Rush - Roll The Bones
Early on, it would appear the 1990's would offer a bit of a fresh platform for Rush, along with a fresh set of ideas perhaps resulting in a return to form. Depending on who you ask, Geddy, Alex and Neil were either still happening or yesterday's news. But if numbers mean anything, then Roll The Bones and it's #3 US charting position, along with it's now-platinum status and cooresponding singles, certainly seemed to support the claim that Rush were still vital heading into their 3rd decade of existence. Much like Presto before it, a quiet and subdued production job seems to gloss over what is otherwise a rougher, more rock-based Rush.
"Dreamline" has maintained it's popularity throughout the years, one of the best tracks the band had penned in quite some time and a fan favorite live. Neil's ability to wrap his head around a story and tell it via song lyrics is a big reason why the band continued to stay afloat and, despite the ideas of many a critic and naysayer, prosper along the way. His percussion work never needs mention after the obligatory "this guy is damn good, maybe the best rock has to offer", and there isn't an album in their catalog where this isn't somehow brought to your attention. The other singles on the album don't hold up quite as well today, but "Bravado" is easily relatable, heartfelt and patient, an attribute obtained through practice and experience. "Ghost of A Chance" maintains distinction for being perhaps the only definable "love song" Rush ever concocted. They've noted in interviews their avoidance of such trappings of songwriting, but here they manage to bring the romance in a tasteful and elegant fashion. Last of the singles was the title track and it is a most excellent track, up until the unfortunate decision to include an extended session of...rapping. It still surprises me to think it today, but the band decided to (thankfully) briefly tread the waters of the growing popularity of hip-hop. And as cringe-worthy as it is, it still fits in the context of the song where a guitar solo also would have been fine, and easier to digest. Elsewhere on the record, "Where's My Thing?" brings back the instrumental side of Rush and earned the band a grammy nod in the process. A few other decent songs feel like filler around more noteworthy material, and "You Bet Your Life" starts off a little awkward before ending in climatic fashion.
Roll The Bones may not have brought many fans back from where Moving Pictures left them hanging, but it certainly galvanized the new direction Rush were heading in. The synths would always have a place in their sound, but now it was quite evident the band would exist in the framework of guitars, drums and vocals first and foremost. This was another big step towards a couple of outstanding and criminally overlooked records yet to come...
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