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VICTOR

Victor

 

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3.13 | 35 ratings

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Cygnus X-2
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Some of you may ask, what is Victor? Well, Victor is the sole solo project from Alex Lifeson of Rush. Recorded between the Rush albums Counterparts and Test for Echo, what you'll find on here is stylistically different than what Rush was doing at the time. Here, you'll find a bitter, angry, and cynical Lifeson, who creates crushing riffs as well as quirky melodies and has a genuine Zappa feel with his guitar. The band he chose for this project, while not in the same league as Rush, perform Lifeson's material well. Edwin (from I Mother Earth, who opened for Rush on the last date of the Counterparts tour, has a rough edge with his vocal approach, but it really works with the music. Blake Manning is a solid drummer, giving a solid back beat while the musical chaos ensues. Guest musician Les Claypool (of Primus fame), also finds himself playing bass on the track The Big Dance.

As I mentioned above, the music is stylistically different than anything Rush was doing at the time. One can immediately notice a change from the opening of the first song, Don't Care. This powerful 7/4 intro is complimented nicely with some gritty, bitter, and angry vocal from Edwin. Lifeson right from the start shows that this album is not an upbeat one, and he starts it perfectly. Promise begins with a nice Rush-esque riff a bit reminiscent of the Fly by Night kind of sound; it's a nice counterpart to the heavy opener. Edwin is really great on this track, hitting the notes perfectly and shining during the chorus. If I'm not mistaken the breakdown during the chorus is in 9/4, as well. Start Today features a female vocalist (Lisa Dalbello) who sounds eerily like Geddy Lee. The riff on the song is strong, despite it being one of the weaker songs on the album, in my opinion.

Mr. X is a short instrumental that has some great Alex Lifeson soloing and a strong bass presence. The drumming is also solid. At the End is a quirky track that is a bit dreary in message. It continues the pessimistic theme that the album has, and it really takes it to a whole new level. Sending a Warning has a strong 5/4 guitar riff that has feels almost as if it could have fitted in Joe's Garage or one of Zappa's early 80s albums. It's one of the stronger tracks on the album. Shut Up Shuttin' Up is an instrumental piece, save for the conversation between two women. The conversation these two women (Alex Lifeson's Wife and her best friend) is inane and disheartening as the main theme of the song is, "shut up and play that guitar". Lifeson then comes in at the end and repeatedly yells shut up. A bit of an odd track if you ask me.

Strip and Go Naked is another instrumental piece which features some nice mandola from Lifeson. It has a bit of a trance feel to it, and Lifeson's solo on it is brilliant. The Big Dance is one of the heaviest tracks on the album. It has this industrial feel. Les Claypool is a star on this track, despite it being hard to hear the bass on it. The guitar is the real treat on this track; the crushing riff really makes the song one of my favorites on the album. Victor is the last of the quirky tracks. It has a bit of a new-age feel, and the horn on it is great. The song itself is a shortened narrative (with Lifeson doing a top notch narration) of the W.H. Auden poem of the same name. The poem itself is a depressing work about a man who kills his loved ones because of voices he hears (or so the sections that are on the song reveal). I Am the Spirit ends the album with a bang. This song has a truly Rush feel on it. This song features what I believe to be the most uplifting lyrics on the album. Lifeson once again has a great feel with the riff and the heavy interludes. Overall, all Rush fans should look into Victor for a peek into the tormented life of Alex Lifeson during that time. It's not a terribly hard album to find on the internet, but you may have trouble finding it in a store. It's well worth the purchase. The music is solid, the lyrics are solid, the whole album is solid. 4/5.

Cygnus X-2 | 4/5 |

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