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Signals

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★★★★½
(207 Reviews)

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  • Signals is, for me, the definition of the timeless Rush album. This is the case because after all of these years I still listen to it in its entirety every single time I play it. I cannot make the same statement for any of the other Rush CD’s I own, nor any of the 200+ CD’s in my collection. It also holds the distinction of being the first CD I ever purchased, all the way back in 1986. I still have that CD, cracked case and all. It has such a sentimental value to me that I have always wanted to keep the original, and that means the original case as well. Of course, when the remastered version was released, I bought that as well, for the obvious reasons: the improved sound quality (REALLY noticeable here), and the original album photography and art design. If I were to be stranded alone on a deserted island with one CD, a portable player powered by solar energy or any other alternative power source, a fine pair of headphones, and all of the time in the world to kill, Signals would be my choice, hands down, for that one CD. Maybe another reason why Signals always stands the test of time is that when this came out in 1982 I was at an unforgettable point of my life, my senior year of high school, and the song “Subdivisions” connected with me more than any other song I had heard to that point, lyrically speaking. Even though that song was a statement about kids conforming to the masses and paying the price of their individuality for acceptance, I felt I could relate to the lyrics by being the antithesis to Neil Peart’s lyric statement. For I was extremely introverted and individual, yet I still felt a desire to conform, to be accepted. Though in order to do that, I would have had to not be myself and become a non-individual, to “sell my dreams for small desires”. So, in a way, the lyrics had their own unique meaning to me: The desire to escape the “subdivision”, the society of non-individualism, yet still feeling the need for acceptance by their society from the isolated world that lies on the outside. And now, 17 years later, through all of the changes in my life, and all of the Rush songs I have absorbed into my psyche, “Subdivisions” remains my undisputed favorite, with the other seven songs on Signals fighting for second place. Sonically, even though this is the album where the synths really began to announce their presence (where they would stay for the next 10 years), they are here in a soulful enough synergy with the guitars/bass/drums that they do not detract from the energy produced by that core, but enhances the energy instead. The overall sound remains “human”, not “artificial”. It would be the last time the keyboards and the guitars would mesh so perfectly in the wash of sound, for on Grace Under Pressure, they would begin to detach themselves from one other, not to return in such a perfect synergy until Roll The Bones.If you want to own the one definitive Rush studio album, one that speaks to the heart both musically and lyrically, Signals is that album. Because I guarantee you will still be playing this album when the others in your collection begin collecting dust.

    Posted on March 16, 2010