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


Steve Morse Band


Eclectic Prog

3.93 | 31 ratings

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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.


ClemofNazareth | 3/5 |


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