Monday 1st August, 2022

Blues in Britain Review

Album Cover Whats It Gonna Take

Van Morrison: What’s It Gonna Take?
Exile/BMG Records

Van Morrison is certainly going through a prolific period, last year’s Latest Record Project, Vol I ran over a double album and now this latest runs to fifteen brand new songs at a generous nearly eighty minutes. The album brings in many areas of his music over the years from blues, soul and some jazz for good measure. The cover of a couple of dancers held like puppets with a city background sets the tone, as in many ways Van looks at the last couple of years and has his take on things, the good, the lockdown and the way he feels we’ve been controlled- but this is no rant, but an album full of solid strong songs with Van and his musicians on very top form.

On the opening ‘Dangerous’ he sings about being called “dangerous” when he’s been stuck indoors for a year (where’s the danger there?) before a real toe tapping slice of soul in the title track, featuring both horns and backing singers. Then looking at how people have been moving forward again with determination ‘Fighting Back Is The New Normal’. By ‘Can’t Go On This Way’ he’s singing “No dances, no church and no holidays, it just can’t go on like this” but again it’s all quite upbeat. There’s one jazz-based track that really is a gem of a song featuring Van playing some sublime saxophone alongside a small, tight rhythm section on ‘Fear And Self Loathing In Las Vegas’. This is one of those tracks you wish would go on and on, Van’s solos are amazing and you hear again what a truly fine jazzman he is. Then he sings and writes of the situation around him, the effects, a political rant on ‘Sometimes It’s Just Blah Blah Blah’. He looks at fame and its limits on your life in ‘I Ain’t No Celebrity’ and the values of having a ‘Stage Name’, even looking at a ‘Nervous Breakdown’, but actually the song title belie what is a very upbeat album. Huge credit to his band who hold things together, bass and drums solid as a rock, those delicious horns and backing singers filling the overall sound, and never forget Van having a great voices, being an incredible songwriter who also plays some pretty mean guitar and sax. This is the great man on top form throughout. 

Pete Clack

Listen to What's It Gonna Take here.

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