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permanent-waves_coca-colaFrom Rush’s transitional Permanent Waves, “Jacob’s Ladder” is a psychedelic march, carrying up its spiral staircase Neil Peart’s cosmic Coleridge musings.  It thunders across the eastern deserts evoked by its title, a biblical steampunk, all dust and whirlwind and prophetic dreams set against Rush’s tightening musical clockwork.  The song’s three sections flow together, distinct but seamless, no verses or choruses, only a gradual rising heavenward.  Early on Alex Lifeson blasts an economical, freakout solo across a moorish scale, heavy as an elephant swaying across a mountain pass, and from that point forward commands cycling chord changes and arpeggiated stutters, underpinned by a bolero rhythm favored by the band around this time.  Geddy Lee’s bass and keyboard work hits a balance that Rush would capitalize on with Moving Pictures, while Peart’s drumming, as usual, defies adequate description (although “badass” will do), ever shifting, restless and precise.  It is a descendant of their epic “Xanadu” and a forebear of “YYZ,” and while stoner-era Rush was cobwebbing at this point, “Jacob’s Ladder” made a case for the band’s continued long-form potency and its ability to take heavy music to places no one else, not anyone, was going.

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Editor’s note:

And, for your pleasure, a convenient list of other progarchy articles on Rush:

Rush–Snakes and Arrows (2007)–Review by Brad Birzer 

Rush – ABC 1974 – Live – 1974 (released 2015) – Review by Craig Breaden

Rush – A Farewell to Kings – 1977 – Review by Kevin McCormick

Rush – Clockwork Angels Tour (Live) – 2013 – Review by Brad Birzer

Rush – Grace Under Pressure – 1984 – Review by Brad Birzer

Rush – Power Windows – 1985 – Review by Brad Birzer

Rush – R40 “Completist” live concerts box set – 2014 – Review by Brad Birzer

Rush – R40 Live – 2015 – Review by Brad Birzer

Rush – Rush – 1974 – Reviewed by Craig Breaden

Rush – Test For Echo – 1996 – Review by Brad Birzer

Rush – Vapor Trails Remixed – 2013 – Review by Brad Birzer

Clockwork Angels – Concert review by Brad Birzer (2012)

Kevin J. Anderson – Clockwork Angels – The Comic Scripts – 2014 – Review by Brad Birzer

The Art of Rush – Hugh Syme, written by Stephen Humphries – 2015 – Book Review by Brad Birzer

Neil Peart: The Most Endangered Species – Essay by Brad Birzer (discussion of “Natural Science”)

The Saving Grace of Neil Peart – Essay by Brad Birzer

Brad Birzer’s Top 10 Rush Albums