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Van Morrison
What's Wrong With This Picture?

Review by Steve Guttenberg
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Van Morrison What's Wrong With This Picture?

CD Stock Number: Blue Note 90167 


  Van Morrison, Belfast's Soul Brother #1 -- made a career careening through R&B, blues, jazz, Celtic folk -- steering clear of mainstream rock and roll. And now that he has landed on the Blue Note label, he does not even have to bother going through the motions of trying to score radio play. What's Wrong instead finds him musing on fame and celebrity, "I'm not promoting no hit record / And I don't have no TV show."

The few couple of tunes are tasty alright, but do not quite catch fire -- do not worry, everything clicks in place on track 4, "Too Many Myths," where suddenly Morrison gets down to serious blues. "Somerset," bathed in a saturated glow and propelled by the sweetest sounding trio of trumpet, clarinet, and saxophone, always makes me smile. "Meaning of Loneliness" is some sort of flowing existential blues – a groovin' spree that infects from the very first listen. You get the feeling Morrison’s in a good place because he knows he's making music that matters again. He attacks Lightin' Hopkins "Stop Drinking" like a hungry man wolfs down a good steak.

I have always loved Morrison's jazzier outings – Astral Weeks, Veedon Fleece, and Hymns to the Silence, but Van the Man says this new one is "blues jazz," and he is sure blowing a sweet and mournful alto sax on a bunch of tunes. Witness his fresh take on "Saint James Infirmary," where he's getting back to where he once belonged. Hell, the gentle guitar intro on "Little Village" sound like it came straight from His Band and Street Choir or Tupelo Honey. This track is right up there with his very best work, ever. I am listening to it right now, and I can not believe my ears -- he sounds a good twenty years younger.

On the closer, "Get On With the Show," Morrison goes for broke, revealing even more of his bluesy pulse as the horns bleat out lines worthy of Otis Redding. If you’re not bopping along to this one, give it up.

Sonics are not terribly audiophile, there's not much in the way of space or air. Sounds like a typical digital processed recording. Oh well, it is not irritating.



Enjoyment: 88

Sound Quality: 75






















































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