On September 3rd, 1991, Rush released their 14th album, Roll the Bones. The album has a taste of rap, a bit of funk, and a bigger “groove” than fans expected from Rush at the time. Neil chose to be more straight-ahead, leaving room for Geddy's bass playing to be more aggressive.
"Roll The Bones' is the perfect title, because through all of the thoughts that I go through on the album, about all these nasty things that happen, and all these terrible things that could happen to you: a drunk in a stolen car could run over you on your way home tomorrow night, and you could have the best-laid plans for what you want to do, but there's still that element of chance that it could all go wrong. But the bottom line of that is, 'Take the chance, roll the bones.' If it's a random universe, and that's terrifying and it makes you neurotic and everything, never mind. You really have to just take the chance or else nothing's going to happen. The bad thing might not happen but the good thing won't happen either, so that's really the only choice you have." Neil Peart, “Roll The Bones Radio Special"
The album went to number three in America, the band’s first album to hit the US top five since 1981’s Moving Pictures, and “Ghost of a Chance” made it to number two on the Mainstream Rock chart. For the Rush R40 Tour in 2015, the performance of the titular track features an accompanying video for the rap section that had lip synching cameos from Rush super fans Peter Dinklage, Chad Smith, Jay Baruchel, Les Claypool, Tom Morello, Paul Rudd, and Jason Segel.
To mark Roll the Bones' 30th anniversary, we’re releasing brand new officially licensed limited edition screenprints by Ben Brown!
I was fan of the early records of Rush - and being a big music fan, always paid respect to their very capable music chops - both as players and composers. As a kid I loved 70’s hard driving rock (still do!) - Alice Cooper, Deep Purple, The Faces, Led Zeppelin - and those early Rush LP’s fit right in to my play list. I was not as familiar with later output from the band - in the early 90’s I had moved on and was riding skateboards and listening to hard core punk rock and metal.When Collectionzz approached me to create a Rush poster - I was stoked - and revisited ‘Fly By Night’ and 2112. I also played Roll the Bones. At first I fell back on the old cliche of 'I like the early stuff better'. But the more I listened to it as I worked up the images for the poster, I just couldn’t believe how it grew on me. Testament to their skill to write songs and riffs that drag you in. Pouring over the lyrics for inspiration added another layer too. Neils lyrics and writing in general gave me plenty to draw on. There are quite a few obscure and cryptic visuals we have included in the poster detailed below. It was great fun to work on. I love screen printed rock posters and feel privileged and excited to add this one to my portfolio. - Ben Brown
Here's a guide and explanation of the the Easter eggs in the illustration. Were you able to spot them all?
- Lady Luck is the central focus of the print, luck and chance being a theme throughout Roll the Bones. Her blindfold is a metaphor... she herself did not know what fate she would make. You should definitely read about the history of Tyche, the Greek goddess of fortune, chance, providence and fate.
- The morse code message around Lady Luck's translates to "remember death," which was contained within the Roll the Bones tour book. "The cover art reflects a style of 17th century Dutch painting called vanitas, in which symbols, such as the skull (and also candles, books flowers, playing cards, etc.), were used to remind the good Netherlanders of life's brevity, and the ultimate transience of all material things and sensual pleasures. These paintings sometimes used a latin motto: "memento mori," which translates as "remember death." So, as you can see, this is basically one of those lame intellecto-jokes, the kind that make your brain hurt to think about." Neal Peart
- Geddy had developed an interest in bird watching during the recording of the album and ensured some broken bird feeders by the studio window were repaired and filled with feed. The album's liner notes include a thanks to birds. The birds in the illustration are a reference to Geddy's birds.
- The first lyric Neil wrote for the album was used on "Face Up," specifically: "Turn it up – or turn that wild card down." Lady Luck is holding what would be a royal flush, except the final card is the joker. The ace which should have completed the royal flush is on the ground. Will the boy notice? This is a reference to the lyrics and Neil's idea of turning a card down and a wild card, and applying them to events that a person may face.
- Another reference to change of circumstances is how the right side of the print contains beautiful flowers and a strong structure (representing prosperity), and the left side of the print has dying flowers, dead leaves on the ground, and a crumbling structure (representing challenge). One of Geddy's birds is flying away from the challenge to join his companion on the prosperity side of the poster.
- Neil stated he was sitting on his cottage floor "with a pile of papers around me" of notes from the previous two years, mostly consisting of phrases written on tour or during "that dreamlike moment before sleep." The clouds and stars behind Lady Luck represent the dreamlike moment.
- The name of the variant edition is the Now It's Dark Edition, in which Ben changed the main edition colorway to darker tones. The album's liner notes contain the cryptic phrase "Now it's dark," which Neil later revealed that the phrase references the 1986 mystery film Blue Velvet!