Roll the Bones Review

By Rachel Brown

219Progressive rock has always been an acquired taste. Most of the tunes in this sub-genre could more appropriately be dubbed instrumental grooves than songs, peppered with a more classical vibe than the standard blues formula allows. However, while most progressive bands have seen only a slight amount commercial success in their lifetimes, there is one band that has managed to marry both the progressive and popular, gaining a plethora of fans from both sides of the tracks.

There could be no greater authority on the genre of rock n’ roll and all its characteristics than Rush, arguably the greatest power-trio in rock history. The band has experimented with nearly every sound, from their humble beginnings as a standard rhythm and blues outfit to their most recent album that drifts into the realm of metal on more than one occasion. They even attempted a brief rap on the title track of their 1991 album Roll the Bones.
Though their sound had evolved beyond the experimental concept albums of the 70’s, Rush maintained a solid, progressive feel in their music while broadening their scope enough to produce popular radio hits like “The Spirit of Radio” and “Tom Sawyer” that carried them through the 1980’s. By the time Roll the Bones came on the scene, Rush wasn’t just for nerds. They had broken through the commercial barrier against all odds, and their first 90’s release is a perfect example of just such a breakthrough.

Roll the Bones is a collection of songs that touch on some of the deepest questions humanity dares to ask, including those of destiny, eternity, and mortality. It seems only appropriate then that the album should open with “Dreamline” and fade into “Bravado”. These songs are a spectacular example of Neil Peart’s superior lyrical dexterity; in fact, it is interesting to note that as Rush’s popularity grew, so did the depth of their content, contrary to the pattern set by many other prog bands who were believed to have “sold out” in later years.

Along with hits like “Ghost of a Chance” and “Heresy”, the group manages to churn out another iconic instrumental piece in traditional Rush fashion. “Where’s My Thing” is upbeat and aurally stimulating, indicative of a progressive history that preserves their musical integrity, even among sophisticated rock snobs.

And so, from beginning to end Roll the Bones is nothing short of great fun for all listeners, supplying a depth and complexity in keeping with Rush’s legacy while also yielding a contemporary feel that makes it a perfect transition from the synthetic 80’s to the more modern sounds of the 90’s. If you’re any kind of Rush fan and haven’t explored their later work, you don’t want to miss this album.