What happens when one of the most innovative and experimental rock bands of all time breaks up?
It’s quite simple actually. The (former) lead singer gathers together a band that seems to match his old band and attempts to revive the fire that died with his original group.
This is the tale of former Rush lead singer Geddy Lee and his new CD. During the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s Rush created a new kind of momentum and feeling in rock, often mixing new technology with a classical rock feel. Geddy Lee helped lead Rush by playing bass guitar and delivering the explosive vocals that became the signature of the group.
In his latest release, My Favorite Headache (Atlantic) Geddy Lee attempts to revitalize the Rush of old, but misses by quite some distance.
Like old Rush classics “Tom Sawyer” and “The Spirit of Radio,” Lee brings together his unique vocal abilities, killer instrumentals and an almost-poppy feel. Some songs on Lee’s solo effort feel like they could fit in quite nicely on a Rush album.
The first half of the My Favorite Headache is exceptional. Lee plays songs that capture that magical and liberating quality Rush fans love. “The Present Tense” is a stand-out track which showcases the vast instrumental abilities of Lee and his band. The lyrics may be cheesy but the music on the first half of the album is candy for the ears.
But after about the fifth song, things go horribly wrong. It seems the band hits a brick wall, or perhaps a large and unwieldy speed bump. Whatever the reason, the hectic rock feel that ran through the beginning of the album disappears. The songs begin to break down, each following the same formula as the last. While the fast bridges and hooks into a vocal break may have worked for Rush for almost 20 years, Lee misses something in his new release.
Many people complain that when artists go solo from a band they become too experimental, or try and break with their band too much. Lee, who refused a reunion tour, does not attempt to leave his roots at all. In fact, Lee attempts to popularize his former glory by resorting to the rock-pop that Rush move away from.
All in all, My Favorite Headache is not a bad album. It’s well worth a listen for Rush fans. But the album is not an adequate introduction for anyone new to Rush’s unique style.