Now this is an interesting idea. Give major guitar-burner Steve Morse (Dixie Dregs, Deep Purple) a roll of tape, a budget, and a concept, and let him go. The theory is simple — write music in the style of the people who influenced you. The result is very nice — 11 cuts that pay homage to the greats, such as Jeff Beck, Jimi Hendrix, Keith Richards, and more. As Morse mentions in the liner notes, writing instrumental music in the style of bands that used a vocalist is a neat trick — one he pulls off well. The opening cut, “Derailleur Gears,” manages to capture the essence of Cream, with washing waves of guitar that does bring to mind the magic that Eric Clapton once possessed, without having to hear some of the cripplingly stupid lyrics — “White Room,” anyone? “Led On,” in the manner of Jimmy Page, is so dead-on perfect, from its simple acoustic guitar opening to the thundering riffage of a wall of guitars, it makes you wish Page could summon it up himself.
Most of the artists selected are no-brainers — most any guitarist growing up in the [OE]60s and ’70s would pick them. What is interesting are two cuts in the style of George Harrison (“Something Gently Weeps”) and even better, “Migration,” with its 12-string strumming and emotive melody line showcases Roger McGuinn and the Byrds. While the folk-based sound of McGuinn and company are rarely thought of in the same breath with axe-masters like Hendrix or Beck, Morse makes his case simply by creating a moving piece of music that relies on mood and tone instead of fretboard finesse, proving that good music doesn’t have to travel in the fast lane. But of course, few are better at cranking it up, speed-wise, than Morse. And if that’s what you’re after, this disc will more than suit. Steve Morse has always been a breathtaking original guitarist, daring, tasteful without being flash. With the release of Major Impacts, you get a glimpse of where he went to school.
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