I missed Permanent Waves when it was first released back in 1980 because I was too young. I was living at Laguna Beach in California around 1982, when I was really starting to get into music, and it was new wave that was hip. The likes of Rush and Led Zeppelin were definitely not cool! If you had long hair and were into hard rock, then you were a definite dork. Rush and The Police were my two favourite bands at the time, but I kinda had to hide my Rush albums a bit!
The Spirit Of Radio really changed a lot of people’s perceptions of Rush. It was a huge radio hit and I love that it’s unashamedly a great, great pop song. I absolutely still don’t get the intro at all, the time signature or how it’s counted. I’ve tried to understand it by slowing the tune down, but it’s just not within the parameters of the things I do.
And yet I can turn on any classic rock radio station and hear The Spirit Of Radio. How many bands can do something that fucked up and interesting and yet make it totally understandable to a non-musician? Rush showed that they could fuck music up and still make great pop songs!
They were starting to get a little less ‘dungeons and dragons’ and streamlining the writing, dealing with more realistic stuff than the older tunes had – and that was exactly what I loved about this album. Both Rush and Queen were able to change with the times and the records those bands came out with when new wave was all the rage are some of my favourite albums they ever recorded. In Through The Out Door is one of my favourite Led Zeppelin albums and Permanent Waves is one of my favourite Rush albums.
Mind you, it wasn’t as if they were abandoning their prog roots completely. Natural Science is actually the track I like most on the album and that’s much more like old school Rush: over nine minutes long and split into three parts. It has some insane drumming in the middle of that track and it’s kind of complicated yet accessible to me at the same time.
So yes, I love Permanent Waves, even down to the cover with the chick standing in front of all the wreckage. It’s such a Rush sleeve. Though I have to admit to being slightly disappointed that the traditional naked man logo didn’t appear on the front.
That’s something they need to address in future as far as I’m concerned. Bring back naked man ass!”