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Customer reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
33
4.5 out of 5 stars
Hard Nose the Highway
Format: Audio CD|Change
Price:£14.89+ £1.26 shipping


TOP 100 REVIEWERon 21 May 2014
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 24 March 2015
Good product and price
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on 6 April 2017
The best numbers on this album are excellent, though perhaps some feel a little bit like fillers (at least, by Van the Man's standard). But still one for the collection.
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on 7 March 2017
Got it on vynal now have CD great
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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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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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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 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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TOP 500 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 10 December 2016
I've had this album on vinyl since Noah was in short trousers and it was always a good, clear recording. This review is of Polydor CD 537 452-2, a now rather-difficult-to-obtain remastering by Tim Young and Walter Samuel of the 1973 original.
If you thought you were in the front row before, this version sounds as if you were leaning on Jeff Labes' piano, feeling David Hayes subtle bass in the abdominal region.
The players are, in essence, the Caledonia Soul Orchestra who made the incomparable "It's Too Late to Stop Now" live album. If ITLTSN is a barnstorming, revivalist meeting, then HNTH is an intimate party with friends. The playing is full of subtle, understated touches that complement Van Morrison who is in very fine voice here, relaxed but energised.
Why not five stars, then? While all the songs stand up well alone, they are a bit of an odd collection. This is the reverse of a "concept album" with no discernible theme, unlike, say Veedon Fleece or Astral Weeks. It's like an eccentric Victorian collection where serendipity is the only link.
Ok, make it four point seven-five stars, then.
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