Van Morrison,
Down the Road
(Polydor, 2002)

Van Morrison knows music history and is music history. The cover photo on Down the Road is of a well-stocked memorabilia record store, like ones seen on Rue Royale in New Orleans. Van Morrison mentions the Crescent City, rich as it is in music history, in the opening title track. Later, in "Hey Mr. DJ," he recalls the other source of great music in people's lives: radio and the way it can personalize a moment making it intimate.

In all this the Irishman can and does trip back to the early '70s, with R&B horns backing his blue-eyed soul on an album that could easily have followed Moondance, if not come out right before. His voice is still strong and the songs will still "stone you just like jelly roll."

There's a lot about this album where Van is searching to "get back." Maybe he wishes he could get back to a time when popular music had to be soulful and moving with real talent in every participating musician. With Down the Road, Van Morrison proves he, if no one else can, can take us back there.

- Rambles
written by Tom Schulte
published 24 May 2003

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