Van Morrison's childhood was steeped in American music, in part because he grew up the son of a rabid collector of classic jazz and R&B records. Morrison's infatuation with the music understandably led to the raucous, blues-rooted performances of Them
and his early solo records, but it also inspired his long, oft-misunderstood journey to find music more spiritually and geocentrically rooted. This inviting, if typically restive, collection brings the singer full circle, suggesting you can indeed go home again--and that your life's journey just might make you appreciate it with new eyes. Thirteen of these tracks are Morrison originals, though they have a warm, almost subliminal familiarity. Good-natured shuffles like the title track, "Choppin' Wood," and "Hey Mr. DJ" have a nostalgic edge that sharpens considerably on the jaunty "Whatever Happened to PJ Proby?," where Morrison grouses, "Nothin' much to relate to anymore / 'less you wanna be mediocre." But there's considerably more than simple blues redux on Morrison's agenda, as his graceful ballad "Steal My Heart Away" and sublime covers of Hoagy Carmichael
's "Georgia" and Acker Bilk
's "Evening Shadows" (originally an instrumental but now with lyrics by Morrison and an evocative, signature clarinet solo from Bilk himself) prove. A return to the classic Morrison sound, perhaps, but one gratifyingly informed by three decades of musical and spiritual pondering. --Jerry McCulley
2002 album with 2 UK bonus tracks added 'Evening Shadows' & 'Fast Train'.