sounding riff too. New world Man is another song with Reggae influences, and it was also Rush's highest charting single. Losing It, which features NO guitar, but has some great violin from Ben Mink, is the weakest track on the album. The closer, Countdown, about a space shuttle launch, is a great closer.

So this is probably my favorite Rush album, with Highlights including my all-time fav, Subdivisions, The Analog Kid, The Weapon, and New World Man.

Report this review (#37273)
Posted Wednesday, June 22, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars The production of this album is less than perfect, the synthesizer drowns out critical guitar riffs, the band overplays at times, the vocals are imbalanced with the instruments at times yet this album is a masterpiece. I find myself in a debate constantly as to whether "Moving Pictures" or "Signals" is the greater album. In ways, "Signals" blends effortlessly with "Moving Pictures" as if they were equal parts of a double album. Neil Peart's drumming is phenomenal, tasteful, precise, and powerful. Every song on the album is a work of art. I cringe when I hear people balk at songs like "Countdown" or "The Weapon." Those songs have a raw power to them and their structure is bold and compelling.

This album deserves a place among the very best of not just all progressive rock albums, but all rock albums in general. In my opinion, it is the best rock album of the 1980s.

Report this review (#38299)
Posted Saturday, July 2, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Signals is Moving Pictures all groweds up and ready for the Gubner's Ball. This is also the last album Rush will do aided by producer, Terry Brown. Geddy's synth inclinations hit a new peak here and Lifeson's guitar gets swallowed in the mix but it's the songwriting here that makes it a masterpiece. An amazing collection of very well written songs that I think in many ways tops Moving Pictures. They won't deliver this quality of consistent track-after-track writing again until 1993's Counterparts. No problem giving the 5 star nod here.
Report this review (#40090)
Posted Saturday, July 23, 2005 | Review Permalink
erik neuteboom
3 stars This is a very interesting album because Rush turned out to have developed into a 'Midi- controlled power-sympho trio' that used modern equipment and integrated trendy styles like reggae and new wave. You can argue about the musical taste of this trio but I have to admit that this album sounds very impressive and dynamic! My favorite track is "Subdivision"because of the fat synthesizer sound and that great video-clip about a frustrated teenager in a suburb, so recognizable!

1. Subdivisions (5:32) 2. The analog kid (4:46) 3. Chemistry (4:56) 4. Digital man (6:20) 5. The weapon (part II of Fear) (6:22) 6. New world man (3:41) 7. Losing it (4:51) 8. Countdown (5:49)

Report this review (#41347)
Posted Tuesday, August 2, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars This sounds to me, like the beginning of the end, in a way. This is the last disc they would co-produce/arrange with Terry Brown co-chairing. From GUP out, they would change producers quickly, with often substandard results. "SIGNALS" is a dark album, driven by jaded, cold lyrics and the kind of negative vibe that makes the listener feel like there's a phantasm behind him/her, almost like the feeling that they achieved with "Vital Signs" from MOVING PICTURES.

By definition, Rush were and are the proverbial prog-rock band. PROGRESSIVE, according to, means "Moving forward; advancing." That's what makes Rush so great as a band (Grace Under Pressure...not so great). Times were changing; music as a whole was caught up in the death throes of punk at one end and new wave's first steps at the other. What to do? Do you abandon the prog of MP and go with shorter, more concise compositions, or do you continue along the well-worn prog path of side-long songs? They chose the former, and it worked perfectly.

"Signals" is, in a way, "Moving Pictures, Part 2.", simply because the themes and music fit together like a hand in a glove. "Subdivisions", with its chilling synth chords, insistent, thick guitar and driving drums, set the perfect stage for Peart's lyrics, dissatisfied with the desolation of suburbia and of life as a whole. "The Analog Kid" is my favorite song on the disc, and it doesn't even wait to build momentum. Fast from the onset, it speaks to the listener of wanting and being able to find a better life outside of what's being fed to you.

In a way, that's what this whole album is about. If "Moving Pictures" was about finding a new life, "Signals" is about the newness wearing off and dissatisfction setting in. I can think of no other band that speaks of that feeling so stylishly than Rush, and that's why it's worth 5 stars. My advice for the neo-progger...don't start here though. It's best to begin with HEMISPHERES or PERMANENT WAVES. the first disc lets you see where they are, and the latter; where they're going.

Report this review (#42039)
Posted Monday, August 8, 2005 | Review Permalink
2 stars I may be in opposition here, but in my opinion Signals was a bad step backwards by Rush, or rather it was an album where they gave in to the fashionable sound of the time (1982). All the synths and chart-pop-like melodies are soooo 1980's . I liked this album in the early eighties when I first heard it, but nowadays it makes me just sigh. It simply hasn't stood the test of time.

'Subdivisions' opens the record with a melody that wouldn't have been too out of place in the Eurovision song contest in the eighties (sorry, if I'm a bit harsh here), and the better songs ('Analog Kid') cannot rescue the album. To me, Rush's tour de force was in those powerful and a bit aggressive songs of the mid- and late 70's. Never mind the exteremely naïve lyrics (like By-Tor and the Snow Dog), in Signals they missed something very honest and original that they had previously had. Unfortunately the same can be said of most of Rush's 1980's material.

Report this review (#42598)
Posted Friday, August 12, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Signals is the best Rush album ever! Every single song is excellent and the whole cd flows beautifully together. I have read Rush say this was an experimental album that didn't go well. That's proof that artists' perspective on their own work is often distorted! The sound quality and songwriting is top notch. I have every cd, and Signals and Exit Stage Left... are the two I love to listen to all the way through. I think it would be great if they would reconnect with Terry Brown. I will always be a life long fan, but to me Terry and Rush bring out the best in each other. Rush In Rio and all their live stuff is out of this world. they are the only band I know who consistently improve on their studio stuff live. I feel that Vapor Trails is their best studio disc since Signals. Read Ghost Rider, excellent book, and Vapor Trails is so much more meaningful after reading it. God Bless!!
Report this review (#48393)
Posted Sunday, September 25, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars I'm proud of my Canadian homies in Rush...they're one of the few acts from the Seventies still making respectable albums. But man, do they divide the fans. Some like Big Riff Alex and Helium Geddy from the Seventies, some like New Wave Mullet Geddy and Delay Unit Alex from the Eighties, and never the twain shall meet. I personally enjoy both eras, but to me, Signals represents the pinnacle of Rush's career. Unpopular view, but true. After this album, the emphasis on synths took over the band and they lost their way a little for a while, but on Signals, the guitars are still upfront, if more subtle, and keys are used judiciously. Geddy's vocals are classy in his new lower register, but still full of passion. And Peart's lyrics have never sharper. I'm really not fond of Ayn Rand, so some of his early lyrics were a turn-off, but by this point he was making his points on individuality more subtly, as on Subdivisions, my fave Rush song, which PERFECTLY describes the suburban environment that I grew up in outside Toronto. And the guitar solo! The Analog Kid features a killer riff followed by an amazing, spacious bridge that I could listen to all day long on its own. Digital Man and New World Man are tuneful science rock at its best, and you'd have to have a heart of stone not to be moved by the ballad Losing It, a compassionate song emphasized by Ben Mink's soulful violin. There's not a bad track on this album. I feel that the previous two much- lauded records were merely warm-ups for Signals, which is unquestionably one of the best albums of the Eighties, and is the album where Rush's vision became complete.
Report this review (#52563)
Posted Friday, October 21, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars My favorite Rush album- from my favorite band. Yes- I love 80's Rush, along with 70's and 90's Rush-

The Music is inspiring- clean, and energetic.

The Lyrics are- well, the same! (see above)

Evry song is solid- every song makes a statement.

When Rush puts out another album- I hope they look to Signals for inspiration.

This is the best of the 80's era!

Report this review (#52672)
Posted Friday, October 21, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars Coming after the live album "break" that "Exit Stage Left" provided, it was should have been no surpise that Rush would try to push their sound and style in a new direction, much as they did with "A Farewell to Kings." But, what many must have thought back in 1982 was a radical change, with heavy use of synths and even a song featuring electric violin, today can be seen as more of a transitional album.

Many of the Classic Rush elements are still prevalent: Geddy Lee's Rickenbacker tone, Neil Peart's propulsive/mind-bending drumming, vivid lyrical imagery, experiments with complicated time signatures, the band still recorded songs exactly as they would perform them live (ex.: the bass drops out when Geddy plays the keys) ... And yet, it was all different: sci fi epics had been replaced with lyrical themes "closer to home" (most having to do with communication, as the title "Signals" suggests); Geddy sang in a lower register; Alex's huge guitars were more washed with chorus effects than ever before, and he played a more rhythmic role; the songs avoided more traditional rock and flirted with reggae...

And the most amazing thing? It all works! Despite problems with the recording (imagine how this album would have sounded if there weren't problems with the digital tape?), the band's energy and emotion still pours through the new sounds and styles. That's what makes this album a classic, and demonstrates how good this band is at exploring new sounds, textures, and styles, and yet, all the while remaining themselves -- and bringing their fans along for the ride.

This album pointed in the direction that the band would continue to go, reaching it's peak with the heavily overdubbed, complicated, and keyboard-heaving "Hold Your Fire." But, looking back at "Signals" from our current vantage point, it is easy to see how the album was the perfect bridge for the band to cross between "Moving Pictures" and the rest of the 1980's.

Report this review (#53117)
Posted Monday, October 24, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars A worthy follow up to the magnificient Moving Pictures album this shows Rush becoming ever more tight and economical in their approach while Peart delivers some of his best lyrics.Geddy Lee also develops his synth work a stage further.I like this album a lot although I think it just falls short of being a masterpeice but nevertheless a fine effort.4.75 stars.
Report this review (#62177)
Posted Thursday, December 29, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars [4.5 stars, if we must nitpick.]

Rush always moved with the times, equally inspired by younger acts and inspiring to even younger upstarts. 'Subdivisions' holds up the largest mirror to the era it was released than any of their other albums. While it's one of the most hotly-debated albums in their discography, I find it remains one of their tighest and most focused works. Though I normally detest the production and arrangement de-evolution that prog went through in the '80s, 'Signals' finds Rush comfortable and convincing in their new (wave) mold. There are clear references to then-current bands like The Police, The Fixx, Ultravox and even fellow Canadians FM. Elements of reggae and electro-pop aren't subtle this time (as they were on 'Moving Pictures' track "Vital Signs").

I can understand how people wouldn't take to 'Signals' easily, because it trims (or totally snips off) several elements that made Rush so appealing. The spacious grand-hall productions are now replaced by compressed little rooms of sound. The extended arrangements of "The Camera Eye" and "Natural Science" are supplanted by shorter, leaner songs like "The Analog Kid", "Losing It" and the shockingly short 3:42 of "New World Man". Geddy Lee's wild shriek is now a mature, contemplative mid-range. And Alex Lifeson appears to have sat this one out. (Actually, he's quite present, just mixed low and playing incredibly subtle parts.) It is to Rush's great credit that despite all the hair-cutting (figuratively and literally) that 'Signals' achieves its aim and marks a high point in the band's ever-active development.

So what if they changed? Hadn't they always? Anyone listening closely to 'Permanent Waves' and 'Moving Pictures' could see the signals. It's the emotional impact of the material that really seals the deal: "The Analog Kid" reflects the long- gone carefree days of youth; "Subdivisions" steps one foot in fear/paranoia/alienation and the other in hopeful escape; "Losing It" displays an hypnotic melancholy pull; "Countdown", despite the hot/cold reaction from fans, gets a hot thumbs-up from me. It thrills with anxious drama and conveys the pride of technological innovation, all swirled within an arrangement of unpredictable, unusual melodic shifts and key changes.

No doubt, Rush can still play like gods. Neil Peart's rhythmic complexity shapes "The Weapon" into a thing of wonder. Geddy's nimble bass work in "The Analog Kid" is some of his best. Together with his often ghostly vocals and memorable synth lines (esp. "Subdivisions" and "Countdown"), 'Signals' is one of his overall strongest performances ever. And it's fun to pick out Lifeson's stealth guitar work, an admirable approach considering how front-and-center he was in their sound in the 10 years previous.

I can't give this album perfect marks, because I feel that "New World Man" is a pop/reggae-infected weak link, and "Digital Man" is a little too reminiscent of the younger bands Rush took inspiration from at this time. All else is perfection. The positive change the band took on 'Signals' would unfortunately turn out all wrong by the end of the decade, but that's another review and just my personal opinion. I know some crazy people who think 'Hold Your Fire' is one of their best albums...and even delusional schizophrenics are entitled to their opinion.

Report this review (#62902)
Posted Monday, January 2, 2006 | Review Permalink
Tony R
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars An album that really divided the fans when it was released hot on the tails of the triumphant "Moving Pictures" and "Permanent Waves", Signals has really stood the test of time in my opinion.

Very much a turning point in the band's career this difficult album would ultimately lead to the departure of "4th member" producer Terry Brown and usher in the keyboard era that gradually alienated many fans.

"Subdivisions" really typifies the whole album; the intro is so dark and brooding, the vocals lower and the guitar fighting for space amongst the keyboards. One of Peart's finest lyrics paints a picture of boring, middle class suburbia and futile dreams. This dreamlike quality is echoed in the "Analog Kid" where the music and lyrics are juxtaposed - the music takes the opposite approach to what the lyrics suggest, so a dreamy,wistful vocal is accompanied by an uptempo rock beat. "Chemistry" is a strange, odd tempo track that was born out of a soundcheck on the previous tour and in some ways is similar to "Vital Signs" from "Moving Pictures". Next up is the companion track to "Analog kid"; "Digital Man". This track is a drum tour-de-force with some beefy bass and a killer guitar solo. Ironically the band argued with producer Brown about the composition of this track, especially the reggae bridge section and one wonders whether this was the reason he and the band parted ways before the next album. If the drums on the previous track were a tour-de-force then "The Weapon" takes them to a different universe! Apparently the opening to the song was composed by Geddy Lee on a Roland Drum Machine, only for the challenge to be laid down that Peart couldnt play the unusual patterns it created - Neil won the bet and a monster drum performance was created. Another fine guitar solo on this one too. So far we are easily in five star territory so you might guess that the last 3 tracks rather spoil the party.The poppy "New World Man" is a fine radio-friendly song and "Losing It" features a killer violin solo from Ben Mink against some Hemingway-inspired lyrics but the final track "Countdown" just doesnt cut it for me. Our three heroes were special guests of NASA for the launch of the Columbia Space Shuttle in Orlando but they seemed to have left their excitement in Cape Kennedy,it's such an insipid song.

A must have album for all fans of great music and a very mature performance marred only by the occasional missed opportunity.Almost 5 stars, 4.5 at least.

Report this review (#69975)
Posted Sunday, February 19, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars 4.5 stars.

While some people hold 80s Rush to be cheesy, uninteresting, and clinical, I believe that Rush simply fine-tuned their songwriting skills and added synthesizers. Honestly, Signals isn't a big jump from Moving Pictures, which was only slightly darker and so minutely heavier. While both Moving Pictures and Permanent Waves were both released in the 80s preceding Signals, I find this album truly begins the 80s sound that Rush continued to alter and elaborate on throughout the decade.

The simple fact is that there are a ton of great riffs, melodies, and ideas in Signals that I find it even more interesting than any of the previous five or so albums release by Rush. Though the addition of keyboards and further electronics enhances the sound of the band, at least for this particular album, none of the members' roles are reduced. Lifeson established himself early on the first few songs, with some of his greatest guitar solos. He is to the point, and the music definitly benefits from it. Geddy retains his melodic, immediately discernable bass lines and Peart plays beats that work absolutely brilliantly with the music. All in all, great playing for all parties.

Every single song on Signals is tight and perfectly crafted. I can't really say that about any other Rush album, though the previous two come close. Themes of science, technology, space and humanity run throughout, and no song seems out of place. "Subdivisions" and "The Analog Kid" take a bit of a left turn for the band, concentrating on the dreams and aspirations of young children. These are best songs on Signals and always keep me coming back for the next listen. Of course, the rest of the album holds up very well too. Most, saving the subdued, minor- key "Losing It," are upbeat and modeled with extreme precision. "Losing It" is the only song keeping Signals from achieving a perfect score. I just doesn't fit the mood of the album, and it drags a bit toward the end. Other than that, Signals is positively stunning.

If you're just getting into 80s Rush (meaning Signals, Grace Under Pressure and so on), then I suggest Signals be your focal point. It has most of everything good that Rush would offer throughout this period in their career, without any of the downsides that sprouted up later on. I hope that Signals can appeal to every type of Rush fan, but it seems to be a bit hit or miss, and I can never really pinpoint what type of fan would or would not like the album. I suppose you might just have to take a chance with it. I hope you like it, though!

Report this review (#71631)
Posted Saturday, March 11, 2006 | Review Permalink
1 stars I gave it one star only. This album was the begining of the end of RUSH. I like the expression "Dark" when used to describe this album. Yes, I too believe dark should be used as in "sleep". this Record will put you to sleep where almost all the prior records will energize you and keep you FROM sleeping..............Funny, not much has been heard from Rush since this disappointment. This is a very sad thing for one that is the biggest Rush fan.

All this came back to me as my now 10 year old is learning guitar and of course Rush songs..........pre Signals Rush songs. Without any outside influence (as He was not even around in the early 80s, Nor did I speak to him about the subject) He seems content to skip over the Signals recordings on his "Best of" CD. Upon questioning why......He responds, "I don't know, I just don't like that/those song(s)".

Sorry folks, jumping up and saying this album was anything less than a dissapointment would be a lie. All the previous Reviews seem to acknowledge this fact as well, one simply needs to read between the lines of seemingly glowing reviews.

Report this review (#72742)
Posted Thursday, March 23, 2006 | Review Permalink
RIO/Avant/Zeuhl Team
4 stars The follow-up to the mighty "Moving Pictures" is a heavily keyboard-laden affair, with shorter songs and an even more pronounced white-reggae influence than its predecessor. Unpromising as this may sound, it makes up for a solidly good album, though somewhat inferior to its follow-up, "Grace Under Pressure". Lyrically, the subject matter has got remarkably darker, as it shown by the ode to loss and dejection that is "Losing It", doubtlessly one of the most depressing songs ever, though musically beautiful with Ben Mink's wistful violin strains adding interest and feeling. Actually, this is one of the albums in which one can best notice Neil Peart's steady growth as a lyricist - moving farther and farther away from the ideologically suspect days of "2112" and "Closer to the Heart". < The album opens with the well-known, simple but effective synth lines of "Subdivisions", one of the mainstays of the band's live repertoire, a song about youth alienation in suburban areas. Not all the tracks are equally strong, the album's low point being the overtly commercial "New World Man". At its polar opposite stands the icy, sinister "The Weapon", all pulsing synths and quasi-military drumming by the divine Mr Peart, with a brooding, spaced-out guitar interlude which, unfortunately, gets hardly ever mentioned in discussions about Alex Lifeson's finest moments. Other personal favourites are the atmospherical "Chemistry" and "Digital Man", with a reggae-tinged coda straight out of The Police's best work. The synth-soaked "Countdown", while not by any means my favourite track, closes the album on a more optimistic note.< Geddy Lee's performance on this album is nothing short of extraordinary. He manages to juggle his triple role as vocalist, bassist and keyboardist quite stunningly; his bass work is (as usual!) out of this world, uncannily attuned to Peart's masterful drumming. Lifeson, though he may not be a virtuoso as his colleagues, is reliable as always, adding interesting guitar textures to the songs. A very good album from one of the truly great bands.
Report this review (#74850)
Posted Thursday, April 13, 2006 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Having been tested with synthesizer / keyboard punches on previous album "Moving Pictures" this album offers more keyboard especially on riffs that become a bed where other instruments play on top of it. It was actually quite surprised me with the intensity of keyboard used in "Signals" but it's a major progression for the band in terms of their musical approach. What I have already loved about Rush has been their ability to blend attractive, accessible and a bit complex arrangements with excellent lyrics, written by Neil Peart who is also playing the drums. The band has traditionally had a chunky, heavy rhythms and screaming vocals delivered by vocalist/bassist Geddy Lee. But in here with "Signals" he calms down his voice so that it sounds softer than previous albums. This is a good strategy, age-wise, because with the passage of time the God-given voice would deteriorate. If he can adjust into a softer one, one day - say 10 years from now, they can still play the music with vocal quality not that far from the original version recorded todate. Yeah, I think most rock vocalist should learn from Paul Rodgers (ex Free, Bad Company) who managed to create most of his voices in past records with relatively low to medium register notes.

That does not mean Rush has given away their muscular sound. Take a look at "Subdivisions" which has become my favorite track since I heard it the first time. It's definitely a keyboard/synthesizer-based heavy prog rock music which gives Geddy Lee an opportunity to align with the new style of music that Rush plays differently this time. The upbeat tempo and ambient created by the song moves forward this new music into a dynamic setting and it engages the mind of the listeners, I am sure. It's a great album opener!

"The Analog Kid" is a song that provides a constant motion. "Digital Man," is Neil Peart answer to the development of technology. It's about the right time they talked about this because I still remember that by 1984 some forms of records have been digitalized. "Chemistry," indicates a good example on how clever Neil Pert in penning the lyrics for the band.

If I look at album level, the songs that form this album flow naturally from one to the other. It gives an excellent experience whenever I listen to this album in its entirety. For those of you who keep an eye of Rush, it's a must having this CD. It's an excellent addition to any prog music collection. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Report this review (#75850)
Posted Saturday, April 22, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars If you ever doubted Rush's love for technology in music, Signals is quite a refute, if you listen to the sounds produced on this album. There is a nice state-of-the-art (in terms of 1982) quality to Signals which really helps it stand up. I personally enjoy the furthering of the synthesizers on this album, and while there is more of a balance here between keyboard and guitar than in the past, I don't think they have lost any edge yet. As the last album produced with Terry Brown, and then listening to albums thereafter, you realize the big difference in sound production. "Subdivisions" is an excellent opener (and still occasional on radio), and one of my favorite tracks here. The other would be the fast and introspective "Digital Man." You have the other significant hit "New World Man" on here; "The Weapon" and "Losing It" are also excellent; not one bad apple here. Not one Rush song sounds the same here, which is another reason I find Signals so exceptional. Neil Peart's lyrical themes are no longer based on mythical fiction the same way they were in the mid to late 1970s; his lyrics here are more socially conscious and introspective, and he proves to be quite versatile with words. I think Signals is actually better than most of their recordings because of Rush's likeness to try something new and not repeat the formula.
Report this review (#80629)
Posted Wednesday, June 7, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is my first review on Rush, so i will be as much as i can obiectiv and coesive in my review. I think Signals is one of the best Rush in the '80. To me is one of the best Rush, after magic and complex Moving Pictures. Not a masterpiece, but close in style of music with Permanent Waves and Moving Pictures, but with more keys than previous ones. Not a bad album at all, The analog kid and The weapon showes as the direction of Rush in the early '80, and the best tracks of Signals. After all a good album, 4 stars for Signals. I forgot, Neil Peart is one of the biggest drummers ever in my opinion, a truly great and complex drummer.
Report this review (#86450)
Posted Thursday, August 10, 2006 | Review Permalink
Tom Ozric
4 stars I can't really add much more to what has already been said about this album ; it is a very good album indeed, musicianship is top-notch as usual, poly-synths play a large part in the overall sound, Peart's drumming has a slightly raw quality to it, Geddy's bass playing is complex and busy and Lifeson lets it rip on the guitar - you probably already know this. Anyways, to mention one or two highlights : the middle section of 'Losing It' features an excellent violin solo over the top of one of the most powerful, adrenalin surging jams you're likely to hear and it's in 11/8 (or alternates between a bar of 6, then a 5 - but it's exhilirating), and 'Chemistry' has everything in the right place : precision drums and a nicely toned bass sound. Excellent album, but it's hard for Rush to better the insanely brilliant 'Moving Pictures'.
Report this review (#90555)
Posted Tuesday, September 19, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Rush evolving from their jovial genius fase to a more mature and concise one. The songs are less progressive, there is a major focus on the lyrics, the darkened atmosphere and the 80's fashion Rush decided to dress after Moving Pictures.

Subdivisions shows their caracter at the time. Simply and easy guitar and synth playing, with inspired lyrics, miles away from Xanadu or La Villa Strangiatto. Anyway, it's a genial track, with outstanding drumming and melodies, showing how Rush can manage different atmospheres of music, and showing how great musicians and a genial and outstanding band they have been in 30 years. Analog Kid and Digital Man are more synth driven songs, both with catchy chorus and good rhythm sections, while Chemistry starts off with haunting and powerful vocals by the always surprising Geddy. This album can be ssem as an extension of moving pictures, just like, the same purpose under a different key, although the architetonical sound of MP and their other 3 outstanding prog works in the late 70's was being abandoned by now, in favor of a more gentle purpose. Even for Rush fans, it's a question of taste. I give it 5 stars 'cause this album achieves exactly what they meant to want in their purpose (and what an exotical and interesting purpose!).

Report this review (#92165)
Posted Tuesday, September 26, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Another album full of dark subjects that belies the synth-brightness of the music. Guitars, bass and drums are still very much in evidence but here we see the band really pushing the electronic envelope of early 80s music. Lots of progressive elements in the synth swirls, guitar runs and typically complex song structures.

This is an up tempo album without a single filler track, from the driving opening of "Subdivisions" to the closing roar of "Countdown" you feel that each track simply belongs. Even my favourite track on this album, which is the melancholic "Losing It", is not out of place.

By this point in their career, Rush are on top form and could do no wrong. This is another masterpiece - despite what some will say about the heavy use of synths!

Report this review (#96335)
Posted Tuesday, October 31, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars who said that the golden era of Rush ended at "Moving Pictures"? you might want to add - at least - this little gem too... 'Signals' was the first release of the third era of the band.. the 80's synth driven one... and while this is the point where many fans got disappointed with the new sound, i would strongly recommend this one cause the musicianship is still on really high levels... however poppy or synth driven it is, prog elements are still quite obvious...IMHO, all the songs stand out except for "Countdown"... there's a lot of excitement, a quite up-lifting album... let's not forget that back then, Rush were at their best state.. they had just released their Magnum Opus, their popularity was ever growing and they were touring like crazy.. given all of the above, "Signals" came out to be a very "positive" up-tempo, prog pop masterpiece...

Report this review (#99037)
Posted Thursday, November 16, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars This has always been THE Rush album for me. There are some excellent lyrics, far more excellent playing and "The Weapon" is their masterpiece. If you would like to introduce Rush to anyone I suggest this album. And heavy use of synths is not so bad - they are used by the good taste. btw, the artwork of cover (vinyl album) is so far their best. There are only eight songs but they are "worth of every penny".
Report this review (#104742)
Posted Thursday, December 28, 2006 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars The band shows their love of basaball in the liner notes as Geddy is refered to as the pitcher, Alex the first baseman, and Neil the third baseman. I know Geddy has been a regular at Blue Jay games for a lot of years now. But as far as the music goes, I still remember my frustration with this album when I got it. I played it for about 2 weeks straight, finally throwing it in my glove compartment in the car. I didn't like it at all. It was probably three weeks later I was bored with the music I was listening to so I brought it back out for another spin. Well it just kind of clicked with me, I liked it and I grew to really like it.

Things get started with "Subdivisions" with synths and drums leading the way in this song and album. The lyrics are thought provoking and the synths sound incredible. Nice guitar solo about 4 1/2 minutes in. "The Analog Kid" is my favourite song off this album. The bass and drums take the spotlight in this uptempo, catchy tune, although the tempo slows down during the chorus. Again the lyrics are great such as "...the boy pulls down his baseball cap and covers up his eyes." Alex lets it rip about 3 1/2 minutes in, nice !

"Chemistry" was once voted worst RUSH song on their web-site some years ago. It has a bombastic intro and an almost mechanical feel to it. "Digital Man" is a pretty good song with a catchy melody that gets better after 3 minutes. "The Weapon (Part II of Fear)" is another thought provoking song and check out the drumming after 5 minutes. "New World Man" along with "Subdivisions" certainly recieved a lot of air play over the years. "Losing It" is another favourite of mine, a haunting song where the mood changes 2 minutes in. It's great ! "Countdown" is a song that got the band an invitation to NASA to witness live what they were singing about. The melody is terrific in this one.

Excellent release !

Report this review (#104855)
Posted Friday, December 29, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars First of all, I must say... if I ever encounter Rush's "Subdivisions" on the radio, I will turn it up and stay tuned in for the entire length of the song. I may even bob my head a little.

That is not to say that that song can save the whole album.

Alright, let's start with a basic point: Rush began as a band (ok, after the first album) which relied on the strength of their *entire album*... the idea that the whole album told a story, and any singular track didn't have as much impact on the listener as the entire album did.

Then suddenly the 1980s came along. And MTV. And suddenly so much more emphasis was placed on the "song" then ever before. And Rush, as well as other progressive rock bands, was suddenly lost. "Just one song?"... It was a phenomenon not understood by these bands who had relied on intelligent listeners willing to endure *an entire album*... I say this in jest, of course, because for those intelliigent listeners an entire album would have been a blessing, not a curse. But for the majority of America the "single" was the primary source of response, not the "album". And with the advent of MTV this became even more apparent.

(One wonders, then, how a genius band such as Marillion came about? But that's neither here nor there...)

So Rush, understandably, became what this trend wanted. They said amongst themselves: Well, we need more "hit singles"... we need to retain the Rush/Ayn Rand mentality, but eject it into short, more melodic songs...

Which was perfectly understandable, as I've said. What else were they supposed to do? Well, they could have all killed themselves, which would have left an interesting catalogue in and of itself...

But instead they chose to release "Signals." Which is a great album! But just not a great album for Rush, considering what they had accomplished in the past. What we have here is a short collection of songs, with stunted ideas, that never follow through with what Rush wanted in the first place. Sadly, Peart's lyrics are compromised to fit a formula, and the musicianship is also (understandably) compromised. Like I said in the beginning, I always turn "Subdivisions" up, but that song alone can't completely save a failed album. My stars in this case go primarily to that one song.

Report this review (#115435)
Posted Saturday, March 17, 2007 | Review Permalink
Prog Leviathan
4 stars A slight departure in sound but still showing the same thoughtfulness and intelligence, "Signals" is yet another Rush album packed with excellent songs. Peart out does himself lyrically while the band's decision to fully incorporate the use of synthesizers adds a whole new dimension to their sound. While many decry "Signals" as the end of Rush... those people are not very fair and certainly not very open to change; this album has a lot to like and will likely attract just as many fans as it alienates because of its catchy hooks-- but don't think for a second that "Signals" is poppy!

"Subdivisions" opens with an unforgettable and monstrous synthesized pulse that sets the stage for a complete set of big songs. "Analog Kid" has one of the most unstoppable riffs the band has ever written, while "New World Man" is yet another witty jab/observation about the day's people and times.

The trio's playing sizzles and never disappoints, while their song writing (although changing gears slightly) remains just as smart and dynamic as before.

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

Report this review (#116637)
Posted Thursday, March 29, 2007 | Review Permalink
2 stars The synth takeover.

Signals "signalizes" the takeover of the keyboard in Rush music. It also signaled the end of an era in what I will call "Rush dominance" because of the lack of mainstay prog bands in the early 80's. Arguably when this record was released, it can be seen as one of the best out there simply because prog had reached a lull. However, this does not excuse it from the test of time (which is ultimately what all music must pass), and this album is mediocre at best, and certainly lesser in quality than previous Rush classics.

As for the album itself, the synths are there, but they honestly don't sound that bad. No, it makes you think it's not Rush, but some of the tunes are still pretty rocking (though obviously less proggy as compared to say, Cygnus X-1. I guess the biggest complaint here is much of this seems really derivative, and even though the musicians are all playing tightly and cohesive, it's not very entertaining. There's one moderately interesting single and a hodgepodge of moderate riffing.

I long for the fruits of Xanadu, but alas, this is what we have. While its not terrible, no one but Rush fans should really check this out, and even then, it comes with a bit of a warning.

Report this review (#117003)
Posted Sunday, April 1, 2007 | Review Permalink
2 stars After a string of classic and groundbreaking prog-rock albums culminating in Permanent Waves and Moving Pictures, Rush's music unfortunately became infected by the "new wave"/synth influences of the 1980s. Gone is the organic warmth of the production sound of the music - the way the rocking guitars, drums and bass fit together in a familiar yet original composite. Gone are the off-the-wall odd-time instrumental passages. Gone are the exhilarating riffs, epic songs and excellent songwriting. In other words, a large part of what made Rush so great is absent from this album. Cold and cheesy synthesizers dominate this disc. Practically the entire thing unfolds in uniform and predictable fashion (perhaps deliberate on the part of Neil Peart, to reflect the lyrical themes of conformity and the dominance of machinery) with eight five-minute verse/chorus/verse songs. The guitar solos are brief, and decent - but not amazing. I think this album might just have worked if the quality of songwriting was better. Alas, most of it is fairly uninspired. (Red Sector A and Distant Early Warning on the next album illustrate the synth approach actually working, due to good songwriting - but it doesn't happen here.) Dull.
Report this review (#117900)
Posted Tuesday, April 10, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars I honestly can't believe that I haven't submitted a review of this album yet. I discovered Rush just after Moving Pictures was released, so this was the first anticipated Rush album for me as a wide eyed 14 year old. I wasn't so jaded because I was so new to the band, so hearing this was like hearing Rush for the first time.

Now that I'm a few years down the road, I'm able to listen to it with a seasoned maturity and it's still a great album to these ears. This is the period where the band really began experimenting with synthesizers to the point it really began to be a vital ingredient to their music. The brilliant thing about Signals (and Rush, in general) is they didn't saturate their music with synth overkill. Additionally, you could hear how truly good Geddy was on the keyboards. Sure, he's no Rick Wakeman, but on the album's initial track "Subdivisions", Geddy pulls off a very good and brief synth solo prior to Lifeson's solo. He does this throughout Signals, but this song and his synth on "Countdown" really sparkles.

As for Mr. Lifeson, it's well documented that the Signals sessions frustrated him greatly. Possibly due to the heavy use of synths, his parts do sometimes get swallowed up. Still, that doesn't diminish the fact he rips out some amazing guitar solos--most notibly during "The Analog Kid" and "Chemistry". The latter was actually played and recorded outdoors up on a hilltop. Oh, how wonderful it must've been to see a sillhouetted Lifeson up on the hill grinding out a solo.

One surprise is the very slow and ballad-like "Losing It". Almost heartbreaking, it's a song about being well beyond your prime to the point of your past talents and glories being a faded memory. It's a beautiful song, with FM's Ben Mink playing violin.

Signals straddled the old Rush that played 10+ epics, to the modern Rush who shortenend their songs and went for a more straight ahead approach. It also ended an era as it was to be the last time Rush would have worked with longtime producer, Terry Brown. Nonetheless, it's such a powerful, well produced album that still sounds fresh to this day. It's one of the few albums that sound better today than it did when it was first released. An absolute masterpiece! 5 strong stars!!!

Report this review (#119370)
Posted Sunday, April 22, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars

The previous release was a masterpiece and it was really hard to keep the same level. Rush changed the direction here and the songs have a "mainstream" structure format. The same Rush style is recognizable but they don't have the same progressive approach they had on Hemispheres for example. The clear direction started by this album was somehow predictable by the previous release because the keyboard was also presented even if not on the same level as on this one.

What is new here is the fact that they really use the keyboards a lot but also they used an electric violin on Losing It played by Ben Mink (which is maybe the most interesting song from this album). The last song is dedicated to the lunch of shuttle craft Columbia back in '81. It seems that the same as Genesis they decided to switch to a more commercial approach. For sure they lost some of their fans but maybe they attracted some other to progressive realms. In my opinion if somebody will want to listen to an album which is representative for Rush progressiveness then you should go back a few years and try to listen Moving Pictures, Permanent Waves or Hemispheres but if you want something light this is a good choice. I prefer what Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson and Neil Peart did before this one for sure. We have to consider also the year when this album was released in '82 and if you check which other progressive bands released their albums then we will maybe understand that there was nothing really happened .Maybe for that year this was the best effort so far.

Report this review (#126295)
Posted Tuesday, June 19, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Signals shows Rush fully embracing the new synth sound introduced with Permanent Waves and Moving Pictures. This is one of Rush's darkest albums lyrically, which makes a nice contrast to the lighter sound. It's semi-conceptual, not following a story but rather focusing on the views of a teen of the edge of maturity. Despite the lusher sound, the band still plays ferociously and their performances never cease to be entertaining.

"Subdivisions" deals with society's pressure to conform, a common occurrence with high school cliques. "The Analog Kid" is the band's "memory lane" song, looking back at simpler times. "Chemistry" reflects the effects of love. In response, "Digital Man" shows the Analog Kid grown up in a world of technology that threatens the individual (in case you haven't noticed by now, this is a BIG theme in Rush music). Lifeson's solo here is killer. "The Weapon" continues the Fear saga begun on the last album (the band moves backwards from part 3). The man feels like "just another brick in the wall" as it were. Now the Digital Man attempts to change, making him a "New World Man." His dreams are crushed in "Losing It," which has a great electric violin. Still, not all technology is bad, as evidenced on the final track "Countdown," which salutes NASA and the launch of the first space shuttle. I guess Peart's love of sci-fi bars him from fully condemning technology.

This is the last album of Rush's golden era (starting with 2112), and it's a Rush classic. Peart never ceases to amaze not just as a drummer, but as one of prog's finest lyricists. Lifeson and Lee shine throughout, and Lifeson would be somewhat relegated to the back for the next few albums (though he still gave some great performances on every album).

Grade: B+

Report this review (#126304)
Posted Tuesday, June 19, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars "conform or be cast out." True then, true now.

A pivotal album for Rush. Many fans consider this the beginning of the next exciting chapter of the band while others consider it effectively the end of their favorite rock band. While I can understand the frustration of the latter group it is my opinion that Signals is mostly an enjoyable success.

"Subdivisions" is a very special song to my heart. I get chills every time I listen to it. My absolute favorite Peart lyrics are here as he captures the complete isolation, loneliness, fear, and shame that some shunned young people feel at that age. I remember those years in the burbs well and understand the feelings they wrote about. And beyond the lyrics are the dark and foreboding mood that the keys create for me, like dark clouds on the horizon.

"Losing It" is the other standout track and one of Rush's most heart-wrenching emotional songs. Ben Minks electric violin fits the piece perfectly. The music is so wistful and underscores more of Neil's perfect lyrics, especially the end about ones dreams. Alex lets rip an imaginative solo before they sadly choose to let this great song fade out. They should have expanded this one a bit.

While clearly a success I don't believe that Signals is quite as good as the four albums that precede it and could not call it essential except to Rush fans. I also see it as quite a drop in quality from Moving Pictures (except for the tracks mentioned above) and thus the 3 star rating.

Report this review (#126951)
Posted Wednesday, June 27, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Rarely have Rush sounded so fresh and alive than on Signals. Signals seems to alienate many fans who see it as a drastic turning point in the band's sound. However, not all that much has changed here, and there's certainly nothing they didn't warn you was coming. Synths take over a more prevalent role, but they are far from dominating the music. They're integrated nearly perfecting being as much as part of the songs as every other instrument without any being overshadowed. The band drops any aspiration of sprawling epics and focuses on more concise song writing in the spirit of songs such as "YYZ" and "Spirit of Radio." Musically the band plays just as stunningly as on any other album, especially Alex who delivers much better lead work than on Moving Pictures.

Some of the absolute highlights from the band can be heard here. The album opener "Subdivisions" features a haunting synth line over some intricate rhythmic interplay and ranks in my top ten Rush songs of all time. "Losing It" featuring violin by Ben Mink and the lyrical "The Analog Kid" make up two more highlights of an album that's nearly all highlight. I have some minor complains with the album's close "Countdown" which never really captured my attention and ends a fantastic album on a rather dull note. Despite the stigma attached to Signals, it's every bit as good, if not better, than Moving Pictures or any other album in Rush's discography. The sound is not as drastically different as many people tend to let off; And the band plays with more energy than it had since Hemispheres. It should appeal to even those with a minor interest in Rush.

Report this review (#130064)
Posted Tuesday, July 24, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Welcome to the eighties!

I love 80's Rush. It is very different from 70's Rush, as it is far lighter and more synth-driven, but is where some of my favorite albums come from. "Signals" is the first album to fully feature their "80's sound", as the previous two albums still had one foot in the 70's. This doesn't mean that their older sound was completely forsaken, but they were clearly in a new direction. If not I'm not mistaken, I believe I read they parted ways with their long time producer after this album because he wanted to stay in their older, more progressive direction, and Geddy wanted to stay on their current path. Well, it worked and I love it.

Musically, it is very complex, as that is the typical Rush fashion. Alex's guitar is as great as ever, even though more sparse than before because of Geddy's keyboards, which are phenomenal by the way. His skill at keyboards increases on every album. Neil's drums are as impressive as ever. I also really enjoy the electric violin added for "Losing It". It brings a new, different flavor that isn't commonly used on Rush songs. All that being said, my favorites are "Subdivisions", "The Analog Kid", "The Weapon", and "Losing It", although all the tracks are extremely good. Highly Recommended, especially for those starting out on Rush and might be scared away by Geddy's screaming and other such things on older records.

Report this review (#141581)
Posted Tuesday, October 2, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This was Rush's last exceptional album. They went on to make some other very good records and even continued to progress as an entity but in retrospect, Signals was the last time the world-class ensemble would truly surprise us with their music and ideas. The uninspired and gloomy Grace Under Pressure was to come next and somehow they were never able to get back the magic (in fact 2007's Snakes and Arrows is the closest they've come to rekindling that old glory). At the time Signals was released, the trio was accused by some of "selling out", "going pop" and God forbid, becoming "a keyboard band". Of course this new sound was a natural extension of what they had done on the previous two albums and the band had never been one to repeat itself, but their hard-rockin' fans cried foul. No matter, the LP turned out to be a wonderful if somewhat restrained session, economic and clean. And filled with really good songs.

'Subdivisions' sets a stark tone and warns of the plight of youth - a continuous subject for this record - Neil Peart's sharp drum accents and sympathetic lyrics, and Alex Lifeson's slippery riff leads 'Analog Kid' featuring some great Jimmy Page-style breaks on guitar. The awkward 'Chemistry' is an academic look at human relations, 'Digital Man' contemplates a cybernetic future, 'The Weapon' is a chilling reflection of the darker side of human nature, and 'New World Man' continues the theme of youth fenced-in. The deep sadness of 'Losing It' expresses the fate of the creative artist and is one of the band's most heartfelt moments, and 'Countdown' ends on an high note with fond memories of early spaceflight.

Balanced between the new sounds of the 80s and their heavy past, Signals was, to many fans, both the end of an era and the start of a new, polished and mature period for this beloved band.

Report this review (#146653)
Posted Wednesday, October 24, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars At the end of moving pictures you could start to hear Rush's sound changing, more synths and less guitar. Signals is where it starts for Rush's new sound, but you can still tell its the great trio we all know. On Siganls there are some great tracks Like the classic outsider song Subdivisions,The Analog Kid, Digital Man, and the weapon. Many people dislike 80's rush,but they were just changing with the times,technology was changing, and they were experimenting with new sounds.Every good band should change it up just a little but not lose their sound. Even though we all know from 2112 to moving pictures was there best stuff you should not overlook this album. A good Rush album 4 stars
Report this review (#149175)
Posted Monday, November 5, 2007 | Review Permalink
Queen By-Tor
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Into the 80s.

the year is 1982, and though Rush has released a string of albums after the 70s ended and before this point they'd still managed to not be tainted by the new music movements around them like so may other bands at the time. Signals is the album that Rush used as a pivoting point. The music is familiar enough to the last 2 albums to keep fans interested while making it new enough that they would start their next 'era'. Some fans love it, some hate it, but what is undeniable about this album is that it's still great. Is it a masterpiece? Close, but no.

So what's different about it that sets it apart from the last albums?

Well, lets see. Synthesizers are brought right up to the front, and Geddy seems to enjoy using them. Ironically, when they'd go in to record their next album 'Grace Under Pressure' they'd claim that the synthesizers were too far in the front, and Alex needed to be heard better. Also different is the fact that the songs are generally shorter. Sure, there's a few longer ones, but there's nothing here like 'The Camera Eye' or 'Cygnus'. As a matter of fact, this is the first album that doesn't feature a song over 9 minutes since 1975. The material here is a bit more radio friendly and the lyrics are a little bit more down to earth (at parts) and seems to talk about the everyman a bit more. Other than that, lets just get to the music.

Everybody knows the opening synth riff to SUBDIVISONS, this song has become almost as popular as 'Tom Sawyer'. It's a good song, if not terribly progressive. This one is certainly one of the songs that was meant for the radio stations. ANALOG kid is up next, it's pounding bass-line proving that Rush still rocks. Again, not too progressive, but a great rock song none the less. More radio friendly songs on the album include the excellent NEW WORLD MAN. Peart seems to have a thing writing about the 'everyman' and here he nails it once more. This is a song with some very nice lyrics that can appeal to anyone. Definitely one to listen to when you're feeling down for whatever reason.

So Rush still rocks, but can they still Prog?

Yes, yes they can. A bunch of songs in the middle prove this to us, the first of which being DIGITAL MAN. Slightly funky, following somewhat on the tail of 'Vital Signs' from the previous album, but this time longer and better put together. Following that we have part II of the IV part 'Fear' started on the previous album with 'Witch Hunt'. I am, of course, talking about THE WEAPON. This is an ominous track deserving of it's name, still a bit funky and definately 80s, but done with such style that you won't even care. COUNTDOWN is another standout, written about the band's experience watching the space shuttle Columbia launch.

Anything else?

There's a couple of tracks still not mentioned. LOSING IT is a fairly slow song which is, more or less, about the loss of desire. An interesting one to have sitting next to NEW WORLD MAN. Then there's CHEMISTRY, a slow clunky rocker that's still great and let's Geddy shout out at the top of his lungs. Excellent.

So it gets a....

4 stars. Excellent addition to any progressive collection. This is also the last essential album by Rush to come for a while. Somewhat an end of an era, but also the beginning of something completely new an fresh. After all, who wants a band to stay static for its entire career?

Report this review (#160795)
Posted Monday, February 4, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars The last of Rush's perfect masterpieces. The last with producer Terry Brown. This album, of course, would appeal to fans of Rush's music and people with grievances of Geddy Lee's voice. I have a problem with neither, but this would be a good starter to recommend to anyone who has a problem with Geddy Lee. Lee's voice is relatively laid back here without the cat getting caught in the vacuum cleaner. Musically, everything melds together perfectly. A crossroads between their past, and an omen to the future. Highlights include the closer Countdown with samples from the Kennedy Space Centre of grond control during a Space Shuttle Launch. Countless prog.rock metal bands have been inspired by this track since. Subdivisions has an amazing ending with Neil Peart playing at his fractured wrist best...he's almost superhuman. The real highlight here is the track Losing It which features some guest electric violin from FM's Ben Mink. One of the better Rush jams when things get a little hairy. New World Man is very Police- like. I'm sure you've all heard it. Rush's Signals is a must own prog.rock masterpiece.
Report this review (#160853)
Posted Tuesday, February 5, 2008 | Review Permalink
Italian Prog Specialist
4 stars Signals is a perfect title for this great album. Because it signals that Rush is ready to take a new step along their trail of forever-greatness. I wasn't pleased when I listened to this for the first time. Synths all over the place! What happened to the three guys that made A Farewell to Kings, Hemispheres all know the list. It's even funky, and do I notice some reggae influences as well?

The truth is that nothing happened, they are doing just the same thing they've done for decades now. Producing top-notch quality music flavoured by its time, spiced up by great musicianship and the intensity I only have found with Rush so far. Beautiful layers of flowing keys is this albums most prominent feature, with the guitar in the back. A shame, says some, great say I. At least in this case. Because the music doesn't suffer from this, it's still very present in this laid-back textural way. Geddy's singing is tasteful as usual, not a trace of aggression here. Coming to think of it that is another dominant feature here. Reflection is the word for describing the album.

From the dark and oh-so-true lyrics of Subdivisions, through the musical bliss that is The Analog Kid (atmosphere...intensity!), the uniquely vibrant and the groovy Digital Man, passing the chilling The Weapon, groovy and great again with New World Man until the album finally lands (or should I say take off) with more sad reflection in Losing It and the underrated Countdown.

Ah, Countdown, so tense and well-executed. Probably the closest most of us will come to space travel, and in itself a celebration of the possibilities we actually have today.

Never dismiss this album for not being classic Rush. It sure is a big step forward, even in comparison to Moving Pictures, and yes, that fact might scare some people away. Just like it did with me. But give it time and you'll be rewarded. This is Rush both in spirit and in music.

Report this review (#162332)
Posted Thursday, February 21, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars Firstly, I have to say that this is one of my favourite Rush albums. It feels different from what went before - tighter, short songs - and yet is still completely Rush. Subdivisions opens the album and shows exactly how to use a synthesier - it's refreshing, intense and brilliant, and Geddy Lee's vocal is spot on. The Analog Kid has some good riffing, Chemistry has some nice synth, Digital Man is good, so too is The Weapon. New World Man requires a few plays before it sinks in as a good song. Losing It is a classic, strong emotionally and benifitting from added violin. Countdown ends the album well as we listen to a rocket to the moon being launched. It's so good that you are there!

This is the best Rush synth era album. A must-have. 5/5.

Report this review (#162440)
Posted Saturday, February 23, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars 1982 was a very abstemious prog year. In those days I was already some sort of proghead but not one who was already exploring everything from past and present as I am now. So when in those days an album like Signals was released a progger was easily pleased and embraced everything that was slightly more than acceptable. And that was what this album was and still is in my opinion.

As the successor of Moving Pictures (the transition album by Rush from sheer Symphonic to more popular and accessible) one could expect an album more or less in the same vein or maybe even more according to the new style. And that's what it is I believe. It's even proven by the fact that Countdown was released as a single also (in fact I even bought the vinyl of the maxi single) and that means that Rush was officially attempting to reach the general public. I remember it was even shown on Music Box in those days but I'm not sure if it was a great hit in the States and Canada. Anyway, besides this track to me Subdivisions was another one standing out from the rest but the other 6 tracks were just slightly more than mediocre to me and that's what I mean with the statement in the beginning: I remember I still loved it back then because there wasn't too much around where prog was concerned but when I listen to it now and compare it to many other progalbums this has a completely different impact on me.

I will still give it 3 stars because of sentimental reasons and because it's not bad at all. But to be honest I'm surprised by the 4 and 5 star ratings it's getting by many reviewers.

Report this review (#164125)
Posted Monday, March 17, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars To me, this album seems like a logical continuation of where the band was going from Moving Pictures. While some bemoan the lack of epic songs, 'The Camera Eye' on Moving Pictures was a regular length song performed twice, and to me 'Red Barchetta' told a much better story than 'Cygnus X-1'. The obvious backlash from fans to 'Signals' can mostly be attributed to the sudden drop in guitar activity, with keyboards now providing much of the meat of the arrangements. Alex Lifeson's guitar playing here is nonetheless similar in content to that of 'Moving Pictures', only lower in the mix, and kudos must be given to Lifeson for blending in so perfectly with the synthesizers used by Geddy Lee. The album on the whole is less demonstrative than its predecessors, in my opinion actually a quite 'progressive' step for the band, who not only had refined their songwriting process from the overly selfconscious 'progressive' efforts of earlier records, but moved with the times, bringing an up-to-date (at the time) arsenal of synthesizers, electronic drums and guitar processing to the Rush sound. The fact that the album still sounds relevant today is a testament to how well the band implemented these innovations, and rather than sounded tacked-on and dated, they sound natural and are well utilized.

The opener, 'Subdivisions' is the most famous track here, and is in my opinion one of Rush's finest songs, up there with 'Tom Sawyer', 'Xanadu' and 'Natural Science'. The insistent synthesizer part blends perfectly with Alex Lifeson's brilliant rhythm playing, and Neil Peart's drums not only sound great but are brilliantly played, his patterns really bringing life to the arragement. The moment when Geddy Lee's bass guitar kicks in always sends chills down my neck, and really brings the song down to earth for the chorus. The lyrics, in particular for this song but generally across the album, are some of Peart's best, and show a real maturity after the overblown silliness of his earlier lyrics. 'The Analog Kid' is a somewhat different song, this one a lot more guitar-oriented, with a rocking unison riff at the beginning, breaking into some really epic sounding synths during the chorus. Geddy's bass sounds awesome here, his vocals are great here too. 'Chemistry' is another interesting song, with again, massive sounding synths and a great contrast when the bass enters. It's worth listening to the guitar here as well, it blends so perfectly with the synthesizers. Peart's drumming is an art in itself, so precise and dynamic. 'Digital Man' sounds like The Police's 'Walking on The Moon', but it's not a bad thing. Neil Peart does a very nice Stewart Copeland impression (he obviously admired him) while Alex Lifeson's guitar sounds really great on this track, though it's hard to tell who was copying who with Lifeson and Andy Summers. 'The Weapon' is a continuation (backwards) of the 'Fear Trilogy' started with 'Witch Hunt'. This song isn't as great as its predecessor, but it's certainly an interesting song, with some really great drumming from Neil Peart. 'New World Man' is a song that apparently had a very quick genesis, and sounds quite commercial, but what I'd give to hear a song like this on British commercial radio! It's a fantastically catchy song with great singing from Geddy and again, that really warm and detailed bass sound. 'Losing it' is a very different track and perhaps the most experimental on the record. The electric violin is very haunting, and the mood is generally eerie but very impressive. Like a lot of the tracks on the record this is one that grows on you. I can't think of any other songs quite like it in Rush's repertoire, yet it fits in perfectly in this record. 'Countdown' is the one track I think doesn't quite cut it. It's kind of an experiment that doesn't work with a slightly irritating sythesizer riff that seems like an attempt to ape 'Tom Sawyer'. The song sounds stilted, though that's not to say its without its virtues, but at the end of the album I'm normally clamouring to put on 'Grace Under Pressure' instead. Speaking of 'Grace Under Pressure', 'Signals' sits very nicely with its follow up, much like COS and 2112, AFTK and Hemispheres and PW and MP seem to form perfect pairs. This album seems perhaps the most consistent Rush album (excepting countdown) and doesn't seem like a misstep to me. The band had really refined their craft on this album and while it lacks some of the outright excitement of its predecessors, it makes up for it with finesse.

Report this review (#164541)
Posted Friday, March 21, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars Signals represent the natural progression of Rush from prog to prog-rock to synth-rock. It confirmed thier complete abandonment of pure prog sensibilities and yet it still works in many ways.

You get the standard foundations of Rush: thought-provoking lyrics and outstanding musicianship. You also get skmpler arrangements and a poppier sound. Still, virtually every song is solid from beginning to end (only Countdown leaves me wanting). Synths play a substantial role in virtually every song, but mostly in the beautiful, original Losing It.

People can complain about Rush selling out or abandoning their fans, but in my opinion they simply progressed and continued to make music that made sense for them. It's really a 3.5 star effort but I give it 4 here.

Report this review (#174601)
Posted Friday, June 20, 2008 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Signals is the ninth studio album from progressive canadian rockers Rush. Their previous album called Moving Pictures is one of my all time favorite albums and I remember being very interested in getting my hands on this one as quickly as possible.

The music has changed considerably since since Moving Pictures. The stripped down instrumentation from Moving Pictures has taken the backseat on Signals to a grand production with lots of synth. Welcome to the eighties. Now I normally appreciate eighties productions but this one sounds a bit strange to me. The mix is all wrong in my ears. The synths are very high in the mix while the vocals and the guitar sometimes drown. The bass and the drums are fortunately clearly heard. This is without a doubt one of the worst productions Rush has ever had.

Now I said that the music had changed since Moving Pictures and I wasn´t messin´ around. Lots and lots of synth layers has been added to Rush music and Geddy Lee sings much softer than before. The songs are very similar in sound and don´t stand out much from each other. Pretty average material IMO. Subdivisions is the best track here but The Analog Kid and Countdown also has good sections, but that can be said about all tracks. The only track that stands out a bit is Losing it. A semi-ballad type song with violin from Ben Mink. Nothing special really.

The musicianship is as always excellent. No matter what kind of music Rush play no one can take away their astonishing musicianship.

I remember how great a disappointment this was when I purchased it and it still is today. Not because it´s a bad album but because Moving Pictures was such a groundbreaking and masterful album. I really expected Rush to follow that brilliant album up with something special. Well we got Signals instead. A pretty good album that deserves 3 stars, but it will never reach excellent in my book. But come on! getting 3 stars is pretty much when you´re doing bad now isn´t it. Rush has a very high standard and even when they´re doing bad it´s not really that bad. You should still purchase Signals as one of your last Rush albums IMO though.

Report this review (#179933)
Posted Monday, August 18, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars RUSH's Signals marks the beginning of the bands third musical phase which I call their "Synthesizer Period". All of these albums came out during the 1980's and represent the band's post Moving Pictures era. The albums are Signals (1982), Grace Under Pressure (1984), Power Windows (1985), Hold Your Fire (1987) and A Show of Hands "Live" (1988).

Signals was the first album of new material released after the hugely successful Moving Pictures album and tour. Moving Pictures ushered in a bold modern sound for Rush, utilizing many new keyboard and synthesizer sounds. With Signals, the keyboards really began to take a prominent role. Geddy Lee (bass/keyboards) even admits it was the first time he wrote entire songs on the keyboards and not a guitar. I think that Signals is the best album from this era. I give it a full 5 stars, even though I consider this the beginning of a "dark period" for Rush, where, in my opinion, their music just starts a downhill slide. I was very dissatisfied with the band's music by the mid 80's to the point where I actually did not even bother to buy their latest album upon it's release. I would rather wait to see what other people thought of it and see if it got any radio air-play. Signals is one of a core group of Rush albums that I really enjoy to listen to, especially all the way through. Signals is right up there on my top 5 Rush album list coming in at #3. As a RUSH ALbum, this one is essential.

Another thing to note is that Signals is the last studio album that Rush's long-time producer Terry Brown was involved with. Through the 80's dark period, Rush would use no less than four different producers. I think this added to the inconsistency and down-graded quality of the 80's releases.

Significant Tracks: Chemistry and Digital Man

Report this review (#181765)
Posted Thursday, September 4, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars After the very successful record Moving Pictures, Signals represents the first album from the so-called Rush's synth-rock period. This period lasts from the beginning of the 80's until the beginning of the 90's. Geddy Lee got very interested in using synthesisers as a main instrument and this thing really brought freshness in the music of the band (see, I mean take a listen to Power Windows or Hold your Fire). The music had become more warm and atmospheric, reaching almost a kind of refinement and a higher pleasure of listening. Some people would like to say it's more commercial, but I'd like to say more progressive. Well-done!

Very nice and professional sound, very representative songs (Subdivisions, The Analog Kid and The Weapon are , IMO, essential). I won't comment upon each song, the main theme of the album referring to the condition of a teenager in front with an adult view of life.

Musically, there are songs more atmospheric and a little special in the way they sound (The Weapon and Losing It ), others are true synth-rock (Subdivisions, The Analog Kid and Chemistry). Digital Man is more hard-rock than the others. Excellent video on Subdivisions!

An important album and really, in the spirit of Rush! Recommended!

Report this review (#187145)
Posted Monday, October 27, 2008 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
3 stars The analog and the digital

Rush's classic era started, in my opinion, with 2112 and ended with Moving Pictures. Signals signaled something new for Rush - a more digital approach. The synthesisers that had gradually been incorporated into Rush's music ever since A Farewell To Kings now started to take over and began to dominate the band's sound. There is nothing wrong with synthesisers, but it was clear that Rush now wanted to move away from what they did in the 70's and more towards a slicker and more polished and simple approach so common to the early 80's. Progressive and Prog Related bands like Queen, Yes and Genesis and many, many others went through a time of change (for the worse) in the early 80's, and Rush is no exception. Signals was the start of this decline for Rush and they would never again record anything on par with Moving Pictures, Hemispheres, A Farewell To Kings and 2112. Signals is still a good album and the worst was yet to come.

The songwriting here is simplified and the production is more polished. The guitar riffs and solos take the backseat behind vocals and synthesisers. The melodies are still here but the quality of the compositions is far behind that of the classic era.

Good, but - like all subsequent Rush albums - not essential

Report this review (#199701)
Posted Sunday, January 18, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars I really cannot beileve how underrated this album is! I, personally, probably because I am a Rush fan, think that this is one of Rush's strongest albums in the 1980's, as it still has some really hard rock in it, and it adds some really cool sythesizer effects. But when you really think about this album, its amazing. The band lost a lot of fans because of this album being poppy, and too mainstream, yet not a lot of the album got on the radio, but I think its a good try by the band. I think it has some signiture songs on this one, and some great lyrics. They lyrics, inparticular, are a little darker, dealing with things like teenagers fiting and whatnot. I also think the music is a step forward from the Moving Pictures and the Permanent Waves type of music, and I think its just great. I will rate each song on a scale from 1-10, 10 being the best it can be, and 1 being the worst it can be.

Subdivisions- This is definatly one of the best songs from the album. The music is incredible, as the lyrics and the synthesizer parts being very entertaining in this song, really. I also have noticed that Geddy's singing style has grown with his age over the years. He dosen't shreik in this album, at all. He pulled it out a couple of times in the Moving Pictures and the Permanent Waves album, but he has a more soft tone in this one, and its really actually a step forward musically. He has more ability to do lower notes than before, and i think its wonderful. Anyway, getting back to the song. The only real problem with this song is that the guitar is very low, and the solo isn't really a solo. Though is does fit with the song, I think it really dosen't need to be considered a solo. The basslines and drums are very interesting, and they are more of the prominate instrument being played. I do love the song, its a true classic. 9/10

Analog Kid- This is the most hard rocking song on the whole album. The guitar and the basslines are so powerful, as with incredible drumming by Mr.Peart on the drumkit. This is an incredible example of a perfect mix of guitars and keyboards. As the guitar has its really shinning moment, and the keyboards get their time. The solo in this song is really cool, very intresting. Its more of a metal solo sounding, once you think about it. But, I think that the band played this song perfectly. I still think that they should play it live. 10/10

Chemistry- This is definatly the most underrated song from the whole album, but I think its just a great little gem. The guitar is really powerful in this song, and the keyboards are pretty well mantained as well. The lyrics, I don't really get, but I think they are entertaining. I think the lyrics may mean something about love, with the whole message transmited and emotion received line, and a few other parts that make me think that this is a love song to begin with. But, lets get back to the music, as it is definatly incredible. They all hit their instruments really hard, giving is such a powerful feeling, much like the Analog Kid, but this one is much less popular. This is a great song from the album, but way to over-looked. 8/10

Digital Man- This is my favorite from the album! I love this song, even though its not one of their most popular hits. The guitar is very prominate in this one, as there is little keyboards being used in this song, but at times Geddy pulls out the pedals to play a little synthesizer part, but most of the song is very guitar. There is also a little bass solo that sounds pretty cool, and I think its really impressive just to hear. The lyrics, I'm not sure what they mean, but I think it means a man traveling through time, but I really can't tell you that. This is a very strong track from the album, but definatly over-looked, as with most of the album. 9.5/10

The Weapon- I think this song is okay, but I really kind of think this a little bit of a boring song, so its kind of hard to listen to this in one sitting. The music is pretty cool, but I think the singing style in this one is a little akward. I really think that this had the potential to become a great song, but it was a very weird feeling. I think that the song would be great on the Grace Under Pressure album, but I don't think that it fits very well on this one. The lyrics are a little, well, iffy, definatly not the best, but I guess they are okay lyrics. Definatly not the best song from the album. 6.5/10

New World Man- A song that really reminds me of Digital Man, because it has the same meaning, pretty much. The songs both do with men that I have something important, but I guess I'm a little stupid and don't get the music. I think the song, personally, is a little too short, and if they put a guitar solo in the song, it would definatly be great. I really like the music style and the singing style in this song, they are really great. I think this is definatly one of the weaker tracks on the album, but I think its a pretty good song that fits well with the whole album. 7/10

Losing it- I love this song! Its so heart-warming, its just a beautiful little compostition. The keyboards are really kick-ass, and so is that awesome violin solo that happens in the middle to the end of the song, its very insane. This was the only song from the album that would not ever be played live, but I think its a great little ballad. A very strong song, lyric wise. The song itself is very dark, with the music being very mystical and interesting. The lyrics make me feel the same way, with darkness crawling around every little cornor. This is also the only song on the whole album that actually uses acoustic guitars in the song, which is a really cool little fact. I think this is a song that is over-looked by the fans of Rush and the critics that review Rush. 8.5/10

Countdown- Definatly a very strong ending to a strong album. The song is really cool, I really like the keyboard solos and everything. The basslines are very strong, and they lyrics are also very interesting, talking about the spaceshi[s going into the galaxies beyond that are not known of, and the comander calling the final count, and its just a really interesting little song lyrically. I don't know if this song ever really got comercially famous like Subdivisions and Analog Kid did, but I really think this is a great little song from the album. 9/10

This album has its ups and downs, but its still an amazing album that no Rush fan can live without.

Report this review (#200510)
Posted Saturday, January 24, 2009 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
4 stars 'Signals' - Rush (8/10)

'Signals' is one of my most listened to Rush albums. It's not necessarily the best, but it's an album that is more versatile, concerning how it fits moods. If you're worn out, exhausted and mentally strained, the last thing you want to hear is someone incredibly progressive and involving. However, I would never want to hear a piece of music that lacks some sort of creative innovation. 'Signals' shows Rush moving into new territory, yet refraining from turning the music into a pretentious prog-fest. The guitars are turned down for this release to make way for synthesizers and keyboards; showing that Alex Lifeson (unlike alot of guitar heroes) can be a team player as well.

The perfect song to illustrate what this album is about is the first song (and most famous off this album) 'Subdivisions.' It's also probably my favourite song on the album. The keyboards are lush and gorgeous here, and Geddy's voice is in his top element here. Based on whether or not you like 'Subdivisions' can basically decide whether or not you will like 'Signals.'

The guitar tone is very different from Rush's earlier material, and especially on this record, you can really see an evolution of their sound. It's much more listenable in my opinion and Alex Lifeson shows that he's one of the most well-rounded guitarists in rock history.

This is an album that's about moderation. Don't expect a heavy album here, and if you're a tru-prog purist who cannot stand the concept of a melodic hook, then you might want to steer clear of 'Signals.' Otherwise, it's a very well done album, and very enjoyable. Check it out.

Report this review (#205985)
Posted Tuesday, March 10, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars Time when Rush released Signals is one of the darkest moments in history of prog rock fans. Not because it's bad release. Just because so many prog fans revealed their thickness and stupidity. "Rush is going Police!!!". I won't waste whole space to explain how stupid is that way of thinking and I'll concentrate on the album. Subdivisions is still one of the most amazing songs I've ever heart. The construction of this one is non-scheme great vibed and extremely perfect. Keyboards are more massive as on previous album but proportions in other instruments are very similar to Moving Pictures. I think guys wanted to add some modern sound to their well known style and here it fits perfectly. Analog Kid is faster in most of time but in chorus it violently turns peaceful and spacy. Solo to this one is probably the most complicated Alex ever played. He couldn't repeat it note in note. That's why they didn't play it too often live. Chemistry is 180 degree turning point. I'm not finding right words to describe this song. I just can't. You won't find in rock history other song like that. The solo is one of the best I've ever heard. Digital Man ain't worse. It's very original song. It mixes kind of reggae flavoured rock with jazz and blues and something else. I can't describe it either. The solo is rather bluesy and incredibly fit into that jazzy bass guitar sounds. The Weapon - amazing. Not finding right words again. Communication between Neil and Alex is something worth of attention because there's tension that grows until the solo kicks in. You have to listen to that cos -again- can't find words. Btw on MFSL release there's line of lyrics missing in one moment. I don't know how it happend but in the other hand we've clearer sound of this golden disc. New World Man... well. I don't know if it was good idea to make this song promotional and release as a single. It's not bad of course but mentioned thickheads cried 'Rush went Police' before they even heard the whole record. Lack of guitar solo in NWM is definitely something that makes this song less valuable than others. Losing It is kind of ballad. I don't know if I can call it pure ballad but it's more quiet than other songs on this album. Guitar parts somewhere near the end are amazing but the whole thing not as good as Subdivisions, Digital Man or The Weapon... and Countdown which ends the record. It's maybe the best song on this album and mood created here is outstanding. Awaiting for rocket launching, growing tension, adrenaline surge;) Well I still wonder what made Alex to do such amazing part... ok this time let's put it straight. Message In The Bottle might influence this part but it doesn't mean it was something bad. First because Message is a good song (and Police good band) second for chrissakes it's not THE SAME AS POLICE. It's Rush style just rushed forward;) Signals is one of the best Rush albums and one of the best released in 80's. It's unique and you won't find other album like that.
Report this review (#212085)
Posted Wednesday, April 22, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars Rush's Signals continued their departure from their classic sound, including ever more synthesizers. This was a common trend for most bands in the 1980s and Rush was far from avoiding this. But unlike other progressive rocks bands, Rush was still able to maintain something interesting in much of their material during this time given the limits in song lengths. It surely would have been nice for them to keep kicking out 10+ minute epics, but the 1980s unfortunately had a trend for synthesizers and compact song formats and if you didn't follow it, you wouldn't get the radio play (and MTV rotation) that would bring in the money.

So while Genesis and Yes were dancing away with top 10 hits, Rush was the dominant group on the AOR stations chugging out shorter, but much more interesting stuff. Peart's lyrics were as interesting as ever, Lifeson's guitar work was as exceptional as ever even though more and more it took a background role to melodic keyboard lines, and Lee's vocals continued to improve and fit in with the shorter song formats. Although Rush was no longer making longer epics, they were incorporating more styles into their music, such as ska, reggae, and funk. Some songs almost sounded like progressive versions of Police songs.

Although their departure from their classic period probably alienated some Rush fans, their exposure on radio gathered in another new generation of fans, which in turn introduced them to their classic period. Some might consider Signals groundbreaking. I can understand why, but I'm an old curmudgeon and will always appreciate their classic period as their peak. Still, an excellent effort worthy of four stars. If you're into more accessible prog rock, this might be a good one to start with, otherwise I recommend starting with anything from their 1977-1981 period.

Report this review (#221302)
Posted Monday, June 15, 2009 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
5 stars Signals marked the beginning of a series of Rush albums where synths, rhythm and vocal melodies defined the song writing. Unlike everything they had done so far, the guitar is used for no more then texture and an occasional sharp groove or solo.

The new style and sound was heavily inspired by the new wave movement and a complete departure from the guitar-driven music Rush had become admired and popular for. By consequence it's no wonder that this album, and certainly the ones following it, alienated many fans who had hoped Rush would keep repeating their successful tricks just like any other band in rock history. Wrong guess... Rush didn't want to start repeating themselves but move on instead: a complete makeover was what they had in mind.

Next to losing fans, Signals also won over many new fans. Like myself! Subdivisions became an instant college classic and New World Man was even a radio hit. I was still too young then (11) to notice any of this buzz, but a year later the album received a very positive review in a Pink Floyd fanzine my brother used to read and after checking the album out, we were both blown away and have both been addicted to Rush ever since.

I have been playing this album multiple times a week for years on end and even now, a good 25 years later, I still listen to it at least every two weeks. So there's no point arguing, this is my one and only true desert island album. Although there sure are more consistent albums in rock history, I couldn't bare the thought to live without Subdivisions, the Analog Kid or the Weapon.

Report this review (#236647)
Posted Thursday, September 3, 2009 | Review Permalink
Eclectic Prog Team
3 stars Rush had embraced the 1980s, mullets and all, and it shows with this album. No doubt this record proved divisive among fans, but as with most work from Rush, there's not a whole lot to dislike.

"Subdivisions" Signals represented a major shift in sound for the Canadian trio, and that is evident right from the first song, with those synthesizers providing the foundation (although the previous album hinted toward this direction). This incredibly catchy tune contains some of the band's most relevant lyrics.

"The Analog Kid" One of the coolest riffs of Rush's career is right here- the whole song is an upbeat rocker, with Alex Lifeson laying on the flanger nice and thick. His guitar solo is a bit messy, but still exhibits the man's chops.

"Chemistry" Another song that successfully brings together synthesizer pads and lead guitar, this one begins fantastically but is something of a clumsy rocker overall. Believe it or not, I could hear this song sung by Jon Anderson- it feels like it would have been home on another album released around that time, called 90125.

"Digital Man" This song is a really nice shuffle that brings in elements of reggae. The main riff, with that shimmering yet somewhat gritty guitar, is yet another highlight of the album. Parts of it really sound like The Police.

"The Weapon (Part II of Fear)" The longest track on the album opens with steady, almost mechanical drumming, electronic noises, and clean guitar. While I enjoy this track and while I think the lyrics are important, it's a very bland composition compared to several of the other songs here. Toward the end, Geddy Lee shows off his bass prowess a little bit.

"New World Man" Beginning with a well known electronic introduction and soft electric guitar, this is a bouncy tune that's incredibly catchy. Even the first time I heard it on the radio, it was forever stuck in my head!

"Losing It" Ben Mink's violin is absolutely gorgeous on this song, such that it all sounds virtually nothing like Rush (of any period). It is by far the softest piece of the album and includes delicate twelve-string guitar in the background.

"Countdown" The sound of a rocket flying past begins the final track, the one I think is the weakest on the album. The rhythm mainly consists of a synthesizer pounding out the same note, accented by Neil Peart, and made fuller by some smooth guitar. I rather like the synthesizer lead, but the constant radio talk proves irritating. The bass work is good and chunky, but so much of the vocal melody seems forced to fit the words, which contain some pretty bad clichés.

Report this review (#244764)
Posted Thursday, October 15, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars A warning signal.

I once prided myself as being one of the biggest Rush fans around. I acquired all of the first eight studio albums within a year, got a couple of DVDs and even saw them live for good measure. After hanging around with a couple of guys who are bigger Rush freaks than me, I began to get a little uncomfortable with the ''Rush fan'' tag and needed a sabbatical from them, a year to be accurate. So, I purchased SIGNALS during a time when my Rush fandom was waning; not to my surprise, I have an issue with this album.

The issue here is not that Rush threw in synth music and it all fell south. Rush have openly embraced synthesizers since at least 2112 and have slowly integrated it more and more into the music. If anything, Side B of MOVING PICTURES might as well be a clear indication of the direction Rush were heading into. The songs would be simpler in structure, more synth pads would dominate and Neal Peart's lyrics would shift from the fantasy to the psychological.

But here's the issue for me; they've lost it somewhere.

Unfortunately, the so-called ''synth-dominance'' ruins the chance at what I really like to hear from Rush; sharp, punctual bass lines from Geddy Lee. We get that here, but not as often as I would like. Take ''Subdivisions''; most of the time, the bass is missing barring a few spurts where it sails into the foreground with a great lick only to recede just as quickly.

Most importantly, I feel that the overall compositional level is way down from any of their immediate predecessors. ''Losing It'', ''New World Man'' and ''Countdown'' stand out the most here in a positive way, but none would have been strong have they been put on say MOVING PICTURES. ''Digital Man'' has some fantastic bass playing, but the song itself just goes on too long to really make a point; a similar case could be made for ''The Weapon''.

Try picturing the sound as typical Rush meets new wave meets the Police. What we get as an end result is an album that's not horrible (''Chemistry'' would be the only mediocre track here) but not stupendous either. While it's better than what plenty of new wave bands were doing, the name Rush makes me expect more and with the songs being relatively par here, I can't help but feel discouraged.

Report this review (#252351)
Posted Monday, November 23, 2009 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Having discovered Rush in the mid seventies when they were at the height of their prog excess, for me Signals was the album where the rot set in. Although it had been clear that for the last couple of albums they were moving towards a more streamlined sound I found the over reliance of synths on Signals a step too far. Sure, they had been gradually increasing their use over the last few albums but on Signals Alex Lifeson's guitar was overshadowed by them. It was also the first Rush album that didn't include any longer tracks, featuring eight songs around the five to six minute mark.

The sound is very eighties, mainly down to the synth sounds and the bands influences were changing. The Police influences that were even more prevalent on following album Grace Under Pressure showed with the mock reggae of Digital Man. A shame really as it has one of the better riffs of the album, but the reggae sections leave me cold. The song structures are also far simpler and less interesting as a consequence. Here Rush were clearly going for a mainstream rock sound which I guess they achieved, no doubt hoping to capitalize on bigger commercial success.

By now you probably gather I don't like this album very much. However it's not all bad news. Subdivisions is unmistakably catchy and there's still the occasional decent Lifeson riff, the best being The Analog Kid where some of his former power is displayed.

As much as I don't like Signals very much I can't really put my hand on my heart and say it's a bad album and I can understand why a lot of people enjoy it. It's just not what I wanted to hear from Rush and it wouldn't be until the release of Counterparts in 1993 that they would release another album I fully enjoyed.

Report this review (#256819)
Posted Saturday, December 19, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars This album was released when I was 12 years old, not that far from the youthful reflective territory that Peart's lyrics are aiming for.

As a lifetime Rush fan, I discovered this album long after my personal break-through "Power Windows". All of the few Australian Rush fans, at that time, pointed me firstly toward "Moving Pictures", as you would. It's an amazing achievement in an album. Then I heard the stories about "Signals" being the problematic follow up album, with too much synth coming in, and Alex Lifeson being unhappy about his guitar mix, and it's disappointing reception by fans and la la la.

Sorry, but over time, I have found myself kindly disagreeing.

"Signals' is a point of change for a band that has been working their craft for ten years by this stage. After their biggest selling album to date, and followed up by an enormously successful double live set, the band chose to take their music into a new and challenging area, not only for the fans, but for themselves too.

Although Rush had been moving toward shorter and more adept songs for the past two albums, "Signals" was the first time that we saw them incorporate a holistic theme into one album, something that would become a trademark of their 80's and 90's work.

"Signals" is all about youth - having it, wondering about it, losing it, being special with it, and questioning it. As always, Peart layers his lyrics to the point that it takes the listener some time to really get the emotion.

It's not my favourite Rush album, but it comes close. Try listening to it when driving in the country on a rainy day, and you will see what I mean.

love cronks

Report this review (#271166)
Posted Thursday, March 11, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars 1982 greeted Rush fans with a shocking surprise. It is not so much that keyboards are more integrated into the band's sound. That should be expected in the 1980's. It is how dominant, how "front and center", how very high in the mix keyboard synthesizer is on the album overall. Nowhere is this more evident than on the opening (and truly captivating) anthem of youth "Subdivisions".

Compared to "Moving Pictures", song format is (again) streamlined further. The hard rocking edge is (again) subdued further. Lifeson is now exploring timbre and tone more often than solos and riffs. Each of these are trends that (for better or worse) will continue from album to album for some time to come.

The songs grab the listener's attention and bristle with life (even if there are a few ruffles around the edges). Is it just me or doesn't "New World Man" sound more than a little like a retread of Tom Sawyer both lyrically and musically? Am I the only one that heard in "Countdown" a 7/8 treading of water, a band wondering which direction to launch this new phase of their career? And I appreciate striving for a "new sound" but there are times when the keyboard seems to "wash out" and dominates the guitar, which is a shame given how much time and attention Lifeson appears to be putting into the soundscape side of the craft.

The song "Losing it" brilliantly conveys bittersweet emotions, approaching issues of aging in a manner that is enigmatically both pleasant and painful. Peart is expanding his thematic vocabulary beyond science fiction, adventures, struggles and overconfidence of youth. Indeed, Peart's lyrics would continue to mature and grow in the years ahead even as the band's progressive music would shrink into a minimalist deference to texture and tonal color.

Overall, this is still a very strong album from a vital and intelligent progressive rock band in transition.

Report this review (#280753)
Posted Thursday, May 6, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars Signals mark a new era in Rush career. after the commercial-success of Moving Pictures, Rush didn't make another Moving Pictures-like album, Instead they created something totally different. Inspired by the growing popularity of synth and their early hard Rock roots. Rush recorded one of their greatest albums, both lyrically and musically. The album begin with the light-synth-driven "Subdivision", the combination between the synth and the hard-rocking guitar by Alex Lifeson was great. Subdivision became one of Rush's most beautifully written songs, and a fan favorite. Other songs that stand out here are "New World Man" almost reggae song with great guitar playing. and of course the hard rocking The Analog Kid, which got a new arrangement on the last tour(Snakes and Arrows). Overall a great album, like you can expect from Rush.
Report this review (#282210)
Posted Sunday, May 16, 2010 | Review Permalink
2 stars Now we enter the bottom of the cold dark barrell.

I really don't want to give Rush a bad review, but it's their own faults, for making this album

Now this album isn't terrible, it's okay but I wouldn't say it's good.

Having left the prog and technical side of things, Rush decided to make their songs sound like...the 80's basically, which I don't mind, I'm a massive fan of cheesy 80's synth pop bands, but I'm also a big fan of Rush, the reason being that they weren't an 80's synth band (if that makes sense).

Half of this album is substandard but a big enough fraction is terrible.

1. Subdivisions - I like the Genesis meets Spock's Beard like intro, with synths. The instrumental sections are quite cool. The chorus is ok, but it doesn't compare to early Rush choruses.

2. The Analog Kid - The riff still shows a lot of Prog. Very happy and upbeat rock song. I also think the chorus is quite good. Pretty cool chorus.

3. Chemistry - Very 80's synth soaked intro.The lyrics of the song don't make any sense and the chorus is pretty weak.The verses aren't that bad. They are trying way too hard.

4. Digital Man - Wow, what an amazing bassline throughout the song. This song isn't that catchy and to be honest the instrumentation is the only thing that holds the song together. Way too drawn out length wise. They're trying too hard to become an electro version of the police. It's not working for them.

5. The Weapon - Oh, part II of Fear. But the 3rd part of this song was made before the 2nd, I'm confused. The intro is quite cool. Another weak chorus.Alex Lifeson sounds really bored in this song, just letting a chord ring out for a while, they're not Oasis. The instrumental section is quite cool. There is nothing really interesting with Geddy's vocals. The ending sounds very rushed.

6. New World Man - This song is really good. The chorus is really good and overall the song is interesting.

7. Losing It - I like the intro. The violin is quite interesting. This song is really interesting and quite experimental. I like the instrumental asection with the question and answer with guitar and violin. This song is alot closer to good Rush.

8. Countdown - I like the build up in the intro. A wee bit weak, but overall I like the atmopshere.

CONCLUSION: Would have been quite good if some mistakes could have been plastered.

Report this review (#282252)
Posted Sunday, May 16, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars Personally, I think the first few Rush albums, until Hemispheres, are quite weak, although with plenty of promise. Although Moving Pictures is almost universally revered, opinion on the direction they took after that album seems to be divided. Cards on the table, I like Power Windows and Hold Your Fire the best as these represent, the pinnacle of their songwriting and production. Synths? So what?

1. Subdivisions - Boom boom boom, boom boom boom. One of the great album openers and one of Rush's best songs. 10/10

2. The Analog Kid - A more straighforward rocker, but with a fantatsic dreamy chorus. 7/10

3. Chemistry - Almost a reggae feel to this, but only a hint. 7/10

4. Digital Man - This is where Rush try and emulate The Police. I don't like The Police, I don't like this. 1/10

5. The Weapon - Starts with a very straight forward, almost disco beat (gasp!) but that feel soon departs to reveal a great song. 9/10

6. New World Man - This was written at the last moment to fill iut the album, I understand. Shold have been left off. Weak and commercial. 1/10

7. Losing It - This features beautiful and emotive electric violin over a plaintive lyric. It goes downhill a bit when the guitar solo kicks is, getting higher and higher in pitch - really irritating. 7/10

8. Countdown - Has kind of a Jacob's Ladder feel over a space shuttle launch. Cliched but I like it. 7/10

So overall, not without fault & bit patchy, but enough great and good material to make this a worthwhile purchase for most prog and all Rush fans.

Report this review (#282262)
Posted Sunday, May 16, 2010 | Review Permalink
Metal / Heavy / RPI / Symph Prog Team
4 stars It was a difficult task for the band to surpass the excellent "Moving Pictures". One thing that strikes listening to the sound of this one, is how Alex's guitar has not been mixed up properly here. In fact the production is not as good as the previous albums. The first song "Subdivisions" is one of the top popular song with a irresistible melody and show a Geddy Lee playing the keyboards, a instrument very popular at that time. "Analog Kid" is another interesting track, but "Chemistry" and "Digital Man" are a bit of a disappointment. The things improve with the rest of the album and especially the semi-ballad "Losing It" with a memorable violin part. Good album despite the lack of good production.
Report this review (#282336)
Posted Monday, May 17, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars Well? after the strong Moving Pictures, Rush reduced even more the guitar role, changing it by an effort centered in supporting keyboards. It was not well received by their fans; but is it really a bad album and was that change for worst ? I do not think so?

Signal is a very good album. IMHO, despite of being different (oh how good it is to be different many of the times), it pairs Moving Pictures by means of musical quality. The keyboard approach elevates the "proggy" level of this album because more instruments in use normally lead to a greater complexity; which most of the times is very desirable from a "proggy" view. And we have here a pair of Rush´s first line songs, Subdivisions and The Analog Kid; while the rest of the album does not beat them. This is exactly the case of Moving Pictures !

The rest of Signals is not exceptional; but is far away of being musically in a low level. Guitar solo in Chemistry elevates its quality, Losing It is also a very interesting composition. This album aged in a much better way than A Farewell To Kings or even Moving Pictures. I still see good surprises hearing it; that is not common from an album I know from almost 30 years? Closing comments, a very straight four stars job !

Report this review (#296641)
Posted Sunday, August 29, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars you know what, this album sucks and its about damn time that I stop apologizing for it and making excuses for its major problems. Its a crappy album and just as bad as presto. The sound on this album is that of a band that doesn't know how to top a masterpiece (of moving pictures) and a band that wants to transition but will not fully commit. This album has one foot in analog and one foot in digital, Hence analog kid matures in digital man. Look, I have nothing against digital Rush. I love power windows and enjoy grace under pressure, but this album just comes off as generic and way too chipper, with nothing that I can really sink my teeth into. There's just nothing really all that interesting here, and the lyrics are kind of lame. Singing about chemistry is lame and I am a chemistry major, so I am technically the demographic. Digital man has some highlights with its ska reggae thing going on. Yes there's new world man but by Rush single standards its tame and plays it safe. Countdown just outright is terrible and bland. A song played over a shuttle launch just makes me cringe. Shuttle launches are slow and tedious and take ALL DAY long, and that is how its sounds. The album goes out with a wimper.

On a brighter note, I absolutely love Subdivisions and always have. It may be my favorite Rush song. This isn't the only time a monumental song appeared on a lackluster album (Pyramid song being on Amnesiac comes to mind). Such a great song and when I heard it for the first time it was like they were speaking directly to me. Another very overlooked and long forgotten gem of a song is Losing It. Wow, this was quite the revitalization at a point in the album when I was getting bored, but alas, it is a flawed gem. It is so close to reaching a masterpiece level of composition but sadly some low parts bring it down. But then countdown comes in and ruins any satisfaction that Losing It generated.

In the end I never listen to this album, either going for Moving Pictures or Grace Under Pressure when in the mood for this period, and I always feel so guilty about it. Its like, oh here is Rush at the peak of their talents, and I try and convince myself oh "It has to be good", but its not, its boring and bland, and I now can finally admit that. Its like late 70's Rush made Presto. Its the tail end of the prog rock period just as Presto the was the tail end of the new wave lame soft NO BALLS rock period. Signals is the album that everybody just bought on impulse, since it followed Moving Pictures, and praise it without really thinking about it. In the end its, Dry, stale and out of steam.

But they come back...

Report this review (#312535)
Posted Wednesday, November 10, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars Moving Pictures, to me the ultimate Rush album, ushered in a new direction and way of songwriting. Signals, an album which is far better in retrospect than perhaps it sounded at the time of release, is its natural successor, and showed the band in fine form still.

The opener sets the tone really for much of what followed, a dark and brooding piece which is very keyboard led, a move that prompted Alex Lifeson in future interviews to express some regret at the stripped down role of his guitars. Subdivisions is, though, one of the finest songs that the band have ever recorded, very socially caustic and direct in its intent and execution.

The Analog Kid starts off in somewhat more traditional Rush sound, but, to these ears, the highpoint of this excellent track is the "You Move Me" sequence with those synths at the forefront. Another great track which does allow Lifeson to move more to the forefront of events.

Chemistry is simply a fine commercial rock song, in the tradition of tracks such as Limelight on the predecessor album, and it moves along at a fair old pace, and instead of merely guitars, bass, and drums/percussion fused in perfection, here we get synths added to the lead mix as well. What you do notice, though, is just how complex the song structure actually is by listening to Peart and Lee's rhythm section. An incredible performance.

Digital Man is a track which I really disliked at the time of release, but sounds a little better now. However, it is as near to throwaway as this great band get, merely being a white reggae influenced bop along number. In the parlance of Prog Archives, good without being essential. Peart's drum performance on the "chorus", though, is a wonder to behold, although the track is at least two minutes too long, as evidenced by Lee's almost bored end vocals.

The Weapon is a return to sheer excellence. I doubt that Geddy Lee ever sounded better, and the mix of guitars and synth, backed by pounding rhythm section, is incredible, and this is also an important track in Peart's developing distaste for big government and the military machine. The lyrics really are dark, and the whole track is deeply brooding.

New World Man is a very catchy, short, poppy rock song which really does what it says on the tin, and not much more.

Losing It is a wonderful, delicate, and distinctly understated track which sounds absolutely nothing like the band had ever done previously, or actually since come to that. Ben Mink's turn on violin is exceptional, and you wish that this type of Eastern European influenced folk could have figured a little more often in subsequent instrumental work.

Countdown closes proceedings, and is another dark, rather apocalyptic, political track featuring swirling rockets, helicopters, control room monologues, and synths set against a very simple instrumental backdrop. This is another of those tracks I really didn't listen to for many years following the original release, but which sounds far better in hindsight.

As with all prog rock bands at this time, Rush had to either adapt to the changing world, or die commercially, and that they did the former and still produce some exceptional music that managed to bring the majority of older fans along with them, is testament to their talent and, of course, our fierce loyalty.

This is a very good album, and one I heartily recommend to those who do not own it and listened a bit too much to those diehard haters of anything remotely resembling a synth in Rush music. 3.5 stars in reality, but rounded up to four stars on this site, because much of it really is rather excellent.

Report this review (#376460)
Posted Saturday, January 8, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars I don't know this with 100% certainty, but I'm willing to bet that the band lost a lot of fans with this album. The reasons are simple: (1) There are more songs on here than on any of their albums since Fly by Night (which, consequently, means the songs are shorter than fans would have grown accustomed to); (2) the keyboards are EVERYWHERE in the sound, and (3) Alex is a lot less prominent than on previous albums, even though he's still important to the sound. Yet while Rush might have taken a risk in streamlining its sound, I certainly think the move paid off, as this is definitely my favorite studio album from the band, and the only one that I would call great (even if it's not quite enough to make it to *****).

The sound is definitely a bit of a shock at first, as the production is fuller and more drenched in keyboards than what one would have expected from the band, but unless you're a total junky for the 70's hard rock sound, that shouldn't be a crippling factor. The production never once bogs down the songs, and the keyboards are never overbearing or distracting. More importantly, though, the actual songs are great, with just a couple of exceptions. I've tended to like "Chemistry" less and less over the years; the main riff is basically a rewrite of the "Twilight Zone" riff, the lyrics are awfully stupid in their sci-fi cliche banality, and it's once again very hard to shake the feeling that the band members (particularly Lifeson) are engaging in cheap instrumental pyrotechnics to distract me from the mediocrity of the song. On the other hand, there is a neat feeling in the way Geddy sings the chorus, which helps. "Digital Man" isn't much better, mainly because it's probably two minutes too long, but it's kinda neat to hear the band again weaving in its weird fascination with reggae rhythms.

The other songs are fabulous, especially the first two ("Subdivisions," "The Analog Kid"). I mean, Rush albums almost always tend to start off very strong, with one or two great tracks, but it says something when BOTH of the first two tracks of the album make my top 5 Rush songs. One major reason is that I really feel like Peart pulled out lyrical gems for both of these. Look, I don't know any of the details of Peart's upbringing, but I don't have trouble for a second believing in Peart's "authenticity" about growing up in the conformist hell that is suburbia, or of being an awkward teenager lying in a field and dreaming of a better life, and you'd better believe that I can empathize with these lyrics. It's not just the lyrics that make these classics, though. No, what amazes me the most is that Rush finally figured out how to make songs that could stand as great WITHOUT requiring spectacularly intricate instrumental parts. This isn't to say that "The Analog Kid" doesn't have some amazing instrumental work; the mid-song Lifeson solo (the only really great one on the album) is out of this world, and the main riff sounds tricky as hell. No, what I mean is that even if the song didn't have such effective playing from the trio, it would still be a great song due to the main vocal melody, and the gorgeous second theme ("You move me, you move me..."), and the amazing melody in the "Too many hands on my time ..." part that leads into the solo. As for "Subdivisions," it doesn't even bother to have any particularly stereotypical Rush instrumental moments, and it doesn't need them; the main chord sequence is absolutely brilliant, as is the vocal melody on top of it, and the song absolutely nails the hopelessness of the suburbs for an average dork. These songs are GREAT, dang it, and they almost make reviewing this band worth it on their own.

The rest of side one is filled out by the weak songs I already mentioned, and they make it seem like this is going to be just another typical inconsistent Rush album. Surprisingly, though, the second side is quite good. One of the tracks, "The Weapon," is a freaking classic, just a step below the brilliance of the opening duo. It passed me a bit the first few times I listened to it, but I really have no idea why at this point. The main portion of the song is driven by a neat little Lifeson riff over a clever bassline, but the real greatness of the song lies in the alternate melody, driven by a powerful chord sequence with a fascinating vocal part and some really nice lyrics.

The other songs aren't fantastic, but they're good on the whole. "New World Man" (apparently a hit single) is a moderately catchy song whose most interesting part (to me) is the opening low-pitched synth grumble, and the ballad "Losing It," driven by keyboard and violin interplay, is a lot more interesting to me now than it once was (I once dismissed it as an "Entre Nous" rewrite, a statement which now confuses me greatly). It tackles an intriguing lyrical concept not often (if ever) broached in rock music; the despair and frustration that one feels as one gets old and knows they're losing their mental faculties. Sheesh ... Neil really did a pretty nice job on this album with the lyrics.

The closing "Countdown" is a track that seems a little dumb on paper, but I enjoy it a lot. It's a VERY heavily synth-based (complete with a keyboard solo in the middle) atmospheric piece about a typical space shuttle launch, and as much as any track in the Rush catalogue it just screams out DORK with every second. The thing is, though, that I really like the track, for two reasons. The first is that it totally captures the tension and excitement surrounding a space-shuttle launch, and the radio transmissions that are sampled in throughout always help and never detract. The second is that the blatantly 80's synths are ideal for a song about a space shuttle launch; few things have ever combined "futuristic" and "dated" as much as the space shuttle, and this is captured perfectly in the sounds in this song. Maybe that wasn't the band's original intent, but it sure worked out nicely.

This is such a good album. It also caps what I consider a pretty impressive achivement for the band; this is the fourth straight album from the band that I consider their best album to that point, and I can't really think of any other bands that showed that kind of consistent improvement in their career. Sure, this streak was about to end, but by this time, Rush had made itself into a really nice band, one that I could enjoy with almost no reservations.

Report this review (#377502)
Posted Monday, January 10, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars Is unaware of his previous, but still good enough to receive a strong rating of 4.5 stars, rounded down. "Signals" is along the lines proposed by "Permanent Waves"and "Moving Pictures", with music shorter and directed to the radio.But while it was possible to find some semi-epics like "Natural Science" and "The Camera Eye ', the songs here are actually shorter-6 minutes has the largest .The that does not mean that there is no good songs.We have "Subdivisions, ""The analog kid", "Chemistry" and "The weapon (pt. 2 of Fear)".A good Rush album, but not at the level of his previous, for sure.
Report this review (#382531)
Posted Tuesday, January 18, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars Though not as appreciated by the progressive rockers as much as by the synthrockers of the era, Rush's 1982 release Signals takes a turn in a new direction; and one that many fans do not enjoy too much. I, personally, find the album to an experience. To reach this inner peace with the album, you must listen to it. It's definatly a sleeper, but it's worth it when you really take the time to reach inside the music.

1.Subdivisions - The most memorable synth riff to come from the album; albeit with a total overhaul of previous leanings. The song is interesting in the fact that bassist, singer and keyboardist Geddy Lee has taken a much more leading role in his subdued vocal style and his new wave synth sounds. It's actually very textured when it's really looked at, as they lyrics tend to compliment the bleak music of conformity with an almost sarcastic view, yet totally true and serious subject matter. Neil Pearts lyrics and drum rolls are perfect for the song, as his talent is definatly not held back. Lead guitarist Alex Lifeson is the only one of concern on this song, as he seems extremely background while holding a much more rhythm section type of sound. It's actualy interesting to listen to the changes within the band. A classic among the album, as it's the essential opener. (10/10)

2.The Analog Kid - A personal favourite of mine off of the album. Lifeson's guitar role is emphasized on this song, as are the hardcore basslines from Lee. His vocals flow perfectly over the music; Lee has changed very much in the past few albums, with his almost beautiful and less harsh vocal style. Peart is beating the hell out of his drumkit, as the almost symphonic textures of the synths make his playing take a slowdown, yet he retains a spirit of total rock. The song is hard not to enjoy. (10/10)

3.Chemistry - Though it's an excellent song, there is no real progression as the last few had. Synths and moogs cover the sound in an almost cheesey way, yet tricky time keeping is always relevant. Lifeson, although in the background during intros, has an almost shred guitar riff over the main riffing. The song overall is trying to sound as if textured, it is, but comes off as emotionless. The song rarely shows its true feelings as a Rush track. (8.5/10)

4.Digital Man - The song has been a long-time favourite of mine. It's an excellent flourish of the reggea influences that took a steady upbringing on the previous two albums. Shimmering guitar from Lifeson, heavy Rickenbacker tone from Lee, and always changing drumming from Peart, the song has so much to pay attention to. The song stays away from the overtly large keyboard sound that dominated the previous few tracks, with the exception of track 2, and has a larger sound on bass and guitar. The result is one of the most rocking numbers from the album. (10/10)

5.The Weapon - Easily my least favourite from the album. Though the song shows improvement in technical ability from the band members, I can't help but feel very bored with the song due to lack of emotion or any rock in the track. Lee's vocal performance, in particular, is very average and almost borders on boring. The lyrics are excellent from Peart, but they just don't seem to work here. Almost seems like robots are playing the instruments in an almost dull workout of instrumentation, as it seems just about perfect, yet boring. A song that could have worked if there was more power into the song. (7.5/10)

6.New World Man - The highest charting song from the album does not signify best from the album. Though the song is much better than the previous track, it seems that the band had lost enthusiasm with this track. Reggea influences really flourish with this intensly average track, as the band blends that influence with a progressive leaning (almost crossover prog more than heavy prog). Lee has a great vocal performance, I might want to add. (8/10)

7.Losing It - Wow. One of the most underrated tracks from the album is easily a top cut. After two rather dull and non-emotional almost robotic songs, we get a flow of absent desire and complete emotional response. Synth riffing from Lee is stellar, as are Pearts almost jazz-rock drumming. These crucial elements added to Lifesons slow guitar playing, Lee's soft vocal style and Ben Mink's amazing electric violin style of playing really make the song the unknown Rush classic. (10/10)

8.Countdown - After the emotional response of the last song, Rush go into an almost Math Rock stage. The NASA - inspired lyrics based on the shuttle launch really had an impact on the music. Though not as emotional as the previous song, the band goes into an interesting instrument prowess where Lee showcases his excellent synth playing. Though the synth riffing itself is a bit average, his solo mid song is very intense and shows how much he has grown musicaly in the past few years. Lifeson and Peart are no slouches either, as they enounter racing rhythms and intense intrument interplay. An excellent track to listen to. (9.5/10)

The album is probably the most consistent of their synth era. Though there are some songs that seem way too dull and average, most of it is excellent and has an almost symphonic flourish. The album gets a 4 stars because it's not completely essential, but it's an amazing addition to your album collection.

Report this review (#391117)
Posted Monday, January 31, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars SIGNALS features two of my favorite RUSH songs of all time in "Subdivisions" and "Losing It". "Subdivisions" immediately shoves right in the listener's face the fact that this is a new Rush looking into new sounds. This sounds like a neo-prog tune with the way that the electronic and synthesized textures mesh with the traditional prog approach, and it thrills me to death. The drumming is vital, technical, yet conjures a propulsive groove. As lame as it is, this song got me through a lot of awkward parts of growing up. "Losing It", meanwhile, is a tender progressive pop ballad of sorts to fading light, which became more important to me as I started to watch my parents age and issues with my depression started interfering with my ability to write. These two songs have a tremendous sentimental value to me, but I could not have gotten so attached if they werenot also written and performed so fantastically.

"The Analog Kid" and "Digital Man" provoke me to sing along whenever I hear them; you can immediately pluck out the insistent New Wave sound space to them and, while they aren't very progressive in terms of instrumentation and performance, they are very solid rock songs. "The Analog Kid" has some unconventional song structuring, but isn't too far from the norm, and "Digital Man" is a rather standard tune.

"Chemistry", "The Weapon", and "New World Man" sport a focus on groove that had been absent from Rush songs prior to this point, offering downright danceable beats. It is on these songs as well that we begin to hear Rush's descent, guitarwise, into purely abstract, atmospheric gestures. The synths crowd out the melodic and harmonic space, leaving ALEX LIFESON room only for little guitar fills and abstract chords. Personally, I like these quite a bit specifically for how they challenge the established Rush idiom, offering the same sounds that made Rush reconfigured into this remarkable New Wave machine. These are very underrated songs that challenge a prog listener just as they challenge a traditional rock or pop listener.

"Countdown" I just can't do. It's a decent enough song, but it lacks a certain kind of solid foundation that you normally get from workshopping a song for a bit. This was written to commemorate the launch of the space shuttle Columbia, which was brand new at the time, and they didn't have much time to write and record it compared to the other tunes. While normally a weakness like this would seriously hurt an album, the fact that they placed it at the end after "Losing It", which offers a strong close to the album, makes it feel more like a bonus track and, in that regard, it's a nice little closing gesture.

This would be a three-star album if not for "Subdivisions" and "Losing It", the latter especially as I don't see much discussion of it. However, I could see re-rating this as a three-star album in time. This one is very on-the-fence for me.

Report this review (#409575)
Posted Monday, February 28, 2011 | Review Permalink
Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
4 stars Rush had perhaps their biggest hit with Tom Sawyer on the previous album, "Moving Pictures". With a hit of that magnitude comes higher expectation for more of the same from the record label. So Rush responded by simplifying their songwriting, and adding more synthesizers. So we, the fans of their progressive side lose out.

At least on this album, the first to feature this new direction, the band hasn't totally forsaken their fan base. Geddy Lee still provides some complex bass playing, and Lifeson and Peart add enough flair to keep things interesting as well. There are some time signature changes, especially in Subdivisions. But there is nothing that blows the listener away, like you might find on the previous albums.

It's a decent effort, but I can only rate it 3.5 stars (rounded up).

Report this review (#414107)
Posted Thursday, March 10, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars |C+| And the 80s synth-Rush era truly begins.

Signals represents, more or less, the beginning of the Rush as they would be for the rest of their career, in the sense that they would create less complex and more compositionally patient (and repetitive) songs. It is also the start of their "80s era" of keyboard (over)emphasis and more mid-tempo works. As Rush had always done and continue to do, they 've adapted their music to match the aesthetic preferences of the times while simultaneously retaining (most of) their artistic integrity.

Indeed, the band felt unsatisfied with their sound, even with the release with this album. I suspect they knew it would be difficult to top their own popularity after the success of Moving Pictures, and especially that they couldn't do so making songs with the same guitar-driven formula. And given the second half of Moving Pictures, this album is a logical follow-up. And while it is a worthy album for it to deserve the Rush logo, it could've been a lot better.

Most of what's lovable about Rush, the guitar riffs, the meaty quasi-counter-melody bass lines, Lee's powerful voice (though less energetic now), the phenomenal drumming are all still there. However, my main issue with this album is quite simply the complete lack of melodic intrigue of almost every verse in the entire album, save the radio hits New World Man and Subdivisions. The choruses are all great, but the vocal melody in the verses are flat out uninteresting, uninspired, and long-winded, to the point where I feel my heart sink a little. What's more, there's rarely a moment where the three musicians aren't all playing (something) at once, which detracts from the band exposing their individual musicianship.

The best tracks are the always enjoyable radio hits just mentioned (part of the Rush I grew up with with the compilation album my parents had), Chemistry, the progressive sounding Losing it (in 5/8, very unique sounding!) and the chorus sections of the other tracks, save Countdown, which was a let down for an album ender.

I do like the synth work overall, but it ends up blotting out a lot of the heavy riffing, soloing, and eclectic sound that the band use to utilize so effectively. I think if the songs were less repetitive with better verse melodies it would have easily stood up to the artistic and popular expectations many Rush fans had expected. But alas, even a reviewer as I a few generations younger can see why the band is perceived to have already leveled out and left behind the pristine quality they had once established, and the marker of that departure being Signals. A good and enjoyable album nonetheless, especially for the Rush fan.

Report this review (#458037)
Posted Tuesday, June 7, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars After they toured Moving Pictures and Exit...Stage Left, Rush could've easily gone in and did Moving Pictures Part II but they didn't and took another route with this album and i applaud them for not falling into the same issue most bands do when they popular and that's repetition. With the opening of Subdivisions you can tell Rush was going a different direction and it may have shut off some people due to the over use of synths but i think it works. They have been slowly including the keyboards into their sound since A Farewell to Kings in 1977 (See that review for more info) but i feel they found the perfect balance in songs like Countdown and New World Man. Overall this album is very good but has some down points like The Weapon and The Analog Kid, but is a good album. 4 stars. Highlights: Subdivisions, Chemistry, Digital Man, New World Man, Losing It and Countdown.
Report this review (#463560)
Posted Saturday, June 18, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars Rush goes synth.

That is the reputation of this album. In my humble opinions, the picture is slightly more complicated than that. There is no doubts Signals is one of the more pastoral and low key albums Rush has ever released. It is well known that Alex did not like the lack of guitars (Read: employment for himself) on this album. There are still something for Alex to do here though and he does it well. But most of this album is synth and Geddy's vocals. There is no doubts Geddy's voice finds his range on these songs. In short; Signals is Geddy's Rush album.

The quality of the songs are overall very good. All of the songs, with the exception of the immediate hit Subdivisions, also slowly creeps upon the listener over a long period. I have had this album for two decades and it is my favorite Rush album from this period.

By far my favorite song from Signals is Losing It. A song where Rush really stretches themselves and comes up with an unique song. The closing song Countdown is also a true great song. Unfortunate, there are also a couple of reggae inspired songs on this album too. Rush was a bit too eager to run after the trends at this stage of their career. Reggae is a step to far in my opinion.

I rate Signals very high and to a weak four stars album. Maybe because I have been listening a lot to it during the last 20 years. But I think this is an undervalued Rush album.

4 stars

Report this review (#463760)
Posted Saturday, June 18, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars (A kind of a follow-up to my Meddle review last Friday; I'm tired of shying away from the heavily reviewed albums of the most popular groups, and from now on I will visit them every now and then besides my usual habit of concentrating on less reviewed artists.)

There's one clear reason why this RUSH album is among my favourites: it was one of the very first Prog (or Prog Related) albums I ever came to listen to, even before I started buying vinyls. My elder brother had this. But I believe I would still prefer Signals to many others even without the nostalgia factor. It has very nice songs that are catchy in a good way, and compared to the next albums the synth department is not disturbingly up front. Yes, there are plenty of them all right. So? Their sound is meaty, not plastic at all.

The opener is the wonderful concert classic 'Subdivisions' with its effective synth riff. The lyrics, as throughout this album, are more dow-to-earth, of everyday issues, than on the 70's RUSH, and I like that. Here, on at least a couple of tracks, the point of view is of a young lad. "Be cool or be cast out", the central dilemma of youth. 'The Analog Kid' is just fantastic, bright song full of youth spirit. The album's weakest moments are on the latter half of Side One. 'Chemistry' and 'Digital Man' don't feel as inspired as the rest, but bad songs they are not.

'The Weapon' is again a powerful and meaningful song with anti-militarian message. It's also the longest track (6:22) as it has an instrumental middle part. This album is not very progressive what comes to song structures, but that doesn't make it weak. The songs, almost all of them, are very good and so is the sound - what else matters? The two last tracks are among the best ones. 'Losing It' is a moody, even tragic song about, well, losing it: a writer, a dancer, all admiration behind and now they feel empty and useless. Have you noticed the allusions to Hemingway in the lyrics? Electric violin of Ben Mink is a beautiful addition. And the album closer has the same synth riff as the opener; otherwise 'Countdown' stays far enough from 'Subdivisions'. The lyrics about a rocket launch may not have depth, but the tense atmosphere is captured greatly.

A strong album, perhaps the most undervalued in the RUSH catalogue.

Report this review (#480224)
Posted Monday, July 11, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars Signalling the beginning of the end...

This release marked the start of the band's "synthesiser period", a pivotal moments in their long and illustrious career.

The Good: This album shows a completely different side of Rush. Not only are Lee's keyboards more dominant than ever before, but the sound delves further into styles previously touched upon such as reggae and ska. Losing It even utilises an electric violin for an almost unrecognisable penultimate track!

Lifeson's guitar parts are not only mixed down to make room for this new electronic approach, but also sound less intricate. Having said that they're still engaging throughout and make the most of the limited breathing space they have, just don't expect La Villa Strangiato. You might have thought that with his attention focussed on the keyboards there might be less guitar input from Lee, quite the oppositite in fact! On Signals his bass lines remain funkier than ever and include some of my personal favourites such as The Analog Kid.

It has be noted that this album is amongst their most commercially accessible with New World Man breaking into the US charts shortly after its release, and whilst that may be true to a certain extent, I also consider it to be amongst their most "progressive" in terms of the evolution of their music.

The Bad: Chemistry.

The Verdict: With the start of a new direction also comes the end of a golden era for Rush. Whilst many of their later releases would have excellent songs, Signals was arguably their final, truly great album.

Report this review (#501899)
Posted Friday, August 12, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars The synthesisers had been becoming a greater and greater presence in Rush's music over the course of Permanent Waves and Moving Pictures, but it was Signals that saw the band's dramatic switch from prog metal to progressive synth-rock. Just as they'd brought prog compositional sensibilities to the metal world, they moved into synth rock and made something a bit more complex and challenging than the typical Human League fare. This is bold new territory, and to be honest I think the album isn't quite as essential as Moving Pictures - mainly because the band spend most of the album trying out new ideas and trying to make this new sound work. Still, Subdivisions is one hell of a catchy song and the album's an intriguing listen from beginning to end.
Report this review (#572363)
Posted Monday, November 21, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars Well, Signals received mixed reviews from most fans, and it sure is understandable as Rush changed their style dramatically here. Heavy use of synthesizers like never before, and much shorter, simpler structured compositions dominate this album. So, is this a bad album? Of course not, why should it be? It's in the eye of the beholder. Some may love it, while other's hate it. Also, if you started listening to Rush in their Synth-Era, you'd surely like Signals. But if you knew them as a raw hard rock band, (their first records when they just started out) your opinion might be influenced negatively.

Well then, let's take a look at it. Signals is their ninth studio album and was released in 1982. It contains 8 tracks, with a total lenght of 42 minutes. The album starts off with "Subdivisions", one of their most popular songs. Lyrically, it's about individuality and onesidedness of life. It's a mind-blowing song and one of my personal favorites. The most noticeable aspects of this song are obviously Geddy's brief keyboard solo's during the song. Subdivisions is followed by "The Analog Kid", a fast-paced prog song with a dreamy chorus and a nice guitar solo by Alex Lifeson towards the end. It's also one of my favorites. The ending is a bit disappointing, though. It's just my personal opinion, but I think the song should have faded out, since the end sounded so frantic. The third track, "Chemistry", is much slower than the first ones. Didn't like it too much at first, but it has grown on me. "Digital Man" is the counterpart to The Analog Kid. An analog signal is a signal that is written as it was recorded, with no encryption. A digital signal is an encrypted signal that needs to be decoded, it only gives you a positive or a negative signal, a 0 or a 1. The Analog Kid is about a boy who is overwhelmed with emotions. Digital Man is about a modern, heartless, man. Catchy song.

Next up... "The Weapon", the highlight of this album in my opinion. (Like "Limelight" in Moving Pictures) There's something really compelling about this song and I can't figure it out. I think it's the synthesizers, but I might be wrong. I especially like it towards the end. What's next? "New World Man", which became a surprise radio hit. I personally consider this the weakest track of the album, just because of this song being so simple. The chorus is catchy, though. "Losing It", a song they never played live. A beautiful ballad. The electric violin is stunningly beautiful. And the last track "Countdown" is a song about the launch of the Space Shuttle Columbia in 1981, which the band witnessed. It's pretty mediocre, but for being the last song on the album, it literally gives you the feeling of finality.

I'd love to give this album 5 stars, but unfortunately I can't. This was a nice experimental album, but nowhere a masterpiece. I got bored a little after listening to it 100 times, and I missed long and complex songs. Nonetheless, it's a great Rush album for anyone. 4 stars.

Report this review (#602508)
Posted Tuesday, January 3, 2012 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
4 stars "Signals" is the Rush album that was sandwiched in between two incredible Rush albums and as a followup to the masterpiece "Moving Pictures", perhaps Rush's finest hour, this was a tough album to appreciate. The album tends to be a transition to the synthesized 80s domination. The power trio were always a compelling listen during the 70s, with lengthy progressive classics, and lyrical beauty, but in the 80s the sound changed. Gone are the epics and weirdness to make way for the new 80s sound. In 1982 the top prog albums were 4 - Peter Gabriel, Time To Turn ? Eloy, Fact and Fiction ? Twelfth Night, Five Miles Out ? Mike Oldfield, Enter K ? Peter Hammill, Ship Arriving Too Late To Save A Drowning Witch ? Frank Zappa, Eye In The Sky ? Alan Parsons Project, The Broadsword and the Beast ? Jethro Tull. So amidst this slew of albums Rush produced something very special and really cemented their reputation as one of the greatest bands in rock history, proving they could use a current sound and still produce high quality songs. Rush use synthesizers in droves on this but still remain progressive which is a feat in itself. They remain true to the odd time sig changes that have made them so endearing over the years.

The first track 'Subdivisions' has a crystal clear sound, strong synths and the time sig definitely is unusual. The melody is pleasant to the ears, and tends to grow on you over time. I must admit when I first heard this album I was not all that impressed as I prefer the heavier side of Rush and this felt very safe. However, over the years I have really been enamoured with the new sound of Rush on "Signals".

'The Analog Kid' is another synth soaked track with a quick cadence and complex structure. Geddy Lee is wonderful on vocals effortlessly ploughing through the octaves on every track. He was at the peak of his skills at this stage.

The guitar work of Alex Lifeson is always jangly and at the same modulation as the synths. There are no brilliant riffs to speak of rather he holds back and simply carries the songs along on strong melodic rhythms. The sound on songs such as 'Chemistry' is rather radio friendly but it is still one of the better albums in the 80s as far as prog is concerned, as the 80s were the most difficult era for prog. Rush survived on albums such as "Signals" due to the consistent quality. Every song has a strong melody, Lifeson's continuous guitar embellishments and the powerful percussive work of Neil Peart, particularly impressive on 'Digital Man' with its half time feel and time changes. This track also includes one of Lifeson's best lead breaks.

Surprisingly of all the prog 80s albums of 1982, Rush were still able to produce an album rated the most highly on many prog album lists, including on progarchives. It is little wonder with treasures such as the incredible 'The Weapon'. The lyrics here are powerful on the topic of a soldier's thoughts in nuclear war time, or it could be a terrorist planning a crime; "The knowledge that they fear is a weapon to be used against them, he's not afraid of the judgement, he's a little bit afraid of dying, and the thing that he fears is the weapon to be held against him." The instrumental break is a darker sound, layers of synth and phased guitar lead break, with sporadic drumming accents.

'New World Man' is a fan favourite with catchy hooks and some strong melodies that are memorable. The track appeared on many live sets over the years. This is followed by a lesser known song, exclusive to this album alone I believe, 'Losing It'. One of the interesting components of the music is the use of a violin by guest maestro Ben Mink. The slow pace of the song is alarming after all the rock and I will admit it is not a high point of the album. However the violin trading off with Lifeson's pitchy harmonics is a treat.

The album concludes with 'Countdown' featuring radio controller voice overs "T Minus 20 seconds and counting", and supersonic space shuttle effects. It was written in honour of Space Shuttle Columbia where the band were invited to the launch. Given the disaster of Challenger the song has taken on an added potency. Geddy Lee's voice is crystalline echoing over the steady beat with compelling lyrics; "Circling choppers slash the night, With roving searchlight beams, This magic day when super-science, Mingles with the bright stuff of dreams." Later as the song builds to the actual lift off the lyrics are rather portentous, taking on a darker aspect in context of the fateful Challenger launch; "The air is charged, A humid, motionless mass, The crowds and the cameras, The cars full of spectators pass, Excitement so thick you could cut it with a knife, Technology, high, on the leading edge of life, The earth beneath us starts to tremble, With the spreading of a low black cloud, A thunderous roar shakes the air, Like the whole world exploding, Scorching blast of golden fire, As it slowly leaves the ground, Tears away with a mighty force, The air is shattered by the awesome sound, Like a pillar of cloud, The smoke lingers high in the air, In fascination, With the eyes of the world, We stare." The whole song now brings to mind the disaster of Challenger exploding and the people staring up in disbelief at the white billows of smoke; an image that has been ingrained on the world. When the radio controller counts down to the engines starting up, and the shuttle lifts off, it brings a lump to my throat and of course this was written before the Challenger exploded 73 seconds into flight, which occurred January 28, 1986. For me this last song is an underrated Rush classic rarely heard and criminally never included on the plethora of best of Rush compilations. This song, along with 'New World Man', 'The Weapon', 'The Analog Kid', 'Subdivisions', and 'Digital Man' are excellent additions to the Rush catalogue and make this an album that is very worthwhile.

So in conclusion while this may not be the greatest Rush album by a long stretch there is still a lot to savour on "Signals". It took a while for me to appreciate the importance of the album in context of the mediocre music churning out of the 80s but the album stands up as a testimony to the incredible skills of the band who demonstrated they could be a dominant force in the 80s, building on the legacy left behind in the 70s.

Report this review (#604224)
Posted Friday, January 6, 2012 | Review Permalink
2 stars A top heavy album from the synth era of Rush. This has never been a favorite of mine, and is probably not a favorite of the majority of fans. This starts great with SUBDIVISIONS and THE ANALOG KID but after that nothing really interests me. I listen to this recording maybe 1 time a year at the most. Compared to some of their earlier works such as 2112 or Farewell to Kings this just can' t match up. I would never say that I hated this album or anything else Rush released during their synthesizer period, but I can not say I like this much either. Overall, 1 star but I will add another star for the 2 songs I like, SUBDIVISIONS especially. 2 stars
Report this review (#607876)
Posted Thursday, January 12, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars Rush had been gradully changing their sound at the time of Signals, and they would continue to do so after, thus no two Rush albums sound exactly the same, but they all have their charm. The distinguishing factor in this one, is that the balance between guitar and synths was starting to favor synths more, with the previous album being an even balance, and many of the ones after this one having even more layers of synths. Here, though, while there aren't as many layers of keyboards as they would use soon after, they are mixed louder than the guitars, and they have a very full, almost bloated sound to them. This makes the feel songs like "Chemistry" and "Countdown" hard to grasp - at first, I didn't even notice how great Alex Lifeson's solo on "The Analog Kid" is, but once accustomed to this very unique blend, all of the sounds in the songs can be appreciated for their beauty. They're also playing slightly less ferociously than on Moving Pictures, but only slightly - there are still odd meters, and Neil Peart's drumming still qualifies as virtuoso (especially check "Digital Man" for that fact.) Geddy Lee was also showing increased ability at playing keyboards, the song "Subdivisions" having a very effective lead part and solo - the main part sounding definitely like it was written by someone who knows how to play the piano, not just synths. The lyrics on the album also happen to be some of Peart's best to this point, retaining the more directness he'd moved into starting with Permanent Waves, but now adding a nice degree of cleverness that he would continue to develop on later albums, highlighted here on the hopefully not timeless, but still relavent today "Subdivisions", and the politically concious "The Weapon" and "New World Man." All of these songs have very well thought out musical themes and style variations: "The Weapon" has a sort of progressive electronic sound to it with some interesting chord changes in its pulsating middle section, "New World Man" is the song that got me into The Police's sound (Neil even sounds very much like Stewart Copeland on this track), "Losing It" has a great, impressive electric violin solo from Ben Mink over a hypnotic 5/4 rhythm, and "Chemistry" uses it's simplicity to convey a rich emotional element that's very effectively set up by the full choruses of "The Analog Kid." "Digital Man" and "Countdown" end each side one a very energized note, and there is much depth to discover in every one of these songs. Not just highly recommended, but highly recommended for repeated listenings.
Report this review (#625392)
Posted Thursday, February 2, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars Geddy Lee has said before that he was not satisfied with this album. He wanted more out of the production and it was because of this largely that the band decided that long-time producer, Terry Brown and the band would part ways. Some fans have also complained about the heavy use of synthesizer and the lack of guitar. Indeed, on many tracks the rhythm guitar seems buried in the mix while the bass and synth come out clear and strong. But this album is to me, still one of Rush's great works and I don't think of it as the beginning of their foray into synthesizer new wave rock but the end of their period of shorter progressive songs that began with Permanent Waves.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Report this review (#752337)
Posted Saturday, May 12, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars Signals marks the first Rush album where the synth starts to take over the sound of the band, and as a result Lifeson's guitar takes somewhat of a backseat. This is not to say this is a bad album, in fact their compositional skills seem to be unaffected. The prog is still present on this album, though not as much as their previous few albums. The songs are shorter, with none even reaching seven minutes, but I feel the length lends the songs a more tight and focused atmosphere.

The album opens with title track, which begins with a pulsating synth riff that segues flawlessly from 7/4 into 4/4. I believe this song puts to perfect use the synth that dominates all "post-pictures" albums.

'The Analog Kid' is an up-tempo number that is actually lower on the synth side. This gives Alex some room to perform some great guitar riffs and a blazing solo.

'Chemistry' appropriately mixes some sytnth heavy parts with Lifeson's heavy rock guitar. As always, the rhythm section in Lee and Peart is flawless.

'Digital Man' is based on some brain-melting bass lines from Geddy. Lifeson adds some more Reggae influenced guitar that were hinted to in their previous two efforts giving this song a sound similar to The Police.

'The Weapon' is pretty good instrumentally; Peart has some great hi-hat work throughout, and the synth is nice, though the vocal melodies in parts are decent at best.

'New World Man' is a more of a poppy Rush, which features some great bass and drum work and more of Lifeson's Reggae guitar. A delightful listen, but nothing mind-blowing. 'Losing It' is one of Rush's most emotional songs. The strings and synth add a rather melancholic feeling, which is rare for Rush.

'Countdown' is a great conclusion to a synth-heavy album, with its synth-heavy riffs throughout. Some of the lyrics feel a bit forced, but instrumentally it's fantastic.

Overall, Signals is a decent output from a band headed in a completely different direction. The synth is heavy, but luckily the 80's cheesiness hasn't caught up to them yet like it will in their later 80's works. Musically, this is still Rush at the core, and is a must have for Rush fans.


Report this review (#771348)
Posted Friday, June 15, 2012 | Review Permalink
3 stars Once upon a time there were three master builders. They spent many arduous years erecting a magnificent house. Self-taught, they learned through trial and error and one day they succeeded in finally finishing the impressive structure. No one in the construction industry thought they could do it but they managed to accomplish their goals on their own terms without compromising their integrity or their dreams and, upon completion, people from near and far showed up to admire their handiwork. However, after a short rest from their labors they began work on a new abode that was designed to be somewhat different in shape and scope from their ballyhooed masterpiece. When the trio asked their supporters why this disturbed them so, the crowd answered 'We don't want you to start on a new dwelling, we want you to add a second floor to the house we like so much!'

That, I sense, is the predicament that the three members of Rush found themselves in when on 'Signals' they failed to duplicate the exact sound and look of their mega hit album 'Moving Pictures.' They'd spent a very long time fashioning their unique approach to progressive rock & roll and cultivating a loyal following that would allow them to continue to improve record by record to the point where the rest of the world would have to take notice. The runaway popularity of 'Moving Pictures' was the culmination of their focused hard work and they were at last able to step back and say to themselves 'We did it!' I can't hold it against them for taking a 'been there, done that' attitude towards that disc and for wanting to expand their horizons by venturing down other avenues but evidently many of their devotees did. I guess it's just human nature to want more of what we prefer and to resist change but Rush had no intention of playing that constraining game. Being progressive means being willing to take big risks.

Releasing their second live album to all extents and purposes put an exclamation point on all that had characterized their career up to that juncture and when they began to formulate and assemble the material for 'Signals' they jettisoned all their conceptions of what Rush had to be and let their muse be their guide. In particular they allowed synthesizers and the influence of the New Wave movement in modern music trends to filter into their creativity without restraint and the record's opening act, 'Subdivisions,' made no pretense about what they were up to. My first impression was that they no longer felt compelled to knock the walls down with pulverizing pulses of power as they'd done so many times before and that bassist/singer Geddy Lee no longer saw a need to see how high he could go vocally. And Alex Lifeson's inimitable guitar presence was diminished to the point where he stayed in the background until the later part of the song. By the time this track ended I knew for certain that they weren't going to take the predictable route this time around. For 'The Analog Kid' a strong, straight rock feel from Neil Peart establishes a no-nonsense mood and direction for the tune to pursue while the half beat he lays down for the bridge gives it a very prog air. Lifeson's guitar solo is decent but not as edgy as those he's presented in the past. The over-the-top intro for 'Chemistry' will brighten any progger's day. They ease into a tight groove that anchors Lee's more relaxed and under control voice well but I also detect a palpable lack of urgency in their demeanor. It's not a damning criticism, just an observation because their musicianship is still beyond reproach.

'Digital Man' is the first of several highlights you'll find on 'Signals.' Their sharper-honed attack gives this song much bigger balls overall. The inclusion of some rhythmic ska flavorings demonstrated their fearlessness when it came to their mutually agreed-upon evolution. Alex tears it up nicely on guitar and Peart's punchy accents are well worth taking note of. On 'The Weapon' I got the sensation that they were being too deliberate in going out of their way to not sound like they did on 'Moving Pictures' and 'Permanent Waves' because they come off more Police-like here than Rush-ish. The composition is not particularly impressive but I do like what they accomplished via the open spaces they left that let the track breathe. 'New World Man' is still, to this day, their biggest single in the USA but for some reason it doesn't get near the airplay that 'Tom Sawyer' and 'Limelight' garner on classic rock radio. It's a better tune in some respects and it further emphasizes their interest in reggae during that period but it's Lifeson's guitar work that distinguishes it from the other cuts on the album. 'Losing It' displays the more delicate side of Rush and the addition of Ben Mink's electric violin is very effective and inspirational. The number owns a cool Genesis-meets-Jon Luc Ponty vibe that gets me right where my little progger's heart resides. The closer, 'Countdown,' gives Alex an opportunity to let the depth of his layered guitars provide it with a cavernous aura but I could've done without the corny voice-overs that date the track frightfully. It's not bad, per se, but I kept waiting for the defining 'WOW' moment that never came.

Released on 9/9/82, the album rose to the #10 spot on the LP charts but, more importantly, it drew a line in the sand that separated this version of Rush from the raucous band that fought and clawed their way to prominence during the 70s. Not everyone in Rushville was happy about it, either. While I have no doubt that the negative reaction the album garnered from a lot of their followers bothered Neil, Geddy and Alex to some extent, to their credit they didn't let the naysayers stop them from continuing construction on a new, more modern house in the vacant lot next door. There was nothing wrong with the home they'd just finished but that was then and this was now. My hat's off to them for not caving in to the pressure to repeat themselves ad infinitum. 3.3 stars.

Report this review (#809876)
Posted Friday, August 24, 2012 | Review Permalink
3 stars Going from the career-defining brilliance of 'Moving Pictures' to this very different follow-up really did bamboozle many a Rush fan, yet it's a move that almost perfectly highlights the difficult balancing act that faces all great(and not-so-great) rock groups. Fans will always want their favourite acts to play the hits and stick to the stadium-pleasing riffs that made their rock heroes so popular, yet at the same time each-and-every group is always desperate to try new things and showcase the other areas of their musical personality. No-one likes to stand still. Here, on 'Signals', the Canadian power trio made an almost deliberate about turn, eschewing the progressive pomp of their previous five albums in favour of a more streamlined approach, an approach that kick-started their synthesizer-heavy 1980's phase. It was a move that certainly didn't please everyone, yet it also took Rush into new sonic realms, showing real artistic backbone and a bravery lesser groups simply don't possess. Churning out more of the same was obviously not an option for the trio, and despite the fact that 'Signals' ultimately failed to reach the giddy heights of it's predecessors, it still attracted a strong following. Rush survived the 1980's in healthy shape, much healthier than many of their cohorts, and its thanks to albums like this that they did, navigating the tricky synth-pop flavoured decade without truly selling out, in the process exhibiting a very different side of the group. A self-satisfying exercise this may have been, and musically Rush have certainly produced many better albums both before and since, yet the actual importance of 'Signals' is hard, almost impossible, to deny. It bridged a difficult time; it shows the group's dextrous compositional abilities; it gave us Rush for the new decade and allowed them to, of course, have their cake and devour it. So, 'Signals' is by no means a classic then, yet it was the perfect transitional album and arguably a major reason the group are still going strong today. In every walk of life you have to play the game that wins; Rush played this one almost to perfection, even to the detriment of their very lifeblood - the music. STEFAN TURNER, STOKE NEWINGTON, 2012
Report this review (#861531)
Posted Saturday, November 17, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars This album is no "Moving Pictures" however I love it. "Subdivisions" is a very strong opener and I love "The Analogue Kid" "Chemistry" isn't as strong to me but it isn't bad at all. The band embraced the eighties with dignity as far as I'm concerned. "Digital Man" isn't brilliant "The Weapon" is good. "New World Man" is different - almost with a reggae feel - however I really enjoy it. "Losing it" is, to me, brilliant. I love "Countdown" as well. There is no doubt that Rush moved into the 80's with this album however as I previously stated they did it with dignity without sacrificing the music as many did. They remained relevant as a prog rock band to me where many an act lost that. Not only did they remain relevant to me - I loved the music. For me a solid 4 star album - one that would and will remain close to me into the future.
Report this review (#940062)
Posted Saturday, April 6, 2013 | Review Permalink
siLLy puPPy
PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams
4 stars RUSH presented to the world with their 9th studio album SIGNALS a major surprise. First of all they said bye bye to both the progressive and the metal sounds that had been their defining classifications up to this point. They boldly went where no band went before. There had been hints of what's to come in their two previous releases but no one could have predicted that they newly adopted synthesizers, reggae guitar, sequencers and shorter songs would become the dominate feature of their music. They even have a guest electric violinist. After the huge success of "Permanent Waves" and "Moving Pictures" it seems like a clone or two of that same style would have surely sold gazillions of copies much in the same way that AC/DC rode out the whole 80s by using the "Back In Black" formula. But nope. This is RUSH. They decided they wanted to try something new and for that I commend them wholeheartedly. The album sold well and even had a their only US top 40 hit with "New World Man."

To me much of this sounds like RUSH was very inspired by The Police as well as the whole New Wave sound of the early 80s except RUSH incorporated these sounds and kept a slightly progressive edge that really set this sound apart from anything else even remotely related. A noble experiment indeed but what about the result? Well, for me, I have to admit that I prefer the old RUSH to this new one, however, I am a staunch supporter of bands taking risks and changing up their sound even if the results are less than successful. In this case I think they succeeded in what they set out to prove. Stylistically I love everything from Gorguts to the Go-Go's so that is not the problem. What I do expect is good songwriting and they deliver that here creating strange synth pop / rock tracks that give emphasis to the lyrics which I find very tastily laid out and performed. I know this was a huge disappointment for metal fans and RUSH would indeed go on to put out some very low quality releases in the future, but for me this is an pretty interesting album to listen to. And how can you not love a cover with a fire hydrant on it? I love them so much that I have to keep myself from peeing on the album cover.

Report this review (#1187912)
Posted Saturday, June 7, 2014 | Review Permalink
4 stars If Moving Pictures and Permanent Waves showed us anything, it was that Rush could succeed in reshaping their traditional progressive/hard rock sound in multiple ways and achieve some crossover success. Just as an actor may choose to play in many different kinds of roles to avoid being typecast, occasionally a band will have to switch their sound a bit so their competitors don't leave them in the dust commercially. While Permanent Waves was still a full-fledged progressive rock album that merely scraped the surface of stylistic change - such as the reggae elements of "Spirit of Radio" or increased dominance of Geddy Lee's synthesizer work - 1981's Moving Pictures was what really changed the way people would view Rush. While viewed as a classic today, many deemed it a sell-out move for the band back then, as songs like "Tom Sawyer" and "Limelight" became big hits and permanent FM radio fixtures. However, if people got angry about the more streamlined nature of Moving Pictures, imagine how they felt when Signals came out!

1982's Signals is essentially the result of two things: 1. the more radio-friendly direction of Moving Pictures and 2. what was going on in 80s synth-rock at the time. There's even less of a progressive rock inspiration this time around, mostly replaced by a more reggae-rock/new wave hybrid... with progressive rock thrown in. Don't get me wrong, the prog still rears its head plenty of times, with the odd time signature here and there (especially on that iconic opening 7/8-time synth line to "Subdivisions") as well as the new-found reliance on multiple genre experiments. Something that's really cool about the album is the fact that, no matter what style the band try, the music still sounds distinctly Rush. Even with the suspenseful synth-layered "Countdown" or the swing-like drum work of the reggae-inspired "Digital Man," the overall vibe and instrumentation (particularly Alex Lifeson's signature chordal guitar playing) indicate that the band haven't lost their identity. Once again, the emphasis is on "reshaping" the sound they already had, and it really works nicely for them. "Analog Kid" remains one of Rush's best 80s songs, easily being one of their fastest and most hard rocking tracks while keeping a fun and breezy atmosphere throughout the verses. The lyrics of the record, in keeping with the tone of the previous two albums, don't follow the fantasy and sci-fi themes of the band's 70s work but instead focus on reality and the human condition. For instance, "Subdivisions" seems to be about being ostracized for not "fitting in," with the iconic line "be cool or be cast out." "Losing It" references the later years of Ernest Hemingway's life, while "The Weapon" is another song in the band's Fear series, which deals with the many ways fear is brought about and dealt with.

Signals is definitely a tougher album to get into than any of Rush's previous efforts. Despite more radio-friendly songs and new wave experimentation, many of the tunes go a bit too far into synth territory. "Losing It," despite an interestingly melancholic atmosphere, is probably the worst offender. At some point you have to ask yourself, "How far are Rush going to go with this more keyboard-laden sound?" Even "Subdivisions," one of the most popular and recognizable Rush anthems, trades much of what guitar work there would presumably be with a dark, brooding synthesizer used to carry out many of the melodies and basslines. That's sorta the issue here: Alex Lifeson, while present for a good chunk of the album, just isn't present enough. Neal Peart, however, is stronger than ever; in fact, what's really impressive is how much he does with a more limited range of time signatures and a simplified overall sound. The crazy fills are still there, as well as a nice variety of tempos and dynamics that are executed; business as usual. Geddy Lee is still doing well with his more subdued voice (or at least more subdued than he was in the 70s), and his basslines are still fast and technical during many of the instrumental passages. Alex Lifeson brings out some of the best guitar work of his career... once again though, when you can hear him and he isn't being drowned out by the keyboards. The problem with Signals is that they seemed to go way too far with the synthesizers; while songs like "Digital Man" and "Analog Kid" aren't as reliant on them, the songs that are reliant go a bit overboard. The band had experimented with synthesizers in the past, but not to this degree. It's not a huge issue though, because the high-quality compositions and other instrumental performances shine through in the end. It's still excellent enough for my recommendation; it isn't another Moving Pictures, but the experimentation and compositions still make it a completely worthwhile record despite its missteps.

Report this review (#1445874)
Posted Tuesday, July 28, 2015 | Review Permalink
4 stars Maybe this shouldn't be my first Rush review. But I know this album quite well and enough of the history of the band to understand its somewhat divisive position. So here goes...

I like synthesizers. A lot. Polyphonic synths are a very important part of progressive rock for me. Not everything I own has them, but a lot does. And I came into the "Rush" game late (the live version of "Marathon" from A Show of Hands was the first exposure I had to them), so I had fewer preconceptions coming in than someone would have who cut their teeth on Hemispheres. So, for me, the synths themselves are not a problem. And I find that most of the material here ranges from "very good" to "excellent" from a songwriting standpoint.

All that having been said - the sound of this album is "off" for me. It's murky, muddy, fuzzy...something like that (one description I read said it sounded like you were listening to it underwater). One observation I've heard which makes sense is that they hadn't yet learned to play the synths and guitars in separate octaves, resulting in sounds on here that were "wallish" (is that a word?) but in a gloopy, sludgy morass. In smaller doses it wouldn't have done quite so much to affect my opinion - but the synths are all over the place and the amorphous battle between them and the guitars can get a bit overwhelming sometimes (contrast Grace Under Pressure, which arguably has more and busier synths, but sounds a lot cleaner to my ears).

However, the material here (with the exception of "The Weapon", a song I simply can't get into) is strong enough to overcome that by-in-large. I particularly love the reggae section of "Digital Man", where Neil Peart's drumming really shines (love the off-transition cymbal hits especially). "Analog Kid" features some of Alex Lifeson's best shredding on the solo. "Losing It' features a great violin solo from Ben Mink. And I may be the exception here, but I love "Countdown". It feels like a sunny spring morning watching the apex of technology at work in front of you - before I grew up and life lost its optimism as loss and hard experiences ravaged my idyllic existence.

So, I have to give this four stars (3.75, really). It would be a more solid four if it sounded better. Not sure what could be done to change that now, but it's still a totally worthwhile way to spend three quarters of an hour.

Report this review (#1456389)
Posted Tuesday, August 25, 2015 | Review Permalink
4 stars Signals is the ninth studio album from hard rock band Rush. With the success of the groundbreaking Moving Pictures, Rush continued with extending their use of synth on the albums that were to follow. Signals, the first of these four "synth -period" albums, shares some similarities with it's predecessor; however it really "signals" in yet another new era for the band. Now the synth was immensely overused in 80's rock in my opinion, however, some bands used it quite well. Rush was one definitely of these bands.

Opening up with the popular single "Subdivisions", you immediately get an idea of the sound for the album. The album has an overall melancholy synth-rock sound, with the band's otherwise core hard rock sound taking a back-seat. That doesn't effect the quality of the music here much though, as this is still a great rock album. The aforementioned track is certainly great and among the highlights, as is the other popular single "New World Man". It's easy to see why the latter was picked as a single, it's infectiously catchy and reminds me a bit of The Police.

However great those songs are, some of the best tracks on the album come from the deeper cuts. These tracks are "Chemistry", "The Weapon", and "Countdown". "Chemistry" has a very grandiose sound mixed with some hard rocking riffs, "The Weapon" is a stomping track with the synth creating a really cool brooding atmosphere, and "Countdown" is simply a fantastic finale. Unfortunately for these three awesome songs, there are three pretty weak songs. "The Analog Kid" is decent, "Digital Man" drags on for too long, and the ballad "Losing It" just doesn't work and has some pretty annoying electric violin noodling that borders on avant-garde.

While not quite up to par with it's predecessor and preceding albums, Signals is still a great album in it's own right. I recommend it to fans of Moving Pictures, and I could also see New Wave fans enjoying it as well. One of the stronger albums of the band's synth-era.

Written on MMA (MetalMusicArchives) See review here:

Report this review (#1536446)
Posted Monday, March 7, 2016 | Review Permalink
4 stars As a RUSH fan, I confess when I've heard "Signals" for the first time , I stayed perplexed by the completely different direction they decided give to their music and "go aboard" into a "minimalist wave" sound. In fact was very difficult to me "digest" such substantial change. Only after the release of the next album "Grace Under Preasure" I started to hear this new approach with other perspective and I appreciated with pleasure this new dimension of RUSH"s sound. Naturally I can't consider this album in the same level of "Moving Pictures" or "A Farewell To Kings" but, nowadays I think which is a really good album. I can detach the track 1 "Subdivisions" , track 2 "The Analog Kid" , track 4 "Digital Man" ( this one the best track of whole album" , track 5 ". The Weapon " and finally track 6 "New world Man" ( where the band "dive" into a reggae/rock mix ). To conclusion, if this album is not in the same level of RUSH"s masterpieces... still deserves a 4 stars !!!
Report this review (#1568194)
Posted Friday, May 20, 2016 | Review Permalink
4 stars Signs of life in the 80's

Released after the melting-pot album "Moving Pictures", "Signals" represents one of RUSH's biggest musical mutation. The transformation started in 1980 is now complete: dominated by synthesizers, and even sequencers, the music is radio-friendly, less aggressive, contains less guitars. The tracks have all a normal duration and are neither progressive nor metal anymore. Already explored by the band, the reggae sections are also more present. Last point to mention: Geddy Lee's voice sounds now perfectly clean. So... is the end of RUSH as we know it? Yes. Is it worth listening? Yes too.

Rather than turning commercial, this evolution denotes the will of the Canadians to explore new musical directions in the new decade, however this does not necessarily result in a soapy 80's pop-rock. After all, this is RUSH. The inspiration is here, and, if the compositions display an homogeneous style, they still use uncommon time signatures.

The change of musical direction can be heard from the very first seconds. Featuring passages with different rhythms, "Subdivisions" is a powerful synth-rock opener, with a nice melody. Alternating rocking and calmer moments, "The Analog Kid" is driven by an energetic guitar and includes a cool guitar solo by Alex Lifeson. Nonetheless, the overall is a bit uneven. On the contrary, "Chemistry" is my favorite song of the record. A nearly cosmic overture and heroic melody, it rocks! The very cool "Digital Man" contains top-notch bass playing, reggae-based sections and numerous rhythm structures changes.

Even more surprising, the spacey disco-rock "The Weapon" is quite convincing and epic! Then comes "New World Man", a pleasant a soft reggae-rock that an remind THE POLICE at times. Featuring Ben Mink, a friend of the band, at electric violin, I'm not really a big fan of the "Losing It" and tend to find this ballad a bit flat. The only true weak track of the disc for me. The closer "Countdown" is a tribute to the NASA and its astronauts. The song narrates the launch of Space Transportation System-1, the first orbiter of NASA's Columbia Space Shuttle program. The band attended the event in 1981 in Orlando. The track incorporates genuine radio dialogs between the two pilots, John W. Young and Robert L. Crippen, before and during the flight, and is dedicated to them. Not the best passage of the album, but enjoyable.

As may understand, we're not in hard/heavy prog rock anymore. No long 70's hard/heavy prog ambitious suites like on "2112" or "Hemispheres" here. No new-wave either. 'Synthetic reggae-rock' could be an attempt to describe the style the musicians adopted on "Signals". For sure, the eighties' synthesizers sound quite dated, but this does curiously not prevent the tracks from being pleasant and original. Again, this is RUSH, so this is still creative in its way as no other band were offering something musically comparable at the time. Furthermore, this opus has a rather constant quality, and remains better than most 70's' progressive bands' releases in the 80's.

If you only know the seventies' years of RUSH, prepare for a surprise, but a good one. Accessible and lively, "Signals" opens new horizons for the Canadians, and should please fans of the trio, THE POLICE, or even reggae!

Report this review (#1583786)
Posted Tuesday, June 28, 2016 | Review Permalink
5 stars It's obvious that Rush's zenith was none other than the 1980's, a time considered emphatically by most to be the worst ten years for progressive rock (and admittedly there is some truth to the hyperbole). What gave Rush the edge over the rest of those who hit a low point in the 80's was their ability to be simplistic yet deeply complex seemingly at the same time. A record that exemplifies this well is none other than '81's Moving Pictures. It was a refreshing glimpse into the hard rock scene, and was what I like to call the second coming of Rush, where the legendary trio was once again able to meld the entire rock scene with pure power. Now I am a fan of Moving Pictures but I actually have somewhat of an unpopular opinion, because I believe that their following year follow- up, Signals, is in fact an even better record than it's predecessor.

Signals is very similar to Moving Pictures in many ways. For one, Lifeson sounds nigh identical to how he did on the latter, with the same echoey twang that's become signature for Rush. But what I thing Signals did so much better was the balancing of the instruments. I will admit sadly that the bass guitar, an obviously necessary instruments gets buried in progressive rock, and a lot of that comes from how many filters and sounds are layered over it. Signals is one of the few records where I can honestly say that Geddy Lee presents his full blown talent to us on the bass without fail, while still keeping Lifeson's guitar at the helm. Peart is somewhat receded in his playing which to a drummer like myself sort of does get under my skin because I know that his simplistic drumming on Signals is a bit of a facade, though he still does still have some great rolls even with his constraints.

Most of the songs are either fast-paced swinging rockers or slow, intricate jams. 'The Weapon' showcases one of the catchiest beats by Peart I think I've heard by far, and some of those pseudo-poetic lyrics that I know the band loves dearly (as do I). The two man-centric songs, 'Digital Man' and 'New World Man' are quite different, the former being practically a cheesy b-side from a Moving Pictures track (not a bad thing), and the latter being slow methodical tune that talks about the development of technology and the wonders of one certain man who has harnessed it to his own will. 'Countdown' I love so much but it infuriates me in equal measure. This particular track irks me because of it's potential to become an epic (one that could maybe even be a 20-minute long spectacle). It has so many different coinciding musical themes to it that bounce off each-other, and practically are an introduction to a suite where these different themes will be displayed in their own unique and powerful movements...but alas nothing of the sorts happens. The only song I dislike in any way is 'Losing It', which granted starts out with a particularly creative intro Kraftwerk- like techno tune, but shifts into a particularly annoying ballad halfway-through. Unfortunate because I found the first third and the last third to be dreadfully catchy and particularly good background music. Not exactly 'bad' but definitely not a high point of an otherwise great album.

If you show someone who you know who by some mystifying means doesn't know Moving Pictures, and afterwards inquires for more of it, give them Signals. Depending on how well-versed they are with Rush or at least Rush's sound, they may like it the same, or in my case more than other 80's Rush works. Two thumbs way up.

4.5 rounded to a 5.

Report this review (#1606522)
Posted Tuesday, September 6, 2016 | Review Permalink
4 stars (By Jonathan Moss & Charly Saenz)

Rush have a reputation as a mediocre second generation prog rock band. Their reputation is similar to first gen prog band Emerson, Lake and Palmer, a lot of instrumental talent, but most of it wasted. While I would argue slightly with this appraisal of ELP, it's more or less completely accurate for Rush (or should that be Lifeson, Lee & Peart?). However, for a brief moment, Rush were one of the greatest bands in the world. This kind of started with Permanent Waves, but that was still too proggy and fillerish. Things got considerably better with Moving Pictures, which is a minor classic, featuring, lets get this strait, some gorgeous synth tones. However, it was only with their ninth studio album Signals that they managed completely to remove any prog influence and embrace beautiful art rockish new wave. You can hear this immediately in the guitar solos, which far from sounding generically heavy metal, are restrained and tasteful, and anyone who tells you otherwise is strait up deluded.

I know this is an incredibly uncool thing to say about Rush, but this is such a cool sounding album! Our friend Franco Micale has always argued to me that Rush had a slightly alt-rockish sound, and he's completely correct, especially on this album, with its catchy melodies and arpeggiated guitar riffs. The synth tones are absolutely blissful as well, they have an almost retro vibe to them, like 60s organs. But at the same time they also have a kind of futuristic vibe, retro-futurism if you will. Geddy's bass playing is great as well, fluid and melodic throughout, you can call him a frustrated lead guitarist if you want, but that whole idea is bull[&*!#], and insulting to bass players. His vocals are certainly an acquired taste, he definitely sounds sincere throughout the album and manages to get the messages of Neil's lyrics across with passion. Speaking of Neil, while he is definitely overrated as a drummer, his work on Signals is graceful and accomplished.

There's a bold statement to start the album, a fierce proud synthesizer pattern that becomes a small symphony when Peart starts weaving the rhythm around with the usual perfect bassline by Geddy, and his controlled voice is the human beauty in the technically charged surroundings. "Subdivisions" is a rebellious chant detailing cold society oppression, The Machine.

"Growing up it all seems so one-sided Opinions all provided The future pre-decided Detached and subdivided In the mass production zone Nowhere is the dreamer Or the misfit so alone" "

"The Analog Kid" starts off as a more direct rocker with the superb riff by Lifeson, but it's the otherworldly interaction among the three players here, and those tasty keyboards that send this song directly to heaven. No, this is not Prog Rock. This is plain old Rock with a new sound. It's definitely the most beautiful song on the album, the way Geddy sings "you move me you move me", well, it moves me :P

And, as fellow Rushologist Jonathan Hopkins says: "One time, I got really high and listened to the Analog Kid like 20 times in a row because I didn't realize I wasn't changing songs. It's a great song."

"Chemistry" reminds us how Rush were few of the mainstream acts of their time (Police also comes to mind) to incorporate reggae vibes successfully into their sound. So does "Digital Man" and the fantastic, catchy break:

"He'd love to spend the night in zion He's been a long while in babylon He'd like a lover's wings to fly on To a tropic isle of avalon"

The song contains a wonderfully melodic and playful bassline, and the reggaeish guitar playing gives it an almost urban vibe. The song is downright groovy. The song also has a great chorus, feauturing some juttering, funky synth playing. Oh, and that guitar solo!

"The Weapon" might easily be one of those overlooked gems in the album. The opening synth melody is somewhat Devoish (New Traditionalists Devo), just real sort of warm and deep, with a kind of looping, computerish quality. Sci-fi, if you want us to make it sound lame. I guess, to make it sound cool to the kids, we'll call it proto-synthwave as well. The drone guitar weaves a luxury melody, and by the minute 4, it becomes bigger than life; the keyboards hardly appear as a symbol of modernity. The mid way point of the song, with its soaring guitar, sounds almost ambient. It's got that dark urban city vibe. The finale with the fading guitar is Beatle-level fantasy.

"New World Man" was the single of the album, made at the last minute to complete its tracklist. It's a strait rocker and it appealed to the masses. It opens with a fun goofy sounding synths, followed by some melodic, R.E.Mish guitar work. The chorus is super catchy as well, even if it does stray slightly into proggish pomposity. Still, when Geddy belts out "HE'S A NEW WORLD MAN" I just want to sing along.

The most delicate piece in the album, is without a doubt, "Losing It". The electric violin played by Ben Mink is the best introduction to some refined lyrics using the adequate dancer's metaphor to discuss time passing and crushed illusions:

"Some are born to move the world --- To live their fantasies But most of us just dream about The things we'd like to be"

The synth pattern that opens the song and stays throughout is gentle and lullabyish, and the guitar tone has a mournful melancholic quality. The song does have a slightly arena-rockish sound during parts, but its fine, the cunts pull it off. It still doesn't fail to detract from the gentle quality of the song.

"Countdown" is a fine way to end the album, even if the clips from an actual countdown are cheesy as [%*!#]. It features an ominous synth and guitar line working well together to make the song seem creepy. I guess this is to convey hour nerve racking a NASA launch would be, which, duh. Geddy's vocal melody manages to imbue the song with some sense of calm though, he just sounds so assertive and confident. There's a fun, squiggly little keyboard line later on, and the chorus is tense and memorable.

Signals might be considered a maligned album by many, but it meant a lot to many people, it stands right in the middle of Rush's career between their progressive beginnings, right after their breakthrough album and their newer stuff, who arguably abuses the 80s production a little bit. It's full of hooks, touching and meaningful lyrics.

But here, we're still at the perfect top. Exquisite keyboards, how to sound futuristic without being a cold bitch, and feeling without leaving the rock pulse.

Report this review (#1648298)
Posted Thursday, November 24, 2016 | Review Permalink

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