Rush: The (Partial) Series – Permanent Waves (1980)

What a ride! You know, I’ve had so much fun going through all these Rush albums. They are all so excellent, and this one is certainly no exception. And once again, as with all of these so far, this album came to me through our brother in rawk Lebrain. Let’s give ‘er!

The Spirit Of Radio is a huge classic. You know this one. I love everything about it musically. Everything. I also love the concern, in the lyrics, for integrity. “All this machinery making modern music can still be open-hearted.” As the synths and effects creep in further, hearing him say this is a relief!

Freewill is another huge one that you’ll know well. I liked the message here, too. Musically, it rocks as only Rush can rock – tight, complicated and endlessly fascinating! I love the bass around 3:00 and then, in fact, the whole instrumental part that follows. True greatness, this whole thing.

Jacob’s Ladder’s intro (which almost feels like a march, somehow) leads into a heavy-riffed song that had me headbanging. It’s almost meditative. Zen rock! The synths take over for a long, trippy section. But the guitar reasserts itself as the drums skitter and then big crashing returns before we fade out. EPIC!

Damn, halfway through and this record is batting 1000.

Entre Nous is a relationship tune I’d never heard before, but I wish I had! It’s not as showy, bu tno less awesome. The many parts hold together excellently, and perfectly compliment the (as always) thoughtful, poetic lyrics. Another perfect track.

Different Strings’ gently picked intro leads into a slower tune that’s a plea for common sense. I really liked this. If they ever played it live, the lighters would be up in full force! Ooof. I’ve just dated myself, haven’t I. The young turks today use their cell phones, I know, I know. Anyway, excellent song!

Natural Science has a gentle acoustic intro that sounds a bit spacey. When the song really kicks in, it’s another tricky Rush rocker with great lines from all the instruments. The wonky synths fit the tune. And once again the lyrics focus on integrity. I’d wager that if I went back and read the lyric sheet, much of this album is about being real. I love it. Oh, and check out 3:55-4:41. Cool! The song shifts again and becomes absolutely lifting as it swings. Yes! And, at the close, we’re left to listen to the waves. Permanent waves, clearly.

What a track! What an album!! Thanks so much Mike!!


Posted on May 15, 2014, in posts by aaron and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. Note the significance of the newspaper headline.

    Note the great drum break in “Natural Science”.


    • I had to Google the newspaper thing, my CD copy it’s too small to read. I’m sure a play on Dewey defeating Truman meant more to people at the time. I don’t follow politics at all (at least, as little as I can manage), so all I can say is that they are both names I recognize. President Dewey has a nice ring to it, as a name. “Dewey go to war, Dewey?” Ha.

      Natural Science is a monster of a track, all around. I’ve played it again since the review-listen and it just got better and better.


  2. I’m really enjoying your enthusiasm throughout this series. Permanent Waves was my introduction to Rush back in 1980, the year I turned 14. The first song I ever heard from them was “Entre Nous,” and it’s always had a special place in my heart. It’s a shame that the song has gotten overlooked for so many years. The band didn’t play it for 20-30 years, and radio dropped it from their playlists after 1980.

    I’ve always enjoyed the lyrical disparity between the lyrics Geddy sings in “Freewill” and what’s printed in the lyrics. I believe he sings “if you choose not to decide you still have made a choice,” but the lyrics read “you cannot have made a choice.” I’m writing this by memory so I may be off by a word or two, but the difference between the two meanings is drastic.

    This is a stellar album that’s every bit as impressive as anything that came before it, and also points to the more concise songwriting that was ahead. Glad you love it as much as us longtime fans do.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Man, if this series is teaching me anything at all (and it is), I’d say that it’s pointing out that my love of Rush prior to the series was nothing compared to what it now can be, thanks to having all of these albums in my house (and undying thanks to our illustrious Lebrain for supplying them).I’ve rocked Chronicles so many times, and I’ve always known that they were a band into which I should dig far deeper. Getting the chance to do so now, in 2014, makes me REALLY late to the party (hell, their first album was 40 years ago – I know this because I will soon be 40 and it was released in the year of my birth) and still, somehow, that is OK. Better late than never!

      He does indeed sing “if you choose not to decide you still have made a choice.” If it was printed differently in the lyric sheet, I much prefer the version he sang.

      Stellar is a word that can only begin to cover it. This band is insanely good. Blow your mind good. Untouchable. I do regret not getting into all of this sooner. Then again, maybe it wouldn’t have stuck in the same way. Who knows. But right now, it’s speaking to me perfectly clearly, and what it’s saying is LOVE.


  3. Natural Science is a masterpiece,just about lost it when I heard it live on the Vapour Trails Tour….a gem!


  4. I always thought it was singing, “If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.” I believe the printed lyrics say “Haven’t made a choice.” I don’t own this on vinyl though.

    I gotta get on reviewing the Rush tribute album, Working Men. Damn is that sucker mindblowing in spots. One of which is Jacob’s Ladder sung by one of Canada’s biggest Rush fans, Sebastian Bach. Another highlight is A Natural Science by Devin Townsend.

    Fuck, I’mma go rip that sucker right now.


  5. Natural Science is the pick of the bunch for me here. It’s a brilliant song. A couple of songs here that haven’t made much impact on me though.


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