Following the massive success of his 37th studio album Roll With The Punches (which charted at No 4 in the UK this September), Van Morrison prepares the release of his 38th.
Versatile is positive proof that Van Morrison is built differently to other artists. One of very few British recording artists to warrant the description ‘living legend’, Van is currently working at a rate to put musicians a third of his age to shame; an ethic that harks back to his early days as a recording artist who’d easily release multiple brilliant long players within the space of a year.
While Roll With The Punches saw Van revisit many of the definitive rhythm and blues records that have stayed with him all his life, Van’s latest album sees him delve further back into recorded music’s archives to interpret some of the 20th century’s greatest vocal jazz standards.
Across Versatile‘s sixteen tracks, Van Morrison interprets some of the very building blocks of modern music in his own utterly unique style. As well as songs originally made famous by the likes of Chet Baker, Sinatra, the Righteous Brothers, Tony Bennett and Nat King Cole, Versatile features six stunning new Van compositions, including Broken Record – a timeless piece of late-night swing.
A joy from start to finish, Versatile is a completely different record to Roll With the Punches yet it’s incontrovertibly Van and proof, if ever it were needed, that at 72 years of age, he’s not going to slow down any time soon.
1. ‘Broken Record’ (Van Morrison)
2. ‘A Foggy Day’ (George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin)
3. ‘Let’s Get Lost’ (Frank Loesser and Jimmy McHugh)
4. ‘Bye Bye Blackbird’ (Ray Henderson and Mort Dixon)
5. ‘Skye Boat Song’ (Traditional. Arranged by Van Morrison)
6. ‘Take It Easy Baby’ (Van Morrison)
7. ‘Makin’ Whoopee’ (Walter Donaldson and Gus Kahn)
8. I Get a Kick Out of You (Cole Porter)
9. ‘I Forgot That Love Existed’ (Van Morrison)
10. ‘Unchained Melody’ (Alex North and Hy Zaret)
11. ‘Start All Over Again’ (Van Morrison)
12. ‘Only A Dream’ (Van Morrison)
13. ‘Affirmation’ featuring Sir James Galway (Van Morrison)
14. ‘The Party’s Over’ (Betty Comden, Adolph Green and Jule Styne)
15. ‘I Left My Heart in San Francisco’ (George Cory and Douglass Cross)
16. ‘They Can’t Take That Away from Me’ (George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin)
Tracks on the album were recorded at Stormont Hotel, Co. Down; .The Courtyard, Clandeboye Estate, Co.Down; The Culloden Hotel, Co.Down; Slieve Donard Hotel, Co. Down; Dunluce Castle, Co. Antrim and Holywood Studio, Co. Down.
About Van Morrison:
Sir George Ivan “Van” Morrison, OBE was born 31 August 1945. He is a Northern Irish singer-songwriter, instrumentalist and producer. In 2016, he was knighted for his musical achievements and his services to tourism and charitable causes in Northern Ireland.
Known as “Van the Man”, Morrison started his professional career when, as a teenager in the late 1950s, he played a variety of instruments including guitar, harmonica, keyboards and saxophone for various Irish showbands, covering the popular hits of that time. He rose to prominence in the mid-1960s as the lead singer of the Northern Irish R&B band Them, with whom he recorded the garage band classic “Gloria”. His solo career began under the pop-hit oriented guidance of Bert Berns with the release of the hit single “Brown Eyed Girl” in 1967. After Berns’ death, Warner Bros. Records bought out his contract and allowed him three sessions to record Astral Weeks (1968). Though this album gradually garnered high praise, it was initially a poor seller.
Moondance (1970) established Morrison as a major artist, and he built on his reputation throughout the 1970s with a series of acclaimed albums and live performances. He continues to record and tour, producing albums and live performances that sell well and are generally warmly received, sometimes collaborating with other artists, such as Georgie Fame and The Chieftains.
Much of Morrison’s music is structured around the conventions of soul music and R&B, such as the popular singles “Brown Eyed Girl”, “Jackie Wilson Said (I’m in Heaven When You Smile)”, “Domino” and “Wild Night”. An equal part of his catalogue consists of lengthy, loosely connected, spiritually-inspired musical journeys that show the influence of Celtic tradition, jazz and stream-of-consciousness narrative, such as the album Astral Weeks and the lesser-known Veedon Fleece and Common One. The two strains together are sometimes referred to as “Celtic soul”. He has received two Grammy Awards, the 1994 Brit Award for Outstanding Contribution to Music, and has been inducted into both the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame.