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Van Morrison (Official Thread)

Discussion in '60's Music' started by TheSound, Feb 29, 2012.

  1. TheSound

    TheSound An Englishman in New York

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    Van Morrison​




    Blowin' Your Mind! (1967)
    Astral Weeks (1968)
    Moondance (1970)
    His Band and the Street Choir (1970)
    Tupelo Honey (1971)
    Saint Dominic's Preview (1972)
    Hard Nose the Highway (1973)
    It's Too Late to Stop Now (Live) (1974)
    Veedon Fleece (1974)
    A Period of Transition (1977)
    Wavelength (1978)
    Into the Music (1979)
    Common One (1980)
    Beautiful Vision (1982)
    Inarticulate Speech of the Heart (1983)
    Live at the Grand Opera House Belfast (1984)
    A Sense of Wonder (1985)
    No Guru, No Method, No Teacher (1986)
    Poetic Champions Compose (1987)
    Irish Heartbeat (1988)
    Avalon Sunset (1989)
    Enlightenment (1990)
    Hymns to the Silence (1991)
    Too Long in Exile (1993)
    A Night in San Francisco (Live) (1994)
    Days Like This (1995)
    How Long Has This Been Going On (1996)
    Tell Me Something: The Songs of Mose Allison (1996)
    The Healing Game (1997)
    The Philosopher's Stone (1998)
    Back on Top (1999)
    The Skiffle Sessions - Live in Belfast 1998 (2000)
    You Win Again (2000)
    Down the Road (2002)
    What's Wrong with This Picture? (2003)
    Magic Time (2005)
    Pay the Devil (2006)
    Live at Austin City Limits Festival (Limited edition) (2006)
    Keep It Simple (2008)
    Astral Weeks Live at the Hollywood Bowl (2009)​


    There's no 'official' CRF Van Morrison thread anywhere that I can find - or if there is, it's hidden away or sunk so deep as to be totally inactive. There can’t be many artists to have performed and recorded jazz, rock, R’n’B, blues, country, folk, Celtic, and skiffle music. Fewer still, if any, can claim to have received huge universal critical acclaim in all those genres. I think Van would see himself primarily as a blues singer, though Van is so annoyingly enigmatic and impossible to pin down that I couldn't decide if he should be in the jazz and blues artists board, the 60's board, the folk and celtic board, or the general rock board, so in the end I opted to create one of these blogs for Van The Man...though all are welcome! He remains one of the most elusive rock stars of the modern era, which is another reason in this age of fatuous, shallow celebrity worship, that I love everything he stands for. His music is not easily defined, and he certainly will never be pigeon-holed. In fact in interviews he's often at a loss for words when asked to describe one of his songs, though his blend of spirituality and mysticism in his lyrics suggests that maybe he has some sort of divine intervention going on. One of his old band members, Georgie Fame, once said that people don’t need to know everything about Morrison, he just said "He’s a wonderful Irish poet, and a great musician. What else do you need to know?"

    So, I thought I'd start a 'blog' topic for possibly my all time #1 artist....well, definitely either him or The Boss anyway. I have seen Van Morrison in concert several times, both in the UK, the USA, and once quite memorably in his native Ireland, and I have exactly 40 Van Morrison CD's/LP's - which is all of them on official release - so over the coming months I'm going to play through each album a few times, in chronological order, and every so often post a short review of it, though it's not just a 'review' blog, and is open to anyone to post anything on him and his music. I'm actually skipping the years he spent with the band Them, and their records, though that doesn't mean Them can't be talked about here.

    Blowin' Your Mind (Released 1967)

    [​IMG]

    1. Brown Eyed Girl
    2. He Ain't Give You None
    3. TB Sheets
    4. Spanish Rose
    5. Goodbye Baby (Baby Goodbye)
    6. Ro Ro Rosy
    7. Who Drove The Red Sportscar
    8. Midnight Special​


    'Blowin' Your Mind' is a pretty bleak, very bluesy album, highlighted by the harrowing track 'T.B. Sheets' - when the album was released against Morrison's wishes, he actually retreated home to Ireland in disgust. But, this his first solo album is remembered mainly for containing the huge 60's hit 'Brown Eyed Girl'....though 45 years after it was released, 'Brown Eyed Girl' still remains one of the greatest and most popular party/dance records ever recorded - if you ever went to a wedding reception party at night, and they didn't play 'Brown Eyed Girl' at the disco, then quite frankly imo it wasn't much of a wedding!! 'Blowin' Your Mind' was actually seen by Van as really just a dry run for his first real masterpiece album, 'Astral Weeks'. Stuff like 'Who Drove the Red Sports Car' looks ahead to that album, and then 'Midnight Special' nods back to Morrison's R&B past. But it's really the agonizing blues song 'T.B. Sheets' - all 9+ minutes of it - that dominates the record, and it's where Van Morrison really first emerges as an artist.

    I'd rate this album overall as a 6/10.

     
  2. TheSound

    TheSound An Englishman in New York

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    Re: A Blog and Meditation on Van 'The Man' Morrison

    Astral Weeks (Released 1968)

    [​IMG]

    1. "Astral Weeks" – 7:06
    2. "Beside You" – 5:16
    3. "Sweet Thing" – 4:25
    4. "Cyprus Avenue" – 7:00
    5. "The Way Young Lovers Do" – 3:18
    6. "Madame George" – 9:45
    7. "Ballerina" – 7:03
    8. "Slim Slow Slider" – 3:17


    “ If I ventured in the slipstream
    Between the viaducts of your dreams
    Where mobile steel rims crack
    and the ditch in the back roads stop
    Would you find me?
    Would you kiss my eyes
    and lay me down
    in silence easy
    to be born again? ”...


    This very first verse of the first track of really the first proper Van Morrison album (‘Blowin’ your Mind’ was considered by Van to be an experiment, and he strongly objected to its release) reveals that there is true and unique beauty in his music.

    After listening to this album for the gazillionth time this afternoon, it occurred to me that if I had to pick just one album to take to the grave with me, this would probably be it.

    ‘Astral Weeks’ has repeatedly turned up in the top 10 of lists of the greatest albums ever recorded, by both critics and fans alike, and deservedly so. But for all that renown, ‘Astral Weeks’ is anything but an archetypal rock album: in fact, it really isn't a rock album at all. Employing a mixture of folk, blues, jazz, and classical music, Van spins out a series of extended ruminations on his Belfast upbringing, and he takes a set of beautiful songs….most notably ‘Sweet Thing’, ‘Ballerina’, ‘Madame George’ 'Cyprus Avenue' and the title track ‘Astral Weeks’…. and he gives them a treatment so explosive that it was pretty unprecedented at the time. To me, not even soul giants such as Otis Redding and Sam Cooke ever approached the brilliance of Van's vocal improvisations we get here. Best tracks of all are the remarkable (we assume transvestite) character ‘Madame George’ ...and the miraculous ‘Cyprus Avenue’ .

    Accompanying himself on acoustic guitar, Van sings in his most elastic and bluesy voice, accompanied by a superb jazz rhythm section (Jay Berliner, guitar, Richard Davis, bass, Connie Kay, drums), plus reeds (John Payne) and vibes (Warren Smith Jr.) and with a string quartet overdubbed.

    I have been listening to this album for over twenty years now, and I can't say I have every regretted putting it on. It is pure and beautiful. I can remember listening to it one evening just a few weeks ago, and having the distinct feeling that it must surely be divinely inspired. The entire work just swirls and pulses - love, joy, regret, sad longing - and all presented in a timeless expression of this one man's faded memories....there's a long way to go if I manage to somehow keep up with this weekly (or so) survey of all of his albums, but already this for me is his greatest masterpiece.

    This obviously rates a 10/10…though I hate to reduce such a record as this to a ridiculous points score. With great art like this, it's pointless to analyse the quality of the songs, or even the meaning of the words. But you can't possibly find better music than this, in my view at least, and when I first heard this it felt the same as it did on hearing Mozart and Beethoven and Miles Davis for the first time.


     
  3. TheSound

    TheSound An Englishman in New York

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    Re: A Blog and Meditation on Van 'The Man' Morrison

    Next up :-​


    Moondance (Released 1970)

    [​IMG]

    1. "And It Stoned Me" – 4:30
    2. "Moondance" – 4:35
    3. "Crazy Love" – 2:34
    4. "Caravan" – 4:57
    5. "Into the Mystic" – 3:25
    6. "Come Running" – 2:30
    7. "These Dreams of You" – 3:50
    8. "Brand New Day" – 5:09
    9. "Everyone" – 3:31
    10. "Glad Tidings" – 3:13​


    OK, been a couple of weeks since a Van update, next in my chronological Van Morrison love fest :bow:

    My kids say I don't like anything that's new and modern. That's not quite true. What is true, for me, is that a lot of the "new" and "modern" stuff that's out there just doesn't move me in any kind of way at all. Maybe I'm being a tad judgmental, but it seems like more and more artists are being more persuaded by the almighty dollar rather than true expression of the soul. I'm not against making money. Money is good. Money is beautiful. But money should never ever drive the human spirit. In this collection of songs I realized that Morrison sings from those places in the soul that are hardly ever visited. Van "the man" Morrison is creating magic in this CD.

    So this his third solo album released in 1970 could hardly be more different from his second that I already 'reviewed' above....`Astral Weeks' from 1968. As an original musical masterpiece AW is universally recognised as something unique and special; however, Moondance is a mellower, more mature offering, less demanding and insistent. The songs here are more structured, more accessible, and they stand on their own as separate pieces. Many of them have been covered by other artists, but none of these covers comes close to the magic of Van's original recordings. The whole album is just an exemplary collection of beautiful pieces, with styles ranging from jazzy (the title track) to rocky up-tempo (Running to me), to midnight romantic-mood piece (Crazy Love), gospel-themed with backing choir (Brand New Day) to the sublime (Into the Mystic). Into the Mystic is as good as it ever get in music, I actually had it on my CRF profile page for a while, which must mean something as there are 1000's I could have picked from. But every song here is superb, and they seem to fit together seamlessly to make for a special listening experience. I can listen to Moondance every day just about anywhere, anytime and I will never tire of it: this is rare indeed.

    It opens strong with "It Stoned Me", which both melodically and lyrically displays Morrison's great talent for song writing. The jazzy title track is a favourite among many Van fans, and one of his most recognisable songs ."Crazy Love" is a soul inspired ballad, though it can be hard to recognize Morrison's voice, which here reminds me a lot of Sam Cooke, at any rate it’s a great song. "Caravan" is classic Morrison…a song which actually would have fitted Dylan or The Band perfectly. "Into the Mystic" is for me the outstanding track, great catchy tune, a truly blissful feel to it, in fact it leads my thoughts back to the overlooked Them song "Mighty Like a Rose". With "Come Running" the speed goes up, it’s a gospel inspired thing, which adds a lot to the positive and optimistic mood and tone of the album. "These Dreams of You" is an easy little R&B. There’s more Sam Cooke/The Band inspiration comes with the next track, "Brand New Day". The positive mood continues on "Everyone", which in addition to its nice melody is also remarkable in being almost pop-psych, a genre you rarely find Morrison connected to. The final track "Glad Tidings" may be the nearest Morrison has come to writing a new "Brown Eyed Girl" - maybe not quite in the same league as this classic, but still a nice conclusion to an album that shows a Morrison from his optimistic and musically very inspired side

    Rates another 10/10. And, if you are looking for an album to chill out with, especially in the company of your significant other, you can't do much better than this. If the songs on Moondance aren't enough to convince you to get your groove on, I seriously recommend you check your pulse. Until next time!!!....



     
  4. Magic

    Magic Woman of the World

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  5. Nai Noswad

    Nai Noswad Senior Member

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    I got into Ivan Morrison really thru' osmosis..a chick i was dating worked in Oman for a top geezer and introduced him. Playing and reading about Sidney Bechet...Van's name came up. Long afternoons in bed, smoking Pall Malls with a lady and a tape player..i got to listen to his pain and beauty . So i went to see him live- the first time he had his 'arty head' on and was pissed at all the shouts for Brown Eyed Girl..however it was great to see the whole Caledonian crew of musicians and pee wee etc..
    Second time i saw him..he'd gained a lil' weight..and the pork pie hat coupled with those extra pounds..had him reeling off his greatest hits ..goodo. Still, his ability to weave irish soul with brass and blues is a credit to him.

    Fair Play.


    Wavelength:
     
  6. Nai Noswad

    Nai Noswad Senior Member

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    Did a spell at Her Majesties Pleasure..'bout the time Guru was released..this is special.

    In The Garden.
    I also have a tender way of questioning religon.

    Dweller On The Threshold.

    All things here...melded.

    Rave On John Donne.
     
  7. Nai Noswad

    Nai Noswad Senior Member

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    Dexys did a fine cover also..
    Jackie Wilson Said.

    I got the shove from a job after 8 years..this double album was on the turntable a while...

    I'm Not Feeling It Anymore.
     
  8. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Junior Member

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    Van the Man is amazing. I’ve seen him live three times and I spotted him shopping once. He likes to shop for himself. In concert, when he’s hot he’s really hot ! Doesn’t say much, just lets the music do the talking. My favourite album is Enlightenment.
     
  9. Nai Noswad

    Nai Noswad Senior Member

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    A few lady memories...

    Kingdom Hall.


    Spanish Rose.


    Coney Island.
     

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