If you’re a Rush fan, you’re most likely a Neil Peart fan. At the very least, you’ve been caught air drumming to Tom Sawyer more than once in your life.
“Taking Center Stage” is the companion book to the DVD of the same name. Written by Joe Bergamini, this book offers much more than your typical drum transcription book.
Instead of just giving you the parts as played by Neil, this book includes:
1. A chapter for every Rush tour from 1974 until 2012 that includes
an overview of the tour and the equipment that Neil was using for it.
2. A detailed diagram of the drum setup used during the tour.
3. The tour book pages where Neil discussed his current gear setup for that tour.
4. Discussions of the songs transcribed in each section with both an analysis of the parts played and a review of the song’s place and importance in Rush’s discography.
5. Transcriptions of the songs as performed on the Time Machine tour.
6. Photos of Neil and his kit used on each tour.
As a result, people who aren’t drummers can still glean a lot of information about Rush’s performance and compositions from a drummer’s perspective while drummers can learn information and techniques to improve their playing. For a person interested in “Rush,” the pictures alone are visually stunning.
One cautionary note would be to not pull out your old albums, put them on and play the transcribed drum parts. Trying to play “The Trees” in its 1978 form won’t work. Even though Neil has been famous for being able to recreate exactly what is on the recording in performance, recently he has been reinterpreting older compositions with subtle part modifications that more accurately reflect his current technical expertise.
Overall, as one can probably guess from my prior reviews of “Rush” material, I’m going to give this book a great review. I believe any drummer looking for ideas about how to set up your kit, develop parts, even take pictures of their gear, can use this book for information and inspiration.
Finally, the book is nice enough to take “center stage” on any coffee table and has on mine.
Tell us your favorite Rush rock out song!
I’ll start by being frank. I knew almost nothing about Rush up until two weeks ago. What I did know, I had learned from the single Rush fan I know and the Paul Rudd/Jason Segel vehicle, I Love You, Man (a great movie, by the way; I suggest it to anyone who likes to laugh). Learning more about them, however, has been a real pleasure. Am I ready to buy every Rush t-shirt on the market and walk around with the Starman logo tattooed to my face just yet? No. But, I am prepared to tell you why you (yes you) just might love Rush, after all.
You might love Rush if:
You Respect Good Musicianship
You may be wondering how a three person band can have such a full sound. The answer: Geddy Lee’s feet. Ok, there’s more to it than that, but the man has been known to play foot pedals and keyboards while also rocking the bass and wailing away with that iconic voice. Lifeson is no slouch either and, if you’ve never seen a video of Neal Peart playing a drum solo, well…watch a video of Neal Peart playing a drum solo. Finished? Great. Yes, that was a full circle of drums and, yes, he played all of them.
You Like Lyrics that Make You Think
It’s not often that a band can rock as hard as Rush and still come out with thoughtful, quality lyrics that really speak to the audience. Songs like Fly by Night, Free Will, and Working Man all address the need to rise above the apparent restrictions and limitations of life as we know it. At the same time, they are encouraging glimpses into the fight for freedom of both body and spirit. But don’t take my word for it. You could just listen to them…
You Appreciate an Underdog
If you’re like me, you tend to think of Rush as kind of niche market sort of band. To put it simply, they were nerd rock before that was really a thing. Ask me if I like Rush and I ask what your high score on Pacman is. That’s not really much of an exaggeration either. The song Tom Sawyer actually directly references the game Space Invaders. Let it never be said that Rush didn’t know who they were playing to.
You Respect a Track Record of Success
Did I say Rush played to a niche market? Because they also happen to have garnered the third most consecutive gold or silver records in history (coming in after the Beatles and the Rolling Stones). They’ve sold 40 million albums worldwide and 25 million in the US alone. Oh, yeah, and they’ve just been inducted into this little club called the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame. If that’s not enough reason to give them a shot, I just don’t know what could be.
Love Rush? Tell us why!
If you want to learn more about Rush, you can find more info on their Artist Page.
Sources of Bass Guitar Sheet Music You Might Not Have Thought Of
I started my musical career as a bass player in elementary orchestra. If you have a similar background, you know it’s not the most exciting instrument early on. Still, there’s always inspiration if you know where to look. If you can’t seem to find enough good bass guitar sheet music, you might try:
Jim Creeggan, Barenaked Ladies
I start with Jim Creegan, because BNL was my first real exposure to the popular music of my youth (the 90s). He also gets bonus points for spending much of his time on the upright bass, rather than the bass guitar. Understated, overshadowed, and, frankly, unheard of, Jim Creeggan’s rhythms were the bass line to my childhood. But that’s not the only reason I mention him. The man was versatile as anyone. From the jazzy licks of Hello City, to the lamenting tones of Lovers in a Dangerous Time (played on upright with a bow), to the more standard rock and roll style of Too Little Too Late, Creeggan can run with the best of them.
Song to start with: Lovers in a Dangerous Time or One Week
Sting, The Police
I’ll come out and admit it; when I was bored in the back of the orchestra, I used to hum or sing the other parts while I plugged away at my bass. It always resulted in me losing the beat or muttering out some add mess of sounds, so you can imagine why I might be impressed by a guy like Sting. Is he the only singing bassist? No, but his jazz and reggae inspired style produced both thoughtful lyrics and catchy tunes, at least one of which you will have stuck in your head for the rest of the day. How about…
Song to start with: Every Little Thing She Does is Magic
MCA (Adam Yauch), The Beastie Boys
The Beastie Boys played their own music; let’s just get that out of the way in case you weren’t aware. They started off as a punk band but migrated to rap at a time when it was still adventurous/risky for them to do so. MCA, in addition to having more rhymes than gray hairs (of which, he is said to have had his share), rocked the bass with as much attitude as the mic. If you have 45 minutes, and you’re rad enough to handle it, check them out live in Glasgow in 1999. If you don’t have that much time, skip to the end to catch them performing ‘Sabotage’. Speaking of which,
Song to start with: Sabotage
Flea (Michael Balzary), Red Hot Chili Peppers
While being a virtual revolving door for guitarists and drummers, RHCP staples Anthony Kiedis (vocals) and Flea (bass) have been there from the beginning. As with many riff driven bands, Flea’s talents seem to fade a bit into the background, but they should certainly not be overlooked. Have a listen to the song By the Way and pay close attention to what he’s doing in the background. If you ask me, that song alone qualifies him for Bassist Sainthood.
Song to start with: Well, since I mentioned it, By the Way
Gabe Nelson, CAKE
Though not the bassist on their breakout album, Fashion Nugget, Nelson was part of the band early on and returned for the four albums that followed. His work on the Comfort Eagle album is particularly impressive, in my opinion. In a band that’s all about the unorthodox, it takes a lot of poise and skill to keep up. Nelson managed to flourish through unconventional syncopation and off-kilter melodies and prove himself to be one of the most talented bassists in the business.
Song to start with: Short Skirt/Long Jacket
Got a favorite bassist? Leave a comment and tell me why they rock!
Your rock t-shirts are a key part of your look. Pivotal really, because they tell the world who you are. Nirvana’s drunk smiley face and Rush’s Starman may peg you as a discerning music fan, but if you’re like me, that’s not enough. You want a shirt that not only shows people you know good music, but that you might just be an art critic as well, such as:
If you had eyes and ears in the mid 90s, you’re probably familiar with this symbol and the band it represented. From a distance, it looks like a slightly impressionist painting of the sun. Take a closer look, though, and you’ll see there’s a lot going on. The surrealist elements include Skeletons, a knife, and the devil himself, with a number of other pictures alluding to the violence and desperation of life in Long Beach that the band sang about with such passion. Beyond that, it’s pretty cool looking, isn’t it?
Does it capture the eye? Sure. Is it Psychedelic? You bet. But there’s something more about this t-shirt that speaks to the point in time it depicts. Jimi played live at Randall’s Island in July of 1970. He died two months later. Here, we see him bright as sunlight, but almost faded into the burst of color behind him. For a man who shown as brightly he did and burned out far too soon, I can’t think of a more fitting depiction.
Led Zeppelin may be one of England’s most successful exports, but this shirt is the American dream on a polyester cotton blend. While most British subjects are still, to this day, a little sketchy on the concept of freedom, the artist behind this piece captured the spirit in full force. It speaks of the raw, naked struggle to rise above the troubled times that the 70s were in search of the promise of liberty. Or, it could just be an awesome dude with wings flying across the American flag. Either way, it’s pretty sweet.
As far as metal t-shirts go, this one captures the hell out of the spirit of the genre. Besides appearing to be one of the lost works of Hieronymus Bosch, Slayer’s Reign in Blood, unsurprisingly, had to fight to be released as is. Its cover art harkens back to the Renaissance, when paintings regularly placed well known figures of the day in various tormented hells. I’m not really sure who these men are, though one appears to be wearing a Pope hat. It also looks like a portrait of Christopher Columbus up to his neck in blood in the bottom left hand corner, but that would have pretty much been par for the course for him.
Boston’s famous Starship logo is a throwback to the band’s previous career as an interstellar planetary wrecking crew. When they reached earth, they loved rock and roll so much that they decided to stay and demolish it through earth shattering music, instead. In all honesty, though, they really needed an extra-terrestrial theme to match the unearthly voice of lead singer Brad Delp. As it turns out, the ship is actually supposed to be fleeing Earth, rather than arriving there. Perhaps it’s a look at the future, when the mother ship finally arrives to bring Tom Scholz and the rest of Boston home.
What did I miss? Leave your comments below to let me know!
How Beatles sheet music and Album Lyrics Changed Forever
People tend to think of genius as something that springs eternal from better minds than theirs. It’s kind of hard to imagine anything other than brilliance being translated from the Beatle’s minds down to paper. After all, as the best selling band of all time, they hold untouchable legend status in the musical community. But would Beatles sheet music and albums still be flying off the shelves if they had sung, say:
1) “Attracts me like a cauliflower/pomegranate” (Something/Harrison)
Imagine that one for a moment. George Harrison’s ‘Something’ is one of the most beautiful and moving songs ever written. The inspiration for the song is somewhat contentious, with Pattie Boyd (Harrison’s wife), George himself, and the Liverpool Vegetable Farmer’s Association all making compelling, yet conflicting claims. Harrison’s love affair with broccoli’s somehow less appealing cousin isn’t well documented (Paul was the outspoken vegetarian), but the evidence is out there. All in all, I’m glad he went with “attracts me like no other lover”, but just the same, don’t forget to tell your significant other when you go home that there isn’t a single cauliflower you find more attractive than her.
2) “Scrambled eggs/Oh, my baby how I love your legs” (Yesterday/McCartney)
The Beatles piano, guitar, bass, and everything else imaginable player also happened to write some of the best lyrics of all time. That doesn’t mean he got everything right the first time around. As a matter of fact, this one took quite some time as the story goes. After composing the melody in his sleep, McCartney spent the better part of a year perfecting the lyrics. Or changing them at least. Personally, I’d like to meet this Scrambled eggs and find out what all the fuss over her legs is about.
3) “[censored for your protection]” (Sexy Sadie/Lennon)
A lot can be said about ‘Sexy Sadie’. In case you weren’t aware, the original title was ‘Maharishi’ and it contained some none too friendly words from Lennon to the Maharishi Yogi. The story goes that the spiritual guide, once revered by the Beatles, made some inappropriate advances toward one of the female members of their party. Lennon, universally known for his reverence toward women , was furious. The phrases that became “Sexy Sadie, what have you done/you made a fool of everyone…” were originally more suited for an HBO series than a 1960s LP. You’ll just have to look them up yourselves, because I’d like to keep my job.
4) “The movement you need is on your shoulders” (Hey Jude/McCartney)
If you happen to be alive and living on planet earth, you may recognize that line as the actual lyric that appears in the song. What you may not realize is that it was never intended to be a part of the song. Originally intended to be a placeholder until McCartney could think up the real line, he decided to just run with it in the end. It’s abundantly clear though, that the Beatles weren’t doing a lot of communicating at that point. If they had, you’d think at least one of them would have said ‘oy, Macca, what the bloody ‘ell does that mean?’ That being said, Paul McCartney’s throwaway lyrics are still better than most musician’s ‘A’ game.