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Steve Morse Band - Steve Morse: Major Impacts 2 CD (album) cover


Steve Morse Band

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5 stars Again Steve has put out a collection of new music written in the style of people he listened to and learned from over the years. There is a less obvious connection between what we recognize as Steve's style and the way he plays on this CD versus the first Major Impacts. On the first disc, you could hear a lot of Steve's style in the songs he played, and could readily make the connection between the influence and his style. Here, that connection is less obvious. However, the joyous, upbeat nature of Steve's writing and playing shines through on all the compositions. Those who like to hear Steve pick at impossible tempos will enjoy "Air on a 6 String" and "Tri-County Barn Dance". "Wooden Music", a tribute to CSNY, could snap anyone out of the deepest depression. Excellent music played by an American master of the guitar.
Report this review (#25799)
Posted Monday, March 22, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars Over the years, Steve MORSE has built up an enormous record of services. He was active in KANSAS (although not in their better days), The DIXIE DREGS, LYNYRD SKYNYRD and of course, DEEP PURPLE. I've even seen him a few times live at work with DEEP PURPLE and even then I was very much impressed with his fast, yet melodious, guitar technique. The die-hard fans won't be happy to hear this, but I really haven't missed Ritchie Blackmore, especially on the 'Purpendicular' album, where MORSE was outstanding.

In the year 2000 and after a series of solo albums, he brought out 'Major Impacts'. The songs there were dedicated to his sources of inspiration,that being guitarists such as Clapton, Page, Hendrix and Jeff Beck. 'Major Impacts 2' is the follow up album, although on this album, his references are directed more towards more specific groups or genres that have influenced him. Personally, I find all these tribute bands to be nothing special. I think it's much more inventive to write your own songs where you can integrate recognizable styles into your own musical spectrum. And because he's been involved in all kinds of music genres since 1974, he can choose from a very broad variety of music styles. Hopefully, he won't fall into the same pattern as the 'Rocky' movies did. That would really be a pity.

Starting with the first notes of "Wooden Music", you can imagine yourself on the grounds at Woodstock with CROSBY, STILLS, NASH and YOUNG on stage, even though the continuation of the song takes on its own electrical interpretation. "Suite:Judy Blue Eyes" was the model for this song. It has these typical harmonies that are simulated by, what else other than, guitars (just like Brian May of QUEEN did). This track reminds me a bit of the CALIFORNIA GUITAR TRIO.

It's no secret that "Where are You" contains typical synthesizer sounds of The WHO. MORSE was always keen on the guitar riffs of Pete TOWNSEND and the energetic drumming of the deceased Keith Moon.

"Errol Smith", a song with an amusing play on words, is completely immersed in a guitar rock similar to that of AEROSMITH in "Walk this Way" and "Love in an Elevator".

There's an ode to Celtic music in "Cool Wind, Green Hills", where Steve expresses his utmost admiration for ENYA, CLANNAD and other OLDFIELDS.

And you don't even have to listen for 5 seconds to "Originally Crown" in order to hear the sounds of EMERSON, LAKE and PALMER. It speaks for itself that the guitar here is more prominent. But the song sounds full and is impressive to hear.

"Twelve Strings on Carnaby Street" is obviously based on British pop from the end of the 60s and even more so on The YARDBIRDS and The HOLLIES. The 12 string guitar takes care of the rhythm, while the solo is played with distortion guitar. Very nostalgic indeed! The youngsters, however, won't be able to relate to this.

"Zig Zag" sounds so ZZ TOP, another cult band from a ways back. It's played true to that typical bluesy sound. And even more predictable is "Abracadab", one of the real few progressive fragments on 'Major Impacts 2', although the drum intro does sound rather 60s. One must question himself about the choice of this song.

Blue grass and country isn't really my thing, but the fast fingered guitar playing on "Tri County Barn Dance" is something I can enjoy. Steve calls it one of those happy songs.

And like so many rock guitarists, MORSE can't just renounce his classical music background. That's why he's chosen Bach for "Air on a 6 String". You can hear the typical repetitive bass notes above the other modified notes. Those who know a bit about Bach will understand what I mean.

As it turns out, Bach is followed by a hard rockin' "Motor City Spirit". Spirit, Ritchie Blackmore's "Highway Star" and Ted Nugent were models for this song.

"The Ghost of the Bayou" is somewhat like a country style song. All that fiddle playing is a bit redundant for me. But, ok, it's dedicated to his grand father, so we have to respect that.

"Leonard's Best", a guitar rockin' song, is inspired by "Sweet Home Alabama" by LYNYRD SKYNYRD, one of the many bands in which MORSE had been active.

If you take a look over the career of MORSE, you can be sure that this guy can make even more CDs of the same calibre. All the tracks are done very professionally and you don't get the feeling that he's showing off his guitar skills, something that Vai and Satriani are often guilty of. They are, however, all rather short songs. I would have liked to have heard certain parts extended and the album could've been made more progressive. Let's be aware that this is not a prog album. It's just good music and that's already something.

>>> Review by: Claude 'Clayreon' Bosschem (8/10) Translated by Jennifer Summer<<<

Report this review (#25800)
Posted Friday, June 11, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars Steve MORSE is one of those guitar players that compel you to say - It's over? No more? Come on, I want more! You wish his playing would never end because he is such an incredible genius with the six-string. He is easily one of the top ten guitarists in the world today.

On "Major Impacts 2" he continues to humble himself before his peers by dedicating another unbelievable volume of work in their image. Think about if for one minute, here we have one of the best players in the world telling everyone without uttering a single word, with music alone, who his influences are and why he sounds like he does today. Not everyone would create an album like this. He was the driving force behind DIXIE DREGS and now fills the shoes of the great Ritchie Blackmore in DEEP PURPLE, not a bad resume for a guitar player. I think he will continue to add to that legacy and evolve as a guitar player for years to come. As he did on the first volume, he adds his comments to each track and explains all of his influences in the CD booklet.

If you can think of any one style of music, MORSE covers it on this instrumental treasure trove. When an album is this good, and I mean every single song, I find it very difficult to choose a favorite; I am in a sense speechless at this man's amazing talent. I think most music lovers and guitar players would say the same thing about Steve MORSE, he is a guitar God and one with few equals. I do not know what else I could possibly add to this, except one thing.if you can really appreciate great guitar playing, all kinds of musical styles, and only instrumentals, you will absolutely love this album. Make sure you get volume one as well, it's just as good.

Report this review (#25801)
Posted Friday, January 28, 2005 | Review Permalink
Prog Folk Researcher
3 stars I was traveling in Chicago a while back and found myself driving through the city with no CDs and only some very lame FM radio to listen to. So I stopped in a record store and bought this to listen to.

Anyway, I didn't really pay that much attention to the CD, I only bought it because I couldn't find anything else and I was in a hurry. I popped it in while heading south down the highway. I must say that after a few minutes I was kind of disappointed and felt like I was going to regret losing the $12 USD I had spent on it. While the music was okay (all instrumental), it had a very late 60's feel to it and I was a struck with the thought that Steve Morse must be getting old and losing interest in being creative anymore. The first track sounded so much like CSN that I kept expecting David Crosby to start crooning "wooden ships on the water very free (and easy).". Once the second track started picturing Pete Townshend, and feeling a bit confused. By the time the third track started, I knew something was very weird about this album. Turns out nearly every track reminded me of someone I had heard before.

So when I got back to the hotel I opened the jewel case and started reading the liner notes. Turns out Steve Morse had put together, for lack of a better term, a tribute album. But instead of taking someone else's songs and putting his own spin on them (like any normal person would), Morse decided to create songs that reflected his interpretation of the musical styles of people who had influenced or impressed him at some point during his life. Okay, so this was kind of an original approach.

Turns out this is the second time he's done this (hence the "2" in the album's title), but I didn't know this at the time. I kind of lost track of Steve Morse after he left Kansas in the late 80's and moved on to Deep Purple, who I really have no interest in. The first 'Impacts' album came out in 2000, and was apparently very similar in concept (I haven't listened to that one yet). So what I got for $12 was not only a good instrumental album, but a compact trivia puzzle as well! As soon as I understood what the concept of the album was, I put away the case and played the entire album again, just to see how many of the styles I could identify. Turns out I only got 8 out of 13, but after I read the entire liner notes, the rest of them made sense too.

The liner notes are very interesting. Morse lists each track using pictures instead of song titles to identify them, then describes his memories of the artist or band he wrote the song for, his thought process in creating the sounds, and sometimes even the techniques he used to create them.

I'd like to describe each track individually, but that would spoil some of the fun of trying to discover who each song represents on your own, so I won't. I will say that on one song he plays his grandfather's violin with a guitar pick. On another he plays only with his fingers to try and emulate the sound of the artist as he remembers him. On another he plays only single notes to simulate the sound of classical music (this is the only track that isn't intended to recognize a contemporary artist).

Some of the songs are no-brainers to identify, you'll recognize the musicians they represent right away. Others are a bit trickier. You'll get a least six of them just by looking at the song titles, so don't open look at the liner notes until you've played the whole album through first.

Musically, Morse doesn't break any new ground here, and overall the tone of this album is quite a bit mellower than most of the stuff he's done since he left Dixie Dregs twenty years ago. But it is kind of fun to try and identify the sound of who Morse is trying to pay tribute to on each song, and the production is quite good. The concept is pretty creative, and I have to admit once I understood what Morse was trying to achieve, I saw this album in a new light.

I can't imagine I'll probably play this album very much, and in fact I've only listened to it maybe a half-dozen times since I bought it, so I don't think it qualifies as an essential work by any means, but I could see it appealing to music fans who aren't necessarily just into Steve Morse, so it's a bit better than a 'collector's only' work. So, three stars seems appropriate, and that's what I'll give it.


Report this review (#74686)
Posted Wednesday, April 12, 2006 | Review Permalink

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