Van Morrison detailed his 37th studio album. Roll With the Punches, out September 22nd, contains covers of old blues and soul classics along with five new compositions from Van Morrison.
"The songs on Roll With the Punches – whether I've written them or not – they're performance oriented," the singer said in a statement. "Each song is like a story and I'm performing that story. That's been forgotten over years because people over-analyze things. I was a performer before I started writing songs, and I've always felt like that's what I do."
Roll With the Punches includes tunes by Bo Diddley ("I Can Tell," "Ride on Josephine"), Lightnin' Hopkins ("Automobile Blues") and Little Walter ("Mean Old World"). Several of Van Morrison's selections are popular post-war standards, like "Stormy Monday," which has been recorded by Lou Rawls and the Allman Brothers and lead single "Bring It on Home to Me," originally performed by Sam Cooke and later rendered as a duet by Otis Redding and Carla Thomas.
The version of "Bring It on Home to Me" on Roll With the Punches could have been recorded in the 1960s around the same time as the Thomas/Redding rendition. The guitar works up and down the scale in a predictable pattern, as if played by Stax stalwart Steve Cropper, and the drummer taps out a light beat in 6/8 time. Van Morrison stretches syllables in remarkable ways, making the word "bring" last for several measures, and background singers add controlled doses of gospel power.
"The thing about the blues is you don't dissect it – you just do it," Van Morrison said. "I was lucky to have met people who were the real thing, people like John Lee Hooker, Jimmy Witherspoon, Bo Diddley, Little Walter and Mose Allison. I got to hang out with them and absorb what they did. They were people with no ego whatsoever and they helped me learn a lot."
Van Morrison self-produced Roll With the Punches, which features contributions from Jeff Beck, Paul Jones, Jason Rebello, Chris Farlowe and Georgie Fame. Following the album's release, Van Morrison will embark on a short tour. He plays two gigs in the U.S. in September and four more in October. Starting in November, he has a series of performances scheduled in Scotland and England before wrapping up with two shows in Belfast, Ireland.
Roll With the Punches Track List
1. "Roll With the Punches" (Van Morrison & Don Black)
2. "Transformation" (Van Morrison)
3. "I Can Tell" (Bo Diddley & Samuel Bernard Smith)
4. "Stormy Monday / Lonely Avenue" (T-Bone Walker / Doc Pomus)
5. "Goin' To Chicago" (Count Basie & Jimmy Rushing)
6. "Fame" (Van Morrison)
7. "Too Much Trouble" (Van Morrison)
8. "Bring It on Home to Me" (Sam Cooke)
9. "Ordinary People" (Van Morrison)
10. "How Far From God" (Sister Rosetta Tharpe)
11. "Teardrops From My Eyes" (Rudy Toombs)
12. "Automobile Blues" (Lightnin' Hopkins)
13. "Benediction" (Mose Allison)
14. "Mean Old World" (Little Walter)
15. "Ride On Josephine" (Bo Diddley)
Van Morrison Tour Dates
September 10 - Hershey, PA @ Hersheypark Stadium
September 14 - Nashville, TN @ Ascend Amphitheater
October 13 - Rancho Mirage, CA @ The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa
October 14 - Rancho Mirage, CA @ The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa
October 20 - Oakland, CA @ Fox Theater
October 21 - Oakland, CA @ Fox Theater
November 6 - Edinburgh, SCT @ Edinburgh Playhouse
November 7 - Glasgow, SCT @ Glasgow Royal Court
November 12 - London, U.K. @ Eventim Apollo
November 13 - Birmingham, U.K. @ Birmingham Symphony Hall
November 15 - Liverpool, U.K. @ Liverpool Philharmonic Hall
November 20 - Cardiff, U.K. @ St. David's Hall
November 21 - Bristol, U.K. @ Colston Hall
November 24 - Torquay, U.K. @ Princess Theatre
November 25 - Plymouth, U.K. @ Plymouth Pavilions
December 4 - Belfast, IRL @ Europa Hotel
December 5 - Belfast, IRL @ Europa Hotel