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Permanent Waves

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★★★★½
(182 Reviews)

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  • …excluding Neil Peart’s entry into the band.Mostly recorded in 1979, PERMANENT WAVES (1980) marked the starting point for Rush’s full-blown entry into condensed, accessible progressive rock. They abandoned the 20-minute suites and mystical lyrics for catchy progressive song structures, and more human, worldly-related topics. But, Geddy Lee (vocals/bass/synths), Alex Lifeson (guitars) and Neil Peart (drums/lyrics) didn’t lose their brilliance in composition, even if most of the track lengths were fit for radio.”The Spirit of Radio” is an ever-popular track, and seems to still get as much radio airplay as it did over two decades ago. A catchy, melodic track with cerebral lyrics dealing with no other than the radio, and it’s effect on us listeners (i.e. music fans.)”Freewill” is a philosophical rocker dealing with personal beliefs (e.g., god, fate, stars) and the consequences – positive or negative – of them. Neil Peart seems to be quite ambiguous in his lyrics, and you can’t necessarily tell what *his* personal beliefs are at times. He seems to be playing more a role of devil’s advocate, which in some cases is probably the smartest part to play.”Jacob’s Ladder” brings slight resemblance to Rush’s 70s period, as this is the most *proggish* on the album, and more than likely can please fans of that particular period. Mostly instrumental, it’s an atmospheric rocker which leans toward the darker and heavier side. Highlights of the track are the instrumental section in 5/4, and later, a spatial, instrumental section featuring guitarist Alex Lifeson (later joined by band) playing a snaky riff in 13/8, while Neil is keeping time nicely, and Geddy lends some darkly airy synths on top it all. This track bears considerable King Crimson influence, though clearly, it’s still Rush’s trademark sound.”Entre Nous” is something of a ballad, but with intellectual-oriented lyrics. Alex Lifeson’s trademark atmospheric arpeggios, Geddy’s subtle, but commanding vocal combine nicely to make a highly compelling track.”Different Strings” is the soft tune on the album. Though possibly seen as a warm up to the following track, it stands nicely on it’s own. Poignant as well.”Natural Science” is the other most *proggish* number on the album. Written in three sections, the lyrics mostly deal with nature and the enviornment. Complex musicianship is very apparent, but doesn’t overshadow the strangely catchy and addicting elements found here.This would be a perfect place to start for anyone interested in Rush. Features a nice balance of complex musicianship and accessibility that’s hard to beat. Recommended.

    Posted on March 6, 2010