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Rush - Permanent Waves CD (album) cover




Heavy Prog

4.28 | 2123 ratings

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Queen By-Tor
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars ...And the words of the prophets were written on the studio wall...

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

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

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

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

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

Queen By-Tor | 5/5 |


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