Rush - Roll the Bones
(2 reader votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

by Ben Perry

Rush - Roll the Bones

Band Name: Rush
Album Name: Roll the Bones
Release Date: September 3, 1991

Band on Record:

Geddy Lee: Bass, Vocals, Synthesizer, Rap on “Roll the Bones”
Alex Lifeson: Acoustic and Electric Guitars, Vocals
Neal Peart: Drums

Track 1: “Dreamline”
I love the bass line and how it moves the song through each of the sections of the song, whether it’s the bass and guitar inter-playing in a calm atmosphere or the full bombastic approach of the band. Geddy Lee’s vocals are also great and make this one of my favorite Rush songs.
Song Rating: 10 out of 10

Track 2: “Bravado”
Another one of my favorite Rush tunes, with another solid rhythm performance from Lee and Peart that makes the song memorable with Lifeson providing a guitar background to flush everything together and bring it into one with the guitar solo. Lee’s vocals are once again right on target for both emotional effect and delivery.
Song Rating: 10 out of 10

Track 3: “Roll the Bones”
Three in a row, another Rush tune that ranks highly on my favorite songs of theirs. This song maintains the driving rhythm section, but adds more guitars into the equation, both electric and, in my opinion, the acoustic backing guitars truly make this track shine. Other neat features include a rap by Geddy Lee!
Song Rating: 12 out of 10

Track 4: “Face Up”
There are a lot of good things on this song such as the keyboard ditties, the start-stop of the music keeps the expectancy up, and the music in general with great vocals makes this another solid track put out on this album.
Song Rating: 10 out of 10

Track 5: “Where’s My Thing? (Pt. 4: Gangster of Boats Trilogy)”
An instrumental track that has an up-beat tempo and feel from the synthesizers, the beginning in particular is my favorite part of the song with that deep bass tone. Other than that, the introduction of brass elements in the synthesizers is interesting, but the song does not peak my interest too much beyond some drum fills.
Song Rating: 8 out of 10

Track 6: “The Big Wheel”
The chorus section has to be my favorite part; the vocals are just so smooth and perfect for the keyboards in the background to accompany the bass and drums. The instruments all sound great on the track, especially when Lifeson rips away with the guitar in an almost blues pattern, but certain parts feel too chaotic with everything hitting you at once.
Song Rating: 9.5 out of 10

Track 7: “Heresy”
This song is decent, not my favorite on the album but the subject content of the fall of the Berlin wall and the guitar sections make it worth a listen. The drumming is also pretty good and another highlight from the intro of a traditional marching drum pattern through the usual drum fills that make Peart such a unique drummer.
Song Rating: 7.5 out of 10

Track 8: “Ghost of a Chance”
Lifeson riffs off some great guitar parts on this song starting from the get-go with a number that sounds like something out of a crime movie and then changes things up, but keeps the same tone from that sections. The slower parts are more “softer” in everything thanks to the synths and intermediate guitar plucking that descends into the solo.
Song Rating: 9.5 out of 10

Track 9: “Neurotica”
I used to like this song a lot, but for some reason that only part that really catches me is the chorus and instrumental breakdown and solo. Everything else is not bad, but it did not catch me the way the rest of the album grabbed me.
Song Rating: 8 out of 10

Track 10: “You Bet Your Life”
An upbeat ending to the album, and once again the music, vocals, and overall tempo all come together for a great track. A return to the first few songs that grabbed me so fast when I first listened to this album, the added effects to the vocals are rather cool when juxtaposed to the regular singing of Lee, and the guitar tone is exceptional.
Song Rating: 9.5 out of 10

Overall Review:
This album, in my eyes, returns Rush to their original sound and ranks up there with a lot of the great first albums this band released. The guitar and bass are more forward in the music than the 80’s releases that relied more on keyboards and other effects. The bass in particularly provides a strong backbone for the music, and that’s my favorite part of the music. The rumbling lines Geddy Lee plucks off works perfectly with his vocal style, creating a memorable line that is only impacted and enhanced by every other aspect of the music, from the guitars to the drums. The album starts off exceptionally strong, fades out a bit in the middle tracks, but then comes back to finish strong once again providing a lot of the elements that make Rush such a formidable and everlasting band.

The album bears a strong message of youth and taking gambles in life in order to enjoy it while it lasts, however there are consequences for the actions that are taken. The title of the album and the title track specifically point to the gambling aspect as “rolling the bones” is a term associated with dice and the throwing of them during a game such as craps. The youthful aspect is brought into the mix from the first song “Dreamline” in which the band laments how when they were young they used to travel the Earth before realizing that the feeling of being immortal that comes with youth only lasts a limited time. That feeling of immortality allows for gambles to be made as “The Big Wheel” points out “I was only a kid…take no chances on a paradise delayed” so gamble and make the paradise happen now as in the song he is “Going for broke, going for another chance” at the life he wants to live, however the feeling is that things will only get worse as the next few lines down show the wheel landing on a “twist of faith.” Being careful in the chances you take is compounded in references to Icarus in “Bravado” with the warning of “burning our wings/Flying too close to the sun” but with the notion that although everything is lost, the cost of what is paid will not be counted as if to say the thrill of the gamble is worth the consequences.

The many references to gambling and taking chances makes the seem like a plausible reason as “Roll the Bones” implores you to just “roll the bones” otherwise there will be a lack of events to happen and make your life worth living. “Face Up” is another song referencing card games with the need to turn the card up (probably during a blackjack game) and therefore reap the rewards of winning, but there is the risk of losing and that is the decision to make to turn it “face up” or to “turn that wild card down.”

Now, why would you want to risk losing everything, well with the recent collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the noticeable differences between Western and Eastern culture exposed there is a wonder at how the lives of those in the Eastern Bloc were unable to live their lives as good as those in the West. “Heresy” brings these issues to light saying, “Who can give them back their lives? And all those precious wasted years” meaning that those who remained behind the wall were unwilling, or unable to take the chance and leave making a gamble that would have changed their lives for the better.

Just as Rush always manages to change their style with the changes that occur in the music industry, taking a gamble, so should those in life take gambles in order to enhance their life experience. The change Rush made and continues to make in their sound has paid off and the transitions are blatantly clear. This album continues more elements of their original sound than the 80’s albums that used the keyboards and synths of the time in a transition towards the grunge movement that was sweeping the country at the time of this release.
Overall Album Rating: 9.5 out of 10



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