Power Windows. Signals was a pretty huge disappointment after the glory that was those first eight albums. I thought Subdivisions was mopey adolescent whining, and apart from a few high points, I never warmed to the album until just the last few years. Rush was the love of my adolescent life and Signals felt like someone close who decides to "discover" themselves and just becomes silly. GUP felt more serious, and wasn't bad -- I listened to it a lot when it came out -- but it was clear Rush was no longer the Rush that had felt like the most special band in the world to me. By the time PoW came out I was listening almost exclusively to post-punk and the better new wave bands (Wire, Joy Division, Smiths, Cure, Bauhaus and offshoots, etc); I took one look at that cover with the Howard Jones-esque teenager (more Subdivisions-esque mopery?!?) and not only didn't bother buying it but had zero curiosity about how it sounded. When Hold Your Fire came out and I saw the Time Stand Still video, I actually felt pity and scorn for the band I once thought was not only the best band on the planet, but didn't have a close second (they became my favorite band with AFTK and with Hemi they became mythic to me). In the early '90s I met a younger guy who enthusiastically discovered Rush with Presto and RtB and though I was polite and supportive, I thought that he must have the worst taste in music one can have, almost. It wasn't long after that I gave away my Rush discs (I had the ones I liked on vinyl and that was good enough for me) and I hardly gave them any thought for years, except to sometimes wonder if I had only liked them because I discovered them when I was young and supposedly not so bright. I would sometimes wonder if I heard them for the first time as an adult, would I like them at all or would I dismissively think them stupid like most critics I'd ever read. I don't remember what exactly made me return to them but it was around 2006. I think I had bought ATWAS on eBay, thinking that it rocked no matter what they did later, and I should have it in my CD collection, and the seller mistakenly (?) included an extra CD case that had both The Spirit of St. Louis and the Bravado single. The funny thing was that I had recorded the SoSL show on a cheap cassette player when it was first broadcast on Westwood One radio. I fell asleep listening to that show every night for a year I think. I LOVED that show, so to have it show up out of the blue was fantastic. And Bravado surprised me as I didn't think it was bad at all. So, encouraged, I decided to buy their whole catalog off eBay, the cheap way, in lots. I found I loved the old stuff just as much as I did as a kid, warmed to the stuff that had caused the separation (Signals and GUP), and found that with Vapor Trails they not only still kicked major *ss, but were putting together fantastic and interesting compositions (like if a heavy metal band decided to make an album like Talking Heads' Remain in Light). Vapor Trails is still my favorite Rush album since Moving Pictures. S&A was more hit and miss but the musical performances were amazing and the production a whole helluva lot better than VT (I don't disagree with VT's critics re its production). PoW through T4E is still a hard sell for me, but I can at least appreciate the musicianship, and there's the occasional track I like or can at least tolerate. So I returned to Rush with a vengeance and that passion lasted several years, where they were my primary go-to band, except when temporarily supplanted by something like Wire's Change Becomes Us in 2013 or The Church's Further Deeper in 2014, or the 6-month Zeppelin phase which unavoidably comes back every few years like a persistent case of herpes. Outside those pauses, they kind of dominated until about 2018 when a Wire obsession started again, which is still going on (I've been listening to Send Ultimate almost non-stop for the last six months). Nevertheless, when I think if I could only take one album to a desert island, it would be Exit Stage Left, basically the best-of my favorite period (with ATWAS a close second). It will always be such. ESL side 3 is to my ears the best side of music there is anywhere (muddy production aside) and Alex will always be my favorite guitarist.