I’m a fan of Van Morrison. Have been since I was a wee lassie in the early 70’s. My favourite song of all time in the whole wide world is Brown Eyed Girl. Whenever it comes on, wherever I am, I start singing along. If I’m already in a good mood, it takes me higher. If I’m in lousy mood, it turns my attitude around. Love it.
What I’m also really loving is listening to Van’s latest album, “Duets: Re-Working The Catalogue”. Released in March 2015, it’s his 35th studio album. A ‘re-release’ of sorts, it has 16 tracks on it that were previously recorded, mostly on his albums from the 80’s and 90’s, but he intentionally stayed away from any of the classic hits, like Brown Eyed Girl. You may have heard the tunes before if you’ve owned any of the albums they were pulled from. But you haven’t heard the songs the way they’re presented on “Duets”.
Van hand-picked other artists for whom he has great professional and personal respect. They were invited to not only sing/play with him, but also to put their own touch on his songs and help him re-craft them. Some of his duet partners include Joss Stone, Michael Bublé, George Benson, and his own daughter, Shana Morrison. Track #14 on the album is Irish Heartbeat, featuring Mark Knopfler. It’s been getting a good amount of play lately on the Loft Channel on SiriusXM, a satellite radio provider that I subscribe to for in car and online listening. Take a listen to it …
I enjoy listening to all of the songs on “Duets” and Irish Heartbeat is tied for my favourite along with If I Ever Needed Someone, the duet Van does with Mavis Staples. Mavis just released a new album herself, “Your Good Fortune”, and is about to receive the Woody Guthrie Prize at the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles on July 22nd. She’s performing at a blues festival near where I live next month, and there’s a chance I may be able to see her. Splendid.
One of the best reviews I’ve read on the album had this to say about the duet Van does with Taj Mahal, How Can A Poor Boy?, the 6.5 minute clincher to this spectacular piece of lyrical and musical art …
“Van is 69, Tag is 72; they sound like two rough gods together – passionate, vital, doubly singular, surveying their empires, all the verdant fields and wildflowers they’ve planted over the years, which will keep blooming forever.”
For more listening of “Van the Man”, be sure to visit his website or his VEVO channel on YouTube where your ears will experience some more pieces of heaven in duet form. Also, to any other SiriusXM listeners out there – if you like Van, you should check out the weekly Celtic Crush show on The Spectrum Channel, hosted by Larry Kirwan of Black 47. Kirwan plays a lot of Van and some other great Irish singer/songwriters.
Here’s to inspired listening!