SH Spotlight The True Story of the "Into the Mystic" mixing goof on Van Morrison's "Moondance" album

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Steve Hoffman, Jan 17, 2007.

  1. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host Thread Starter

    Van Morrison’s MOONDANCE album: The saga of how it was originally programmed...

    So, we all love MOONDANCE and I was very surprised to realize (after so many years of listening to the original first cutting LP) that there is a different version of the great song “Into The Mystic” on MOST versions of the LP and all digital versions. (Thanks to Forum Member MMM for first inquiring about this; got me to compare versions). The common version of the song has a different stereo placement and no tambourine track plus the “foghorn” effect swells in and out instead of staying up full volume.

    So, I started this thread:

    An industry big shot saw it and emailed me with the true insider information. How does he know? Simple, he was one of the original people involved with the making of the album. How does he remember everything so clearly? Simple, he kept a DIARY! Yup. How cool is that? Probably to keep track of billing but that's just a guess on my part.

    So, here we go!

    It’s December 23, 1969 and we go to the “Mix 1 Studio” of A&R Recording, Inc., 322 West 48th Street, New York, NY 10036. The new MOONDANCE album is now complete, the eight-track recording and mixing to two-track is done and approved by all concerned. The next step is programming the songs into a coherent SIDE A and SIDE B. This original song order is being published here for the first time.

    Side A was to be:

    1. Come Running (mix of 12/23/69)
    2. These Dreams Of You (mix of 12/17/69)
    3. Caravan (mix of 12/17/69)
    4. Into The Mystic (12/10/69)
    5. Moondance (12/23/69)

    Side B was to be:

    1. It Stoned Me (mix of 12/23/69)
    2. Brand New Day (mix of 12/23/69)
    3. Everyone (mix of 12/23/69)
    4. Crazy Love (mix of 12/23/69)
    5. Glad Tidings (mix of 12/23/69)

    So, a lacquer was cut at A&R and reviewed by Van and his producers, etc. 7 days later they commissioned some remixes of a few songs. So on 12/30/69 the following tracks were remixed and inserted in the master reels. They are: Crazy Love, Glad Tidings, These Dreams Of You, Into The Mystic and Moondance.

    Are you with me so far? Good.

    Next step, another lacquer with the new mixes was cut and reviewed by the powers-that-be. On January 5, 1970 it was decided to do more remixing and change the order of the songs as they would appear on the album. The new programming was as follows:

    Side A became:

    1. And It Stoned Me
    2. Crazy Love
    3. These Dreams Of You
    4. Caravan
    5. Into The Mystic (mix of 1/5/70)

    Side B became:

    1. Come Running
    2. Moondance (mix of 1/5/70)
    3. Brand New Day
    4. Everyone
    5. Glad Tidings (mix of 1/5/70)

    A new acetate test lacquer was cut on this day and reviewed by all. On January 9, 1970 yet another song order was programmed and it is the order we are all familiar with:

    The final order for Side A became:

    1. And It Stoned Me (mix of 12/23/69)
    2. Moondance (mix of 1/5/70)
    3. Crazy Love (mix of 12/30/69)
    4. Caravan (mix of 12/17/69)
    5. Into The Mystic (mix of 1/5/70)

    The final order for Side B became:

    1. Come Running (mix of 12/23/69)
    2. These Dreams Of You (mix of 12/30/69)
    3. Brand New Day (mix of 12/23/69)
    4. Everyone (mix of 12/23/69)
    5. Glad Tidings (mix of 1/5/70)

    A new reference lacquer (acetate) was cut of this order and mix lineup and approved by the band.

    The next day, parts were cut for the album and a FLAT SAFETY COPY on 15 ips non-Dolby analog tape was made and marked CUTTING MASTER. The original master was marked “ORIGINAL”.

    Now here is where it gets weird. The above parts were processed and made into records. On 1/12/70 A "HOLD MANUFACTURING" ORDER CAME DOWN. WHY? IT WAS DECIDED TO REINSERT THE ORIGINAL 12/10/69 MIX OF “INTO THE MYSTIC” BACK INTO THE ALBUM MASTER. They had second thoughts about the 1/5/70 remix and decided to go back to the original instead; it had a better "feel". So (and here is the screw up of all screw ups) someone SPLICED IT BACK INTO THE MASTER REELS BUT FORGOT TO SPLICE A FLAT DUB INTO THE “CUTTING MASTER” COPY. So, new parts were cut with the ORIGINAL MIX of “Into The Mystic” (featuring the tambourine, etc.) and these were pressed for the initial run of the album. When the album started catching fire around the world, new parts needed to be cut and so they turned to the EQ CUTTING MASTER instead of the original mix reels to cut replacement lacquers. Therefore, except for the first cutting, most dupe cuts and foreign tape dubs featured the incorrect remix version (without tambourine) of “Into The Mystic” instead of the correct mix.

    It was not until an audiophile record label years later wanted to do a premium ½ speed cutting of the MOONDANCE album that the original master mixes were pulled and that is why THIS version and the original first cutting from 1970 have the 12/10/69 “tambourine version” of “Into The Mystic” on them and practically every other version (cut from the copy) does not (they use the remix from 1/5/70).

    How is that for a convoluted tale? No one noticed at the time; everyone had moved on to the next project. No one involved in the MOONDANCE LP project ever bothered to check any of the recuts or they simply forgot that they made a last minute substitution back to the original mix.


    Bottom line, the final version of "Into The Mystic" that Van Morrison wanted to appear on the album was the tambourine mix of 12/10/69 (Van Morrison of course being the tambourine player). So, that is the "official" mix.

    Wacky but true!

    Hope this helps!
  2. Dave D

    Dave D Done!

    Milton, Canada
    That must have given you a headache to write! Thanks for the info!
    bleachershane likes this.
  3. Simon A

    Simon A Arrr!

    Thanks Steve (and anonymous insider) for sharing this! I love these stories!
  4. Mal

    Mal Phorum Physicist

    Wow - that must be some diary this "insider" kept!

    So, according to this sequence of events the very first LPs pressed used the 1/5/70 mix of "Into The Mystic" before the "Hold Manufacturing" order was issued. Were these pressings destroyed or did these get out?

    It's good to know that the mix on the CD was considered "the one" at least temporarily - it's certainly no turkey.

    I'd love to hear the tambourine mix one day though.....
    WhatDoIKnow likes this.
  5. Danny

    Danny Forum Resident

    Great info Steve, thanks!
  6. Fortune

    Fortune Senior Member

    So......maybe...quite possibly....some of us will get to hear this mix for the first time soon? :angel:
  7. PTgraphics

    PTgraphics Senior Member

    Great story. Thanks for sharing!!

    BeauZooka likes this.
  8. pig whisperer

    pig whisperer CD Member

    Tokyo, Japan
    Great stuff. :)

    I guess Van never listened to the CD (or didn't give a rats *** by 198X).
  9. Randy W

    Randy W Original Member

    WOW, thanks Steve! :)
  10. Urban Spaceman

    Urban Spaceman Forum Goofy-Footer

    Wow! I really got into reading the first thread on this. What a cool story! This forum never ceases to amaze me! Awesome! :righton:
    -------- Chris
    WhatDoIKnow likes this.
  11. peterC

    peterC Aussie Addict

    Probably both!
  12. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host Thread Starter

    Hard to say, Malcolm. Looks like one Forum member has a copy of it so there could be more. My guess is that they used the parts anyway until the stampers wore out (maybe 1000 copies or so) before destroying. Waste-not-want-not!
    WhatDoIKnow likes this.
  13. quicksrt

    quicksrt Senior Member

    City of Angels
    Great stuff! Amazing that such detailed notes were made.

    I got used to the Super Disc 1/2 Speed and never bought any CD or other vinyl pressing. So I don't know the non-tamborine mix anyway.

    It's beautiful how they would keep trying new mixes until they were satisfied, and work on track sequence, it is obvious they knew this was a very important album from a major artist.
    WhatDoIKnow likes this.
  14. -Ben

    -Ben Forum Resident

    Washington DC Area
    This explains why GetRhythm's W7 label has "RE1" under WS 1835.

    I tried to point this out in my post:

    You can't have an absolute first (pre-RE1) pressing if the label already mentions an "RE1". Sung was correct, leftover W7 labels were placed on second pressings without the tambourine .
  15. Yes, great research and good fortune to have such detailed original source information to work from. One interesting observation emerges as well - whatever you think of the decision to re-insert the first "tambourine" mix and use that as the final master (and personally, I don't like it nearly as much as the 1/5/70 remix) it's hard to argue that one or the other shares a more similar "feel" to the rest of the mixes, given the disparity in dates from which the "final cut" mixes derive for all the album tracks.

    And what about that foghorn - any further enlightenment there?
  16. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host Thread Starter

    Amazing that they mixed 7 songs in one day (12/23/69). That's being on a roll! Shades of the HARD DAY'S NIGHT album.
  17. Metralla

    Metralla Joined Jan 13, 2002

    San Jose, CA
    Interesting how they go back and forth a bit. Well, it's hard for me to make a decision whether I prefer the sound of A over B at the consumer end - it must be incredibly stressful at the pointy end.
  18. quicksrt

    quicksrt Senior Member

    City of Angels
    That's the way to do so to keep the perspective of it all intact. But you need to really be into it huh! After the 1000th time hearing the songs, and several mixes down the line, everyone can get completely brain dead. That Christmas break must have been nice at about that point.:agree:
  19. Metralla

    Metralla Joined Jan 13, 2002

    San Jose, CA
    Is it? Obvious? Of course you could be right, but I'm not sure I read the story that way. And Steve said the album was slow to catch on. We would have to ask the "insider" what the mood was. Did they "know" they had a huge hit on their hands?
  20. Another Side

    Another Side Forum Resident

    San Francisco
    I was thinking the same thing. The RE1 was the key. There had to be a change after the first cutting. :thumbsup:
  21. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host Thread Starter

    My guess is NO, they did not. They just wanted to make the best album they could using the best mixes. Remember, his initial WB debut album had low sales.
    kt66brooklyn likes this.
  22. BradOlson

    BradOlson Country/Christian Music Maven

    This is a very interesting story.
  23. live evil

    live evil Forum Resident

    it's stuff like this that keeps me coming back for more.

    thanks for sharing.
  24. quicksrt

    quicksrt Senior Member

    City of Angels
    Huge hit and important major album are not always the same. This was important I think. Warners must have been very excited. Van was a proven hit maker from a few years earlier, and this record has a much more commercial feel than the last, and the songs are catchy as hell. I'll bet the label called and said we LOVE IT spend as much money as you need in NYC!!!!!
  25. MMM

    MMM Forum Hall Of Fame

    Lodi, New Jersey
    Very interesting - thanks Steve (and whoever got you the info).

    Well, at the least, Germany got a dub with the "tambourine mix". I have a German reissue LP with it - Tom Port was selling them years ago. I *think* the 180G German reissue does not have the tambourine mix, but I think they just used the Target CD to cut that.

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