Dylan Jones: If you ask me

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The Independent Online

If you ask me, "Blue and Green" by Van Morrison is as good a blues record as you're likely to hear, or indeed you deserve to hear, this century. It is, quite simply – in at least two senses of the word – brilliant, and has certainly restored my faith in the bitter, curmudgeonly old cove.

There I was, driving at speed through Herefordshire, seeing if I could keep ahead of the rain, and working my way through The Best of Van Morrison Vol 3, which is less a greatest hits collection and more a selection of the less offensive records he's released these last 15 years. As any half-hearted fan will know, in his dotage, Van has been "harking back to his roots", knocking out dozens of rudimentary and pretty mediocre jazz and blues tunes, often accompanied by clunky, ill-suited cohorts such as Ray Charles, Tom Jones and Georgie Fame, thinking – perhaps – that unadorned roots music will somehow afford him the critical acclaim that began deserting him in the Eighties. But seeing that most of the records he's made in the last decade and a half have been not so much curate's eggs as scrambled eggs (all mixed up and nowhere to go), it was a surprise when "Blue and Green" started wafting through the in-car stereo. In fact, it was less of a surprise and more of a revelation – spare, seductive, even-tempered, it's one of those songs you could play repeatedly for an hour and not tire of.

The song was previously included on the little-known charity album Hurricane Relief: Come Together Now, which raised money to help victims of Hurricane Katrina (which hit America's Gulf Coast in 2005) – which is probably the reason I'd never heard of it. But I implore any disillusioned Morrison buff to seek it out, as it will restore your faith in belligerent, claret-jowled old men in ill-fitting leather jackets and inappropriate hats. As one contented Amazon customer says, "Despite having most of this already I paid out my money and what did I get? A reasonable overview with some obscurities, one of which, 'Blue and Green', is worth the cost on its own." As I understand it, most reviews on Amazon are written either by the people responsible for the product, or by their friends and relatives (allegedly), but something tells me this one wasn't written by Van himself.

Dylan Jones is the editor of 'GQ'

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