Signals (Rush album)

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Rush Signals.jpg
Studio album by Rush
Released September 9, 1982
Recorded April - July 1982 at Le Studio, Morin Heights, Quebec
Genre Hard rock, progressive rock
Length 43:12
Label Anthem (Canada)
Atlantic (Japan)
Epic/Sony (Japan)
Producer Rush, Terry Brown
Rush chronology
Exit...Stage Left
Grace Under Pressure
Singles from Signals
  1. "New World Man"
    Released: 1982
  2. "Subdivisions"
    Released: May 1982
  3. "The Analog Kid"
    Released: 1982
  4. "The Weapon"
    Released: 1982
  5. "Countdown"
    Released: February 1983

Signals is the ninth studio album by Canadian rock band Rush, released in 1982. It was the follow-up to the successful Moving Pictures. Stylistically, the album was a continuation of Rush's foray into the technology-oriented 1980s through increased use of electronic instrumentation such as keyboards, sequencers, and electric violin. Other noticeable changes were decreased average song length and lyrical compression. The album reached #10 on the Billboard album charts and was certified platinum (one million copies sold) by the RIAA in November 1982.[1]

Writing and recording[edit]

The writing of the album began in 1981, during soundchecks on the Moving Pictures Tour, which they taped. Coincidentally, parts of "Chemistry" were written by the band at once while they were separated from each other. Geddy Lee wrote the keyboard melody for the bridge section, Alex Lifeson wrote the guitar riff for the verse and Neil Peart wrote the drum beat for the chorus, and in a move unusual for Rush, Lee and Lifeson came with the concept and title for the song and presented rough lyrics for Peart to polish. In April, in Orlando, Florida, the band attempted to watch a launch of the Space Shuttle Columbia. It was canceled because of a computer malfunction, and they finally observed the launch a few days later for inspiration in writing "Countdown".

In September, at Le Studio, Quebec, Peart jammed with the road crew on a song, and was joined by Lee and Lifeson. It was recorded later and temporarily titled "Tough Break". Afterward, Peart wrote lyrics for the song, retitled "Subdivisions", while Lifeson and Lee came up with additional parts. Lee began experimenting with sequencers and drum machines while at home in Toronto, and came up with "The Weapon".

In January 1982, on a docked schooner in the Virgin Islands, Peart presented his lyrics for "The Analog Kid" to Lee and they both agreed that it would make a great up-tempo rocker, with a soft chorus. At Muskoka Lakes, Ontario in March at the Grange, "Digital Man" was put together and at Le Studio, the ska style bridge was created along with the sequencer pattern with the guitar and bass. Producer Terry Brown was not impressed and initially refused to record it. In May, the band set out to record a song that had a time limit of 3:57 to keep both sides of the record equal.[citation needed] The result, "New World Man", was written and recorded on the same day. In June, Ben Mink from the band FM was invited to play electric violin on "Losing It".[2][3]

Song notes[edit]

"Subdivisions" from Signals.

Problems playing this file? See media help.

The opening track from Signals is "Subdivisions," which has been a staple of many of the band's tours since its recording.

"The Analog Kid" and "Digital Man" served as the inspiration for writer Troy Hickman to create the comic book heroes of the same names in the 2004 comic Common Grounds.[4]

The lyrics for "Chemistry" were written by all three band members. It is the last time to date that Lee or Lifeson has contributed lyrics to a Rush song.

"Digital Man", a slightly reggae-based song, ultimately led to the end of the band's relationship with Brown. He was reluctant to leave behind the band's progressive-rock past, while the band members, especially Lee, wanted to explore new musical directions. The midsection of the song has been compared with the song "Walking on the Moon" by The Police.[5] A slightly adapted version of the song was brought back for the 2007 Snakes And Arrows Tour, marking the first time Rush performed it in nearly 23 years.

"The Weapon" (Part II of the 'Fear' series) would be featured in the album's supporting tour and would include a video opening hosted by Count Floyd of SCTV fame.

"New World Man" became a surprise hit single for the band, peaking at #21 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart for three weeks in October and November 1982. It remains the band's highest charting single (and the only to reach the top 40) in the US.

Peart's lyrics for "Losing It" reference, among other things, the latter years of writer Ernest Hemingway: "for you the blind who once could see, the bell tolls for thee...". The song has only been performed live 4 times, all on the 2015 R40 tour: June 19, 2015 in Toronto with Ben Mink, June 27, 2015 in Newark, NJ with Jonathan Dinklage, and June 29, 2015 at Madison Square Garden in New York City with Jonathan Dinklage, July 17, 2015 in Vancouver, BC at Rogers Arena with Ben Mink.

The lyrics in the final track, "Countdown", describe the launch of the Space Shuttle Columbia in 1981, which the band witnessed. The song features audio clips of some of the radio talk recorded during the maiden flight. It was a minor UK chart hit in early 1983.

Signals represented the band's last collaboration with producer Terry Brown, who had co-produced every Rush album since 1975's Fly by Night, and had engineered the eponymous first album in 1974.

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 4/5 stars[6]
Rolling Stone 2/5 stars[7]

AllMusic praised the album, complimenting the band for not simply making Moving Pictures, Pt. II, continuing their exploration of the synthesizer and introducing more contemporary themes into the lyrics.[6]

Track listing[edit]

All lyrics written by Neil Peart except where noted, all music composed by Alex Lifeson and Geddy Lee.

Side one
No. Title Length
1. "Subdivisions"   5:35
2. "The Analog Kid"   4:47
3. "Chemistry" (Lee, Lifeson and Peart) 4:57
4. "Digital Man"   6:23
Side two
No. Title Length
5. "The Weapon" (Part II of Fear) 6:24
6. "New World Man"   3:42
7. "Losing It"   4:53
8. "Countdown"   5:49



Additional personnel[edit]



Year Chart Position
1982 Billboard 200 10[8]
UK Albums Chart 3[9]

Sales certifications[edit]

Country Organization Sales
U.S. RIAA Platinum (1,000,000)
Canada Music Canada Platinum (100,000)
UK BPI Silver (60,000)


"New World Man"
  • Released: August 1982/February 1983
  • Written by Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson and Neil Peart
  • Produced by Rush and Terry Brown
  • Chart positions: #21 US Hot 100 (November 1982); #1 US Mainstream Rock; #42 UK (Aug 1982 - initial release)/#36 UK (February 1983 - REMIX, double A-side with "Countdown")
  • Released: May 1982
  • Written by Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson and Neil Peart
  • Produced by Rush and Terry Brown
  • Chart positions: #3 US Mainstream Rock; #27 UK
"The Analog Kid"
  • Released: 1983
  • Written by Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson and Neil Peart
  • Produced by Rush and Terry Brown
  • Chart positions: #19 US Mainstream Rock; #72 UK
"The Weapon" (Part II of 'Fear')
  • Released: 1983
  • Written by Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson and Neil Peart
  • Produced by Rush and Terry Brown
  • Chart positions: #53 UK
  • Released: February 1983
  • Written by Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson and Neil Peart
  • Produced by Rush and Terry Brown
  • Chart positions: #36 UK (double A-side with "New World Man (Remix)")

Remaster details[edit]

Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab issued a Gold CD remaster in 1994 that is currently out of print.[10]

  • In "The Weapon", one line of lyrics that appears on all other pressings is missing from the MFSL release (at 3:12). MFSL has stated that this was the case on the master delivered to them by the band.
  • The ending of "New World Man" is a few seconds longer than the Mercury Records issues.
  • The ending of "Digital Man" is significantly longer and contains lyrics not originally heard on the album version.

A Mercury Records remaster was issued in 1997.

  • The tray has a picture of three fingerprints, light blue, pink, and lime green (left to right) with "The Rush Remasters" printed in all capital letters just to the left. All remasters from Moving Pictures through A Show of Hands feature this logo, originally found on the cover art of Retrospective II.
  • Includes the infrared pictures of the band that were missing from the original CD issue.
  • Includes the lyrics and credits.

Signals was remastered again in 2011 by Andy VanDette as part of the three-volume "Sector" box sets, which re-released all of Rush's albums recorded for Mercury. In addition to the standard audio CD, Signals was also included on an audio DVD in the Sector 3 set, remixed into 5.1 surround sound.[11]

Notes and References[edit]

  1. ^ "Gold and Platinum Database Search". Retrieved 2009-08-09. 
  2. ^ Signals Tour Book
  3. ^ "Power Windows". Retrieved 2012-09-17. 
  4. ^ "Troy Hickman — Holey Crullers! (vol VII/iss 4/April 2004)". Sequential Tart. Retrieved 2012-09-17. 
  5. ^ Geoff Barton (September 2006). "Rush: Progressive To The Core". Classic Rock 97. 
  6. ^ a b Prato, Greg. "Signals - Rush". AllMusic. Retrieved 2012-09-17. 
  7. ^ J.D. Considine (1982-10-28). "Signals". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2012-09-17. 
  8. ^ "Signals chart position in the US". Billboard. 
  9. ^ "Rush chart positions in the UK". The Official Charts Company. 
  10. ^ "Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab". Archived from the original on 2008-12-06. Retrieved 2012-09-17. 
  11. ^ "Andy VanDette On Remastering 15 Rush Albums". 2011-11-23. Retrieved 2012-09-17.