ALBUM REVIEW: Rush – Permanent Waves: Fortieth Anniversary

In 1980, three friends from Toronto, Canada released Permanent Waves. Releasing to a position of number four on the Billboard 200 and three on the UK Albums chart, this is the album that gave us The Spirit of Radio, a much beloved song that has likely been the gateway into the world of progressive rock for many, many teenagers. Now fourty years on, RUSH are releasing Permanent Waves: 40th Anniversary, a collection of the original album and live recordings.

The original track listing was remastered in 2015 as part of the remastering sessions at Abbey Road, (not to be confused with Le Studio in Morin-Heights, Quebec which was considered the band’s personal Abbey Road)  that were also used on the 40th anniversary releases of Hemispheres, A Farewell to Kings and 2112. If you have enjoyed any of these previous editions, we both know you can stop reading here, and I actually won’t blame you for doing so.

If, however you’re more tentative in your approach then hear me out. Following the death of drummer and lyricist for the band Neil Peart in January of this year, it is now unlikely that a new generation of fans will ever experience the hype of being there in the crowd or the release of a new record. This is now the best time to do it. The music is how the band wants it to sound, lovingly tweaked in a way that will sound fresh to old fans as well as new.

Live recordings feature songs such as Cygnus X1(Live in London), Jacob’s Ladder (Live in Missouri) and A Passage to Bangkok (Live in Manchester). Lee’s voice is very clear on these tracks, my one criticism would be that there is slightly too much echo, but given that these are live recordings it’s largely beyond the control of anyone. These recordings are also from the original 1980 Permanent Waves tour which is a fantastic touch. It certainly doesn’t detract from the music in any major way. I think in some ways it’s easy to think of these songs as much easier to play than they are. Modern progressive styles have edged ever closer to being a flurry of notes that only those with the fastest of fingers can even attempt but to listen to a band like RUSH it really becomes apparent that you can be complex without being overly complicated.

Permanent Waves is due to be released a few editions including a Super Deluxe edition that includes a hardcover book with previously unreleased photos, a replica of the original Permanent Waves tour programme, and three handwritten lyric sheets by Neil Peart for The Spirit Of Radio, Entre Nous and Natural Science amongst so much more.
If you’re an existing RUSH fan you should buy this because it’s more of what you love. If you’re not, I’d definitely hop on board because even the standard edition of this is well worth the price of admission. Geddy Lee, Neil Peart and Alex Lifeson are so well respected for a reason and this release is the perfect example of why.

Rating: 7/10

Words: Jacob McCrone

Permanent Waves: Fortieth Anniversary will be available this Friday via UMC/Mercury/Anthem Label Group.

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