|Studio album by|
|Released||January 14, 1980|
|Recorded||September and October 1979|
|Studio||Le Studio (Morin-Heights, Quebec)|
|Singles from Permanent Waves|
Permanent Waves is the seventh studio album by the Canadian rock band Rush, released on January 14, 1980, through Anthem Records. After touring to support their previous album, Hemispheres (1978), the band regrouped in July 1979 to work on material for a follow-up. This period marked a shift in the group's sound characterized by more concise arrangements and radio friendly songs, such as "The Spirit of Radio" and "Freewill", though their progressive rock blueprint is still evident with the over nine-minute closer "Natural Science". The two former tracks were performed live before Rush entered the studio. Permanent Waves was recorded later in 1979 at Le Studio in Morin-Heights, Quebec with production handled by the group and Terry Brown.
Permanent Waves received a mostly positive reception from critics, and became the band's most successful album at the time of release, reaching No. 3 in Canada and the UK and No. 4 in the US. The album was certified platinum in the latter by the Recording Industry Association of America for selling one million copies. Rush released "The Spirit of Radio" as a single in March 1980 and toured in support of the album in 1979 and 1980.
Background and writing
In June 1979, the band finished its eight-month tour of the United States, Canada, and Europe in support of its sixth studio album, Hemispheres (1978). The tour had taken its toll on the group and, for the first time in the band's history, each member agreed to take a six-week break before starting work on a new album. They regrouped in mid-July 1979 at Lakewoods Farm near Flesherton, Ontario to write and rehearse new material for two weeks. They set up their equipment in the basement and put down what Peart described as "a giant hodge-podge of instrumental mish-mash," initially titled "Uncle Tounouse", during the first session. The piece was not developed further, but sections of it were used as the basis of passages on other songs they would record. A typical day's schedule involved Lifeson cooking breakfast for the trio, after which Lifeson and Lee worked on musical ideas while Peart gathered his notes and walked to a nearby cottage to write lyrics, with "Entre Nous" being the only set completed prior to their arrival at Lakewoods Farm. This routine had a productive effect on the three, with "The Spirit of Radio," "Freewill", and "Jacob's Ladder" being put down within several days without considerable effort. The new songs marked a shift in the group's musical style towards more concise arrangements and radio friendly songs, though Peart denied that the band consciously set out to produce commercial music. Peart attempted to write a song based on Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, the 14th-century epic set in King Arthur's time, but it was abandoned after it was deemed too out of place with the other material.
With some material prepared for Permanent Waves, Rush moved into Sound Kitchen Studio in northern Toronto, Ontario with their producer Terry Brown to put their ideas onto tape. "The Spirit of Radio," "Freewill" and "Jacob's Ladder" were further polished on the warm-up tour during soundchecks, and by early September, "The Spirit of Radio" and "Freewill" were being performed live on the band's warm-up tour in August and September 1979.
In September 1979, Rush headed to Le Studio in Morin-Heights, Quebec to record Permanent Waves with Brown and engineer Paul Northfield. Having recorded their previous two studio albums in Wales the band felt it was time for a change and initially chose Trident Studios in London, but cancelled due to the high costs of studio time and accommodation. The idea of working in a busy city environment became something they now wished to avoid and instead sought a remote location.
The recording sessions involved the band tweaking the settings of instruments and positioning of microphones. They recorded basic tracks with multiple takes until they captured the best performance. While Lee, Lifeson, and Brown began overdubs, Peart began attempting to write another longer song, and after enduring three days of writer's block, "Natural Science" was born. Fin Costello was then brought in to photograph the band in the studio. Cover art director Hugh Syme was also brought in and recorded a piano solo on "Different Strings". Music was composed for "Natural Science", with some parts reused from the discarded "Green Knight". The water sounds at the beginning of the song were created by splashing oars in the private lake, performed by Brown and studio assistant Kim Bickerdike, and the natural echo outside was used to record various instruments. The rough mixes on the album were complete, and the final mix was completed in two weeks at Trident Studios.
Upon the album's completion, Lifeson felt unsure about the record and for a period of time, could not listen to it due to his feeling that it failed to present any fresh ideas. His opinion changed when he first heard the album on the radio after its release, realising he had overreacted.
"The Spirit of Radio" featured the band's early experiments with a reggae style in its closing section, which was explored further on the band's next three albums, Moving Pictures, Signals, and Grace Under Pressure. The group had experimented with reggae-influenced riffs in the studio and had come up with a reggae introduction to "Working Man" on their tours, so they decided to incorporate a passage into "The Spirit of Radio," as Lifeson said, "to make us smile and have a little fun." Peart wrote the lyrics with Toronto radio station CFNY-FM in mind which had adopted the title as its slogan.
"Jacob's Ladder" uses multiple time signatures, and possesses a dark, ominous feel in its first half. Its lyrics are based on a simple concept: a vision of sunlight breaking through storm clouds. The title is a reference to the natural phenomenon of the sun breaking through the clouds in visible rays, which in turn is named after the Biblical ladder to heaven on which Jacob saw angels ascending and descending in a vision. Early in Rush's 2015 R40 Live Tour, Geddy Lee incorrectly stated that the song had never been played live before, but was corrected by fans on the internet (the song had been performed during the Permanent Waves tour and a live recording of the song was featured on Exit... Stage Left).
While the band began stepping back from the epic song format on this album, the closing track "Natural Science" is more than nine minutes long and is composed of three distinct movements: I) Tide Pools, II) Hyperspace, and III) Permanent Waves. The lyrics are driven by concepts of natural science. It was featured, with a different arrangement, on the 1996 Test for Echo Tour, the 2002 Vapor Trails Tour, the 2007–2008 Snakes & Arrows Tour and the 2015 R40 Live Tour.
The cover art sparked some controversy because of the appearance of the "Dewey Defeats Truman" headline on the newspaper. After a complaint from the Chicago Tribune, artist Hugh Syme changed the text to "Dewei Defeats Truman." Some later versions of the cover, such as for the Rush Remasters CD release, have the headline blanked out and it appears simply as a white box. The billboards in the distance were changed from Coca-Cola (which objected to the use of its logo) to include each band member's name in similar typestyle. The "200 Gram Vinyl LP w/Download" 2015 reissues use the altered "Dewei Defeats Truman" newspaper art while leaving the Coca-Cola signs with the band members names unchanged.
The background scene comes from a photo, taken by Flip Schulke, of the Galveston Seawall in Texas during Hurricane Carla on September 11, 1961. The woman in the foreground is Canadian model Paula Turnbull, who was also featured on Exit... Stage Left (1981) and the man waving in the background is Syme.
|The Rolling Stone Album Guide|||
Following the album's release, Rush supported Permanent Waves with a concert tour of Canada, the US, and the UK between January 17 and June 22, 1980. The group toured with a 25-member roadcrew who handled the 60 tons of equipment to stage the show, which included Boeing 707 landing lights, a $50,000 mixing console, and a screen projector behind the band. The tour cost $12,500 each day and each band member earned $1,000 per show.
|2011||Anthem||CD||Digitally remastered by Andy VanDette as part of the reissue of Rush's Mercury-era albums|
|2015||Anthem/Mercury||CD, LP||Remaster with 24-bit/96 kHz and 24-bit/192 kHz formats|
|2020||Anthem/Mercury||CD, LP||40th Anniversary Edition with previously unreleased live content.|
|1.||"The Spirit of Radio"||4:54|
|1.||"Beneath, Between & Behind" (Recorded at the Manchester Apollo, Manchester, UK)||2:30|
|2.||"By-Tor & the Snow Dog" (Recorded at the Hammersmith Odeon, London, UK)||5:52|
|3.||"Xanadu" (Recorded at the Hammersmith Odeon, London, UK)||12:16|
|4.||"The Spirit of Radio" (Recorded at the Manchester Apollo, Manchester, UK)||5:08|
|5.||"Natural Science" (Recorded at the Manchester Apollo, Manchester, UK)||8:46|
|6.||"A Passage to Bangkok *†" (Recorded at the Manchester Apollo, Manchester, UK.)||3:57|
|7.||"The Trees" (Recorded at the Manchester Apollo, Manchester, UK)||5:28|
|8.||"Cygnus X-1" (Recorded at the Hammersmith Odeon, London, UK)||8:05|
|9.||"Cygnus X-1 Book II (parts I and IV-VI)" (Recorded at the Hammersmith Odeon, London, UK)||14:45|
|10.||"Closer to the Heart" (Recorded at the Manchester Apollo, Manchester, UK)||3:26|
|11.||"Jacob's Ladder" (Recorded at the Kiel Auditorium, St. Louis, Missouri.)||7:38|
|12.||"Freewill" (Recorded at the Hammersmith Odeon, London, UK)||5:46|
* Included on the vinyl release only
† Previously available on 2112 Deluxe Edition (2012)
Credits are taken from the 1980 liner notes.
- Geddy Lee – lead vocals, bass guitar, Oberheim polyphonic synthesizer, Minimoog synthesizer, Taurus pedal synthesizer, Oberheim OB-1 synthesizer
- Alex Lifeson – electric and acoustic six- and twelve-string guitars, Taurus pedals
- Neil Peart – drums, timpani, timbales, orchestra bells, tubular bells, wind chimes, bell tree, triangle, crotales, cover concept
- Terry Brown – arranger, producer, mixing
- Fin Costello – photography
- Robert Gage – hairdresser to the cover girl
- Bob Ludwig – remastering
- Adam Moseley – mixing assistant
- Craig Milliner – mixing assistant
- Paul Northfield – engineer
- Deborah Samuel – photography
- Flip Schulke – photography
- Ray Staff – mastering on original album
- Hugh Syme – piano, art direction, design, cover concept
- Paula Turnbull – cover girl
- Robbie Whelan – assistant engineer
|Dutch Albums (Album Top 100)||38|
|Norwegian Albums (VG-lista)||21|
|Swedish Albums (Sverigetopplistan)||26|
|UK Albums (OCC)||3|
|US Billboard 200||4|
|German Albums (Offizielle Top 100)||47|
|Swiss Albums (Schweizer Hitparade)||65|
|Canada (Music Canada)||Platinum||100,000^|
|United Kingdom (BPI)||Gold||100,000^|
|United States (RIAA)||Platinum||1,000,000^|
^shipments figures based on certification alone
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- "Canadian album certifications – Rush – Permanent Waves". Music Canada. Retrieved July 3, 2020.
- "British album certifications – Rush – Permanent Waves". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved July 3, 2020. Select albums in the Format field. Select Gold in the Certification field. Type Permanent Waves in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
- "American album certifications – Rush – Permanent Waves". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved July 3, 2020. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH.