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ROLL THE BONES

Rush

 

Heavy Prog

3.06 | 619 ratings

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Raff
Prog Reviewer
3 stars Though I gave this album the same rating as "Test for Echo", "Roll the Bones" would actually deserve at least half a star more - even though it's not as strong as its predecessor, the underrated "Presto", and especially as its follow-up, the magnificent "Counterparts". Some have called it a concept album, which is not strictly true, though it clearly revolves around the idea of life as a game of chance, as conveyed by the title-track's lyrics : " Why does it happen?/Because it happens/Roll the bones". In a way, it all feels a bit disturbing, as if it were a sort of premonition of the double tragedy that was to strike Neil Peart a few years later. As a matter of fact, the mood of the album is noticeably darker than the rest of the band's production of the same period.

As it often happens with Rush, the opener "Dreamline" is one of the strongest tracks on the album and one of the mainstays of their live shows, both in the '90s and in more recent years. Heavy riffing from Lifeson and Geddy's expressive singing enhance Peart's poignant lyrics about people striving to change the circumstances of their lives. The following song, the slower-paced "Bravado", has also become a concert classic and proves once more what a strong vocalist Geddy has become over time. The title-track is one of the band's most controversial offerings because of the rap section in its midst. However, I tend to disagree with its detractors, as I think the rap interlude doesn't really impair the song's overall structure, powered by Geddy's inimitable bass lines.

Unfortunately, this opening triple-whammy is not followed up by equally memorable songs. The instrumental "Where's My Thing? (part 4 of a trilogy that never materialised) is obviously a good example of the trio's musicianship, though not on a par with their other monumental achievements. However, the highlight of the remaining section is the wistful "Ghost of a Chance", which starts rather briskly and then slows down with a beautiful, deceptively mellow chorus: "I believe there's a ghost of a chance/We can find someone to love/And make it last." Not very optimistic, perhaps, but quite true.

I would very probably not recommend "Roll the Bones" as a first-ever listen for somebody who's not familiar with Rush. Nevertheless, it is solid offering from a great band, always keen on reinventing itself and never afraid to experiment with other genres. Non-essential perhaps, but hardly disposable.

Raff | 3/5 |

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