Lee, Geddy - My Favorite Headache


Year of Release: 2000
Label: Atlantic Records
Catalog Number: 83384-2
Format: CD
Total Time: 47:53:00

Some years ago I read an interview with Geddy Lee in a musician's magazine, possibly Guitar Player. The interviewer's last question was the old "you're stranded on a desert island and can only take one album" scenario. Lee's reply: "Relayer, by Yes." Imagine my joyful delirium (!) - here was (in my mind) the world's premier bassist from prog-rock's premier trio citing Yes as his music of choice! Yeah! Flash forward to November 2000. Along with my fellow Rushians ("Rush fanatics"), I salivated at the prospect of hearing Geddy's My Favorite Headache, hoping to get a dose of serious prog from the man who gave "the answer" to "the question" way back when. Did I get what I was hoping for? Well....

Question #1: Is My Favorite Headache another Rush album? The Answer: No. The stylistic similarity to Rush is apparent; the songs could easily be outtakes from the Counterparts sessions. That said, Geddy has made the most of his freedom and, with collaborator Ben Mink, crafted a rocking album that stands on its own merits.

Question #2: Is My Favorite Headache a prog album? The Answer: No. There isn't much here that could be called progressive; "permissive" makes more sense. Lee and Mink take risks with their songwriting, and it's those risks that make MFH a worthwhile experience.

All songs are "short" (the longest track is "Slipping," which clocks in at five minutes); some end too quickly, fading awkwardly away when an instrumental break or coda would add a needed sense of completeness. Still, each song has a unique resonance that sticks in my mind and continually draws me back for another listen. The production is crystal clear; all instruments are well defined and easily distinguished, thanks to a fine mix by David Leonard. Lee's singular vocals are de-emphasized and used as melody instruments within the musical framework; the leads are mostly sung in a comfortable baritone, while tenors are reserved for the many harmonies. Guitars, piano, uncomplicated drums and Lee's signature bass are the foundation upon which most songs are built; electric guitars (check this out - there are No Guitar Solos!), synthesizers, and violins are used to create atmosphere. Strings abound, giving the songs a melancholy richness that reminds me of Electric Light Orchestra (!) in their most symphonic moments. And influences pop up everywhere: I hear everything from the Youngbloods (check out the "Get Together"-ish guitar on "Window To The World"), Beatles and Spirit to David Bowie, Nine Inch Nails and the afore-mentioned ELO. Eclectic, indeed.

Relationships appear to be the dominant theme, although the opacity of the lyrics doesn't always make that clear. Man's place in the universe gets a nod in "The Angels' Share," which suggests that the angels "watching from the sky" (Genesis, anyone?) may not be of the supernatural variety. The title track, powered by Lee's bass and a dissonant guitar riff, is hard to decipher: the words suggest the singer's unease with some unidentified situation about which he doesn't "have too much to say." "Working at Perfekt" portrays an artist's struggles to "perfekt" his craft, while strings straight out of "Eleanor Rigby" emphasize the conflicting weariness and drive the artist feels while fulfilling her passion. "Runaway Train" casts a baleful light on a love-less relationship, warning that "Nothing blooms in a love-less room" while reminding that "you've got to want it" in order for love to grow. "Slipping" is a somber electric ballad that eloquently speaks of how love changes "along the way," supported by a repeating, mournful guitar figure. The best is saved for last: "Grace To Grace" is a finely crafted piece of power pop, driven by a Beatlesque riff and Lee's propulsive bass, and neatly divided by the most subdued of choruses. The darker subtleties of "My Favorite Headache" are reprised here, but the enthusiasm of the music and Lee's vocals imbue "Grace To Grace" with hope that the "immaculate vision of what should have been" may one day come to pass.

Ultimately, My Favorite Headache falls squarely into the "acquired taste" category. Die-hard proggers hoping for another Hemispheres will be disappointed, but those daring souls willing to take a chance will find My Favorite Headache to be a rocking, thought-provoking experience.


Tracklisting:
My Favorite Headache (4:45) / The Present Tense (3:25) / Window To The World (3:01) / Working At Perfekt (4:59) / Runaway Train (4:31) / The Angels' Share (4:34) / Moving To Bohemia (4:22) / Home On The Strange (3:47) / Slipping (5:05) / Still (4:28) / Grace To Grace (4:56)

Musicians:
Geddy Lee - basses, voices, piano, guitars, programming, percussion, whining
Ben Mink - electric and acoustic guitars, violins and violas, programming, wheezing
Matt Cameron - drums
Jeremy Taggart - drums (8)

Discography:

Rush

Rush (1974)
Fly By Night (1975)
Caress Of Steel (1975)
2112 (1976)
All The World's A Stage (1976)
A Farewell To Kings (1977)
Hemispheres (1978)
Permanent Waves (1980)
Moving Pictures (1981)
Exit ... Stage Left (1981)
Signals (1982)
Grace Under Pressure (1984)
Power Windows (1985)
Hold Your Fire (1987)
A Show Of Hands (1989)
Presto (1989)
Chronicles (1990)
Roll The Bones (1991)
Counterparts (1993)
Test For Echo (1996)
Different Stages (1998)
Vapor Trails (2003)
Rush In Rio (2003)
Feedback (2004)

Through The Camera Eye (VID) (1984)
Grace Under Pressure Tour 1984 (VID) (1986)
A Show Of Hands (VID) (1988)
Chronicles (DVD/VID) (1990/2001)
Rush In Rio (DVD/VID) (2003)

Solo:

My Favorite Headache (2000)

Genre: Rock

Origin CA

Added: December 1st 2000
Reviewer: David Cisco

Artist website: www.rush.com
Hits: 754
Language: english

  

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