A simple choice
VAN MORRISON Keep It Simple Polydor Van Morrison releases albums too often for a new one to be anything other than just another record from a giant who no longer towers over his contemporaries. His output over the past 15 years hasn’t done him any favours, either, ranging from lacklustre (1993’s Too Long in Exile) to just plain poor (1997’s The Healing Game).
Even his most ardent fans, who surely buy his albums more out of duty and optimism than love, have wondered if Morrison will ever deliver at least one album that not only harks back to former glories but says something about him other than how aggrieved he is at the media or the music industry.
Keep It Simple isn’t that record, though (as the title suggests) there is a certain back-to-basics approach that renders it Morrison’s best album in many a year. Simply put, Van has the blues: from the cover to the content, he utilises slow-burning blues motifs (sneaky guitar from former Pirate Mick Green, organ runs, harmonica fills) allied to lyrics that stick pretty closely to the Morrison formula.
What makes Keep It Simple such a respite from recent offerings is the lack of irritation; Morrison might not be a fully fledged visitor to The Happy Club, but on the basis of this he’s at least considering a membership. Also out in the stores (physical and digital) are various Van Morrison reissues:
Tupelo Honey (1971 is equal parts sublime and tender, recorded at a point in the singer’s life when he appeared to have found relative peace and quiet via marriage (to the improbably named Janet Planet) and location (Upstate New York’s Woodstock).
It’s Too Late to Stop Now (1974 ) is described by Morrison as “some kind of peak” – a live album that is arguably the best ever released.
Into the Music (1979 one of Morrison’s few indispensable records, marking the start of his sequence of “spiritual” albums. www.vanmorrison.com
TONY CLAYTON-LEA Download tracks: Domino, Old Old Woodstock, And the Healing has Begun