Rush
Permanent Waves


4.5
superb

Review

by Sir Grigor Domashevich USER (16 Reviews)
July 21st, 2008 | 84 replies


Release Date: 1980 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Easily Rush’s most underappreciated album, Permanent Waves delivers some of the best prog rock songs ever created.

What can I say about Rush? They are a group of three musicians, all extremely talented in their respective instruments, they are one of the biggest prog rock bands ever, and they are clearly one of the best live bands ever to grace the planet. I was actually introduced to Rush by my friend who showed me his “Rush in Rio” DVD back when it first came out. Tom Sawyer exploded into my ears with that infamous keyboard line and the crowd going absolutely berserk and singing along with everything…guitars, vocals, keyboards, you name it. I finally reach YYZ, and my mouth drops. The crowd is absolutely stunning; EVERYONE is jumping to the beat and grooving to the riff, something that I had never seen on any live video. After watching that, I knew I had to get myself a Rush album, so I went out and bought my very first Rush album, Permanent Waves. Now after hearing a great deal of Rush’s deemed classic albums, 2112, Moving Pictures, Hemispheres, etc., I would still have to say Permanent Waves is my favorite of Rush’s 19 studio albums.

Now, Permanent Waves marks a number of major changes in Rush’s sound. First of all, the songs seem to have been geared toward a radio-friendly audience. This album features two songs that got significant radio play: The Spirit of Radio and Freewill. Unlike Rush’s past albums, the songs on this album contain more digestible material to the average listener: the songs seem to have a light, airy feel to them (except for Jacob’s Ladder, which I will get to later). Second, Rush is starting to abandon the idea of having extremely long epic songs on each album. Sure, Natural Science clocks in at 9:17, but it isn’t anywhere near the length of previous epics, such as Xanadu, the Cygnus X-1 series, and the almighty 2112 suite (not to say that any of these are bad songs, which none of them really are or anywhere close to being bad). On top of that, it’s placed at the end rather than the beginning, making it seem like a more listenable album. Finally, Geddy Lee’s vocals have been lowered slightly, making the album more listenable to people not used to his shrieking, soaring vocal range. However, they are still quite high pitched, and still may turn away new listeners.

The technical aspects of all instruments are still as strong as ever, and have been improved overall, especially in the guitars. Alex Lifeson, though still highly underrated, is still a superb guitarist. There are magnificent lead sections throughout Permanent Waves, including shred solos in Freewill and Natural Science . He also has some cool riffing sections in The Spirit of Radio, especially the lighter breakdown section near the end of the song. His riffs meld together well with Geddy Lee’s creative basslines throughout. Lee rarely plays along with the guitar, and along with the bass being set high in the mix, sets a high bar for the quality of his basslines, and fortunately, well exceeds the bar: there are interesting and creative basslines throughout the entire album, though Freewill definitely contains the best one on the album, during the solo section of the song. The drumming by Neil Peart, while very good, seemed to be put in the backseat on the album along with the keyboards. Unfortunately, neither instrument got a specific place to shine, though the keyboards seem to be more prominent than on previous albums.

Like mentioned before, Permanent Waves contains several fantastic songs. The Spirit of the Radio is probably the most famous one off here, and has probably been heard by many non-Rush fans from the radio. It contains that ever-so famous phased guitar intro and the massive power riff immediately after. And the guitar solo delivers a nice touch. My favorite song off this album, and the other well-known Rush song off here is Freewill. This song is flawless, delivering great riffing throughout, a very catchy verse (and some slightly cheesy lyrics) and an insane solo by Lifeson. Jacob’s Ladder is quite different from the other songs. It has a darker, more atmospheric-like feel to it. Geddy’s voice is calmer and softer, and is a nice break from the first two songs. There is an epic solo by Lifeson around 2 minutes in, and the soothing keyboard break halfway in helps make it the best slow song on the album. Finally, Natural Science, the mini-epic on the album, contains a boring intro until about 1:45, but after that, is a magnificent song featuring fast-paced instrumental sections and another well-composed guitar solo leading up to an ocean-like outro, thus ending the album.

Something I tend to notice with a lot of Rush albums is that the quality of the songs seem to drop off as the album progresses, and Permanent Waves is no different. Entre Nous is simply an alright song; it’s definitely not as catchy as the first 2 songs, and there are hardly any redeeming qualities of the song. It is kind of a mid-tempo song, and the verse is kinda cool, but it ends up dragging, despite being only four and a half minutes long. Different Strings is probably the worst song on here. It’s another ballad like Jacob’s Ladder, however, it just ends up being boring instead of interesting, though the piano does add a layer to the song that isn’t present anywhere else on the album. Luckily, the two not as good songs are the shortest on the album, and are easily skipped over.

Sure, Moving Pictures is Rush’s deemed classic album, but Permanent Waves seems to be ignored a lot because it was released right before Moving Pictures. Despite the drop-off in quality in the second part of the album (besides the magnificent Natural Science), Permanent Waves is easily one of Rush’s best albums, and is worth picking up if you’re a fan of Rush or prog rock in general. If you are unfamiliar with the genre, I’d listen to some of the more famous songs on here, The Spirit of Radio or Freewill to see if you will like this album or not. Regardless, it is an excellent album and has a well-deserved spot among the best progressive albums I own.

Recommended Tracks:
- The Spirit of Radio
- Freewill
- Jacob's Ladder
- Natural Science

4.5/5



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user ratings (1193)
Chart.
4.3
superb
other reviews of this album
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Comments:Add a Comment 
Lunarfall
July 21st 2008


3179 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

My first review in like 8 months, I was surprised no one reviewed this yet, so I took a gander at it. This is also my first review of a non-metal album. Not that it matters.This Message Edited On 07.21.08

SHOOTME
July 21st 2008


2393 Comments


I am suprised you would call this "underrated" when the average score for this is 4.2.

Other than that, good review.

Merkaba33
July 21st 2008


702 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I definately wouldn't call this album "underrated", seeing as it's one of the few rush albums to have multiple songs on it that still get considerable air time.
Other than that, it was a pretty good review. I agree that like Moving Pictures, this album's b' side is significantly weaker than it's a' side.

Lunarfall
July 21st 2008


3179 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I call it underrated because everyone whores 2112 and Moving Pictures all the time. Perhaps I should've used a different word.

zoozilla
May 23rd 2009


9 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Love Spirit of Radio and Natural Science, but all the tunes are solid.

Rugter32
May 23rd 2009


754 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

album is awesome

Waior
May 23rd 2009


11451 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

No way man, different Strings is the best song on the album.

shindip
July 21st 2009


3536 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Ya, Different Strings is pretty cool. The synths on this album are annoying.

Waior
July 21st 2009


11451 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Natural Science is beyond incredible.

shindip
July 21st 2009


3536 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I am having a Rush a thon. Their first bunch of albums are actually fairly short, which is good.

Waior
July 21st 2009


11451 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I totally endorse a Rush-a-thon. Anything before 1983 and anything after 1995 is brilliant.

shindip
July 21st 2009


3536 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Ya pretty much. The only rush albums I dont like are their debut and Power Windows. Everything else is win.

Motiv3
October 31st 2009


8932 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

rush are pretty much brilliant

Digging: Punch - They Don?t Have To Believe

Greggers
October 31st 2009


2375 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Yes they are

Gyromania
October 31st 2009


15717 Comments


Agreed.

thebhoy
Emeritus
January 15th 2010


4461 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I just pulled out the vinyl of this, I forgot how awesome Natural Science is. It's probably the most consistently catchy prog rock song ever.

Tendencies
January 29th 2010


9 Comments


Awesome review, but I have to disagree with you about different strings. It is one of my favorite songs ever.

Parallels
January 29th 2010


6641 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

agreeed

KILL
March 20th 2010


71795 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

so good

KILL
April 8th 2010


71795 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

i know every1 says it but different strings should of gone on way longer so good



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