Permanent Waves is the band’s seventh studio album, released on January 14th, 1980. It was recorded at Le Studio, Morin Heights, Quebec, and mixed at Trident Studios in London. The tracks were laid down just shy of four weeks, in part attributed to the idyllic working conditions of Morin Heights.
The album marks a transition from long, conceptual pieces, into a more accessible, radio-friendly style. Trivia: The waving man in the background of the album cover is actually Hugh Syme, the band’s long time design collaborator.
Moving Pictures (1981)
Moving Pictures became the band’s biggest selling album in the U.S., rising to #3 on the Billboard charts. It remains Rush’s most popular and commercially successful studio recording. Rush’s complex songwriting and musical virtuosity reached new heights on this album.
Recorded and mixed from October to November 1980 at Le Studio, Moving Pictures followed a more radio-friendly format and includes several signature tracks, including “Tom Sawyer,” “Limelight,” “Red Barchetta,” and the band’s highly praised instrumental, “YYZ,” which is the IATA airport identification code of Toronto Pearson International Airport.
Signals is the band’s ninth studio album, released in 1982. It was the follow-up to the (what would become) seminal Moving Pictures album.
Stylistically, the album was a continuation of Rush’s foray into the technology-oriented 1980s through increased use of electronic instrumentation such as keyboards, sequencers, and electric violin. The songs got shorter too. In fact, “New World Man” clocked in at a swift 3:42–it was the last and quickest-composed song on the album, written primarily to even out the lengths of the two sides of the cassette version. The opening track, “Subdivisions,” is a staple of many of the band’s tours since its recording.
Grace Under Pressure (1984)
Grace Under Pressure is the band’s 10th studio recording, released in April of 1984. It was recorded at Le Studio, like so many other Rush albums.
Largely considered one of the band’s darkest albums, Grace Under Pressure was influenced by the growing tensions in the Cold War in the 1980s. The album’s running theme is “pressure” and how humans act under the influence of it. Despite the dark themes of the record, the band balances out influences from a lot of directions, including reggae and a harder feel of the classic hard rock sound.
Power Windows (1985)
Power Windows is the band’s 11th studio album, released in 1985. It launched an era in which the band expanded into new sonic directions, and featured synths heavily. It was also the album where Geddy switched to using a Wal bass, made by a small English company. He’d use the Wal as his main bass all the way through the Roll The Bones album and tour. Neil’s lyrics focused primarily on various manifestations of power–”Manhattan Project” explores the origins and consequences of the U.S. military’s development of the atomic bomb, and “Territories” comments on nationalism around the world.
Hold Your Fire (1987)
Hold Your Fire is Rush’s 12th studio album, released on September 8, 1987. It was recorded at The Manor Studio in Oxfordshire, Ridge Farm Studio in Surrey, AIR Studios in Montserrat and McClear Place in Toronto, with sessions spread out over a relatively long period of time. Although Hold Your Fire features nearly as much synth/keyboards as its predecessor, Power Windows, Hold Your Fire’s guitar riffs and solos are considerably more prominent on several songs.
Presto is Rush’s 13th studio album, released in 1989. It was recorded at Le Studio in Morin Heights and at McClear Place in Toronto. Presto was Rush’s first album with Atlantic Records, which the band signed to in early 1989 after a longstanding relationship with Mercury/PolyGram. The album’s lyrical centerpiece is its atmospheric single ‘The Pass,” in which Neil addresses teenage isolation and the tragic romanticism of youth suicide.