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Rush - Permanent Waves CD (album) cover




Heavy Prog

4.28 | 2123 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars Putting aside the errors of prog overindulgence, RUSH settle back and do what they're best at: write good tunes.

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

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

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

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

russellk | 3/5 |


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