- 01 May 01
There's this idea abroad that Van Morrison has been working the same groove too often over the past few years. The purpose of this paragraph is simply to state that this is a misapprehension.
There's this idea abroad that Van Morrison has been working the same groove too often over the past few years. The purpose of this paragraph is simply to state that this is a misapprehension. You might as well accuse all reggae of sounding the same, Bob Marley of having only one tune or Shane MacGowan of slurring his vocals. The devil, as they say, is in the detail - so that's what you gotta listen for.
And for the most part the detail on Back On Top is mighty fine. Here be Van Morrison, singer, producer, arranger, songwriter and harmonica player at the apex of his craft, doing the business, and doing it more than well. Listen, for example, to the magnificent harmonica tone on 'Philosopher's Stone': it ain't just what he plays it's the way he plays it that's so resoundingly impressive.
Almost certainly, the title track 'Back On Top' will be used to illustrate the idea that Van is back to some kind of mythical best, and in a way I can understand why. It's feisty and upbeat, giving a new twist to Dylan's observation in 'Idiot Wind' that "You find out when you reach the top/You're on the bottom." But in truth there's an elegiac quality to the album as a whole that marks it out as familiar Morrison country.