Rush - Signals
The term "dividing line" can only properly be applied in context to decisive subjects that large amounts of people take up sides on. Religion has dividing lines. Politics, sure. Morality, you betcha. But these lines of division are the most fun when they form around artistic products. Be it a band, a song, a painting or a poem, the variety of opinions and, more to the point, the voicing of said opinions nurture the product's viability like the sun nurtures the world. Coming down from such a universal, broad-ranging bit of philosophy like that to get into my review of one of Rush's biggest dividing lines, Signals, is a task too large to really accomplish. So just...read on!
Let's get this straight. Signals was the initial friction that caused both long-time producer Terry Brown to lose his job with the band and guitarist Alex Lifeson to begin questioning his role in the trio. While the somewhat sudden but obvious-in-hindsight shift from guitar-oriented rock to a more electronic, synthesized-based rock was an agreed-upon change, nobody bothered to mention to the fans that it was coming. Overall, the sound Rush had been noted for early on had softened into a much more melodic and groove-based middle ground prior to Signals. The fact that Geddy's synths take up more space here than on any record previous is just par for the course. A fine collection of songs regardless, with live staples like the fantastic and, in my opinion era-defining "Subdivisions" and their first top-40 hit "New World Man". "The Weapon" sounds like a leftover from Moving Pictures, and is a true highlight with typically fantastic percussion via Neil Peart and some interesting synths. In my youth, the sad, lonely and depressive feel of "Losing It" left a mark that still rears it's emotional face whenever I hear it. The electronic violin is a bittersweet touch. "Countdown" is something of a tradition for the band, where they take an actual life experience and translate it accordingly to song. In this case, it was their invitation to witness a shuttle launch in Florida.
Where the dividing line is drawn is right at the point where a hard rock band became a rock band. At the point where Lifeson's influence was dulled by the electronic elephant in the room. Whichever side you may reside on is part of the draw of Signals and many of the albums that would follow. Still at it's heart a Rush record, well written and professional in every aspect, there are still those who simply cannot listen to this evolution of the band who conjured By-Tor and the Snowdog to do battle, who announced to all planets of the Solar Federation that they had assumed control. And that's fine. Personally, the "Synthetic Era" of Rush was a rather bland experience that produced maybe an album's worth of quality material. A good bit of it came from Signals.
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on 2011-11-04 SolitaryMan Said:
I experienced every Rush album up to Vapor Trails well after they had been released, and most of the time never in proper chronological order. But once I started noting the shifts they took over the years, I have to say, if I were alive and a fan during the 70's, what they did in the 80's wouldn't have interested me much either.
on 2011-11-04 CharlesMartel Said:
I never went for Rush at this point. Could never understand why they took the path they did. It did nothing to tempt me to go out and buy this album.