Item Details

Making modern music: Rush, Signals and the limits of creative transgression

Issue: Vol 11 No. 3 (2018)

Journal: Popular Music History

Subject Areas: Popular Music

DOI: 10.1558/pomh.36832


Released in September 1982, the album Signals by Canadian band Rush marked a dramatic musical shift for the band away from the hard rock and progressive rock styles that had earned them success during the 1970s to the pop styles of the early 1980s. Signals took fans and music critics by surprise at the time of its release and was also responsible in part for Rush’s decision to part company with long-term producer Terry Brown given his apparent ambivalence about the new musical direction suggested by the album. This article offers a critical reappraisal of Signals and its place in Rush’s musical legacy. Thus, it is argued, in an era when the heavy and progressive rock styles on which Rush had based much of their musical output up to that point became temporarily unfashionable, Signals provided Rush with a renewed level of artistic currency as a band able to re-invent itself in a way that was relatively unique among heavy and progressive rock artists at the time.

Author: Andy Bennett

View Original Web Page

References :

Banasiewicz, Bill. 1988. Rush—Visions: The Official Biography. London: Omnibus Press.

Barton, Geoff. 1984. ‘The Pressure Principle’. Kerrang! 67, 3-16 May: 22–27.

Bennett, Andy. 2009. ‘“Heritage Rock”: Rock Music, Re-presentation and Heritage Discourse’. Poetics: Journal of Empirical Research on Culture, Media and the Arts 37/5-6: 474–89.

Bowman, Durrell S. 2002. ‘“Let Them All Make Their Own Music”: Individualism, Rush, and the Progressive/Hard Rock Alloy, 1976–77’. In Progressive Rock Reconsidered, ed. Kevin Holm-Hudon, 183–218. New York: Routledge.

—2011. ‘More Than They Bargained For’. In Rush and Philosophy: Heart and Mind United, ed. Jim Berti and Durrell Bowman, 169–88. Chicago: Open Court.

Chappell, John. 1994. ‘Alex Lifeson’s Attitude Adjustment’. Guitar (February): 32–88.

Furedi, Frank. 1997. The Culture of Fear: Risk-Taking and the Morality of Low Expectation. London: Cassell.

Gett, Steve. 1982. ‘New World Men: On the Road with Rush’. Kerrang!, 7-20 October: 4–7.

Harrigan, Brian. 1982. Rush. London: Omnibus Press.

Harron, Mary. 1990. ‘McRock: Pop as a Commodity’. In Facing the Music: Essays on Pop, Rock and Culture, 2nd edn, ed. Simon Frith, 173–220. London: Mandarin.

Lena, Jennifer C., and Richard A. Peterson. 2008. ‘Classification as Culture: Types and Trajectories of Music Genres’. American Sociological Review 73/5: 697–718.

Macan, Edward. 1997. Rocking the Classics: English Progressive Rock and the Counterculture. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Makowski, Pete. 1982. ‘Adrenalin Rush: Pete Makowski Finally Delivers the Goods on Rush’. Sounds, 18 December: 24–25, 41.

Martin, Bill. 1998. Listening to the Future: The Time of Progressive Rock. Chicago: Open Court.

Martin, George, with Jeremy Hornsby. 1979. All You Need Is Ears. London: Macmillan.

McCandless, Greg R. 2013. ‘Metal as a Gradual Process: Additive Rhythmic Structures in the Music of Dream Theater’. Music Theory Online: A Journal of the Society for Music Theory 19/2. (accessed 26 August 2016).

McCarthy, James. 2010. Rush: Changing Hemispheres. London: Abstract Sounds Books.

McDonald, Chris. 2009. Rush—Rock Music and the Middle Class: Dreaming in Middletown. Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press.

Mulhern, Tom. 1980. ‘Geddy Lee: Hi-Tech Bassist and Synthesist with Rush’. Guitar Player (June): 53–94.

Peterson, Richard A., and David G. Berger. 1971. ‘Entrepreneurship in Organizations: Evidence from the Popular Music Industry’. Administrative Science Quarterly 16/1: 97–106.

Popoff, Martin. 2004. Contents under Pressure: 30 Years of Rush at Home & Away. Toronto: ECW Press.

Rand, Ayn. 1992 [1938]. Anthem. Signet Edition. London: Penguin Books.

Schmutz, Vaughn. 2005. ‘Retrospective Cultural Consecration in Popular Music’. American Behavioral Scientist 48/11: 1510–23.

Schwartz, Jim. 1980. ‘Alex Lifeson: Rush’s Kinetic Lead Guitarist’. Guitar Player (June): 52–76.

Tolleson, Robin. 1988. ‘Geddy Lee: Bass is Still the Key’. Bass Player Magazine (November). (accessed 4 February 2018).

Waksman, Steve. 2009. This Ain’t the Summer of Love: Conflict and Crossover in Heavy Metal and Punk. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

Wilding, Philip. 2012. ‘A Crazy Inventor, a Sausage Maker and an Irishman Walk into a Bar’. Classic Rock Magazine 172, July: 44–52.