How unbelievably appropriate is it that Rush’s Permanent Waves was released on January 1, 1980? In virtually every regard, this album ended the ‘70s (literally) and foreshadowed the fertile grounds (reggae, pop elements, concise arrangements) the Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson, and Neil Peart would spend the next decade expanding upon.
Even though it will forever be overshadowed by the masterpiece that followed, Permanent Waves is, in many regards, the most important album Rush made. Looking back on its career, Rush was not unlike Pink Floyd: each album built upon the last one and, in hindsight, one can easily see where certain ideas and obsessions—executed with varying degrees of success—came to full fruition on the eventual, inexorable tour de force (Dark Side of the Moon and Moving Pictures, respectively). We can hear how “By-Tor and the Snow Dog” was a test run of sorts for the longer pieces from Caress of Steel, which of course set the stage for “2112”.