Permanent Waves (1980)

1.The Spirit of Radio
2.Free Will
3.Jacob's Ladder
4.Entre Nous
5.Different Strings
6.Natural Science


You have to wonder if some point during, or maybe just before, the recording of this record took place, if the guys looked around them and noticed that the times were indeed a-chagin'. Many of the progressive heavies that they emulated such as Yes, Gentle Giant and King Crimson were no more. Public taste had shifted. Yes, everyone knows that "New Wave" experienced its maturity around this time, but Rush wasn't quite ready (as they were, kind of, a few years later) to go in that direction. This record signifies the ending of when Rush started being heavy on the prog-rock thing, and started to….well….just rock. And rock they do. The side long epics and bizarre kimonos were now gone. Diehards might have been a bit sorrowful, but not really anyone else.

This record kicks off with arguably the best Rush song ever - The Spirit of Radio. Anyone who claims to be a Rush fan and doesn't know this song, nor claim they even like this song, cannot be a true Rush fan. This is really a quirky song, with somewhat bizarre, arrhythmic lyrics, yet Rush manages to make this thing a powerhouse in their catalog. Few songs inspire both fists pumping during a live show as this one. Then, they almost…..almost top themselves with Free Will that immediately follows. Talk about a killer one-two punch. This track may not be quite in the same league as its predecessor, but it comes awfully close. The jam session between the trio in the middle of the song is, in and of itself, amazing. It shows just how capable the members of this band are when they still manage to impeccably play this track from time to time during their shows more than three decades later.

Jacob's Ladder and Natural Science could almost be argued as "sister" songs. Maybe I'm just saying that because they're both quite lengthy (seven and nine minutes respectively). The former is a bit more melodic and slower paced, the latter a bit more explosive and chaotic. They both are adored by the legions of fans, and when listening, always seem to go by a bit too fast.

Then, in the "pretty good but not nearly as awesome as the rest of the album" are Entre Nous and Different Strings. Entre Nous is one of those songs that seems like the band is really trying for a hit single. It's not nearly as ambitious, nor experimental – which is probably what it would have to take to get these guys on a top 40 station. Ironically, though, this just isn't what this band really does well, so the song comes off as "really good" without being that remarkable. Different Strings does everything it's supposed to do as well, but not much else. Kudos to Geddy Lee on giving band mate Neil Peart a lyric-writing break. You probably wouldn't even know it since Lee actually does quite an admirable job.

They were still far from a household name, but the album managed to crack the U.S. top 5.
And it was well deserved.

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