Rush guitarist Alex Lifeson's 1996 solo project Victor, his first, released a self-titled album in 1996. Victor is an odd blend of modern hard rock and swirling, programming-heavy songs. Lifeson's trademark Rush guitar style -- ringing chords and sharp, brief solos -- is utilized in some places, but not throughout. Guest musicians on Victor include I Mother Earth vocalist Edwin, Primus bassist Les Claypool and Lifeson's son, Adrian Zivojinovich, who contributes programming. Musically, the songs with a traditional, straightforward structure are the least interesting, with the exception of "Promise." It's the odd material that stands out on Victor. Two instrumentals -- the slow, quirky "Mr. X" and the atmospheric "Strip and Go Naked" -- are noteworthy. "Shut Up Shuttin' Up" -- a title almost certainly lifted from one of Yosemite Sam's many orders to Bugs Bunny -- is practically a novelty song; two women carry on a man-bashing conversation before instructing Lifeson to "shut up and play the guitar," which he does before interjecting his own yells telling them to shut up. Due to its complex music and lyrics, Rush is often incorrectly viewed as being comprised of humorless members, but die-hard fans know that Lifeson is the joker in the trio and this song proves it. The two best songs on Victor, "At the End" and "Victor," are unorthodox in musical construction and lyrical tone. Lifeson himself doesn't sing the lyrics, he recites them, often in a whisper. "At the End" is an intense, brooding song about an elderly widower whose soul-crushing loneliness after her death drives him to commit suicide. "Victor" uses a musical bed of programming and warm horns underneath the disturbingly vivid lyrics, taken directly from English poet W.H. Auden, about a cuckold who murders his cheating wife.
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AllMusic Review by Bret Adams