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Intense, but lovely

Ian Gillan and Steve Morse enjoying Bluesfest; Ottawa, July 18 2015; photo © Nick Soveiko cc-by-nc-sa

Goldmine prints a brief collection of quotes from Ian Gillan’s interviews to the magazine.

On Steve Morse’s guitar playing

“There’s a solo on a song called “Dancing in My Sleep” (on the Deep Purple album Whoosh!) where he plays a baritone guitar, an old Danelectro, and it’s one of the greatest guitar solos I’ve ever heard in my life. He also plays a brilliant solo on a song called “We’re All the Same in the Dark.” But in general, I guess you wouldn’t have recognized it as Steve’s style 10 years or 20 years ago. It’s more, I don’t know, laid back. Steve’s a kind of frenetic guy. He’s pretty intense with his personality, but he has a lovely, lovely nature. But this sort of slightly more laid-back style seems to suit him.”

Read more in Goldmine

19 Comments to “Intense, but lovely”:

  1. 1
    Andy says:

    Frenetic or laid-back, I don’t have a favorite Steve Morse guitar solo, too many good ones. I always enjoyed the solo on Almost Human from Abandon, and the improvised intro to a live Highway Star on the deluxe edition of Rapture of the Deep.

  2. 2
    Gregster says:

    Steve Morse in time, will no-doubt be appreciated more & more for his efforts & contributions to the band. The band became far better musically, & developed most excellently with the times, so that they never became stale, which is sadly the legacy ( imo ) that they would have left, if Ritchie stayed on. It was our fault that Ritchie became what he became, & I’m grateful that the same never happened with Steve. What a wonderful & ever creative player !

  3. 3
    Uwe Hornung says:

    Steve’s playing is way too controlled for me to ever be labelled as ‘frenetic’. Hendrix could be frenetic (and all over the place) – Steve is about as un-Hendrix as you can get as a guitarist (definitely more so than Blackmore who admittedly copped a thing or two from Hendrix). Steve plays like an athlete who has prepared for the Olympics for years and years with a tough regimen. That doesn’t mean that Steve is a heartless shredder – he’s not -, but control is key to him, he won’t let the guitar take him where he has never been before to see what happens.

    The more laid back approach in his solos on the more recent albums is very much Bob Ezrin’s do who wanted him to play that way.

    Mind you, Blackmore liked to be in control of his playing too (and doesn’t share Hendrix’ frenzy either), but he had a daring, mischievous and inquisitive nature plus wasn’t obsessed with avoiding mistakes. That got him into situations on the fretboard that could spawn brilliant moments.

  4. 4
    Uwe Hornung says:

    “It was our fault that Ritchie became what he became, & I’m grateful that the same never happened with Steve.”

    Just curious, Gregster, you mean with “our fault” that Purple fans were too inflexible in their musical preferences for Purple to evolve beyond the classic Ritchie Blackmore recipe for songwriting? There might be more than a grain of truth in that. The quick demise of PAL and Ian Gillan Band showed that Purple fans can be unforgiving if music of their heroes strayed too much from the mothership (it’s not just Purple fans btw, but fans of bands in general are that way).

    Ritchie is Ritchie, whether he’s in Purple, Rainbow or Blackmore’s Night. Though he might not admit it, his creativity benefits from outside influences. Whenever he has things just his way, ironically, he limits his own artisitc output, especially his unccanny ability to shine outside of his comfort zone or the constraints of his personal tastes, his solo in Hold On being a case in point and one of the great moments of his guitar playing though he probably hated what he was doing.

    But by and large, the last piece of music and solo where Blackmore really surprised me was Gates of Babylon (honorary mention: The Unwritten Law on THOBL) – that is a while back. Rainbow’s AOR years that followed were musically regressive – or as a buddy of mine once wisecracked: “Sounds like Foreigner with no one there to tell the lead guitarist to shut up and get on with the song!”

    And Blackmore’s Night, yes, did introduce a female voice, a larger acoustic instrumentation and of course archaic folk music influences (more songs in major!) to us all, but none of it hadn’t been done before (and often in a more demanding/sophisticated/daring way) by the Brit folk rock bands of the late 60ies and early 70ies. Blackmore’s Night might have covered a Renaissance tune (Ocean Gypsy), but Renaissance they weren’t/aren’t. Too much cheese and crowd-pleasing. But BN fans today are probably no more inflexible than Purple fans were in the first half of the 70ies.

  5. 5
    MacGregor says:

    @ 4- your friend & his take on AOR Rainbow ‘ “Sounds like Foreigner with no one there to tell the lead guitarist to shut up and get on with the song!” That is one of the main reasons I still followed that era of Rainbow. Blackmore had shortened & slowed down his guitar solo’s somewhat from the excess of the glorious 70’s, however his solo’s & instrumentals were still magical. If only other bands had that. It wasn’t a bad combination for a short while, there are some very good songs here & there until Deep Rainbow ruined it. Cheers.

  6. 6
    MacGregor says:

    Call me old fashioned but love him or loathe him, Blackmore knows how to get the best out of certain musicians he is involved with. Hence during his rock music career (please stop including BN in talking about rock music) the songs have much stronger riffs, hooks & melodies & arrangements & many fans like what they hear or that is what they want to hear. Blackmore gets the best out of Gillan & Glover during those DP era’s. I spent a little time yesterday listening to some of those Abandon, Rapture & Whoosh songs after reading a few comments here. It just doesn’t have that draw to it for me. Steve Morse hails from a totally different background to what Gillan & Glover do & personally I don’t think it works that well. We have been here before, songwriting eh? That is what happened during the mid to late 70’s with the Ian Gillan Band, a decent band indeed however the songs are missing something. I don’t include PAL with that problem as it is a one off & not really pushing after that style of songwriting that may garner a more ‘commercial’ appeal, for want of a better description. Certain musicians working together whether in a good or bad situation seems to work well at times. Blackmore & Dio at first & then Blackmore & Glover. David Gilmour & Roger Waters during Floyd’s strongest years.. Jon Anderson & Steve Howe in Yes during their heyday. When that spell is broken, not the same strength to the compositions. Sometimes it sort of works for a short while, Purpendicular & Now What with DP are good examples. Drama & 90125 with a different ‘Yes’. But it just doesn’t last long. Horses for courses again. Cheers.

  7. 7
    MacGregor says:

    Continuing on with the songwriting guitarist influence in a rock band, DP in particular. Looking at Blackmore’s background & as we know he came from the 1960’s influence, songs in particular & especially being exposed to that as a session & hired hand guitarist.
    I always remember his comment about when he met Pete Townshend, the emphasis on keeping it simple & people being able to whistle the tune & melody etc. Something like that from my memory & who better to get some advice from than one of the great songwriters. Mark 1 to begin with had so many songs, either covers or their own compositions & that wonderful instrumental prowess. That continued with Gillan & Glover joining & getting on the songwriting band wagon with Blackmore. Then Coverdale & Hughes joined in for a brief foray. Enter Tommy Bolin in 1975 & he also had a songwriting background & influence as well as instrumental ala Blackmore. No doubt Bolin had a fair say in the CTTB record & songs along with Coverdale & Hughes. Moving forward to Joe Satriani filling in & here is a noticeable difference within a ‘modern’ guitarist’s style & influence with DP. I watched a fair bit of Satch yesterday with DP & I was impressed. Sure it was a different situation in that he wasn’t joining the band, however his live playing approach was noticeable & true to the classic Purple songs. Enter Steve Morse & very much like Satriani before him his background is predominately instrumental music, not vocal songwriting compositions. I always thought Morse was out of place in a way with Kansas during the mid 80’s. Gillan & Glover had a wonderful guitarist to work with now in DP & a quiet modest fellow to fit into the Purple unit. Not a songwriting background though & while many applaud that & good on Steve Morse for being there, I have always thought DP became too much of the Gillan & Glover show in many ways, songwriting wise. Now with Bob Ezrin’s influence as well. Not to worry, Maybe Simon McBride can shake that tree a little, although time is not on Deep Purple’s side these days. Cheers.

  8. 8
    Nino says:

    Too many good solos to single out one, but I’d like to mention the Junkyard Blues solo because it’s underrated in my opinion and it’s magical.

  9. 9
    Gregster says:

    @Uwe Hornung…I perhaps should have elaborated, & / or left RB out of my comment, but it’s difficult not to have him in there, even if spoken a little negatively…Anyhow…

    To elaborate further, I’ve always believed & known that RB’s best performances were not ever recorded, ( though some bootlegs exist ), & happened back in the 1960’s, & 1970’s…An exception to this is 1982’s “Live between the eyes”, where he really lets loose, is very creative, & doesn’t sound-the-same, over & over…And certainly at the end of Mk-II in 1973, he clearly tested his “powers” with management & the band, & won…So we got the Cal-Jam, Burn & Stormbringer, before he moved on to Rainbow…All this to say, the 1970’s was the decade of the guitar-gods, & we the people, ensured he had that power, & maintains it to this day.

    The reformation of Mk-II & the ensuing albums I though were quite good, especially “The battle rages on”, where I thought that they finally found some truly inspired & creative tunes / playing like the “old-days”. Apart from the then necessary Gillan harmony parts, the whole recording sounded live-in-the-studio to me, & very exciting…I thought “At last, they’re back”, & was very happy, right up until we read/learn about the tour RB pulled-out-of, & that was that. The recorded European shows ( I have them, even though Mr.Gillan asked us not to purchase these ) though good, weren’t really impressive to me, & sounded very much predictable, especially RB’s playing…He didn’t want to be there, & was dragging the band down imo ( plus his modern recorded sound ( especially live ) is crap when compared to the 1970′ Mk-II sound )…I have his “RB story” DVD, & everything makes more sense for his leaving after viewing it, & I’ve always wished him well, but Blackmore’s Night just isn’t for me, regardless of the positive influence he had on my own playing in my youth…I also realized that it was the band that I liked, not just the 1/5 that RB made-up, though I knew this from when I was a kid, & when he first left in 1975, I’m now 52 !!! ( “Come taste the band” is an awesome record btw )…

    Enter Steve Morse, & we have not only a happy band, but a phenomenal band, that should have equaled its earlier successes, or even bettered them, since the the band & the music changed so much, & imo was very much leading the pack in what was being offered by anyone else. But times & markets change, & this is why I think in say 50-more years time, Steve Morse will have equaled or even bettered RB’s contributions to the band.

    Peace !

  10. 10
    Theo says:

    I don’t see it happen, even in a million years, that Morse will have equaled or even bettered RB’s contributions.
    For one simple reason, the band keeps relying on the MII songs.

    I agree on CTTB being an awesome album. IMHO one of DP’s 70s albums that aged best.

  11. 11
    Peter J says:

    @10 : I’m not sure… DP is relying on mk 2 songs on stage (and that’s very normal) but if you talk to younger rock aficionados (I mean 18-30), most of them talk about Steve and A LOT of them went to see mk 8 in order to enjoy Steve’s contribution, especially in Russia, Southern America, Asia and the USA.

    Maybe thanks to his rather modern sound and style compared to RB.

    Thing is : in 50 (and even 10 or 15) years time, DP listeners wouldn’t have an idea about who is RB or SM, platforms make this happening even faster : lots of people listen to DP but most of them don’t give a …. about who was in the band on that song or the other.

  12. 12
    Uwe Hornung says:

    Ritchie had an irretrievable headstart over Steve as regards the era – Purple were in the first half of the 70ies the right band at the right time. Riff music ruled the radio waves like dinosaurs had once roamed the earth, Purple were edgy, even slightly dangerous, contemporary, looked the part and culturally relevant. They were also hungry young men.

    By the time Steve joined, Purple were a legacy band of rock star royalty with aging fans still playing good music, but culturally largely irrelevant except as one of the progenitors for what had became melodic metal (you hear more of a DP influence in, say, Nightwish, than you hear a Led Zep one). Poor Steve could have written and recorded Sgt. Pepper and Dark Side of the Moon with them, and it wouldn’t have had much of an impact.

    I agree with Gregster: I like Ritchie best when he is (a somewhat domineering) 1/5 of DP, that’s where the/his magic lies, Purple’s music is like a halo for him. There are moments of excellence with Rainbow and even BN for me, but there is no deep bliss like there is with Purple. Rainbow tried so hard to be more than Purple, even more overwhelming, but in the end was less in most departments. When I hear Rainbow Rising and Machine Head side by side there is no doubt in my mind (and gut) as to what the more profound work is.

  13. 13
    Gregster says:

    @ Peter J…It’s difficult to know what may or may not interest people in 50-years time, I only referred to that time-frame, since I’m still discovering truly awesome bands from that era, & I’m running out of time it would seem, with still so much more to discover…

    Possibly the “best” set of albums I’ve acquired recently, was from “West, Bruce & Laing”…Regretfully for myself, when checking-out these guys over the years, I noticed that there are little to no positive reviews about them, so I gave them a miss for a long while…Well, talk about a devastating mistake here folks…

    For the last 6-months at least, the albums “Why Doncha”, “Whatever turns you on”, & “Live & kickin'” have been almost exclusively played, every-day, at good volume levels…There’s also a plethora of bootlegs available too that I’ve acquired from WB&L, & all the performances are great, just the recordings are only average at best. “Live from K-town” sounds the best & the performance is awesome, closely followed by “Dallas 1972″…The others do suffer from average to poor sound-quality, & only folks my age, would tolerate & still listen to them…

    So there’s a big hint for anyone looking for some true magic captured/bottled on record, from the 1972 era…Download the above bootlegs from You-tube for free ( there’s no copyright on these, that’s why I’m posting about them ) & tell me you don’t want more of these guys !!!

    All the best !

  14. 14
    Uwe hornung says:

    Uhum, to me WB&L are to Cream what Rainbow was to Purple: Trying to me more, coming out as less.

    I‘ll crawl back under my curmudgeon rock now before y‘all start stompin‘ on me!

  15. 15
    sidroman says:

    The thing that gets me is the Turning to Crime album, IMO is the best thing that they recorded since Bananas, and due to very unfortunate circumstances, the band is losing the guitarist who helped create the album. Such a tragedy to lose Steve, after the best thing they’ve done in over 15 years!

  16. 16
    Uwe Hornung says:

    Drawing a line from Bananas to Turning to Crime, Sidroman, interesting! I’d say what the two albums have in common is a certain looseness in feel. And both are song-oriented and perhaps poppier than a “usual” (if there is such a thing) Purple album.

    You like WDWTWA, Stormbringer & Slaves & Masters too then?

  17. 17
    Gregster says:

    @Uwe Hornung

    LOL ! No need to crawl anywhere sir, we all have a POV, & that should be respected ! ( And besides, some folks may see WB&L as Mountain, with a dash of Cream…There’s no doubt for myself however that their only 2x studio albums are well worthy for everyone to check-out & enjoy, as I can’t believe how good they are to listen to, again & again & again &…… ).

    WDWTWA is a quintessential Purple album imo. Absolute Rock Steady in every way, from start to finish, with no avoid tracks. It also features perhaps RB’s best studio soloing imo, not to mention a glorious, wailing, piano contributions from John, & interesting synth work too.

    Slaves & masters deserves much more credit than it gets….I believe the issue lay with the production & overall sound, less so the tunes & performances. The band wanted / needed (?) some radio-play, & maybe another hit in the charts, so they did what they did. ( I base all my posts on the music, & the magic that it may bring, & keep the politics that lives behind-the-scenes as a necessary, but very distant 2nd ).

    Banana’s is an awkward album, in that it sounds to me like an Ian Gillan solo project ( I base this on listening to the “Who Cares” release by Gillan & Iomi, where some tunes sound similarish ), & once again, production / mixing probably does more harm than good to the tunes. The live arena is where the truth reveals itself, & how well the songs can come to life.

    Stormbringer is a great album when viewed entirely by itself. Every song “is” a great tune imo, it’s just that it’s SO different from its predecessor Burn, that understandably, folks are in shock to discover that it’s Deep Purple that made it ! That said, Made in Europe is by far the heaviest DP have ever sounded imo, & all the now available Mk-III live-albums display how raw & powerful the tunes from Stormbringer can become. ( Friday Music have an excellent sounding reissue of Made in Europe if you can find a copy. Tight & solid bass that’s really deep & powerful, transforms the sound into very agreeable listening ).

    Peace !

  18. 18
    sidroman says:

    Uwe , yes I like all those albums. There are only a few DP albums that I really don’t listen to. House of Blue Light, Abandon, Deep Purple the last mk1 album, and Last Concert in Japan which was awful.

  19. 19
    Rock Voorne says:

    West, Bruce & Laing

    I hear you bro.
    One of the many gems I got to know due to the never stopping YouTube Jukebox.

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