Reason #247: Permanent Waves

Rush_-_Permanent_WavesI tell you what, listening to Geddy’s vocals on Rush’s newest live release, R40, makes me sad. He just can’t sing the high notes anymore. The band, including Ged on bass and keyboards, is still smokin’ hot, but damn…that voice is just shot.

Age is a bitch, ain’t it?

I am a big fan of Rush and have been (on (’70’s, early ’80’s) and off (mid ’80’s, most of the ’90’s) and on again (the ’00’s) for most of my life. I saw them twice at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto, once for the Moving Pictures tour and once for Signals. They were fantastic, and I feel blessed to have seen them at their peak (arguably) and in their hometown, and in a friggin’ hockey arena! Just perfect conditions, I’d say. Wish I still had the concert “T”’s…

The song I remember the most from the gigs is YYZ, and Peart’s obligatory and thrilling solo performance in the middle of it, but the second most thrilling bit from both shows had to be The Spirit Of Radio. That song remains my favorite from the band all these decades later. It was shorter, it name-checked my favorite alternative FM station (“CFNY: The Spirit Of Radio”), and it sounded like The Police on steroids. What’s not to like? Some of the “deep album” cuts on Permanent Waves, like Freewill and Entre Nous, were almost poppy in sound, especially compared to what went before, but still quite epic in texture. Does that make sense? At any rate it sounded exciting, and new and the only sensible direction they could have gone at the time. Many other ’70’s giants tried, and failed, to assimilate “the new wave” into their sound, but Rush succeeded. Boy, did they ever.

Peart’s lyrics were changing too, becoming more “human”, for lack of a better word. No more talk of snow dogs, terrestrial/tyrannical priests or black holes on this one. There was still one long song, saved to close the album, and it’s a doozy. Natural Science is a just a wonder and the 9 + minutes just breezes by, with the three boys just playing their asses off. It’s atmospheric it’s manic, it’s thoughtful; most importantly it just rocks. It also set the stage/template for Moving Pictures, the best album Rush would ever make.

A real landmark.