Steve Morse Band – Out Standing In Their Field (2009)

FrontCover1.jpgSteve Morse (born July 28, 1954) is an American guitarist and composer, best known as the founder of the Dixie Dregs; and since 1994, the guitar player of Deep Purple. Morse’s career has encompassed rock, country, funk, jazz, classical, and fusion of these musical genres. In addition to his successful solo career, he was briefly a member of Kansas in the mid-1980s. Most recently, Morse became a member of the supergroup Flying Colors alongside long-time bandmate Dave LaRue. (by wikipedia)

A solid effort from an outstanding trio – well worth a listen, especially for guitar enthusiasts!

I recently had the pleasure to see these guys on their brief 2009. It seems like Steve is so busy playing with Deep Purple and other acts that he rarely has a chance to tour with this trio. I was so blown away by their stellar performance that I decided to pick up this album (their most recent at this time). Although I’m a fan of Morse’s guitar playing, I preface this review by saying that I’m not that familiar with his previous Steve Morse Band albums. So, my opinions on this album are relatively uninfluenced by his previous works.

SteveMorse01Overall, this is a spectacular album. I highly recommend it for fans of instrumental prog, particularly if you’re a fan of excellent guitar work and funky bass lines. For fans of Liquid Tension Experiment and Bozzio Levin Stevens, this is worth a listen. There are a lot of standout tracks on this album, with only a few tracks that are rather unmemorable. This album is highly recommended for road trips! Now on to the track-by-track:

1) Name Dropping – The album kicks off with solid, hard-driving riffing with a steady beat. A running eighth note melody is doubled on the guitar and bass which sets the foundation for Morse’s soaring guitar playing. Keep listening, because the mellow, spacey bridge adds nice contrast later in the song.

2) Brink of the Edge – Eclectic and dynamic, this piece combines heavy sections with softer passages in a true Steve Morse sound. Awesome guitar picking, as you’d expect from the master, which is complimented by La Rue’s prominent bass lines including the quintessential slap bass solo near the end (not the last one you’ll hear on this album).

3) Here And Now And Then – One of the best on the album and the first song to catch my attention. It starts out very mellow with nice use of syncopation and stays that way for a while. It eventually builds momentum and develops into a nice rock groove at the end with some great guitar work over top. The solo work at the end reminds me of John Petrucci (who, of course, was heavily influenced by Morse)? a plus for you Dream Theater fans out there (especially if you’re an early DT fan, like me).

4) Relentless Encroachment – Not the strongest song on the album, but worth a listen. The song starts out a bit weak, but gets better part way through. After some rather uninspired riffing, it switches to a softer section, which is then followed by some good ol’ riffing in the style of King’s X, followed by some good guitar work (no surprise there!).

SteveMorse035) John Deere Letter – OK, OK? cheesy name aside, this is a decent song, though not one of my favorites (I go for the heavier stuff). Morse fans will know what to expect from the title. For the rest of you, take a listen to better understand why these guys are classified as “eclectic prog.” The song showcases Morse’s signature “chicken-pickin”style as he trades 4’s and 8’s with La Rue, who pulls out some quick fingered solos of his own.

6) More to the Point – Another decent piece, but, again, not the most memorable on the album. Good use of syncopation in the main motif. Perhaps one of the better songs on the album for cranking up loud and driving down the highway.

7) Time Junction – This song is neat just for the fact that it includes featured guest Kevin Morse (Steve’s son, I presume?). In fact, the song is credited as being written by Kevin and Steve Morse (the only one on the album not credited solely to Steve). What’s more, this is a pretty awesome song. It starts off a bit weak, but takes off pretty quick. If this is the start of a rock dynasty, then I’m looking forward to hearing what’s to come!

8) Unnamed Sources – A rather uninspired offering on an otherwise outstanding album. This song starts rather pedestrian in tempo with so-so guitar and bass work. Just before the 3 minute mark it shows the potential to shine when they crank it up to a riff that’s reminiscent of Carrier on Wayward Son (makes sense with Morse’s connection to Kansas). But this shining moment is short lived. After about 15 seconds they put the breaks on and never pick it back up.

9) Flight Of The Osprey – Hands down, best song on the album. This song caught my attention right away. It starts out with a brief Baroque counterpoint section but quickly shifts to a driving rock that carries us through to the end. My only criticism of this song is that I wish it would last longer and perhaps include more soloing.


10) Baroque ‘N Dreams – An awesome piece that contrasts the rest of the album. This piece is bass and guitar only in a “classical” style that is at times dark, but always wonderful. Some nice flamenco-esque sounds find their way into the guitar line which is supported through much of the piece with a basso continuo from La Rue. No rock here, but awesome for fans of neo-classical (and good music in general).

11) Rising Power (live) – For those of you who couldn’t make it to their recent tour, here’s your 9 and a half minute consolation prize. This track is awesome and an excellent way to close out this album. You can really hear the energy they have on stage. This track has everything you would expect at a Steve Morse Band show: Romaine’s driving rock beat, La Rue’s funky slap bass fills (anyone who’s been to a show can attest to how essential these are? it seems like he spends half his time slapping!), and of course Morse’s versatile and precise guitar work. This song also showcases some great texture changes. Its got driving rock, spacey guitar-synth, bluesy breakdowns, the elongated buildup? not to mention great guitar and bass solos. If you can’t go to the show, this really is the next best thing. (by The Radiant Is)


Dave LaRue (bass)
Steve Morse (guitar)
Van Romaine (drums, percussion)


01. Name Dropping (S.Morse) 5.00
02. Brink Of The Edge (S.Morse) 4.44
03. Here And Now And Then (S.Morse) 5.08
04. Relentless Encroachment (S.Morse) 4.56
05. John Deere Letter (S.Morse) 4.44
06. More To The Point (S.Morse) 4.29
07. Time Junction (K.Morse) 5.16
08. Unnamed Sources (S.Morse) 4.31
09. Flight Of The Osprey (S.Morse) 3.21
10. Baroque `N Dreams (S.Morse) 3.16
11. Rising Power (live) (S.Morse) 9.28




Various Artists – A Classic Rock Salute To The Doors – Light My Fire (2014)

FrontCover1.jpgSouthern California-based Purple Pyramid Records and producer, instrumentalist Billy Sherwood raised the bar with this tribute to The Doors by convening a star-studded cast, featuring classic rockers performing with progressive rock luminaries. And the jazz contingent is onboard, evidenced by jazz guitar great Larry Coryell appearing with Focus keyboardist Thijs Van Leer on “Love Me Two Times.”

When I first broke the seal on this recording and perused the personnel listing I was delighted yet partly suspicious, fearing this would be an unbalanced project and/or a riffing contest framed on The Doors songbook. Such is not the case. Thus, Todd Rundgren performing alongside Captain Beeheart Magic Band guitarist Zoot Horn Rollo and Yes keyboardist Geoff Downes signify one of many rather unlikely, yet markedly productive and enticing state of affairs. It’s a varied set, where all the vocalists retain their signature chops and modus operandi. Although one unremitting factor is centered on their penchant for extracting the force-field of The Doors’ vocalist Jim Morrison’s commanding delivery.

The production’s stunning sound quality yields additional bonus points and should warm the hearts of audiophiles. Ultimately, each rendition of The Doors’ songbook is imbued with the musicians’ idiosyncratic niceties amid a plethora of shrewdly placed dynamics, layered keys and guitar shadings. They inject distinct characteristics but don’t sacrifice The Doors’ core song-forms. Hence, disparate musical personalities uncannily attain an accord on many fronts by imparting a sense of ownership and camaraderie, whether or not they were recording tracks in the same studio at the same time.


It’s easy to discern that Sherwood and associates maximized the talents and style of each artist’s strengths, juxtaposed by strong soloing spots and the obligatory personal touches that many of us would anticipate. Van Leer helps give “Love Me Two Times ” a modern uplift by instilling some good old Hammond-B3 organ style boogie rock, abetted by Coryell’s Texas blues patterns and hard rock phrasings. Moreover, guitar hero Leslie West (Mountain) does what he does best via his emphatically thick vocals, coupled with sinuous slide guitar leads atop Rod Piazza’s harmonica notes, as they punch it out on this husky finger-snapping spin on “Roadhouse Blues.”

Tony Kaye (Yes) uses a synth emulated electric piano sound during “Riders On The Storm” and Keith Emerson (Emerson, Lake & Palmer) preludes “People Are Strange” with stride piano clusters and synths alongside time-honored session ace, guitarist Jeff “Skunk” Baxter’s deft acoustic guitar work. Yet rockabilly vocalist Robert Gordon croons through “Touch Me” with the resonance and machismo of Morrison, complemented by pumping rhythms and Nik Turner’s (Hawkwind) swirling sax notes and prog rock keyboard great Jordan Rudess’ spiraling notes. Whereas, Rundgren tenders a pop-ish and clement outlook on The Doors’ swaggering and bluesy torch piece “Alabama Song (Whiskey Bar).

The Doors01

Highlights are thriving components, especially when infamous Yes alumni, guitarist Steve Howe and keyboardist Rick Wakeman delve into an extended call and response motif, spanning rock, jazz and classical nuances in the bridge section of “Light My Fire.” Here, Ian Gillan provides the antithesis of what we’d expect, considering his high-impact vocals with Deep Purple, as he counterbalances the soloists with a care-free and straightforward rendering of the familiar choruses. Indeed, this tribute endeavor covers all the bases and then some. It’s not to be overlooked. Kudos to the production team for bestowing their rather enlightening plan of attack as it’s quite apparent that a lot of thought prefaced the onset of this astonishing alignment of rock’s past and present rock stars. (by Glen Astarita)

First off readers let me say that I do not like cover bands, cover albums, tribute albums and compilation albums. I have always felt they should be considered a separate genre and that they usually do a disservice to the original composers and bands. After listening to “A Classic Rock Salute To The Doors” though I am rethinking those thoughts. It is hard to cover every song here, there are 16 of their greatest hits, so I will try to give an over view of what I think is important. I will leave the final decision up to you as to how good it really is after you listen to it.

The Doors02
I was fortunate enough to see ‘The Doors’, 3 times, once at Cobo Hall in Detroit. They were a very unassuming band with almost no equipment. They used no special effects, fireworks, light shows or anything other than themselves, a few instruments and only a couple amps and speakers. The stage was pretty empty even by the standards of the 1960’s. What they lacked in equipment they made up by how tight and cohesive they were as a group when they were all in sync with each other and halfway sober. Jim Morrison usually took all eyes off the other 3 members but make no mistake that without them Jim Morrison would probably have become another undiscovered rock star.

Several of the guests on this album most likely knew ‘The Doors’ back in the day and are by all rights are ‘Superstars’ themselves. More than 42 of rock’s greatest classic ‘Superstars’ showed up to play on this album. That’s a lot of “tribute” to any person or group and shows the love and respect they all had for ‘The Doors’ and their music. By my count there are at least 7 tribute albums out there for ‘The Doors’ but from where I sit this is probably the only one that should matter.

The album starts off with one of my favorites, ‘LA Woman’. From their 6th, album released in 1971, ‘LA Woman’. Jami Jamison, Ted Turner and Patrick Moraz do an admirable job of covering this tune. The guitar work, Ted Turner I am assuming, gives an old favorite a different twist.

I could go into much more detail on more songs off this album but since space is limited I will just give some observations here. This is certainly an album to help introduce anyone who has never heard ‘The Doors’ before to their greatness. After listening to it I guarantee they will hunger for the original music just to hear who these 4 guys, who cut out a slice of rock history for themselves, really were.


The guitar work on every song is clean, precise and shredded, something that Robby Kriegers “fingerstyle” guitar playing did not allow him to do. Not that Robby Krieger wasn’t great, he was just not as technical since “fingerstyle“ playing is better suited to Flamenco and Folk Music. It’s probably the most notable difference in all of the tunes here.

Conspicuous by its absence here though is ‘The Unknown Soldier’ which could have easily replaced the version of ‘People Are Strange’ with David Johansen and Billy Sherwood. This is the only song I really felt did not belong among the 16 cuts on this album.

The closing song is my all time favorite and appropriately is, ‘The End’, featuring Pat Travers and Jimmy Greenspoon. Listening to this version gave me goose bumps and almost brought tears to my eyes. The depth is so different but not nearly as dark as the original. I think you’ll find yourself listening to it over and over again! (Mike Langford)

One of the finest tribute albums ever !



Jimi Jamison: vocals (1); Patrick Moraz: keyboards (1); Ted Turner: guitars (1); Scott Connor: drums (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 10, 11, 13, 16); Billy Sherwood: bass (all tracks), guitar, piano, synths (8), drums, keyboards (12); Lou Gramm: vocals (2); Thijs Van Leer: keyboards (2); Larry Coryell: guitar (2); Leslie West: guitar, vocals (3); Brian Augur: Hammond B-3 organ (3); Rod Piazza: harmonica (3); Mark Stein: vocals, Hammond B-3 organ (4); Mick Box: guitar (4); Joe Lynn Turner: vocals (5); Tony Kaye: Hammond B-3 organ (5); Steve Cropper: guitar (5); Edgar Winter: vocals (6); Chris Spedding: guitar (6); Keith Emerson: acoustic 7 ft. grand piano and original Moog, modular synthesizer (7); Jeff “Skunk” Baxter: acoustic guitar (7); Joel Druckman: acoustic upright bass (7); David Johansen: vocals (8); Robert Gordon: vocals (9); Jordan Rudess: keyboards (9); Steve Morse: guitar (9); Nik Turner: saxophone (9); Adam Hamilton: drums (9); Graham Bonnet: vocals (10); Christopher North: Hammond organ & Leslie (10); Steve Hillage: guitar (10); Ken Hensley: vocals, Hammond B-3 organ (11); Roye Albrighton: guitar (11); Eric Martin: vocals (12); Elliot Easton: lead and Spanish guitars (12); Todd Rundgren: vocals (13); Geoff Downes: keyboards (13); Zoot Horn Rollo: guitars (13); Mark Farner: vocals, guitar (14); Chick Churchill: keyboards (14); Glenn Grossman: drums (14); Ian Gillian: vocal (15); Rick Wakeman: keyboards (15); Steve Howe: guitar (15); Ricky Joyce: drums (15); Pat Travers: vocals, guitar (16); Jimmy Greenspan: keyboards (16).

For details see booklet


01. Jimi Jamison, Ted Turner, Patrick Moraz: L.A. Woman 7.28
02. Lou Gramm, Thijs van Leer, Larry Coryell: Love Me Two Times 3.21
03. Leslie West, Brian Auger, Rod Piazza: Roadhouse Blues 4.06
04. Mark Stein, Mick Box: Love Her Madly 3.26
05. Joe Lynn Turner, Tony Kaye, Steve Cropper: Riders On The Storm 6.19
06. Edgar Winter, Chris Spedding: The Crystal Ship 2.44
07. Keith Emerson, Jeff ‘Skunk’ Baxter, Joel Druckman: Intro (People Are Strange) 3.58
08. David Johansen, Billy Sherwood: People Are Strange 2.21
09. Robert Gordon, Jordan Rudess, Steve Morse, Nik Turner: Touch Me 3.49
10. Graham Bonnet, Christopher North, Steve Hillage: The Soft Parade 8.04
11. Ken Hensley, Roye Albrighton: Hello, I Love You 2.39
12. Eric Martin, Elliot Easton: Spanish Caravan 2.54
13. Todd Rundgren, Geoff Downes, Wake: Alabama Song (Whiskey Bar) 3.26
14. Mark Farner, Chick Churchill: Break On Through (To the Other Side) 2.51
15. Ian Gillan, Rick Wakeman, Steve Howe: Light My Fire 7.00
16. Pat Travers, Jimmy Greenspoon: The End 11.23

All songs written by Jim Morrison – John Densmore – Ray Manzarek – Robby Krieger
06.: written by Jim Morrison &
13.: written by Kurt Weil – Bertolt Brecht