Als zesjarige hing Van Morrison regelmatig rond bij de platenwinkel Atlantic Records in Belfast (Noord-Ierland). Hij leerde er artiesten kennen als Lead Belly en Lonnie Donegan. Een paar jaar later speelde hij in zijn eerste skiffle band en het zaadje voor een vruchtbare carrière was geplant.
De 77-jarige Van Morrison grijpt nu terug naar zijn liefde voor het genre met de plaat Moving On Skiffle. Van de 23 klassiekers op de plaat zijn de meeste pure covers, maar Van Morrison bewerkt ook nummers met zijn eigen arrangementen en teksten.
Wie is Van Morrison?
Van Morrison is een Noord-Ierse singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist en producer. Hij werd bekend als zanger van de band rockband Them, die in 1964 een hit scoorde met de single Gloria. In 1967 startte Van Morrison zijn solocarrière met de legendarische debuutsingle Brown Eyed Girl. Ondertussen staat de teller op meer dan 40 albums. In 2016 werd hij geridderd voor zijn verdiensten voor de muziekindustrie.
Sir Morrison speelt dit jaar twee vorstelijke shows op Belgische bodem:
4 juli in Koningin Elisabethzaal, Antwerpen (uitverkocht)
5 juli in Koninklijk Circus, Brussel
It should come as no surprise that Van Morrison has made an album inspired by skiffle. Van Morrison’s love of skiffle dates back to his childhood. He would hang out at the famed Belfast record store Atlantic Records, where he’d hear early 20th century folk, blues and jazz from the likes of Lead Belly and Jelly Roll Morton. So when he heard Lonnie Donegan’s take on ‘Rock Island Line’ he intuitively understood the music he was creating. Before long, Van Morrison was playing with a skiffle band in school.
Several decades on, Van Morrison now revisits his love of the genre with his new album ‘Moving On Skiffle’, which is out now, featuring the single ‘Streamline Train’, ‘Worried Man Blues’, ‘I’m Movin’ On’ and ‘This Loving Light of Mine’.
‘Moving On Skiffle’ finds him taking a homemade style that exploded across Britain in the mid-1950s and infusing it with a level of sophistication and soulfulness that it didn’t always possess the first time around. The 23-track album goes to the heart of the music Van Morrison has inhabited ever since he was six years old, hanging out in the smoky confines of Belfast’s Atlantic Records. It also contains songs that underline, in their messages on the importance of freedom and living on your own terms, his lifetime philosophy.
Van Morrison says, “I was still in school when I performed with a skiffle band – a couple of guitars, washboard, tea-chest bass. I was already familiar with Lead Belly’s recordings so when I heard Lonnie Donegan’s version of ‘Rock Island Line’ I intuitively understood what he was creating, I knew that it was what I wanted to do. It was like an explosion. This record retranslates songs from that era.
Chas McDevitt’s book is where to start when it comes to the history of skiffle. From the very beginning with Lead Belly and the jug bands laying the foundations through to Lonnie Donegan’s influence, and Chas McDevitt’s skiffle group, it’s all in there.”
For the most part, Van Morrison plays these timeless songs straight. Several of them feature his own arrangements, while select others feature his own characteristic lyrical twists. The ever-rebellious Morrison has changed the title of ‘Mama Don’t Allow’, recorded by both the Memphis Jug Band and the Chicago blues man Tampa Red in the late 1920s, to ‘Gov Don’t Allow’, a nod to his fight against the rise of government interference in our daily lives. And the gospel standard ‘This Little Light of Mine’, a key anthem of the Civil Rights movement in ‘60s America, is transformed into the rollicking, upbeat ‘This Loving Light of Mine’.
Opening track ‘Freight Train’ is an immediate highlight, a song which was originally written by Elizabeth Cotten and then recorded by both Peggy Seeger and Chas McDevitt. Van Morrison has given it as a sophisticated jazz arrangement complete with rollicking organ, close harmony vocals and some new words. Elsewhere, ‘Wish I Was An Apple On A True’ is given wonderful warmth, completed by jaunty washboard and treacle-rich vocal harmonies. ‘Gypsy Davey’ remains timeless, while Van Morrison’s powerful vocal and impassioned sax complement the bluesy guitar on ‘Greenback Dollar’. The album closes with ‘Green Rocky Road’, a plaintive folk gem and an ode to the troubadour life that was made famous by Fred Neil and Dave Van Ronk, and featured in the film ‘Inside Llewyn Davis’.
Key contributors on the album include Dave Keary (guitars), Pete Hurley (bass), Colin Griffin (drums) and Sticky Wicket (washboard). Current Brit folk favourite Seth Lakeman also contributes fiddle to five songs.
‘Moving On Skiffle’ is released on the following formats: double CD; double vinyl; two coloured double vinyl editions, one of which is available via Van Morrison’s webstore and the other via select retailers; a cassette; and digital/streaming.
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