Van Morrison: Duets; Re-working the Catalogue (Universal)

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Van Morrison: Duets; Re-working the Catalogue (Universal)

Duet albums are often the last refuge of senior citizen scoundrels, the deceased (current artists singing along with a dead hero's classics) or phoned-in studio constructions.

In his defense Morrison – senior at 69 – has a history of duets and collaborations, so this exploration of mostly lesser-known songs from his extensive catalogue is not career desperation.

Especially since recent albums (Keep It Simple in '08, Born to Sing: No Plan B three years ago) have been excellent, although some distance from his classic, late Sixties style.

So with Bobby Womack, Mavis Staples, George Benson, the roguish P.J. Proby (on the slippery Whatever Happened to P.J. Proby), jazz star Gregory Porter and others – all but Michael Buble and Stevie Winwood actually in the studio for quick takes – we find Van at ease among equals who empathise with the soulful blues and jazz close to his heart.

Chanteuse Clare Teal overplays the sweetness against his yearning ache on Carrying A Torch, the more jazzy styles perhaps won't appeal to some and the lack of familiar material might work against it, here's Van doing it his way again, sounding strong and (despite reservations about duet albums) much of this actually works

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Relic - Mar 31, 2015

After being “Vanned out” for over 20 years after enjoying his iffy but very listenable ‘spiritual quest’ 80s period, this seems a damn fine car record. Hell, it even has a song off “A period of transition”; ’79s “Into the music” and ’80s verbose “Common one” still count as classic Van to these ears.
Van always has good arrangements and the best players so why should he need to be any more likeable than the corner dairy owner? This man obviously needs to sing, not just top up his pension fund.

Keith Shackleton - Mar 31, 2015

There was a time when, live, all the "special" guests just got tremendously irritating. One particular instance I recall at the Brighton Dome, the stage was given over to James Hunter (or Howlin' Wilf as he was at the time), Van's daughter Shana, Brian Kennedy and.. saints be praised, or damned.. Richard Gere, who just popped in to play a bit of guitar. During a set of fixed duration ("Mr Morrison will come on to the stage at 8pm and the concert will be two hours long"), all the comings and goings led to a desultory amount of Van-ness that night. I don't think I dare listen to this record.

Di Forbes - Apr 7, 2015

Haven't kept up with Van over the last while, after buying and listening to so many albums and transitions over the years. Can he still send me? - I like to think he will - seemed there were always tracks that reeled me in with that voice, the lyrics, the sax. Duets from way back - my ears and mind awaiteth that old place - bring it on.

Jos - May 4, 2015

I was pleasantly surprised by this, lesser known songs and some great people, more than the average Van of late, it sounded fresh.

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