Van Morrison does duets on his latest album Duets: Re-Working the Catalogue.

It doesn’t take much to get me to purchase an album by Van Morrison. When my friend Barbara let me know on Facebook that Van Morrison had a new album for sale, I was quick to purchase it. I didn’t need to hear it first, either. Morrison’s latest effort, Duets: Re-Working the Catalogue was released on March 23, 2015. He joins a long list of popular singers who have released duets albums. Van Morrison and his guests have redone sixteen of Morrison’s songs, deliberately staying away from his best known hits and retooling some of his deeper cuts. They have come up with new arrangements, breathing new life into old classics.

I really like Van Morrison’s music, though I’m not as passionate about it as some people are. I own a number of his albums and go through phases where I’m in the mood to overdose, but I don’t listen to him all the time like I do, say, James Taylor. Now, as I listen to these duets, I feel like listening to the old versions and comparing them.

I was glad to see that Van Morrison also includes a broad range of guests, too… everyone from George Benson to Steve Winwood have a turn on this latest release. One thing I like about Re-Working the Catalogue is the fact that it offers a taste of some artists who have aroused my curiosity, yet haven’t yet made it into my music collection. Case in point, as I write this, I’m listening to Van Morrison sing with Joss Stone. I have heard Joss Stone sing on a number of collaborations and I enjoy her music. I just haven’t had the chance to buy an album yet… but I’m going to get there soon! There are other duet partners on here that I hadn’t heard of until I listened to this album. I’m grateful to be exposed to them, just as I’m happy to hear Van Morrison sing with well known people with long, established careers in music.

I think most of these duets are well-crafted and considered. I particularly enjoyed what Van Morrison did with George Benson on the song, “Higher Than The World”. I think his turn with Joss Stone on “Wild Honey” is also very ethereal and elegant, while his work with P.J. Proby on “Whatever Happened to P.J. Proby” is playful and bluesy. It’s definitely fun! Kind of reminds me of “Moondance”, minus the sexy mood. Clare Teal sings with Van Morrison on “Carrying a Torch” and reminds me a little of classic Linda Ronstadt, while Van Morrison and Gregory Porter make a jazzy and fun rework of “The Eternal Kansas City”. I think my favorite song is “Irish Heartbeat”, which Morrison performed with Mark Knopfler, who sings a little higher here. Daughter Shana Morrison also impresses as she sings “Rough God Goes Riding”; that’s another strong effort.

Van Morrison and Mark Knopfler team up…

In my humble opinion, Duets: Re-Working the Catalogue is absolutely worth the price of admission. These are sixteen well-made re-works. Of course, whether or not they are better than the originals depends on your taste. I like these new duets and I think most of them sound refreshingly authentic, not over-produced or slickly made over. If you like Van Morrison’s music, I recommend picking up this latest effort.