Let me set the scene. It’s 1969 and you’re in a smokey blues bar on Chicago’s south side just after midnight. The stage is full of instruments. A piano, hammond organ, drums, guitars, and full set of horns. Out walks Van Morrison and his deadly backup band. That’s the feeling I got listening to his latest album The Prophet Speaks. It’s a heartfelt tribute to some of rhythm and blues’ greatest musicians. Morrison covers some of the classics by John Lee Hooker, Sam Cooke, Solomon Burke, and others. He also includes six of his own songs. This is a great album for fans of Van Morrison’s unique combination of jazz and blues. The production is crisp and clear with Van’s vocals on top. He steps back from the mic at times giving his band a chance to shine with some great solo performances on the sax, hammond organ, and guitar. Favourite songs include wonderful covers of John Lee Hooker’s “Dimples” and Sam Cooke’s “Laughing and Clowning.” Both are rhythm and blues gems.

-Gerald Graham