When assembling our Top 10 Geddy Lee Rush Songs, we found ourselves with a series of critical dilemmas. Most importantly, how do we separate this list from the basic Top 10 Rush Songs? Rush always wrote songs as a democracy, but Lee's transcendent bass runs and polarizing voice made him the band's defining figure. We ultimately selected the 10 songs that show Lee's true range as a musician, tracing his evolution throughout the decades, the sonic fads – and, yes, the unfortunate hair styles. Let's all "get the Gedd out" with our list of the Top 10 Geddy Lee Rush Songs.
"Malignant Narcissism"From: 'Snakes & Arrows' (2007)
It isn't one of the best-known moments on our list of the Top 10 Geddy Lee Rush Songs, but this instrumental is among his finest latter-day performances as a bassist. Rush conjure epic Middle Eastern expanses on "Malignant Narcissism" as Lee pushes his instrument forward with eerie menace.
"New World Man"From: 'Signals' (1982)
Some Rush fans felt betrayed in the '80s when the band added some New Wave gloss to its trademark hard-prog style. But as the tight, funky "New World Man" proves, Rush hadn't lost any of their technical chops. The track is carried by Lee's liquid bass runs, particularly on the jaw-dropping post-chorus.
"Bastille Day"From: 'Caress of Steel' (1975)
Caress of Steel is one of Rush's most hated albums, even though it includes several underrated gems like the propulsive, shape-shifting "Bastille Day." With its psychedelic solo and crunching riff, this proggy anthem could easily show up on an Alex Lifeson best-of list too. But Lee is the captain of this crazy ship, singing in his trademark banshee wail and delivering a fluid, Paul McCartney-esque bassline.
"Show Don't Tell"From: 'Presto' (1989)
This late-'80s single is one of the band's most deceptively complex songs, balancing brash funk riffage with a dreamy, atmospheric New Wave chorus. It offers one of Lee's prettiest vocal melodies, and toward the song's conclusion, he even manages to slip in a nasty, jazz fusion-style bass solo. What a wonderfully weird moment in Rush history.
"The Spirit of Radio"From: 'Permanent Waves' (1980)
Our list of the Top 10 Geddy Lee Rush Songs wouldn't be complete without the hard-hitting anthem "The Spirit of Radio." The Permanent Waves album marked an important chapter in Lee's evolution. He sings in a more melodic, less-abrasive lower register, delivering one of his sweetest, most passionate vocals. Meanwhile, his bass is mind-blowing in the intro, nimbly circling around Lifeson's guitar flange.
"YYZ"From: 'Moving Pictures' (1981)
Moving Pictures has it all: anthemic singles ("Limelight"), extended epics ("Tom Sawyer") and in "YYZ," a full-blown instrumental workout. The whole band is positively on fire (the mid-section finger-tapped guitar solo is arguably Alex Lifeson's signature moment), but Lee is the true showstopper, journeying across the fret board with hypnotic excitement and channeling his funk and jazz-fusion influences. His bass harmonics at the 2:16 mark are downright breathtaking.
"The Big Money"From: 'Power Windows' (1985)
As proved by "YYZ" (see No. 5 on our list of Top 10 Geddy Lee Rush Songs), the bassist has the chops to start his own instrumental jazz-prog ensemble. But not all of his best moments are quite so explosive. "The Big Money" is a great example of Lee flexing his muscles within a tight pop context, adopting a thick slap-bass style.
"Cygnus X-1 Book II: Hemispheres"From: 'Hemispheres' (1978)
The extended "Cygnus" suite from the late '70s (split in half over A Farewell to Kings and Hemispheres) is Rush's definitive prog-rock epic. "Book II" finds the band blending atmospheric passages with mind-numbing riffs. In one of his most intricate basslines, Lee squiggles massive waves of notes over Neil Peart's dizzying disco-prog beat. Vocally, Lee alternates between a tender croon and his high witch-like shriek.
"Digital Man"From 'Signals' (1982)
The reggae-inflected "Digital Man" is one of Rush's most controversial songs. Longtime producer Terry Brown was so unimpressed with the new aesthetic, he declined to work with the band after the Signals sessions. His loss: "Digital Man" is a classic example of Rush pushing toward new styles without abandoning their strengths. Lee is at his funkiest and fiercest, unleashing a downright godly bass tone.
"Fly by Night"From: 'Fly by Night' (1975)
Working with Peart for the first time, Lee kicked his bass playing up a remarkable notch: His agile fretwork is catchy and rhythmically inventive – simultaneously anchoring the song and pushing it forward. Lee may have played with more flash elsewhere, but he never played with more elegance than on the track that checks in at No. 1 on our list of the Top 10 Geddy Lee Rush Songs.