Rush: The (Partial) Series – Signals (1982)

It’s official. Rush rules. No matter what they’re doing, it’s done with such talent and integrity and verve, it’s boggling. I have had the distinct pleasure of going through all of these early-year albums and not one of them has disappointed.

Signals is no different, what a huge album.

There follows my amateur impressions of the record, with no real in-depth analysis. Understanding, I hope, will come later, with repeat listenings. I’ll delve deeper into the lyrics, the music, as I will with all of these albums. I will be back again! 😉

So. Signals…

Subdivisions is another of my all-time fave Rush songs. When I rocked Chronicles, this one often got repeat spins. It’s just a huge song, and the lyrics sum up what I think far better than I could ever articulate it.

The Analog Kid is a great big rock song with excellent energy. If they ever played this live, the place would surely go nuts. Even when it dips to the slower cool part, you just know the rock is coming back.

Chemistry is just a great song all over. It sprawls, with all the hallmarks of an epic Rush song. Does anyone else hear how this could be a Pink Floyd song? Or is it just me?

Digital Man keeps the epic ball rolling. There’s that reggae feel to parts of this again (revisiting Vital Signs a little?). I loved the heavier bit at 2:50, and the instrumental explorations thereafter. Big Lifeson solo. Excellent song!

The Weapon is another exploratory track that is brilliantly executed. [Hm. Perhaps that last sentence was unnecessary to type out. By this point, can we all assume that this is a given?] Anyway, The Weapon seals the deal. I’m sold. This is one king helluva huge Rush record and I’m only halfway through!

New World Man is another ig hit we all know well. I love the rhythm here. Seriously excellent.

Losing It has a gorgeous intro, and it only grows from there into more brilliant playing and soloing. This has to be one of the most aching songs about aging I’ve heard. Makes me wanna go carpe the shit out of that diem, for sure!

Countdown is a track they dedicated to NASA, which is very fitting (given what I perceive to be the themes on this record) and very, very cool. Geeks unite! Haha. Radio chatter, choppers flying past, this song has it all, the feel of a real launch (if Rush were soundtracking it)! Awesome!

In sum: I am in love. RUSH!

Thanks so much to our brother in rawk Lebrain!!

16 thoughts on “Rush: The (Partial) Series – Signals (1982)

  1. Deke says:

    I flip between Signals and Permanent Waves as my favs!
    Signals was definitely a transitional album for sure.
    But for me it’s just one of those albums that just sticks with you for basically the rest of your life!!
    Haha.
    Love it all,even 32 yrs later…….

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  2. mikeladano says:

    Fuck, I love Countdown! I love The Weapon…Analog Kid…fuck I love every song on this fucking album.

    I got this album a little bit later on, after I already had Roll the Bones and Counterparts. I got it on a Mobile Fidelity gold CD. I love it. I love the sound, the big room at Le Studio. I love the energy and reggae hints that you pointed out. I love the cover, I just love this album.

    Of note: There is a single version of The Weapon featuring voiceover from Count Floyd of Monster Chiller Horror Theater! Voiced of course by Joe Flaherty. Well worth seeking (and on my wishlist.)

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    1. keepsmealive says:

      Fuck, I love your comment! 🙂 I knew you were gonna say this, actually. I remember we heard Rush in the car on one of our Taranna trips and it was something off this record and you rocked out. Yeah!

      My next big project may well be to collect in the stuff from 1990-forward. It’s a big job, but I feel I am the man for it.

      That version of The Weapon sounds… weird. Cool!

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  3. Phillip Helbig says:

    “The Analog Kid is a great big rock song with excellent energy. If they ever played this live, the place would surely go nuts.”

    I haven’t checked, but I think they played it on the Signals tour. I should remember; I went to two shows on consecutive days!

    They did play it on the Clockwork Angels tour; I was there (in Cologne). Apart from the Clockwork Angels album, this tour featured the synthesizer-era Rush.

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  4. Phillip Helbig says:

    I pretty much agree with Rich; Signals is not quite up to the previous four, but still quite good. (As I said elsewhere, while the 4-live-change structure is clear, the first album of a new era often harks back to the previous period (and the last of a period looks forward to the next era).) Subdivisions, yes, these are the type of introspective lyrics I really like. I have nothing against synthesizers, not even synthesizers in Rush—they are great on “Xanadu”, say, or all of the progressive-phase albums for that matter. “Tom Sawyer” is a classic and is built around a synthesizer riff (which Geddy used to use just as a sound check). The problem which I have, and perhaps Rich, is not so much the synthesizers (hey, we’re Floyd fans and really like Rick Wright on Wish You Were here; of course we don’t hate synthesizers), but the lack of guitar, the electronic drums and, the really bad thing, 80s production. Listen to classic-era Maiden albums as proof that one didn’t have to have an 80s sound in the 1980s. However, this was the time when even Kate Bush and Joni Mitchell had Fairlights and even great musos such as David Gilmour (on his About Face album) had some good songs with really bad production. (By the way, I listened o Maiden’s A Matter of Life and Death today; what a great album. I claim that no group even come close to Maiden in maintaining quality output over such a long period. I assume you have been a Maiden fan for a long time. Maybe we are opposites here: I discovered Maiden (although I knew they existed) just a couple of years ago, but am approaching 35 years as a Rush fan.) In contrast to Rich, it was Counterparts which got me interested in Rush again. I didn’t buy the next two (and Vapor Trails is generally perceived to have suffered badly under the loudness wars; this should be a remaster with a big difference), but hope to check them out (VT after the remaster). In one of his books, Peart says that his drumming on Test for Echo is his best (at least up until the time of writing). The “newer” albums (i.e. starting with Snakes and Arrows are something of a return to form, though I would like a clearer mix like in the old days.

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    1. keepsmealive says:

      Thanks for all of this, Phillip! You know what I’m learning, as I go through all of this Rush? Each album stands on its own. Yes, they maybe be parts of a series, or in sections with live albums between them as you mentioned, but take any of the albums I’ve reviewed so far and hand them to anyone who loves rock music and they’d say it’s excellent. Maybe a track or two wouldn’t strike them as well as others but they’d be hard-pressed to say that any one Rush album totally sucked. Add to that the thought that, as with the best bands, they continued to grow and build upon the sound and their talents and look where they are today. Each album was a step up to the next one. I love it. Maybe (sometimes) the direction isn’t what we’d choose in retrospect, and maybe there were way too many synths and effects, but that was the direction chosen, and they did it with great skill and still wrote amazing songs!

      I did not know that Tom Sawyer was a sound check riff. Cool!

      Maiden’s A Matter Of Life And Death is so great. I went through the Maiden albums in tandem with Mike’s series on them. I was (relatively) new to them. I knew the hits beforehand, but to get to go through them all song by song was an eyeopener of the grandest imaginable sort. What a band! Same with Rush, I knew the hits (I owned Chronicles), but I knew more of their stuff, from my university days than I did of Maiden’s. Still, this whole series has been a real education for me. I’ve loved it!

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  5. KamerTunesBlog (by Rich Kamerman) says:

    There was a brief period during the ’80s where I moved away from Rush’s music, but that didn’t start here. As you perfectly described, Signals is another classic, even though I don’t think it’s quite as consistently brilliant as the few albums that preceded it. Beginning with the next album I was less enthusiastic, until Presto pulled me back into their world, and in the ’90s I gained a new appreciation for the albums I had previously dismissed. Sorry to jump ahead, but I’ll be off the internet for the better part of the next week, which means I’ll likely miss your posts on those albums. I bet you’re going to love them.

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    1. keepsmealive says:

      Thanks Rich! Man, I am consistently blown away by these albums. I should’ve done this YEARS ago! 😉

      My Rush collection (with exception of Chronicles and Clockwork Angels) ends at 1990 or so. And most of what I have comes to me via the incredible generosity of our good fellow Lebrain. Definitely I’ll need to collect the rest, just because now I want them all! But also before I can carry on. That’s why this is a (Partial) Series! 😉

      Enjoy your week offline. It’s good for the soul to unplug now and again! I’ve no doubt I’ll love these next few albums. I haven’t disliked any of it yet, and I’ve heard almost a decade’s-worth!

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      1. KamerTunesBlog (by Rich Kamerman) says:

        The sound of the next few records turned off a lot of fans (as well as Alex Lifeson) due to the proliferation of synths & keys. Those albums definitely have a much less organic sound than what came before it, but this was the ’80s & they rightly embraced new sounds & production techniques. I’m eager to see if you’re as enthusiastic about them as you’ve been so far. Much as I love the mid-80s records, they’re not quite in the same league as everything up to Signals (in my humble and long-standing opinion).

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