What can you say, the songs of Van Morrison are some of the finest over the last forty or so years, everyone on this release are classics in modern music. I must admit I wondered how much I would enjoy an album of duets with one of my favourite artists. Fear not, this is definitely a Van album, he not only wrote the songs, but produced virtually the whole album, it's his band throughout, and he leads every song.
Some of the artists he's actually performed with live over the years, especially Chris Farlowe, here they perform 'Born To Sing; a song from Van's most recent solo album, and it works superbly.
Steve Winwood joins Van for 'Fire In My Belly, while Mark Knopfler joins him for 'Irish Heartbeat' that is as good as the original, plus of course Mark's bonus guitar work, Taj Mahal joins in for the blues feel of 'How Can A Poor Boy'. It seems every song chosen suits the chosen artist to get the best out of singing with Van, his own voice is on top form throughout. Choosing Michael Buble to join him on 'Real Real Gone' big band et all, it's pure Buble, as is Joss Stone on 'Wild Honey', another song that fits her like a glove. Gregory Porter joins in for 'The Eternal Kansas City' a jazzy version that brings two great voices together and as they are sharing the stage this summer at at least one concert there might be more to come, hope so !
Others include Bobby Womack, Natalie Cole (love this version of 'These Are The Days', Mick Hucknall, Mavis Staples, George Benson, the wonderful Georgie Fame a long time playing partner of Van's, and Clare Teal. Also joining her dad is Shana Morrison, she has a great voice, plus P J Proby, he's still got a great voice dueting on, what else but 'Whatever Happened To P J Proby', well he's here and sounds great.
This album will sell by the bucketload, the songs as said are pure magic, by one of the greatest artists of all time, and the idea of a duets album has worked perfectly, hopefully will draw many new fans to the music of Van Morrison, while at it get the many totally wonderful solo albums over many years, Thanks Van as always !
Review by Pete Clack