alex lifeson youtube maxresdefault

It has been six years since Rush released their final studio album, Clockwork Angels. It’s also been three years since the Canadian power-trio powerhouse wrapped up its storied career with its R40 tour.

Since ending their touring days together, the individuals have been busy with their respective hobbies and music projects (supporting other musicians with their work). While I wait for word on potential solo projects, especially from Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson, I figured I’d look back at five songs where the underrated Lifeson’s work may have been buried because those songs either never were released as singles or because those songs don’t get played anymore.

Before and After (Rush, 1974)

For those who preferred Rush in their raw, Led Zeppelin-esque embryonic state, I offer you this song. As part of an album full of nods to Zeppelin and other straight-ahead rock groups of the time, this is the song that stood out to me. Lifeson actually starts this in rather gentle form, but the song picks up steam near the 1:10 mark. After a quiet moment, it’s Rush/Zep for the rest of the song. Lifeson’s call-and-response solo section flat burns.

The Trees (Hemispheres, 1978)

While “Before and After” symbolizes early Rush, “The Trees” represents Rush 2.0 to a T. The solo section starts with Lee’s synthesizer taking the lead as Lifeson works through an arpeggio. Before Lifeson’s guitar takes over in full force, his jangly arpeggio actually becomes the lead. The solo doesn’t throw a ton of rapid-fire notes at you, as Lifeson did during “Before and After,” but it doesn’t need to. The call-and-response between Lifeson and Lee on one side and drummer Neil Peart’s mallets near the end is a tactic that rock groups should use more often.

The Analog Kid (Signals, 1982)

There are three songs where Lifeson’s guitar solos get a roaring ovation on the live CDs: “La Villa Strangiato,” which I seriously considered for this list, “Working Man” and “The Analog Kid.” With good reason. “Kid” combines muscle, passion and a mournfulness that’s almost unparalleled in Rush’s early work. The solo starts around 3:26.

Ghost of a Chance (Roll the Bones, 1991)

To me, Lifeson’s solo here is among his best work because it truly fits the nature of the song. It’s hard to explain, but to me it’s an extension of Peart’s hopeful yet cynical lyrics about the chances of finding a life partner. The live version contains a couple elements in the outro that augment the studio original at least a notch or two.

The Garden (Clockwork Angels, 2012)

I wish this had been released as a single because, in my mind, it’s a collective masterpiece and the perfect final note to 40-plus years of musical brilliance — especially from Peart’s poignant lyrics about the fragility of true friendship to Lifeson’s soaring solo in the middle. Lee actually takes a back seat, both with the bass and keyboards, and the end result is something to behold.

The future disappears into memory
With only a moment between
Forever dwells in that moment
Hope is what remains to be seen

Forever dwells in that moment
Hope is what remains to be seen

— Neil Peart (The Garden)