As a master soloist and current Deep Purple guitarist, Steve Morse pays homage to many of his heroes and peers on Major Impacts. Even with each of the 11 instrumentals furtively drawing from various influences of Morse, they each tend to sound more like something original by the guitarist himself. Assisted by Dave LaRue on bass and Van Romaine on drums, Morse manhandles his way through Major Impacts with unmatched precision and dexterity.
The concept behind Major Impacts is simple: each song has a title and an impact, which appear interchangeable through out the CD. “Derailleur Gears” is impacted by Cream, “Truth Ola” is impacted by Jeff Beck (along with Eric Johnson and Alex Lifeson), “Led On” is impacted by Jimmy Page and so forth. Although Morse tends to graze each influence with a familiar riff or lead, he has such a distinct style on his own that each work out seems to shine through by virtue of his own indelible stamp. Still, the expanse and breadth that Morse covers is impressive.
While the obvious heroes like Clapton, Hendrix, Beck and Page receive tangible treatments, it’s really on some of the more ethereal material where Morse is able to stretch out and show off his diversity. On “Migration,” Morse creates a textural pattern, sustained by a brisk 12-string rhythm. Highlighted by lead guitar harmonies, the track is an exquisite tribute to the Byrds. Likewise, “The White Light,” which is somewhat of a throwback to Morse’s own High Tension Wires, is a stunning display of his well-honed acoustical work ala John McLaughlin. While Major Impacts dutifully salutes both the Stones and Beatles with “How Does It Feel” and “Something Gently Weeps,” the final track puts things in perspective. “Prognosis” embraces the progressive rock of Yes and Kansas as Morse – who was once a member of Kansas for a short time – shuffles and runs through each cadence like a ballet dancer. Although this CD primarily has the sort of appeal that only other guitar players can appreciate, Morse’ nonstop work ethic and unpretentious approach to the music is something anyone can be grateful for.
~ Shawn Perry