Morse, Steve - Major Impacts

Year of Release: 2000
Label: Magna Carta
Catalog Number: MA-9042-2
Format: CD
Total Time: 50:07:00

And so the new Steve Morse disk arrived in the mail. Not to put too fine a point on it, but aside from Kansas and Deep Purple, I've not personally heard very much of Morse's solo or Dixie Dregs output, and I say that hedgingly because I'm not entirely sure whether I have heard any of either until now. But, I love the guitar -- I'm a sucker for a great lead line and have been impressed with the guitar work of many of the artists that Morse plays tribute and homage to here.

Major Impacts isn't a progressive release per se; more blues-rock, but then many of Morse's influences were blues-rock guitarists. But, it is progressive in spirit - looking back and forward at the same time. Not progressive with a capital "P," perhaps, but I always found the style of, say The Allman Brothers band to have much in common with prog, even if the roots were blues and country. The project came about at the request of Magna Carta who suggested to Morse that he "write music that reflected the styles of some of the musicians that had really influence me as a guitarist and a musician," as he says in the liner notes. So, here you will find that "guitar heroes" Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck, Keith Richards, Jimmy Page, and others are given a tip of the hat. These tracks also serve as improvs of a sort ? take a note or two from a familiar classic (or two) and going off on a tangent, creating a sound that harks back to the artists of influence, but also sounding quite fresh and unique in its own right. I shouldn't fail to mention that the album closes with his tribute/homage to both Kansas and Yes (and I think it's mere coincidence that the two bands are currently touring together?but who knows?maybe this sparked the idea?).

I have been listening to Major Impacts both at home and at work - and darn if I wasn't reluctant to leave my desk for anything! This is some great stuff. Nevermind the influences for a moment, this contains everything I look for in guitar based music - strong, emotive leads; soaring notes; open playing? Joining Morse on this outing are Dave LaRue on bass (whose playing made me think of Tony Levin on "The White Light" - must be the fretless bass) and Van Romaine on drums. Oh dear, the disk has ended again?but a push of the button and it begins again?"Derailleur Gears" leaping out of the speakers and drawing you in immediately. This crunches a bit more than I recall Cream sounding -- but here I'm not an expert either --; there are some solo spots that will make you think of Clapton, as it should. Morse states that the track is "based around the tempo of "Crossroads" but the middle section does get a bit weird?" This leaps right into "Well, I Have," the Hendrix homage ... leading to "TruthOla," a Beck, Eric Johnson, and Alex Lifeson based piece. Throughout LaRue's bass has that dark and heavy Rush sound, while Romaine's drums, during the bridge, contrast as being very light and cymbal heavy.

Two of my favourite pieces are the Byrds influenced "Migration" and the John McLaughlin influenced "The White Light." Morse was struck by the 12-string that Roger McGuinn used on the opening notes of "Turn Turn Turn" (those opening notes are also echoed by a Tom Petty tune - "The Waiting" - which isn't that surprising, knowing Petty). Morse's playing here, and the light notes used, also make me think of Craig Chaquico -- which I never thought of Chaquico as have a Byrds like sound -- but to me the sound of steel strings is what I identify with Chaquico. This is, at you might expect, a mid-tempo rocker that evokes, as its title suggests, the flight of birds -- see them swoop and dive without a care in the world over some open piece of landscape. "The White Light" uses the same light guitar touch, some piano notes (also Morse it seems, as he's credited with "extraneous overdubs") - and this is my favorite guitar part of the whole album - beautiful arpreggios, layered notes, resonate tones? stunning. This leads to the Stones' influenced "How Does It Feel?" This is the biggest nod of the album - meaning that here Morse really lets the influence take over - sounding more like a instrumental Stones medley ... but filled with some of the great guitar moments of Richards.

"Free In The Park" is another favourite, not only for Morse's quite, but from the jazzy, rolling bass of LaRue. The prog track "Prognosis" really evokes the Kansas of yore ... and then, of course, classic Yes with its Howe-like guitar... another very nicely done track.

I've only scratched the surface on this disk ... it hasn't even had it's customary "headphones" listen yet, but I simply had to write my thoughts down... This is a really enjoyable album to listen to and I can heartily recommend it not only to guitar enthusiasts, Morse fans, or fans of blues-rock, but really anyone who likes music. Magna Carta have got another winner here.

Derailleur Gears (4:45) / Well I Have (4:20) / TruthOla (5:30) / Migration (4:02) / Led On (5:52) / The White Light (3:20) / How Does It Feel? (4:29) / Bring it To Me (4:01) / Something Gently Weeps (4:35) / Free In The Park (4:32) / Prognosis (6:01)

Steve Morse - guitars and extraneous overdubs
Dave LaRue - bass
Van Romaine - drums

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: Progressive Rock

Origin US

Added: June 1st 2000
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 1082
Language: english


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