Billboard posted a cool check-in interview with Geddy Lee this morning. I usually capture little bits and pieces for my loyal readers, but I found the whole thing illuminating, especially the notion of playing other albums end-to-end on future tours. Dig it:
Billboard: The Rush documentary Beyond the Lighted Stage came out last year. What was your initial reaction?
Geddy: It was hard for me to watch in some ways. It was kind of fun to watch the old, old stuff, the bad hair and bad clothes. And seeing the old performances, I enjoyed that. It was kind of an out-of-body experience, because I didn't recognize that as me. But I found it uncomfortable just to see so much of us talking [laughs]. I enjoyed all the parts where other people were talking more than watching us talk incessantly about what we do.
Billboard: What moved you to perform Moving Pictures in its entirety on the Time Machine tour?
Geddy: We thought that was the perfect time, and the perfect album to do that with. Because I guess it would be considered our quintessential album, and it was the 30th anniversary of that album being released. It also gave us the opportunity to play an 11-minute song on that album called The Camera Eye, which we had never really embraced as a live song.
Billboard: Would you consider doing that with any other classic Rush album?
Geddy: I certainly would. We really enjoyed that whole experience. We played for three hours -- you can tuck a 45-minute album in there and still play lots of new things and lots of other things. If we were really out of our minds, we would attempt something like [1978's] Hemispheres. If Rush has a cult following, within that cult following there's a following for Hemispheres [laughs]. I'm not sure we're up for that one, but I could see us doing 2112.
Billboard: What can we expect from the next album, Clockwork Angels?
Geddy: The first two [single] releases from this album, Caravan and Brought Up to Believe, are a great indication of where this album's going, although there's much more variety than just what those two songs offer. When I look back at [2007 album] Snakes and Arrows, as happy as we were with that record, in retrospect I feel we kind of overdid it with overdubs. We'd like to simplify that, just in terms of making sure the guitar, bass and drum sounds are big and loud and clear, and any time we are going to add an overdub, to make sure that it definitely is adding and not subtracting.
Billboard: Your parents were Holocaust survivors. How did that affect your life and music?
Geddy: Certainly my personality, my sense of humor, my outlook on life was informed by the experiences of my parents, and the stories they shared with me. Red Sector A [from the band's 1984 release Grace Under Pressure] was informed by one of my mom's stories -- when she was liberated in Bergen-Belsen in Germany. When they saw that there were British soldiers coming in to liberate them, they were in such disbelief. They had assumed that they had just been abandoned. Neil [Peart, Rush's drummer/lyricist] and I talked about this, and he'd been putting together some ideas for a futuristic song about a similar kind of prison idea. That story had some impact on him for sure.
Billboard: You're known as an obsessive baseball memorabilia collector, with a museum-quality collection. How did your baseball passion develop?
Geddy: In the early '80s we were touring a lot in America. We'd be staying at a Holiday Inn somewhere, and after a 400-mile drive, we'd be waking up around midday. There was nothing to do but turn on the box, and there was almost always a Cubs game on. I started watching the Cubs every day, and before I knew it I was completely obsessed with baseball. It keeps me sane, or it keeps me insane, probably.
As the Stones ponder their 50th anniversary next year, they are re-kindling interest in the band by releasing a deluxe version of their 1978 album Some Girls, remastered (again) and with a full second album’s worth of songs rescued from the cutting room floor. I will review that release soon – but I’ll tell you now that it’s pretty great.
The group also issued a DVD shot in 16mm film of an intimate concert mid-way through the 1978 American tour that I have been watching pretty much non-stop for the past week, called Live In Texas ’78.
The Stones are in top form at this show. The film catches the band on probably its last tour before it got into the big shows with the over the top props and ramps into the audience and all of that. Here it’s a tight five piece with two keyboard players augmenting the sound. And while the band did do some stadiums on the 1978 tour, this show was at a 3,000-seat theater in Fort Worth, Texas.
The set list is exciting. They kick it off with Let It Rock by Chuck Berry and then slide into some older, familiar tunes like All Down the Line and Honky Tonk Women. But then they soon hit the new material, which was from the mostly punk-inspired Some Girls album. Here the band really hits its stride. Jagger straps on a Strat for When The Whip Comes Down and we see Keith cue the bridge when the time is right. Throughout the night, the Stones perform like they still have something to prove. And new band member Ronnie Wood has clearly added some fire to the lineup.
The band does seven of the ten songs on Some Girls, only omitting Lies, Before They Make Me Run and the title track. This is the last tour where they did so much new material live – and per a 2011 interview with Jagger in the DVD bonus goodies, this was unique even on this tour – they did all that new stuff on this night because it was a small show. A big highlight for me is the live version of Just My Imagination – not punk inspired, rather just groovy and rockin.
Despite the tightness of the group, the arrangements on many of the new songs are loose, with solo sections in different places than the album, and Jagger adding extra lines like in Miss You. In fact despite the fact that Miss You was the big single at the time, the song is pretty much an extended jam with Jagger again on guitar, so Keith and Woody take loads of solos, sometimes at the same time!
There is all sorts of shit in this film you’d never see in a concert film today, like a roadie mopping up a spilled drink by the drum riser during All Down The Line. And the hole on the ass of Jagger’s pants that is covered with duct tape during the first few songs but then is gone and it looks like his underwear is hanging out of the hole all night.
Or in Far Away Eyes, when Mick starts the song on piano but after a verse is having problems with it so he moves to the organ and just picks up where he left off. And…why are Bill Wyman’s middle two fingers bound together? That’s another weird little thing on this film. Regardless, he plays great. I always thought he was fairly mediocre but this music shows off his chops. Even on a slow burner like Beast of Burden his parts are moving and melodic. Good stuff.
Where the Ladies and Gentleman film from the Exile tour showcased Mick Taylor pretty much noodling through every song, this concert showcases the emerging guitar interplay between Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood. Wood is rock solid and is just playing, instead of all the mugging he does these days.
In fact none of the band is mugging. Again, somewhere after this tour they became sort of caricatures of themselves in concert but here they are the real deal. Jagger’s voice is still in that really throaty mode, which he got out of later. It’s evident in Beast of Burden, which is a more aggressive delivery than on the album.
And let’s not forget Charlie Watts – rock solid and probably in his prime here.
After seven new songs in a row, the band shifts back to familiar ground with Love In Vain, an incendiary Tumblin Dice, another Chuck Berry cover, Happy (with Keith on vocal of course) and then the one-two punch of Brown Sugar and Jumpin Jack Flash.
The bonus tracks are interesting but probably only worth one viewing. The aforementioned Jagger interview is good. The band’s 1978 Saturday Night Live performance is on here – all three songs – and it’s just as I remember it. Terrible. The mix sucks, Jagger’s voice is gone and the performances are just poor overall. But Jagger and Dan Aykroyd doing a mock appearance on the Today show is a keeper.
You got a Stones fan you want to dazzle this Christmas? Get them this DVD, and Ladies and Gentlemen. They’ll love you forever.