By Jim Johnson

Van Morrison didn’t set out to make what turned into his 37th studio album, Roll With the Punches, which was released last week. He says he went back to his roots to have a bit of fun, but before he knew it, it had turned into something more.

Van Morrison on his new album, Roll With the Punches. OC:…are we really doing, you know? :15 [Courtesy of BBC Radio 2]

 “In Cardiff [Wales] I started rehearsing with friends and it sort of evolved from there. They go, ‘Well let’s record this’ kind of thing, you know. We were having fun at that time but then it turned into, you know, not so much fun later on when we got to like, ‘What are we really doing,’ you know?”

Roll With the Punches is a 15-song set that mixes five originals with 10 covers of rhythm and blues classics by Bo DiddleyMose Allison, Sister Rosetta TharpeSam CookeLightnin’ Hopkins and others.

Morrison adds, “From a very early age, I connected with the blues. The thing about the blues is you don’t dissect it — you just do it. I’ve never over-analyzed what I do; I just do it. Music has to be about just doing it and that’s the way the blues works — it’s an attitude.”

Among the musicians playing on the album are his longtime sidekick Georgie Fame, Jeff Beck and former Manfred Mann singer, harmonica player and BBC Radio 2 host Paul Jones.

Morrison will plug the disc with four California dates in October — two in Palm Springs and two in Oakland.

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