Finally scored an actual record store day record on Record Store Day…which unbeknownst to me now comes twice a year.
Rush singer and bass guitarist Geddy Lee’s lone solo album My Favorite Headache got the vinyl treatment for the first time, 19 years after its November 2000 release, which includes two previously unreleased tracks. The vinyl My Favourite Headache album (released Nov. 29) is limited to 5,000 copies.
Notice the vinyl pressing spelling of My Favourite Headache verses the original release spelling of My Favorite Headache. A Canada thing, eh?
My Favorite Headache arrived during that period when Rush went on indefinite hiatus after drummer Neil Peart’s daughter died in 1997 and then his wife, less than a year later in 1998. Lee never toured the album but did promote the record heavily and went “on tour” much like his current Big Beautiful Book of Bass tour and signed copies of the album (plus one more item) for fans.
I got my copy of My Favorite Headache signed at the Block of Orange in Orange, CA and (if I can indulge) my memories of that day were of an extensive crowd and I got Geddy to sign both the CD and album cover (for which he gave me the eye) and a personalized license plate. I also recall, somewhat fondly, Rush’s late photographer Andrew MacNaughtan filming the crowd and as he came over to me I asked him if he was Andrew MacNaughtan for which he seemed genuinely flattered, humbled and taken aback that I knew who he was. One of those rare moments where you knew you probably made someone’s day and perhaps made a lasting impression.
The vinyl pressing of My Favourite Headache comes gatefold with two records and a mini poster of a bass guitar case filled with personal notes, souvenirs, photos, copies of My Favorite Headache on CD and cassette and other miscellaneous items.
When My Favorite Headache was released initially on November 14, 2000 I ate it up. Little did Rush fans know the state of Rush back then before social media and the internet rumor mill really picked up, but hearing Geddy Lee certainly sufficed until Rush got back in the studio.
Well, so many years later how does My Favourite Headache stack up?
Just as well.
I had not listened to My Favorite Headache in a long time, at least not in its entirety. Years for sure, maybe 10 or more. I recall hearing it for the first time when it was released and initially feeling let down it wasn’t Alex Lifeson providing those sweet guitars and Peart behind the kit. But once you got past that and accepted the My Favorite Headache as a Geddy Lee solo album all seemed right in the music world.
My Favourite Headache opens with the title track and a rocking bass line almost as if Lee wants to say “This is not a Rush album.” Having been so ingrained into Rush the last 15 years or so, I immediately noticed a difference in Lee’s vocals which sounded an octave or two higher than Rush’s final three albums. But as the album progressed the difference sounded negligible.
“My Favourite Headache” is a hard rocker for sure and “The Present Tense” which follows harmonizes in the same vein as some of Rush’s later offerings. About two minutes in, it begins this melodic, slow crescendo with great vocals that leave you wanting.
“Window to the World” offers s nice mellow pace. It opens a bit awkward but Lee takes a step back and gives Ben Mink (who played electric violin on the R40 tour for “Losing It”) some time to shine on guitar. Despite the tongue in cheek name of “Working at Perfekt” the song plays quite heavily and serious and might take a few listens to develop the melody.
Rush never came across as a touchy feely band, maybe one reason for the lack of female fans at the onset and many years thereafter, but My Favourite Headache brings a number of emotional tuggers and the first drops like a hammer on “Runaway Train.” The song is about domestic violence and since my wife came from that situation it was played at our wedding just a few months after the initial release of My Favorite Headache. The chorus gets me every time.
“The Angel’s Share” continues the emotional serenade with a great acoustic guitar and solid vocals from Lee. “Moving to Behemia” could be a Rush song with all of its time signature changes and ironically not my favorite off the album. You can hear some Clockwork Angels in here. “Home on the Strange” is a fun, up beat song that could easily become a jam song if played live.
My Favourite Headache ends with three songs that strike an emotional chord. Just imagine the outrage if Rush released these songs! “Slipping” has Lee in one of his finest hours on vocals. He gets piano credits on the album notes, further cementing his legacy as an all-around musician. A great song. “Still” actually comes across as adult contemporary so if you’re still trying to get your parents to appreciate the band you devoted your childhood to, skip the previous song and drop this one on them. If they don’t like the bridge midway through well then there’s no hope. Finally, My Favourite Headache ends with the rocking “Grace to Grace” a song Lee wrote about his grandmother (if my memory remains) and the holocaust, with a chorus that grabs.
The vinyl release of My Favourite Headache includes instrumentals of the title track and “Home on the Strange” no doubt little carrots to entice fans to buy the album. It’s always interesting to hear songs without the vocals though both versions actually have some words attached.
My Favourite Headache would actually be a great Rush album but it doesn’t sound like Rush because it doesn’t have Lifeson’s guitar tone. It stands on its own as a Geddy Lee solo album though I always felt Rush should have included a song from My Favorite Headache and Lifeson’s solo album Victor on any of the ensuing tours. I suppose had Lee, Lifeson and Peart known for sure the R40 tour was their last they might have, but perhaps Lee will return to the studio on his own again and give those of us longing for just a bit more a chance to hear this album live.
Geddy Lee – My Favourite Headache track list on Vinyl
1. My Favourite Headache
2. The Present Tense
3. Window to the World
4. Working at Perfekt
5. Runaway Train
6. The Angel’s Share
7. Moving to Bohemia
8. Home on the Strange
11. Grace to Grace
12. My Favourite Headache (instrumental)
13. Home on the Strange (instrumental)