Hugh Syme talks inspiration behind Rush’s pun-filled Permanent Waves cover

Rush have shared an animated Permanent Waves video explaining how Hugh Syme came up with the cover of their 1980 album.

The promo has been created by Fantoons – the same team behind the recently released video for The Spirit Of Radio – with the graphic artist narrating the short.

Syme says: “Permanent Waves was in an era when I was given a huge amount of freedom. The band was in the early stages and came to me for what I call eye candy.

“When we had our first meeting, I realised that ‘waves’ could mean so may things. It could be permanent waves – something that women in the 50s would do at home with these products called Toni Home Permanent Wave products.

“So I knew immediately that I’d like to have a sort of Donna Reed character walking away from a tidal wave.”

The video also sees Syme diving into some of the other puns on the original cover.

Permanent Waves was recently reissued to mark its 40th anniversary as a Super Deluxe Edition, 2CD Deluxe Edition, 3LP Deluxe Edition, and Deluxe Digital Edition.

The Super Deluxe box features the 2015 remaster and live cuts from the Manchester Apollo, London’s Hammersmith Odeon and the Kiel Auditorium in St. Louis. 

Aside from the music, the box set comes with a 20-page notepad reproduced from a newly-discovered piece of Le Studio letterhead, two tour programmes: The official 1980 world tour programme and the rare, unofficial Words & Pictures Vol II UK-only tour booklet. 

In addition, the super deluxe edition box set includes a 40-page hardcover book with previously unreleased photos, liner notes, three replica backstage laminates, a 24”x36” poster and three Neil Peart handwritten lyric sheets.

Earlier this week, Rush's Geddy Lee shared a picture of himself from his days in a teenage garage band – and revealed he actually searched for the bass in the picture for his Big Beautiful Book Of Bass, but couldn't locate it.

Rush: Permanent Waves Super Deluxe Edition

Rush: Permanent Waves Super Deluxe Edition
Rush's pivotal 1980 album Permanent Waves has been reissued in this lavish package to celebrate its 40th anniversary. It features a remaster of the original album, live cuts and much more.

Scott Munro
Louder e-commerce editor

Scott has spent 35 years in newspapers, magazines and online as an editor, production editor, sub-editor, designer, writer and reviewer. Scott joined our news desk in the summer of 2014 before moving to the e-commerce team in 2020. Scott keeps Louder’s buyer’s guides up to date, writes about the best deals for music fans, keeps on top of the latest tech releases and reviews headphones, speakers, earplugs and more. Over the last 10 years, Scott has written more than 11,000 articles across Louder, Classic Rock, Metal Hammer and Prog. He's previously written for publications including IGN, the Sunday Mirror, Daily Record and The Herald newspapers, covering everything from daily news and weekly features, to tech reviews, video games, travel and whisky. Scott's favourite bands are Fields Of The Nephilim, The Cure, New Model Army, All About Eve, The Mission, Cocteau Twins, Drab Majesty, Marillion and Rush.