Morse, Steve - Major Impacts 2

Year of Release: 2004
Label: Magna Carta
Catalog Number: MA 9070-2
Format: CD
Total Time: 50:34:00

About four years ago, Steve Morse released Major Impacts, his tribute to the bands and artists that had influenced or appealed to him over the years. Now Morse has released a follow up called, appropriately enough, Major Impacts 2. Before I get to the why I think so, let me just tell you that this album is terrific, both from a performance and production point of view, but also because the obvious love and affection that Morse has for a wide variety of music. It is an album perfect for anyone who loves music for the sake of music. I loved it so much that I was ready to write effusively about it here shortly after it arrived late last year. But, that would mean "moving on" to the next CD, so? And I'm not really ready to move on now; so it's good that my stereo holds 5, so the other four can rotate (though really that "extra" spot is getting filled with everything that's "stuck" there over the years). And let me tell you, this album would be rockin' my socks off, even if it weren't giving nods to the very artists I've loved over the years. Hands down, this will be on my top ten for this year for sure!

The artists being feted this time around include Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young in the western tinged "Wooden Music," the percussion aspect recalling "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes," as Morse mentions in the liner notes; The Who, with "Where Are You," recalling "Won't Get Fooled Again;" Genesis with "Abracadab," a percolating nod to a song that I'm sure you can guess; and ELP with "Organically Grown," Emerson's percussive attack of the organ intact along (via B3 samples) with churning percussion (Van Romain) and bass (Dave LaRue), all evoking "Tarkus." And yet, what Morse adds is joyous abandon to this piece, letting the fun spirit of the music (even if the "fun" wasn't the theme of "Tarkus") carry he and his cohorts away. He also pays tribute to styles such as Cajun, with "Ghost Of The Bayou." or the Celtic Ballad with the lovely, aching beautiful, gentle and sublime "Cool Wind, Green Hills." A Celtic atmosphere can also be heard in the country/bluegrass influenced "Tri County Barn Dance" a lively and energetic piece that has Morse's guitar sounding very much like a banjo (if not a banjo itself, as Morse is credited with "various extraneous instruments," though I question the adjective "extraneous" as there's nothing here that fits that term, "necessary" might be more apt). And there is also the impression of a violin being played here, too. I say Celtic, because I've always felt that bluegrass was an offshoot of the Celtic music brought to the colonies by the Irish. I've not done a study, so I can't say that that's a fact, but it is my impression. Listen to a reel and listen to a bluegrass tune?

On a warm, acoustic sounding electric guitar Morse plays "Air On A 6 String," an homage to Bach. "This is a partita, or solo invention in the style that I thought Bach might have done for electric guitar with a plectrum," Morse writes in the notes. Terrific. This followed by a fiery tribute to Spirit, Deep Purple (with whom he currently plays) and Ted Nugent in "Motor City Spirit." And the Yardbirds and Brit Pop in general have influenced "12 Strings On Carnaby St." a groovy, toe-tapping song, that, like the other rocking pieces on the album, is a lot of fun, too. Duel guitar leads cross over each other, smoothly crisscrossing one over the other (like ribbons of open road). It's a bright, shiny sound that will also bring the Byrds/Tom Petty to mind, as "I'll Feel A Whole Lot Better" kept running through my mind (Mr Tambourine Man / Full Moon Fever).

Much more than a covers album could allow, Morse's way of paying tribute also permits these songs to stand on their own. If you didn't know that some artist or another were being paid homage to, you might just note that some aspect is similar to some particular artist. I mean, sure you can hear the Aerosmith in "Errol Smith," but one is just as likely to think of Mountain (who were acknowledged on Major Impacts 1) as this piece has a heavy, blues stomp just as "Mississippi Queen" did. But that's not to say you don't hear the Joe Perry in Morse's guitar licks either. And it's ZZ Top providing the southern boogie spice in the tangy and chile hot "Zig Zags." Just as spicy, in a different way, is the Cajun flavored "Ghost Of The Bayou." This piece wasn't inspired by a well-known artist, but by Morse's grandfather, who he never met. It is his grandfather's fiddle that Morse plays on the track as well. Like most of the album, this piece is joyous, celebratory. Another solid track, though I don't think we'd expect anything different.

Morse closes things out with "Leonard's Best," a nod to Lynyrd Skynyrd, incorporating elements from their best known tracks, "Freebird," and "Sweet Home Alabama."

More than just using a sound as an influence, Morse digs deeper, looking at the structure and construction of the passages that attracted him so. Like the artist who looks at another artist's painting and sees beyond the picture on the canvas to notice the brush strokes, the type of brush used, type of paint used, even the type of canvas or medium the work is painted on.

A wonderful release ? in any way you want to read that phrase. And there's a whole lot more to it than I've described, as you read the liner notes, hear what Morse heard and what inspired him, it will inspire you to dig out those old records and play 'em again, hearing them with, perhaps, new ears. But don't let this one get to far away, as you'll keep coming back to it, too.

Rating: 5/5 (but you know, really it's a 6)

Wooden Music / Where Are You? / Errol Smith / Cool Wind, Green Hills / Organically Grown / 12 Strings On Carnaby St. / Zig Zags / Abracadab / Tri County Barn Dance / Air On A 6 String / Motor City Spirit / Ghost Of The Bayou / Leonard's Best

Steve Morse ? guitars, keyboards, 'various extraneous instruments'
Dave LaRue ? bass
Van Romain ? drums and percussion

Dixie Dregs - The Great Spectacular (1975)
Dixie Dregs - Free Fall - (1977)
Dixie Dregs - What If (1978)
Dixie Dregs - Night Of The Living Dregs (1979)
Dixie Dregs - Sex, Dregs & Rock 'n' Roll (1979)
Dixie Dregs - Dregs of The Earth (1980)
Dixie Dregs - Unsung Heroes (1981)
Dixie Dregs - Live In New York (1981)
Dixie Dregs - Industry Standard (1982)
The Introduction (1984)
Stand Up (1986)
Kansas - Power (1986)
Dixie Dregs - Best Of The Dixie Dregs (1987)
Dixie Dregs - Off The Record (1988)
Kansas - In The Spirit Of Things (1988)
Dixie Dregs - Divided We Stand - Best Of (1989)
High Tension Wires (1989)
Southern Steel (1991)
Coast To Coast (1992)
Dixie Dregs - Bring 'Em Back Alive (1992)
Dixie Dregs - Full Circle (1994)
Structural Damage (1995)
Stress Fest (1996)
Deep Purple - Purpendicular (1996)
Deep Purple - Live at the Olympia
Dixie Dregs - King Biscuit Flower Hour (1998)
Deep Purple - Abandon (1998)
Kansas - King Biscuit Flower Hour Presents Kansas (1998)
Deep Purple - Total Abandon (1999)
Deep Purple - Major Impacts (2000)
Deep Purple - Live at the Royal Albert Hall (2000)
Dixie Dregs - California Screamin' (2000)
Major Impacts (2000)
Split Decision (2002)
Major Impacts 2 (2004)

(amongst others)

Genre: Rock

Origin US

Added: February 9th 2004
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 869
Language: english


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