Bad bad Canada

REVIEW: Steve Morse Band – StressFest (1996)

STEVE MORSE BAND – StressFest (1996 BMG)

Steve Morse certainly needs no introduction here.  What’s incredible is that the dude joined Deep Purple in 1994, released a Steve Morse Band album in ’95 (Structural Damage), and then both Deep Purple and SMB albums in 1996.  Even more incredible when you consider that Morse wrote all the material for the SMB albums himself, and co-wrote every track on Purple’s Purpendicular.  The man seems to have no shortage of ideas.

StressFest is another reliable Steve Morse Band album.  Joined by Dave LaRue and Van Romaine once more, the band  created another textured, varied album that skirts multiple genres with jaw-dropping chops.  There are traditional sounding electric blues jams like “Live to Ride”, more delicate moments, blazing guitars, funk, jazz, bluegrass, rock…a little bit of everything.

One cool tune is “4 Minutes To Live”, a soft composition with a “piano part” that is actually Steve playing through a guitar synthesizer.  But don’t let that scare you.  There are plenty of 64th-note thrills and chills, fast picking and deep bends.  Backed with the inventive drums of Romaine and the bouncy bass of LaRue, Morse’s songs are a challenging but rewarding listen.

STRESSFEST_0003What’s especially cool (and reason enough to check out an album like this) is, even though both Deep Purple and the Steve Morse Band are loosely classified as having some sort of relationship with progressive rock and serious musicianship, the music they create is nothing alike.  Morse’s guitar is the foundation of both, but there’s little overlap.  StressFest‘s songs wouldn’t work as a Deep Purple album, even though there are elements of them that could.  Likewise, Deep Purple’s material in general is quite different from the Steve Morse Band.

I remember my parents brought this CD back home to me from Michigan, because you couldn’t get it in Canada, even though it was distributed by a major label.  Sadly, it is still only available on import in Canada.  Bad, Canada!  Bad, bad Canada.

4/5 stars

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I love the cover art; that does look like a stressful day indeed!