La Villa Strangiato: Background

“Subtitled ‘an exercise in self-indulgence,’ this instrumental combines jazz fusion, metal, power rock, and other influences the members felt at the time. La villa means ‘city’ in Spanish, while Strangiato is made up, a fusion of Spanish and Italian to mean ‘strange.’ The images in the suite titles were inspired by nightmares Alex was having. The fused German-Spanish title of the first section is almost identical to a German song called ‘Gute Nacht, Freunde’ by A. Yondrascheck [whose real name is Reinhard Mey], which features the same classical guitar intro. ‘To sleep, perchance to dream’ is from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Lerxst was Alex’s nickname. The Aragon was a region in Medieval Spain, but here may also refer to the old Aragon ballrooms the band used to play. Danforth (Avenue) and Pape (Street) is a Toronto intersection. The shreves was the name for the roadies. The guitarwork [of part of the song was] lifted from Warner Bros. cartoon music of the 1930s and ’40s, particularly ‘Powerhouse’ by Raymond Scott.”—Robert Telleria, Merely Players

The publishers of Raymond Scott’s “Powerhouse” did not attempt to take legal action until after the statute of limitations had run out, but “Rush’s management, feeling it was the right thing to do, gave some monetary compensation to Mr. and Mrs. Scott.”—Wikipedia

The appropriation of “Powerhouse” comes at about the 5:50-minute mark, in the “Monsters” suite.  Listen to “Powerhouse” here.  Go to the 30-second mark.  Now listen to “La Villa Strangiato.”  Go to the 5:50-minute mark.

“We wrote this one on the road. We used our soundchecks to run through songs that we were going to record; then, when we would have a few days off we’d start recording. This song was recorded in one take, with all of us in the same room. We had baffles up around the guitar, bass, and drums, and we would look at each other for the cues. My solo in the middle section was overdubbed after we recorded the basic tracks. I played a solo while we did the first take and rerecorded it later. If you listen very carefully, you can hear the other solo ghosted in the background. That was a fun exercise in developing a lot of different sections in an instrumental. It gave everyone the chance to stretch out. . . . By that time I had my [Gibson] ES-355, and my acoustics were a Gibson Dove, J-55, and a B-45 12-string. I had my Marshall in the studio. I had the Twin and two Hiwatts, which I was also using live, but the Marshall was my real workhorse. The Boss Chorus unit had just come out at that time, but I think I used a Roland JC-120 for the chorus sound here. Hemispheres was the first of many ‘chorus’ albums.”—Alex in a 1996 Guitar World interview

“‘La Villa Strangiato’ has two parts that were each recorded in one take. We felt it was a song that needed the feeling of spontaneity to make it work, so we spent over a week learning it before we recorded. After we were finished, none of us thought we’d ever be able to play it again. But now I can do it while watching TV. (Guitar Player, 1980). I always enjoy playing that solo. I like the changes and it’s a very emotive, bluesy kind of solo. It stays the same every night. The band is in the background, modulating between two notes, and it gives me a chance to wail.” (Guitar, 1984)—Alex in Merely Players

More about “La Villa Strangiato”

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~ by rvkeeper on January 11, 2011.

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