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Album Review

Rush – ‘Permanent Waves’ (40th Anniversary) [Album Review]



On January 14, 1980, Canadian rock trio Rush released its seventh studio album, Permanent Waves. The band’s previous three records, 2112, Farewell to Kings, and Hemispheres, embodied progressive elements and esoteric lyrical compositions that fans embraced and the mainstream overlooked. So, it was in the middle of rock’s new wave era that vocalist/bassist Geddy Lee, guitarist Alex Lifeson, and drummer Neil Peart (who died early this year after a battle with brain cancer) returned to Le Studio in Morin-Heights, Quebec, Canada with their producer of choice, Terry Brown.

Permanent Waves had made a sonic imprint as adventurous and experimental as their previous efforts had been, with arrangements that were more concise. The album had two songs that were accessible enough to receive play on FM radio: the first was “The Spirit of Radio,” the opening track, with the timeless Peart-penned lyrics and catchy hard rock elements—poles apart from most of the music being made in the middle of rock’s new wave era. Second, with an inclusive message and its resonant instrumental color, “Freewill” has also had continual airplay since its first spin.

The three-movement composition, “Natural Science” is the exception, clocking in at nine minutes and twenty seconds, and is undoubtedly the least-played track on terrestrial radio, yet one of the most staggering songs in the Rush live show cache.

Having had already established themselves as a live band that thrived on the road, Rush’s Permanent Waves tour covered cities in Canada, the US, and the UK from January to June of 1980.


As stated in interviews and demonstrated in their modus operandi, Rush’s aim was never to become press darlings or radio heroes. The fact that they had enjoyed a great measure of commercial success spurred their autonomy and gave them the platform to keep making the music they wanted to make—devoid of pop fashion or flavor of the day. And perennial Rush fans are heavily devoted to the consummate power trio’s independence.

Permanent Waves – 40th Anniversary is available in four different formats, including the (1) Super Deluxe Edition, (2) two-CD Deluxe Edition, (3) three-LP Deluxe Edition, and (4) Deluxe Digital Edition.

The Super Deluxe Edition includes two CDs and three high-quality 180-gram black vinyl LPs. The set encompasses the Abbey Road Mastering Studios 2015 remastered edition of the album for the first time on CD, along with previously unreleased and newly restored bonus content newly mixed from the original analog live multi-tracks by the band’s original producer, Terry Brown. The unreleased bonus live tracks come from three stops on the “Permanent Waves World Tour” 1980: (1) Manchester Apollo in Manchester, England; (2) Hammersmith Odeon in London, England; and (3) Kiel Auditorium in St. Louis, Missouri.

This edition also includes several exclusive items: a 40-page hardcover book with unreleased photos, reimagined artwork by original album designer Hugh Syme, and an extensive and exclusive 12,000-word essay; a replica of the Permanent Waves 1980 official tour program; The Words & Pictures Volume II, a replica of the band’s rare 1980 UK-only tour program; a 24×36-inch two-sided wall poster of the original album cover model photo shoot and photos of the band recording at Le Studio; three replica band member 1980 tour backstage laminates; three Neil Peart-handwritten lyric sheets for “The Spirit Of Radio,” “Entre Nous,” and “Natural Science”; and a 20-page 5×7-inch notepad emblazoned with Le Studio letterhead.


CD1 – Permanent Waves (Produced by Rush and Terry Brown) Track Listing:

1. The Spirit of Radio 5:00
2. Freewill 5:24
3. Jacob’s Ladder 7:29
4. Entre Nous 4:38
5. Different Strings 3:50
6. Natural Science 9:21

CD2 – Permanent Waves World Tour 1980 (Previously Unreleased) Track Listing:

1. Beneath, Between, and Behind (Live in Manchester) 2:30
2. By-Tor and The Snow Dog (Live in London) 5:52
3. Xanadu (Live in London) 12:16
4. The Spirit of Radio (Live in Manchester) 5:08
5. Natural Science (Live in Manchester) 8:46
6. A Passage to Bangkok (3:45)
7. The Trees (Live in Manchester) 5:28
8. Cygnus X-1 (Live in London) 8:05
9. Cygnus X-1 Book II (Live in London) 14:45
10. Closer to the Heart (Live in Manchester) 3:26
11. Jacob’s Ladder (Live in Missouri) 7:38
12. Freewill (Live in London) 5:46

Run Time: CD1 35:42, CD2 83:25
Release Date: May 29, 2020
Record Label: Universal Music/Mercury/Anthem