The 180gm vinyl re-issues of Rush‘s back catalogue continues with their 7th studio album, Permanent Waves as part of the ’12 months of Rush’ celebrations via Universal Music. Originally released on January 1st 1980, a lot of fans, myself included must have thought it was April 1st as to the length of the songs.
Previous studio album Hemispheres was to be their last with long songs as the recording process left the band exhausted as Rush thought nothing of a number lasting almost the side of an album and in some cases, a whole side! The longest number on Permanent Waves is ‘Natural Science’, clocking in at just over 9 minutes so we now had a leaner, meaner Rush but losing none of the heaviness.
The album lead to commercial success gaining them their first top 5 chart album in the US, reaching #4 and doing even better in the UK climbing to #3. The first single taken from the album and also the opening track, ‘The Spirit Of Radio’ is a stone cold classic as the flurry of lead guitar intro leads into the huge main riff as Geddy sings the timeless line of “Begin the day with a friendly voice, a companion unobtrusive. Plays the song that’s so elusive and the magic music makes your morning mood”. Most noticeably is Geddy’s delivery is not as high pitched as in the past, not just on this track but the whole of the album.
‘Freewill’ is another fine example of their new commercial leanings without losing none of the heaviness. A rolling intro riff over prominent synths heads into heavier chord sequences with a guitar workout midway. ‘Jacob’s Ladder’, the second longest song here at just over 7 minutes long begins with marching beat bass lines as a laid back instrumental passage follows Geddy’s almost spoken word vocal. This then breaks down into a wistful synth/vocal segment as Alex’s guitar forges through to a dramatic close of the song. ‘Entre Nous’ mellows things out with its catchy, commercial edge but the sharp stabs of guitar will keep the older fans nodding as the sumptuous choruses kick in.
‘Different Strings’ is a brief moment of calm as the soothing music literally oozes out of the speakers with its lazy bass and lead guitars over sparse drum patterns as a jazzy guitar solo brings it to an end. Album closer ‘Natural Science’ is the longest track here giving Rush a chance to spread their wings as the pleading intro vocal over an acoustic guitar leads into quirky tempos and driving guitar lines. The song then does a complete turn around as the second half shifts into vintage Rush with breathtaking time changes.
It seems strange reviewing an album at 52 years of age after buying it at the age of 16 but then I probably never appreciated how the band were forging ahead towards their next masterpiece album, Moving Pictures.
Album track listing :-
The Spirit Of Radio.
Natural Science :-
I : Tide Pools.
II : Hyperspace.
III : Permanent Waves.
Rush band line up :-
Geddy Lee – Vocals/bass guitar/synths.
Neil Peart – Drums/percussion.
Alex Lifeson – Electric/acoustic guitars.