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From The Who to Cream: Rush's Geddy Lee picks 9 of his favourite songs

There are few artists in the world as comprehensively gifted at playing their instruments as Rush. With Alex Lifeson on guitar, the late, great Neil Peart on drums and Geddy Lee on bass, the trio would go on to dominate the prog rock world. It’s a scene that is enjoying a brief revival these days and so it makes Lee’s opinion on the rock world even more vital than before.

Prog rock is a space that is so intrinsically linked to the idea of creative evolution that it’s hard to imagine a young Lee, Lifeson or Peart sitting down and actually listening to records by their contemporaries. It’s quite hard to imagine who the band aligned with, in the early part of their career, at least. However, it turns out they did and below we’ve got Geddy Lee’s nine favourite songs of all time.

The list is provided to us courtesy of Guitar World and sees Lee not only select nine of his favourite songs of all time but also some reasoning as to why he picked them. It makes for a serious playlist, which we have compiled for you below.

Never afraid to share a little bit of shine for his counterparts, Geddy Lee paid tribute to those influences that helped shape Rush, saying they were deeply influenced by many rock acts, including Jethro Tull. “In my view, this is the first truly successful concept album by a British prog-rock band,” he said. “They even brought a flute into heavy rock music. How dare they! [laughs].”

As well as paying attention to Jethro Tull, Lee also paid tribute to other notable British acts like Genesis and the brilliant Eric Clapton-led supergroup Cream. Picking their song ‘Spoonful’ Lee highlighted that it was Jack Bruce, the band’s bassist, who was the real star: “For me, ‘Spoonful’ was more about Jack Bruce’s great voice and adventurous playing. Bruce, like all the bass players I’ve mentioned, wasn’t content to be a bottom-end, stayin’-the-background bassist.”

Lee continued: “He’s playing a Gibson bass obviously too loud, to where it’s distorting the speakers. But it gave him this aggressive sound and a kind of spidery tone, and I love everything about it.” It’s the perfect summation of Rush as an entire band. Not only happy to appreciate and heap praise on others but also to turn it inward and improve upon oneself.

Lee also made a note to doff his cap to The Who by picking their song ‘My Generation’ which acted as an electric shock to the youth of the world when it landed on the airwaves. But he does note that the Live at Leeds version is the best: “What an amazing guitar sound on this album! And [Pete] Townshend even plays a few solos, which he usually never does. Was there anybody better at expressing themselves through power chords?”

He adds: “I just loved that record, and I know Alex [Lifeson] did, too. Every time we jammed as a young band we would wind up jamming parts of that record.”

Another live act that shaped Lee’s perception of rock was Led Zeppelin, picking their tune ‘How Many More Times’ he said: “We were in the second row, and when they played this song it just blew me away. It reaffirmed for me all the creative potential in blending hard rock with progressive music. John Paul Jones was the unsung hero in that band.”

Below you can find the full list and the complete playlist and here you can read the entire interview.

Rush’s Geddy Lee’s favourite songs of all time:

  • ‘Thick as a Brick’ – Jethro Tull
  • ‘Time And a Word’ – Yes
  • ‘How Many More Times’ – Led Zeppelin
  • ‘I Ain’t Superstitious’ – Jeff Beck
  • ‘Over Under Sideways Down’ – The Yardbirds
  • ‘Watcher of the Skies’ – Genesis
  • ‘3/5 of a Mile in Ten Seconds’ – Jefferson Airplane
  • ‘Spoonful’ – Cream
  • ‘My Generation’ – The Who