I just listened to the new Signals 5.1 mix last night and felt compelled to write this review. I read a lot of people complaining about the 5.1 mix.
Those of you that are familar with the original stereo mix of Signals will know that it was heavier on keyboards and atmospherics than Moving Pictures. Rush made these mixing choices back the early 80's when it was probably thought that the more keyboards, the more modern and contemporary you sounded. But, buried underneath the weight of those 80's keyboards and reverb was a rock album trying to get out - and some fantastic guitar work by Alex Lifeson - maybe his most inventive.
Almost 30 years later, Rush has boldly decided to use the 5.1 mix as an opportunity to reapproach the album. The keys (for the most part) are mixed way back. Alex's guitar (rythym and lead parts) are mixed up. Different vocal takes have been used. Reverb has been removed from some drum parts.
Some Rush purists have balked at these changes, but I must say I was blown away. The Analog Kid now rocks harder than ever. Alex's solo is jaw droppingly good. It's the same solo as before, but now you can hear every string pick...every bend. Chemistry is revelatory. With the the rhthym guitar unburied and some new vocal takes used, it's like a new song. Digital Man now rocks harder. New World Man sounds huge. The drums in losing it are now drier, almost jazz-like. Countdown sounds amazing with helicopters and NASA sounds swirling around you.
In total, the album now sounds more rock and guitar-driven, less synthy, and closer in tone to Moving Pictures. The only quibble I have is that in some cases, Geddy's bass parts have been mixed a little low for my liking.
Bravo to Alex and Rush for taking some agressives chances with this mix, unburying the rock album that was Signals and essentially reinventing this album for the new millenium.