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Alex Lifeson Looks Back on Previously Unreleased Performances in Rush’s ‘R40′ Box

Alex Lifeson
Kevin Winter, Getty Images

Rush have made an awful lot of music over the years, so it’s no surprise that guitarist Alex Lifeson doesn’t have the sharpest recollection of the early unreleased performances the band unearthed for its new ‘R40‘ box set, which comes out Nov. 10.

In fact, during an interview with, Lifeson admitted he’d completely forgotten the archival track ‘I’ve Been Runnin’,’ saying, “That one was really lost to me. But it was a shuffle-y, Delta bluesy kind of song that we were inspired by via Led Zeppelin.”

That’s a far cry from the more progressive vein the band moved into after original drummer John Rutsey left and was replaced by Neil Peart, and Lifeson pointed out that the shift in direction wasn’t an accident of timing. “Geddy [Lee] and I were both leaning towards that kind of music, we loved what Yes was doing, and Jethro Tull, and of course we were big Pink Floyd fans,” Liefson recalled.

“But John was a strong influence in the band and he was a real basic rocker. That was part of the reason for him leaving. There were other reasons: his health. But really when it came right down to it, he was a sort of Bad Company kind of rocker, and Ged and I wanted to move into something that was a bit meatier in terms of arrangements and performance.”

Those early efforts to find a sound would doubtless prove fascinating to longtime fans, but apart from what’s been dug up for ‘R40,’ Lifeson isn’t sure how many others exist. “There might be some tapes lying around, but I can’t imagine what sort of shape they’re in, 40-plus years later,” he admitted. “We never thought about hanging on to that stuff back then. You think of something new and you say, ‘Forget about that old crap.'”

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