Van Morrison: Tell Me Something: The Songs of Mose Allison
From his earliest recordings in the mid '60s with the British invasion rock group Them, Van Morrison's music has always been firmly rooted in the blues. Unlike many of his rock contemporaries, who merely borrowed or, depending on one's mood and generosity, stole riffs and affectations from older blues artists, Morrison has always had the heart and soul, as well as the voice, of a real bluesman. On several of his recent albums, he has recorded some excellent straight-ahead blues and jazz, including covers of Ray Charles tunes, duets with John Lee Hooker, even a version of "Moody's Mood for Love."
On Tell Me Something, Morrison, along with British organist Georgie Fame and pianist Ben Sidran, tackle thirteen songs by the blues / jazz composer Mose Allison. A writer known for the humor and playfulness of his lyrics (the refrain from his best known song is "Your mind is on vacation, but your mouth is working overtime"), Allison's tunes are given swinging and very joyful treatment by the veteran ensemble. Horn arrangements by Pee Wee Ellis of the JB Horns, who has worked with Morrison for many years, add a soulful touch.
Morrison, Fame, and Sidran trade off vocal leads throughout the album, and while Fame and Sidran are competent singers (Sidran actually sounds quite a bit like Mose Allison), Van's vocals provide the album's highlights. Best of all are two numbers, "I Don't Want Much" and "Perfect Moment," which feature the composer sitting in on piano and sharing vocals with Morrison. On these two tunes, the Mississippi-born jazz artist and the Irish rock star emerge as musical soulmates, reveling in the joy of the blues.