Mitchell: No news in Van Morrison title

Van Morrison leaves no doubt as to his role in life even though he's making this mission statement rather late.

Van Morrison: Born To Sing, No Plan B (EMI)

From the title of this new studio album, Van Morrison leaves no doubt as to his role in life even though at his age, in his late 60s, Morrison is making this mission statement rather late.

That title is more like an argument a teen may make to a scolding parent who wanted their brat to go to college but not so oddly, Born To Sing sounds as fresh as ever and this new disc owes more to early work like Moondance.

There is a small combo here with three understated horns and live-off-the-studio-floor recordings with elegant jazz/pop/folk not unlike the cake that was baked into Moondance.

Born To Sing, No Plan B doesn’t have the chart quaking hit singles of past classics of the early 1970s but this new album is a very satisfying listen nonetheless.

There are 10 tracks here where Morrison plays a variety of instruments like acoustic guitar, sax and piano to front his ace session players and again, the tenor of the sessions are in the same groove as those comfy sessions of yesteryear.

Morrison is also quite expansive with some extended bluesy jams like the eight-minute Going Down To Monte Carlo, where he name drops philosopher Sartre and his famous line “hell is other people.”

Morrison is in superb form here as a vocalist and he gets a tad cranky on the anti-materialism and anti-capitalism songs End Of The Rainbow (spoiler alert—there is no pot of gold) and Educating Archie (yes to a Mr. Bunker) and the deleterious affects of propaganda infotainment as in Fox News.

My fave picks that standout include the John Lee Hooker-inspired roots blues of Pagan Heart and the sanguine Close Enough To Jazz where Morrison encourages his listeners to “be glad with all you have, never give in to worry.”

The lead off song, Open The Door To Your Heart, harkens back to Caravan and its amiable refrains where the older, wiser Morrison tells his listeners “quit crying in your beer.”

Born To Sing, No Plan B offers plenty of solos from three different horns, piano and guitar that rounds out this strong disc that is sure to please long standing fans.


Little Big Town:

Tornado (Capitol/EMI)

This fifth studio album from the neo-traditionalist country band Little Big Town will solidly crystallize the group as major stars on the music scene now that this disc has hit No.1 on the country charts and, more importantly, No.2 on the Billboard mainstream charts.

Tornado is Little Big Town’s major crossover album that will see them have hits and sales just like Lady Antebellum on the pop charts while still maintaining their country core.

Meanwhile, many reviewers have noticed how much this new album reminds them of Fleetwood Mac of the ’70s with angelic harmonies, tight pop constructs and likeable party songs.

The breezy song Leaving In Your Eyes even sounds like a Fleetwood Mac outtake while the topic of alienated affections, explored so widely by F. Mac (every one was having an affair with everyone else in the band back then) is revealed in the mature relationship songs like Your Side Of The Bed and Can’t Go Back.

But Tornado is also a party album. The lead off song, End Of The Pavement, is where the bush party begins and so “let the good times roll.”

Meanwhil, Little Big Town carries the party onto the water with Pontoon—their platform on the river—and a No.1 smash country hit.

More conservative country tastes will complain that this handsome 11-track album is a little too pop for their country palate but then again look at the group on their CD liner—they are dressed already for the Grammy and ACM Awards.


Skyfall 007:


(Sony Classical)

Some reviewers are saying that Skyfall is the best Bond flick of all time but it would be hard to convince a 12-year-old me in 1964 that anything could surpass Goldfinger.

I guess it comes down to zeitgeist and stage of life in a certain way but there is no doubt that 007/Bond movies are always highlighted by the music and especially the main theme song.

The big hit for Skyfall is the Adele hit of the same name but be cautious in buying this Official Motion Picture Soundtrack as in very small print on the back liner there are the words: “This album does not contain a recording by the artist Adele.”

So if you are looking for her new song, it has been released as a single or downloadable track.

However, Skyfall is also the most travelled plot in Bond history with its globe-trotting settings. Hence the incidental music on this lengthy 30-track CD with titles such as Grand Bazaar Istanbul, Shanghai Drive, Granborough Road, Welcome To Scotland and The Moors.

The amazingly prolific composer Thomas Newman (a cousin to bespectacled singer/writer Randy Newman) has another winner here that stands up to past glorious soundtracks such as The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, The Help and Iron Lady, his most recent three.

Fans of all things Bond will want to check out this polyglot soundtrack while others will just hear cinematic backdrop and wonder where the visuals are.


Musical Note:

It seems Bruce Springsteen music will always be confused for its messaging.

So many politicos have used his anthem Born In The USA as an arena intro song not realizing it is a pointed tune criticizing America for its unfortunate, misguided involvement in Vietnam.

A couple of nights ago Obama used Springsteen’s We Take Care Of Our Own as the music after his acceptance speech maybe not realizing the song is a sardonic jibe towards the one per centre billionaire Republicans—or maybe Obama is even smarter than we know.


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