Over the years, Steve Morse has built up an enormous record of services. He was active in Kansas (although not in their better days), The Dixie Dregs, Lynyrd Skynyrd and of course, Deep Purple. I've even seen him a few times live at work with Deep Purple and even then I was very much impressed with his fast, yet melodious, guitar technique. The die-hard fans won't be happy to hear this, but I really haven't missed Ritchie Blackmore, especially on the 'Purpendicular' album, where Morse was outstanding.
In the year 2000 and after a series of solo albums, he brought out 'Major Impacts'. The songs there were dedicated to his sources of inspiration,that being guitarists such as Clapton, Page, Hendrix and Jeff Beck. 'Major Impacts 2' is the follow up album, although on this album, his references are directed more towards more specific groups or genres that have influenced him. Personally, I find all these tribute bands to be nothing special. I think it's much more inventive to write your own songs where you can integrate recognizable styles into your own musical spectrum. And because he's been involved in all kinds of music genres since 1974, he can choose from a very broad variety of music styles. Hopefully, he won't fall into the same pattern as the 'Rocky' movies did. That would really be a pity.
Starting with the first notes of "Wooden Music", you can imagine yourself on the grounds at Woodstock with Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young on stage, even though the continuation of the song takes on its own electrical interpretation. "Suite:Judy Blue Eyes" was the model for this song. It has these typical harmonies that are simulated by, what else other than, guitars (just like Brian May of Queen did). This track reminds me a bit of the California Guitar Trio.
It's no secret that "Where are You" contains typical synthesizer sounds of The Who. Morse was always keen on the guitar riffs of Pete Townsend and the energetic drumming of the deceased Keith Moon.
"Errol Smith", a song with an amusing play on words, is completely immersed in a guitar rock similar to that of Aerosmith in "Walk this Way" and "Love in an Elevator".
There's an ode to Celtic music in "Cool Wind, Green Hills", where Steve expresses his utmost admiration for Enya, Clannad and other Oldfields.
And you don't even have to listen for 5 seconds to "Originally Crown" in order to hear the sounds of Emerson, Lake and Palmer. It speaks for itself that the guitar here is more prominent. But the song sounds full and is impressive to hear.
"Twelve Strings on Carnaby Street" is obviously based on British pop from the end of the 60s and even more so on The Yardbirds and The Hollies. The 12 string guitar takes care of the rhythm, while the solo is played with distortion guitar. Very nostalgic indeed! The youngsters, however, won't be able to relate to this.
"Zig Zag" sounds so ZZ Top, another cult band from a ways back. It's played true to that typical bluesy sound.
And even more predictable is "Abracadab", one of the real few progressive fragments on 'Major Impacts 2', although the drum intro does sound rather 60s. One must question himself about the choice of this song.
Blue grass and country isn't really my thing, but the fast fingered guitar playing on "Tri County Barn Dance" is something I can enjoy. Steve calls it one of those happy songs.
And like so many rock guitarists, Morse can't just renounce his classical music background. That's why he's chosen Bach for "Air on a 6 String". You can hear the typical repetitive bass notes above the other modified notes. Those who know a bit about Bach will understand what I mean.
As it turns out, Bach is followed by a hard rockin' "Motor City Spirit". Spirit, Ritchie Blackmore's "Highway Star" and Ted Nugent were models for this song.
"The Ghost of the Bayou" is somewhat like a country style song. All that fiddle playing is a bit redundant for me. But, ok, it's dedicated to his grand father, so we have to respect that
"Leonard's Best", a guitar rockin' song, is inspired by "Sweet Home Alabama" by Lynyrd Skynyrd, one of the many bands in which Morse had been active.
If you take a look over the career of Morse, you can be sure that this guy can make even more CDs of the same calibre. All the tracks are done very professionally and you don't get the feeling that he's showing off his guitar skills, something that Vai and Satriani are often guilty of. They are, however, all rather short songs. I would have liked to have heard certain parts extended and the album could've been made more progressive. Let's be aware that this is not a prog album. It's just good music and that's already something.
Claude 'Clayreon' Bosschem (Translated by Jennifer Summer)