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Lead Performer: Van Morrison; Producer (group): Blue Note

For his debut on this storied jazz label, Morrison sings ”Saint James Infirmary” to do New Orleans proud. But as with last year’s fine ”Down the Road,” his real source is the old U.K. skiffle scene: ”Folk with a beat and a little bit of soul,” he explains in ”Goldfish Bowl.” His Irish and British mates offer a hard-hitting mixture of rollicking piano, groovy organ, jangling guitars, and tart horn lines, but it’s Morrison’s voice – soulful as ever and particularly supple here – that makes even the price-of-fame laments believable.

Originally posted October 31 2003 — 12:00 AM EST

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