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Geddy Lee - My Favourite Headache CD (album) cover


Geddy Lee


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3.40 | 79 ratings

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5 stars Many have claimed that this album sounds like Rush- I couldn't disagree more. Certainly there is Geddy Lee's aggressive bass playing and signature vocals throughout, but the guitar work sounds nothing like that of Lifeson's. Rather, Ben Mink's electric guitar sound here is more akin to the grunge of the very early 1990s, and it takes a backseat to everything else. And while it may not be Peart behind the kit, Matt Cameron adds a mighty element to this record, playing madly when called for, and using a delicate touch when not. If one must make a comparison, the sound is a little more like The Mars Volta's first album, only with the bass guitar in the forefront of the sound and more quieter passages. The title refers to something one loves but causes bouts of aggravation. For many, a spouse fits this category perfectly; for Lee, it's the music-making process. The greatness of what is Geddy Lee's only solo album to date lies in its consistency: There are eleven tracks here, some of them heavy, some of them gentle, but none of them are worthy of the skip button.

"My Favorite Headache" Geddy Lee lets us know whom we're listening to right up front: That serrated bass riff and its chunky sound leave us with no question. The vocal melody and the words put to it evoke thoughts of madness and nihilistic hopelessness. The lyrics are a bit esoteric, which is unusual for Rush, but again, this is not Rush, and Peart is not holding the pen. My own feeble attempt to penetrate the lyrics and give them meaning would lead us to believe that the song is about (at least in part) how television is replacing our observations of the natural world around us ("I watch the sea; I saw it on TV").

"The Present Tense" This song lavishes us with pleasant guitar and bass work, alternating between loud choruses and quiet verses. As will be the case with this album, the vocal melody is incredibly creative and memorable. The bridge doesn't seem to fit in with the rest of the song, at least at first, but repeated listens can remedy that.

"Window to the World" Once again, the composition is ingenious, even if the song has more of a pop-rock feel to it. The guitar part that bookends the song is intriguing and should have been brought out a little more in the mix.

"Working at Perfekt" The guitar and bass share in making up the main riff here. The instrumentation during the choruses differs a little each time, with some cellos adding to the sound. The vocal harmonies are some of the best Lee has ever invested his voice in. Electronic sounds and bass dominate the ending.

"Runaway Train" The main riff is simple enough, and the song is largely straightforward rock. Just over two-minutes in, there is pleasantly encouraging middle section. The song is perhaps a bit longer than it should be since it overuses the main riff and the chorus chords, but it's a solid song.

"The Angel's Share" The acoustic guitar dominates this piece, and it is one of two soft songs on the album. It's a beautiful one, about how little man knows in comparison to celestial beings. It is one of the most memorable songs on the album, with exquisite strings brought in here and there. There is a rare guitar solo in the end.

"Moving to Bohemia" The seventh song on the album is one of the best, with some of Lee's more interesting lyrics, which describe recognizing reality for what it is rather than accepting and offering up sugar-coated and censored versions of the truth. The strings make another appearance.

"Home on the Strange" Even though all of the songs are highly enjoyable, "Home on the Strange" is the worst one here. The lyrics are amusing enough, about a man Lee has worked with (and yes, he really does sleep with a chainsaw when he's camping). Lee insists that the words describe a very eccentric individual, but that we should recognize that our world is made up of many eccentric individuals, so we should not isolate them just because they are, well, weird. Compared to everything that came before and after, the music is really off-kilter, and the bridge is repetitive.

"Slipping" The only song to really make use of the piano, it is the softest one on the album. It is a song that would really be at home in the soundtrack of a romantic drama. The words remind us that no matter the intentions of the people we love, they can still fail and hurt us somehow.

"Still" What an amazing song- so full of hopeful optimism and determinism, and the groove during the verses is simply not to be missed. It is a song to listen to when the circumstances of life are bearing down upon you. Listening to it now, I think of my own difficult situations, and reflect on the economic struggles 2008 has brought. But as Lee reminds us, "These moments will pass." And at some point, we will overcome in our struggles, stand on top of the hill we were climbing, and look back with relief and great joy.

"Grace to Grace" A moderate radio hit when the album came out, "Grace to Grace" is a phenomenal way to end the record. It's inspired by Lee's mother, who was a victim of World War II. Rather than come out of those horrific experiences bitter and cynical, she has created "wonderful possibilities" with "grace and dignity," as Lee himself says. The music during the verses suggest the abrasive and harsh events people often go through, while the amazingly beautiful music during the choruses conjures up the gracefulness people who endure mature into.

Epignosis | 5/5 |


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