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on 10 January 2008
Along with Common One, Hard Nose has to be Morrison's most underrated effort. It finds Van the artist in a very uncertain place and even contains 2 covers which comes after a run a classic all original marterial. However this loss of direction makes a for a better album. Morrison has always been a questing spirit and even when standing at a crossroads the great craftsman can still produce the goods.

The most notable thing on this album is Van's use of jazz is brought more to the fore and hints at the direction he would take in the early 80's. Fan's of latter work will find much to admire here. For the rest of us this and Veedon Fleece mark the end of a run classic albums from the greatest artist of his generation.
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on 24 April 2010
This is a VERY good Van Morrison Album.
Buy it,If you like Van the Man you will like this Album.
Some say the lyrics aren't as DEEP and all that jazz but I have most of his stuff and half the time if you asked me what he was on about I really couldn't put it in to words that's why he's there and I buy his Albums.
But What Do I Know? Unlike some reviewers of this record I Love ''Snow in San Anselmo'' .
Forget any OLD bad reviews this is a must have!!!
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True, this isn`t Van`s very finest hour, but its reputation as somehow deficient is plain misguided. Some of Van`s almost-great records are far better than others` at their best.
Snow In San Anselmo opens this underrated set of eight songs, and it`s gorgeous. It`s - well, it`s snow-bound and comfortably wintry! With the help of a female choir and his usual knack of achieving just the right musical setting, an impassioned Van sings one of his typically atmospheric songs about a place and a time. Curl up on a winter day with a warming drink, and put this track on...then leave the disc on to play the rest of these pleasingly varied songs.
Warm Love is Van at his simplest and most easy-going. As with so many of his catchier songs, it could and should have been a hit single.
The title track is next, and it`s a belter. One of the album`s highlights, yelled and yelped by Van as if his life depended on it. Maybe it did.
Wild Children and The Great Deception take a little while to get to know and love, but once you have, they meld into the overall picture. Not the man at most inspired, but intriguing all the same.
Then comes 'Van sings Kermit'! Joe Raposo`s inspired Bein` Green (eg. like a frog) was already a lovely song about blending in and standing out, and Van turns it into something else again, singing this touchingly insistent plea for independence with a rare sense of personal identification. It could have been laughable. Instead, it`s lovable.
Autumn Song does perhaps go on a bit, and isn`t quite as compelling as some of Van`s longer explorations of musical mood, but it`s still very pleasant indeed, with its light-jazzy feel, and works well in the context of the whole.
Lastly we have the traditional Wild Mountain Thyme, which Van calls Purple Heather. It`s terrific! He always does a song like this best when he sings at full blast rather than pussyfooting around the melody (as on his grumbly-mumbly version of the standard All In The Game, on the album Into The Music) and he closes this fine record in grand style - down among the blooming heather, inviting his beloved to "go, lassie, go..." He sounds so urgent, I don`t think he only wants to pick heather...
With its superb cover art (by Rob Springett, who`d done a few for Herbie Hancock) this is one of the more unusual, not to mention varied in mood, of Van`s earlier records, and it`s a damn good one too.

Will ye go, lassie, go
And we'll all go together
To pick wild mountain thyme
Down among the purple heather
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on 5 January 2010
The 1979 Rolling Stone Record Guide gave Hard Nose The Highway a one star rating, 'poor' just above 'worthless'. Dave Marsh, a critic whose opinion can usually be relied upon, criticised on the basis that Van Morrison was trying to reach a broader audience and that it was a failed compromise. The following edition also stuck with the rating and the two subsequent editions raised it to two stars, 'mediocre'.

The album was Van's sixth solo LP release (not counting the Bang stuff), all of which were worthy albums including the underrated His Band and Street Choir, three being essential (5 stars) to any collection in my estimation (Astral Weeks, Moondance, St Dominic's Preview). His musical aim was true, his voice spot on - check out the following live album Too Late to Stop Now, one of the best live albums anywhere - so what was different?

The first track Snow In San Anselmo starts with a classical choir, then mixes the choir with hot sax driven jazz. Both choir and the jazz sound initially incongruous. Then you think he's trying to give a sense of wonder or majesty perhaps, and it somehow works. The second track Warm Love is a Van classic, the warmth setting the stage for much of the album. Van's marriage was imploding at the time of recording and perhaps he was reminding himself of the way it was, or should be. The long Autumn Song is similarly warm and pastoral, hot chestnuts and fire, lovers in the evening, mellow jazz and intimate. Musically it is Van Lite, but atmospheric.

The album contains two covers, Kermit's Bein' Green which Van turns into a jazz blues metaphor for ''take me as I am'', and Purple Heather [aka Wild Mountain Thyme or Will Ye Go Lassie Go], a beautiful Scottish folk song which has Van reaching for his Caledonian roots. Van transforms it beautifully, makes it a Van song. Those interested in the folk song should check Dick Gaughan's great take with The McGarrigles and Emmylou Harris.

On the title track Van lets rip when the backing ladies and horn section come in at the end. The Great Deception has Van pointing out his awareness of those hypocrites, deceivers, thieves and opportunists who inhabit this 'world of lies'. The references to wealthy rock and roll singers who want you to pat them on the back seem to point to Lennon (Power to the People) and Sly Stone (Dance to the Music), although Van would no doubt say it's non specific. Nonetheless a good vitriolic Vanwhine, in the tradition as we now know it.

The standard of musicianship is as good as you might expect, as good as anywhere else in the vast Van vault. His vocals are tops as usual. The only detraction might be the emotional content of the lyrics which are surprisingly detached, however Van has been one of the great white expressionists for four decades now. When he sings ''I just wanna comfort you'' over and over as he does on Veedon Fleece he'd have the tears flowing from the head on a postage stamp. But alas no song on this album has such raw emotion despite what must have been an emotionally turbulent time for him. Maybe that's the way he copes, maybe Veedon Fleece was his release.

The 2004 Rolling Stone Album Guide states that Bein' Green is the only good song. The review was sadly lacking, in fact the total Morrison review appeared askew. In the end, Hard Nose The Highway is one part of the great quilt of Vanness which has kept us warm for four decades, some parts more brightly hued than others, some parts stitched in a moment, but all imbued with the unmistakable artistry of Van.
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on 1 July 2014
Can only rate 4 stars although HNTH contains some of his greatest tunes from this fertile and creative period: Warm Love, Great Deception, Wild Children and the cover of Purple Heather etc. Allegedly Van wanted a double album but Warners balked at this idea. Judging by the quality of the outtakes from The Philosophers Stone he should have got his way as Autumn Song and Being Green may have worked better as part of a longer concept piece whereas here, they contrive to spoil side 2. So in a game of two halves 5 stars for side 1 and 2.5 stars for side 2. Still essential though for all of side 1 and Purple Heather.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 1 November 2015
This is a great album, undeservedly knocked at time of release, it's spent a lot of time on my CD player recently. It's an unusual start with Van backed by a heavenly choir on opener Snow In San Anselmo. It's a return to stream of consciousness lyrics and definitely grows on you even if it's a little bit surprising on first listen. Next up Warm Love is a delicious concoction, and it's easy to hear why it's such a fan's favourite. Simply gorgeous. The album features Morrison's first studio cover version, with the opening track not being the only surprise. Sesame Street tunesmith Joe Raposo had already had mainstream hit 'Sing' with The Carpenters but here Morrison covers Being Green, originally sung by Kermit The Frog. It's a good choice too because Frank Sinatra also covered it around the same time and Morrison does it justice. Autumn Song sees Morrison again stretching the song form with this lovely song lasting 10:34. Whilst Morrison had a string of wonderful preceeding records, this album would still rank in the top 5-10% of most people's CD collections. Hindsight shows the reviewers of the time wrongly maligned this great collection.
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on 9 April 2003
Essential for anyone vaguely interested in VM. Superficially lightwight, repeated listening displays immense depth and colour. "Purple Heather" is one of the finest recorded readings of the folk song, whilst "Autumn Song" brims with atmosphere. Elsewhere, the songwriting is thoroughly consistent and the arrangements, with Jeff labes on piano, are on a par with Astral Weeks and No Method.
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on 21 April 2014
This was my last to get in a total V M collection, worth the extra cost. There's not a V M album I would not wish to own, but on my own " take it with me to heaven" list, It would have to be "A Night in San Francisco" a double album of live recording, which lifts the soul to incredible heights. That's Ivan George Morrison at his most incredible best. Buy Hardnose as a part of a complete collection album choice, on my VM list it gets a 7 out of 10, Most are at 8's or 9's.
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on 17 May 2001
Hard Nose The Highway is one of Van's most obscure and overlooked albums as it is sandwiched between the wonderful Moondance and the awesome Veedon Fleece. Its reputation isn't helped by the opening track Snow in San Anselmo a californian pastoral folk song marred by an eerie choir effect that sounds dreadful. Fortunately Van redeems himself with the beautiful and flutey Warm Love which is one of his most simple and affecting dippy hippy songs. The title track sees Van indluge in the American travelling song genre as well as name checking Sinatra and championing spontaneity in song. The music is light, jazzy and folky as easy as a Mendocino Sunday. Having said this you can tell that Van is getting fed up with California and the music is so laid back and full of longing for the Irish countryside. This happens in the wonderful and circuitious Autumn Song which weighs in at over ten minutes and is light as a feather. Its a breezy and lazy melody that is completely beguiling and one of Van's best folk / jazz excursions into Arcadia. The Great Deception is the first example of the Morrison sub genre of song concerned with moaning about the record industry. The plastic revolutionaries are denounced in a song about corporate greed and the neglect of great artists such as Rembrandt and possibly van himself. The Great Deception is almost a protest song and this issue seems to be the only one that Van gets steamed up about in his writing. The Wild Children is a homage to the American outsider and the spirit of Tennessee Williams and Marlon Brando. The song is soft and quaint and you can't help enjoying the idealism and nostalgia. Bein Green is a cover of the Joe Raposo song made famous by Kermit the frog and is a pantheists anthem of heartfelt and soulful proportions. The collection culminates with an arrangement of the traditional Purple Heather which is both a moving and enjoyable folk song which anticipates Van's collaborations with The Chieftains. The playing here is superb with dizzying violins and a babbling piano conjuring up the golden days of a Keatsian autumn. The album ends on a bittersweet note celebrating the power of nature and music as well as the transience of beauty and youth.
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on 12 October 2007
A very one sided album, with the first side totally eclipsing the second. Made a year after his masterpiece, St. Domiinic's Preview, it has to be seen as one of those albums where he's still recovering himself from such a heightened spell of creative magic. He does manage to summon enough quality for one very good side of rock/soul fusion pop, but it leaves him clearly exhausted for the second, almost anonymous side.
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