Van Morrison’s New Double Album, ‘Latest Record Project,’ Earns Harsh Reviews

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Van Morrison (Photo: Bradley Quinn; used with permission)

Van Morrison has released a new album, Latest Record Project: Volume 1, a two-disc set with 28 songs written during lockdown. The release, with the generic-sounding name, arrived May 7, 2021, on Exile/BMG. His 42nd record, says the original March 3 announcement, “delves into his ongoing love of blues, R&B, jazz and soul” and “proves that he’s living in the present, and remains an artist of integrity and distinction.”

Despite – or perhaps, because of – its ambition, the album has been panned by many critics. In its review, The Guardian calls the effort “boring and paranoid.”

From their one-star review: “It’s not really what he says so much as how he says it. The tone isn’t anything as stirring or exciting as anger, just endless peevish discontent and sneering dismissal, the latter reaching a peak with Jealousy, on which Morrison announces that anyone who disagrees with him is envious of his nonpareil insight into the way things really are.”

Pitchfork writes, “The seven-minute ‘The Long Con’ summarizes his strange host of anxieties: He’s a targeted individual, judges and government officials are after him, everyone is jealous. Who is behind the curtain? It’s a terrible night for a moondance.”

In a 3-star (out of five) review, The Irish Times calls the album, “a case of sweet and sour.”

Listen to many other tracks below.

“I’m getting away from the perceived same songs, same albums all the time,” says Morrison. “This guy’s done 500 songs, maybe more, so hello? Why do you keep promoting the same ten? I’m trying to get out of the box.”

From the album’s announcement: Unable to tour, Morrison remained busy with constant songwriting, starting ideas on piano, guitar or saxophone. What emerged is a wealth of new material, which shimmers with a directness and vibrancy that comes from working with a rhythm section with whom he shares an immediate, spontaneous connection.

Of the title track, “Latest Record Project,” the announcement notes: The king of Celtic soul’s one in a million, straight-to-the-heart baritone sits in the pocket of a warm organ hum, accompanied by sha-la-la doo wop backing vocal harmonies.

Watch the lyric video for “Latest Record Project”

Other highlights range from the joyful, country-tinged “A Few Bars Early” via the spirited Them-style garage rock to the self-explanatory “Stop Bitching, Do Something.”

Other song titles include “Dead Beat Saturday Night” which addresses lockdown life in matter-of-fact style: “No life, no gigs, no choice, no voice”; the barroom rock ’n’ roll of “Where Have All the Rebels Gone,” which bemoans the lack of real independent thought; and Morrison’s views on social media, “Why Are You On Facebook?”.

Listen to the official video for “Only a Song”

Two songs, “Love Should Come With a Warning’ and “Mistaken Identity,” feature lyrics that were written with Don Black.

Morrison will celebrate the album’s release by playing his first-ever virtual performance on May 8. The multiple Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter will perform a livestream event from Real World Studios in Wiltshire, U.K. that will see him debut some brand new songs alongside a selection of classic tracks. The event is in partnership with nugs.net, which hosts live streams and professionally recorded archive concerts from iconic artists. Fans can tune in to the performance live on Saturday, May 8 at 3 p.m. ET. Tickets are available here.

Last fall, Morrison courted plenty of controversy with his anti-lockdown stance, culminating with the release of a new song, “Stand and Deliver,” recorded with Eric Clapton.

Tickets for Morrison’s 2021 concerts are available here and here.

Latest Record Project: Volume 1 has been released on double-CD, deluxe-CD, and triple-vinyl. See the complete track listing below the links.

Latest Record Project, Volume 1 Track Listing

Latest Record Project
Where Have All the Rebels Gone?
Psychoanalysts’ Ball
No Good Deed Goes Unpunished
Tried to Do the Right Thing
The Long Con
Thank God For the Blues
Big Lie
A Few Bars Early
It Hurts Me Too
Only a Song
Diabolic Pressure
Deadbeat Saturday Night
Blue Funk
Double Agent
Double Bind
Love Should Come With a Warning
Breaking the Spell
Up County Down
Duper’s Delight
My Time After a While
He’s Not the Kingpin
Stop Bitching, Do Something
Western Man
They Own the Media
Why Are You on Facebook?
Jealousy

Listen to “Blues Funk”

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9 Comments so far

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  1. Lockdown Lou
    #1 Lockdown Lou 4 March, 2021, 04:36

    I usually buy all of Van’s albums but I’ve been told that these have a chip that turns people into shape shifting lizards so I’ll decline.

    Reply this comment
  2. PanhandleBuzz
    #2 PanhandleBuzz 4 March, 2021, 05:57

    Used to be a huge Morrison fan! Attended a concert in Atlanta about 4-5 years ago!! Had read that he had become insufferable in his advancing years but chose not to believe it! Then, at the concert, had little to say, song he did were from deep in his catalog. Then, after about 40 minutes, left the stage, no comments, didn’t return! Band played about 30 more minutes and that was it! Impressed with his anti shutdown stance but still had long way to go to win back my respect and being a fan!

    Reply this comment
  3. Da Mick
    #3 Da Mick 4 March, 2021, 10:25

    I’m trying hard to imagine Morrison writing down the “lyrics” to “Got My Latest Record Project” on paper to a twelve-bar-blues idea, looking at it, and thinking, “Yeah, that’s a good song, As a matter of fact, it’s so good, I’m going to make that the title track to my new double album.” Nah, instead, it probably went something more like “Those left who still buy my records will buy anything, so here’s me literally singing a commercial for my new double album. If you think this one’s good, you should hear the other twenty-six. I wrote them in the john, having my blood pressure taken, watching TV — you get the idea. Don’t miss it!”

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  4. Timflyte
    #4 Timflyte 9 May, 2021, 00:20

    Sounds good to me. His voice is still strong. Sounds like he’s about the only rebel left , a true rock n roller who stills enjoy pissing off people instead of following the crowd. The music sounds top notch too. I’ll definitely will be getting this one.

    Reply this comment
    • Paul
      Paul 9 May, 2021, 09:25

      I listened to all the songs in this review. Nothing clicked, nothing caught my attention. It was nothing I would want to listen to again. I’m waiting for his next album it Has to be better. I have been a Van Morrison fan since Gloria. I hope he has more music in him that I will like. He is a great singer and a great musician and a great songwriter. I will not condemn him for one album I did not like.

      Reply this comment
    • SCOTT
      SCOTT 9 May, 2021, 14:15

      HELL YA!

      We are playin” Born To Be Free” loud and proud in the Valley Fresh Music File at valley1049.org. Van’s still in top vocals. A true legend that forges forward musically.
      We are all blessed to be the ear hole recipients!

      Reply this comment
  5. Woody
    #5 Woody 9 May, 2021, 07:22

    While reviewing the article I clicked on the high lighted “Double CD” imbedded link and the option comes up to be directed to Amazon to buy the CD. You can choose “select” to go to Amazon’s site or “cancel” so that I am supposedly not going to be re directed to Amazon. Choose one it says. Regardless of which option you choose, you’re transferred to the Amazon site to try to sell you the CD. That’s just not cool. It may be your doing or it may be Amazon but regardless it’s kind of a jerk move. I would use other words to describe it but I will remain polite.

    Reply this comment
    • Greg Brodsky
      Greg Brodsky 9 May, 2021, 08:51

      Thanks for taking the time to write, Woody. Best Classic Bands is an authorized Amazon affiliate. It’s one of the ways in which the site earns revenue in order to cover its costs.

      No one has voiced this complaint before; we’re not sure how this is an inconvenience.

      Reply this comment
  6. Jerome J
    #6 Jerome J 15 May, 2021, 07:03

    The onslaught of negative reviews aside, this is a very solid Van Morrison record featuring a fantastic band, and the songs variously evoke Them, Ray Charles, Howlin’ Wolf, and Curtis Mayfield, among many others. So Van is occasionally cranky about social media and the recording industry, and senses we are being conned by the government; what is new? He has been writing songs with similar sentiments for many years. I have been struggling to reconcile the extreme negativity in the press (1 star reviews ??) with the actual experience of listening to the album. If singing about one’s woes, or those of the world, somehow means one is a conspiracy theorist, then just about all of the blues is complicit. Van Morrison is a (great) blues singer and, as he says on the new record, thank God for the blues.

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