Van Morrison – Born to Sing: No Plan B (2012)

Recorded live in the studio with a core six-piece band, Morrison’s 34th album — and his return to Blue Note — perhaps unsurprisingly has a jazzier atmosphere than his most recent studio effort, 2008′s Keep It Simple. Heck, Morrison even plays sax.

All welcome news. But after getting off to a fast start with the finger-snapping rumble of its opening track “Open Your Heart (To Your Heart),” and a pretty good first half (highlighted by the eight-minute organ-driven sizzle of “Goin’ Down to Monte Carlo”), Born to Sing begins to wear down into cliche. There’s even a too-obvious reference to “Besides You,” from his legendary Astral Weeks album, to be found in “Retreat and View.”

Maybe a better subtitle would have been No Side B.

Van Morrison previously released What’s Wrong With This Picture? on Blue Note in 2003, garnering a Grammy nomination. Previous to that he had a long-time association with Mercury, and has since recorded for a variety of labels, including Polydor, Virgin and — on Morrison’s most recent release, the 2009 concert recording Astral Weeks: Live at the Hollywood Bowl — his own Listen to the Lion imprint.

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Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has also explored music for publications like USA Today, Gannett News Service, All About Jazz and Popdose for nearly 30 years. Honored as newspaper columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section that was named Top 10 in the nation by the AP in 2006. Contact him at
  • Dianne McPartland

    Great stuff, I’m going out to buy the new CD
    Love the sound