Get this crazy baby off my head!


Alan Morse

Alan Morse - Four O'Clock And Hysteria - 2007 - Inside Out Music

Spock’s Beard was one of the first progressive rock bands I was introduced to during my early days writing for Rough Edge. While I was always impressed by Spock’s Beard it was sometimes difficult to reconcile the band’s inclusion to the Rough Edge pages given the fact that the site typically caters to a heavier slant. Anyway, one of the interesting facets of Spock’s Beard was the brother tandem of Neal and Alan Morse. It always struck me that Alan Morse was playing in the broad shadow of his brother Neal as Neal always got the lion’s share of attention during his time in the band. However, once Neal Morse left Spock’s Beard I figured Alan would get his time in the spotlight. While Spock’s Beard continued in the same grand progressive rock tradition as it always had, Alan never really seemed to grab any more attention. But maybe that’s what he wanted – or at least it was the best approach for Spock’s Beard the band rather than Alan Morse the musician. While I'm certain Spock’s Beard will continue, it’s nice to see how another member of the band releases a solo project. This is great if only for the reason that music fans get to see more of the personality that comprises a great band. Alan Morse’s solo project is titled “Four O’Clock and Hysteria.” The album is an all-instrumental affair that presents a solid mix of predominantly fusion-y jazz-rock. The album sports mature and confident songs; the well-thought out compositions are daring without being too wild. The performances are heightened by the inclusion of styles ranging from rock to pop to jazz to funk and a little bit of everything in-between. “Four O’Clock and Hysteria” is definitely more rockin’ than most of the material that made up Spock’s Beard. The majority of the tracks are up-tempo rockers with “The Rite of Left” being a particular highlight for its heavy approach and symphonic solo. The slower tracks feature soaring melodies with “Drive-In Shuffle” being a good example. The bottom line is that the album balances sounds heard in the fusion era (i.e. the late ‘70s) with the sounds heard during the guitar shred era (the mid-’80s). “Four O’Clock and Hysteria” isn’t very metal, but it is very pleasing and satisfying. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that I enjoy Alan Morse’s solo disc a bit more than Neal’s solo material. “Four O’clock and Hysteria” was co-produced by Alan Morse and Neal Morse. Alan Morse is joined by Neal Morse on keyboards, Gary Lunn on bass, and Scott Williamson on drums. Also contributing are Jerry Goodman on electric violin, Eric Darken on percussion, Dave Meros on drums, Nick D’Virgilio on drums, and Ryo Okumoto on keyboards. For more information visit http://www.alanmorse.com/ Reviewed by & © Christopher J. Kelter © 2007 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved. Revised: 11 Jan 2011 02:23:18 -0600. http://www.roughedge.com/cdreviews/m/alanmorse.htm [Album was given a 3 Guitar rating, meaning "Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world"]

This solo album by Spock's Beard's guitarist Al Morse has been anticipated for a long time and I was getting rather curious after last year's sneak preview during the Beard's tour. Now it's finally here, Al's tour de force, helped by his brother Neal who co-wrote some material and also co-produced the album. Al's buddies from the Beard also make several appearances on the album. I had hoped for some guest vocals by Neal or Nick on this disc, but alas the full album is instrumental. Even songs that cry out for vocals, like the uplifting Drive In Shuffle, which could easily have been a more mainstream Spock's Beard track, have a total lack of lyrics. After hearing the first two tracks I was very disappointed since they were both jazz-fusion tunes; probably one of my least favourite musical styles. Of course it's all very well done and the appearance of violinist Jerry Goodman of the Mahavishnu Orchestra is very impressive but stylistically it's just not my cup of tea. Fortunately the album turned out to be a mixture of many more musical genres, including blues (R Bluz), shuffles (Drive In Shuffle, Chroma), funk-rock (First Funk), straightforward rock (The Rite Of Left, feature the full Spock's Beard band), Latin (Spanish Steppes), easy listening (Track 3, Home) and more. Most of the time the fusion influence is very present though. As such it reminds me of some of the earlier instrumentals by Snowy White. The album has 'guitarist solo album' written all over it. It could probably best be compared to a Satriani album. And those who have seen Al live on stage will not be surprised that he takes the spotlight whenever possible. The solo's of other instruments are scarce (and if they appear they're often duets with the guitar). There are few minutes when you don't hear Al playing, or playing two guitar tracks at the same time. At times this gets completely over the top, like for instance the AC/DC Angus Young self-indulgence style solo in Rite Of Left, when even the full band falls away and you're left with Al at his most egocentric. I have to admit though that it's kind of fun and I really liked seeing this track live with the band last year. To be perfectly honest, this album isn't quite what I expected and since fusion is not one of my favourites I can't get extremely excited about it. Having said that, I have found it enjoyable nevertheless. Some of the music is quite relaxing, some might make great background music for an evening with friends and some tunes are nice uplifting toe-tappers. As such this album will not find itself back into my CD player often, at least not when I'm planning to listen to some music. However, during the quiet moments it would be great to fill the silent void. But I doubt if that was what Al had in mind when making this album ... Conclusion: 7- out of 10 By & © ED SANDER © 1995 - 2011 : Dutch Progressive Rock Page http://www.dprp.net/reviews/200723.php#almorse

Since the departure of his brother Neal, Alan Morse has shaped the guitar sound of progressive rock band Spock’s Beard and in the process delivered three impressive albums since then. With his first solo album he realised a long harboured ambition to do something as a solo artist and to express himself passionately. Supporting Morse on his debut solo outing are his Beard band mates, brother Neal, a line up of brilliant studio musicians and violinist Jerry Goodman who has performed with (amongst others) Mahavishnu Orchestra. “Usually Spock’s Beard songs are quite structured and there is very little room for improvisations, that’s why I thought I deserved much more on my own record”, says Alan Morse. “So I was able to play more extended solos wherever I wanted. Naturally, I love the Spock’s stuff but it’s nice when you can stretch yourself out without getting in the way of someone else”. Although these improvisations occur throughout the album, some of which have come directly from the demos, the pieces on “4 o’clock & Hysteria” are essentially pure songs. Apart from a few tracks where Neal Morse helped out (he also co-produced the album), Alan Morse wrote the material himself and in doing so allowed plenty of room for his guest musicians to enjoy themselves. Everything flows extremely well and despite the instrumental direction the music always has something to say. The opener “Cold Fusion” is a good example of this – a crunchy jamband piece with wonderfully phrased riffs, catchy melodies and interchanging guitar and keyboard solos. “Return To Forever” showcases the guitar as the main driving melody taking over from where a vocal line would normally be. This flows very naturally until the bass delivers a killer riff as an opening for Jerry Goodman, who dashes off with his electric violin and carries the piece away. Morse was obviously thrilled to have Goodman appear on his album as he elaborates, “Since the times of Mahavishnu, Jerry has been one of my heroes. It was great fun to record his parts. They were just so perfect that I sometimes had to burst out laughing. Jerry did exactly what I wanted; he just pulled it out of a hat”. Apart from the ‘Beards’, “4 O’clock & Hysteria” also featured a number of studio musicians so that Morse in fact worked with two bands. “As great as Spock’s Beard are, I still wanted to have different people playing on some of the songs. In some sense, I didn’t want the record to become another Beard album, and using other people allowed me to work on the record at times when the other Beard guys didn’t have time for it. As such, the studio freaks were really perfect and they did a great job. Nevertheless I didn’t completely want to do without the Beard guys as we just work so well together. For example ‘The Rite Of Left’ was recorded with them because we had already played this song together and it just worked so well”. “The Rite Of Left” is perhaps the wildest track on the album, a real hard rock, riff oriented piece with a guitar solo that is quite literally wild, and is celebrated without any accompaniment. The album is balanced out with variety of styles such as the country shuffle (“Drive In Shuffle”), relaxed blues rock with jazzy organ (“R Bluz”), buoyant funk (“First Funk” and “Jungle Cruz”), a siesta with mandolin under almond trees (“Spanish Steppes”), a fine acoustic based AOR track (“Major Buzz”) and the country piano guitar ballad “Home”. It’s quite possible that some of these numbers may see the light of day on the forthcoming Spock’s Beard tour in May, which is also another reason to look forward to it. © 2011 by Inside Out Music - All Rights Reserved http://www.insideoutmusic.com/release.aspx?IdRelease=1090

Man, who knew Spock's Beard guitarist Alan Morse had these kind of jazz-fusion chops in him? Four O'Clock and Hysteria is Morse's debut solo album on InsideOut Music, and it shows a side of this musician that we've never heard before. With his main band Spock's Beard, Morse is ever the prog and hard rock showman, dazzling with frequent bursts of Zappa/Vai frenzy, acoustic gentleness, and some crunchy muscle. But here, he pulls out all the stops and shows that he has plenty of funk groove, jazz intelligence, the feeling of the blues, and lots of red hot fusion fire. From start to finish, Four O'Clock and Hysteria is a throwback to classic 70's fusion albums, as well as the late 80's shred guitar releases. You'll hear hints of Beck, Satriani, Johnson, DiMeola, Vai, Zappa, and Lukather all throughout this CD, but Morse of course adds his own unique voice to give each song a special flavor. Crunchy riffs meet up with wild whammy bar melodies on the emotional "The Rite Of Left", while "First Funk" is a sensitive and melodic number which instantly brings to mind the classic Jeff Beck Blow By Blow era, featuring some incredibly tasty solos from Morse. If you like to dig deep into the funk, there's the playful "Chroma", but fusion nuts will love the roaring "Cold Fusion" and the memorable '"Return to Whatever", both pieces featuring stunning chops from Alan and the rest of the musicians, who just happen to be his mates in Spock's Beard as well as brother Neal. In fact, the keyboard work on the CD, done by Neal and Ryo, is very well done, with plenty of Hammond, Moog, Prophet, and Clavinet sounds, giving everything that vintage sound. You can't help but be reminded of classic Chick Corea on the gorgeous "Spanish Steppes", complete with some alluring electric and acoustic guitar harmonies. "Major Buzz" has some sizzling guitar & violin duels that really cock, although I'm not sure who the guest is on electric violin. This is wonderful stuff, and along with the latest from Daryl Stuermer, InsideOut has two brand new fusion releases that sit very well alongside their roster of prog and prog-metal artists. Co-written and co-produced by Neal Morse (nice to see the two brothers working together again), Four O'Clock and Hysteria is a stunning work from an underrated musician. Reviewer: Pete Pardo & © Pete Pardo Added: April 23rd 2007 Rating ****1/2 from 5 © 2004 Sea Of Tranquility http://www.seaoftranquility.org/reviews.php?op=showcontent&id=5023

Alan Morse is the highly talented guitar player from Spock's Beard. He breaks out with a fantastic solo album. Spock's Beard is a great prog rock band. Unfortunately, Alan and his brother Neal on keyboards and vocals split a few years ago. SB lives on with Alan and isn't quite as good. For Alan, his solo album is a jazz rock tour de force. He's managed to assemble another fantastic lineup of musicians. Everyone in the band is a virtuoso in their own right. But, the music is led by Alan and some amazing guitar playing. A couple of songs pay homage to old Yes, but mostly it's original and moving. The production on the album is sparkling and crystal clear. Anyone who wants to learn to record and master should put this on their reference list. Overall, if you want to hear some great jazz rock, this is a great album to get. Highly recommended. Posted by & © Tom at 7:11 PM - Music: 8/10 Production: 5/5 Total: 13/15 © Blue Light Reviews http://bluelightreviews.blogspot.com/2007/11/alan-morse-four-oclock-and-hysteria.html

"Four O'Clock And Hysteria" is Alan Morse's first solo album. He is probably best known as the lead guitarist in Spock's Beard, and as a session musician. This instrumental album also features Alan's brother Neal on keyboards and acoustic guitars, and all members of Spock's Beard. There are 12 instrumental tracks here, and lots of fusion. There are other elements here. "R Bluz" has a bluesy feel. "First Funk" is a good jazz funk track. "The Rite of Left" is reminiscent of the classical sound of Yngwie Malmsteen. Throughout the 12 tracks there are shades of the Joe Satriani style guitar sound. There is nothing innovative here, but the musicianship is Grade A, and it's a very worthwhile progressive jazz rock album.


1 Cold Fusion 5:13
2 Return to Whatever 5:48
3 Drive in Shuffle 4:20
4 R Bluz 6:54
5 First Funk 5:31
6 Dschungel Cruz 4:58
7 The Rite of Left 4:30
8 Chroma Morse 5:22
9 Spanish Steppes 5:45
10 Track 3 4:23
11 Major Buzz 6:07
12 Home 4:59

Tracks 5,6,7,8,12 composed by Alan Morse. Tracks 1,2,3,4,9,10,11 composed by Alan Morse & Neal Morse


Alan Morse: electric and acoustic guitars
Neal Morse: acoustic guitar, mandolin, keyboards
Gary Lunn: bass
Dave Meros: bass (2, 7)
Ryo Okumoto: keyboards (8)
Scott Williamson: drums
Nic D'Virgilio: drums (2, 7)
Eric Darken: percussion
Jerry Goodman: electric violin (2, 11)


Alan Morse is a guitarist for the progressive rock band Spock's Beard. He is the brother of Neal Morse, who left the band in 2002. Morse is married to Kathryn Morse and has two children, Julia and John. He has recorded with many artists including Chad & Jeremy, Spencer Davis, Neal Morse, and (Spock's Beard keyboardist) Ryo Okumoto. He has also recorded with martial artist Chuck Norris. Along with the guitar, he sings and plays the theremin, the cello, musical saw, keyboards, drums, bass & bouzouki. Morse has a degree in electrical engineering and owns an electronics manufacturing company, DynaMetric, Inc. Unusual for a rock guitar player, Morse does not use a pick. Alan completed his first solo album, Four O'Clock & Hysteria, which released on April 24, 2007 on InsideOut Music.