April 25, 2018 Van Morrison and Joey DeFrancesco – You’re Driving Me Crazy (Album Review)
Reflecting on music’s most notable voices, iconic names such as Elvis Presley, John Lennon, and Aretha Franklin come to mind. By simply hearing a single note from any one of these legendary voices we instantly know who they are and are gripped by the sound. Without a doubt, one of the most prominent voices to ever come out of the late 1960s/early 1970s music explosion is that of Northern Ireland born Singer/Songwriter Van Morrison. For the last 50 years, Van Morrison’s vocals, brimming with picturesque tones of Soul, R&B, Jazz, and Blues, made this musical scholar regarded as one of the most beloved singers of his generation.
Over 3 dozen albums under his hat, Van Morrison adds another amazing collection of music on Friday, April 27, 2018 with the release of his 39th studio album, You’re Driving Me Crazy, on Sony Legacy Records. Through the years, Van Morrison has collaborated with many of his famous peers, everyone from The Band to Michael Buble. This time around, on You’re Driving Me Crazy, Van Morrison teams up with master Jazz Organist/Trumpeter/Vocalist Joey DeFrancesco. Collaborating on reworks of Jazz/Blues classics, the pair even revisit some of Van Morrison’s own material to give fans a new feel on some classic tracks.
For all his brilliance, Van Morrison has enjoyed massive acclaim and success throughout his storied career. A multi-time award winner for his contributions to music and his charity work in his home country, Van Morrison has been blessed with a list of career-defining accolades from Grammy Award winner, to being awarded notable achievement awards such as the John Mercer Award from the Songwriters Hall of Fame. Even more incredible, Van Morrison was graced by the honor of being Knighted by Northern Ireland in 2016. A true legend,Van Morrison’s accomplishments made him one of the most successful artists in Rock-n-Roll history. Whether it be 1967 or 2018, Van Morrison’s volume of hits from “Brown Eyed Girl” to “Moondance” are considered timeless classics forever etched into the hearts of those who grew up listening to their incomparable tones.
An accomplished musician, Joey DeFrancesco landed his first recording contract at the age of 16, and at a formative age, the Jazz prodigy began playing with the one and only Miles Davis. Over the course of his successful career, DeFrancesco has performed with Jazz stars from George Benson to Grover Washington and is also a multiple time Grammy Award Nominee. Coming together, DeFrancesco and his band – Dan Wilson (guitar), Michael Ode (drums), and Troy Roberts (tenor sax) – help Van Morrison gift new life to the fifteen classic tunes which make-up You’re Driving Me Crazy.
Opening this collection of Jazz essentials, the duo’s rendition of Cole Porter’s “Miss Otis Regrets” will fill a room with the soft and relaxing tones only the best Jazz can deliver. Covering some of the best songs in Jazz and Blues, Van Morrison and DeFrancesco offer a fresh new perspective to classics like Guitar Slim’s “The Things I Used To Do,” Peter Chatman’s “Everyday I Have The Blues,” and “Travelin’ Light” most famously performed by Jazz pioneer Billie Holiday.
Highlighting a new spin of some of Van Morrison’s best works, the duo reach new heights with “The Way Young Lovers Do.” Originally a Folk Rock tune off Van Morrison’s 1968 hit album Astral Weeks, here the listener is blessed with a full jazz rendition bringing out the city vibes of a summer day even more blissful than the original. Taking on a more slow Blues atmosphere, “Goldfish Bowl” includes some fine organ work in a song with such a cool vibe. Hitting the spot, “Magic Time” is one of those quiet Jazz soundtracks that seems to go on forever and the sax solo is perfection.
Even more great versions out of Van Morrison’s catalog include the excellent “All Saints Day,” “Close Enough For Jazz,” “Evening Shadows,” “Have I Told You Lately?,” and “Celtic Swing.” Not forgetting, the wealth of enjoyable tributes continue with Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson’s “Hold It Right There,” Walter Donaldson’s “You’re Driving Me Crazy,” and Titus Turner’s “Sticks and Stones.”
Overall, the collaboration of Van Morrison and DeFrancesco has created a wonderful songbook of rich and polished Jazz/Blues renditions which shine bright as does anything Van Morrison touches. Adding the liveliness of DeFrancesco and his savvy band to the mix has made You’re Driving Me Crazy a must have collection for fans of Van Morrison and DeFrancesco alike. For these reasons, CrypticRock gives You’re Driving Me Crazy 5 out of 5 stars.
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