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Main reason why Alex Lifeson as a guitarist is not held in high regard as Geddy and Neil?


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#1 Texas King

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Posted 20 February 2018 - 01:35 PM

Generally Geddy as a bassist and Neil as a drummer are held in very high regard and it proves a fact that they are ranked near or at the top on nearly every list. They unquestionably deserve it. Alex does not enjoy such a privilege and probably it's a reason why many people claim he is an underrated guitarist.

First thing that comes to my mind: Geddy and Neil are influential players in their instrumental fields. Alex is a great player, but is he influential as Geddy and Neil are?
Second thing: Geddy and Neil have built a distinctive and unique style of playing their instruments. Did Alex do it, is his style of guitar playing distinctive and unique as theirs or it's a bit derivative? Do you hear a bit of some other guitarist(s) in Alex's playing?
Third thing: Do Geddy and Neil have such a big competition of very technically skilled players as Alex has in the guitar world?  

Alex is a great guitarist and he is held in high regard by big Rush fans, he is definitely among their favorite guitarists. But a global perception of Alex Lifeson is different. Is he really overlooked and underrated and what's a main reason for that?

Discuss.

Edited by Texas King, 20 February 2018 - 01:42 PM.


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#2 snowdogged

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Posted 20 February 2018 - 02:00 PM

La Villa Strangiato
The Spirit of Radio
Freewill
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Fountain of Lamneth
Closer to the Heart
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#3 JARG

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Posted 20 February 2018 - 02:19 PM

View PostTexas King, on 20 February 2018 - 01:35 PM, said:

Generally Geddy as a bassist and Neil as a drummer are held in very high regard and it proves a fact that they are ranked near or at the top on nearly every list. They unquestionably deserve it. Alex does not enjoy such a privilege and probably it's a reason why many people claim he is an underrated guitarist.

First thing that comes to my mind: Geddy and Neil are influential players in their instrumental fields. Alex is a great player, but is he influential as Geddy and Neil are?
Second thing: Geddy and Neil have built a distinctive and unique style of playing their instruments. Did Alex do it, is his style of guitar playing distinctive and unique as theirs or it's a bit derivative? Do you hear a bit of some other guitarist(s) in Alex's playing?
Third thing: Do Geddy and Neil have such a big competition of very technically skilled players as Alex has in the guitar world?  

Alex is a great guitarist and he is held in high regard by big Rush fans, he is definitely among their favorite guitarists. But a global perception of Alex Lifeson is different. Is he really overlooked and underrated and what's a main reason for that?

Discuss.

Alex is a damn fine guitarist, and there are moments when he's amazing, but from a technical point of view there are other players who can play circles around him -- where he shines is in his sense of musicality. Geddy and Neil are much further up the "technical ladder" than many of their counterparts with the added benefit of a lot of musicality in their playing. That combination gets them a lot of nods.

#4 Relayer2112

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Posted 20 February 2018 - 02:55 PM

I put Alex in the same category as David Gilmour.  Neither of them have the technical chops of some of their contemporaries, but it is their feel for music and their melodic sense that puts them head and shoulders above many.

#5 bluefox4000

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Posted 20 February 2018 - 03:18 PM

Alex may not be in the collective as one of the greats but i tell ya.....i really feel his playing.

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#6 Entre_Perpetuo

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Posted 20 February 2018 - 03:36 PM

It's normal for a guitarist to play as flashy and showy as Alex (often it's normal for a guitarist to play a lot more flashy and showy), but it was shocking to hear Geddy and Neil play with such business and flash (and that's not to take away from their feel and connection). Obviously Ged and Neil were going to stand out from their piers, but in order for Alex to stand out, he'd have had to be on another level past Hendrix and Page, past Howe and Gilmore, and after 1978, past EVH. If he'd done that it would've ruined the power trio dynamic and turned Rush more into Alex's personal showpiece, and that's not what anyone wanted. Sure, show off, use your best skills, but never at expense of the music. Ged and Neil get so much more recognition because they were more unusual on their respective instruments than Alex, though I'd consider the three almost equally skilled at their respective instruments.

Now as for influence, I've always thought I've heard a LOT of Alex in EVH's rhythm playing. So there's that.

#7 Ultimate Rush Tribute

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Posted 20 February 2018 - 03:53 PM

I have played in many tribute bands recently; Led Zep, Pink Floyd and I have played in many cover bands that have great guitar players.  The Rush tribute band I am doing now is my most challenging and most fun.  One thing about Alex and Rush, if you don't know it exactly you can't just jam in a key and fake it.  You really have to know it. Many of his solos are actually very choppy and very bizarre, its definitely a unique style.  Older stuff like Working Man was great classic rock chops but solos like Tom Sawyer are very choppy and all over the place. Then when you add in all of the different timings 7/8 for Tom Sawyer, Jacobs Ladder alternating between 5/4 and 6/4 and the different scales he uses its very complex.  He is in a similar category to Steve Howe in my opinion.   Very complex, yet it sounds melodic and not just blinding speed.  Then when you add-in when he was doing all of this and how long he has lasted and the amount of material, it really is crazy.  

But did he have that changing effect on guitar playing  i.e. Hendrix, Van Halen,  and some of those guys no. I love playing them all, but I love playing the overall Rush catalog the most. It is very rewarding when it all comes out right.

#8 Lurkst

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Posted 20 February 2018 - 03:58 PM

The three main elements that made Rush what they were are Geddy's singing, Neil's lyrics and Alex' guitar playing. I've heard plenty of people say they dislike the band for the first two things but I can't think of many who have dissed Lerxst. A six string creative genius. :)

Edited by Lurkst, 20 February 2018 - 03:59 PM.


#9 apetersvt

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Posted 20 February 2018 - 04:11 PM

View PostTexas King, on 20 February 2018 - 01:35 PM, said:


Third thing: Do Geddy and Neil have such a big competition of very technically skilled players as Alex has in the guitar world?  


I agree with this.

#10 toymaker

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Posted 20 February 2018 - 04:36 PM

Lifeson was a smoking guitarist even on the first Rush album.  Over the years he expanded his range and always played brilliantly.  Sometimes his brilliance is in the sheer simplicity of his guitar parts - just great playing without all the sound effects.  It wouldn't be the same if those 70s albums had the wangbar dive-bombs, toomanynotespersecond and other sound effects that characterize a lot of the "virtuoso players."  There are loads of people who are wowed and excited by that junk, but "excitement" gets a bit tiresome after a while.  I love how Lifeson's solos have different moods.  I just don't hear that range in a lot of other players - maybe I get bored too easily and don't give those artists enough of a chance.  I just know that there are a few guitar players who had me in thrall pretty much right away.

#11 thirteen

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Posted 20 February 2018 - 05:18 PM

Musicality, phrasing, melody, dynamics. Pretty much sums up Alex's playing IMO.
He knows when to 'tread softly with melody' and when to 'kick the sh*t outta you with a heavy riff".

#12 thirteen

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Posted 20 February 2018 - 05:23 PM

In addition, I have NEVER tired of listening to Alex's playing.
I've only seen Rush live twice (Clockwork Angels & R40) and his playing never sounded tedious.

#13 JohnnyBlaze

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Posted 20 February 2018 - 07:11 PM

View Postapetersvt, on 20 February 2018 - 04:11 PM, said:

View PostTexas King, on 20 February 2018 - 01:35 PM, said:


Third thing: Do Geddy and Neil have such a big competition of very technically skilled players as Alex has in the guitar world?  


I agree with this.

They probably do but in the rock world, those roles often take a backseat to the lead guitarist and even frontman vocalist.

#14 goose

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Posted 20 February 2018 - 07:19 PM

View PostEntre_Perpetuo, on 20 February 2018 - 03:36 PM, said:



Now as for influence, I've always thought I've heard a LOT of Alex in EVH's rhythm playing. So there's that.
Any similarity is almost certainly coincidental.  I don't think for a minute that EVH was influenced by Alex.

#15 goose

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Posted 20 February 2018 - 07:22 PM

A knock against Alex is that his playing is more derivative than innovative.  Alex hears something and takes it to another level (an awesome one!), but there's not a lot that he's done than is truly original. either technically or in terms of tone.  That's why he's not usually singled out among the greats.

#16 lifeson90

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Posted 20 February 2018 - 07:43 PM

Top of my list, easily for me the greatest and most imaginative rock guitarist there'll ever be actually. EVER. Only Brian May comes close

Just La Villa Strangiato for chrissakes. Nevermind the rest of his work, just La Villa. All you need, right there

Of course I get why some put other guitarists on a pedestal, i myself adored quite a few over the decades in many music genres not just rock but, Al is simply a God. Heck he even looked the coolest

Man I used to love Michael Schenker though Strangers In The Night will always be my fav live album

#17 Rushman14

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Posted 20 February 2018 - 08:12 PM

it's about the open F# chord he invented :)

#18 fraroc

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Posted 20 February 2018 - 10:09 PM

While Alex is fantastic, there are simple too many guitarists that are better than him. EVH, RR, Vito Bratta, Steve Vai, Malmsteen, and Zakk Wylde come to mind

Edited by fraroc, 20 February 2018 - 10:09 PM.


#19 EagleMoon

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Posted 20 February 2018 - 10:23 PM

I think part of the problem is that good guitarists are a dime a dozen. It’s much less common to rise to the top of your field playing bass or drums. Alex has always played exactly what song the song needs but he’s not flashy in a obvious sort of way. He is a very emotive player which fits in perfectly with Neil’s clockwork timing and Geddys creative bass lines.

#20 thirteen

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Posted 20 February 2018 - 10:23 PM

He would have been a Guitar God.
And then the Flock of Seagulls era ruined everything.




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