Instead of playing it safe and writing Moving Pictures, Pt. II, Rush replaced their heavy rock of yesteryear with even more modern sounds for 1982's Signals. Synthesizers were now an integral part of the band's sound, and replaced electric guitars as the driving force for almost all the tracks. And more current and easier-to-grasp topics (teen peer pressure, repression, etc.) replaced their trusty old sci-fi-inspired lyrics. While other rock bands suddenly added keyboards to their sound to widen their appeal, Rush gradually merged electronics into their music over the years, so such tracks as the popular MTV video "Subdivisions" did not come as a shock to longtime fans. And Rush didn't forget how to rock out -- "The Analog Kid" and "Digital Man" were some of their most up-tempo compositions in years. The surprise hit, "New World Man," and "Chemistry" combined reggae and rock (begun on 1980's Permanent Waves), "The Weapon" bordered on new wave, the placid "Losing It" featured Ben Mink on electric violin, while the epic closer "Countdown" painted a vivid picture of a space shuttle launch. Signals proved that Rush were successfully adapting to the musical climate of the early '80s.
- Release Date:
Performance CreditsRush Primary Artist
Geddy Lee Synthesizer,Bass,Guitar,Bass Guitar,Keyboards,Vocals
Alex Lifeson Acoustic Guitar,Electric Guitar,bass pedals
Ben Mink Violin,Electric Violin
Neil Peart Percussion,Drums
Technical CreditsRush Arranger,Producer
Terry Brown Arranger,Producer
Geddy Lee Lyricist
Alex Lifeson Lyricist,Contributor
Paul Northfield Engineer
Neil Peart Lyricist
Hugh Syme Artwork,Art Direction,Concept
Rush Brown Arranger,Producer
Deborah Samuel Contributor
Steve Kleinberg Redesign
Robbie Whelan Engineer
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As the follow-up to the phenomenal Moving Pictures, this record had a lot to live up to. Fortunately, it met the challenge, although with a somewhat different sound than fans of those days were used to. This is the first Rush album where the keyboards are up front - providing the mood in the sinister 'Subdivisions', backing up the lively 'Analog Kid' and all but drenching the avant-garde 'Weapon'. The overall sound of Signals is a tad pale compared to the previous album, but the songs still measure up, replete with the progressive-meets-pop formula Rush had already established.
This album breaks away from the traditional Rush sound by putting the synths up front, with the guitars lower in the mix. The songs are shorter and more melodic than earlier Rush albums. The sonic clarity isn't all it could be, but the album has a more personal feel to it than in the band's earlier work. On a pesonal note, ''Subdivisions'' is my choice as best track on the album.
There was a time when Rush was THE premiere Canadian rock band. They developed and refined a progressive & heavy rock sound that was unlike any other artist. Each album was better than the last, yet managed to explore new territory. The signature sound of each member of the trio playing in unison and then branching off in directions and reuniting again was powerful. The band reached its pinnacle with 1982's Signals. The band redefined its sound from a guitar/bass/drum to keyboard/guitar/bass/drum mixture. Musically, the band has never played off of each other better. The twenty minute soundscapes were boiled down to less than four minutes in some cases. Lyrically, the Neil Peart has never been better. Subdivisions, New World Man, and Losing It were as relevant then as they are today. This was the last album produced by Terry Brown and it certainly brings about the question of how important this man really was to the band's sound and development. I can't listen to much Rush anymore. Old age setting in, I guess. However, every now and again, I manage to sneak in Signals in between a Verdi opera, Beethoven sonata or Van Morrison CD. Although it may not be as grand or as relevant, it still sounds pretty good to these old ears.
It seems to me that while Rush has always explored different areas with each album, there was usually a definitive move or break away about every 3 or 4 albums, and this was one of them. This album seemed to set the stage for the next couple that followed (and to a lesser extent, almost everything they have done since.) As mentioned in previous reviews, this was the first album to really make extensive use of keyboards (and the first where Geddy seemed really comfortable with them) and it was a remarkably smooth transition as an end result.
What used to be a great rock band slides into the muddy waters of radio friendly, let's-all-get-rich-even-if-we-lose our-roots greed. Gone were the nights of staying up late, rocking out to a new Rush album, one song (or entire, blow-my-mind sides of an album) at a time, endlessly debating just what the group was trying to say with every psycho-psychedelic turn of a phrase, and every member's effortless wielding of his own unique sound. With this new music Alex, Neil, and Geddy were saying that they wanted the big bucks, and they got them. Hey, more power to them- they gained a lot of new fans, but lost the hard core fanatics that paid the group's bills when they (Rush) were growing up musically. This lame, bubble gum music has no pop at all- with this unholy, even sacriligious release, the real Rush died- the "for best results, play at maximum volume" Rush- and true rock and rollers everywhere dialed it down to the minimum, while mourning the group's untimely, and totally unnecessary, demise.
this just take me back to the 8th grade 1982.the best album rush ever done.i love all their music.but this one won`t allow me to get old at 36.geddy,alex,and neil are music greats.keep as rocking as we reach our prime
Some Rush fans see Signals as a sign of selling out, others like myself see it as a sign of branching out. In no way is this Rush's finest record, but the traits that most Rush fans love about the group (quality of musicianship, Neil's thought-provoking lyrics, succeeding on their own terms) are all here. Subdivisions is without a doubt a Top 5 Rush song of all time. They could've taken a whole album side to delve into the subject of teenage alienation, but Neil has honed his lyricism at this point so it can be boiled down to completion in 5+ minutes. The Analog Kid is one of my alltime favorites: hard- rocking, with Alex at the forefront, and Neil's vivid imagery of being a kid before computers, video games and iPods captured kid's attention. Chemistry is heavy, yet brainy. A great combination. Digital Man has a good beat, but isn't particularly interesting. The Weapon, 2nd song released in 4-song Fear "trilogy" has been described by Neil as the closest Rush ever came to a disco song. The disco beat is definitely there in the chorus. (Can you imagine Alex, Geddy & Neil in white Travolta suits?). Disco sucks! New World Man, albeit the highest charting Rush song of all time, is interesting lyricly but kind of boring musically. The problem Rush creates is that they set the bar so high musically that it's very difficult to reach that height every time. Losing It is a sad song, but one of the albums musical highlights with Ben Mink contributing on violin. Countdown, like The Analog Kid, paints vivid images. This time its about the first Space Shuttle launch. Because of its dated nature, Rush don't play this one in concert, but its one of the highlights of Signals. So, what do you get with Signals? Three Rush classics: Subdivisions, The Analog Kid and Countdown. Also, Rush is growing up, evolving, changing. These things are all positive. And the great thing about this band is that if you didn't like this album, you knew they weren't going to make 10 more carbon copies of it in the years to come. Yes, the days of the kimonos and the chest hair are over and we'll always have those memories. But, what most of us who have been with Rush since the beginning like about them is that they're unpredictable and diverse. I mean, do we really want every record to sound like 2112?
Signals may suffer a bit in retrospect due to its being the album following Moving Pictures, which was a huge success, and its also being the middle entry in what may be a hazy trio of albums that concluded with Grace Under Pressure. The two hits from the album, "Subdivisions" and "New World Man" continue to get heavy airplay to this day, which in its own way is a testament to the music's staying power. However, the other songs on the album are equally as good, if not better in some areas. "The Weapon" (part 2 of Neil Peart's "Fear" trilogy of songs), "Losing It", and "The Analog Kid" especially stand out as fine combinations of power-trio rock and a particular kind of grace. I only downgraded Signals a few notches because it isn't quite up to Moving Pictures, and that some of the early-80s synthesizer tones just sound off these days. Still, don't let minor quibbles such as this stop you from getting this one while you can.