The Magic Elf: Elf Tales (CD, 35:46) BSM-7001, 1998
Big Shoe Music
P.O. Box 604024
Bay Terrace, NY II360-4024 USA
Frolic, fun, and freedom to melodically rock out is the theme for these guys. I hear healthy
doses of guitar-oriented rock in that undeniable Dregs style with brief flashes of
Holdsworthian/Ray Gomez/Beck jazz rock fusion slant. This is a tasty riff fest by the
accomplished Carl Roa that guitarheads are gonna enjoy. Think back to when Steve Morse first
dropped the Dregs moniker and became the Steve Morse Band power trio. This Elf Tales reminds
me of Morse's The Introduction a great deal. The bass work by Magic Elf's George Panos and
Saul Zonana is instrumenal rock strong. Missing is any of that Stanley Clarke fusion bass such as
Jerry Peek, (3PM, Steve Morse Band, Pruett-Davis Group) added. Oh well, this album is more
Dregs rock than all that 70s funkified jazz rock.
Roa is Steve Morse all over this release. He is very close to the Morse-emulations that Ben
Sherman or Dream Theater's Petrucci lay down. Consistently, you find percussive chops and
fretboard gymnastics that scream Dregs. Even that Deep Purple w/ Morse's gritty punch comes
through on "Hobgoblins". What a note blitz. This tune breaks down nicely into some very
theatrical death metal-ish throes complete with screamin', bone-cracking, elf-eating sound effects!
And as Morse loved the classic guitar and that dreamy, ascent-to-heaven progressions, it is all
there on Elf Tales "Greensleep", "Tree Talk", and the 7:02 finale, "Cobbler's Quest".
Throughout the album it is all held together and relentlessly driven to perfection with rock steady
drums by Dave Miranda. Nobody sings but listen for a dose of elfin-babble and troll grunts.
If you fancy Dregs without keys or violin and enjoy riff-rock that doesn't shred itself into
technical chops ennui -- grab this CD and file right next to your Steve Morse Band works. You
ain't gonna fall asleep with this stuff playin'! ~ John W. Patterson
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