Late Bloomer

By Chris Rubin, Guitar School, February 1996, transcribed by pwrwindows

Alex Lifeson was in no, uh, rush to put out a solo project. The guitarist waited 20 years and 19 albums before heading into the studio without Rush. When the band planned a year off to accommodate the birth of Geddy Lee's child, Lifeson decided it was time to head into the studio on his own - to deviate from Rush's established patterns.

The result, Victor (Atlantic), is a strikingly brooding work focused on the theme of love, its darker facets in particular. Lifeson played most of the parts himself, later bringing in other musicians, notably Primus' Les Claypool, to add finishing touches. But Victor isn't the guitar-fest one might expect. "I didn't want to make a record that would typically be made by someone like me from a band like Rush, where you'd expect 50 minutes of all this textural stuff and wailing away," Lifeson says. "I really wanted to downplay that."

While the recording shows that Lifeson's got chops to burn, that's not what this project is about. "This wasn't meant to be a showcase for my abilities as a guitarist. The challenge I was looking for was writing songs." Though he hadn't penned lyrics since "Making Memories" on Rush's second release, Fly By Night, 18 years ago [transcriber's note: Lifeson also penned "Lessons," from 1976's 2112], Lifeson found the words flowing out of him once he began.

Victor covers a wide range stylistically, from Rush-like tunes including "Promise" and "Start Today," to the Zappa-ish "Shut Up Shuttin' Up," with just enough dazzling guitar to satisfy his longtime fans.