MORSE POWER!
Total Guitar|October 2020
AS ROCK LEGENDS DEEP PURPLE CELEBRATE ANOTHER HIT ALBUM WITH WHOOSH!, GUITAR VIRTUOSO STEVE MORSE TALKS TONE, TENSION AND TECHNIQUE – AND EXPLAINS HOW JAZZ MUSIC CONTINUES TO INSPIRE HIM
Amit Sharma

''I’m very proud to be still playing with my British brothers,” says Deep Purple guitarist Steve Morse. Though he’s regarded by some as the band’s new guitar player – taking over from original virtuoso Ritchie Blackmore and brief touring replacement Joe Satriani in 1994 – the American has actually been their longest-serving gunslinger by over a decade.

The hard rock pioneers’ 21st album, titled Whoosh!, is their seventh with Morse. And while their legacy is one built on sonic evolution, fusing all kinds of progressive, blues and metallic thunder into its own mutative wall of noise, certain shades of Deep Purple have always been a staple...

“Diversity has been a big part of the sound,” says Steve, referring back to the game-changing interplay between Blackmore and keyboard player Jon Lord, who passed away in 2012. “When you hear Highway Star – it wasn’t just blues. It had that structured element, there was a classical sequence that Jon would arpeggiate through in a descending sequence, against that chromatic riff. They were putting something beyond into a rock piece and turning it into something classical. There’s always been that blend, it’s been a part of Deep Purple for a long time.”

Following two studio albums with Jon Lord before the founding keyboard player left the group in 2002, the pairing of Morse with Don Airey now stretches almost two decades into their career. The speedy unison lines heard on new tracks like The Long Way Round and Remission Possible is in many ways very typical of Deep Purple, and yet at times more complex than any era within their five decades. And as Steve admits, some keyboard parts are a lot easier to replicate on the guitar than others.

“I’ve gotten used to spotting things that sound good but might actually be non-intuitive for me to play on guitar,” he says. “Which is why I try to race and come up with something before Don! That way I can remember it and play it easily.”

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