Continuing forward with a bevy of Music Milestone toasts, we have arrived at the 25th Anniversary of Rush’s 14th album “Roll The Bones”. I’ll give you a moment to shake your head in disbelief about that realization. The album was one that continued the musical transitions that had begun with the previous album “Presto” and these changes found Rush music being a lot more accepted on the radio airwaves. Yeah we might have heard the classics of the earlier years on WNEW and WPLJ etcetera, but with “Roll The Bones” you were going to also hear them on the more commercially driven radio stations. I was completely fine with this if it could somehow generate a larger interest in the band for these new fans. As always this is but a toast and less deep analysis since the numbers are well documented on Wikipedia. The reflections remain personal about the work and how it affected me as a listener at the time.
Now I clearly recall that my friend Trig had given me my first listen to “Presto” but since I was dealing with a local radio personality at the time of “Roll The Bones” release I had access to this one for a few weeks before most of my friends did which was pretty cool since back then it was a lot harder to be “that guy” in 1991. For the most part I had been enjoying the new, more commercial vibe to Rush tunes since the melodies were still very strong and with “RTB” every track seemed to fit seamlessly into the next one on the CD. Yes, I had moved past vinyl by this point in my music purchasing and everything was going to be on a CD for me from now on. I wasn’t even buying cassette tapes anymore but I would still purchase the blanks because one needed to have their CD’s in their Walkman’s. I wouldn’t have the CD playing one of those for a few years as I didn’t like its price point. “Roll The Bones” would be the album that gave us the first ever and fortunately only Rush rap which would take place during the tail end of the title track. I remembered that a few of my diehard friends wanted to jump into the Narrows based on this but of course it was all talk. Below is the original album track listing so review that and let’s talk about some of the favorites.
3. Roll The Bones
4. Face Up
5. Where’s My Thing
6. Big Wheel
8. Ghost Of A Chance
10. You Bet Your Life
My most favored track is the first one in “Dreamline” which for some reason I always referred to as “Dreamtime” despite this. For me this track propelled the listener forward and I just loved everything about the way Neil was playing even though his style was much simpler and straightforward than in the years past. Next for me was the instrumental “Where’s My Thing” and I think it was the way that the guitar riff hit me that found this being so high on my list. Of course “Roll The Bones” was enjoyed but I admit that the Rap portion was not all that much enjoyed until a number of years later. It was far from what Rap actually was at the time and instead was Rush just being clever with their skills. As I listened to the album again after a number of years not doing so in full, I was coming to realize just how much I enjoyed on it than I originally thought. The lyrics are catchy and easy enough to remember which would make the concert participation all the more dynamic in the audience sense and that wasn’t going to hurt. Songs like “Bravado” and “Big Wheel” and “Ghost Of A Chance” all managed to hit me in one way or another based on the strong lyrics by Peart who was showing that no matter the musical shift, the lyrical skills were still riding high. Of these three I think I leaned to “Bravado” the most. You can let me know what your favorites were in the comments section once we’re all done.
I didn’t see Rush for the tour for this album and I don’t recall why that was the case. I do know that bands like Candlebox, Primus, Eric Johnson, Vinnie Moore and even Mr. Big served as the opening act on these days and all of them would have been interesting to see in concert. Did you happen to catch this tour? Alright, its time for me to press repeat in Spotify and run through this now classic album one more time before getting on with my day. Congrats on the latest Music Milestone in your career to Geddy, Alex and Neil. It’s fantastic to have this happening with your now being a part of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for a few years. Readers that recall this album with fondness or even have some critique about it are welcome to add topical views in the comments section. I’d love to hear them.