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Rush Roll the Bones album cover
3.11 | 978 ratings | 67 reviews | 9% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 1991

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Dreamline (4:37)
2. Bravado (4:35)
3. Roll the Bones (5:30)
4. Face Up (3:53)
5. Where's My Thing (Part IV of the "Gangster of Boats Trilogy") (3:49)
6. The Big Wheel (5:12)
7. Heresy (5:25)
8. Ghost of a Chance (5:18)
9. Neurotica (4:39)
10. You Bet Your Life (4:59)

Total Time 47:57

Line-up / Musicians

- Alex Lifeson / electrixc & acoustic guitars, backing vocals
- Geddy Lee / basses, synthesizers, lead vocals
- Neil Peart / drums, cymbals

- Rupert Hine / keyboards, backing vocals, co-arranger & co-producer

Releases information

Artwork: Hugh Syme with Andrew MacNaughtan (portraits)

LP Atlantic ‎- R1 83737 (2015, Canada) Remastered by Sean Magee w/ Hi Res 24-bit Digital album

CD Anthem Records ‎- ANK-1064 (1991, Canada)
CD Anthem Records ‎- ANMD-1064 (2004, Canada) Remastered by Adam Ayan

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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RUSH Roll the Bones ratings distribution

(978 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(9%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(28%)
Good, but non-essential (42%)
Collectors/fans only (18%)
Poor. Only for completionists (4%)

RUSH Roll the Bones reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by chessman
5 stars Most Rush albums come in pairs, I find. Perm Waves and Moving Pictures. Power Windows and Hold Your Fire. Presto and this one! Hard to choose between Presto and this. The production is probably better here. The sound is crisper and louder. Musically this is just as faultless. the first three tracks are, again, all classics. Where's My Thing is one of the famous Rush instrumentals. Like YYZ but better. A superb track. The Big Wheel reminds me, in a way, of SuperConductor, from the previous album. Fine stuff! Neurotica is compelling, and Bet Your Life is a good example of Geddy's vocal talents. This is the sixth entry in the greatest ever Rush album stakes, as far as I am concerned. Buy it! ( The t-shirt, which I bought, has lasted me all these years!)
Review by daveconn
3 stars Listening to THE ALAN PARSONS PROJECT the other day, it occurred to me just how few prog rock concept albums are conceptually strong (I usually find APP wanting in that regard). On the other side of the coin, there's RUSH: arguably the most accomplished linear storytellers in the genre. "Roll The Bones" is one of their tightest tales, an allegory for life (and the need to take chances) rendered through the imagery of gambling. NEIL PEART's lyrics clearly have the final say, starting the journey off at "Dreamline", where a young man and woman head off to Las Vegas to find a better life, and closing with the realization that when all is said and done "You Bet Your Life". In between, choices are made and repercussions suffered, from the intoxicating immersion into the big game on ""Roll The Bones"" to the realization on "Ghost of a Chance" that the odds of finding love are the only odds that make sense (or something like that). The only track to slip outside the story is "Heresy", ostensibly written for the Eastern European countries (like Bosnia) which have endured so much in recent years. Otherwise, the story here gets an A-plus in my book; "We will pay the price / But we will not count the cost" (from "Bravado"), "I was lined up for glory, but the tickets sold out in advance" (from "The Big Wheel"), and the list goes on. Brilliant stuff. Musically, eh, er (imagine me wriggling uncomfortably in my chair), "Roll The Bones" rocks, even as it rolls a little too familiar from song to song. The first four tracks are outstanding, then things begin to sag with the instrumental "Where's My Thing?", which simply sounds like one of the less interesting songs on here minus the lyrics. There was a time when an instrumental from RUSH was an occasion to roll out the red carpet, but those days appear gone.

When RUSH returns from their lyrical holiday, some of the energy seems drained, as if the previous instrumental revealed just how formulaic this music sounds. It's a good formula, don't get me wrong. Still, if they introduced a few more quiet or restrained sections (e.g., casting "The Big Wheel" as an acoustic track instead), then it would lend more impact to their natural intensity. I know, there's hardly much of a difference in quality between this effort and "Presto", and songs like "Dreamline", "Roll The Bones" and "Ghost of a Chance" are outstanding, so you may embrace this as another masterpiece (I do prefer this over many of their '80s albums). And yet, I can't help but wish RUSH took a few more chances with Roll With Bones.

Review by Menswear
3 stars Despite what a lot of proggers says, this album is far, far from the hunk of doggy doo they describe. This album actually changed my life. It was my introduction to Rush. If it gave me the craving for more, it surely deserves a little attention. I had no idea what this band was. I didn't started up with the richer period of Rush. I started up with the ear-candy. Good. I'm glad. First, the songs never got catchier. I mean it, almost every song is a candy for your ears. It's easy to listen to, and the musical performances are high as kites. It's Rush for a light day. There's never been as much rythm and finger snapping material in ANY Rush album after that. You're warned. Take this before Presto or Counterparts. Dreamline, Bravado and Roll the Bones are well crafted and are great for daily steering wheel finger tapping. I dare you not to like these three. That would be lack of honesty. The Big Wheel and Ghost of a Chance are quite appealing too. The rest is still catchy as usual, but honestly a tad easy. Not the most challenging record, but a collection of great dance songs...hey, where did I heard that?
Review by Eetu Pellonpaa
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This album is bit unbalanced, but the quality is moving again to a better direction. There's a bigger variety in the structures of the songs, and the melodies and the sounds create nice moods. I would mention the tracks "Bravado", which is a beautiful ballad, and "Where's My Thing", which is an instrumental song getting more sequels on the forthcoming albums. A good album but not essential except to fans.
Review by Cygnus X-2
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Rush's masterpiece of the 90's. In 1991, Rush had been together for 17 years, and they had not looked back since. Going from Zeppelin clones, to Progressive Masters, to Synth Rock geniouses. This album is a real gem, there are no really bad tracks on it. It opens and closes with style and substance. Neil, Geddy, and Alex are once again the masters of their domain, playing with the same finesse that they did in 1974.

The album opens with style in Dreamline. A very interesting guitar line from Alex and great bass and keyboard work from from Geddy. This is one of the highlight tracks of the album. As is the next gem, Bravado. Another great guitar line from Alex, and some great lyrics by Peart, they once again get this track down with professional precision and skill. Another track to mention is the title track, with a very interesting rap section (by Peart none the less!). Some great playing by Geddy and Alex and Neil on this one as well. The instrumental on the album is in a class of its own. Although not as good as La Villa Strangiato or YYZ, this song really fits with the context of the album, with intricate playing by all members.

Overall, this is an album that no one should be without. I would recommend it to someone who wants to get into Rush in the 90's. A very great job from a very great band.

Review by Raff
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
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.

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Rush is one of not many bands who has the ability to blend attractive, accessible and a bit complex arrangements with excellent lyrics, written by Neil Peart who is also playing the drums. The band has traditionally had a chunky, heavy rhythms and screaming vocals delivered by vocalist/bassist Geddy Lee. But since "Signals" and "Grace Under Pressure" he calmed down his voice so that it sounds softer than early albums. On top of music, what I like about Rush is that their passion to keep ahead with their music direction despite significant demand from its fans base to say course with what they did in the past with masterpiece like "2112", "Moving Pictures" "A Farewell to Kings" etc.

"Roll The Bones" is an interesting album where - I just realized really - that Rupert Hine produced the album altogether with Rush. No wonder, the music of this album has strong influence from Rupert Hine even though the band still maintains its standing as heavier side of prog music. I knew Rupert Hine sometime in early 80s where he released his dolo album and his music blended the new wave style as well as Peter Gabriel's music. It was an interesting album and later in the 90s I also bought his album and he still delivered good music. In this album he also plays some keyboards as well as backing style. His influence can directly be seen from each track in this album. "Dreamline" combines the dynamic bass lines and dazzling drum work with softer riffs and solo of Alex Lifeson's guitar. The same style is maintained through the next track "Bravado" whereby the music has strong elements of keyboards. The title track "Roll The Bones" has more variations as compared to the preceding two tracks. In this track the band tries to explore another style which seems like a hip-hop in their style and it flows naturally throughout the track.

My best favorite track out of this album is an instrumental piece "Where's My Thing"? It's an excellent composition showing tight bass lines which fill the music dynamically in between drums, keyboards and occasional keyboard punches. What I like about this track is that the band seems to bury down their pass success through amazing instrumental like "Yyz" or "La Villa Strangiato" into modern sound with tight composition.

Through this album Rush intends to convey a message to its fans base their music has evolved into modern sound using keyboards to enrich the textures and softer vocal. Gone are the days when Geddy sung high register notes . Even though this is not best album from the band, but it's a very good one to have. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Review by Melomaniac
3 stars Similar in sound to Presto (Rupert Hine once again at the helm of the project, it almost sounds as though they have kept the exact same sound settings on the recording console/computer) but less creative. Certainly not as bad as some might say, but not as good as others might say.

First track "Dreamline" opens the album with a straight ahead rock groove. Nothing really reminiscent of former glory, but still an honest, catchy song. Great concert track.

"Bravado" sounds like an attempt at recreating "The Pass", but with a U2-ish overall mood to it, which sets it apart. A beautiful song, though I prefer "The Pass". Keep an ear open for Neil's drum parts, as it continually evolves, from a hi-hat - bass drum beat to the amazing final drum part where he shows he can still be creative, even within a slower, more mellow mood.

The love-or-hate title track "Roll The Bones" is a nice groovy rock number, with what probably is one of Rush's most catchy choruses ever. You do what you want with the rap part, I am not ashamed to say I liked it, especially lyric-wise (ever heard any rap songs with words like "parallax, gluteus max, almanachs, etc...). I can only imagine Neil Peart in the studio behind the microphone with a baseball cap worn front to back with a giant gold chain around his neck... he must have had a blast !

"Face Up" didn't grab me, it sounds like a left over from Presto (which I love), but leftovers are not leftovers for nothing. A bit uninspired, filler in my opinion.

The instrumental "Where's my Thing ?" is one of the best tracks, if not the best track of the album. It was the first instrumental track since "YYZ", so the guys had a blast and it shows. Some parts remind me of "Leave that Thing Alone", the great instrumental found on Counterparts. Some jazzy feel to them both.

"The Big Wheel" ... hmm... If you've read my review for Presto tracks "Anagram" and "Hand Over Fist", same goes here. Filler, and bad filler.

"Heresy" could have been from "Hold Your Fire", it reminds me alot of "Second Nature", in all it's aspects except the lyrics. Good song.

"Ghost of a Chance" is a strange number, with a somewhat dark rock theme and the chorus of a ballad. Weird mix, but it works. Alex's guitar work I like a lot in this song.

The last two tracks, "Neurotica" and "You Bet your Life" are both fillers with nothing remotely memorable about them.

Definitely good but far from essential.

Review by Prog Leviathan
3 stars An improvement from their very sterile "Presto", "Roll the Bones" sees Rush returning to a more straight-ahead rock form while still preserving their artsy tendencies. The album is, as a whole, weaker than some of their very strong '80's albums, but still has enough to latch onto and enjoy.

The first three tracks remain the strongest, with "Dreamline" and "Roll the Bones" taking their place among some of their finest. "Bravado" has a different sound than most other Rush tunes, with a slow, gradual build and very poignant lyrics. It goes slightly downhill from here, as a whole with Peart's lyrics stealing the show from the band's playing. "The Big Wheel" and "Ghost of a Chance" remain close to my heart, if only because of their impact on my adolescence, while most everything else is dangerously close to filler.

Still, the good tracks deserve their praise, and "Roll the Bones" should be investigated by those hooked by the bands stronger albums.

Songwriting: 3 Instrumental Performances: 3 Lyrics/Vocals: 4 Style/Emotion/Replay: 3

Review by Mellotron Storm
2 stars "Roll The Bones" continues in the same mold and style as "Presto". Rupert Hines again is the co- producer. The synth dominated era from RUSH that reigned from "Grace Under Pressure" to "Hold Your Fire" was being phased out starting with "Presto", and like "Presto" the synths here are used "mostly" in the background. This record is even more commercial sounding then "Presto" was. Lots of radio friendly tunes and even some "rapping" on the title song "Roll The Bones".Yikes !

"Dreamline" is such a great sounding song with background synths and some good guitar from Alex. I saw them do this "live" a couple of times, good concert tune. "Bravado" is a mid paced, slick sounding song. "Roll The Bones" just doesn't do it for me, either lyrically or musically.

"Face Up" is another commercial sounding song with some great intro drumming while Alex lets it rip later. "Where's My Thing" is by far the best track on this record. An instrumental with a funky feel to it. This would be their first instrumental song in 10 years (YYZ being the last). The drumming is incredible and I like the synths on this one. "The Big Wheel" on the other hand comes across as being wimpy because of the synths. "Heresy" could have been on "Hold Your Fire". "Ghost Of A Chance" ,"Neurotica" and "You Bet Your Life" are all ok.

You can maybe tell i'm not too enthusiastic about this recording. I really think it's the worst record they have ever made. Oh well, this is RUSH after all it's not that bad.

Review by progrules
3 stars I remember when I bought this some 16 years ago I just put it aside after two or three listenings feeling disappointed with the result. It's hard to avoid comparing a latter Rush album with an earlier output. You simply want to hear a band at it's best and to accept the fact their style has changed and their haydays are over is not easy. And this also goes for the illustrious Rush.

All in all Roll the Bones wouldn't be a bad achievement by any (prog)band but for Rush standard it's not enough I fear. If you want to hear an overall average album by the Canadian proggers go for this one but don't expect too many highlights. The current average of 3,1 seems a good reflection to me.

Review by Queen By-Tor
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars There's certainly a ghost of a chance that this album is great!

Intriguing, thought provoking, hard rocking... different. After the poppy album Presto, Rush decided to do something similar, yet different than anything they'd ever done before. While Presto has always been a guilty pleasure of mine, there's no denying that it was one of Rush's weaker moments in the progressive scope. While this album is more or less the same style wise, it manages to reach out for the progger a bit more than it's predecessor. I was at first hesitant to buy this album all those years ago... it's dicey cover plaguing the mind... demanding to be listened to. Then came the fateful day when I made my 2 hour trip down island to the record store that I was only able to visit once or twice a year. Along with Presto, Victor, some Dream Theater and Caress of Steel (oh, and some Boston) this album followed me home. While it was the last album that I would listen to by the end of the day it was the one that would leave the greatest impact. For this young Rush fan this album offered a strange kind of solace in the lyrics and music. This album was something else indeed.

Sticking more to the short songs, Rush continues on the path of simple yet complex songs that infect the mind and force the toes to tap. Opening with the concert favorite DREAMLINE the album starts on it's way. Immediately noticeable is the power in Geddy's voice as he screams out the chorus, and Alex's guitars -- no longer subdued. Following the stellar opening track comes one of the best Rush songs ever put on tape. BRAVADO is a wonderful track brought to life by Alex's serene riff and Neil's infectious beat along with Geddy's emotional delivery. Neil also puts to work some of Rush's best thought out lyrics on this one, as it's a song that can bring forward a multitude of emotions if the audience is right (along with Chris Squire's Silently Falling, this song ranks among my very favorite songs of all time). Excellent solo by Alex right where it needs to be, and everything fits. A good way to follow up the superb ''The Pass'' from Presto. The title track, ROLL THE BONES, is likely to rolla few heads the first listen around. Quirky rock at it's best this song opens with a memorable riff from Alex and synths from Geddy this song about fortune definitely needs to be listened to with open ears. Made even more quirky by a (seemingly) random rap section in the middle, this song takes a bit to get used to. Luckily, it's made great by some excellent guitar and bass parts at each bridge and solo.

After the opening three tracks things are off to a great start. While there may be some 'filler' coming up there's also a lot of classics to be had as well. FACE UP is a track that could be though of as filler. It's fast and synth filled... a song that seems to come strait off of Presto. Still good in it's own rights, this is one that isn't bad, but isn't one of the album's standouts. WHERE'S MY THING? is a quirky instrumental whose sound would later be followed up on Alex's solo output (1996's Victor), but not one of Rush's best instrumentals... fun none the less, and the start of a string of instrumentals off of each album until Vapor Trails. Up nest is THE BIG WHEEL, which is another song that could (I repeat COULD) be called filler... but it's lyrical content and floaty synths underlined by heavy guitars make it a favorite in my books. The moody HERESY is next to follow. A seemingly follow-up on Territories from Power Windows, this worldly song about people, sound wise, could also be strait off that album. Another strong track.

Coming to the end we're still running strong. Does it run out of steam?

No (to put it bluntly). Next to BRAVADO in terms of sublimity on this album sits steadily GHOST OF A CHANCE. Likely the song that would open the door to Neil's concept album about Love (Counterparts), this dark song addresses the myth of fate and the realities of love. Eggheaded hopeless romantics (such as myself) will love this song for it's lyrics while the proggers will appreciate it's clear tip of the hat to the sub-genre that this band so graciously formed. Heavier on guitar than it's peers, this song is a clear sign of things to come from the band. While the next two songs really had no chance of comparing to GHOST, they're still good none the less. NEUROTICA is another song where Rush flexes the heavy muscle, blistering riffs and a catchy chorus make this one a great song to listen to with your head swaying back and forth. YOU BET YOUR LIFE is yet another quick and quirky song that makes use of some strange things, this time it's harmonized voices chanting behind the lead vocals. Interesting use of rhyme and rhythm that is, again, a clear nod to the hip-hop-pop-culture that was taking rise around them. Never ones to be left in the dust by the music that threatened them (they considered themselves friends to punk in the 70s), this song along with ROLL THE BONES are very unique in the Rush catalog.

What does this one get then? While not quite as good as it's successor, Counterparts, and not quite as good as some of Rush's classic stuff this is still an album that easily compares. 4 stars for being unique, and indeed progressive, well past it's own times. Recommended for Rush fans and heavy prog fans. Anyone who would rather hang themselves than listen to 30 seconds of rap might want to skip the third track, however. Recommended!

Review by LinusW
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Another of those albums I'll award a star less here on the Archives (this isn't excellent PROG), while treasuring it more on a personal level. Rush has never (and hopefully never will) produced an uninspired album. But this is absolutely more commercial rock, filled with more traditional structures and hooks. The songs stay around the five-minute mark, so there isn't much room for the variation and experimentation found on the earlier albums.

So what do we get instead of that?

Slick, intelligent rock music with great lyrics. The clean, ringing guitar sound delivered by Alex Lifeson combined with Geddy's steady basslines and a controlled Neil Peart strengthens that description. The thick, atmospheric synths take a step back (like in Presto), but they're still making a contribution now and then. There's a surprise here for the patient. Where's My Thing? is an instrumental that, even while sticking to the disciplined nature of the album as a whole, actually gives us some instrumental pyrotechnics from the band.

The strong point here is for sure the concept and the lyrics. Thoughts about fate, luck and pure chance applied on the life we're all living. Some may not like Peart's lyrics. I do. And these are among his finer works.

Many have complained about the use of rap on the title song. So much fuzz, for such a small thing. Like a storm in a glass of water. I just think it's a fun part of the music, a flirt with a different audience, a flavour of its time. This isn't the big sell-out, folks.

Favourites are plenty here. The vibrant Dreamline is one of them. The groovy title track as well. Not to forget the beautiful Bravado. The middle section of the album is slightly weaker though, with the previously mentioned Where's My Thing? as a notable exception. My long time favourite here have always been the darker Ghost Of A Chance and Neurotica. Both have truly memorable refrains, and for some strange reason, these two are the songs I consider most Rush. But that's just me.

A great album for reflection, be it on rainy or sunny days, with or without company or in good or bad mood.

//Linus W

Review by Chris S
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars A definite winner! One of the previous reviewers pairs this release with Presto, similarly pairing Moving Pictures and Permanent Waves. I would have to agree and further add that Roll The Bones is even better than Presto. The production is sharp and the album has a great hook.' Dreamlines' is a great opening song with the usual hypnotic bass lines from Geddy Lee backed up very tidily by Peart's drumming. The title track though is the highlight off the album and often in latter day Rush releases, they sometimes struggled to match lyric and song collectively, this is certainly not the case on Roll The Bones. ' The Big Wheel' is another great delivery from Rush confirming their creative juices were still working overtime. This is an excellent album and compliments the band's 90's catalogue superbly.
Review by Epignosis
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Lady Luck, as it were, had been favorable to this Canadian rock trio, who has put out so many great albums that enjoy substantial popularity from both artistic-minded listeners and commercial radio. The band loosely conceptualized that for this album, about taking chances and seeking one's fortune. For the most part, the sound is fairly similar to that of Presto, but takes on a slightly harder edge.

"Dreamline" Some of Neil Peart's best lyrics exist in this song, particularly in the choruses. The music is equally amazing, switching between the palm-muted guitar, heavy rock sections, and the airy refrain. Even as I age, I can still relate to these timely lyrics of restlessness: "When we are young, wandering the face of the earth, wondering what our dreams might be worth- learning that we're only immortal for a limited time."

"Bravado" One of Rush's most poignant songs and a fan favorite, "Bravado" boasts clean guitar, lovely vocal harmonies, tight drumming, and moving lyrics.

"Roll the Bones" Those synthesized horns and percussion let the listener know that this album was made in 1991. But aside from that (admittedly welcome) bit of cheesiness, the lyrics are thought-provoking, the music striking, and the chorus is incredibly catchy. As another clear sign of the times, "Gansta Lee" raps in the middle of the song, which is all at once embarrassing and fitting.

"Face Up" This is a catchy fast-paced rocker, but one that I'm not nearly as fond of. It's still a good track, however.

"Where's My Thing?" This instrumental sounds like it would have been right at home on the previous album, given how close the sound is. The thin rhythm guitar about two minutes in sounds almost exactly like the beginning of "Hand Over Fist."

"The Big Wheel" While this is one of those songs I don't particularly care as much for, it's still a great song, full of spunky bass, layers of vocals, gritty guitar, sprightly synthesizer, and skintight drumming. The chorus is particularly catchy, and makes it sound like a pop song of the era.

"Heresy" A marching snare drum begins and ends "Heresy," which is built around light guitar and airy synthesizer. Peart's drumming is creative throughout, depending mostly on his toms.

"Ghost of a Chance" This one kicks off with an electrified country-feel, although sometimes it reminds me of classic Blue Oyster Cult. The verses move into a light, frothy chorus with subtle, Mark Knopfler-like guitar licks thrown in. The guitar solo during this song is certainly a highlight of the album.

"Neurotica" This was one of the first songs on this album I heard. The melody, the chords, and the backup vocals during the chorus are somewhat characteristic of one or two songs that always appear on Rush albums since the 1980s, but the band has always been able to reformulate certain basic structures without ever becoming formulaic. If the guitar solo on the previous song was good, the screaming one here is fantastic, and Peart's drum fills are thick and satisfying.

"You Bet Your Life" Whilst the synthesizers are still present in a small way, the final song uses Alex Lifeson's dependable abilities as a rhythm guitarist. Underneath Geddy Lee's human vocals during the chorus runs some counterpoint "robotic" singing.

Review by b_olariu
3 stars Roll the bones from 1991 was the first Rush album from a new decade the '90's. Being almost the same with the predecesor, both in manner of composing and playing , Rush did a thing better on this one face the Presto album , the production is a little better but aswell crisp and very flat. Now, I'm a moderate Rush fan, I like almost everything they released over the years, Hold your fire being the most enjoyble album by them in my opinion, but Roll the bone is not a bad album either. I think that Rush enter the '90's very well with this album, in fact is a typical Rush album, with all the ingredients for a good and solid release. Everybody knows that the early '90's , 1991-1992 and even 1993 were entirley acaparated by a new wave in music, grunge or alternative music. Rush aswell did has some hard times in that period, aswell like other giants from '70 and '80, their music was no more something really exceiting as it was before. Rush manage to create a good album full of good pieces, not necesarly very inventive or brilliant but as on every Rush album, there is heart in their music, that's way they survied so many years. I must confess that Roll the bones is my fav Rush album from the '90's , who beats very easy Test for echo for ex. Every pieces from here stands as good to my ears, not a single weak one, Dreamline, Bravado, Heresy and the instrumental one Where's my thing all shines , and shows that Rush is still among the best in their genre and known to survive as no other band over the years. So I will give to Roll the bone s 3 solid stars for sure, agood album for sure but nothing really special.
Review by Finnforest
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Recorded in the spring of 1991 "Roll the Bones" finds Rush about 7 years beyond their last great album and sounding a bit tired. I find myself agreeing with Sinkadotentree once again. There's something about the production of Rupert Hine that just sucks out from Rush the punch which I found pleasurable. The sound is watered-down commercial and lacking the special vibe that made Grace and Signals so wonderful. The sing-along choruses get simply too repetitive once too often and the meat of the tracks can't rescue it. It is not a complete disaster however. Being Rush, there's always going to be something positive coming through. In this case, you have a damn fine lead-off track in "Dreamline" with its intense, driving pace and yearning melodic chorus. "Bravado" and "Ghost of a Chance" are strong tracks as well with nice melodies and poignant lyrical themes. Lifeson impresses me most often here from a performance perspective with some truly biting guitar leads and interesting chord sequences-and just the fact that he doesn't sound like he's on auto-pilot. Besides the dizzying fireworks of "Where's my Thing?" even Neil sounds like he's phoning in some tracks. Knowing the talents of Geddy and Neil I would guess this is due to the quality of the tracks and their arrangements more than the playing. Stuff like "Heresy" sounds like the backing for an Ambien commercial. Some of these tracks quite frankly fall into territory that Rush shouldn't be in ("The Big Wheel"? Ouch!) The last two tracks are just pretty brutal. About one-third of "Roll the Bones" is respectable in my book, not quite enough to get this up to a 3 star rating. Whether it is their worst album as John says, I can't say as I've still a few latter day titles to hear. But I can't recommend this title and am not inspired to say much else. 5/10.
Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Roll the Bones is the fourteenth full-length studio album by Canadian progressive rock act Rush. The album was produced by Rupert Hine who was also the producer on Presto (1989) and released through Atlantic Records on the 3rd of September 1991. The band had great commercial succes with the album which was the first US Top 5 album since Moving Pictures (1981).

The music on Roll the Bones follows much the same formula as the one used on Presto. The songs are rather catchy and simple rock songs with only a few hints to progressive rock. The keyboards have been toned down a bit but they are still a big part of the music. The album is very coherent with no really standout tracks maybe except for the instrumental Where's my thing (Part IV of the "Gangster of Boats trilogy"). The musicianship and production is as always top notch. The songwriting is rather uninspired to my ears though and there lies the biggest difference between Presto and Roll the Bones. Where the former had some great tracks the latter lacks highlights and memorability.

Roll the Bones is probably my least favorite Rush album and it normally sits firmly in my basement packed away in a box. I had to dig it out to make this review and as soon as I was finished listening to the album it went down the basement again. This is Rush on autopilot playing it safe. I normally donīt give albums with skilled musicians and great productions less than 3 stars but I really donīt enjoy this album one bit so a 2 star rating it is.

Review by progaardvark
COLLABORATOR Crossover/Symphonic/RPI Teams
4 stars Rush's Roll the Bones becomes their first release of the 1990s and continues the trend of fewer keyboards first started with their previous album Presto. Indeed, Roll the Bones is very similar in delivery and style as Presto, almost to the point of being formulaic. Although following a formula suggests a band has ran out of ideas, and I think that suggestion has merits in this case, Rush did make some improvements over Presto. Roll the Bones seems much better produced and clearly is more energetic, particularly on songs like the title track, Dreamline, and the incredible instrumental Where's My Thing? It also borrows some funk elements and even a hip-hop moment on the title track (I recall some controversy over that among their die-hard fans at the time).

This is probably their best effort since Power Windows, and the most they rocked since Grace Under Pressure or Moving Pictures. A very high quality effort, though quite accessible, but still deserving of four stars to this listener's ears.

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Roll The Bones returned to a slightly more organic and rocking sound after a couple of synth dominated albums. It features enjoyable parts scattered throughout the album, but just like the preceding Presto, there's simply too few of them.

Just as on Presto, producer Rupert Hine managed to squeeze out what little excitement and bite these songs once might have had. Dreamline and Bravado work quite well on Rush's live albums but here they are too mainstream and radio-friendly. Even the songs that impress me most (Ghost of A Chance and Neurotica) could have been so much better.

Production issues aside, there's also some real stinkers here. Roll The Bones, Face Up, The Big Wheel and Bet Your Life are downright cringe worthy. I can understand that some fans didn't like the synth dominated sound of the 82-87 period, but that period at least had stellar songwriting and high-level musicianship. Here the synths are mostly gone, but apparently, the song writing skills went out the door with them.

Bubble-gum Rush alert! Avoid.

Review by EatThatPhonebook
3 stars 3.5 stars really!! Rush's fourteenth studio album proves that, even though not like the old days, this band is still able to rock, writing a really good album that is definitely worth listening if you're a Rush fan.

The style of "Roll The Bones" is very modern, even more than all their synth rock albums from the mid-late 80's. For example, in the title track for some moments there are some brief semi rap lines, that might scare some die hard fans. However, their ability in performing never disappoints, not even in this one. Maybe not Neil Peart's best album, but Geddy Lee has some quite good moments, with his outstanding bass playing.

My favorite songs are "Dreamline", very catchy and melodic, "Bravado" a nice and mellow song, played with many synths and keyboards, which give the main mark of the song. Also, "Ghost of a Chance" is excellent, with a beautiful and powerful melody, touching in the mellow moments, probably my favorite of the album. Also great are the instrumental " Where's My Thing?", "The Big Wheel", song that really makes you want to dance, "Neurotica" and the conclusive track "You Bet your Life". To sum up, a really good album, I really expected it to be worse. Not bad.

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
2 stars At least it has a good cover.

What a disappointing album. What do we expect from a Rush album? Usually it's good songwriting, spectacular drumming and bass playing, cool guitar parts and solos, and, wll, Geddy Lee's voice.

I blame producer Rupert Hine. On this album it's difficult to tell if the songs are good, although every live version is much better than these tracks, because the recordings are so lifeless.

Let's start with the drums. This album is from 1991. There's no reason that it should sound as though Neil Peart was banging on a set of trash cans. Someone should have known where to place the microphones.

Geddy Lee sounds as though he was told to not play any interesting licks on his bass. On most Rush albums, even on the lesser songs, Lee adds flourishes to make most bass enthusiasts drool. But here? Nothing.

Alex Lifeson fares the best on the album. At least his rhythm guitar parts sound good. But his soloing, like Lee's playing, is just not up to par.

Only Where's My Thing?, the only instrumental track, sounds like the band was enjoying themselves while recording. It's an okay track, but Rush has done much better.

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Don't rush out to buy this one!

A very routine album has Rush going by the numbers with poor production values and badly mixed sounds. The guitars are repetitive and commercial sounding. The drums sound like Peart is banging the pots and pans in his kitchen. Lee sounds bored and his bass is nothing special here. Apart from one or two shining lights "Roll the Bones" fades into obscurity and is perhaps as bad as "Presto", though this is perhaps their worst album. Unlike the disappointing "Presto", "Roll the Bones" does have a few excellent tracks.

Dreamline is a great rocker with some innovative guitar work and is well structured. Bravado sounds good overall, and has a nice litle riff driving it. Roll The Bones is perhaps the best song on the album with a cool memorable lyric; "why are we here, because we're here, roll the bones..." or better still, "why does it happen, because it happens, roll the bones..." It has a groovy hook and sounds great live. The film clip promo was rather fun and it showed that the band could still enjoy their music, even if they shed their prog traits during this era. Where's My Thing (Part IV of the "Gangster Of Boats Trilogy") is the first instrumental for years from the power trio, and it genuinely stands out as a highlight with the band letting loose and doing what they do best, rocking the roof off. After this we are inundated with mediocrity fillers such as the dismal The Big Wheel, Heresy and Ghost Of A Chance. Neurotica is better with a moderate tempo and some melodic hooks, and the album ends on the rather traditional You Bet Your Life, that is forgettable but sounds good while it plays.

The problem with the album is the lack of passion, the band sound tired and the songs for the most part are ruined by poor production, as though they were not using a sound engineer at all. It is so badly mixed that it would do well to re release this album as a remaster with remixes of the original masters. It certainly would not hurt because honestly this album is a slog to get through with only the aforementioned tracks to recommend it to anyone but the diehard Rush collector.

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
1 stars Where's my thing?

While the previous Presto - the best Rush album since Moving Pictures - had injected some new hope after three weaker albums in Hold Your Fire, Power Windows and Grace Under Pressure, Rush quickly diminished it all again with the utterly lacklustre Roll The Bones - one of their weakest ever, in my opinion. Though released in 1991, I think it is fair to say that this album fits better into the same category as the band's 80's albums and that the next album, 1993's Counterparts, was the beginning of 90's Rush. The keyboards were not yet abandoned at this point and the album has more of an 80's sound compared to later efforts. Roll The Bones is basically built on the same formula as the previous four or five Rush albums, but while albums like Presto and Signals featured inspired compositions, Roll The Bones is consistently uninspired and prosaic. If you take the least inspired tunes from the band's 80's albums and add a rap-section (!) you get Roll The Bones. But the rap section in the title track is just the drop that makes the glass run over. Rush had already reached rock bottom once with the dismal Power Windows and here they do it again with Roll The Bones - my second one star rating for a Rush album.

The ten tracks on Roll The Bones are all between three and a half and five and a half minutes long and they all follow the same basic formula. Every song sounds like something I've heard before on the band's previous albums. The performances are pedestrian and the band sounds as if they are on autopilot. Even if I'm not too excited about Rush's 80's output in general, the band had not sounded as uninspired in years as they do here. The opener Dreamline and the instrumental Where's My Thing? stand out as acceptable, but some other tracks are embarrassments both musically and lyrically.

Prog is, of course, nowhere to be found on this album, but that should come as no surprise to anyone as the band's Prog-phase ended ten years before the release of this album (1981's classic Moving Pictures was their last Prog album as far as I'm concerned). Listening to Roll The Bones now makes me remember why my initial series of Rush reviews did not include their 90's albums. The next album would sadly not be much better.

Roll The Bones is a poor effort from a once great band

Review by Isa
3 stars |C| A much more reflective and laid back Rush here.

This is actually one of the first full on Rush albums with which I became familiar, as it is one of my parents' favorites.

I must admit, however, that as I've grown older and been exposed to more music, I've come to find Roll the Bones pretty average in the scheme of the rock music overall. There are some great tracks and great things about this album, mixed with some mediocre of both as well.

The general sound is predictable with the band's general late 80s output. There's a lot of use of atmospheric keyboard pads, which I find work very effectively. There's almost a sense of hip-hop style to the album overall to, very rhythmic, meaty, chunky kind of rhythms, in really all the instruments and even Lee's singing. Though I like most of the vocal melodies in this album, I've never been a big fan the post-eighties Rush vocal harmonies, which are partly what kind of annoy me about where the band went with their sound . The guitar work is pretty solid too. Though... I never would have expected to hear rap in a Rush album... but there you have it.

The lyrical content isn't one to take lightly with this work, and I get a feeling it's actually a concept album, or at least an album with a recurring theme that rears its head in different ways. This concept or theme is about life and it's unexpected twists and turns, mostly due to the laws of probability, hence the title of the album. I honestly really love the lyrics in this album, they're very well written and kind of solemn. I get the sense of the band members feeling a stronger sense of their mortality, and that it reflects in the sound and lyrical content of the album.

I guess the quality of the tracks can be summed up this way: **** star songs: Dreamline, Bravado, Roll the Bones, Where's My Things, The Big Wheel. *** star songs: Face Up, Ghost of a Chance, Heresy ** star songs: Neurotica, You Bet Your Life

Where's My Thing is the instrumental of the album, and I find it pretty fun.

The Big Wheel is one of those songs with which I kind of have a personal relationship. Not really sure why, but I love it. I just wish it didn't cut into the chorus so quickly.

Conclusion: A good album with a lot of good stuff, but not exactly cream-of-the-crop material. If you generally like heavy prog, especially Rush, and don't mind a lot of chunky heavy rhythmic figures in your music, this is an album worth getting for sure.

Review by Warthur
3 stars Roll the Bones sees Rush continue the tendency that begun in Presto to gently excise the synth-heavy aspects of their 80s sound and return to a more guitar-focused approach. This time around, the band also seem to make a conscious attempt to incorporate influences from various indie-rock trends of the day - as well as a diversion into hip-hop on the title track - the synth backing on the section is pretty good, but Geddy Lee trying to rap is an experiment best left unrepeated.

Still, setting that misstep aside incorporating newer sounds in principle isn't a terrible idea - at the very least, keeping an eye on current musical trends can help a band save themselves from stagnation. However, the execution here leaves something to be desired; the album at points lacks personality and spark, and when you combine this with a production job which seems curiously lacklustre considering the technical polish Rush habitually gave their releases it all adds up to one of their least essential albums.

It's grown on me, but not so much that I'd consider this to be Rush entirely pulling out of the run of OK-but-not-great albums they'd been on since Hold Your Fire - they're clearly still trying to right the ship, but it's not happened yet. Still, there's nice moments on here; Ghost of a Chance feels warmer and more soulful than Rush have for quite a while, and perhaps the best parts of the album as a whole are where the new guitar-oriented direction blends with residual elements of their 1980s synth sounds in an interesting fashion.

Review by tarkus1980
2 stars I've had a lot of problems with Rush albums, before and after this one, but not even on Hold Your Fire could I accuse the band of not making a distinct impression. I really get the sense in listening to this one that they only cared about having some decent chart success (and this did hit the top 10 on both sides of the Atlantic), even if it meant largely meant not having a good idea of who they really were in the process of making the album. This is an album that's way too concerned with sounding contemporary and with not being immediately dislikable, and not concerned enough with leaving a dent in the world past its initial burst of commercial success. The lyrics may be darker on the whole than most Rush albums, but that's the only aspect in which this album hasn't had almost all of its rough edges (which could have lended some interest to the whole thing) sanded off. There are some decent songs, but by and large this is easily the most generic album Rush ever made (with the possible exception of the debut, but that at least had tons of youthful energy, not to mention the hilarious vocals).

As usual, the album starts off moderately strongly, making it seem like things might work out well after all. The opening "Dreamline" sounds more to me like a Police or U2 song than a Rush song, but while the lyrics are kinda dippy and the vocal melody is only so-so (not to mention that the synthesizers are somewhat obnoxiously loud), Lifeson's guitar line largely saves the song. The following track, "Bravado," is easily the best, most inspired and most beautiful song on the album, featuring a really gorgeous guitar pattern, a nice vocal melody that plays well against it, and a great timid vibe that lends a sense of subtlety to the piece. Plus, it has a nice build throughout, turning into an anthemic classic by the end. So far, so good.

Then we hit the title track. This would actually be a fairly decent generic arena rock song, with some good energy and an ok chorus, were it not for the worst idea ever to come from the band: Geddy. Lee. Raps. His voice is artificially deepened, but it ends up sounding stupider than it would otherwise, and the lyrics in this section are so embarrassingly bad that the song fails the "could I play this in front of my friends?" test worse than most songs in my whole collection. I mean, I guess this was the time of Vanilla Ice and all that, so maybe there was just something in the world's drinking water, I don't know.

Among the seven remaining tracks, I only particularly like the instrumental "Where's My Thing?," which isn't as inspired as previous instrumentals but which still features the most distinctive basswork and riffage on the album (and effective use of the cheezy, chimey synths). Of the rest, the closing "You Bet Your Life" at least has some energy, though it sounds more than a bit like a "We Didn't Start the Fire" ripoff, and the rest just feels like it could have been written by most anybody. Some of it is offensively bad ("The Big Wheel" is the worst of the lot), some of it is just mediocre ("Face Up," "Neurotica"), and some of it makes no impression on me whatsoever. At least there are no awkward synths to make the experience unbearable, but if the best compliment I can give a song is "it doesn't make me want to stab my eardrum with a Q-tip," something's not right.

Oddly enough, some people really like this album, but I can't see at all why. Why should I care about a Rush album without interesting instrumental work and without really strong songs? Few parts of it are horrible, but there are so many better things one could listen to.

Review by siLLy puPPy
2 stars The 14th studio album by RUSH starts off fairly promising with the excellent rockin' track "Dreamline." It brings you back to the RUSH of yesteryear when they still seemed passionate and energized, so they have finally delivered that album that everyone was so patiently waiting for. Or did they? Well, no. The leading track was just a teaser and then on the second track "Bravado" it reverts back to the slow paced uninspired material that makes the filler on the 70s albums sound classic.

RUSH seems like they threw in a token track of their former sound but don't really want to revisit that era and instead opt to throw in anything current of the era most noticeably alternative and indie rock of the early 90s. I hear an assortment of influences including funk and even woefully out of place hip hop on the title track. When I first got this album I absolutely hated it and immediately got rid of it. I recently picked it up dirt cheap just to reevaluate it with a more critical ear this time around. What i'm finding is that the music itself does not sound so horribly bad but the problem lies in the fact that Geddy Lee's vocals just don't fit any of the sounds they are trying to incorporate into their style.

The album just seems lackluster despite an admirable attempt to stray outside of their comfort zones and with vapid lyrics like "Why are we here? Because we're here. Roll The Bones. Why does it happen? Because it happens. Roll The Bones" it is apparent that RUSH has never been so estranged from the mythical feel of Xanadu or the milk of paradise. An awkward and tepid album but I have admiration for their adventurous spirit but still find this to be one of the least interesting RUSH album right at the bottom of the barrel with "Hold Your Fire."

Review by Necrotica
4 stars If Presto showed Rush at their worst, then its follow-up Roll the Bones showed them at their most inspired and enjoyable in years. Whereas Permanent Waves began their 80s era with a reinvention of sorts with the new wave elements and more accessible songs, Rush simply decided to expand off their already-established sound for their first 90s album. But while Roll the Bones may just seem like an extension of its predecessor, the songwriting and overall vibe suggest that much more creativity and passion was involved this time around. This even comes down the wonderful concept that drummer/lyricist Neil Peart conceived for the album, one revolving around the consequences and rewards of taking chances and thus betting your life. As he explains in his Roll the Bones tourbook:

"A random universe doesn't have to be futile; we can change the odds, load the dice, and roll again?. For anyone who hasn't seen Groucho Marx's game show You Bet Your Life, I mean that no one but Groucho knows the secret word, and one guess is as good as another... Anything can happen. That is called fate."

This concept is also a great angle to hear the album from, as it lends itself to some of Rush's darkest material... certainly their darkest since Grace Under Pressure, at least. To reflect this, Geddy's vocals have become even more laid back and reflective than in the band's 80s period, completely devoid of the high-pitched Robert Plant-esque vocals that initially defined his style. And it works perfectly in the band's favor; the 70s-era vocals just wouldn't have worked in the context of the alternative rock influences this album draws from. Right from the simple melodic guitar line Alex Lifeson employs in the intro of "Dreamline," it's clear that Roll the Bones is a more straightforward and less progressive offering than the usual Rush fare; in fact, a song like "Bravado" is ridiculously simple for anyone who's familiar with the band's earlier work.

But if there's anything Rush has always been good at, it's the ability to adapt with the times and experiment with new sounds and vibes. Being straightforward is no real flaw regarding this album, because whatever the album lacks in technicality, it certainly delivers in emotional weight and genuinely solid songwriting. Of course, some of the experiments on this album are a little odd, such as the rap section in the middle of the title track (which is actually Geddy's voice but vastly lowered in pitch), or the colder synth sounds of songs like "The Big Wheel." However, these experiments definitely showcase a willingness to try new things and expand the band's range of styles; it helps that they also don't sound half-assed or forced, but rather natural extensions of the band's style. However, the only downside is there isn't quite enough experimentation on the album to mask the slight homogeneity that starts to creep in about halfway through the record. It may take a minimum of a few plays to fully absorb everything since there isn't much variation in tempo and dynamics, especially in later songs like "Ghost of a Chance" or "You Bet Your Life."

However, there are some really nice nods to the 70s Rush fanbase that are worth a look. For instance, we FINALLY witness the band's triumphant return to instrumentals with the song "Where's My Thing," a catchy little number with some well-placed synthesizer chords and a multitude of impressive bass lines from Geddy. Also, there's another thing to note: remember when Alex Lifeson said Presto would be the band's big guitar-driven return to form? The return to traditional Rush songwriting and power trio aesthetics? Well, it turns out that people would just have to wait one more album. THIS is that return to the band's traditional instrumentation and their knack for less-intrusive synthesizer use, something that was sorely missed in the time between Power Windows and Presto. In other words, this album is essentially the best of all worlds. You get the synthesizers of the Rush's 80s era, the harder-rocking arrangements and some complexities of the 70s era, and now a taste of the sound they would go for in the 90s.

The gap in quality between Roll the Bones and Presto is pretty immense, but it's definitely inspiring to know that Rush could pull off a return to form in just two years. Many acts stay in a rut for years before churning out worthwhile material once more, but these guys always seem to bounce back at all the right times. This isn't really a 100% return to their glory days, especially with a less complex and more melodic approach to songwriting, but it's an extremely unique and underrated work in their post-70s canon. If anyone wanted to hear the Presto formula executed with more gusto and tighter songwriting, as well as tighter musicianship, this is for you.

Review by Chicapah
3 stars After taking a long break from going through Rush's extensive catalog of work (and reviewing prog discs at all, for that matter) I sat down and gave this album a few spins recently. I recall all too well that the rock music scene in the early 90s was undergoing a drastic, everything-must-go overhaul due to the emergence and popularity of the grunge movement so I give this trio and all prog artists of that era a mile or two of slack. The "Seattle sound" invasion was akin to the "back to the basics" trend punk rockers instigated in the late 70s in an effort to distinguish themselves from what they considered pompous and preposterous posturing on the part of groups like Yes and ELP. Prog took a vicious uppercut to the jaw and hit the canvas hard. Many acts didn't survive the beating and those who did walked with a limp for the rest of their careers. The sole exception was Rush. They never expected to be accepted in the first place so being quarantined outside the mainstream was business as usual for those guys. The more I've gotten to know about them, the more admiration I have for their sheer audacity and guts to stay true to themselves. I still think "Moving Pictures" was their apex but I also think they scaled the heights of adaptive creativity on '84's "Grace Under Pressure." I find all of their releases to be above average in general but those two really stick out as special. As for "Roll the Bones," it sits comfortably in the "pretty-good-but-not-extraordinary" range.

They open with "Dreamline" and I was immediately struck by Geddy Lee's ever-maturing voice. I, like many others, had a very difficult time handling the screeching chirps that characterized his vocals on earlier efforts and it kept me away from giving the band a fair listen for decades. But beginning with the aforementioned "Grace Under Pressure" the man mellowed substantially and I found his lower register much more to my liking. This number is a dynamic hard rock ditty that showcases their always top-notch production, a reliable hallmark of their recordings, but the composition itself is slightly pedestrian. "Bravado" is next and I was instantly drawn into the track's cavernous depth-of-field and solid groove but the shallow lyric content doesn't stir up anything I can relate to. It doesn't help that Lee doesn't deliver them with suitable conviction. The title track "Roll the Bones" follows and I was bowled over by Alex Lifeson's guitar sound that's huge and impressive. Geddy's synth adds a brassy tint and, while I'm no fan of the genre, their detour into pseudo rap territory during the breakdown section actually provides a welcome relief from predictability. The "life's a crap shoot" theme imbedded in the lyric is attractive, as well.

"Face Up" is a bit of a throwback to their original sound but once again it's hard to take Lee seriously when he doesn't put enough raw passion into his vocal. Especially when he's singing about how angry he is. Gotta give Alex a nod, though. His flaming guitar solo rips a new one. The instrumental "Where's My Thing?" is the best thing on the CD because it's as if they finally stopped overthinking and just let nature take its course. It's awesomely funky and fun with Neil Peart getting to toss in some nifty drum fills. They take a few risks here and there and the enriching payoff proves they were worth it. "The Big Wheel" is next and it comes out swingin' with a Who-ish gritty vibe but the too-relaxed chorus detracts from the powerful verse pattern they'd built up. It would've been more effective if they'd kept this one a simple, straight-ahead rocker from start to finish. "Heresy" begins with a military march beat that promises an epic thrill ride but it ends up being more of the same arena rock fare. I'm not complaining, per se, but I expected something wild to happen and it never did. "Ghost of a Chance" sports the edgier approach that I prefer but alas, the airy chorus sucks all the helium out of the balloon. The song just never quite jells. "Neurotica" is next and, while I have great respect for their continuing to pay close attention to the technical quality of their artistic endeavors, the tune fails to take me anywhere they haven't taken me several times before. Lifeson does wow my ear canal briefly by letting the fur fly on his solo, though. "You Bet Your Life" has the trademark of a progression they might have developed while jamming in rehearsal but, no matter its birth, it manages to shine brightly. The song's chorus in particular is distinct and intriguing. Makes for a good exit.

"Roll the Bones," released on September 3rd of 1991, was their 14th studio album and it marked an upturn in their collective fortunes. By reaching #3 on the American charts it became their first CD to reach the top five since "Moving Pictures" did that ten years prior. I've gotten to know more about Rush due to various documentaries, interviews and live concerts that keep being aired on satellite TV networks and my hat's off to them for hanging in there so long. They really are a remarkable entity but they had their ups and downs just like their peers. "Roll the Bones" is better than "Presto" was but only by a few checkmarks. 3.4 stars.

Review by patrickq
2 stars Here Rush seeks to maintain the accessibility of Hold Your Fire and Presto while rocking a little harder. While they succeed in the latter category, their attempts at accessibility fail to preserve the balance between the progressive and commercial elements of their unique brand. Or maybe they just started to run out of catchy ideas.

Roll the Bones stars off strong, with "Dreamline," which was a #1 rock airplay hit. This is a textbook example of a commercially-aware song that is nonetheless unabashedly Rush. "Dreamline" should have been on Presto, where it would've fit nicely. But following this song is "Bravado," a #13 airplay hit and the first of many seemingly interchangeable AOR tunes Rush would crank out on Roll the Bones and Counterparts.

And next we have what I consider the most interesting song on the album, and the last important Rush song of which I'm aware: "Roll the Bones." It's not a great song, but it contains a rap. This caused a minor stir, at least among Rush fans I knew, when it was announced in advance to radio DJs. The rap itself is fine, even a little funny. The inclusion of the rap is brilliant, given that the song is about taking risks. Like "Dreamline," "Roll the Bones" sounds much more like the songs on the previous LP, Presto, than the next (Counterparts). Too bad that isn't true of more songs on Roll the Bones.

Overall, Roll the Bones rates two stars insofar as it's really for Rush fans. For anyone else, I'd say start with Moving Pictures, then perhaps move on to one of the band's other higher-rated albums. If you come to like them, you've probably become a Rush fan, and then I'd say Roll the Bones is for you.

Review by Hector Enrique
3 stars The synthesizers, which had almost completely disappeared on "Presto" return, and while they are no longer the protagonists, their supporting role is joined by Geddy Lee's flawless vocal performances, Alex Lifeson's riffs, and Neil Peart's percussion, mainly focused on merging with the melodies, so that "Roll the Bones" transmits a sense of more harmony and feels less rudimentary than its predecessor.

Keeping the scheme of short songs, the best is in the first part, with the anxious "Dreamline", the neat "Bravado" very clean and lively, surely the best track on the album, and the striking "Roll the Bones" with its catchy chorus and that more than surprising nod to rap, in a new demonstration of the versatility of Rush to incorporate elements of other musical currents without complexes.

After the stunned "Face Up" and the instrumental "Where's My Thing ..." (the melody could easily be part of "Power Windows" or "Hold You Fire"), the album remains coherent, but the spark seems to lose strength, it is reactivated with the intense "Heresy", and ends up taking the car correctly to a cruising speed without major emotions on the road until the closing with "You Bet Your Life".

Without being the most brilliant of Rush's discography, "Roll the Bones" is a good album, and it's well worth betting a few coins on...

3 stars

Latest members reviews

3 stars In 1991, Rush released Roll the Bones. It opens with "Dreamline", and this is an immediate improvement over their last several albums. The production is miles better than Presto, Geddy's vocal melody is strong, and the three musicians sound like they're having fun. It features some weird chords in t ... (read more)

Report this review (#2904245) | Posted by TheEliteExtremophile | Monday, April 3, 2023 | Review Permanlink

1 stars So long as there are Rush albums entitled Hemispheres, Permanent Waves, Moving Pictures etc. I see no reason to ever listen to this album called Roll The Bones. First of all the production is gross! It's got this radio ready sheen that I cannot stand for. The boys were clearly going for mass air ... (read more)

Report this review (#1026010) | Posted by Tempel | Friday, August 30, 2013 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Ooooh yes - they are definitely showing signs of coming back to life but dammit, they're taking their sweet time getting up again. Standout tracks - "Bravado", "Roll the Bones", "Where's my thing". At this rate I wouldn't have been suprised had a duet been arranged with Pat Bennetar and Geddy ... (read more)

Report this review (#940367) | Posted by sukmytoe | Saturday, April 6, 2013 | Review Permanlink

3 stars If this would have been a 5 song EP (the first five, to be exact), I would have given this 5 stars. This album, more than any other from the Rush catalog, feels like a tale of two sides. Although this wasn't the prog Rush anymore, the first half of the album is more full of life, experimentation and ... (read more)

Report this review (#797067) | Posted by pearty | Monday, July 30, 2012 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Roll the Bones is an enigma of an album, as it contains musical hints from many of their previous albums, and some of their future ones as well. Surely this is a transition album from the 80's pop dominated sound of the previous few efforts to a more pure rock and alternative approach. But there is ... (read more)

Report this review (#771353) | Posted by Mr. Mustard | Friday, June 15, 2012 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Well, this time period of Rush has never been my favorite. ROLL THE BONES is a motley assemblage of a few real great songs and a bunch of kind of filler tracks. This is a very upfront album with most of the good work at the start and it fizzles about halfway through into borderline acceptable Rush m ... (read more)

Report this review (#732060) | Posted by mohaveman | Tuesday, April 17, 2012 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Very similar to Presto, but with all very good songs, (with the exception of possibly "Neurotica", but even that song has a great bassline and verse groove, not to mention a really cool middle section), Roll the Bones is the first Rush album to not show a noticable change in sound from its pre ... (read more)

Report this review (#637185) | Posted by 7headedchicken | Tuesday, February 21, 2012 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Rush finds the 1990s. After their synth period and after delivering the very refreshing Presto album, Rush returns with an album which proves they can move with the times too. Roll The Bones is a very refreshing sounding album too. It still have a lot of synths though. Far more than on Presto. ... (read more)

Report this review (#568473) | Posted by toroddfuglesteg | Wednesday, November 16, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This could be arguably Rush's most commercial album because it has alot of pop elements in the songs but even Rush can make pop not suck. The opener, Dreamline, is a top charting single for a reason this song is a great song that personified Rush in the 90s and still remains one of their best. ... (read more)

Report this review (#463568) | Posted by criticdrummer94 | Saturday, June 18, 2011 | Review Permanlink

3 stars After the disappointing Presto, I confess I was totally curious about how Rush would give continuity to their creative music. Roll The Bones is an improvement related to its previous effort; but as it is not something so hard to be achieved due to weakness I found in Presto, it also does not m ... (read more)

Report this review (#437407) | Posted by Antonio Giacomin | Friday, April 22, 2011 | Review Permanlink

3 stars In my eyes, ROLL THE BONES has only four good tracks, those being "Dreamline", the title track, "Where's My Thing?" and "Ghost of a Chance". These four show strong growth in RUSH's signature sound, which is a combination of progressive rock, hard rock, and pop rock. More on those later. First, ... (read more)

Report this review (#409663) | Posted by Gorloche | Monday, February 28, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Yes, Rush have put the synths behind them now, yay. After Rush saw a success in the less use of synths, they decided to make a more guitar, bass and drum orientated album, which they easily should have seen to be successful, because they are a billion times better with that organic structure. ... (read more)

Report this review (#282498) | Posted by arcane-beautiful | Tuesday, May 18, 2010 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Let me state this, I love Rush, but this album is very hard to get into. This was one of the two "bad albums" from this era (at least in my opinion.) This album is just very poppy for me, and its very hard to get into. I find some of the album timeless and very good sounding, but most of it ... (read more)

Report this review (#245058) | Posted by Rushlover13 | Saturday, October 17, 2009 | Review Permanlink

4 stars The 90's were another one transitional season-the musical landscape changed dramatically again as grunge and alternative appeared in the horizon for good or bad... Many of the prog rock giants of the 70's had to adjust again to the new conditions but due to the force passing of grunge some of the ... (read more)

Report this review (#218296) | Posted by Silent Knight | Tuesday, May 26, 2009 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Roll the Bones is the second RUSH release of their "Contemporary period". Albums included are Presto (1989), Roll the Bones (1991), Counterparts (1993), Test for Echo (1996), and Different Stages "Live" (1998). Roll the Bones is one of the best releases during this period. After warming up ... (read more)

Report this review (#182293) | Posted by Analog Kid | Friday, September 12, 2008 | Review Permanlink

3 stars By the time Roll the Bones rolls around, Rush has devolved into a formulaic band, offering nothing really new. Basically you get more of the same from Presto, Hold Your Fire, etc but with fewer songs hitting and more songs missing. RTB starts off promising with Dreamline (think Show Don't Te ... (read more)

Report this review (#174722) | Posted by MrMan2000 | Saturday, June 21, 2008 | Review Permanlink

3 stars I would review this in terms of progressive rock, but it would get barely any stars. This very 90's album by Rush is a nice addition to any collection, just not to prog. Dreamline, not very good in many ways. Not my favorite song. (6/10) Bravado isn't that good either, I just don't get th ... (read more)

Report this review (#173626) | Posted by Treasure | Wednesday, June 11, 2008 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Roll the Bones is a bit of a surprise album for Rush's later stuff. Especially considering it came out of the ninties, it is a great album, one of my favorites actually. I guess in a sense it's impossible for me not to have some bias in my opinion of it, for I was practically raised on this album, ... (read more)

Report this review (#154953) | Posted by Draith | Monday, December 10, 2007 | Review Permanlink

4 stars One of my more favorite Rush albums, almost everysong is loveable. Only one to say isn't lovable is neurotica, and, that song is still really good. The entire album is great with Bravado, Dreamline, Roll the Bones, Heresey, A Ghost of a Chance, and more more more! This is under A Farewell to K ... (read more)

Report this review (#99140) | Posted by Xeroth | Thursday, November 16, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Strangely enough, Roll the Bones is among my favorite Rush albums. Alex Lifeson's guitars are much more prominent this time around, as the synthesizers become much more atmospheric, helping to set the mood. I was especially impressed with that aspect of the music on this album. As always, G ... (read more)

Report this review (#80628) | Posted by CVoss | Wednesday, June 7, 2006 | Review Permanlink

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