With stunning album-length explorations of jazz and 1950s acoustic skiffle and a country-rockabilly collaboration with Linda Gail Lewis behind him, Van Morrison continues exploring classic country with compelling reinterpretations of standards from the 1950s to the 1970s. He reaches back over half a century for Hank Williams Sr.'s "Half As Much," "Your Cheatin' Heart," and "My Bucket's Got a Hole in It" and Webb Pierce's landmark honky-tonk hits "Back Street Affair," "There Stands the Glass," and "More and More." Moving to the mid-'60s, he capably explores George Jones's "Things Have Gone to Pieces" and Connie Smith's "Once a Day." The 1970s are his limit, however, as he probes Rodney Crowell's "'Til I Gain Control Again." Three Morrison originals blend nicely into this mix, as do two non-country favorites: Chuck Willis's "What Am I Living For" and a gleeful spin on Blue Lu Barker's 1938 jazzy, single-entendre favorite "Don't You Make Me High." Recorded in Ireland with uncluttered hard-country backing, Pay the Devil
reiterates Morrison's own musical diversity and flair for making any song his own. --Rich Kienzle
Recommended Van Morrison
Pay The Devil is comprised of 15 tracks; three of these are originals and 12 are covers of some of Van Morrison's favorite classic country songs, including 'Your Cheatin Heart', 'Things Have Gone To Pieces' and 'Big Blue Diamonds'. Lost Highway. 2006.