Born to Sing: No Plan B (Remastered) Van Morrison
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- 1Open the Door (To Your Heart)05:20
- 2Goin Down to Monte Carlo08:12
- 3Born to Sing04:39
- 4End of the Rainbow04:35
- 5Close Enough for Jazz03:45
- 6Mystic of the East04:56
- 7Retreat and View06:50
- 8If in Money We Trust08:02
- 9Pagan Heart07:52
- 10Educating Archie05:43
Info for Born to Sing: No Plan B (Remastered)
For his return to Blue Note Records after a several year hiatus, Van Morrison is back to his soulful mix of rhythm and blues, jazz supplemented by horns, with a bit of rock, blues, and Celtic swing. Never an artist easy to pin down, Van continues to satisfy with a mix of his curmudgeonly (fully appropriate to me) lyrics about the money-hungry, greedy recording business, and his feeling of wanting to be left alone with the guarding of his privacy (“If In Money We Trust” “End of the Rainbow“ and “Educating Archie“) balanced by a sweet sentimentality for the early days of Rock and Roll, the 1950s, with a healthy dose of spirituality (“Pagan Heart,” “Retreat and View” and “Open the Door to Your Heart.”) Van is like your cool uncle, whose taste you respect, but you know you have to give him “his distance.”
“Open the Door to Your Heart” has the winning combination of a warm, appealing mix of R&B with horns and an upbeat message that could lead to much airplay on the radio. Alistair’s gut bucket trombone adds to the soulfulness. “Goin’ Down to Monte Carlo” features the Van vamp where he repeats the vocal refrain often. It deals with “getting his head together and getting some peace.” Born to Sing has a winning shuffle beat that brings to mind Van’s favorite aforementioned decade.
"Born to Sing: No Plan B is Van Morrison's first studio offering in four years and his second for Blue Note. It is the longest span of studio silence in his career. Uncharacteristically, he recorded the set in his hometown of Belfast with a crack sextet that includes a three-piece horn section with an alto saxophone. Trombonist Alistair White also features prominently; his warm timbres, muted colors, and delightful solos are centerpieces in many songs. Born to Sing: No Plan B is more jazz-centric, but not at the expense of his trademark Celtic swing, blues, and soul. Morrison's singing is unfettered, relaxed, and unguarded. His charts are simultaneously more sophisticated and organic. "Open the Door (To Your Heart)" opens with a souled-out guitar atop a laid-back B-3 and Memphis-styled bassline. The horns groove underneath Morrison's vocal, which is underscored by piano vamps. Lyrically, he states one of the album's primary themes: the real cost of materialism and greed. The soul-drenched "End of the Rainbow" and the old-school R&B set closer, "Educating Archie," also address the theme directly and tastefully. But it's "If in Money We Trust" -- the set's finest moment -- where he gets down inside it and lays out his truth with some of the finest low-end singing of his career in a brooding jazz-blues with meaty piano, canny interwoven dialogue between the horns, and taut bass and hand percussion that bubble in the pocket. That theme aside, this isn't a political record; it's not preachy, angry, or even disillusioned. It's Morrison merely laying down his own analytic reportage from the headlines. The title cut is a strolling R&B arrangement that certainly evokes those he heard from bar bands as a kid in Belfast. In it one can hear everyone from Fats Domino to Belfast's Bluebeats Show Band in the arrangement -- check the muted trombone break answered by clarinet. The breezy, ironic "Goin Down to Monte Carlo" bemusedly contains John Paul Sartre's infamous "Hell is other people." The tune suggests that the most vapid place on earth is perhaps the best place to "get some peace." It contains an upright bass solo, a gorgeous muted trumpet break, and fine, laid-back scat singing from Morrison. Likewise, "Close Enough for Jazz" (an older instrumental with lyrics) is a perfect meld of swinging R&B and post-swing jazz. "Mystic from the East" and "Retreat and View" are spiritual in nature; they connect directly to a constant theme in Morrison's oeuvre. The darker side of spirituality is evoked in "Pagan Heart," with Morrison paying tribute to John Lee Hooker via snarling electric guitar playing, as well as Robert Johnson in the lyric. Morrison sounds fully engaged, revitalized, even ambitious. On Born to Sing: No Plan B he's compiled the various elements of his musical oeuvre and assembled them into a seamless, glorious whole." (Thom Jurek, AMG)
Van Morrison, electric guitar, piano, saxophone, vocals
Dave Keary, guitar
Chris White, clarinet, tenor saxophone
Alistair White, trombone
Paul Moran, keyboards, trumpet
Paul Moore, bass
Jeff Lardner, drums
One of music’s true originals Van Morrison’s unique and inspirational musical legacy is rooted in postwar Belfast.
Born in 1945 Van heard his Shipyard worker father’s collection of blues, country and gospel early in life.
Feeding off musical greats such as Hank Williams, Jimmie Rodgers, Muddy Waters, Mahalia Jackson and Leadbelly he was a travelling musician at 13 and singing, playing guitar and sax, in several bands, before forming Them in 1964.
Making their name at Belfast’s Maritime Club Them soon established Van as a major force in the British R&B scene. Morrison’s matchless vocal and songwriting talents produced instant classics such as the much covered ‘Gloria’ and ‘Here Comes The Night’.
Those talents found full astonishing range in Van’s solo career.
After working with Them’s New York producer Bert Berns on beautiful Top 40 pop hit ‘Brown Eyed Girl’ (1967), Morrison moved to another realm.
Recorded over 3 days with legendary jazz musicians Astral Weeks (1968) is a still singular album combining street poetry, jazz improvisation, Celtic invocation and Afro Celtic Blues wailing.
Morrison would weave these and myriad other influences into the albums that followed in quick succession.
Reflecting on new life in America on the joyous Sinatra soul of Moondance (1970) and the country inflected Tupelo Honey (1971) he summoned old spiritual and ancestral life in the epic St Dominic’s Preview (1972) closer track Listen To The Lion.
Double live album Too Late To Stop Now (1973) highlighted Morrison’s superlative performing and bandleader skills. Mapping out a richly varied musical course throughout the 70s he shone among an all-star cast including Bob Dylan and Muddy Waters on The Band’s Last Waltz.
Indeed, borne of his Irish Showband instincts, the magic of the live performance has been a consistent feature of Morrison’s career.
Settling back into life in the UK in 1980 he released Common One an album centring on Summertime In England an extraordinary invocation of literary, sensual and spiritual pleasure the song would often become a thrilling improvised centrepiece to his live shows.
Steering his own course throughout the 80s on albums such as No Guru, No Method, No Teacher he claimed Celtic roots with The Chieftains on Irish Heartbeat. Teaming with Georgie Fame brought new impetus to his live show while Avalon Sunset saw him back in the album and single charts by the decades end.
Van Morrison continued to advance on his status as a game- changing artist through the 90s and into the 21st century.
Awards and accolades - a Brit, an OBE, an Ivor Novello, 6 Grammys, honourary doctorates from Queen’s University Belfast and the University of Ulster, entry into The Rock n Roll Hall of Fame and the French Ordres Des Artes Et Des Lettres - attested to the international reach of Van’s musical art.
Yet there was never any suggestion that Morrison, one of the most prolific recording artists and hardest working live performers of his era, would ever rest on his laurels.
Collaborations with, among others, John Lee Hooker, Ray Charles, Lonnie Donegan, Mose Allison and Tom Jones confirmed the breadth of his musical reach.
Morrison’s visionary songwriting and mastery of many genres continued to shine on albums celebrating and re-exploring his blues, jazz, skiffle and country roots.
The influence of the musical journey that began back in Post War Belfast stretches across the generations, and Morrison’s questing hunger insures that the journey itself continues.
Constantly reshaping his musical history in live performance, Morrison reclaimed Astral Weeks on 2009’s album Live At The Hollywood Bowl.
The subtitle of Van Morrison's latest album, Born to Sing: No Plan B, indicates the power that music still holds for this living legend. "No Plan B means this is not a rehearsal," says Morrison. "That’s the main thing—it’s not a hobby, it’s real, happening now, in real time."
With one of the most revered catalogues in music history and his unparalleled talents as composer, singer and performer Morrison’s past achievements loom large. But, as throughout his extraordinary career, how that past informs his future achievements and still stirs excitement and keen anticipation.
This album contains no booklet.