Thursday, 23 August 2018

Van Morrison & Linda Gail Lewis - You Win Again (2000)

Released October 2000

Recorded in Bath

I love this album. It is a slice of lively, highly enjoyable piano-driven upbeat country rock with a Cajun feel. The piano, of course, is played by Linda Gail Lewis, sister of the great Jerry "Killer" Lee Lewis. She adds some soulful vocals too. Despite a good start to the professional relationship, (they toured the album together, successfully), it would appear, however, that things seemingly soured between the two of them for various reasons and a highly unfortunate, publicised court case (thankfully settled amicably to the satisfaction of both sides) was the eventual outcome. You would never tell there was any bad blood on this album, however, not one tiny bit. The two of them play off each other absolutely perfectly and sound utterly enthusiastic. Musically, they are made for each other - effortless complimenting the other, two voices and piano. The band are top notch too. The whole thing just sounds great.

"Let's Talk About Us" is a totally addictive delight to kick things off. "You Win Again" is a lead-back, steel guitar, lachrymose country ballad, while I defy anyone to still still during their take on "Jambalaya". "Crazy Arms" is back to ballad territory - barroom piano and steel guitar to the fore. "Old Black Joe" is another deliciously exhilarating number, while the blues are visited in "Think Twice Before You Go" which uses an ever-popular blues riff to great effect. "No Way Pedro" is a steel guitar-driven bluesy country song (actually written by Morrison, his only writing contribution to the album) with Linda's piano (almost) on fire.

"Shot Of Rhythm & Blues" just bristles with blues rhythm, featuring some excellent, grinding guitar. It is a shame that Van appears to have disowned the album because it is seriously good. "Real Gone Lover" is another toe-tapper, with the two vocalists singing off against each other. I can't state enough just what a pleasure this album is from beginning to end. It is real breath of fresh air. "Why Don't You Love Me" is a country standard that was also covered by Elvis Costello on "Almost Blue" (although his version was far more frenetic). The version here is more laid-back and mournful, something I feel the song demands.

"Cadillac" is a breakneck piece of harmless fun. Van even whoops it up a bit on this one, things must have been ok at that point. "Baby You Got What It Takes" uses the "Shakin' All Over" guitar riff. Linda has some extended vocal parts on this one, with her strangely sexy backwoods country twang enhancing the feel of the track to great effect. John Lee Hooker's "Boogie Chillen" ends the album with "the riff that launched a thousand songs" pumping out to great effect. I cannot recommend this album highly enough. It's great.


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