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Morse, Alan: Four O'Clock and Hysteria

Man, who knew Spock's Beard guitarist Alan Morse had these kind of jazz-fusion chops in him? Four O'Clock and Hysteria is Morse's debut solo album on InsideOut Music, and it shows a side of this musician that we've never heard before. With his main band Spock's Beard, Morse is ever the prog and hard rock showman, dazzling with frequent bursts of Zappa/Vai frenzy, acoustic gentleness, and some crunchy muscle. But here, he pulls out all the stops and shows that he has plenty of funk groove, jazz intelligence, the feeling of the blues, and lots of red hot fusion fire.

From start to finish, Four O'Clock and Hysteria is a throwback to classic 70's fusion albums, as well as the late 80's shred guitar releases. You'll hear hints of Beck, Satriani, Johnson, DiMeola, Vai, Zappa, and Lukather all throughout this CD, but Morse of course adds his own unique voice to give each song a special flavor. Crunchy riffs meet up with wild whammy bar melodies on the emotional "The Rite Of Left", while "First Funk" is a sensitive and melodic number which instantly brings to mind the classic Jeff Beck Blow By Blow era, featuring some incredibly tasty solos from Morse. If you like to dig deep into the funk, there's the playful "Chroma", but fusion nuts will love the roaring "Cold Fusion" and the memorable '"Return to Whatever", both pieces featuring stunning chops from Alan and the rest of the musicians, who just happen to be his mates in Spock's Beard as well as brother Neal. In fact, the keyboard work on the CD, done by Neal and Ryo, is very well done, with plenty of Hammond, Moog, Prophet, and Clavinet sounds, giving everything that vintage sound. You can't help but be reminded of classic Chick Corea on the gorgeous "Spanish Steppes", complete with some alluring electric and acoustic guitar harmonies. "Major Buzz" has some sizzling guitar & violin duels that really cock, although I'm not sure who the guest is on electric violin.

This is wonderful stuff, and along with the latest from Daryl Stuermer, InsideOut has two brand new fusion releases that sit very well alongside their roster of prog and prog-metal artists. Co-written and co-produced by Neal Morse (nice to see the two brothers working together again), Four O'Clock and Hysteria is a stunning work from an underrated musician.

Track Listing
1. Cold Fusion 5:14
2. Return To Whatever 5:53
3. Drive In Shuffle 4:23
4. R Bluz 6:58
5. First Funk 5:35
6. Dschungel Cruz 5:02
7. The Rite Of Left 4:33
8. Chroma 5:24
9. Spanish Steppes 5:53
10. Track 3 5:15
11. Major Buzz 6:13
12. Home 4:57

Added: April 23rd 2007
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Alan Morse Website
Hits: 6264
Language: english

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