Writing The Rush Chronology is a bit like archaeology. You go in with a good amount of information and end up discovering things you had no idea were hidden in the past. Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson and Neil Peart have all been involved in other artists’ projects at different points in their careers and these are some of those extra-curricular appearances beyond the Mackenzie Bros.’ “Take Off” and Max Webster’s “Battle Scar.”
“Even Now” 6:44
Written by Matt Scannell & Neil Peart
Appears on: Burning The Days (2009)
Neil being good friends with Matt Scannell, it’s not surprising that he appears on three tracks on Vertical Horizon’s Burning The Days), “Save Me From Myself,” “Welcome To The Bottom” and this one.
You’ll immediately notice this song is wordier than the other tracks on this album, which is likely Neil’s contribution. It’s fascinating to hear someone else sing his words besides Geddy (or even going back to the JR Flood days). The drum work is heavy and intense, suiting the song, and demonstrating how this track is truly a collaboration, rather than simply a guest appearance.
“Hey Bop A-Rebop” 5:45
Written by Curley Hamney & Lionel Hampton
Appears on: Side Two (2003)
The Stickmen are behind this funk rock cover of the old jazz standard by Lionel Hampton and His Orchestra. The track is a lot of fun and Alex Lifeson gets into the groove with some panache. Recommended!
“Everybody’s Broken” 3:30
Written by John Kastner
Appears on: Have You Seen Lucky (2006)
This is an upbeat little modern rock number by John Kastner, with dependable guitar work from Alex (not flashy or getting in the way of the song).
Alex also appears on the track “Testify All Over Me” from the same album.
“The Road” 6:20
Written by Ken Ramm & Geddy Lee
Appears on: Euphoria (2000)
The piece starts with rambling guitar work (strangely, only in the left channel at first), before the music rolls in with an organic, trance-y flavour which really does evoke an unhurried journey down a country road, before picking up the pace a little bit. The acoustic guitar and rhythmic harmonicas decorate the light keyboards (by Geddy) that underscore the entire piece. Geddy’s bass is also noticeable throughout. This is really a wonderful piece with lots of subtle shades and upfront, colourful performances.
“Good For Sule” 5:35
Written by I Mother Earth (Jagori Tanna & Christian Tanna)
Appears on: Blue Green Orange (2000)
It’s interesting that both this and the Euphoria Geddy Lee guest appearances were released on the same day, because despite being otherwise unrelated tracks, both share certain spirit in their gently arranged reflection (or maybe it’s just me). This track is definitely an alt-rock acoustic number, moody, but not weighed down too much by its own introspection. This is also a bit different I Mother Earth from the days Alex recorded with them and with Edwin on Victor. By now, Edwin has been replaced by Brian Byrne and this album, the successor to Scenery And Fish, has been described as more mellow than the earlier album was. This is a good song and Geddy’s bass stands out nicely.
Written by Julian “Cannonball” Adderley
Appears on: Champion (1985)
Jeff Berlin & Vox Humana deliver an excellent fusion rendition of the Cannonball Adderley number from his 1968 album Accent On Africa. Neil’s drum parts come in on the “chorus” sections, beefing up the Steve Smith’s drum parts and adding a lot of power. Highly recommended! Smith would also later participate in Peart’s Burning For Buddy tribute.
“Champion (Of The World)” 4:37
Written by Jeff Berlin
Appears on: Champion (1985)
A great jazz-fusion track here that really let’s Neil shine in a genre that he would later explore in more detail via Burning For Buddy. There are plenty of signature drum fills, but he doesn’t overdue it and lets the song stay airy and light. Also highly recommended!
“24 Star (No Apologies)” 3:00
Written by Katie B, Philip Caivano & Dave Olgilvie
Appears on: Born 4 (2003)
Jakalope’s music is an interesting mix of pop and industrial, which you’d expect from the production work of Dave “Rave” Olgivie and Trent Reznor. This song is a good example of their work. Alex’s guitar work is heavy and grinding, but not overly distinctive (which isn’t bad, as it works for the song, but unless you knew it was him, you may not be able to tell from the song alone).
The album Born 4 was released on October 3, 2003, the same day as Edwin’s album Better Days, featuring Alex on the tracks “Light Reflects” and “Eyes Of A Child,” and the same day as the Trailer Park Boys: The Movie soundtrack album. a good day for Rush-related song
“I Fought The Law” 3:51
Written by Sonny Curtis
Appears on: Trailer Park Boys: The Movie Soundtrack
This is Alex and Geddy as members of the Big Dirty Band and their cover of “I Fought The Law” This version starts with a quiet refrain of the title chorus before exploding into a modern hard rock cover of the classic song. The outro guitar is vintage Alex. Definitely seek this one out! The video was directed by long-time Rush photographer Andrew MacNaughtan and features the Trailer Park Boys, Geddy, Alex and the rest of The Big Dirty Band.
Alex also appears on Bubble’s track “Liquor & Whores.”
Written by Steven Wilson
Appears on: Fear Of A Blank Planet (2007)
Porcupine Tree’s album Fear Of A Blank Planet is composed in the vein of ‘70s prog-rock concept albums and takes its inspiration from the Bret Easton Ellis book Lunar Park and deals with themes of alienation, social disconnection and the modern world. At nearly 18 minutes, this track changes styles fluidly, drifting between Pink Floyd-like ethereal soundscapes, nigh-Industrial distorted guitars and various other moods. Its easy to see why Alex was drawn to the band’s works and while his contribution to this track is short (his solo comes in around the 4 minute mark), it adds to the over texture of the piece.
Written by Matt Scannell (2013)
Appears on: Echoes From The Underground
Neil’s drums are hard hitting and punctuate this mid-tempo alt-rocker, his forth with Vertical Horizon. He also appears on the song “Instamatic” on this album.
“Sacred & Mundane” 5:26
Written by Tiles
Appears on: Fly Paper (2008)
A solid rocker by the band Tile, with some different textures and movements, this song has some great guitar work by Alex.
Written by The Wilderness Of Manitoba
Appears on: Between Colours (2011)
Canadian indie folk rock at it’s finest (emphasis on rock on this one), this is Wilderness’s fourth album. The track pounds along and doesn’t let up for a moment and Alex’s guitar solo soars through it. Get this one!
“When I Close My Eyes” 4:49
Written by The Black Sea Station
Appears on: Transylvania Avenue (2011)
Klezmer is basically Eastern European Jewish folk music, with all the rich cultural flavour you’d expect. Geddy previously dabbled in klezmer by way of his Finjan collaboration (From Ship To Shore, also done through Ben Mink). This Black Sea Station instrumental is haunting, beautiful and evocative of a small country village and its inhabitants. Geddy’s bass work keeps the lower end nice and solid.
Written by Dave Clark, arr. by Neil Peart
Appears on: Whale Music (1992)
Rheostatics were among the wave of quirky alternative bands coming out in the ‘90s, along side such artists as Barenaked Ladies (who also appear on the album). We close out the discussion with this spoken word piece, done over Neil’s drumming, which rips into a great solo at the end. Short, but sweet!
The Rush Chronology book details the recording and release history of the band, as well as their live career, solo project and guest appearances. You can pick up your copy here:http://www.lulu.com/shop/patrick-lemieux/the-rush-chronology/paperback/product-22362187.html