14 Things You Might Not Know About Rush's Roll The Bones

By Dave Basner

September 3, 2018

On September 3rd, 1991, Rush released their 14th album, Roll the Bones. To mark it’s 27th anniversary, here are 14 things you might not know about the record:

1. Drummer and lyricist Neil Peart said that Roll the Bones is all about taking chances. This is clear in song titles like “You Bet Your Life,” “The Big Wheel,” and the title track.


2. The album’s cover depicts a child kicking a skull down a sidewalk. Behind him the word rush is written on a wall. The word and the wall are all made out of dice, a nod to the record title since bones is slang for dice. The album won the 1992 Juno Award for best album cover design.

3. The cryptic phrase “Now it’s dark” is in the liner notes. Neil later explained that it’s from David Lynch’s classic 1986 film Blue Velvet.


4. Inspired by rappers like LL Cool J and Public Enemy, Neil included a rap in the title track. The band considered having an actual rapper perform it. They also thought about having singer Robbie Robertson do it or even comedian John Cleese, but eventually they just went with Geddy Lee and altered his voice with effects.

5. The song “Dreamline” went to number one on the Mainstream Rock chart.


6. Geddy once spoke to Guitar Player magazine about the complex drums at the end of “Bravado” saying, “There’s an example of limb independence that rivals any drummer, anywhere. The fact that [Neil] nailed that in one take blows my mind.”

7. The instrumental “Where’s My Thing,” which features the funny subtitle “Part IV: ‘Gangster of Boats’ Trilogy,” became the trio’s second song to be nominated for a Grammy. They were up for the 1992 award for Best Rock Instrumental Performance but lost to guitarist Eric Johnson.


8. Peart once explained that while “The Big Wheel” seems autobiographical, it’s not – it’s just a “universal of that tradeoff between innocence and experience.”


9. The song “Heresy” is about the fall of communism in Russia and the passing of the Cold War nuclear threat.


10. “Ghost of a Chance” is about finding love and the strength of love over any other force.

11. Neil told Modern Drummer that he heard the drum pattern he used in “Ghost of a Chance” when he was in Togo, explaining, “I was laying on a rooftop one night and heard two drummers playing the next valley, and the rhythm stuck in my head. When we started working on the song I realized that beat would complement it well.”


12. “Ghost of a Chance” made it to number two on the Mainstream Rock chart.


13. Roll the Bones went to number three in America, the band’s first album to hit the US top five since 1981’s Moving Pictures.


14. The album went platinum for sales over one million copies and is the latest Rush record to do so.

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