Steve Morse - Major impacts - 2000


Steve Morse is certainly one of the guitarists that have contributed to maintain the good live music. Appearing in albums in moments of creative crisis of some of the most famous groups of the seventies, and that in the 80s and 90s encountered a hostile atmosphere, unfavorable for the music that they always had contributed to develop. And I am referring, for example, to Kansas, destroyed in the eighties by the inexplicable and excessive commerciality of the musical market or Deep Purple, self-destroyed by the constant egocentric battles of their two leaders. Even Yes that without ending up allowing him to enter in the band, also drank of his fresh wisdom (overall Steve Howe, in favor of the incorporation of the musician to the band, in the stage of "Open your eyes" and "The Ladder"). This virtuous guitarist's help in giving them a new impulse has been as important as little valued and forgotten. At first from the outside he is only considered to be an excellent musician-joker, and nothing else than a joker. Anyway Steve is already one of the founders of the veteran Dixie Dregs, with which he got a very good fame with his style hard-prog fusion, of great quality, next to other characters that still fight in the current progressive scene, as the drummer Rod Morgenstein.

He is a musician, and with this album he shows to us that he has known how to adapt very well to any guitar style inside rock music and in an evident way he has become an all-terrain vehicle able to compose with the same effectiveness a song a la Jimi Hendrix and another a la Steve Howe.


And what is "Major Impacts?". Well, it proves what I have explained. An album where Mr. Morse, together with Dave La Rue to the bass and Van Romaine to drums, has composed eleven songs based on his biggest influences. The same title indicates it. Eleven pearls created with eleven different favors, where he picks up in each one, the best of musicians like Cream, Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck, Eric Johnson, Alex Lifeson, The Byrds, Jimmy Page, John McLaughlin, The Rolling Stones, Mountain, George Harrison, The Allman brothers, Kansas and Yes. And I assure you that the result is incredibly satisfactory. Good, in fact the quality and the resemblance to the originals are astonishing, I would even dare to say that, in moments, he surpasses them. A work of great merit, because we are not speaking of versions but of fresh pieces of young spirit, although the root is some decades behind.

Cream is the protagonist of the first impact, with a song called "Derailleur Gears" (4:45), and as Morse explains in the libretto, it is a long improvisation work of blues-rock, executed with brightness, in an almost perfect emulation of the great Eric Clapton. With a very clean guitar sound, dynamics and of constant rhythm change, an appreciated sensation of progressive progression (redundant truth?) is what leaves you hooked from the start. "Well I have" (4:20) is a small reproduction of the sound of Hendrix, a guitar that howls as his creator did. Although seen from outside, with a hand not so abrupt, with a sweeter sound, and a more controlled distortion. The third song will satisfy all prog minds, as Aex Lifeson's guitar opens it with great power, to change then to Jeff Beck and Eric Johnson's guitars. Just to say that it a very enjoyable piece that makes you move your body with a dynamic, cheerful mood and with a spectacular bass, its name "Truth Ola" (5:30). "Migration"­ (4:02) is a delicious piece of great delicacy. Although the original guitar sound Steve tries to describe could appear to be aggressive and torn, it is not the case. Mr. Morse is a musician of a great precision and virtuosity, so the treatment that he gives to each guitar is carefully studied and very well produced. "Led on" (5:52) needs no presentation. It is as hearing them again. One of the most touching features in this extraordinary CD is that it gives you the chance to imagine about new works of groups that disappeared a long time ago, in several cases, decades ago. And this piece is a good example. Led Zeppelin, of course. The same thing happens with John McLaughlin, in "White light" (3:20) I don't believe that he could have made it better. By this time, I have no doubts that we are before a work of immense quality, able to satisfy in each song the most demanding music maniacs, including the progressive ones. We now meet a powerful section with the songs dedicated to the Rolling Stones in "How does it feel?" (4:29) with an introduction that, as the same Morse comments, is very similar to "Start me up" followed by one clear lesson on the sound of Keith Ritchards. The power rhythm and blues continues with "Bring it to me" (4:01) a la Mountain. "Something gentile weeps" (4:35) is, of course, an exquisite piece very well executed, coming from George Harrison's unmistakable style. The southern rock of the Allman Brothers shows us once again the capacity to recreate and adapt songs to Steve's stylistic field with the song "Free in the park" (4:32).

And after being impressed during all the records, the ending piece is the final impact. A song that once seen the quality with which he treats the rest of styles, made me wait with great expectations, as he now approaches to prog rock. Let me say that this "Prognosis" (6:01) is pure prog-rock of high quality, based almost in its entirety on Steve Howe's magnificent and unmistakable riffs blended with the warm simplicity of the sound of Kansas. A worthy example of what Yes could have dedicated their time to play in the last years, and I mean to retake their old structures with the coolness of today, instead of recapturing the current structures with the coolness of years ago. It is a perfect, touching recreation, somewhat melancholic, of the kings of progressive.


The honesty and at the same time the exclusivity are the biggest virtues in this excellent album. A work where the influences are those that directly form it, without hiding them at all, without trying to camouflage them. An album where a great musician displays his talent fully, showcasing his decisive role in the career of very important bands. And yes, in my view it is a progressive record. Because… who has said that Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck or Jimi Page are not progressive?.

author - date - rating - label

Jordi Costa - September 2000 -   - Magna Carta