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 (opens in new tab) – and revealed he actually searched for the bass in the picture for his Big Beautiful Book Of Bass (opens in new tab), but couldn't locate it.

Rush: Permanent Waves Super Deluxe Edition (opens in new tab)

Rush: Permanent Waves Super Deluxe Edition (opens in new tab)
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 more than 30 years in newspapers and magazines as an editor, production editor, sub-editor, designer, writer and reviewer. After initially joining our news desk in the summer of 2014, he moved to the e-commerce team full-time in 2020. He maintains Louder’s buyer’s guides, scouts out the best deals for music fans and reviews headphones, speakers, books and more. He's written more than 11,000 articles across Louder, Classic Rock, Metal Hammer and Prog and has previous written for publications including IGN, the Sunday Mirror, Daily Record and The Herald covering everything from daily news and weekly features, to video games, travel and whisky. Scott grew up listening to rock and prog, cutting his teeth on bands such as Marillion and Magnum before his focus shifted to alternative and post-punk in the late 80s. His favourite bands are Fields Of The Nephilim, The Cure, New Model Army, All About Eve, The Mission, Ned's Atomic Dustbin and Drab Majesty, but he also still has a deep love of Rush.