Is Signals Getting a Reprise in Clockwork Angels Tour?
UPDATE: Since this piece was posted, in April, Rush has launched it’s Clockwork Angels tour and it’s not bringing back Signals, as speculated. The 2012 tour includes two songs from Signals, “Subdivisions” and “The Analog Kid.” That’s it, although it does have a six-piece string ensemble touring with it: four violins and two cellos, used mostly for the Clockwork Angels pieces.
The original post:
The Dalmation is back, and he’s brought his fire hydrant with him.
When Rush hits the road this fall for its Clockwork Angels tour, the tour book apparently will feature everyone’s favorite Dalmation and a stenciled version of his fire hydrant, suggesting that Alex, Geddy, and Neil are considering doing for Signals what they did for Moving Pictures during the Time Machine tour: play the album in its entirety. That would make sense because, as Ed at Rush is a Band reminds us, this will be the 30th anniversary of the album, just as the Time Machine tour marked the 30th anniversary of Moving Pictures.
Without a doubt, Signals, released in 1982, is an album that warrants a reintroduction, given the mixed views listeners have of it. Having it incorporated into the Clockwork Angels tour would focus attention on what the band was trying to do, and that’s something worth doing.
With “Subdivisions” and “New World Man,” the album has two of Rush’s most radio-friendly songs. With “Digital Man,” it telegraphs the sound the band would be going for in the mid- and late-1980s. With “The Weapon,” it provides the second of what would become a four-part series on fear, and it contains “Countdown,” with its cinematic account of the Columbia launch. “Chemistry” reminds us that real communication goes deeper than spoken language, and in “Analog Kid” we see someone who might just go on to become Tom Sawyer. And with “Losing It” we have Ben Mink’s evocative violin playing, giving us an early taste of the collaborative work between him and Geddy.
Here’s my thumbnail take on each of the eight tracks on the album:
1. Subdivisions: The suburbs lack oxygen for those who think differently
2. Analog Kid: It’s love, adventure, and untying the apron strings for this teenager
3. Chemistry: Real communication goes deeper than spoken language
4. Digital Man: Awareness starts to haunt this mover and shaker
5. The Weapon: Beware of leaders who exercise control by stoking fear
6. New World Man: Enlightened and powerful but still “human, all-too human”
7. Losing It: Here’s what the twilight years of the gifted look like
8. Countdown: Technological achievement in space: it’s just awesome
A little numerology in Clockwork Angels
Art for the Clockwork Angels album, based on a draft that’s circulating, depicts a clock with alchemical symbols over a red background. The symbols are in the 9:12 (or 21:12 in military time) position. The date 9/12 is also Neil Peart’s birthday, as readers have said at Rush is a Band.
Neil Peart got inspiration for his lyrics from a variety of authors, including Voltaire, Cormac McCarthy, Michael Ondaatje, Joseph Conrad, and Daphne Du Maurier, a Prog Rock magazine piece says.
The magazine also says Neil became fascinated with ancient traditions:
“I learned about an entire set of runic hieroglyphs for elements and processes. As the lyrical ‘chapters’ came together, I chose one symbol to represent each of them.”
Those symbols are the ones on the album cover’s clock face.
The magazine also says that for “The Wreckers,” Geddy and Alex swapped instruments during the writing sessions.
“Headlong Flight” is the album’s next single to be released (after “Caravan” and “BU2B”), with a scheduled release date of April 19. It’s a 7.5-minute piece that radio people who’ve head it describe as “By-Tor”-like but with an updated sound. You can get more on the piece in this earlier “Headlong Flight” post. Rush is a Band reader DJ_Carter describes the piece in its entirety here.
Anticipated release date for the album is June 12. Order on Amazon.
—Rob Freedman, Rush Vault