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Van Morrison Album by Album Discussion: Part 1 (1968-1977)

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by DJ WILBUR, Sep 25, 2007.

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  1. Solaris

    Solaris a bullet in flight

    New Orleans, LA
    *Homer Simpson voice*

    Mmmmm, St Dominic's Preview

    DJ WILBUR The Cappuccino Kid Thread Starter


    DJ WILBUR The Cappuccino Kid Thread Starter

    monday man....dont rush the honey.
  4. Solaris

    Solaris a bullet in flight

    New Orleans, LA
    Oh but I can listen to it all weekend and prepare me thoughts. :D

    But first I gotta find what box it's in, heh.
  5. Clarkophile

    Clarkophile Too Long in Exile

    St. Thomas, ON
    Collis, Inarticulate Speech of the Heart, pg 130.
  6. Clarkophile

    Clarkophile Too Long in Exile

    St. Thomas, ON
    True to form, I found one quotation where Van downplays Templeman's role on Tupelo Honey, and then another where he makes all kinds of excuses for the songs chosen for the album, essentially claiming he had lost control.
    Heh-heh, sound familiar? I'm starting to detect a pattern here...:shh:

    If I get some time I'll post 'em so all can see.
  7. Sneaky Pete

    Sneaky Pete Senior Member

    Tom sorry for the long delay between replies, you it's work etc.

    I just thought Van never used Pedal Steel before, he had more of the standard R&B or Soul band line-up. He seemed to follow the Ray Charles, Johnny Otis, James Brown, Stax records model. Afterward, on the next album it was used on only one song,the title cut on St. Dominics Preview,for "coloring."

    That combined with the fact that Ted was a staff producer, brought in by the record company. The marketing art concept of the album was back to the land Hippie Farmer. The timing was right to be part of the country rock trend. Warner's wanted a hit from Van they were heavily invested in him.

    By the way you are so right about Van disavowing every album after it is done.

    Like I said I could have been wrong, it has happened before (surprise). I can't wait for the next one, it is a personal favorite!
  8. Clarkophile

    Clarkophile Too Long in Exile

    St. Thomas, ON

    You have to wonder, what albums was Van actually pleased with?:laugh:

    DJ WILBUR The Cappuccino Kid Thread Starter

    I think with Van is more a song by song basis of what he loves vs. what album he loves. i think for me and many of us in here, our opinions change on his albums over the years, as ones i loved at one time now i'm not so fond of (hymns to silence comes to my mind for me). Still looking at his best of volume 2 and volume 3 which he sequenced and what he does live, you get an idea of the work he's most fond of i think.

    is there a comprehensive website listing his set lists i wonder?
  10. dee

    dee Forum Resident

    ft. lauderdale, fl
    Just to elaborate real quick on my Veedon Fleece listening experience the other night, and no more until it is discussed further, but, after I opened my eyes - since I found them closed through most of the listening process (deep into the whole vibe :) ), I simply commented, "Extraordinary."
  11. dee

    dee Forum Resident

    ft. lauderdale, fl
    I wonder what songs might have been left off of Street Choir and Tupelo Honey, at the time of their release? Songs that may have shown up on later albums?

    DJ WILBUR The Cappuccino Kid Thread Starter

    reading your post gave me goosebumps...yes i know exactly what you mean....it is my "if i can only have one" van album....frankly....i've been a tad bored in here past few weeks...:nyah: ...we're just about to start veering into the first real pocket of my Van love fest....once upon a time the Moon, the Street and The Honey would have been my faves, but when I pulled them out for this thread, i realized they were "mighty dusty" from being unloved by me....and with so many to reach for, its unlikely they'll get spun again for a mighty long time. coming up are a few albums i play all the time....:D

    DJ WILBUR The Cappuccino Kid Thread Starter

    ok weekend hoffman surfers, nows the time to get your Tupelo Honey posts in. We're "previewing" the next one on monday....
  14. Clarkophile

    Clarkophile Too Long in Exile

    St. Thomas, ON
    Ahh, good choice, sir. Nothing does it quite like the Veedon Fleece Mystical Workout (TM)
  15. Clarkophile

    Clarkophile Too Long in Exile

    St. Thomas, ON
    Very witty, my good man.
  16. adriatikfan

    adriatikfan Forum Resident

    I came to Tupelo Honey really out of sequence in my Van listening experience and during a time when I hadn't listened to too much at all.

    At the time the American TV programme 'thirtysomething' was quite popular here in the UK and the Tupelo Honey track was used as incidental music in one show.I bought the album a couple of years later and although it doesn't get too much play these days I have enjoyed reacquainting myself with it this week. For me, the title track is just outstanding - I like the live version on Greatest Hits 3 but the original cannot be beaten.

    I wished I could have heard these albums in sequence as they were released. I'm sure I would have a better understanding of the way Van's output has developed!

    Best Wishes

    DJ WILBUR The Cappuccino Kid Thread Starter

    i'm sure most everyone in this thread is in the same boat. we've all discovered some of Van's albums out of sequence,. I certainly did. Most of the next batch til Poetic Champions I got after Poetic, excepting Wavelength I think....after these first few hearing them in the period they were released...i ignored him for a good decade excepting Wavelength, which i cant even stand now....it will be interesting to revisit wavelength in the coming months to see if my opinion changed any....
  18. dee

    dee Forum Resident

    ft. lauderdale, fl
    I gave this one a go once again Friday night - 2 1/2 times this week! I really like it. Also listened to a "preview" as well! Tupelo Honey is a fine record, imo. Y'know, right from Astral Weeks, till this point, I find it difficult to separate the "songs," from their performance, arrangement, and sound recording, and I think this is mostly a really positive thing. The quality work these musicians Van recorded with is outstanding! Moondance has my favorite "songs" (verses, choruses, bridges, etc.), such as Caravan, Into the Mystic, And It Stoned Me, but again, in general, I'm struck by the "whole" of his "songs" as performances and arrangements as much as the "proper" songs themselves. :righton:

    DJ WILBUR The Cappuccino Kid Thread Starter

    Saint Dominic's Preview coming up soon....
  20. Clarkophile

    Clarkophile Too Long in Exile

    St. Thomas, ON
    I Will Be There!:laugh:
  21. pig whisperer

    pig whisperer CD Member

    Tokyo, Japan

    DJ WILBUR The Cappuccino Kid Thread Starter

    Saint Dominic’s Preview

    “I can hear the fireworks”….Now when Mr. Tom first shot me the list of albums I’d be hosting, this was the first one on the list I was VERY excited about. After a few albums dominated by “love themed songs”, I knew it would be nice to focus on this one for me.

    For me this is one of my favorites from the 70s. Starting at the end with “Almost Independence Day”…Man, I love this song. I think many will feel its “lite” and a bit of a failed attempt back to his Astral Weeks thing, but for me, this song, really the whole album, takes me on a journey.

    I love all of Vans Trancey Ramblings, his “mystical workouts”, as Tommy calls them….Snooping around on the internet I find out he recorded the song live in one take which is always what impresses me about this man, that he can nail a performance of this caliber in one take. I think it’s an astonishing performance even if it’s discounted as filler by some, anyone who can toss this off in one take is a might force to reckon with in my book.

    There is something quite epic, almost otherworldly about this album’s closer and I love the way he duets his voice with his guitar playing (well I’ve always assumed its his guitar playing, I’m sure I’ll be flamed and find out otherwise post haste)…this song clocking in at 10 minutes…it never feels that long, it’s over before I know it, I get so lost within his musings and growling and grunting. He can make the most offbeat vocal grunts sound quite musical.

    Trance inducing is not the way this wonderful record begins…and we sail and we sail…

    BAM, the opener Jackie Wilson said “it was reet petite”, but this albums opener is not petite in anyway. What a three minute party! An immense, lyrical blast-off that’s just perfection in every last ding a ling a ling ding. Man I dig (ding) this tune. Since I was a kid I always thought it was just a joyful meandering message but I found this bit in a review that I’m curious to get thoughts on in here, because I never grasped that this song is a bit of a dig (ding) on the music business…

    In what would amount to the first major installment in an ongoing cycle of digs at the music business, the title song pits the singer's authentic art against the false idols of the predators and sycophants surrounding him--a familiar Morrison theme decades on but given a soulful urgency here that makes it tough to dismiss as the ravings of a career curmudgeon. --Sam Sutherland

    I had never thought this was more than just a good time upbeat positive song, but knowing more about Van now, well there sure is a bit of a snide vibe to these lyrics if you want to hear them there. Still one of my all time fave Van “hit singles”. Might be my favorite “hit single” by him…. this track was dreadfully covered by Dexy’s Midnight Runners… $hite…hopefully Van made a bundle off the publishing at least as that was a huge album.

    La da di di di di di La da di di di di di La da di di di di di daaa,…not much of chorus this in Gypsy, but I love the sentiment in the song that wherever you go there you are, I’m sure a carry over idea/ideal that the street choir was to embody. The whole rogue minstrel busker vibe I feel he tried to capture in the lyrics here, which the album cover captures quite nicely in that still photo, I love that photo of Van…almost making clear that he’s no longer in the choir but singularly busking, no band, no “yoko”, just me, the gypsy, the Lion, listen to ME.

    From the gypsy individualist to the guy who will be there with his razor and toothbrush at the drop of a dime to go anywhere with you…who? Janet? that’s doubtful at this stage, I think their split was happening around this time. The world is becoming this man’s oyster. Money now, fame, changes people, seems he strugged to stay the same and avoid the fame, but you can’t avoid fame. Still the lion/gypsy is itchy to ramble, but maybe not alone, he’s not sure, he’s sending us listeners mixed messages, what he does best…haha.

    “I Will Be There” is a groovy bluesy jazzy ditty. A lovely song; one of his umpteen summer idyllic hanging out songs, these always speak to me. This song makes me want to sit outside in the summer drinking champagne with him. Another lovely hanging out and enjoying life in the country lyric, one of several from this album….like Listen to the Lion

    This, the albums other long form free form track where we sailed, and we sailed...And we sailed, and we sailed...And we sailed, and we sailed...... sailed to Caledonia, looking for a brand new start. Something about this song always makes me think of The Rolling Stones, I have no idea why, but something about the delivery of the “and all my tears” lines sounds like something from them….but I’ve never figured out what it is, must be a Beggars track.

    This is a song I didn’t like back when I was younger, I felt it was too long, didn’t like the scatting, now I love this one. It’s akin to taking a mini vacation when putting this one on. It always elevates my mood, bringing me to Avalon, or Caledonia, Vanland, the mystic church…

    The title track, I love that he name checks Edith Piaf (Tom add her to your list if you haven’t). I had no idea who she was for years….I love this song, feels very Tupelo Honey to me, and could have made that one a bit more interesting….

    All the orange boxes are scattered.
    We get to Safeway's supermarket in the rain.
    And everybody feels so determined
    Not to feel anyone else's pain.

    What a great lyric, really moves me every time I hear it and follows it with

    (You know that) No one's making no commitments
    To anybody but themselves,
    Hidin' behind closed doorways,
    Tryin' to get outside, outside of empty shells

    There is just a boatload of incredible imagery and poetry on this whole album.

    Obviously he’s starting his music industry negativity about now. He must of realized his record company is charging him back for promotional efforts, dinners with radio, clients at magazines, whomever…but they buy the dinners and charge it back to their artists and he’s not smiling about it. This is an interesting left turn in the middle of Dominics Preview, that bit of ire about the record business, yet he sounds so pleasant about it, he’s pissed I’m sure but I didn’t realize it for twenty some odd years what he was really saying.

    Redwood Tree is the only song on here that for me is a bit lightweight, could also fit nicely on Tupelo, but this is one album I never skip a track on. I need this little tune before I can digest Independence Day. His single finest achievement for me up to this point.

    I’ve managed to write a lot but really, it’s hard to write about this artists albums definitively. You’re going to have to read all the comments to follow mine and still you really need to hear this one. I have a feeling this is one of those albums where everyone’s reactions will be different, I’m beginning to think that’s going to be the case with much of his catalog, but that’s a good thing, will keep this thread interesting for sure.

    So much of what I feel about this record is internal, it shimmers in my soul, one of his best IMO. Just a perfect listen from start to finish and anyone interested in where they might start with Van could easily start right here. A perfect example of where Van has journeyed these 40 some odd years. You could do no better than to start right here.

    Interesting find in my basement this morning when looking for a piece of David Sylvian vinyl, I came across a 12” single for Have I Told You Lately That I Love You and Contacting my Angels on the A-side of this U.K. vinyl…The B-side, why none other than “Listen To The Lion” the very version contained herein Dominic’s Preview. :D How sweet I hope it will sound, I’ll get that listened to later on today.

    Attached Files:

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  23. Clarkophile

    Clarkophile Too Long in Exile

    St. Thomas, ON
    It’s my feeling that St. Dominic’s Preview and Hard Nose the Highway, the albums Van produced in 1972 and 1973, might be better candidates for the title of A Period of Transition than the album which eventually came to bear that name in 1977. Clearly, Van was caught between the demands and responsibilities of the music biz and the urge to follow his own wandering muse, and the resulting tension from that duality is no more obvious than comparing how side one begins and ends.
    "Jackie Wilson Said (I’m in Heaven When You Smile)" adds another impressive, peppy single to Van’s canon---and yet another nod to a musical great. Van would never sound this buoyant again until "Bright Side of the Road" in ‘79.
    It is, in fact, the last in a trilogy of singles that served to front load their parent albums with a killer lead-off single ("Domino" and "Wild Night" of course, being the others).

    As the first officially released Van Morrison original to break the 10:00 mark, "Listen to the Lion" bears the distinction of being what I like to refer to as the First Official Mystical Workout (TM):laugh: , a style Van would pursue to varying degrees of success in years to come. ("T.B. Sheets" had been a callow first step toward this at 9:36; I don’t consider the Astral Weeks material a workout, per se, but I do consider it as having laid groundwork for the mystical prototype). As DJWilbur described, these songs are deliberately meandering, repetitive, trance-inducing expositions: phrases are repeated, yet never really sung (or growled, or roared) the same way twice; tension rises and falls. As any VanFan knows, these workouts are a staple of both his studio recordings and live performances. It’s Van version of an Allman Brothers-style jam, except that it is based on the ebb and flow of the music as a combined force---voices and instruments---as opposed to a showcase for virtuosos.
    Where "Jackie Wilson Said" was three minutes of fun, "Listen to the Lion" is contemplative and defiantly, unapologetically indulgent. You can’t really sing along with this music; you have to get inside it, which demands from the listener the patience that a three-minute single cannot afford, nor dare even ask ("Hey Jude" notwithstanding). To let go into the mystery with Van is to surrender oneself in that eleven minutes. One either goes on this journey or one doesn’t.
    I’m glad I went.

    On a less-serious side note, "Lion" also features one of Van’s most hilarious pronunciations ever ("Lie-onnn-uhh"), which never fails to make me smile.

    Of the other songs on the album, I think "I Will Be There" might be overshadowed by the towering appearance of "Listen to the Lion" after it, but it is a strong indication that Van was, at this time, most decidedly not a rock musician, perhaps never was (even with Them) and absolutely never would be.
    The lyrics to the title track are maddeningly impenetrable to me, but the music itself sounds like it could fit nicely on Elton John’s Madman Across the Water album. It’s as anthemic as it is oblique. We do get references to Edith Piaf and Hank Williams though, to add to our ever-growing list.
    "Redwood Tree" never really clicks, despite a promising intro. It sounds like it should, and that it will, but just never really hits the mark.
    "Gypsy"—meh, it alternates between being mildly irritating to the
    I like the lyrics (as described by DJWilbur) much more than the music.

    With the appearance of an unprecedented second Mystical Workout, "Almost Independence Day", Van was clearly making a point. This is the last song on the album: the last word, as it were. He’s challenging his fans to come on a Mystical Mystery Tour: the days of "Brown Eyed Girl" are long gone; there is a deeper agenda afoot.
    Musically, the cold, ominous and mechanical-sounding Moog drones behind Van’s characteristically unpredictable, somewhat haphazard 12-string acoustic strumming. The song is deliberately spacious, lazily insistent, darkly hypnotic, with an undercurrent of dread which makes me wonder if the title is an allusion to the emotional estrangement which would subsequently lead to Janet Planet’s departure. (One can’t help but notice that although she sings backup on the album, she is nowhere to be found on the sleeve as was the case on the last three albums.)
    There is a chilling moment in the song during the "I can hear the fireworks" section where everything just stops for a second. The song feels like it has just collapsed on itself. Van creates those odd strafing-run, "blip-bloop" sounds on his guitar which are jarring, discordant...and amazingly evocative.

    So ends St. Dominic’s Preview.

    The message is clear: the peppy single would be sidelined for a spell, and Mystical Workouts would become the main focus of Van’s work as an aural auteur.
    It would be interesting to know how many fans Van lost because of St. Dominic’s Preview.
    It would be equally interesting to know how many he gained. Chances are, if you stayed with him long enough to see the lights of the harbour in the cool night, way up and down the line, you were in this for the long haul.
  24. willy

    willy hooga hagga hooga

    Ha! 'Gypsy' and 'Redwood Tree' are among my all-time favourite and most uplifting Van songs!

    I love how Van can make the most everyday and seemingly banal things, chamois cleaning windows and popping into Safeways, into an almost convincing mystical experience.

    Reminds me of that episode of 'Father Ted' where Ted tells Dougal he can praise God just by leaving the room. :laugh:

    DJ WILBUR The Cappuccino Kid Thread Starter

    great post tom! :righton: ....welcome to the War and Peace length hoffman thread....:)

    not easy to talk about this one in a few words....

    ironic when you were talking about Lion, and mentioning no more 3 minute singles....made me crack up as i'm sitting here with a 12" single of Listen to the Lion!
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