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Born To Sing: No Plan B

4.5 out of 5 stars 297 customer reviews

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Audio CD, October 2, 2012
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Editorial Reviews

The subtitle of Van Morrison s new album, Born To Sing: No Plan B, indicates the
power that music still holds for this living legend. No Plan B means this is not a
rehearsal, says Morrison. That s the main thing it s not a hobby, it s real, happening
now, in real time. This sense of absolute conviction, which has defined Morrison s
revolutionary work for almost fifty years, runs throughout the new record, his thirtyfifth
studio album as a solo artist. The ten original songs on Born To Sing, his first
new album in four years (the longest he has ever gone between recordings), reveal
an artist continuing to test his creative parameters.
As Morrison notes, perhaps the most striking thing on the new album is hearing him
weigh in on the global financial and economic meltdown on several songs. His sense
of outrage at the materialism and greed that have poisoned society first appears in the
opening track, the breezy soul strut Open the Door (To Your Heart), when he sings
Money doesn t make you fulfilled/Money s just to pay the bills.
Born To Sing, recorded live in the studio with a core six-piece band (plus Morrison
on piano, guitar, and alto saxophone), extends these musical roots into a signature
blend that s impossible to imitate or to categorize. Despite the album s title, Morrison
says that he didn t immediately know that he was born to sing. I didn t know it was
going to be a job until I was maybe fifteen or sixteen and started working in bands,
he says. I was just a kid trying to make my way in life. There was no revelation it
doesn t work that way.
Ever since then, though, Van Morrison has offered non-stop revelation to fans around
the world. With Born To Sing, he responds to a time of crisis with solace and insight,
vision and wonder, and incomparable soul that shows what happens when you really
do create from the heart, with no Plan B.

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Open the Door (To Your Heart)
  2. Goin' Down to Monte Carlo
  3. Born to Sing
  4. End of the Rainbow
  5. Close Enough For Jazz
  6. Mystic of the East
  7. Retreat and View
  8. If in Money We Trust
  9. Pagan Heart
  10. Educating Archie

Product Details

  • Audio CD (October 2, 2012)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Blue Note
  • ASIN: B008EZVNO0
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (297 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #16,733 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Rushmore VINE VOICE on October 4, 2012
Format: Audio CD
It's been a few decades since I was transfixed by Van the Man doing Caravan in The Last Waltz. I did relaxing exercises through my first pregnancy with Common One as the soundtrack. I was thrilled to discover The Healing Game a decade after its release. I saw Van perform in the Astral Weeks tour a few years ago. I have puzzled over Keep It Simple, finally determining that it's OK to just basically hate a Van Morrison album.

What is clear: Van Morrison is not accessible to his fans. He doesn't do a lot of interviews (probably a good thing since he is a terrible interview). But he is a great singer and songwriter and a talented musician. And if he is all about the music, then all we really need to do is listen.

Born to Sing is a really wonderful album. Morrison has always surrounded himself with the best musicians. This record often has the feel of a bunch of guys just sitting around playing music on a Sunday afternoon. It doesn't try too hard. The lyrics reveal some angst ("I'm trying to get away from people, that are trying to drive me mad") but the music just flows. Morrison is famous for covering lots of genres. Born to Sing is mostly jazz with a soupcon of blues. It's easy to listen to (not at all the same as Easy Listening). Morrison on sax has never sounded better.

This record is never bombastic. At 67, Van Morrison has settled down a bit. However, the lyrics reveal his concern about the dim economic picture in Ireland and elsewhere, particularly on If in Money We Trust and End of the Rainbow. The final song Educating Archie is a scathing indictment of how the media shapes people's minds. To my mind, the lyrics on this album are collectively some of Van's best ever.
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I listened to this recording several times while driving through New England recently. It immediately caught my attention for several reasons. First, I did not hear any synthesizers. Second, the CD contains real liner notes, prepared by respected writers. Third, the musicians, including Morrison on saxophone and piano, perform very well as a unit. Indeed, when Morrison sings, he supports the band; not the opposite, which often is the case for vocalists who somehow dominate the instruments with their voices. Finally, and this is a basic comment, the music just sounds real good. It is enjoyable and well presented. In short, this is, in my view, Morrison's best recording since "The Healing Game."

Three tracks stand out for different reasons. While I highlight these tracks, this CD includes a collection of superior recordings.

The best recording on the CD is "Goin' Down to Monte Carlo." It starts with rythmns that sound like pre-reggae Caribbean music. The lyrics portray an intrigue with life in Southern France -- Nice and Monaco. The messages reminded me of recent trips to this part of the world and the peace one can experience in this region at the right time of year. Morrison sounds like he really enjoyed singing this song. When he stops singing, this band leader lets the band take over. Much like a live performance, this studio recording departs from recent musical structures -- the musicians, with the support of their leader, individually display their talents. Relieved of the threat of the synthesizer and the pressure of time limitations, these musicans show their craft with abandon -- they truly jam. Their sound is sweet and cohesive, and it is wildly moving to hear the sound of a trombone in a modern jazz, R&B or pop recording.
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Van Morrison's last studio album, "Keep It Simple," was released in 2008; a year later, he released "Astral Weeks Live at the Hollywood Bowl." And then ... three years of silence. Only once before in his career had Morrison let three years pass between albums; the gap was between "Veedon Fleece" in February 1974 and "A Period of Transition" in April 1977. And Morrison NEVER had gone four years between studio albums.

So it was that, earlier in 2012, I was beginning to wonder if his muse had abandoned him at last. Furthermore, "Keep It Simple" had not proved to be one of his great records. One of the problems with it was the tepid songwriting; of the eleven tracks (twelve if you count "Little Village," the live bonus track), the only one that really made an impression on me was "Behind the Ritual."

It gets worse. "Keep It Simple" had been preceded by "Pay the Devil," Morrison's 2006 album on which he covered American country/western songs. That idea was every bit as problematic as it sounds.

Nope, you have to go back to 2005, to "Magic Time," to get to the last really fine Van Morrison record. Until now. Seven years later, Van is, at last, the Man again. "Born to Sing: No Plan B" is an apt title, because Morrison sounds more committed to his performances and songwriting than he has in a very long time.

Morrison opens with a couple of medium-tempo rockers, "Open the Door (To Your Heart)" and "Goin' Down to Monte Carlo," then swings right into the title track, which has a noticeable doo-wop feel that suits the lyrics perfectly. Certainly, Morrison sounds nostalgic here, but it's a nostalgia rooted in true love of music, and so escapes being cloying.
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