Alex Lifeson Recalls Using The Police’s Approach To Reggae In Rush’s ‘Vital Signs’

Rush guitarist Alex Lifeson gave an interview to Music Radar in which he recalled how Rush used The Police’s approach to reggae in their song ‘Vital Signs.’

Rush began to achieve commercial success in the 1970s with the follow-ups to their self-titled debut album. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, the band’s rise in prominence continued with successful releases which received positive reception in both Canada and the US, including 1981’s album ‘Moving Pictures.’

Following its release on February 12, 1981, ‘Moving Pictures’ received positive reactions and critical acclaim. The album then became an instant commercial success and Rush’s best-selling album in the US. The song ‘Vital Signs’ also appeared in this album, and it was heavily influenced by reggae, progressive electronica, and reminded rock fans of The Police’s sound.

In an interview with Music Radar, Alex Lifeson talked about the songs featured in ‘Moving Pictures.’ While talking about ‘Vital Signs,’ Alex Lifeson said they decided to put some reggae vibes into the song while recording it and noted that ‘Vital Signs’ is quite different from the rest of the songs that appear in the album.

Following that, Lifeson said Neil Peart and Geddy Lee likes reggae more than he does. However, he said that he liked Peter Tosh, Bob Marley, and The Police’s sound. According to Lifeson, they approached reggae the same way with The Police, in a ‘more Anglo’ way.

Here is what Alex Lifeson said about ‘Vital Signs’ during the interview:

“We were into the idea of putting some of that reggae feel into this song, but with a little more ‘oomph’ to it. Dynamically, it was pretty different from the rest of the record, but I think that’s part of the allure of the album: None of the songs sound or feel the same. There’s a lot of diversity. Part of me thinks we were working on the song in the studio as if we started recording the album and we didn’t have ‘Vital Signs’ totally finished. I believe that was the case.

Neil was a keener listener of reggae than perhaps Geddy was, and I was probably the least. I enjoyed it. I liked Peter Tosh and Bob Marley, I liked what The Police were doing. We were coming at reggae in a more Anglo way, which is how The Police approached it, too. It’s like the way English bands like The Yardbirds and Led Zeppelin worked the blues.

As an album closer, lyrically it spoke well. It was a nice sentiment to end the record. The way it fades, it was quite dramatic. ‘The Camera Eye’ almost ended ‘Moving Pictures,’ but we finally decided on ‘Vital Signs.’ It was all about being aware of your surroundings and rising to your highest level. That said something important to us.”

You can listen to Rush’s ‘Vital Signs’ below.