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Split Decision

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Album Review

In a world where many brilliant guitarists keep trying to smooth out to get more airplay, it's reassuring to know that there's still room for wild, jamming, and magnificently noisy projects whose tough-minded edges guitar students can drool over. The Dixie Dregs founder who has won "Best Overall Guitarist" by Guitar Player's reader's poll five times — and has received six Grammy nominations — does an unabashedly energetic turn here with his buddies Dave LaRue (bass) and Van Romaine (drums). There's a bit of the Dregs in the spirit of the opening heavy "Heightened Awareness," beginning with the crunchy rock guitar climbing over a throbbing bassline; Morse then expands the distortion before reining in and creating a challenging duality with LaRue. Morse is a big Bach fan, and he uses the classical composer's Brandenburg Concerto as a springboard of inspiration for the innovative ideas behind the brief but sizzling "Busybodies." "Marching Orders" once again counterpoints the guitar and bass in unique fashion, and adds to its improvisations some crunching chords that recall some of the '80s best corporate rock. "Mechanical Frenzy" offers up a little of the Led Zeppelin vibe, mixing roaring passages with speedy melodic lines that end in potent exclamation marks of big drum fills and crazy distortion. For those with delicate ears, there's a pretty melody easily discerned behind the monster Wall of Sound on "Great Mountain Spirits." Morse relaxes to the point of smooth jazziness on "Moment's Comfort" and "Clear Memories," which show that he's also interested in lush melodies (even acoustic-oriented ones) in addition to just going nuts all the time. The flow of the disc moves from hardcore shedding to a cooler prevailing spirit by the end.

Customer Reviews

Two Sides Of Steve Morse

The Steve Morse Band's new Magna Carta release, Split Decision, features numerous instrumental hues that highlight the band's ability - not to mention Morse's compositional skill - at fusing and performing several genres in a virtuoso fashion. Since forming the Dixie Dregs at the University of Miami, composer and guitarist extraordinaire Steve Morse has won five consecutive awards as "Overall Best Guitarist" by Guitar Player Magazine's Reader's Poll (and has subsequently been disqualified from the category to allow other guitarists their due). He's received six Grammy nominations. In addition to The Dregs and The Steve Morse Band, he's worked with Kansas, numerous world-renowned artists, and continues to play with Deep Purple. In total, Steve Morse is the consummate musician: when necessary, a supportive sideman, but in particular, a singularly talented guitarist/composer. As evinced on his eagerly anticipated album, Morse's songwriting talents continue to evolve - as do his remarkable chops. Together with his steadfast collaborators bassist Dave LaRue and drummer Van Romaine, the SMB continues to amplify the interactive musical capabilities of the rock power trio. In its dexterous hands (and limbs), traversing through a dozen new songs, this triadic juggernaut thoroughly explores counterpoint and interplay. And dares to go where... well, you know. With Split Decision, his ninth album as the Steve Morse Band (his second project for Magna Carta) this guitarist's guitarist has once again proven that true musical veterans don't rest on their laurels. Steve Morse continues to explore and discover, reach and attain. "I try to have some variety in every album," Steve explains. "For instance, I like to choose themes or beginning of songs that are several years old, as well as the more recent ones. So it's all new to someone who hasn't heard it." Steve composes constantly. It's what he does. More so, what he is. "I can find ideas anywhere. In fact, I have so many that I can't locate all of them. I used to record motifs on cassettes and now they're scattered all over my house and studio." Lucky for us; his prolific output is guaranteed for decades to follow. "Working for Magna Carta was a real joy," says Steve. "They allowed me so much freedom. And it was a great executive collaboration; that is, they'd suggest certain things. Like on my entire Major Impacts album, they came with that whole idea. I mean, when was the last time a record label came up with an idea that made a musician go, 'That's really cool...'?" On this second outing, Steve affirms it was the label's idea to present the songs in a thematic fashion, that is, with the first half more being upbeat and the second more mellow.


I would definitely recommend this album everything is great from the guitar, to the lyrics! 5/5 for sure!


Born: July 28, 1954 in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Steve Morse has enjoyed a healthy following particularly among guitar players, he has scored highly in readers' polls held annually by musicians' magazines. Although initially inspired by the Beatles as a teen, Morse began to expand his listening to include the Yardbirds, Jimi Hendrix, and Led Zeppelin. Although he played a little piano and some clarinet, he became fascinated with guitar after seeing a concert by classical guitarist Juan Mercadal, who later gave the teenaged Morse some lessons. Deeply...
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Split Decision, Steve Morse Band
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