Rush’s Signals was originally released in September of 1982. Preceded by the single “New World Man”, it marked a change in the band’s sound, with more use of modern keyboards and less heavy guitar. I am sure this was an issue for many Rush fans at the time, but it was a success as the band kept evolving and staying current. The met with mixed reviews, among the most comical being Rolling Stones’ horrible review, calling the band’s latest “duller than ever“, among other things! I wasn’t so into “New World Man”, but the rest of the album (most of) I preferred – particularly “Subdivisions” and “The Analog Kid”, plus favorites like “Countdown” and “Digital Man”.
Not only did the singles get lots of air-play (particularly in Toronto – which is where our closest rock stations were), but the video for “Subdivisions” was a classic, fitting the lyrics of being the outsider trying to fit in – “be cool or be cast out“. The video was filmed in various areas of Toronto (Scarborough), so it’s interesting to see for that aspect as well.
Signals remains one of my Top 3 Rush albums, with the other 2 being Permanent Waves and Moving Pictures – that period where the band sized things down from the lengthy epics to more strong shorter songs, easily accessible for many who might have shied away before. Rush was at their peak with Signals – selling out 3 nights at Maple Leaf Gardens. The album charted at #1 in Canada (their 2nd in a row), #3 in the UK (their 3rd #3), #19 in Sweden, and #10 in the US, while “New World Man” would become the band’s biggest single in the US, and “Subdivisions” would become a mainstay in the band’s live show thereafter (As far as I know…was it ever out of the live set?) Again, another interesting and iconic cover design by Canadian Hugh Syme.
And all of this brings me to the 40th anniversary release of Signals – particularly the box set, coming out in April. ( The re-issue will be available in three versions – Super Deluxe Edition, one-LP Picture Disc Edition, and Dolby Atmos Digital Edition). Upon seeing what’s coming (and what’s been on previous Rush box’s), I am pretty torn about this one, somewhat disappointed. There is the LP, 4 singles, CD (2015 remaster), a blue-ray disc, a hard cover book, poster, new artwork, prints, etc… You can check out the full details here > https://www.rush.com/signals-40th-anniversary-release/
What this Signals box doesn’t have, however – is anything new to listen to, ie – a live recording from the era, And that is a big drawback for me. Retailing at $229 US (!) – and No live show or rare live tracks … !? Hard to believe, but I guess possible, that maybe something of top quality just doesn’t exist!? (Maybe a bigger Rush collector can clarify?) I love the artwork (and keen to see all the new art from Hugh Syme), as well as the 40 page book, and all, but ….for me – I like to get something (new to me) to listen to. Maybe I’ll just eventually end up getting the new picture-disc version of Signals.