Major Impacts

Steve Morse

Magna Carta Records, 2000

REVIEW BY: Bruce Rusk


Steve Morse is one of those artists who has flown just under the radar of the public consciousness for decades, while receiving raves and accolades over and over again from his industry peers. Morse’s career began with the Dixie Dregs and within a few years he had formed his own side project, The Steve Morse Band. In later years he served to help revive the careers of classic rockers Kansas and Deep Purple. This guy has committed a lot of music to disc including appearances on a number of tribute albums celebrating artists like Yes and Rush.


Major Impacts is a tribute album in itself that includes not one iota of material by the artists he pays tribute to. Rather than recording covers, he has composed original songs celebrating the styles and the impact of these legends. Some of the musicians he celebrates are no-brainers, most notably “the big four”: Clapton, Beck, Page and Hendrix. To keep it even more interesting, he also pays tribute to The Byrds, The Stones, Yes and numerous others.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The beauty of this album is in hearing one of the finest practitioners of his craft create original pieces celebrating his influences and idols. Morse does an amazing job of creating the voices of these influences without just mimicking or copying them. A great example is the Allman Brothers influenced piece “Free In The Park.”  If you played this for anyone who is familiar with the Allman’s work, they’d recognize the ascending chord progressions reminiscent of the Allman’s “Whipping Post” melded with a lazy slide guitar that sounds a lot like “Statesboro Blues.”  It isn’t either but it sounds like both; and you could fool all but the most diligent fan with this track.

The way Morse distills the essence of the guitarist or band is uncanny, as is the case with the Rolling Stones-inspired “How Does It Feel,” where he makes the emphasis not the catchy hooks of their big radio hits, but the country twang Mick and Keith loved so much back in the 70s. This track effortlessly captures the essence of about five different Stones songs without ever copying any of them verbatim. On the Led Zeppelin inspired number “Led On,” Morse make the focus not Jimmy Page’s blistering power chords, but his intricate and rustic acoustic side a la Page’s “Black Summer/White Mountain Side.”  In some cases, he manages to take the distinct textures of two very diverse artists and fuse them together beautifully. Specifically, the track “Truth-Ola,” which starts out as a Jeff Beck tribute, then segues into a hybrid of Eric Johnson and Alex Lifeson that sounds very natural, as if Lifeson were playing Johnson, or vice versa. Very cool stuff for guitar geeks (and just plain folks.)

If you want to hear Morse doing his signature thing, grab one his solo discs or a Dixie Dregs album.  It’s hard to go wrong with the bulk of his work if you just love some damn good guitar playing. Major Impacts will give you that as well, albeit in a different musical venue. Listen and you’ll hear a giant amongst his peers paying loving homage to his heroes, and composing some damn stunning songs to do it. I highly recommend this disc to anyone who reveres guitar paying at its finest.

Rating: B+

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© 2007 Bruce Rusk and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Magna Carta Records, and is used for informational purposes only.