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Make No Mistake - It's Steve Morrison!

10 November 2008

I first heard Steve Morrison at Oliverís in Greenwich, London in December 2006, where he was accompanied by harpist Al Richardson. I was stunned. This summer, I saw Mr. Morrison again as a solo act on the main stage of the Augustibluus festival in Estonia; sandwiched between bigger and louder bands, he literally stole the show, breaking all CD sales records since 1993 in the process. In fact, he sold all the albums he had with him, so I ended up waiting a few weeks for my review copy to arrive by mail Ė but it was well worth the wait!
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There are three things about Mr. Morrison that need to be said. The first is that his command of unusual tunings and the slide are in a class all by themselves; people who maintain they keep hearing two guitars on Robert Johnson records obviously havenít heard Steve Morrison. A shadow of a doubt about possible overdubs will inevitably remain with a contemporary studio CD, but I quite honestly kept hearing three guitar parts live and in person Ė and yes he does sing, too.

Secondly, Steve Morrison is one of the most purely musical guitarists I know, using his bluesy slide to weave together rockabilly rhythms, jazzy melodies and folksy chords. Every note is there for a reason Ė there are no extensive solos here, no hi-fi guitar processors and earth-shattering volume levels, no fast-finger noodling for the sake of showing off. Of course, Steve doesnít need to show off Ė the Malmsteens and the Bonamassas canít touch him, and he knows it.

Which leads to the third thing: Steve Morrison is very obviously his own man. That goes for both the songwriter and the interpreter: whether performing songs by artists as diverse as
Lightniní Hopkins, Canned Heat or George Gershwin (all represented on this CD) or presenting one of his own compositions (which account for half the album), he sounds unmistakably like Steve Morrison from London, England, his Britishness further stressed by his restrained vocals and thoughtful lyrics. 

It would take too long to go over this 10-track CD one song at a time, so letís just say the material ranges from solo to full-band tracks, with my personal tastes leaning slightly towards the sparser arrangements. And that on one hand, I wish there were more original Morrison compositions included, but on the other, I would not dream of having  any of these wonderful covers omitted.

The verdict: if you have any interest in contemporary blues guitar and slide guitar in particular, your CD collection wonít be complete without this disc. And if you would just like to know whatís happening in the blues between the Black Keys and the Sweet Home Chicagos, you canít afford to miss it, either.


Steve Morrison: One Step At A Time. Blues Abuse Music, 2008

Steve Morrison (guitars and vocals), Al Richardson (harmonica), Tom Fairs (bass), Roy Tempest (bass), Richard Ansell (piano), Al Hughes (drums)

Steve Morrison, Blues Abuse

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