Hmmm, how much are Geddy Lee and Rush within the collective unconscious of my circle of associates? Some incidents from recent band practices come to mind. The other night, the name of Geddy Lee was invoked at least three times — (“How would Geddy Lee do this? Geddy would’ve just ...” ). This from a group of guys who like to think they’re in touch with the most recent of musical trends. But most indicative was our guitarist’s statement, “Well, I would’ve replaced my old Rush tapes with the CDs, but ... well, you know.”
He didn’t have to say any more, I knew. His story was the about the same as mine. The only people I knew who actually enjoyed Rush were wastoids and other musicians; probably because if they ended up digging Rush, they ended up becoming musicians because of the encounter, unless they spent too much money on illegal substances to ever afford an instrument. Then, drummer Neil Peart and bassist Geddy Lee had a million little illegitimate clones roaming the world copying all their licks. Some musicians stayed there. The rest of us like to think we exorcised Rush’s influence from our playing and have moved on.
That is, until the name of Geddy Lee is invoked at band practice, and we go home, pop Ben Folds Five out of the changer, and privately indulge in a listening of Grace Under Pressure. (Just think, there’s some kid out there right now who will someday have to shed Carter Beauford’s chops from their repertoire — the lucky guy.) I have this naive belief that 100 years from now, Peart’s brilliant lyrics will be taught as fine prose to sleepy, indifferent pupils in high school English classes. Well, maybe not.
But now, let’s step out of the Wayback Machine. Recent tragedies in Peart’s life caused Rush to go on hiatus for a while. Enter bassist Geddy Lee’s solo effort, My Favorite Headache. What to expect, what to expect, what to expect? A huge, lush, Rush-like sound? Yeah. Bass thumping to make the most adept four-string player want to snap the neck of their Steinberger in two out of frustration? Perhaps. Intelligent, thought provoking lyrics? Maybe.
The first and title track, “My Favorite Headache,” makes the listener think these things are exactly what they’re getting, with its Primus-like frenetics and rich production. After that, POOF! the musical fairies make it vanish into a drone of bland, similar-sounding tracks in the same key and time signature. Hey, I’m just a fledgling bassist and guitarist, and I could play this stuff! Okay, if he doesn’t want to dazzle us with superior musicianship, (though the Dave Matthews Band has proven it’s still permissible to do so), then he needs to give us better songs with memorable hooks and melodies. The lyrics indicate that he has benefitted from sitting at Neil’s feet, though despite an elaborate quadra-fold CD insert with some fancy artwork, they are not included in the CD. Attempt to download them at www.myfavoriteheadache.com, and you will soon have a favorite headache of your own. The monotone buzz continues until track eight, “Home On the Strange,” which is palatable, then resumes on tracks nine through 11.
If someone thinks that all things Rush are sacred and inviolable, then they will enjoy this CD. Otherwise, they should save their money and replace that half-eaten Hold Your Fire tape with the CD. Go on, get it. Go in your room, listen to it and enjoy it again for the first time. I won’t tell anyone.
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March 27 • The Clyde