Keep It Simple

Keep It Simple is the thirty-third solo studio album recorded by Northern Irish singer/songwriter Van Morrison. It was released on 17 March 2008 (see 2008 in music) by Exile Productions Ltd./Polydor in the UK and on the Lost Highway Records label on 1 April 2008, in the U.S.. His previous studio album Pay the Devil was also released on the Lost Highway label, in March 2006. The album debuted at No. 10 on the US, UK and Canada charts and No. 7 on European Top 100 Albums. This album achieved Morrison's highest ranking in US charts.

Keep It Simple
Studio album by
ReleasedUK 17 March 2008
US 1 April 2008
GenreJazz, folk, blues, Celtic, country, soul, gospel
Length50:10
LabelExile Polydor-UK,
Lost Highway-U.S.
ProducerVan Morrison
Van Morrison chronology
Still on Top - The Greatest Hits
(2007)
Keep It Simple
(2008)
Astral Weeks Live at the Hollywood Bowl
(2009)

This is the first studio album of all new original material since his 1999 album Back on Top. Other albums released since then have contained some cover songs. The May 2005 album, Magic Time, was composed of ten originals and three cover songs.

The album features most of the various genres that Morrison has been influenced by such as jazz, folk, blues, celtic, country, soul and gospel.

Composition

In an interview on BBC Radio 4 on 10 March 2008, Morrison spoke of his inspiration for the songs on the album: "It's got elements of blues, folk, gospel - all my influences . . . Curtis Mayfield. It's got a lot of inspiration from various things I was inspired by out there, but it comes out like a new album."[1]

Morrison wrote all eleven songs featured on the album and has been quoted as saying: "I felt I had something to say with these songs."[2]

In one of the songs, "That's Entrainment", Morrison says he has explained his approach to the music on the album. In his words:

Entrainment is when you connect with the music. . . . Entrainment is really what I'm getting at in the music. . . . It's kind of when you're in the present moment - you're here - with no past or future.[3]

"That's Entrainment" was played for the first time, at the beginning of the second hour, on Chris Evans BBC Radio 2 Drivetime show on Wednesday, 30 January 2008, with Evans commenting: "The new Van Morrison album came with a shoot-to-kill warning if played before a certain date, but that's now been lifted so we can play it."[4]

Promotion

Morrison announced a short United States tour to promote the album with appearances in Austin, Texas; Nashville, Tennessee (at the Ryman Auditorium); Boston, Massachusetts; and in New York City, starting on 11 March 2008. During this tour, he also performed at La Zona Rosa in Austin, Texas, at the South by Southwest (SXSW) music conference and festival on 12 March 2008.[5][6]

In the U.K. on 15 March, a concert performance of Morrison performing all of the songs from the album was broadcast on BBC Radio 2.[7]

Morrison gave an interview on BBC Radio 4's Today show in the morning on 10 March 2008[8] and an hour long interview on the Paul Jones show at BBC Two Radio the same evening.[9][10]

Reception

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
SourceRating
Metacritic69/100[11]
Review scores
SourceRating
Allmusic [12]
Entertainment Weekly(B) [13]
inthenews.co.uk [14]
The Mirror [15]
Popmatters [16]
Rolling Stone [17]
The Star [18]
The Sun [19]
Uncut [20]

On its first week of release the album reached number ten on the U.S. charts, which is Morrison's highest placement ever in the U.S.[21][22] His sixth solo album, Saint Dominic's Preview, charted at #15 in 1972.

Most of the reviews were favourable with four star ratings by The Star, The Sun, The Times and Uncut.

"There's a certain grace to Van's stripped-back band and as always he evokes images of sorrow and anguish but with such beauty and warmth that you can't help but smile when you hear them."[23] Mat Strowbridge/inthenews.co.uk

"Typically the band settles into a groove while Morrison lifts off into the trancelike realm he calls 'entrainment'."[24] Anthony Decurtis, Rolling Stone

Track listing

All songs by Van Morrison

  1. "How Can a Poor Boy?" - 5:43
  2. "School of Hard Knocks" - 3:44
  3. "That's Entrainment" - 4:32
  4. "Don't Go to Nightclubs Anymore" - 4:31
  5. "Lover Come Back" - 5:15
  6. "Keep It Simple" - 3:34
  7. "End of the Land" - 3:16
  8. "Song of Home" - 4:13
  9. "No Thing" - 4:31
  10. "Soul" - 3:37
  11. "Behind the Ritual" - 6:59

iTunes Bonus Track

(available UK week of 17 March 2008 and U.S. on 1 April 2008)

  1. "Little Village" - 6:11 (Live) (Album Only)

Vinyl Bonus Tracks

  1. "Blue & Green" - 5:52 (Live)
  2. "Little Village" - 6:11 (Live)
  3. "And The Healing Has Begun" - 7:11 (Live)

Recorded live in concert at the Blackpool Opera House (UK) 26 January 2008

Personnel

Sleeve notes

  • Mastered by Tim Young at Metropolis Mastering
  • Design by Jon Gilbert@Angelfire
  • Photograph of Van Morrison by Patrick Baird

Charts

Chart (2008) Peak
position
UK Albums Chart 10
U.S. Billboard 200 10
U.S. Billboard Top Internet Albums 2
Canada Top 100 10
European Top 100 Albums 8
Norway Albums Top 40 7
Swedish Albums Top 60 11
Irish Albums Chart 12
German Albums Top 50 12
Dutch Albums Top 100 12
New Zealand Top 40 Albums 15
Italy Top Album Chart 32

[25] [26] [27]

Notes

  1. "Van Morrison speaks about new blues - inspired album". MOB. 10 March 2008. Archived from the original on 11 March 2008. Retrieved 11 March 2008.
  2. Matwychuk, Paul (31 March 2008). "The Musicgoer: Van Morrison's Keep It Simple". mgoer.blogspot.com. Retrieved 24 October 2008.
  3. Van Morrison's Keep It Simple to be released by Lost Highway
  4. "Chris Evans Drivetime". Retrieved 31 January 2008.
  5. [http://jam.canoe.ca/Music/Artists/M/Morrison_Van/ConcertReviews/2008/ 03/14/pf-5002231.html South by Southwest Music Festival] Review: Sun Media
  6. SXSW Review: Van Morrison austin360.com
  7. BBC Radio 2 Music -Van Morrison
  8. BBC Radio 4
  9. Paul Jones Monday 1900-2000
  10. Music Club presents Van Morrison live and exclusive
  11. http://www.metacritic.com/music/keep-it-simple/van-morrison
  12. https://www.allmusic.com/album/r1309760
  13. Clark Collis (28 March 2008). "Keep It Simple Review | Music Reviews and News". EW.com. Retrieved 17 June 2011.
  14. "Van Morrison: Keep It Simple". Inthenews.co.uk. Archived from the original on 6 February 2012. Retrieved 17 June 2011.
  15. Shelley, Jim (14 March 2008). "Review: Van Morrison - Keep It Simple". mirror.co.uk. Retrieved 17 June 2011.
  16. Heaton, Dave. "Van Morrison: Keep It Simple < PopMatters". Popmatters.com. Retrieved 17 June 2011.
  17. DeCurtis, Anthony (3 April 2008). "Keep It Simple by Van Morrison". Rollingstone.com. Retrieved 11 August 2011.
  18. "Van Morrison: Keep It Simple". thestar.com. 1 April 2008. Retrieved 17 June 2011.
  19. "Van's just a simple guy | The Sun |Showbiz|Something For The Weekend". The Sun. 13 March 2008. Retrieved 17 June 2011.
  20. Martin, Gavin. "Van Morrison: Keep It Simple - Review". Uncut. Retrieved 28 July 2012.
  21. "Strait speeds past R.E.M. to debut at No. 1". Billboard. Retrieved 29 July 2012.
  22. "Morrison Hits US Top Ten". Uncut. Retrieved 28 July 2012.
  23. Review: inthenews.co.uk
  24. Review: Rolling Stone Magazine
  25. WorldWide Charts
  26. US Charts
  27. Top Internet Albums
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