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VICTOR

Victor

 

Prog Related

3.13 | 35 ratings

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StyLaZyn
4 stars Alex Lifeson's solo album, Victor, released a while back in 1996, was put together during a Rush hiatus, and was a surprise to many fans. Including myself. At first I found it entertaining in a comical way but over time saw the real value in it. If you like the style of Alex Lifeson's guitar playing, not so much guitar tone, you will find this album exceptional. I mention tone because Lifeson definitely tries some new things. And those things are good. During a recent listen, I was reminded of Devin Townsend's layering techniques, but here Lifeson had done it years earlier. Lifeson steps out of the box with this solo freedom and has written music that is very non-Rush, but I'll get on with that later. I'll provide you with track by track reviews. Other musicians include Bill Bell (guitar), Peter Cardinali (bass), and Blake Manning (drums). Lifeson's son, Adrian, provides some computer programming and gives parts of the album a NIN overtone.

As a side note, I had never heard of Edwin prior to Victor coming out, and after purchasing the two I Mother Earth albums with Edwin singing, it helped me to appreciate Victor more.

The first track, "Don't Care", emanates testosterone induced aggression. It sounds like it was written when Lifeson was frustrated or not in the best mood. The strong sexually charged lyrics reflect the basic male instinct. But Lifeson is known for being a clown, thus taking anything seriously by him could be foolish. Prog fans will certainly note the uncommon time signature. 8/10

"Promise", track two, can easily be a Rush song. It is very standard Lifeson from the CP and TFE era with a great hook. I believe the average Rush fan would be happy to hear it played at a Rush show, bit don't hold your breath. The song moves along with its upbeat rhythm. A break in the middle leads to a decent solo with some Lifeson experimentation that is refreshing and harkens back to solos of Lifeson's early days. If you have heard the Rush soundcheck with Billy Sheehan, I think you will hear some similarity. 9/10

Is that Geddy singing!?! Well, no, but the singer in track three, "Start Today", seems to try to sound like Geddy Lee, almost to the point of being annoying. Her name is Lisa Dalbello, a Canadian solo artist. The biggest issue with this song is that Lifeson must have had Zeppelin's "Four Sticks" on the brain. The intro riff is very close to Page's riff. 5/10

Arrive next, "Mr. X", an instrumental with some nice guitar layering. Another up tempo song, this song is very enjoyable but stops short at 2:22. It easily could have gone on for another two minutes. 7/10

Track five begins with a computer generated space rock backdrop. Written by both Lifeson and his son, "At The End" is a spoken word piece where Lifeson utters dark passages of a disturbed mind. He throws in random guitar speak between some of the lines. This is a very original piece, surprising in fact. 8/10

"Sending A Warning" is an outstanding track, with Edwin again on vocals. The music in the chorus is powerful. This song is one to tune the volume knob up on. Its a standard rock song with breaks for the guitar riff. 9/10

Get ready to laugh your a$$ off. Lifeson's true humor comes out here. Track seven, "Shut Up Shuttin' Up" is simply hilarious. The title, as you may recognize, is a famous line from Mugsy in a Bugs Bunny cartoon. The song does not have sung lyrics but rather Lifeson chose to record his wife and her girlfriend talking. The things they say will make you roll on the floor dying with laughter. Unfortunately, if Lifeson has to deal with this regularly, I can see why he named the song the way he did. You will have to listen to this track a few times or else you'll miss the excellent guitar work in the background. 10/10

The next instrumental introduced, "Strip and Go Naked" starts out with a jig feel. The guitar effects are pretty much stripped down, so I assume the song gets its title this way. Its listenable, but not too memorable. 7/10

"The Big Dance" is an aggressive song with a driving beat and the return of Edwin singing. His voice fits the song well and provides the rasp to mix the music. The lyrics reflect anger at some woman who may have come on to Lifeson. Surprise bass player on this track is Les Claypool, but the track sounds nothing like a Primus song. 7/10

Track ten, the album title track, is another Lifeson spoken word piece from W.H. Auden's short story of the same name. This track features a sequenced track overlayed with saxophone interludes played by Colleen Allen. There is no guitar on this track but it is entertaining. 8/10

The final track, "I Am The Spirit", is sung by Edwin in almost the same vein as the material he performs with I Mother Earth. This track is excellent. Lifeson finishes off the album on a strong note. It is very aggressive but breaks into a softer chorus that blends well with the over-all song.

If you are a Lifeson fan, this is a must have, because it is so different from Rush. It is a joy to hear what Lifeson can do as a soloist. If you are a Rush fan, don't expect Rush because it isn't. This is an artsy album at times and rocker other times. Overall, it gets a 8/10 from me.

StyLaZyn | 4/5 |

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