Latest Record Project Volume I by Van Morrison
Van Morrison has been very outspoken about the COVID-19 lockdown restrictions in the UK. He released a few songs specifically about that which do not appear on this ambitious 28-song, two-hour plus collection that was recorded during the lockdown.
Latest Record Project Volume I, Morrison’s 42nd studio album has been blasted by critics – The Guardian gave it a one-star (out of five) review, for example – but the more I listened to this album, the more I enjoyed it. The 75-year-old Morrison is in fine form, as is his excellent band, as they play songs that fall into the genres of blues, R&B, jazz and soul. Morrison produced the album and wrote or co-wrote all of the songs unless noted below.
Morrison plays piano, guitar and sax, and is joined by Richard Dunn on Hammond organ, Dave Keary on guitars and banjo, Stuart McIlroy on piano, Pete Hurley on bass, Colin Griffin on drums and percussion, and a vocal trio of Dana Masters, Crawford Bell and Kelly Smiley; with some tracks featuring Jim Mullen on guitar, Gavin Scott on bass, Paul Moran on the organ and Mez Clough and Teena Lyle on vocals.
Below are a few brief comments about each song, along with a list of my favorites from the album:
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Latest Record Project – This song has Morrison asking if people are listening to his new music, not his older, familiar songs. The song features call and response backing vocals and organ.
Where Have All the Rebels Gone? – This song has Morrison asking where all the rebels in rock and roll have gone. Where they really all that tough, or was it just a PR stunt? The upbeat song features organ, piano, guitar, drums, and backing vocals. A newer version of this song called “The Rebels” was recorded with Eric Clapton singing lead under the name “Slow Hand and Van”.
Psychoanalysts’ Ball – This song is about someone who needs psychological help to function. The song has a slower pace with light percussion, organ, guitar solo, chimes, piano and backing vocals.
No Good Deed Goes Unpunished – This song is about an ungrateful woman, perhaps Morrison’s wife who he was divorced from in 2018. He’s given her a million Euro, but she said that wasn’t enough. The song features organ, drums and keys.
Tried to Do the Right Thing – This song is about Morrison being conned in business. He tried to do the right thing for his baby but it all went wrong. The song features light percussion, piano, bass, a guitar solo and backing vocals.
The Long Con – In this blues song, Morrison says that he is a targeted individual who has to get to the bottom of who is pulling the strings. The song showcases the band and features drums, guitar, harmonica, organ, piano and backing vocals.
Thank God for the Blues – He was born to sing the blues, and he’s singing for the people who feel the same way that he does. This excellent blues song features bass, organ, drums, guitar, backing vocals and piano. A highlight.
Big Lie – This song features Chris Farlowe on vocals. He was king for a day but someone stole his crown. It was all a big lie. The song features guitar, drums, organ, bass and drums.
A Few Bars Early – He was a few bars early, but then he got it right. This blues song showcases the band and features organ, bass, drums, guitar and piano.
It Hurts Me Too – This blues song was written by Elmore James. When things go wrong, he knows it ain’t right and it hurts him too. The song features organ, drums, bass, backing vocals and harmonica.
Only a Song – It’s only a song, not set it stone. It’s only a poem and it could change in the long run. It’s what he said then just to make it rhyme. The upbeat song features saxophone, drums, organ and backing vocals.
Diabolic Pressure – Pleasing people gets you nowhere. He’s not gonna work for them anymore. He’s gonna work for himself. The band excels on this song, featuring piano, guitar, drums, bass, horns, piano, backing vocals and saxophone.
Deadbeat Saturday Night – This song might refer to the lockdown period when there was no work and no shows for musicians, it’s just another deadbeat Saturday night. The defiant song features drums, guitar, backing vocals, saxophone, organ and piano.
Blue Funk – He’s in a blue funk listening to the TV junk and mainstream media junk. He can’t believe how far we’ve sunk. He needs to pull himself out of the mire, lift himself a little higher and get out of this blue funk. The song features drums, bass, guitar, organ, backing vocals and saxophone.
Double Agent – This cryptic song is about a double agent, and when the lines start to blur strange things occur. The song references rock and rock roll, M15, compromise and drinking the Kool Aid. The song features drums, organ, guitar and bass.
Double Bind – This song could refer to the government during the lockdown. Mind control keeps you in line. You need to try to think outside the blind leading the blind and break the double binds. The slow groove song is driven by a bass beat, and features guitar, drums and an organ solo.
Love Should Come With A Warning – This song was written with Don Black. Love should come with warning. It can break your heart. One minute you’re falling in love and the next you’re falling apart. The song features organ, drums, guitar and backing vocals.
Breaking The Spell – On this upbeat and optimistic song he is trying to break the spell of the bright shiny objects. He’s in the country down by the river on a Sunday morning. He’s moving up to a higher plane. The song features backing vocals, drums, organ and piano.
Up County Down – In this upbeat song, he sings that he has been around, from the heart of Texas to L.A.’s Whiskey-A-Go-Go in L.A. in 1966 with his band Them when the Doors were opening. He might as well be in the County Down, a county in Northern Ireland, where the healing waters flow. The song features saxophone, organ, bass, drums, banjo and backing vocals.
Duper’s Delight – In this song, he sings of lies and double-crossing. The duper’s delight is a giveaway smile. The ballad features piano, organ, drums, bass and guitar.
My Time After a While – This song could be about Morrison’s second wife, who he was divorced from in 2018. It’s her time now, but it’s gonna be his time after a while. She got away with everything, but one of these days she’s gonna get caught. He just wants to see his darling children smile. The upbeat song features organ, drums, piano, guitar, saxophone and backing vocals.
He’s Not the Kingpin – He’s not the kingpin, he’s just a fall guy. He was used by the media for their agenda. This could be another reference to the lockdown. The song features organ, bass, backing vocals and drums.
Mistaken Identity – This song was written with Don Black. You thought you knew him, but you were wrong. There’s more to him than his music. You think that you can read him, but you can’t. The easy-going song features backing vocals, guitar, percussion, organ, bass and drums.
Stop Bitching, Do Something – In this rant, he sings that you’ve gotta put up or shut up and do something. The system, perhaps referring to the government during the lockdown, tells you that you are obsolete and non-essential. The repetitive song features guitar, bass, organ, drums, backing vocals and saxophone.
Western Man – This song could be about the government during the lockdown. Western man has no plan. He was complacent and stopped believing in himself. While he was dreaming, others were scheming, doing deals behind his back. Now, caretakers have taken over the main building. Lunatics have taken over the farm and there are clandestine meetings in the forest. Things are not going back to the way it was. The song features banjo, organ, guitar, drums and bass.
They Own the Media – Morrison has clarified on Twitter that the “they” in this song is Boris Johnson’s UK government. They control the narrative. They perpetuate the myth and keep on telling lies. The song features organ, drums, guitar, bass and saxophone.
Why Are You on Facebook? – In this song he asks why those who are on Facebook need second-hand friends and why do they really care who’s trending (which actually refers to Twitter, not Facebook). He says to get a life, because it must be empty and sad. The repetitive song features organ, bass, drums, backing vocals.
Jealousy – In this easy-going song he sings that the things they say about him is just plain jealousy. Is it because he is good at his job and he’s not a slave to the system? The song features piano, organ, drums, backing vocals and saxophone.
Where Have All The Rebels Gone?
Thank God for the Blues
It Hurts Me Too
Only a Song
Deadbeat Saturday Night
Love Should Come With a Warning
Breaking the Spell
My Time After a While
- Carry Me. Watch this acoustic performance of “Carry Me” by NEEDTOBREATHE featuring Jon Foreman of Switchfoot, one of my favorite songs of the year.
- Everlasting Arms. Mac Powell has released a fourth song from his upcoming album New Creation. Check out “Everlasting Arms”.
- In The House. Listen to this new acoustic version of “In The House” from Crowder.
- It Could Be Worse. Andy Mineo has released a new single “It Could Be Worse” from his forthcoming album Never Land II.
Odds by Mat Kearney
This week’s song of the week is “Odds” by Mat Kearney. The song will be featured on the deluxe edition of January Flower, to be released October 1. Listen to the song here.
They say why you move to Nashville?
Why you leaving home?
Why you chasing big dreams?
Why you making songs?
No ones going to show up
You’d be all alone
But everybody showed up
Now they sing along
If I’d have listened to the odds odds odds
Would have never made it through through through
Every time they told me stop stop stop
It was the last thing I would do do do
Instead I left it up to God God God
And I watched the mountain move move move
If I’d have listened to the odds odds odds
I would have never met you
I was from the West Coast you were Tennessee
The way your summer dress swayed in the summer breeze
I know all my friends said you were out my league
Now every day I wake up with you next to me
If I’d have listened to the odds
Never made it far
I found a northern star out of broken hearts
Like runaway cars on the boulevard
Maybe all the scars made us who we are
The time it kept stalling
For fate to come calling
To start at rock bottom
Until you’re free falling
If I’d have made the u turns instead of pushing through
I would have never would have never met you