Tuesday, November 8, 2022

Van Morrison 44: Roll With The Punches

In our music retail days, we found it hard to get excited about new releases in the blues or reggae genres, as both were populated by performers who weren’t exactly groundbreaking. Each also had a lot of sameness, and repetition, so when an album stood out, it was rare.
That’s one of the stumbling blocks of Van Morrison’s Roll With The Punches, which is predominantly concerned with blues, mostly old and some new. There are a few special guests, which is no surprise, along with a few retreads, so very little grabs one’s attention.
The title track gets right to business, but the softer “Transformation” is just one track featuring Jeff Beck and Chris Farlowe, both of whom get more room to shine on “I Can Tell” and the forced medley of “Stormy Monday” and “Lonely Avenue”. Georgie Fame sings first on Count Basie’s “Goin’ To Chicago”, while another veteran of the ‘60s R&B scene, Paul Jones of the original Manfred Mann, gets to warble on Van’s latest complaint about “Fame”. Another original, “Too Much Trouble”, finally delivers a tune that could be a classic.
If you thought the only thing missing Van’s version of “Bring It On Home To Me” on It’s Too Late To Stop Now was Jeff Beck, your prayers have been answered. Jeff and Chris also spice up the surprising addition of “Ordinary People”, which pales against the original, but Sister Rosetta Thorpe’s “How Far From God” is a nice change of pace, as is the oldie “Teardrops From My Eyes”. From there it’s just Van doing more Lightnin’ Hopkins (“Automobile Blues”), Mose Allison (“Benediction”), T-Bone Walker (“Mean Old World”), and Bo Diddley (“Ride On Josephine”).
Were we in charge, and we certainly are not, we’d’ve ditched the all-star turns and stuck to the blues standards he hadn’t done to death yet. It had been a while since Van had really wallowed in the blues genre, so Roll With The Punches mostly delivers, except when it doesn’t. As had been the pattern, he recorded a bunch of songs, decided he had an album’s worth, and put it out. Take it or leave it, see if he cares.

Van Morrison Roll With The Punches (2017)—3

No comments:

Post a Comment