Personnel: Steve Morse (guitar); Van Romaine (drums).
Although Steve Vai and Joe Satriani get the lion's share of the credit for popularizing "instrumental guitar-driven rock" for metalheads in the late '80s, another gentleman was merrily shredding on the six-string around this same era (and issuing all-instrumental recordings, as well) -- Steve Morse. And despite a full-time gig as Ritchie Blackmore's replacement in Deep Purple since 1994, Morse has managed to find the time along the way to reunite with his trusty rhythm section of bassist Dave LaRue and drummer Van Romaine, and issue albums credited solely to the Steve Morse Band. Case in point, the trio's 2009 offering, Out Standing in Their Field. Times and tastes may change in the rock world on a seemingly moment to moment basis, but you always know what's in store with a new Morse Band release -- tunes that include unmistakable Zeppelin-esque grooves ("Name Dropping"), mellow detours ("Here and Now and Then"), and of course, chicken-pickin' country ditties ("John Deere Letter"). As far as technique goes, Morse can shred and pluck with the most dexterous of six-string slingers -- further proven with the arrival of Out Standing in Their Field. ~ Greg Prato