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Music / Permanent Waves

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Permanent Waves is a 1980 album by the Progressive Rock band Rush. Musically, it represents a transition to shorter, slightly more straightforward pieces, while still keeping much of the complexity the band’s music was known for. Vocalist Geddy Lee also began singing in a lower register at this point. The album was commercially successful and spawned the hits “The Spirit of Radio” and “Freewill” as well as the fan favourites “Natural Science” and “Jacob’s Ladder”. The album remains well liked by the band’s extensive fan base, although it often gets overshadowed by its successor Moving Pictures, which is often regarded as the band’s finest album.



Side One

  1. “The Spirit of Radio” - 4:59
  2. “Freewill” - 5:24
  3. “Jacob’s Ladder” - 7:28

Side Two

  1. “Entre nous” - 4:37
  2. “Different Strings” - 3:50
  3. “Natural Science” - 9:17
    1. “Tide Pools” - 1:57
    2. “Hyperspace” - 2:21
    3. “Permanent Waves” - 5:07

And the tropes of the profits were written on the studio walls and concert halls

  • Dewey Defeats Truman: The Trope Namer is seen on some versions of the cover.
  • Epic Rocking: The 7:28 “Jacob’s Ladder” and the 9:17 “Natural Science”. The album in general marked a transition towards shorter songs for Rush, as mentioned above, and the band saw their record sales increase as a result.
  • Gratuitous French: “Entre nous” means “between us”, which appears in the song’s chorus as a stealth Title Drop.
  • Marilyn Maneuver/Panty Shot: Perhaps surprisingly given the band’s image, the cover of the album contains an example.
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  • New Sound Album: As mentioned, Rush began making their songs more concise on this album and drew influence from New Wave Music, which increased their commercial success.
  • Pun-Based Title: Like many Rush albums, the title has multiple meanings. It can refer to a hairstyle (seen on cover model Paula Turnbull), and it also relates to the lyrics of “Natural Science”, indicating that the ocean will always have waves.
  • Shout-Out: The last lines of “The Spirit of Radio” are a parody of Simon & Garfunkel’s “The Sounds of Silence” that also provides a Take That! towards the record industry.
  • Surprisingly Gentle Song: “Different Strings”
  • Title Track: Downplayed, as one of the movements of “Natural Science” shares its name with the album instead of an actual song.
  • Uncommon Time: It’s a Rush album; were you really expecting anything else? “Jacob’s Ladder” in particular goes through several time signature changes.
  • Visual Pun: Several relating to the title. The lettering of the title on the cover is incorporated into a drawing of a waveform. The background is an altered photo of the waves caused by the storm surge from Hurricane Carla at Galveston, Texas. There is also a man waving, cover designer Hugh Syme.
  • Vocal Evolution: Geddy Lee began singing in a lower register on this album. However, some parts of it still utilise his upper range; he has singled out the end of “Freewill” as an example of this.

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