It's 53 years since Van Morrison's first hit, Baby Please Don't Go, as the frontman for Them. Now 72, Van the Man's 37th studio album Roll with the Punches finds him in fine fettle, and with some heavy lifting help in the shape of guitarist Jeff Beck, keyboardist Georgie Fame, and fellow 60s hit-maker Chris Farlowe, plus his always reliable band.

Musically Roll with the Punches is right up there with Morrison sounding surprisingly fresh and the Jeff Beck influence is massive.

Sure, we explore familiar blues riff and settings, and even a reworking of his own Gloria theme, but Morrison has delivered lyrics that resonate on his own compositions, and captures the groove of his covers well.

Check out T Bone Walkers' Stormy Monday morphing Doc Pomus' Lonely Avenue, Count Basie's Goin' to Chicago with Georgie Fame on the Hammond, the Sam Cooke favourite Bring It on Home to Me, Sister Rosetta Tharpe's delightful How Far from God, Lightnin' Hopkins' Automobile Blues, Little Walter's Mean Old World and Bo Diddley's Ride on Josephine.


The rendition of the Cooke classic is stunning, especially Beck's solo.

As well as being in fine form vocally, Morrison demonstrates his musical chops on both sax and harmonica, notably with chromatic harp panache to match the master himself on Mean Old World.

Whether it's the sublime covers chosen or on his own material, Roll with the Punches is a classy album. You can approach this one with optimism, Morrison fans.