82293-2 Roll The Bones
Produced by Rupert Hine and Rush
Released on September 3, 1991
Find it at GEMM
82293-2 cover  

L istening 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.

82293-2 back picture sleeve
82293-2 back picture sleeve


  1. DREAMLINE    4:38
  2. BRAVADO    4:35
  3. ROLL THE BONES    5:30
  4. FACE UP    3:54
  6. THE BIG WHEEL    5:13
  7. HERESY    5:26
  8. GHOST OF A CHANCE    5:19
  9. NEUROTICA    4:40
  10. YOU BET YOUR LIFE    5:00

    Music by Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson, lyrics by Neil Peart. Arrangements by Rush and Rupert Hine.


GEDDY LEE -- bass guitar, vocals, synthesizers
ALEX LIFESON -- electric and acoustic guitars, backing vocals
NEIL PEART -- drums and cymbals
Rupert Hine -- additional keyboards and background vocals
Stephen W. Tayler -- engineer
Liam Birt -- executive production for Anthem Records
Hugh Syme -- art direction and design
Andrew MacNaughtan -- portraits
Scarpati -- photography
Joe Berndt -- digitals

return to RUSH discography

CAN 1991 Anthem CD/CS ANMD/ANT 1064  
US/UK September 3, 1991 Atlantic CD/CS 82293 lyric sleeve
BRA 1991 Atlantic LP 6709 392 lyric sleeve


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