Van Morrison and Linda Gail Lewis You Win Again

Fans of Van Morrison are a hearty lot. Few other major artists have coasted on past glories for so long, releasing a consistent stream of mediocre albums with only an occasional gem of a song to remind people why they should still care. Granted, he has earned to right to do whatever he wants, and in this instance his whims have finally produced something his fans can get excited about. While Van hasn't sounded this lively since his glory days in the early '70s, the real surprise is the work of Linda Gail Lewis, Jerry Lee's sister, who proves that their entire family must have made a pact with the devil in order to play piano and sing so well. Throughout this 13-track romp through country and blues standards (with one unspectacular Van original), the pair push each other to greater heights, all the while sticking with the country-rock blueprint Jerry Lee himself fashioned during his '60s comeback years. It probably isn't surprising that Van puts in a fine showing here on these well-known tracks, since his own work lately has been bogged down by his endless soul-searching. You Win Again is how he used to make albums, and fans can only hope some of its energy will rub off on his future projects. (Virgin)