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4.5 out of 5 stars97
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on 24 March 2013
Is it treading water van has trod for years...yep. Is it offering something brand new and cutting Is it still not much fun being van...yep. Is it loaded with paranoia...yep. But is it gorgeous smooth and genuinely uplifting.. You bet. His singing is fabulous and the jazz blues playing is sublime. It's not new but it is genuine quality and it is authentic. If like me you love Van's "no guru"....then this is right up your street.
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on 21 December 2012
Yes, once again Van the man has managed to Wow his fans with this fantastic album. Van does not churn out one album after the other like some insipid lolly pop boy band. some years pass between the release of each recording and I spend those years checking to see if he has anything new on the shelf. When there is a new release I always find myself feeling a little nervous when I first play it. The reason for this is the fear that age might have finally robbed Van of his creativity and that powerful, gritty and wonderful voice of his. As sad as it is, age can do that. It happened to Sinatra and to many others

However the truth is that there are some who have a voice that matures and gets even better with age. Rod Stewart is an example and Van Morrison sounds better than I have ever heard him. If your a genuine Van Morrison fan you will not be disappointed with this album. There are no nasty surprises, no attempt to reinvent himself with some new musical style which is a typical mistake artists make as they get older. This is no nonsense, honest to goodness typical Van Morrison blues/jazz. The sax is heavenly. I Hoped this helped. Happy shopping
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on 21 November 2012
After 35 albums I'm relieved that Van does have something else to sing about. Here, he does question materialism generally but thankfully quite sublimely wrapped in some sumptuous melodies. Much has been said about Van revisiting a few themes perhaps a little too often. Also, the fact that its been 3 years since his last studio album rather than the an album almost annually, may have contributed to a significant increase in quality: and this being the best album he has released since the nineties. There is not a weak track on the album and several real highlights reminding us why Van Morrison was so rated in the first place. The songs are well constructed, memorable, brilliantly played, and sung with Vans best and most convincing vocal performance for many a year.

The album has a relaxed easy listening feel, but is not in any way bland. The opener is catchy, radio friendly and will no doubt find its way on future Best of's. Going down to Monte Carlo, End of the Rainbow, Born to sing, If in money we trust, are real highlights and wouldn't be out of place on some of his 70s classics. Even Pagan Heart, is arguably his best and most authentic blues track in years.

Generally, even on first listen you can instantly tell that the album has been produced and crafted with care: more thought has been put into the making of this album than some of Vans recent offerings. There are still lyrical references to one or two philosophers, one of Vans staple devices. More interestingly is the track "If in money we trust" the extended jazz workout second half of the song which has echos of the theme tune to the old "Money" program from the 70s, clever!

I'm not sure exactly where it would rank with the rest of his work. After playing it probably twenty times now I would tentatively put it in his top ten best albums. A bold placement I know, but I would rank it along side "Into the Music", a personal favorite of mine for shear listen-ability alone.
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on 4 December 2012
I was fortunate to attend the Van concert during the East Belfast Festival this summer, a very rare occasion with him playing so close to Hyndford Street, where it all began. A fantastic concert! Unusually for VDM, it was a real crowd pleaser with a lot of songs one would hope he would play in this venue. The biggest cheer of the night was for 'Star of the County Down', with superb saxophone intro & outro from Van. He also featured new material, and it sounded better live than on this subsequent album. In recent times his live shows have been where it is really at. He did a great (sellout) turn at the Odyssey Arena as well recently. There is always effortlessly superb musicianship with top performers being kept on their toes. I really wish he had recorded this album live at that concert in East Belfast! Take note Van Fans - see this man live, he still has it on the stage, if not in the studio! Saying that,surely the creative well has not run dry, I live in hope of another album worth getting to know really well over a few tipples of a weekend.
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"Born To Sing: No Plan B" is Van Morrison's thirty fifth studio album in forty five years and his first new album in four years. It is also a return to the celebrated Blue Note jazz label for which he recorded the critically acclaimed "What's Wrong With This Picture?" The good news is that his latest album deserves equal acclaim. Although the usual musical elements of celtic soul, blues, rock and jazz are evident it is the latter that dominates the set.

Recorded in Belfast with a six piece band the album was produced by Van and all ten songs were written by him. The lyrics are linked to a common theme - materialism and greed and the devastating effect that they have on society. On the lovely, lilting "Going Down To Monte Carlo", with Van also playing piano and alto sax, he observes:

"Sartre said that hell is other people, I believe that most of them are".

But, the grumpiness aside, this is a beautifully realised album with superb musicianship which is perfectly displayed in the compelling "Close Enough For Jazz".

Van's production makes the sound of Hammond organ, electric guitar, tenor sax, trumpet, piano, trombone and drums warm and blissful as he swings through some of his best songs in years. Yes, he is famously curmudgeonly and a serial complainer but when he can write and perform music as inspired as this he can surely be forgiven.
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on 10 November 2012
Van Morrison's last studio album Keep It Simple was really strong, but it gives me no pleasure to say that his latest is a severe disappointment. There's no fire in the belly here, the lyrics yet again focus far too much on the iniquities of fame and the music business, and the music is mostly bland and uninspiring.

Sometimes I think Van is having a laugh at our expense - who else could release a song called "Keep Mediocrity at Bay" that fails to do just that? Or on this album plough through another version of "Close Enough for Jazz" that rivals the previous one for tedium, or refer in the lyrics to "phony, pseudo jazz" set to a background of what sounds to my untutored ears like phony jazz?
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on 12 October 2013
As a grumpy old git approaching 60 I can only empathise with another grumpy old git and share the sentiment of this offering from one of my heroes who is incapable of singing a bum note. The world isn't getting any better is it but whilst VM is turning out stuff like this there is always hope and some comfort. Not groundbreaking but for me streets ahead of the garbage that is generally thrust upon the masses of today by the music (?) business. Van only mixes with the best and the end result is top knotch.
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on 18 September 2013
Another Van Morrison CD (I have them all) I'm not going to say that its his best but it is still good and another milestone in Van Morrison's timeless career.
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on 8 November 2012
This album has been a long time coming, Van is not your Fan Artist he does his own thing you either love it or hate it, however on this album Van doing his thing seems to have found his muse there is Jazz Swing, Soul & blues and the voice has lost none of its magic, It is a lot more commercial than previous albums Hence the comment above in the title where Van appeared to gain a great momentum with those who had not previously connrcted with him.
He still sounds a bit world weary and cheesed off on some of his songs but the music is uplifting and contradictory to his words.
Van will never be mainstream nor would we ever want him to be but this album really is work ogf genius there is life in the Man yet!
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on 5 April 2014
Like Van's London Roundhouse show tight beautifully rehearsed up tempo real R&B not sleazy dilute soul but R&R.
Why do they call that R&B?
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