Morse Band, Steve - Split Decision

Year of Release: 2002
Label: Magna Carta
Catalog Number: MA-9058
Format: CD
Total Time: 53:08:00

Steve Morse's second album for Magna Carta, Split Decision is a mix of rocky and mellow tunes -- though each are highly melodic. As if one needed further evidence of Morse skills as a guitarist, Split Decision provides it. The opening track, "Heightened Awareness" is one part lightly melodic one part down 'n dirty rawk, the little sounding a bit like Mountain's "Mississippi Queen." Morse's previous album Major Impacts was full of nods to well known artists, so it's not all that surprising that some that creeps in here as some of the rehearsals for this album happened before the Major Impacts album. "Busybodies," with a lot of notes and a lot going on musically. One of my favourites is "Marching Orders." It's big and heavy without being heavy handed, ballsy and confident. Here and throughout it's Dave LaRue on bass and Van Romaine on drums, each giving the music a full and rich sound. This is certainly a power trio if there ever was one. Especially when the metallic "Mechanical Frenzy" kicks in -- this is metal of the classic period, the kind one might have heard from Deep Purple in their heyday. Of course, Morse is currently a member of Deep Purple. Just keep the energy and thrust of "Highway Star" in mind, here.

Another favourite is the reverent "Great Mountain Spirits." It still rocks with a growly bass, but smooth, sweet guitar lines melt in your ears. These spirits have many sides, some dark, some light, but all with a southwestern flavor.

The rest of the album is equally stunning, played at a mellower, more studied pace. "Moment's Comfort" is especially noteworthy, Moore's guitar dueting nicely with LaRue's bass. "Clear Memories" is another highlight -- among an album of highlights, as all of the songs are worth mentioning. The color palette that Morse and co. use is quite varied. And it's an album you won't get bored listening to - it's not a wankfest for Morse, but an album of instrumental songs. Few exceed five minutes, and most are in the 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 minute range. "Clear Memories" made me think a bit of Bruce Hornsby and The Range's debut album, and specifically of "The Way It Is," especially in the tinkling guitar notes of Morse. "Midnight Daydream" has a bit of a Tom Petty thing at first, a bit of a Byrd's thing, a bit of a Rolling Stones thing (a granule of "Gimme Shelter"). There is a decidedly country twang to it. So too does "Back Porch," which brings in a bit of a Celtic reel feel to it -- that same feel I hear in bluegrass.

Though it's been six months since Split Decision was released this past March, it remains one of the essential purchases of 2002.

Heightened Awareness (4:19) / Busybodies (2:34) / Marching Orders (4:58) / Mechanical Frenzy (4:26) / Great Mountain Spirits (4:22) / Majorly Up (3:54) / Gentle Flower, Hidden Beast (5:37) / Moment's Comfort (5:33) / Clear Memories (3:21) / Midnight Daydream (5:18) / Back Porch (4:04) / Natural Flow (4:42)

Steve Morse - guitars
Dave LaRue - bass
Van Romaine - drums

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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: September 29th 2002
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 632
Language: english


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