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Van Morrison and Linda Gail Lewis
You Win Again
Virgin CD 50258, 2000 (42:07)

Rocka-boogie-billy with Van and the Killer's sis

Glenn Brooks, 9 January 2001

Thirteen prime cuts of Americana, starting all the way back at Stephen Foster ("Old Black Joe") through John Lee Hooker ("Think Twice Before You Go," "Boogie Chillen") to Bo Diddley ("Cadillac"). And much of it by way of Jerry Lee Lewis, Linda Gail's brother, who's recorded at least five of the tunes here by my count. Only one new Van tune, "No Way Pedro," which is a throwaway in this company.

This is not at all a studied affair, but rather a bunch of fun being had by Van the Man, Linda Gail and a few others. Like an after-hours jam with the folks who are left, playing stuff they learned in the crib, and not being very careful about it - for better and worse. Van is having fun, that's for sure, and it's good to hear him relaxing. (This is the sort of album he can do in his sleep.) And Linda Gail can pound the piano and growl like her brother, although she's not nearly as fatal. Their vocal duets have some rough edges, in keeping with the off-the-cuff casualness of the album. They pull together best on Hank Williams' classic "Why Don't You Love Me (LikeYou Used to Do)?" but still do not manage to set the woods on fire.

I had fun with this album, and it got me moving, although there is little payback here for listening closely. How an album connects with its listeners is not predictable from the experience the artists had making it. Maybe the fact that so many of these tunes were old familiars accounts for both the good time the musicians seemed to have and my response, which is "nice job" rather than "killer!"

So, a fine record for your next sock hop (obligatory boomer reference). The sound is slightly congested, with everything right up front. It probably sounds great on the car radio (has anyone heard it?) but it's not so good in the home. Nevertheless, you will be able to boogie to it.

performers  Van Morrison, vocals, guitars, harmonica; Linda Gail Lewis, vocals, piano; Ned Edwards, lead and rhythm guitars, mandolin, harmonica, backing vocals; Lee Goodall, saxophone; Paul Gooden, steel guitar; Pete Hurley, bass; Colin Griffin, drums

production  Produced by Van Morrison; recorded by Walter Samuel; mastered by Stuart Hawkes.

songs  Let's Talk About Us · You Win Again · Jambalaya · Crazy Arms · Old Black Joe · Think Twice Before You Go · No Way Pedro · Shot of Rhythm and Blues · Real Gone Lover · Why Don't You Love Me? · Cadillac · Baby, You Got What It Takes · Boogie Chillen

Copyright © 2001 Peppercorn Press. All rights reserved.