Saturday, 25 April 2009

Guitar Heroes - Alex Lifeson

In 1982, a friend of mine handed over a cassette tape labelled “Signals” and said “Listen to this! You will love it”. At the time I was willing to listen to all sorts of music so I popped it into my cassette player and pressed “play”.

I was hooked from the first note of the first song. “Who is this?” I asked incredulously.

“Rush,” he replied. “Good aren’t they?”

That was an understatement; they were and still are brilliant. I rushed out (if you’ll pardon the pun) and bought as many Rush albums as I could find. I couldn’t get enough of the band – I still can’t. I was lucky enough to see them at Birmingham NEC shortly afterwards and they left a lasting impression.

The Canadian trio have been my favourite band ever since.

Just about every milestone in my life since that point has a Rush song associated with it. When I listen to the Rush back catalogue, shivers run down my spine – even today. I have every album, including live ones, and have seen them four times in total. I would have seen them more often had they visited our shores more often. The last time was the tour accompanying their latest album “Snakes and Arrows” a year or two ago, and they were as good then as they were in the early 80’s.

All three members are musical geniuses:

Geddy Lee sings, plays a mean bass guitar as well as keyboards.

Neil Peart is one of the greatest drummers I have seen and writes all of the lyrics.

Alex Lifeson is the guitarist and one of the greatest I have seen. He has a unique style and complements the other band members perfectly. Obviously he plays guitar but he has also played bouzouki, mandolin and mandola on some of the more recent Rush albums. He has been responsible for some of the best solos I have heard or seen live. Apparently he is the joker of the band and has been known to have a rant during live performances of the classic “La Villa Strangiato”.

There are too many Rush songs to even begin to select a bunch of favourites – I love them all, every single one of them. So instead I will list my favourite Rush albums (in chronological order):

(1) 2112 (1976)
(2) Hemispheres (1978)
(3) Permanent Waves (1980)
(4) Moving Pictures (1981)
(5) Signals (1982)
(6) Power Windows (1985)
(7) Hold Your Fire (1987)
(8) Counterparts (1993)
(9) Vapor Trails (2002)
(10)Snakes And Arrows (2007)

I also love the remaining albums they have released.

I can’t wait for the next album and the next time the band tours – I really hope they come to Manchester again.

If you have never heard Rush I urge you to do so. I hope their music has the same effect on you as “Signals” had on me 27 years ago. I will leave you with Alex Lifeson and the band, performing “La Villa Strangiato” in 1978, a song that highlights just how brilliant Alex, Geddy and Neil are.

No comments: