The dotage of a dotard
Rush - Roll The Bones (1991)
- Dreamline - The sound of a car passing by on a wet road welcomes a clockwork guitar lead that drives a soft verse. This breaks into a punchy chorus 1 with synth accents. Another verse and chorus 1 leads into a gentler chorus 2. A brief bridge leads back into chorus 1, then a soaring guitar solo. This returns to chorus 2, then chorus 1 and a quick ending. An excellent song which became a latter-era concert staple for good reason. 9/10.
- Bravado - A bright melodic guitar lead is accompanied by an upbeat groove. This gives way to a calm bass-driven verse that builds and changes slightly to become the chorus. This eventually breaks into a great guitar solo and bridge before returning for a few rounds of the chorus and an extended instrumental outro. A good song, though it feels a bit samey throughout. 7/10.
- Roll The Bones - A quick percussive intro breaks into a bass riff with guitar and synth tradeoffs, leading into a catchy verse. Synth organ announces a peppier pre-chorus, which eventually gives way to a sublime acoustic chorus with interesting vocal harmonies. Another round of verse through chorus and we get an epic but brief guitar solo. This gives way to the much-maligned “rap” section, voiced by a downtuned Geddy, which has a brief organ break in the middle. (I actually don’t mind this part, aside from some silly lyrics.) This returns to the pre-chorus and the excellent chorus before fading away. This song has a couple of weaker elements, but most of it is brilliant. On balance I’d round it up to a 9/10.
- Face Up - Ringing guitar and drum fireworks break into a bouncy verse and pre-chorus. This leads into a decent chorus with some questionable vocal effects. Another round of verse through chorus, then things slow down for a dreamy bridge. This breaks into an energetic guitar solo before returning to the chorus, then a mash-up of the pre-chorus and the chorus before a quick synth denouement. Good stuff, but not great. 7/10.
- Where’s My Thing? - A funky guitar riff breaks into a full band “verse”, which leads into a soaring instrumental chorus. Another “verse” and “chorus”, then we get a funky off-rhythm bridge followed by a calmer interlude with distant guitar. A variant “verse” leads to a quick rhythmic breakdown, then an up-modulated “chorus”. A reprise of the bridge cuts to a quick ending. A strong instrumental track, 7/10.
- The Big Wheel - An epic synth and guitar intro builds into a bright rock riff. This leads into a catchy verse and a brief pre-chorus. Another verse and pre-chorus, then we break into a big melodious chorus. Another couple rounds of verse and pre-chorus, then we return to the chorus. This gives way to a multi-part interlude with guitar swells and “oh-ohs” that leads into an uptempo bridge before returning to the great chorus with some additional vocal harmonies. Some guitar noodling and vocal riffing fade out to end the track. Great stuff, 8/10.
- Heresy - A military beat builds into a melodic guitar lead. This flows into a pleasant verse and a so-so pre-chorus. Another verse with more vocal harmonies leads back into the pre-chorus and an OK chorus. Another verse and pre-chorus, then a brief interlude prefaces a return to the chorus. This gives way to an extended outro based on the pre-chorus before a reprise of the military beat closes things down. Some nice parts here, but there are enough weaknesses to round this down to a 6/10.
- Ghost Of A Chance - A twangy riff leads into a bouncy verse. The riff returns for a more intense pre-chorus before falling back into a surprisingly calm and appealing chorus with guitar accents. Another round of verse through chorus, then we get a great guitar solo with electric piano accompaniment. This leads into an extended outro with chorus vocal riffing and guitar fills that slowly fades away. A strong song with some great parts, a robust 7/10.
- Neurotica - A guitar and synth groove supports a somewhat awkward verse. The heaviness picks up for a decent pre-chorus before breaking into a catchy chorus with some odd “oh-ohs”. Another round of verse through chorus, then a brief techno-ish interlude leads into a strong bridge and a great guitar solo. This folds back into the chorus before a reprise of the techno effects carries us out. Good song with a few weaknesses, 7/10.
- You Bet Your Life - A drum fill intro breaks into a bright guitar lead. This gives way to an OK verse before cutting into a bizarre and somewhat icky chorus 1. Another verse and chorus 1, then we get an odd chorus 2 that evokes memories of Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start The Fire”. Another round of verse and choruses flows into a final guitar solo with some vocal riffing that fades into the distance. A very mixed bag, but the music is probably good enough to round this up to a 6/10.
Rush enters the 90s with a somewhat uneven effort, featuring a few great tracks, a lot of good songs, and a couple of weaker ones.
Alex Lifeson wanted to experiment with some funk guitar sounds on this album, which actually integrated pretty well into the band’s sound. More polarizing was the band’s decision to dip their toes into some rap stylings on the title track, but this was a one-off thing that didn’t really bother me. In concert this part was accompanied by a video with a skeletal character delivering the rap, which made the whole thing funny in a good way.
This album and Presto were both produced by Rupert Hine, so they share some similarity in sound. But Rush was about to change things up again, including dipping their toes into yet another style that was popular in the 90s...
(Rush discography post >)