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SIGNALS

Rush

Heavy Prog


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Rush Signals album cover
3.95 | 957 ratings | 120 reviews | 28% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
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Studio Album, released in 1982

Songs / Tracks Listing

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)

Total Time: 42:17

Lyrics

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Music tabs (tablatures)

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Line-up / Musicians

- Geddy Lee / basses, bass pedals, synthesizers, vocals
- Alex Lifeson / guitars, bass pedals
- Neil Peart / drums, percussion
+ Ben Mink / violin (7)

Releases information

Cd-Anthem-ANMD-1038-Can-1982
Mercury Remaster 534-633-2 06/03/1997

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Snow Dog for the last updates
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RUSH Signals ratings distribution


3.95
(957 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(28%)
28%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(46%)
46%
Good, but non-essential (20%)
20%
Collectors/fans only (4%)
4%
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)
1%

RUSH Signals reviews


Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR 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.

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Send comments to Sean Trane (BETA) | Report this review (#20768) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, February 03, 2004

Review by Menswear
PROG REVIEWER
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.

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Send comments to Menswear (BETA) | Report this review (#20780) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Review by loserboy
PROG REVIEWER
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.

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Send comments to loserboy (BETA) | Report this review (#20781) | Review Permalink
Posted Saturday, March 13, 2004

Review by chessman
PROG REVIEWER
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.

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Send comments to chessman (BETA) | Report this review (#20782) | Review Permalink
Posted Saturday, March 27, 2004

Review by greenback
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR 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.

EXTREMELY RECOMMENDED!

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Send comments to greenback (BETA) | Report this review (#20803) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Review by daveconn
PROG REVIEWER
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.

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Send comments to daveconn (BETA) | Report this review (#20779) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, May 03, 2004

Review by James Lee
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR 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...

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Send comments to James Lee (BETA) | Report this review (#20789) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Review by Chris S
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR 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'

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Send comments to Chris S (BETA) | Report this review (#20793) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Review by Guillermo
PROG REVIEWER
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.

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Send comments to Guillermo (BETA) | Report this review (#20800) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, December 23, 2004

Review by Eetu Pellonpää
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR 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.

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Send comments to Eetu Pellonpää (BETA) | Report this review (#20812) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, April 01, 2005

Review by Cygnus X-2
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR 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.

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Send comments to Cygnus X-2 (BETA) | Report this review (#20814) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, May 05, 2005

Review by erik neuteboom
PROG REVIEWER
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)

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Posted Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Review by Heptade
PROG REVIEWER
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.

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Posted Friday, October 21, 2005

Review by richardh
PROG REVIEWER
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.

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Posted Thursday, December 29, 2005

Review by slipperman
PROG REVIEWER
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.

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Send comments to slipperman (BETA) | Report this review (#62902) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, January 02, 2006

Review by Tony R
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR 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.

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Send comments to Tony R (BETA) | Report this review (#69975) | Review Permalink
Posted Sunday, February 19, 2006

Review by Raff
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
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.

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Posted Thursday, April 13, 2006

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR 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

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Posted Saturday, April 22, 2006

Review by b_olariu
PROG REVIEWER
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.

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Posted Thursday, August 10, 2006

Review by Tom Ozric
PROG REVIEWER
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'.

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Posted Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Review by Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
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 !

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Posted Friday, December 29, 2006

Review by Prog Leviathan
PROG REVIEWER
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

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Posted Thursday, March 29, 2007

Review by OpethGuitarist
PROG REVIEWER
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.

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Posted Sunday, April 01, 2007

Review by E-Dub
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR 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!!!

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Posted Sunday, April 22, 2007

Review by 1800iareyay
PROG REVIEWER
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+

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Posted Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Review by Finnforest
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR 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.

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Posted Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Review by Atavachron
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR 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.

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Posted Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Review by Queen By-Tor
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR 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?

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Posted Monday, February 04, 2008

Review by Gooner
PROG REVIEWER
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.

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Posted Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Review by LinusW
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR 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 and...you 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.

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Posted Thursday, February 21, 2008

Review by progrules
PROG REVIEWER
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.

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Posted Monday, March 17, 2008

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR 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.

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Posted Monday, August 18, 2008

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR 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

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Posted Sunday, January 18, 2009

Review by Conor Fynes
PROG REVIEWER
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.

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Posted Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Review by progaardvark
PROG REVIEWER
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.

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Posted Monday, June 15, 2009

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR 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.

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Posted Thursday, September 03, 2009

Review by Epignosis
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR 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.

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Posted Thursday, October 15, 2009

Review by Sinusoid
PROG REVIEWER
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.

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Posted Monday, November 23, 2009

Review by Nightfly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
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.

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Send comments to Nightfly (BETA) | Report this review (#256819) | Review Permalink
Posted Saturday, December 19, 2009

Review by progpositivity
PROG REVIEWER
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.

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Send comments to progpositivity (BETA) | Report this review (#280753) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, May 06, 2010

Review by lazland
PROG REVIEWER
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.

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Send comments to lazland (BETA) | Report this review (#376460) | Review Permalink
Posted Saturday, January 08, 2011

Review by tarkus1980
PROG REVIEWER
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.

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Send comments to tarkus1980 (BETA) | Report this review (#377502) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, January 10, 2011

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JazzRock/Fusion 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).

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Send comments to Evolver (BETA) | Report this review (#414107) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, March 10, 2011

Review by Isa
PROG REVIEWER
Isa avatar
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.

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Send comments to Isa (BETA) | Report this review (#458037) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Review by Matti
COLLABORATOR Neo-Prog Team
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.

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Send comments to Matti (BETA) | Report this review (#480224) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, July 11, 2011

Review by Starhammer
PROG REVIEWER
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.

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Send comments to Starhammer (BETA) | Report this review (#501899) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, August 12, 2011

Review by Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
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.

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Send comments to Warthur (BETA) | Report this review (#572363) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, November 21, 2011

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR 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.

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Send comments to AtomicCrimsonRush (BETA) | Report this review (#604224) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, January 06, 2012

Review by Chicapah
PROG REVIEWER
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.

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Send comments to Chicapah (BETA) | Report this review (#809876) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, August 24, 2012

Review by stefro
PROG REVIEWER
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

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Send comments to stefro (BETA) | Report this review (#861531) | Review Permalink
Posted Saturday, November 17, 2012

Review by siLLy puPPy
PROG REVIEWER
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.

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Send comments to siLLy puPPy (BETA) | Report this review (#1187912) | Review Permalink
Posted Saturday, June 07, 2014

Latest members reviews

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" ... (read more)

Report this review (#940062) | Posted by sukmytoe | Saturday, April 06, 2013 | Review Permanlink

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, thou ... (read more)

Report this review (#771348) | Posted by Mr. Mustard | Friday, June 15, 2012 | Review Permanlink

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 synthesize ... (read more)

Report this review (#752337) | Posted by FragileKings | Saturday, May 12, 2012 | Review Permanlink

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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#625392) | Posted by 7headedchicken | Thursday, February 02, 2012 | Review Permanlink

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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#607876) | Posted by mohaveman | Thursday, January 12, 2012 | Review Permanlink

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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#602508) | Posted by Çâh | Tuesday, January 03, 2012 | Review Permanlink

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: ... (read more)

Report this review (#463760) | Posted by toroddfuglesteg | Saturday, June 18, 2011 | Review Permanlink

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 op ... (read more)

Report this review (#463560) | Posted by criticdrummer94 | Saturday, June 18, 2011 | Review Permanlink

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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#409575) | Posted by Gorloche | Monday, February 28, 2011 | Review Permanlink

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, ... (read more)

Report this review (#391117) | Posted by Jazzywoman | Monday, January 31, 2011 | Review Permanlink

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 Scien ... (read more)

Report this review (#382531) | Posted by voliveira | Tuesday, January 18, 2011 | Review Permanlink

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 wa ... (read more)

Report this review (#312535) | Posted by Phoenix87x | Wednesday, November 10, 2010 | Review Permanlink

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, ... (read more)

Report this review (#296641) | Posted by Antonio Giacomin | Sunday, August 29, 2010 | Review Permanlink

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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#282262) | Posted by gingernut | Sunday, May 16, 2010 | Review Permanlink

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 th ... (read more)

Report this review (#282252) | Posted by arcane-beautiful | Sunday, May 16, 2010 | Review Permanlink

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 gr ... (read more)

Report this review (#282210) | Posted by BlindGuard | Sunday, May 16, 2010 | Review Permanlink

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, pointe ... (read more)

Report this review (#271166) | Posted by cronker | Thursday, March 11, 2010 | Review Permanlink

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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#212085) | Posted by LSDisease | Wednesday, April 22, 2009 | Review Permanlink

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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#200510) | Posted by Rushlover13 | Saturday, January 24, 2009 | Review Permanlink

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 t ... (read more)

Report this review (#187145) | Posted by Sachis | Monday, October 27, 2008 | Review Permanlink

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