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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Steve Morse

Major Impacts 2

Review by Steve Alspach

I suppose it makes sense that if Steve Morse can't really be pegged to any one style, it's because his influences can't be pegged either. On Major Impacts 2 Morse continues to pay respect to the musicians who caught his ear.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2003 Year Book Volume 1 at

Track by Track Review
Wooden Music
There is little flash or speed on this, but Morse has fun with this one, laying simple electric lead lines over a strummed acoustic guitar, sounding much like CSN's "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes."
Where Are You?
Morse uses the Townshend method of chordal soloing with a "Baba O'Riley"-like keyboard in the background. Dave Larue adds some good Entwistle-like bass lines, and drummer Van Romain sounds like a controlled Keith Moon.
Errol Smith
Say the title two or three times and you'll figure out who Morse is paying homage to here. He captures the Aerosmith swagger perfectly here with adding the rhythm guitar as a second lead. 
Cool Wind, Green Hills
Of all the influences - Enya?!? This tune, as a result, is a rich yet soft arrangement, but Morse also gives a nod to Mike Oldfield's "Tubular Bells" as a source. Morse was interested in Celtic music and bands such as Clannad, and this song sounds much like it.
Organically Grown
Another strange influence for a formidable guitarist - ELP! This song even has the Hammond organ and Moog synth that ELP used. It specifically reflects "Eruption" with the frantic 5/4 pace.
12 Strings on Carnaby Street
So many other British bands, knowingly or otherwise, found a source of inspiration in some of the bands of the 1960s like the Kinks and the Hollies, that this song fits perfectly in 2004.
Zig Zags
ZZ Top gets the treatment here, and Morse adds a dash of Aerosmith to this one. He then goes into a bluesy mode that really captures that little ol' band from Texas.
Too bad Genesis didn't sound this interesting in 1981! The keyboards have a definite Banks-like feel to them.
Tri-County Barn Dance
A good ol' hoedown, and nobody in rock picks cleaner and faster than Steve. The first part of the song does sound like something from a western film. Both Morse and Larue get off some jaw-dropping solos.
Air on a 6-String
Morse curiously uses an electric guitar on this, but he pictured Bach writing for an electric guitar, hence the result.
Motor City Spirit
Morse kills three birds with one stone here. He starts off with the dual melodic lines that Randy California used in Spirit, then he does some flashy work a la Richie Blackmore in Deep Purple. The cut finishes off with a nod to Ted Nugent and his work with the Amboy Dukes.
Ghost of the Bayou
According to the liner notes, Morse's grandfather played Cajun fiddle, and Morse takes a stab at this style of music with "Ghost of the Bayou." He plays a toe-tapping solo on acoustic guitar, and even manages to scratch a few chords on the violin as well.
Leonard's Best
A final tip of the hat goes to Lynyrd Skynyrd, and here Morse gives the illusion of guitarists trading off solos like Skynyrd would do on their signature "Free Bird." Compositionally there may not be much here, but in bands like Skynyrd the guitar lines were always first and foremost.
You'll find an audio interview of this artist in the Music Street Journal members area.
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