HardReviews 5
by Martin Popoff

Steve Morse - Major Impacts 2
(Magna Carta)

Cool idea, with the Deep Purple aviator returning with a second batch of originals written "in the style of." I don't think this one is entirely as lively or inspired as the first though, with Morse picking too obvious touchstones, even clichˇs, from certain bands and then exploiting them. Plus I'm not crazy about seeing Cajun, Celtic Ballad and Country/Bluegrass as leaping off points - this makes for just another instrumental album without premise, really. Best go-rounds are for Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Who and ZZ Top, although - more complaints! - I find the benign production and frankly, the slinky prog playing by Steve and his band, not really trying all that hard to evoke the memories of these bands. I mean, the Aerosmith and the Skynyrd are pretty similar, and they shouldn't be.
Rating 6.5

Rage Against The Machine - Live At The Grand Olympic Auditorium

Like The Police, Jane's Addiction, Soundgarden, At The Gates and Immortal, Rage Against The Machine broke up far before we all asked them to go away. Their legendary legacy is assured. This DVD (and attendant CD) documents the band's last gig three and a half years ago, and the crowd went appropriately insane. Under Clash-like lighting and Clash-like political visuals, Zack and his collagist noisenik cabal heavy hop through 15 expertly shot tracks like a bullet in the head. In terms of extras, one gets a proper production video (best use of a cage since Scorpions), a live vid, and six tracks from the band's Democratic National Convention set, preceded by a long, well-assembled collage of demonstration-type shots from the gathering. The crowd blows up yet again. Even bigger. Absolute highlight is the groove the band achieves on Bulls On Parade, the sound for this bunch being warmer than that of the concert proper, allowing for maximum heat from the band's bludgeoning rhythm section. And that's it, with only a two-sided sheet for a "booklet." Revolution rock from one of the best, Live is the work of what is possibly the only band, save for U2 and The Clash, to be able to shake the viewer to his political core without having it sound like a pose.
Rating 7.5