THE MU­SI­CAL BOX

As Rush exit stage left, the story con­tin­ues with mem­bers in­dulging other av­enues. In three edi­tions – Ul­tra Lim­ited, Luxe Lim­ited and Stan­dard, the band’s bass ace tack­les a book project of bi­b­li­cal pro­por­tions.

Prog - - Contents - Words: Jerry Ewing Il­lus­tra­tion: Pete Fowler

Al­bum re­views from Rush, Keith Emer­son, Within Temp­ta­tion, Andy Mackay, Bar­clay James Har­vest and more…

Let’s get one thing straight: this book, much like a well-known out­door wood care oil, does ex­actly what it says on the cover. It’s very big – so big, in fact, that you should be care­ful lift­ing it. We’re be­ing se­ri­ous. It did this writer’s back some dam­age just car­ry­ing it home from work in a back­pack! Lit­tle won­der that else­where in this is­sue Geddy Lee warns, “Don’t drop it on your foot.” It’s also very beau­ti­ful. Eye-catch­ingly lav­ish, rich in de­tail and deep in thought. And yes, it’s full of bass. Lots and lots of bass. More than 250 of the in­stru­ments spread across more than 400 pages, cap­tured in crys­tal clear de­tail and in ful­some, strik­ing colour. Never has the bass gui­tar ap­peared quite so beau­ti­ful be­fore.

Throw in a se­ries of can­did in­ter­views with some of the rock world’s most prom­i­nent ex­po­nents and col­lec­tors of the bass, an en­gag­ing es­say from the au­thor, in which he de­clares that “It’s not sur­pris­ing that sooner or later I’d dive down the prover­bial rab­bit hole into the world of vin­tage bass gui­tars”, an overview of Lee’s own bass rig for the fi­nal Rush R40 tour, a look at his stage and record­ing gear from 1968 to 2017 and an en­gag­ingly hu­mor­ous time­line of bass his­tory, in­clud­ing such high­points as when Rush donned ki­monos for the first time for 1976’s 2112, and this is a most rea­son­ably priced Christ­mas gift, not just for any bass head, but any Rush fan to boot.

As Lee ex­plains in our fea­ture start­ing on page 42, he didn’t used to be much of a bass col­lec­tor. Then, some eight years ago, he found him­self drawn more to the idea of the in­stru­ments his own he­roes col­lected and won­dered why he hadn’t fol­lowed suit.

The ini­tial idea was to spend some time amass­ing a mod­est col­lec­tion. Now he owns more than 250 bass gui­tars, from his trade­mark Rick­en­backer and Fender, through Gib­sons, Epi­phones, Höfn­ers and Am­pegs,

An en­gag­ingly hu­mor­ous time­line of bass his­tory, in­clud­ing such high­points as when Rush donned ki­monos for the first time.

to the works of lesser-known luthiers such as Tony Ze­maitis and An­to­nio Wan­dre Pi­oli. Find­ing time on his hands in the wake of Rush’s last tour and with the band moth­balled for the fore­see­able fu­ture, the idea of a book about his cho­sen in­stru­ment reared its head, and Geddy Lee’s Big Beau­ti­ful Book Of Bass be­came a re­al­ity.

Along the way, Lee chats to a va­ri­ety of some of the finest bassists in mu­sic, in­clud­ing John Paul Jones, Les Clay­pool, Rob Tru­jillo, Bill Wy­man, Jeff Tweedy, Adam Clay­ton, Bob Dais­ley and more. Any­one who has in­ter­viewed Lee will tell you what a ge­nial con­ver­sa­tion­al­ist he can be, and this comes through strongly in these in­ter­views. When you read about these bass play­ers sit­ting down and chew­ing the fat over their beloved in­stru­ment, the pas­sion and mu­si­cal in­trigue they still clearly pos­sess is ev­i­dent. Read­ing about Clay­pool’s love of Lee, Chris Squire and Tony Levin’s bass sound, how the youth­ful Clay­ton dug Ge­n­e­sis and Pink Floyd or how Tru­jillo be­came the proud owner of Jaco Pas­to­rius’ bass of doom, both theirs and Lee’s pas­sion is in­fec­tious. It helps im­mea­sur­ably, too, that Lee has no need to pan­der to the whims of a mag­a­zine or news­pa­per ed­i­tor, just him­self. These in­ter­views are re­fresh­ing, open, in­sight­ful and, most im­por­tantly, great fun to read. One senses that they were also great fun to con­duct. Oh, to have been a fly on the wall when John Paul Jones de­clared, tongue-in-cheek of course, that “Led Zep­pelin is not my cho­sen sub­ject”.

One sus­pects that if Rush had cho­sen not to step back af­ter R40, this book might never have seen the light of day. But, with his new­found free time, Lee has crafted some­thing unique and quite won­der­ful.

There are enough in­sights into his and Rush’s lengthy ca­reer to pull in non-bass nerds, too, such is the re­laxed, ev­ery­man na­ture of Lee’s de­liv­ery, while his af­fec­tion for the sub­ject mat­ter sim­ply leaps off of ev­ery page.

And Rush fans? They’ll be in sev­enth heaven. Es­pe­cially with the look at Lee’s equip­ment from over the years, as well as the de­tail on the 27 or so bass gui­tars he chose to take on the road for the band’s fi­nal jaunt. Each and ev­ery one of them, how­ever, is likely to catch a breath, as Alex Life­son in his hi­lar­i­ous Back­word at the start of the book opens with the line, “Geddy Lee is still my best friend.” A lovely and fit­ting trib­ute in a won­der­fully im­pres­sive book.

Geddy Lee’s Big Beau­ti­fulBook Of BassHarper De­sign

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