Tag Archive: Canadian


Rush Cover (in progress) 2 - Copy (2)Writing The Rush Chronology is a bit like archaeology. You go in with a good amount of information and end up discovering things you had no idea were hidden in the past. Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson and Neil Peart have all been involved in other artists’ projects at different points in their careers and these are some of those extra-curricular appearances beyond the Mackenzie Bros.’ “Take Off” and Max Webster’s “Battle Scar.”

“Even Now” 6:44
Written by Matt Scannell & Neil Peart
Appears on: Burning The Days (2009)
Neil being good friends with Matt Scannell, it’s not surprising that he appears on three tracks on Vertical Horizon’s Burning The Days), “Save Me From Myself,” “Welcome To The Bottom” and this one.
You’ll immediately notice this song is wordier than the other tracks on this album, which is likely Neil’s contribution. It’s fascinating to hear someone else sing his words besides Geddy (or even going back to the JR Flood days). The drum work is heavy and intense, suiting the song, and demonstrating how this track is truly a collaboration, rather than simply a guest appearance.

“Hey Bop A-Rebop” 5:45
Written by Curley Hamney & Lionel Hampton
Appears on: Side Two (2003)
The Stickmen are behind this funk rock cover of the old jazz standard by Lionel Hampton and His Orchestra. The track is a lot of fun and Alex Lifeson gets into the groove with some panache. Recommended!

“Everybody’s Broken” 3:30
Written by John Kastner
Appears on: Have You Seen Lucky (2006)
This is an upbeat little modern rock number by John Kastner, with dependable guitar work from Alex (not flashy or getting in the way of the song).
Alex also appears on the track “Testify All Over Me” from the same album.

“The Road” 6:20
Written by Ken Ramm & Geddy Lee
Appears on: Euphoria (2000)
The piece starts with rambling guitar work (strangely, only in the left channel at first), before the music rolls in with an organic, trance-y flavour which really does evoke an unhurried journey down a country road, before picking up the pace a little bit. The acoustic guitar and rhythmic harmonicas decorate the light keyboards (by Geddy) that underscore the entire piece. Geddy’s bass is also noticeable throughout. This is really a wonderful piece with lots of subtle shades and upfront, colourful performances.

“Good For Sule” 5:35
Written by I Mother Earth (Jagori Tanna & Christian Tanna)
Appears on: Blue Green Orange (2000)
It’s interesting that both this and the Euphoria Geddy Lee guest appearances were released on the same day, because despite being otherwise unrelated tracks, both share certain spirit in their gently arranged reflection (or maybe it’s just me). This track is definitely an alt-rock acoustic number, moody, but not weighed down too much by its own introspection. This is also a bit different I Mother Earth from the days Alex recorded with them and with Edwin on Victor. By now, Edwin has been replaced by Brian Byrne and this album, the successor to Scenery And Fish, has been described as more mellow than the earlier album was. This is a good song and Geddy’s bass stands out nicely.

“Marabi” 5:34
Written by Julian “Cannonball” Adderley
Appears on: Champion (1985)
Jeff Berlin & Vox Humana deliver an excellent fusion rendition of the Cannonball Adderley number from his 1968 album Accent On Africa. Neil’s drum parts come in on the “chorus” sections, beefing up the Steve Smith’s drum parts and adding a lot of power. Highly recommended! Smith would also later participate in Peart’s Burning For Buddy tribute.

“Champion (Of The World)” 4:37
Written by Jeff Berlin
Appears on: Champion (1985)
A great jazz-fusion track here that really let’s Neil shine in a genre that he would later explore in more detail via Burning For Buddy. There are plenty of signature drum fills, but he doesn’t overdue it and lets the song stay airy and light. Also highly recommended!

“24 Star (No Apologies)” 3:00
Written by Katie B, Philip Caivano & Dave Olgilvie
Appears on: Born 4 (2003)
Jakalope’s music is an interesting mix of pop and industrial, which you’d expect from the production work of Dave “Rave” Olgivie and Trent Reznor. This song is a good example of their work. Alex’s guitar work is heavy and grinding, but not overly distinctive (which isn’t bad, as it works for the song, but unless you knew it was him, you may not be able to tell from the song alone).

The album Born 4 was released on October 3, 2003, the same day as Edwin’s album Better Days, featuring Alex on the tracks “Light Reflects” and “Eyes Of A Child,” and the same day as the Trailer Park Boys: The Movie soundtrack album. a good day for Rush-related song

“I Fought The Law” 3:51
Written by Sonny Curtis
Appears on: Trailer Park Boys: The Movie Soundtrack
This is Alex and Geddy as members of the Big Dirty Band and their cover of “I Fought The Law” This version starts with a quiet refrain of the title chorus before exploding into a modern hard rock cover of the classic song. The outro guitar is vintage Alex. Definitely seek this one out! The video was directed by long-time Rush photographer Andrew MacNaughtan and features the Trailer Park Boys, Geddy, Alex and the rest of The Big Dirty Band.
Alex also appears on Bubble’s track “Liquor & Whores.”

“Anesthesize” 17:43
Written by Steven Wilson
Appears on: Fear Of A Blank Planet (2007)
Porcupine Tree’s album Fear Of A Blank Planet is composed in the vein of ‘70s prog-rock concept albums and takes its inspiration from the Bret Easton Ellis book Lunar Park and deals with themes of alienation, social disconnection and the modern world. At nearly 18 minutes, this track changes styles fluidly, drifting between Pink Floyd-like ethereal soundscapes, nigh-Industrial distorted guitars and various other moods. Its easy to see why Alex was drawn to the band’s works and while his contribution to this track is short (his solo comes in around the 4 minute mark), it adds to the over texture of the piece.

“Instamatic” 4:46
Written by Matt Scannell (2013)
Appears on: Echoes From The Underground
Neil’s drums are hard hitting and punctuate this mid-tempo alt-rocker, his forth with Vertical Horizon. He also appears on the song “Instamatic” on this album.

“Sacred & Mundane” 5:26
Written by Tiles
Appears on: Fly Paper (2008)
A solid rocker by the band Tile, with some different textures and movements, this song has some great guitar work by Alex.

“Shift” 4:20
Written by The Wilderness Of Manitoba
Appears on: Between Colours (2011)
Canadian indie folk rock at it’s finest (emphasis on rock on this one), this is Wilderness’s fourth album. The track pounds along and doesn’t let up for a moment and Alex’s guitar solo soars through it. Get this one!

“When I Close My Eyes” 4:49
Written by The Black Sea Station
Appears on: Transylvania Avenue (2011)
Klezmer is basically Eastern European Jewish folk music, with all the rich cultural flavour you’d expect. Geddy previously dabbled in klezmer by way of his Finjan collaboration (From Ship To Shore, also done through Ben Mink). This Black Sea Station instrumental is haunting, beautiful and evocative of a small country village and its inhabitants. Geddy’s bass work keeps the lower end nice and solid.

“Guns” 1:50
Written by Dave Clark, arr. by Neil Peart
Appears on: Whale Music (1992)
Rheostatics were among the wave of quirky alternative bands coming out in the ‘90s, along side such artists as Barenaked Ladies (who also appear on the album). We close out the discussion with this spoken word piece, done over Neil’s drumming, which rips into a great solo at the end. Short, but sweet!

The Rush Chronology book details the recording and release history of the band, as well as their live career, solo project and guest appearances. You can pick up your copy here:http://www.lulu.com/shop/patrick-lemieux/the-rush-chronology/paperback/product-22362187.html

Haphead

Maxine (Elysia White), Haphead Production Still, photo by Brandon Adam-Zwelling. Copyright 2015, Postopian Pictures

In 1982, a little film called Blade Runner had a such a strong visual design concept, by Syd Mead, that it’s been difficult for science fiction to shake the dark, dreary aesthetic look for the future. No, not every sci-fi movie or TV series copied it, but its influence is still felt in what the genre considers dystopia of the not-too-distant future. It’s difficult to shake such a defined look and attempts to do so result in varying degree of success. Back To The Future – Part II (picking up the original story from 1985) went in the other direction and gave us a bright-looking, pop culture-saturated, colourful then-future of 2015. As I write this, it’s January of 2015 and there are no flying cars, self-lacing Nikes or commercially available hoverboards. Blade Runner is set in the still-future 2019 and thankfully it looks like Mead’s vision won’t come to fruition either.

And that brings us to Haphead, a new science fiction webseries set in 2025. The series comes from creator and writer Jim Munroe, who launched a Kickstarter campaign to crowd fund the production. You can find out more about the production history here, but it’s important to note that the budget was a mere $4,000.

And it shows…

In the best possible way! A massive budget or blistering special effects do not a great work make. This is proven time and again, and not just in science fiction, though sci-fi may fall victim to it more because visual effects are a staple of the genre. What Haphead shows us is a world not far removed from our own. The skyline of Toronto is enhanced, but is still recognizable. It’s also worth noting that this is a proudly Canadian production, where the action takes place in both Toronto and Hamilton and both are noted as such in dialogue. An Ontario government sign appears prominently in an establishing shot of the gaming factory in the first episode. Being Canadian and living in Toronto, it’s refreshing to see my city as my city, not doubling as New York, Chicago or just a generic metropolis.

The visual effects support the story, which is always the best approach (and often where the aforementioned failures come from, the mistake of putting spectacle above all else). The story is of Maxine and her father, both living and working in this different kind of dystopian future. Times are hard, but not so bleak as to feel hopeless. The sun shines, kids skateboard and chat in lush green parks. The economic rift has grown between the upper and lower class. There are Special Economic Zones where employees work for below minimum wage. Maxine takes a job in one of these Zones at the gaming factory of Aster*sk, who develop the software and hardware of totally immersive video games. The players plug in via the back of the neck and experience what the avatar experiences, moving as they do and fighting as they must. The players are the titular Hapheads and Maxine cannot resist this new approach to gaming, which is still in the beta testing stage as she starts her factory job. A side effect of this gaming is that Hapheads retain the muscle memory of the combat skills acquired in the game, which means they can learn hand-to-hand combat and use it outside the game world.

I was fortunate to see the entire series start to finish, with the episodes edited together, at the January 22nd premier at The Royal in Toronto. During the introduction to the viewing, a phrase was said of the production company’s motto, “blurring the line between dystopia and utopia,” which partly sums up the world we see in Haphead. Then as now, it’s not a perfect world, but it’s not all bad. We see real people, ones we can relate to and identify with, living their lives and doing what most of us do day in, day out, like argue about money and hang out with friends. It’s the characters that drive the story, which kicks in when Maxine is forced to grow up in a hurry in the face of her new-found gaming skills and the harsh realities of her father’s job.

The relationship between Maxine and her father is the core of the story, both their motivations stem from this, and the story grows from it organically. The series avoids painting their relationship in simple terms or stereotypes. The performances of Elysia White (Maxine) and David Straus (her father, Simon) are spot on in all their scenes together and gives the series the essential emotional anchor, so we care about what they’re doing and why.

The series delivers what it promises, a dynamic, engaging story with believable characters, is well-produced and beautifully acted.

You can watch the trailer here.

Copyright 1995 – 2012 Patrick Lemieux. All Rights Reserved. Registered with the National Library of Canada.

Here is the original first issue, picking up a short time after the events of the “Prequel” issue. You’ll immediately notice the rougher quality of the art. At the time, I’d never tried anything like this, writing and drawing a comic, so I was sort of making it up as I went, with only a vague idea of where I was going. I did settle on a direction and an overall story arc halfway through writing this issue, but lacked the patience to refine the art before I started, nor did I script the story. I wrote it as I did the pencils and only occasionally changed things as I inked the pages. In retrospect, it was probably not the best way to write the tightest story, but it let me explore whichever directions I felt like taking it. If I plotted the entire thing out before I put pencil to paper, I fear it would’ve become stale to me by the time it came to do it. I also didn’t know that was how most comics did it. Again, impatience took over and I just dove right in.

[In 2012 I experimented with completely re-doing the text. I felt the original was pretty illegible. I didn’t alter the content, just fixed mistakes and made it clearer for the reader.]

Also included are two later strips whose events proceed the first issue.

Enjoy.


“The Date”
A strip which ran in the Eyeopener in 1996.

“Stress”
A page-long strip I used as a test for the comic.









(Horizon Line & Apex Comics, characters and events depicted therein are copyright 2012 Patrick Lemieux. All rights reserved. Registered with the National Library Of Canada)

Back in my last year of high school and through university, I wrote and drew a small-press comic series titled Horizon Line. It ran for about 6 years and issues were published quarterly. There were also one-off strips in various publications (school newspapers, magazines, etc.) and a second volume of idependent issues that were written late in the series’ history, which told side stories and back stories of various characters.

“Prequel” was one such back story. It’s presented here first, for the sake of telling the story more or less in chronological order. There will be points where artistic need requires flashbacks and slight deviations from the chronological order, so for story purposes, those moments will be preserved. Otherwise, the releases (strips and supplemental issues) will be placed within the regular flow of the comic in order to tell the most linear version of the story. It’ll make the most sense that way. Consider it my Director’s Cut, with re-instated scenes and bonus footage to enhance the story.

If the reprinting of the series here is popular, I’ll keep posting the original issues, perhaps once a month.

I’ll also warn you that the earlier-drawn material varies in technical quality from the later issues, as I improved as an artist. I hope you’ll forgive the roughness of the forthcoming Issues 1 to about 3 or 4. Issue 0 “Prequel” shows you how good the art became fairly quickly, so you have that to look forward too, if nothing else.

Enjoy…

(Horizon Line & Apex Comics, characters and events depicted therein are copyright 2012 Patrick Lemieux. All rights reserved. Registered with the National Library Of Canada)