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Baker's Dozen

In The Mood: The Favourite Albums Of Rush's Geddy Lee
Mick Middles , June 29th, 2012 08:44

Mick Middles speaks to Rush bassist and singer Geddy Lee about his favourite albums of all times... and finds surprises amidst the classic of the canon

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"Rush? You are listening to Rush? Oh my God." Well that was a genuine response I received not too long ago, after informing my music-savvy companion of the contents of my iPod. I understood the bewilderment, for never have a band so warmly embraced the wholesome power of unfashionability. Back in the 80s, journalists would scatter at the mere mention of their name and only recently has that trend fully reversed. (For example, see Classic Rock magazine and its Rush themed 'fanpack', which proudly carries their first studio album in five years, Clockwork Angels).

Not that Rush seemed to care a jot. The more reviled in certain areas of the print media, the more intense their following became. Perennial outsiders, their following now verges on the semi-religious. Today they are hailed as "The world's biggest cult band", and it even now seems weirdly fashionable for rock luminaries to include one of their albums in their 'favourites' list - see Nicky Wire.

Whatever your personal history with their music, one thing cannot be denied: through an impressive legacy that only offers the occasional dud, Rush have virtually redefined the concept of the concept, adding a freshness and vigour that echoes back to the golden days of Gabriel's Genesis and yet settles so firmly in the contemporary. Clockwork Angels, which build on the band's steam punk fixations, is a case in point. The album, which edges close to fiction - and, indeed a book version will surface - is based around the vivid lyricism of drummer Neil Peart and, in the best Rush tradition, allows Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson the opportunity to freely experiment, tugging this way and that until the final version seems to defy gravity, flitting openly between the black and the white. How can such a gargantuan rock act manage to retain that level of integrity? It doesn't seem possible and yet, this is Rush, never more gloriously poised on the outside of everything.

Geddy Lee's Baker's Dozen is intriguing rather than surprising. Of course, the inclusion of adventuresome power trios like Cream and the Jimi Hendrix Experience might seem obvious and strongly reflect the blues rock of their formative years. Nevertheless, it seems a long road from there to Radiohead and Bjork. Hit the picture below to begin the countdown:

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MB
Jun 29, 2012 2:05pm

It's been a long long time since I listened to Rush. 20 years or so. A big band from my formative youth and my tastes simply moved on to more aggressive sounds. I have no doubts though, that my love of experimental, progressive music is firmly rooted in that 6 or 7 years where I was a fan. Glad to see they're still kicking about and Geddy Lee always came across as such a nice man.

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Dan
Jun 29, 2012 4:54pm

I'm so pleased that Geddy appreciates the Fleet Foxes. I couldn't agree more. I was fortunate enough to see them play live and they only validated what I already suspected, they they are a special group.

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Marc Cartier
Jun 30, 2012 4:23am

Amazing, a lot of these albums (Yes, Genesis, Pink Floyd, The Who) would be on my list too. You can spot the influences that have shaped his bass playing (Squire, Entwhistle). Geddy is just as good as the musicians who have influenced him, he's a true bass guitar hero! So proud that Rush are from Canada!

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J.R.W
Jun 30, 2012 4:11pm

Fantastic to get an insight into what moves Mr. Lee, when his music moves so many. Me Included. I completely agree with him on nearly all albums (perhaps not Radiohead). He seems a very modest, and open man when it comes to all sorts of music. So refreshing for someone who has been in the industry for so long to not have stuffy, preconceived ideas of what is good and whats not. He judges music how it should be judged. On its own merits.

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Don
Jun 30, 2012 8:17pm

Rush have always been cool,it's the music journalists that were and are the geeks.

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Mike
Jun 30, 2012 8:37pm

Good, but had to drop out after a few because of the constant annoying clicking to the next page. can't you just put this on one page instead of inflating your clicks and making s click through 14 pages?

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MA
Jun 30, 2012 10:40pm

In reply to Mike:

Or you could just not be lazy and click the stupid button. It's not like it takes THAT much effort.

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BT
Jul 3, 2012 10:10pm

OH MY GAWD your server(s) are so SLOW! I have no problem with clicking on the "next" button to see each album choice, but I have to wait MINUTES between each page loading? I spent 38 minutes to read what should have taken no more than 5 to read! UPGRADE!

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Ismael
Jul 3, 2012 10:28pm

In reply to MA:

I would appreciate lhe list in just one page, considering that is not that convenient to navigate through 14 pages using a smartphone.

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tired of waiting
Jul 3, 2012 10:48pm

it would be nice if this page would load....

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Marc W.
Jul 3, 2012 10:53pm

I've been a fan of Rush, religiously, since 1982, when friends of mind at College turned me onto them. I have never looked back. Rush are beyond iconic, and I am sure Peart, Lifeson and Lee would laugh at some of the comments herein. But their music, and lyrics touch so many fans on a subliminal and deeply conscious level. Not surprisingly then, Lee's choices are varied, progressive and honest. The influences of Bjork and matched Pink Floyd (among others) is insightful. Long may Rush continue. They've been central to my music listening life for 30 years - they're like old friends.

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Jul 4, 2012 12:15am

I have been a fan of RUSH since Permanant Waves, my very first RUSH concert and first rock concert ever. I've been addicted since. After that show I wanted to witness other Rock bands in concert. Jethro Tull was my 2nd or 3rd concert and again I became addicted. Ian andersons stage presance and humor were amazing. I've just recently returned from Rekjavik, Iceland where I saw Ian Anderson Jethro Tull (that's how it read on the ticket) perform Thick As A Brick and TAAB 11 in their entirety at the Harpa. Great show. I was pleased to read that this was one of Geddy Lees all time favorite albums. It's always been one of mine. If it wasn't for that magical first RUSH concert, never having taken Rock music seriously, I might not have been much of a Rock n Roll fan. Every group He's listed has had an influence on me.

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Mark Ford
Jul 4, 2012 1:51am

Great article! Rush has long been the touchstone of music for me. I am always amazed at their ability to adapt and morph their music and style to pioneer and to remain fresh while avoiding becoming cliché. And their performances are always so energetic - especially the Time Machine tour at Red Rocks in 2010!! Oh, and I still sport my "Geddy Lee for President '92" bumper sticker in my back window!

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Richard Varey
Jul 4, 2012 2:14am

Fascinating insight into the music mind of a truly significant artist of the rock era. I have all the Rush albums, and pretty soon I will have all of Geddy's selected ones too!
Shame about the spelling mistakes throughout the piece, though.

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Moe
Jul 4, 2012 2:20am

Any chance we might hear a cover of "The Musical Box" or "Long Distance Runaround" on the upcoming tour?

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Courtney
Jul 4, 2012 2:38am

I have been listening to Rush for literally as long as I can remember (my dad used to sing me to sleep with Red Barchetta) and they are one of my favorite bands. It's great to hear Lee's favorite albums, you can tell which ones influenced his playing in different ways. I plan to check out the two or three albums I haven't heard of as soon as possible; if they're anything like the rest of this list they'll be worth a listen.

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opollo
Jul 4, 2012 6:22am

I grew up with Rush. My life has a soundtrack through the decades. The ALBUM I played for the High School graduation party. The cassette tapes in my first car. The CD I played as we brought our eldest daughter, as a baby, home from the hospital. The CD I played on the way to her college graduation. (Her favorite is still "Roll the Bones"). I love 'Clockwork Angels". Each CD is special and well loved, not only just for the great music, for the memories held.

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diz
Jul 4, 2012 7:32am

Thick As A Brick by Jethro Tull is one of my fav either. I also love Genesis Nursery Rhyme.

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Mark McAndrew
Jul 4, 2012 8:10am

Wot no Queen?

Would love to know Alex and Neil's selections too. And their own ratings of Rush tracks - R30 was virtually my dream set-list, only missing Something for Nothing and Leave That Thing Alone.

Oh, and Middletown Dreams, Nobody's Hero, Workin Them Angels, The Garden and the whole of 2112... #RushIsTHEBand

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Jul 4, 2012 8:49am

Well into my fifties and the boys still constantly surprise with their craft. First time I saw them was at my pals church oh so long ago. See them every time they come home. Now I see why I liked them the first time I saw them. I have every one of those albums on my I pod in the car. Don't forget Gentle Giant Geddy, you were listening to them at a flea market on highway 6 some 30 od years ago. I parked next to you when you pulled in.

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Marco Furnari
Jul 4, 2012 12:29pm

When I first listened to this album, it sent chills up my spine. It was something different and lyrical. Peter Gabriel is one of my all-time favorite lyricists.

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Marco Furnari
Jul 4, 2012 12:37pm

I fondly remember watching Jethro Tull live playing at a small venue in Augsburg, Germany when I served in the U.S. Army during my 1980-1982 tour - Go O5's!!

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Harry H.
Jul 4, 2012 2:45pm

Not many surprises here. I would have guessed 90% of these. You can hear all of these through the years in Rush's music. Been a fan for 35 years now.

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juan
Jul 4, 2012 3:39pm

Best Band in the Galaxy. As a guitarist, I get lots of inspiration, chops and the muse for musical composition.

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Matt Durbin
Jul 4, 2012 3:47pm

Wow... In reading this I realized I've been a fan for about 32 years, having my first Rush experience at 16 with the airplay of Closer to the Heart. I went out and bought the album and just loved everything about it, and played it nonstop in my car, in my room, and anywhere else I could. A friend turned me on to 2112 shortly thereafter, and I had to have that too. From there, I began buying everything they ever recorded, and have kept up with that right up until now. My favorites are really everything up to and including Hold Your Fire. Those albums spoke to me through my late teens and early twenties, and continue to do so today. After Hold Your Fire, my life seemed to move away from music in general, with raising kids, building a business, and generally growing up, so I really never gave anything after that a chance to speak to me in the ways the earlier ones did. I got into a lot of heavy metal, which offered up a quick boost of energy and still does today. Now, when I listen to Rush, it affects me so deeply that I often get choked up listening to it. The lyrical imagery in songs like The Manhattan Project, The Analog Kid, Time Stands Still, and Red Sector A (just to name a few) will literally bring a tear to this 47 year old grandfather's eye. I owe a lot of my moral compass to songs like Freewill, The Manhattan Project, and The Mission, and often find myself actually turning off the latter two of those, simply because they will literally bring me to tears. I can honestly say that this band has had a big hand in shaping me into the person I am today, and for that I can never express my gratitude enough. Thanks guys, for always being there, and for being the wonderful people you are, and for sharing that with the world.

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Paul
Jul 4, 2012 3:55pm

In reply to Matt Durbin:

Well said, Matt. I couldn't say it any beter or agree more. I let so few bands into my heart the way I did with Rush. They will always be special.
P

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Jim
Jul 4, 2012 4:47pm

First of all Rush Rocks !! Saw them first in 1978 an don't believe I've missed a concert. Granted theyv'e gotten older . But who hasn't ?? They still play GREAT MUSIC ..

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Marty
Jul 4, 2012 6:34pm

You think it's possible he likes artists he is not comfortable for the masses to know particularly his fans? Other than Bjork, all of these selections are your predictable Classic Rock listener, not that thats bad, just saying it's kind of predictable.

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S Smith
Jul 4, 2012 7:36pm

Slide shows suck.

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James Taggart
Jul 4, 2012 9:10pm

Are there just 14? The "next" button stopped working.

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CP
Jul 5, 2012 3:23am

Only a member of Rush would use the word "simplicity" to describe the music of Yes. Lol.

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CP
Jul 5, 2012 3:30am

In reply to Marty:

Except when Geddy Lee first listened to Cream, Jimi Hendrix, Yes and The Who they weren't considered "classic rock"

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Walter Mann
Jul 5, 2012 2:26pm

Rush, gentlemen performers.

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Jul 5, 2012 11:50pm

Simply the most inventive, melodic and exciting bass player ever - and such great taste in music! Rush deserve the recent appreciation of their incredibly unique, rebellious and 'integrity' soaked music - and more musicians should a long time ago have taken the lead from Rush's own approach to music and 'fashion' and spoken out earlier about the deep influence Rush have had on modern music - even in corners you would not expect. An inspiration in virtuosity, attitude, approach and as people.

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Jul 6, 2012 6:37am

Hey! You know what? Geddy is an artist! Artists have a BROAD amount of influences that INSPIRE them. Who says that they all have to FIT into a certain genre. If Radiohead and Cream are part of his repetoir, Who should question his influences. Yes, these inspirations *( ROOT WORD SPITRIT) may be dynamic, but Geddy executes his creations with darn near perfection, not to mention Neal and Alex's similar performances to boot! So let us not prognosticate to deeply about what makes damn good music: let's just listen to it and ENJOY!

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SP
Jul 9, 2012 9:46pm

I have been listening to Rush since I was 13 (now I'm 42). The first Rush album I listened to was Permanent waves and since then I became a great fan. The music of Rush has been like a sort of soundtrack of my life. My sons (16 and 5 years old) are growing up with Rush music as well as me and do really appreciate it. My first son do play on electric guitar a lot of Rush's songs and this year played "Spirit of the Radio" in the exhibition room of the school of music where he is studying. I do really believe that Geddy, Neil and Alex are true "Geniuses" in music and very lovely people. It's really nice to know that most of the bands in Geddy's favourite list are in my personal list too. I am keen to listen to Fleet Foxes because I do not know them yet. I will buy the album suggested by Geddy: I'm pretty sure that it is remarkable music.

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Dean
Jul 13, 2012 6:40am

In reply to Matt Durbin:

I am addicted to rush, I love all of their music, as a result so does my 7 year old daughter who will be joining me for their washington dc show. their music has had ever evolving influence on me on so many levels, emotions not available anywhere else.
I am convinced that rush has played a vivid role in who i am today, this is no exageration.
When i listen to their 70s period i get all kinds of imagination and memories flowing of how strongly of an impact this band and their music had on me and many of my friends, when i listen to the eighties material the emotion is so strong it seems as though i'm in a time machine.
I still own the classic car i drove from that period, when i put on anything from power windows through to hold your fire, i feel as though i am instantly transported back to that time, to such vivid detail that i can experience smells and almost feel as though a few friends are there with me in my car just like it was 1988, LOL. granted having the same car helps, but nothing else moves me that strongly.
I am glad they are getting the notoriety they deserve, hopefully the rock and roll hall of fame never soils them with an induction, that would be a move in reverse at this point, especially since most of the bands currently in the hall of fame could no longer draw the crowds rush is currently pulling in, many of them never did in their heyday! Rush is a shooting star at it's brightest!

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Mark Simpson
Jul 19, 2012 10:14pm

An interesting collection from the worlds greatest bassist.
Check out the new Rush Album it's fantastic, go see them live when they land iN the uk later this year.
Go to rush.com for dates

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Jeff
Aug 5, 2012 7:48am

Thanks very much for this. I do have to say, though, that Rush has actually been somewhat concerned with being fashionable all through their history; a listen to their '80s material (heck, even looking at their promo photos) makes this quite plain.

I remember interviews back then where Geddy name-checked The Fixx and Tears For Fears and disavowed any connection to the metal scene of that time, and ISTR references (not necessarily from him) to Tool when Vapor Trails came out. Counterparts clearly bears the mark of Seattle grunge. Of course, now that it's the 21st Century, he's name-checking Björk and Radiohead. (I don't doubt his sincerity, but you get the idea.) They did a pretty good job of threading the needle in the '80s, when they were running away from their own past (though I miss their having done something on a larger scale in that style). I still buy their albums, but ever since Signals I've always had the impression that they're holding back; maybe Nick Raskulinecz finally got through to them in some way. But the way I see it, Rush hasn't always embraced their unfashionability.

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Chris
Aug 7, 2012 6:44pm

In reply to Jeff:

I can see where you're coming from, and I'm not just going to blindly defend everything Rush has ever put out like a totally mindless uncritical fan, but honestly, when Rush moved away from their progressive roots and out into other musical scenes, I saw that as more of them wanting to try something new than wanting to be "trendy". They could have sat back and kept delivering proto-progmetal album after proto-progmetal album, always trying to replicate their 2112-Hemispheres era sound but I think that would have gotten kind of boring. I see Rush as a band who are able to appreciate many kinds of music, and who aren't going to bash new music scenes just because they're new. I don't think everything that they tried worked out perfectly, and I don't think that their mid-late 80s stuff was their best, but they were trying something different, and it just happened to be very different from the hair metal scene which I guess Geddy disavowed. Name-dropping Tool two decades later isn't necessarily trying to be "trendy" (it's not exactly like Tool is a band beloved by hipsters, I once read a very snarky 2/10 review of "Lateralus" on Pitchfork), and Tool is quite different from metal of the 80s. Also, imo, OK Computer is an incredible album, you don't need to be "trendy" to see that. But this is just my opinion of course, and I can understand your reasoning behind your comment.

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Chris
Aug 7, 2012 6:51pm

Wow, this is a hell of a great list of incredible albums. Of course, the old prog and hard rock albums are no surprise to see on here, but I was impressed to see that Geddy went beyond his own formative influences as a musician in coming up with this list. "OK Computer" is amazing. I was also pleasantly surprised with some of his selections, like "Meddle" instead of one of the more popular Floyd releases. I've always felt that "Meddle" was a vastly underrated album, on par with if not better than any of Pink Floyd's better known works. I've never heard of Fleet Foxes, they sound interesting, I'll have to check them out.

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Chris
Aug 7, 2012 6:51pm

Wow, this is a hell of a great list of incredible albums. Of course, the old prog and hard rock albums are no surprise to see on here, but I was impressed to see that Geddy went beyond his own formative influences as a musician in coming up with this list. "OK Computer" is amazing. I was also pleasantly surprised with some of his selections, like "Meddle" instead of one of the more popular Floyd releases. I've always felt that "Meddle" was a vastly underrated album, on par with if not better than any of Pink Floyd's better known works. I've never heard of Fleet Foxes, they sound interesting, I'll have to check them out.

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Shawn
Aug 20, 2012 4:38pm

If you have ever liked Rush, especially the old stuff like Cygnus and Xanadu; or even the newer stuff like Far Cry or Cold Fire, you will DEFINITELY love the new CD Clockwork Angels. The music is raw and fresh and pure RUSH. Excellent composition and lyrics as always. I am a lifelong Rush fan from my youth in Detroit. I cannot endorse the new CD highly enough and look forward to the show in Tampa. Nice work and congrats to Dirk, Lerxst and Pratt.

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AJB
Sep 4, 2012 11:54am

Good choices from Geddy, although the Bjork album was a bit of a shock. Glad to see The Who and Led Zepp in there too. Been a huge Rush fan for years, loving CA`S and cant wait to see them next may at the 02 Arena. Rush 4eva:D

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AJB
Sep 4, 2012 11:55am

Good choices from Geddy, although the Bjork album was a bit of a shock. Glad to see The Who and Led Zepp in there too. Been a huge Rush fan for years, loving CA`S and cant wait to see them next may at the 02 Arena. Rush 4eva:D

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Eric Novak
Jul 10, 2013 10:12am

In reply to Jeff:

In fairness to Geddy, he was a Bjork fan at least 15 years ago. He mentioned her in articles around the time that her record Homogenic was released in 1998.

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Wendy
Nov 27, 2013 1:40pm

Wow.... Love all the choices... Geddy should marry me!

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Wendy
Nov 27, 2013 1:40pm

Wow.... Love all the choices... Geddy should marry me!

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Jeff
Jul 4, 2014 6:45am

In reply to MB:

You should at least hear what they've been doing since 2000, then. They've gotten more aggressive along with everybody else.

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mjb
Oct 9, 2014 1:09am

Even though I was never into Rush, I never knocked them. I realized that they were a good band. Just not for me. I tried to think of who they were influenced by, and thought Yes must have been because of the high voice of Lee, the length of their songs, and of course, the bass. So it was not at all surprising to hear that they were fans of the band when I was watching a documentary about them. And I too like the Genesis with Gabriel.

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