Rush - Permanent Waves

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Posted on Wed, 09/24/2014 - 7:10pm
by John MacMillan

Member since: Tue, 01/07/2014

Release Type

Studio Album

Release Year


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Anthem Records


Album Overview

Permanent Waves is the seventh studio album by Canadian rock band Rush, released on January 1, 1980. It was recorded at Le Studio in Morin Heights, Quebec, and mixed at Trident Studios in London, UK. Permanent Waves became Rush's first US top five album, hitting #4 on the Billboard 200, and their fifth gold (later platinum) selling album. The album marks a distinct transition from long, conceptual pieces, into a more accessible, radio-friendly style and consequently, a significant increase in record sales for the band. The singles "The Spirit of Radio" and "Freewill" both received significant radio airplay.


1Spirit Of Radio4:54
3Jacob's Ladder7:50
4Entre Nous4:37
5Different Strings3:50
6Natural Science9:27


The writing of the album began in July 1979, at Lakewoods Farm in Ontario on Georgian Bay, Lake Huron while Neil Peart began writing lyrics in a cottage nearby. Rush began with an instrumental jam, which they named "Uncle Tounouse." Parts of this were used in the songs on the album. While Peart worked on lyrics, Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson would work on musical ideas in the basement. Within a few days they had put together "The Spirit of Radio," "Freewill," and "Jacob's Ladder", which came very naturally to them, and recorded on a Slider JVC mobile unit. "Entre Nous" was the only lyric completed ahead of time.

Peart attempted to write a song based on Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, the 14th-century epic set in King Arthur's time. It was deemed too out of place with the other material and was discarded. The band moved into Sound Kitchen studio in Toronto to record demos, joined by producer Terry Brown. "The Spirit of Radio", "Freewill," and "Jacob's Ladder" were further polished on the warm-up tour during soundchecks.

Rush headed to Le Studio in Morin Heights, Quebec and began 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 for "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 a week at Trident Studios, London.


"The Spirit of Radio" featured the band's early experiments with a reggae style in its closing section, which were explored further on the band's next three albums, Moving PicturesSignals, and Grace Under Pressure.

The song "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 1981 live album Exit...Stage Left includes a performance of "Jacob's Ladder".

"Entre Nous" (French for "between us") did not receive heavy radio airplay, and was not performed live until the Snakes & Arrows Tour in 2007.

While the band began stepping back from the epic song format on this album, the closing track "Natural Science" is over nine minutes long and is composed of three distinct movements. 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.

Cover artwork

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 (who objected to the use of their logo) to include each band member's name in similar typestyle. The "200 Gram Vinyl LP w/Download" 2015 reissues have restored the original "Dewei Defeats Truman" paper art, while leaving the Coca-Cola signs with the band's 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 model Paula Turnbull, and the man waving in the background is Syme.

Remaster details

A remaster was issued in 1997.

  • The tray has a picture of the star with man painting (mirroring the cover art of Retrospective I) with "The Rush Remasters" printed in all capital letters just to the left. All remasters from Rush through to Permanent Waves are like this.
  • Includes the original back cover of the album, showing the band in the recording studio, as well as the inner-sleeve pictures, credits, and lyrics which were missing from the original CD.

Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab released gold CD and "audiophile" LP remasters in early 2008.

Permanent Waves was remastered again in 2011 by Andy VanDette for the "Sector" box sets, which re-released all of Rush's Mercury-era albums. Permanent Waves is included in the Sector 2 set.

Permanent Waves was remastered for vinyl in 2015 by Sean Magee at Abbey Road Studios as a part of the official "12 Months of Rush" promotion. The high definition master prepared for this release was also made available for purchase in 24-bit/96kHz and 24-bit/192kHz formats, at several high-resolution audio online music stores. These masters have significantly less compression than the 1997 remasters and the "Sector" remasters by Andy VanDette.


  • Geddy Lee - lead vocals, bass guitar, Oberheim polyphonic, Minimoog, Taurus pedal synthesizer, OB-1
  • 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

Additional musicians

  • Erwig Chuapchuaduah - steel drums on "The Spirit of Radio"
  • Hugh Syme - piano on "Different Strings"


  • Hugh Syme - art direction, design, cover concept
  • Deborah Samuel - photography
  • Fin Costello - photography
  • Flip Schulke - photography
  • Terry Brown - arranger, producer, mixing
  • Paul Northfield - engineer
  • Robbie Whelan - assistant engineer
  • Craig Milliner - mixing assistant
  • Adam Moseley - mixing assistant
  • Paula Turnbull - cover girl
  • Robert Gage - Hairdresser to the cover girl
  • Ray Staff - mastering on original album
  • Bob Ludwig - remastering


Newspaper on front album cover originally was a copy of the infamous "Dewey defeats Truman" issue of the Chicago Tribune. After the Chicago Tribune objected to the inclusion, the cover was changed to read "Dewei defeats Truman". The billboards in the distance were originally Coca-Cola adverts, but were changed to the names of the band members due to the objections of Coca-Cola. The waving man on the front cover is Hugh Syme, who was the cover designer, and also played piano on 'Different Strings'. Released with lyrics and band photos on inner sleeve.



Permanent Waves - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia : taken from -