One of the Holy Triumvirate’s more polarizing periods was ushered in this month.
Fresh off of the multi-platinum success of “Moving Pictures”, Rush released “Signals” in September of 1982. The first thing I noticed was the stark contrast in sound quality. The overall sound was noticeably more muted compared to the vibrant production of “Moving Pictures” and “Permanent Waves” before it.
While “Permanent Waves” and “Moving Pictures” were buoyant albums with Geddy, Alex and Neil all in fine form, keyboards really took center stage in “Signals” with a lot more of Geddy and a lot less of Alex. Nowhere is that more evident than in the opening track, “Subdivisions”. Neil’s always intelligent and poignant lyrics resonated quite deeply with me as someone who very much felt like an outcast in school while Geddy sounds magnificent as always in pulling off triple duty (bass-keyboards-voice). But there is nowhere near enough of Alex, though he pulls off a nifty solo in the back-half of the tune. The drum sound isn’t as crisp either, though Neil is as on point as ever.
“Signals” turned out to be a pretty divisive album, alienating nearly as many of Rush’s hardcore fans as it pleased. It also turned out to be the last album with long time producer Terry “Broon” Brown at the controls. What “Signals” may have lacked in sound quality certainly doesn’t apply in song quality. It’s a great album with some excellent tunes on it.
Among my favorites are the reggae-infused “New World Man”,…
,…the understatedly beautiful “Losing It”, which I was rather happy they trotted out the last time I saw them in concert.
,…and “The Analog Kid”, which showcases much more of Lerxst and Pratt and sounds even better live.
Whether in high school halls, shopping malls, basement bars or in the backs of cars, “Signals” was and still is a terrific album that deserves to be celebrated and played loud, more so on the eve of Neil Peart’s birthday (and, yes, his death nearly two years ago still stings)!
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