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  Steve Morse - Major Impacts 1


Steve Morse Band Major Impacts
Catalog #: MA-9042-2

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Major Impacts
AUDIO CLIPS

01 Derailleur Gears
(realaudio)

02 Well, I Have
(mp3 or realaudio)

03 TruthOla
(mp3 or realaudio)

04 Migration
(mp3 or realaudio)

05 Led On
(mp3 or realaudio)

06 The White Light
(mp3 or realaudio)

07 How Does It Feel?
(mp3 or realaudio)

08 Bring It To Me
(mp3 or realaudio)

09 Something Gently Weeps
(mp3 or realaudio)

10 Free In The Park
(mp3 or realaudio)

11 Prognosis
(mp3 or realaudio)


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    Major Impacts
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    Released July 11, 2000

    Trust one of rock's greatest authorities on the width and breadth of guitar history to come up with a concept as refreshing as Major Impacts. For a man who has reverently appropriated and incorporated so much, it is an elegant and productive way to give back, to gently instruct, to engagingly entertain, Steve Morse devising and executing a record that proposes one composition each in homage of Morse's compatriots, inspirations and heroes.

    Through an esteemed catalogue that includes records with Dixie Dregs, Kansas and Deep Purple, as well as solo works and man-to-man collaborations, Morse has coursed a lifeblood through the art of the guitar. And lifeblood is a strangely fitting term; given the man's good-natured, eager and lively sound, his enthusiastic, amiable and nimble steps up the fretboard into the upper echelons of the guitar's hallowed halls.

    "I'd have to say that Major Impacts has been one of the most captivating things I've ever done," offers Steve. "The concept was for me to write music that reflected the styles of some of the musicians that had influenced me. I immediately loved the concept and immediately had ideas all over the place; mental notes, cassette tapes scattered about, even crude wave files on my portable computer. I actually couldn't wait to get started and I dove right in. The challenges were there, like trying to give the impression of a guitarist in a vocal band with an original piece of music that doesn't use lyrics. And what are the components of a style? How do you reflect those without actually repeating music? The solution was to use familiar tempos, phrasing, instrumentation and reminiscent themes that would be literally original but obviously intended to imitate. If part of my record reminds you of another tune, you can be pretty sure it was intended."

    An interesting, intellectual approach that sets the studious listener up for an amazing ride, indeed a journey through rock's past that, through Steve's inimitable touch, can be enjoyed by those who indeed know little about the theoretical and practical workings of the guitar.

    As a result, Major Impacts is an incredibly dense, value-added collection of rock guitar posturing, Morse superimposing the weight and authority of his own highly emotive approach o'er top the styles of what comprises a canny and selective roll call of rock's most "impactful" pioneers. Take for example Steve's celebration of Leslie West, 'Bring It To Me.' A re-engineered convolution of Mountain's signature track 'Mississippi Queen' announces the subject at hand, instantly signaling initiated and novice alike that they are in for a heaving batch of the blues through West and back to his roots within Cream. Re-emphasizing his stated mandate, Steve offers, "The bridge is actually trying to replicate the constantly changing chord concept in 'Theme From An Imaginary Western.' The chords are different, but the fact that they keep changing every two beats recall the feeling of that beautiful rock ballad. The solos and stop sections are the result of me thinking how Leslie West would have done it." True to Steve's vision towards making a song useful and universal, the track possesses a strong central thrust built around the central riff (with tasty but slight variations), resulting in a resolution that makes it an effortlessly enjoyable instrumental track.

    'Free In The Park' is an incredibly succinct tribute to The Allman Brothers, Morse using one of the band's signature shuffles over which to place expert slide that is an uncanny synthesis of Duane's and Dickey's thought processes, while steering well clear of any direct pattern either had catalogued throughout the band's years and years of material. Again, it shows Morse giving us the spirit of the past masters within the framework of entirely new music. Interleafed throughout are heavenly, sinewy twin leads that one could imagine the "on tour forever" Allmans nicking one day when Steve isn't looking.

    The album's opener is also its longest and most abstract tribute. 'Led On' is of course a celebration of Jimmy Page and Led Zeppelin. Steve zeroes in on the essence of Page's folky attributes, while delving deeply into the Moroccan, Middle Eastern and Indian flavors in Page's repertoire. But the song rings quite far from its source, at least on first listen, until you hear Steve virtually checking off Page's various voices, his acoustic romp, his metal riffing, his electric soloing, Morse completing the picture by capturing, on guitar of course, a few of Robert Plant's phrasings as he imagines a duel that might have taken place in an exalted time when we still had Zeppelin.

    Two of the tracks on here cast light on multiple artists. 'TruthOla' is a palatable, groovy tour de force that looks at Truth and BeckOla-era Jeff Beck, as well as Eric Johnson (who has collaborated with Morse and who is also a great Jeff Beck fan) and Alex Lifeson from Rush, a band that Morse has backed up on tour. But it is 'Prognosis,' a tribute to both Yes and Kansas, that is the record's strident, full band workout. Steve explains the mystique of a band like Kansas. "What I really enjoyed about their music was the majestic, classical influence put in easy-to-digest phrases. I always enjoyed listening to them play and was amazed when I found myself trying to write music for a new reunion album which led to my joining Kansas for some years. I can point to some very proud musical moments along the way, and a respect for the hard work they were always willing to put in." Part way through, the intricate, almost baroque Kansas patterns shift to the side to make way for a spiritually cleansing wash of acoustic strumming, signaling the start of Steve's tribute to Yes' quirky, sharp-toned guitarist Steve Howe. "When I first heard Yes," begins Steve, "I was captivated by the complexity and beauty of the group's songs. Naturally, I paid a lot of attention to Steve Howe and he became a very important influence on me because of his versatility alone. I decided to make the second half of this tune reflect more of the group's ability to find wonderful counterpoint and melody over a simple chord structure to contrast their complex bits."

    Perhaps one of the lighter moments can be found within Steve's reverent and thoughtful reverie on 'Keef, How Does It Feel?' saddlesore-strolling through Keith Richards' signature country rock grooves. It's a survey of the core ingredients found within tracks like 'Start Me Up,' 'Jumpin' Jack Flash,' 'Brown Sugar' and 'Gimme Shelter,' riffs of looming bluesy rock, soloing that is all feel and soul. It's merely another piece of the complex puzzle that is Steve Morse, this ability to find worth and wealth within a panorama of styles.

    Elsewhere, Steve provides a beautifully textured look at Roger McGuinn and The Byrds, a peerage into his own soul and style through the obvious influence of John McLaughlin and the fiercely prog-protective Mahavishnu Orchestra, and a surprisingly accurate slice of George Harrison's intimate slide on 'Something Gently Weeps.' Finally, there's a studious look at two '60s hard-hitters: Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton. 'Well, I Have' looks at the delicate, less examined finesse-able side of Jimi while 'Derailleur Gears' finds Morse and crew in full power trio snarl (Trivia note: Cream's Disraeli Gears album got its name from one of the band's roadies Mick Turner calling the bike part just that, sending the band into a tailspin of laughter: here Steve corrects the gaff).

    By record's end, it is hoped that a new and wide appreciation for where rock guitar is today has impressed itself upon your listening faculties. But it is not a heavy-handed lesson that has been dealt. Steve Morse is just too much of a touch player, and indeed, a likable guy, his enthusiasm and good-natured affection for both people and his craft rubbing off on those he chooses to work with. Just ask Deep Purple, who, in interviews, can sound almost giddy with delight at having Morse fill their vital guitar slot. Major Impacts will cause that same sort of giddiness. It is a buoyant album, sympathetically recorded to tread lightly, crafted with skill, restraint and above all, heart and reverence.


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