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Van Morrison - Roll With The Punches (Album Review)

Wednesday, 27 September 2017 Written by Jacob Brookman

Alongside the Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan, Van Morrison is now firmly in the septuagenarian rock idol club. As such, he can be forgiven for relaxing his creative output, and his decision to release an album chiefly comprised of bluesy standards mimics recent release by the Stones (‘Blue and Lonesome’) and Dylan (‘Triplicate').

But unlike these musicians, musical direction is probably Morrison’s most enduring skillset, and ‘Roll With the Punches’ demonstrates his rare talent as a bandleader, arranger and recruiter with energy and panache.

Admittedly, such a demonstration may not be necessary. ‘Roll With the Punches’ is Van’s 37th album, and while its five original songs are finely honed works, they don’t attempt to do anything new. Why should they? He is a performer whose contempt for his audience is legendarily intoxicating.

Having said that, both the title track and Transformation are marvellous crowd pleasers. The latter is a gorgeous blue eyed soul ballad with transcendental overtones. It shares a middlebrow feeling with his 1995 hit, Days Like This, and is performed with elegance, earnestness and spiritual integrity.

Ordinary People is another fine original - a straight-cut blues toe-tapper with soul shaking slide guitar alongside elegant call and response vocals. The musicianship on this album is immense, and there are some excellent guest turns from Jeff Beck, Chris Farlowe, Jason Rebello, Paul Jones, and Georgie Fame.

‘Roll With the Punches’ is an album of rugged focus that could act as a case study in blues arrangement had Van himself not released three or four superior ones. And while his post-2000 catalogue might be a story of relative musical conservatism, the magical Celtic psychedelia of his 1970s albums has laid the groundwork for an understanding of the blues that actually goes deeper than many of his contemporaries. His is a unique, storied musicality: a completely unforgettable fire.

Van Morrison Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Mon November 06 2017 - EDINBURGH Edinburgh Playhouse
Tue November 07 2017 - GLASGOW Glasgow Royal Concert Hall
Sun November 12 2017 - LONDON Eventim Apollo
Mon November 13 2017 - BIRMINGHAM Symphony Hall
Wed November 15 2017 - LIVERPOOL Liverpool Philharmonic Hall
Mon November 20 2017 - CARDIFF St David's Hall
Tue November 21 2017 - BRISTOL Colston Hall
Fri November 24 2017 - TORQUAY Princess Theatre - Torquay
Sat November 25 2017 - PLYMOUTH Plymouth Pavilions
Mon December 04 2017 - BELFAST Europa Hotel
Tue December 05 2017 - BELFAST Europa Hotel

Click here to compare & buy Van Morrison Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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