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27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Going down the road and feelin'...GOOD!, 15 Sep 2002
By 
Junglies (Morrisville, NC United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Down the Road (Audio CD)
I have to admit that when I heard that there was a new Van Morrison album about to be released I groaned.
Do not misunderstand. I have loved and admired his work for years and years and well...
The last couple of albums under the Virgin imprint put me right off and therefore I declined to buy this one. Until I came across it ..and I thought, why not?
I am glad that I did because with his return to his old label now renamed there has been a return to the Van of old. Not the van of the Caledonian Soul Express but the Van of Them, the Van of Georgie Fame.
As he travels back to his r'n'b roots Van has redicovered the sounds of the 60's and what a rich vein to mine. The songs may sound like the early sixties, as others here have pointed out but the interpretation and the originals are all Van. My initial scepticism was supplanted by tears of joy as I listened once and then listened again. When Van returned to Ireland in search of the Caledonian Soul, some of his fans did not understand and were lost. Increasingly this search has led him back to his youth and the songs that were on the radio and on records at the time.
The photo on the front tells it all and in a way I feel priviledged to share in Van's past and his later years. There is nostalgia here but there is passion too. Ultimately Van Morrison has followed his own road of discovery and his songs reflect what he has found. The songs may be of the sixties but he delivers them in his own inimitable way. If I had to pick out my personal preferences I would highlight 'Down The Road', 'Meet Me in the Indian Summer', Hey mr. DJ, 'What Makes the Irish Heartbeat', but overall I think that this is a great return to form from a man who was diverted but who has found his way back to the main road. Normal service has been resumed.
I will be buying the next Van Morrison album on it's day of release.
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27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Old School Morrison that will grow on you, 19 July 2002
By 
Jonathan Waterlow (Oxford) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Down the Road (Audio CD)
Unlike his previous "proper" album, "Back On Top", this one has a lot more tracks and harks back to vintage Van The Man. I've read some reviews which have called such a move sloppy and uninventive - this is simply not applicable to a man with the talents of Van Morrison; making a few more songs like those he has made in the past is no bad thing - no one does it better and they were all proven successes.
"Hey Mr. DJ" was released as a single, and is quite simply a fabulous bit of music; it makes compulsive listening for its upbeat nature and simple riff. Added to this are other gems such as "Man Has To Struggle", a good old moan about the trials of life, but set to a typical catchy Morrison tune and equally addictive. Other highlights are "The Beauty Of Days Gone By", a heartfelt song about, well, the beauty of the past - Morrison feeling his age perhaps, and this is a stirring, emotive song to prove it; added to this is his fabulous interpretation of the classic "Georgia On My Mind". No more need be say about that track; Van Morrison singing a famously brilliant song? Can't be anything short of excellent.
There is great variety in this album; although on first listen you might be overwhelmed by the divergent nature of the tracks both from each other and his more recent albums, this one grows on you without you realising, until it's the only thing you put in your CD player for months to come.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Return to the Blues for Van, 16 May 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Down the Road (Audio CD)
Van has returned with an album which has more than a nod and a wink to his blues and soul roots. The opening "Down the Road" sets the scene for the rest of the album with its blues harmonica and simple, yet insightful lyrics.
"Hey Mr DJ", the first single taken from the album, is perfectly-crafted and, in my opinion, one of Van's best - although possibly not typical of the rest of the album.
All in all, a very good album, although with its emphasis very firmly in the blues it may not be everyone's cup of tea.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Van revisits his past - and its worth going aloong for the r, 19 May 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Down the Road (Audio CD)
Sometimes Van gets criticised for essentially re-issuing the same album under a different name every couple of years - so what if they're great, easy accessible, unchallenging listens? I don't think we're going to get another Moondance or St Dominic's again and with that in mind, this will do nicely. Down the Road is a firm nod to the past and no worse for that. The opening track is inspired, Choppin Wood, is great especially for the Belfast namechecks and Hey Mr DJ is a delight. The Man keeps looking over his shoulder, even as he ploughs ahead. Fans will love it, non fans should go off and get a musical eduation.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Economy of Effort personified, 24 May 2002
By 
This review is from: Down the Road (Audio CD)
Lots of melodic highlights here and The Wee Man sounds as if he was enjoying the recording with some of his lightest vocals for ages.
The antithesis of some his earlier, more lyrically obscure albums (e.g. Common One), Down the Road gets to the point quickly on most songs and then repeats it again... and again... . It's a clever trick if you can get away with it and Morrison does here in most cases.
Reminiscent of early Donovan on some of the melodies but always kept on an elevated plane by His Master's Voice.
Enjoy... again... and again!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A really uplifting trip back to the roots!, 23 May 2002
By 
jaanush@hot.ee (Tallinn, ESTONIA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Down the Road (Audio CD)
Maybe I have the advantage of not having listened to any Van's albums basically since Astral Weeks and Moondance, but anyway I find this album a really refreshing and pleasent listen. It has
just the right portion of joyful nostalgy attached to it and these days it is quite rare to find yourself taken back to the no-nonsense no-frills
rootsy sounds and rhythms of blues, soul, jazz, motown, transatlantic country and irish folk, etc etc
And if you like such trips, this is just the album for you. I got it as a birthday present
yesterday and have since rolled it for 3 times
already and will probably continue in the same
spirit for quite some weeks now.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Down the Road / Memory Lane, 22 Jan 2004
This review is from: Down the Road (Audio CD)
“I can hear the sound of violins, I can hear the piper play – and every time this song begins, you just steal my heart away”. So sings Van on the beautiful Steal My Heart Away, which along with the other fourteen songs on this album, seem to reflect where Morrison is going and - more importantly - where he’s been. This idea of reflection is present in both the music and the lyrical ideals, as Van cements his reputation as the greatest living storyteller of his generation, by taking the listener along on his journey back into the mystic where he belongs.
This is pure soul music; though with strong underlining roots in the blues... these, as I’m sure you know, are the two greatest forms of music known to man; able to lift the spirit whilst simultaneously numbing the heart. Van knows how to use these two varying styles to his advantage, as he layers numerous narrative threads within a single composition; then he proceeds to fill his ramblings with the kind of sheer poetic ambiguity that made albums such as Astral Weeks, Veedon Fleece and St Dominic’s Preview classics in the first place.
No one else can make music like this. Others have tried... but only Van can create an album of journeys that has the power to take this listener to some place else. His trip may seem at times episodic and directionless, but stick with it, as he makes things clear on the final track, Fast Train... “going nowhere, except on a fast train, trying to get away from the past - keep on moving on a fast train, going nowhere across the desert sand, through the barren waste - on a fast train going nowhere, on a fast train”... This is Morrison’s best record in years... a consistently interesting work filled with intimate stories and emotional recollections.
For the first time in what seems like eons, we actually get the feeling that Van MEANS it... that he isn’t simply churning it out for the benefit of maintaining a profile. It’s still a long way away from some of his earlier landmarks, but regardless, this is a welcome return to some kind of form. If you are already a Van fan, then you’ll most probably have this already. However, if you are looking for an easy way into Morrison’s world... then this is a great place to start. five stars.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The quintessential seeker, Van explores his road., 17 May 2002
This review is from: Down the Road (Audio CD)
Life is the journey, as we travel the road from cradle to grave. Van sees all his past as he travels on.
A delightful album, like a scrapbook or picture album of Van's life, both musical and personal. Love songs, spiritual hymns and odes of inspiration jostle each other as musical style follows musical style. Here you find the superb mix of Irish-tinged blues, soul, gospel and jazz that Van's followers have come to love and expect.
Track 1 'Down the Road' sets the scene for our musical tour, with my particular favourites as follows:
'Steal My Heart Away' is a heart-stopping love song of infinite tenderness.
'Choppin' Wood' with its clear autobiographical references is a glorification of the workingman's life; a fond rememberence of his father; and a reminder of 'Cleaning Windows' from years ago.
'Whatever Happened to P J Proby' bemoans the withering of true musical talents in latter days, but no matter when Van still sees the way ahead so very clearly.
'The Beauty of Days Gone By' is a poem to Memory, our fondest possession as we grow older. Glorious.
'Man Has to Struggle' is a wonderful 'list' song a la Dylan, and is that the great Bobness in the chorus? That really made me laugh.
To sum up then, a masterful album of a true master of popular musical. More power, Van!
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Authentic Morrison, 24 May 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Down the Road (Audio CD)
"Down The Road" continues Van Morrison's love for the original song-form. Genre's, which inspired and evolved Van's own music, are authentically captured in new blues, jazz and traditional compositions. "Hey MR. DJ" could well have been one of the songs Van stayed up all night listening to on the radio, while "What Makes The Irish Heart Beat" genuinely recalls the traditional music of his background.
For the remainder "Down The Road" follows a well-trodden path through Morrison's style and clichés, even to the extent of employing arranger Fiachra Trench yet again for three of the albums tracks. But when the result is as beautiful and compelling as the albums third track "Steal My Heart Away" who cares!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Solid classic Van, 8 April 2006
By 
Pieter Uys "Toypom" (Johannesburg) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Down the Road (Audio CD)
The album opens with the title track, setting the tone as one of reflection on days gone by. This mellow mid-tempo song with intricate instrumental flourishes is followed by the buoyant Meet Me In The Indian Summer, a catchy love song.
Steal My Heart Away is also a love song, but slower and more soulful with evocative imagery, Hey Mr DJ is a chugging pop number with lovely backing vocals and a bit of Morrison's wordless vocalising, whilst Talk Is Cheap is a slow bluesy song about the pitfalls of fame.
The tuneful ballad What Makes The Irish Heart Beat is a definite highlight of the album, infused with Celtic soul. All Work And No Play is a pleasant enough pop ditty and the next one, Whatever Happened To PJ Proby is really interesting as he references various obscure British singers from the 1960s.
One of my favourites is the stirring nostalgic ballad The Beauty Of The Days Gone By with its gorgeous melody and poetic lyrics. I also love the tuneful and lilting Only A Dream. The last song, Fast Train with its appealing organ and harmonica made me think of Arlo Guthrie's Last Train, but is nowhere near as heart-breaking and intense. And that is what I miss on this album: Van's intensely devotional moments.
Down The Road displays all the various styles of the artist, like R & B, rock and his Irish soulfulness but sticks mostly to the middle of the road. The songs are mostly good and sometimes great as in the aforementioned tracks. Down The Road is really a 5-star album, but measured against Van Morrison's vast body of musical genius, it comes in at four.
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Down the Road
Down the Road by Van Morrison (Audio CD - 2002)
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