Album artwork for Rush Permanent Waves 40th Anniversary

Album Review: Rush – Permanent Waves 40th Anniversary

I must confess.

I passed on purchasing the 40th Anniversary release of Permanent Waves (released today – May 29).  Filling my shelves with two-inch thick boxes I’ll open once and likely won’t ever open again has more or less run its course. It bought the first four Rush 40th anniversary releases but for Permanent Waves I decided to forego the expense and enjoy what’s new via streaming. I already have three copies on vinyl including a Japanese release and how much you can you improve on the 24K Gold version released by Audio Fidelity from 2007?

A lot has been packed into the Permanent Waves 40th Anniversary release and maybe in time I will relent and grab a version but for those debating you can by various sets ranging from just the remastered CDs of the original album, just the LPs or the Super Deluxe Edition which contains the CDs and vinyl records.  All versions include 12 tracks from the band’s 1980 Permanent Waves tour mixed by longtime producer Terry Brown, a 20-page booklet of new artwork by original designer Hugh Syme and unreleased photos from the band’s archive. The new album cover artwork is very cool with several Rush related references but no covert “Lee, Lifeson, Peart” at least that I can see, or can’t see.

Check out the unpacking video:

You can spend from just under $20 to nearly $300 depending on what goodies you want with the recordings. The Rush Backstage Club doctors things up by offering package upgrades which include various bonus materials like Neil Peart handwritten lyric sheet lithos, backstage laminates, a Permanent Waves World Tour 1980 program, t-shirts and hoodies.


Rush Permanent Waves 40th Anniversary Album Review

I won’t review what we already know as a great album. Instead I’ll tackle the live songs, recorded mostly in Manchester and London and one from a stop in Missouri (of all places), included with the 40th Anniversary release of Permanent Waves.

  1. Beneath, Between & Behind – After nearly 40 years of hearing “regular” Geddy Lee his opening vocals shock a bit and take a minute or two, to get used to how Lee used to sing. It’s a good Rush song but not an all-time favorite for me.
  2. By-Tor & the Snow Dog – Best middle song jam I’ve heard on this fan favorite track with Alex Lifeson going off the rails and Lee hammering his bass. Fantastic.
  3. Xanadu – Neil Peart makes excellent use of his hi-hat giving this version of “Xanadu” an unedited, raw feel, but Lee sounds slurry at times.
  4. The Spirit of Radio – Little different from earlier live versions you’ve probably already heard.
  5. Natural Science – Gotta say, this brought back memories of their Final Tour.
  6. A Passage to Bangkok – Ha Ha. Lee opens saying they’d like to do something that “deals with foreign matter.” A solid live version.
  7. The Trees – A BRAND NEW OPENING! Something different at least. Lifeson plays a bit on the classical guitar as Lee introduces the song then Lifeson gets right into it. All-time great Rush song and this version holds up very well.
  8. Cygnus X-1 – This is actually a pretty fun version as Rush incorporates some Halloween like sound effects in the dialed back section in between the heavy rock instrumentation.
  9. Cygnux X-1: Book II Hemispheres – Has this song ever been released “Live”? An even better question: Was this the only time Rush Played Cygnus X-1 and Cygnus X-1 Book II back-to-back? AND, after all these years I just realized Rush ended A Farewell to Kings with “Cygnus X-1” and opened their following album Hemispheres with “Cygnus X-1 Book II Hemispheres.” I really need to pay attention more. Look away, I’m a hideous Rush fan.
  10. Closer to the Heart – Nothing will ever compare to the version played on the Time Stand Still Tour.
  11. Jacob’s Ladder – Good song, nothing new.
  12. Freewill – Good song, nothing new.

All the songs fade out at their conclusion like a studio album except (thankfully) the transition from “By-Tor” into “Xanadu” which gives a seamless progression as the band blends the end of one into the beginning of the other.

Many Rush fans were not around or too young to have experienced the Permanent Waves tour and those who were there probably have a faded memory after 40 years. The charm here resides in the fact that you get legitimate live recordings of their 1980 Permanent Waves Tour with little to no post-production.

But where Rush succeeds perhaps also does a disservice when offering these recordings to the public. Rush sounds like Rush! They play tight, don’t junk up the songs with tedious jam sessions or stray very far from the original album recordings. A backhanded compliment, I guess.

Overall, Permanent Waves 40th Anniversary gives you a remastered studio album and what amounts to a new live album with 12 songs no later than 1980 from the Rush catalog including four from the original Permanent Waves album.

I understand celebrating the 40th anniversary of albums (we’ve already lost Peart, and Lee and Lifeson probably would not reap the benefits of very many 50th Anniversary issues) and the need to feed the Rush estate. Management does a great job of providing a bit more to chew on than a simple remastered version that doesn’t offer much more in terms of clarity or melody, but all of this is starting to feel like how the Beatles seem to re-release and repackage albums over and over and over.

Perhaps Rush erred in not holding on to those songs left on the cutting room floor.

Grade: B

Rush Permanent Waves 40th Anniversary Songs:

Permanent Waves Studio Album:

1. The Spirit Of Radio
2. Freewill
3. Jacob’s Ladder
4. Entre Nous
5. Different Strings
6. Natural Science

Permanent Waves World Tour 1980 – Live Album

1. Beneath, Between & Behind (Live in Manchester)
2. By-Tor & The Snow Dog (Live in London)
3. Xanadu (Live in London)
4. The Spirit Of Radio (Live in Manchester)
5. Natural Science (Live in Manchester)
6. A Passage to Bangkok (Live in Manchester)
7. The Trees (Live in Manchester)
8. Cygnus X-1 (Live in London)
9. Cygnus X-1 Book II: Hemispheres (Live in London)
10. Closer To The Heart (Live in Manchester)
11. Jacob’s Ladder (Live in Missouri)
12. Freewill (Live in London)


11 thoughts on “Album Review: Rush – Permanent Waves 40th Anniversary

  1. Wicked review Andrew! Thanks for reviewing the live tracks. Awesome.
    I have bought all the deluxe RUSH reissues even P.W’s but all from iTunes. I cannot afford to buy the actual product and keep up. I buy from iTunes and today was a good day with this one and the two live Leppard releases.

    1. Thanks buddy. Thought maybe you’d give me some pushback! Lol. I’m with you, as much as I’d like, can’t keep up. Hopefully I’ll review the Def Leppard in a few days.

      1. Looking forward to the Lep review. Curious to see hat you think versus my thoughts. My copy comes tomorrow and I hope to have my review within a week.

      2. Oh boy. You’ve put me on Notice! Lol. Guess I better get to work. I won’t read yours until I’m done.

  2. I saw Rush at Newcastle City Hall, on 13-06-80 & they did play Cygnus X-1 & Cygnus X-1 Book II back to back. I was 8 rows from the front & the show exceeded expectations…the light show as Jacobs Ladder kicks back in etc. I still have a tape I did from that night & it’s not that bad. However, this 2nd cd leaves a lot to be desired – the edits in both Cygnus tracks seem so jarring to me (well, I was there & I do have my tape). The fading in & out of songs makes it even less appealing so I think I’ll stick to the bootlegs.

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