For those readers who may think that Van Morrison has no business recording for Blue Note Records, I have just two words...
What’s Wrong with Picture?
is Morrison’s debut on the jazz label and I suppose it is jazzy enough. He provides his characteristic Celtic blue-eyed soul over a broad landscape of musical styles. The blues play a big part, of course, and show up in the some spectacular iterations. The title cut and disc opener is a plush crooning vehicle with strings and bass clarinet that curiously reminds me of Eddie Arnold via Ray Charles. Morrison is languid and downright cheerful, laughing at the beginning of the second verse after quoting both Duke Ellington and Frank Sinatra, in turn.
"Whinin’ Boy Moan" is a jump tune allusion to Jelly Roll Morton with tight vocals by Morrison and sprite horns that include flamethrowing solos by Martin winning and Matt Holland. The two standards, "Saint James Infirmary" and Lightnin’ Hopkins' "Stop Drinking," are revelations, the former New Orleans-dirge-like and the latter with a rockabilly slant. Morrison flips off fame and the recording industry with "Goldfish Bowl" which recalls, in a strange way, Too Long in Exile ’s "Big Time Operations." "Too Many Myths" includes some most tasty acoustic guitar compliments of Morrison himself.
This disc was not received well by local press and I do not understand why. All elements characteristic of a Van Morrison recording are present, with the plus that Morrison sounds like he is enjoying himself. Eclectic is how I would describe this recording and Van Morrison in general.
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