The Professor on the Drum Kit
With those now famous words (famous to Rush fans, anyway) uttered by Geddy Lee, a young Neil Peart embarks on what would be the first of many recorded drum solos (unbeknownst to him) throughout an illustrious career. Coming in at number seven in our countdown is the solo from the 2112 tour as featured on All the World's a Stage, recorded in June of 1976 at Massey Hall in Toronto.
This solo is the polar opposite of the solo that came in at number eight in our countdown (you can read about it here). Whereas that one at times seemed to drag on and seem somewhat, well, slow, or sluggish, this one was crisp, fast, and bombastic. His single stroke accented rolls at the beginning were very accurate and without flaw. He transitioned very smoothly between the different 'movements' of the solo. There was no letup in the energy.
This is an important solo in that some of the parts used here cropped up in many solos in subsequent years. These themes were interspersed at different points in the later solos, mixed in with new variations and themes that Neil came up with over time. Here are a few samples of what I call "pillar elements" of Neil's solos:
The above are signature patterns that, when heard played by anyone else, automatically remind you of Peart. When composing solos, as expressed by Neil, he'll tend to take the previous solo and see what elements he still likes and implement them in some way in the new solo, or take a familiar theme and expand on it. This solo has ended up being a foundation for all subsequent solos.
As good as this solo is, however, there are six that are even better still. If all the solos were played one after the other in a random order, this one would sound like the demo solo. In actuality, that's what it ended up being, since now there's a catalog of solos. Obviously at the time there were no electronics for drums to speak of to augment songs (or solos!), which in fact contributed to the raw edge this solo has. Most of the other solos had the benefit of electronics, which allowed Neil an artistic license to be very creative beyond the acoustic kit. This one limitation is why this solo could not rank any higher compared to the other solos, but to this day it holds its own.
Whereas the presence of the drummer was confined to the kit in this solo, our next solo in the countdown saw the aura of the soloist expand way beyond it. How so? Stayed tuned for number six in the countdown!
Number 8 | Number 6