Starting with with one of the greatest opening tracks of all time, ‘The Spirit Of Radio’, there is little to be said about the six tracks on the original Rush album that has not already been discussed at length by in rock literature and documentaries.
Rush – Permanent Waves 40th Anniversary Edition (UMC/Mercury/Anthem)
Words: Kahmel Farahani
‘Permanent Waves’ encapsulates the peak of Rush’s progressive songwriting with a newly refined popular edge that would make songs like ‘The Spirit Of Radio’ and ‘Freewill’ permanent fixtures of rock radio to this very day. On the other hand, their more epic side was still present with multi-part musical explorations like ‘Natural Science’.
With ‘Permanent Waves’, and indeed their body of work as a whole, Rush left a permanent mark on the landscape of progressive music and set the musical and lyrical bar so high that even 40 years on very few artists have managed to come close to their level of musicianship and inventiveness.
From science-Fiction poetry to objectivist musings on society and the natural world, Neil Peart’s lyrics seem to have become more pertinent as time has passed.
With this new 40th anniversary edition the clarity and sharpness of the recording is truly stunning. With a good set of headphones, you can really crank the volume and still maintain almost perfect clarity.
The real treasure in this new 40th anniversary edition is the new live disk.
Culled almost entirely from the band’s 1980 UK tour and from the same era that produced the much loved live album ‘Exit…Stage Left’, the live disk is a thrilling document of Rush at their absolute peak on stage. While it may be approaching heresy for some fans, this new live disk might just sound even better than ‘Exit…Stage Left’.
From a frantic ‘By-Tor And The Snowdog’ with Geddy Lee’s stunning bass work to the front, to a sublime ‘Xanadu’, it is everything an old-school fan of Rush could ever want. A real highlight is hearing the entire ‘Cygnus X1’ song cycle live, all 20 plus minutes of it.
A live album with perfect balance in the mix is a rare thing, but this live disk is one such example.
After the incredible outpouring of tributes and praise following the sad passing of Neil Peart, it is all the more important to remember the inimitable music that they created together.
There will never be another band like Rush and ‘Permanent Waves’ is a perfect example for old fans and new fans taking their first steps into their beautiful storybook world.
Have no doubts, their music will survive and be enjoyed for many years and anniversaries to come.