I haven't rushed out to get "Down the Road" as I was a little disappointed with "Back On Top". May be you have spurred me into action. . .
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It's all true. Van's albums have been disappointing for awhile now (and he keeps releasing them like clockwork). I don't even think "Hymns" was all that good--not enough solid material to justify 2 discs. His best recent release is "The Philosopher's Stone" which is all older outtakes.
But. . .
Every album has at least one or two songs of the sort of transcendent beauty that only Van can create. That's why he's still The Man.
Incidentally, I read once that the 70's albums Polydor remastered a few years back do not sound very good, so I have never upgraded my old Warner Brothers cds. Has anyone around here compared the old and new versions?