It's not everyday you come across a music DVD that's as jam-packed with goodies as this one by Steve Morse. One of the premier guitar legends, Morse has made a name for himself the last 30 years playing in bands like the Dixie Dregs, The Steve Morse Band, Kansas, and Deep Purple. This DVD includes a full Dixie Dregs concert from 2001, a Steve Morse Band show from 1992, clips from a 1999 Deep Purple gig (including an interview with Purple's Roger Glover and Ian Gillan), a video of "Cruise Missile", guitar clinic footage, and an in-depth and personal interview with Steve.
First things first, the Dregs show is simply awesome. I had the pleasure of catching the Dixie Dregs live in a small club back in the early 90's, and this same line-up is as impressive now as they were back then, probably more so. Taped at Toad's Place in Connecticut ( a favorite stop for the boys), the band rips through 14 tunes, including Dregs classics and solo numbers from a few of the members. If you are looking to see the band perform staples such as "Bloodsucking Leeches", "Cruise Control", "Assembly Line", "Kat Food", "Take it Off the Top", "Sleeveless in Seattle", and "Hereafter", then you came to the right place. The band's mix of rock, jazz, country, bluegrass, fusion, and progressive rock was always unique, and in a live setting they manage to stretch out yet remain incredibly tight. On the country twang of "The Bash", Morse and electric violinist Jerry Goodman (ex-Mahavishnu Orchestra) trade off blistering southern fried licks, and the two repeat the process on the cover of the Mahavishnu Orchestra classic, the Middle Eastern tinged "Dance of the Maya." The band covers a T. Lavitz tune "Justice for All", as well as a Goodman original called "Brick Chicken" and the Morse/Dave LaRue track "Busybodies." This band is so solid it's scary sometimes, as the rhythm section of Dave LaRue on bass and Rod Morgenstein keep things glued together while Morse, Goodman, and keyboardist Lavitz provide the salt and pepper. My one tiny complaint is that Goodman's violin at times is a bit louder than the rest of the instruments. Other than that this is a thrilling set.
The Steve Morse Band show is from NYC in 1992, and must have been a small tour that drummer Van Romaine could not make due to prior committments. Most of the concert is handled by Steve doing solo acoustic or electric guitar, joined by Dave LaRue for duets, and accompanied by T. Lavitz on keyboards for the last two tunes. This setting is not really one to check out the SMB in, and I question the guitarist's decision to include this show on this DVD, other than to spotlight his solo acoustic electric work and the duets with LaRue. The gorgeous classical work on "Picture This", "Northern Lights", and "Jesus, Joy of Man's Desiring" is simply beautiful. The duet's are great too, although the stale sounding recorded drums and samples on the rampaging "Tumeni Notes", "Get it in Writing" and "Country Colours" kind of spoil it, especially if you have already seen this powerhouse band with Romaine on drums. The real highlight of this set though is the classic "Ghostwind" from the High Tension Wire album. Morse is the master of texture, and his many layered chord voicings add great depth to this emotional song.
The rest of the DVD is filled with interviews and other assorted clips, including his solo spot from a Deep Purple concert (check out his amazing trade-off with Jon Lord) that is chock full of all sorts of amazing guitar techniques. Amidst all this great stuff is a lengthy interview with Steve that is simply a must see if you are a fan of this Hall of Fame musician. Sitting with his guitar and POD in front of a camera, Steve talks about his career, his music, his signature Ernie Ball Steve Morse guitar, his guitar style, his choice of amps, effects, and many other odds and ends. The guy even gives tips for young musicians just starting out, and goes through many exercises and examples of his style, as if it were an instructional guitar video. This is priceless stuff here, from one of the masters!