Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Van Morrison 32: Skiffle Sessions and You Win Again

Just as his previous label was willing to indulge him, so did Van Morrison’s current corporate home. Having moved more than a few copies of his last album, they went ahead and approved the release of two side projects within the same year.
Most kids in the post-war UK found their way to rock ‘n roll via skiffle, an offshoot of what used to be called “trad jazz” and best popularized by Lonnie Donegan, who played with Chris Barber’s band. Both men get equal billing (below Van) on The Skiffle Sessions, culled from two concerts in Belfast. Lonnie does most of the singing, as he should, and his voice hasn’t deteriorated at all over the years. It’s an enjoyable overview of the folk and blues traditionals that made up standard skiffle repertoires, complete with washboard, and would be just as enjoyable without Van, whose gruff vocals certainly stick out. Still, this album likely sent some checks to the other fellows, and having Dr. John on a few tracks probably helped too.

A much different, slightly more focused collaboration came in the form of a duet album with Linda Gail Lewis, otherwise known as Jerry Lee’s sister. You Win Again collects even more country and blues covers, mostly from Hank Williams and his disciples. For those of us who’d never heard of her before, and we’d be surprised if anyone had, Linda Gail has a fine voice, and when combined with Van, conveys a lot of fun. A couple of tracks seem to hint at the piano-pounding style of her brother, but otherwise it’s very similar to Van’s retro style, but with more twang. It does include one original, the goofy and strangely appealing “No Way Pedro”.
Both albums are certainly worth the plastic on which they’re printed, but are hardly essential. He’d already spent most of his career paying tribute to his influences and idols, so if anything, The Skiffle Sessions and You Win Again provide proof that he could still enjoy his “job”, onstage and off.

Van Morrison, Lonnie Donegan, Chris Barber The Skiffle Sessions—Live In Belfast (2000)—3
Van Morrison & Linda Gail Lewis
You Win Again (2000)—3

No comments:

Post a Comment