Rush’s Alex Lifeson: Making Permanent Waves was so positive and fun

Geddy Lee, Neil Peart and Alex Lifeson in 1980 (Image credit: Fin Costello/Redferns - Getty)

The brand new issue of Classic Rock magazine is out now and celebrates the 40th anniversary of Rush’s 1980 album Permanent Waves.

The pivotal 1980 record ushered in a new era for Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson and Neil Peart and was released between 1978’s Hemispheres and 1981’s Moving Pictures

In a new interview about the making of the album, which was recorded at Le Studio in Quebec in late 1979, guitarist Lifeson reflects on how the album was created and says it was much less of a slog than the Hemispheres sessions.

Lifeson says: “Freewill stands out the most for me. It was such a challenging song to play for all of us, but I remember being so excited on the day we recorded it. I can still remember clearly sitting on the tall stool directly behind engineer Paul Northfield, with producer Terry Brown at the console to my right smoking Gitanes. 

“I’m sure we did The Spirit Of Radio in the control room too, because that’s how we worked: on a stool, sitting behind Paul, with Terry there giving Paul a kick in the back of his chair every so often when he drifted away!”

Lifeson adds: “At times, Hemispheres was soul crushing. On the other hand, Permanent Waves was so positive and fun. We had come some way as a touring band, playing to larger and more supportive audiences, and all the touring made us better players. 

“Individually we were all in a good space, and it showed in the way we treated each other and those around us. Life was fun and exciting.”

The story of Permanent Waves features on the cover of issue 274 of Classic Rock magazine, which is on sale now. The lead article spans nine pages and also features comments by Lee, Brown and art director Hugh Syme about the band’s seventh studio album.

The psychical edition also features a Rush album-by-album guide and an official Rush 'Starman' laptop sticker, while the magazine also includes Ozzy Osbourne, Robby Krieger, Queen, Bernie Marsden and more.

Permanent Waves will be reissued on May 29 through UMC/Mercury/Anthem as a Super Deluxe Edition, 2CD Deluxe Edition, 3LP Deluxe Edition, and Deluxe Digital Edition. 

The Super Deluxe box set will be spread across 3LP and 2CD and will also include previously unreleased live material recorded on Rush’s Permanent Waves world tour at the Manchester Apollo, London’s Hammersmith Odeon and the Kiel Auditorium in St. Louis.

Along with the music, the box set will come 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 will also include 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.

Rush: Permanent Waves 40th anniversary edition

Rush: Permanent Waves 40th anniversary edition
Rush's seventh studio album Permanent Waves will be reissued next month to celebrate its 40th anniversary. It'll feature the remastered album along with live cuts. Not to be missed.

Classic Rock 274

(Image credit: Future)
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.