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.
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