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Van Morrison (from the album Moving On Skiffle on Virgin Records (by Lee Zimmerman)
It's a forgone conclusion that Van Morrison is a bit of a curmudgeon, but that doesn't preclude the fact that he shares a certain sentiment when it comes to his reverence for the roots. His new album offers an obvious indication, courtesy of 23 songs that are all accrued from archival sources. An authentic homage to skiffle, the music he became fascinated with as a youngster and later absorbed courtesy of his earliest endeavors, Moving On Skiffle finds Morrison retracing those early influences with songs that are well representative of that seminal sound.
Van Morrison’s forthright fascination with the material is such that he doesn’t necessarily deviate from the original arrangements. Consequently, there’s a certain familiarity factor that transcends any cultural divide. Several songs, in fact, will likely be known even to the most casual enthusiast. “Freight Train”, “Greenback Dollar”, “Mama Don’t allow”, “Gypsy Davy”, “Worried Man Blues”, and “This Loving Light of Mine” all played a prominent role in a seminal songbook common to both Folk and popular traditions, making Morrison’s decision to include them here all but certain to find favor with both archivists and anyone else prone to nostalgia. His band — Dave Keary (guitars), Pete Hurley (bass), Colin Griffin (drums), and Sticky Wicket (washboard) with occasional contributions from Seth Lakeman(fiddle) — serve the songs well, further ensuring a credible connection even as far as contemporary credence is concerned.
As far as Morrison himself, suffice it to say he’s never sounded better. There’s a certain sentiment suggested here that overshadows his normal gruff demeanor. He leaves no doubt as to his fondness for the source material without finding any real need to update the originals. The arrangements stay strictly within preset parameters, allowing for instant acceptance, from both all those that will likely favor the song selection and from Van fans themselves.
In that regard, Moving On Skiffle is a perfect primer of sorts, one that offers a lesson on the origins of early British rock and the music that would eventually help reshape the course of rock ’n’ roll overall. A comforting collection by any measure, it’s an admirable move on Van Morrison’s part as well.
(By Lee Zimmerman)
Listen and buy the music of Van Morrison from AMAZON
For more information, please visit the Van Morrison website
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