Pay the Devil Van Morrison
CD Review by Mark Witner

Track listing:
1. There Stands The Glass 2. Half As Much 3. Things Have Gone To Pieces
4. Big Blue Diamonds 5. Playhouse 6. Your Cheatin' Heart 7. Don't You Make Me High
8. My Buckets Got A Hole In It 9. Back Street Affair 10. Pay the Devil 11. What Am I Living For
12. This Has Got To Stop 13. Once A Day 14. More and More 15. Till I Gain Control Again

Label: Lost Highway / Release date: 3/7/2006

Van Morrison has explored just about every musical genre over the past 40 years including rock, soul, R&B, jazz, gospel and celtic. Although there have been occasional flourishes influenced by country & western, his new release, Pay the Devil is his first extensive journey into the world of country music. It seems only natural that Morrison would venture into country as he always had a love affair with American music, plus his life-long idol Ray Charles had recorded several popular country albums throughout his career.

Pay The Devil is a welcome addition to the Morrison catalog and truly has the sound and feel of Nashville, even though it was recorded with his own band in Belfast, Ireland. The disc is comprised of 3 excellent Morrison originals along with country standards like Clarence Williams' "My Bucket's Got A Hole in It," Bill Wallace's "Back Street Affair," Hank Williams' "Your Cheatin' Heart," and Webb Pierce's "There Stands The Glass." Every performance is enjoyable, as Morrison adds his own special touch to these classic numbers and recreates them in his own unique, inimitable style. The production values and sound quality on Pay the Devil are up to the usual Morrison standard, and the album has a smooth, seamless flow from beginning to end.

Although Pay the Devil may not be an essential Van Morrison recording, it is however a fine piece of work and one that again showcases the talent and versatility of this legendary artist.

Highlights: "There Stands The Glass," "Your Cheatin' Heart," "Pay The Devil," "This Has Got To Stop," "Till I Gain Control Again."