From Pink Floyd to Led Zeppelin: Rush frontman Geddy Lee picks his favourite albums of all time
Geddy Lee, the iconic Canadian musician best known as the lead vocalist and bass player of the famed experimental rock band and all-round creative crusaders Rush, has created a list of his favourite albums and it makes for one hell of a playlist. With such an influential musician at play, we can expect a truly eclectic choice.
Lee, who joined the band in 1968, has always triumphed a unique technique and bass-playing style which has inspired a string of musicians from Cliff Burton of Metallica to Tim Commerford of Rage Against the Machine and everyone in between. The likelihood is, if your bassist friend has a favourite bassist, then it’s Geddy Lee.
Since releasing their eponymous debut album in 1974, Lee and Rush have gone on to achieve 24 gold records and 14 platinum records with some truly astronomical album sales statistics. The kind of stats which place them only third behind The Beatles and The Rolling Stones—serious contenders. When sitting down with The Quietus to detail some of the bands that have inspired him through the years, Lee produced a marvelling set of singers and bands.
Opening up with The Who and their iconic 1971 album Who’s Next?, Lee said: “Many of these records happened to be during the period when I was just beginning to find my way, not just as a musician but beginning to discover what music was all about. Pete Townsend, for me, is arguably the ultimate rock musician.”
He added: “Who’s Next was one of those albums that never left my turntable for years. For me it is the album that shows four great musicians touching their creative peak.” It would be a powerhouse record that would shape Lee’s own pursuit of melodic rock.
Lee then divulges some more information on his second pick, the brilliant self-titled debut from Led Zeppelin. It’s largely considered a handsome bronze medal winner for most Zep fans, but for Lee, it holds something far dearer, “Led Zeppelin came to Toronto. I remember staying up all night to get tickets. I think I am right in saying that this album had only just been released and we went to see them.”
The prospect of seeing such a band was almost too much to take, “We were very young and, as such, a little bit on edge and eager to sample anything. Then I heard ‘Communication Breakdown’ and a trigger went off in my head. That was my punk rock, really. The surge of power was something I had never experienced before.”
Another trip to the touring heart of Canada in Toronto would also see the inclusion of Pink Floyd’s Meddle, “That was probably the last Pink Floyd album before they went into their run of classics. Before their really big records. But… again… again… it was their show in Toronto that captivated me and fired the imagination. They opened that show with the whole of Meddle and immediately I could sense the possibilities were immense for this band.” Live performance have always been important to Lee and it’s something he took on into his own career, too.
Quite rightly, fellow compatriot Joni Mitchell’s legendary record Blue finds a home in Lee’s list, the musician saying, “Everybody seemed to have this album. It is one of those records that always seemed to hang in the air. The songwriting is sublime and has never dated.”
Including some more predictable great such as Cream and Gensis, Lee did discuss some more recent musicians with Fleet Foxes, Jethro Tull and Radiohead all being name-checked. “I love the very approach of Fleet Foxes. They seem to have no desire whatsoever to appear trendy,” he told Quietus. “They are simply natural, organic and are so well rooted in folk and rock that they can take both these extremes anywhere they want.”
Detailing further, Lee said: “To me, Radiohead carried on the tradition of bands like Yes. They are always adventurous and challenging and yet they have remained ahead of the game, really. “I love the way they blend old and new…including contemporary beats and instrumentation.”
See the full list, below.
Geddy Lee’s favourite albums of all time:
The Who – Who’s Next?
Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin
Fleet Foxes – Fleet Foxes
Genesis – Nursery Crime
Jethro Tull – Thick As A Brick
Cream – Disraeli Gears
Pink Floyd – Meddle
Joni Mitchell – Blue
Jefferson Airplane – Bless Its Pointed Little Head (Live)