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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. DJ WILBUR

    DJ WILBUR The Cappuccino Kid Thread Starter

    did you find it?
     
  2. tfarney

    tfarney Active Member

    Location:
    Charlotte,NC
    Who thinks Van Morrison is phoning it in? I want street addresses.

    Tim
     
  3. Solaris

    Solaris a bullet in flight

    Location:
    New Orleans, LA
    Welcome to the Van Morrison thread, where all questions are answered. Please be sure to tip the help. :D
     
  4. tfarney

    tfarney Active Member

    Location:
    Charlotte,NC
    Ok...it took a good bit of the weekend with my head buried in a laptop (with time out to listen to Astral Weeks and Moondance of course), but I finally got through this thread. First of all, thanks for the welcome. And thanks for being here. I can tell this place is going to eat up a lot of my time and make me spend money. Now to jump in while the jumping is good...

    Does this really mean what it appears to mean? Does this guy really think that "Almost Independence Day" should have been recorded for Van's amusement, but left off of the album? I've never been happier that I don't read entertainment biographies.

    I own St. Dominic on vinyl, so since making my total commitment to the dark side several years ago, I haven't heard it. You have reminded me. I'll be seeking out a cd today.

    I remember it well. I remember "Jackie Wilson Said" leaping from my speakers and changing my outlook on any given day in about 3 seconds flat. I remember the title cut having a similar effect on heart and soul. But mostly I remember the deep spiritual mojo of the workouts, "Almost Independence Day" and "Listen To The Lion." "Lion" is one of my favorite Van songs, and I'm sure I would have had a CD copy of SDP long ago, but I had It's Too Late To Stop Now. I know the two recordings are pretty different, so please forgive me for commenting on the one I've been hearing for the last few years...

    Listen To The Lion: Van Morrison can communicate volumes of deep soul and spiritual longing without even forming a complete word. His gutteral utterances, moans...his monosyllabic pleas to the Almighty...his vowels, yes, just a vowel or two formed into little more than a cry can carry the emotional juice of the entire careers of lesser men. When I listen to the lion, I laugh and cry; I shake my head in disbelief and grin like an idiot. I've gotten goosebumps just listening to the way Van Morrison mis-pronounces words, at once infusing them with new, deeper meaning.

    Who is this man who dares to suggest that a classic Morrison spiritual romp should have been left in the archives? Who is his publisher? How can he possibly find work writing anything more important than classified ads?

    Tim
     
  5. dee

    dee Forum Resident

    Location:
    ft. lauderdale, fl
    :( :( :(
    I went to Borders, CD Exchange, 2 Barnes, and BB. I have one CD Exchange left to visit, CD Heaven, and CC. Doesn't look good!

    I should probably pick up Beautiful Vision and those era's recordings - which I have seen in the shops. Some time ago, I read some of the reviews for Hard Nose were not all that great, and with so much other Van Music out there, I kinda never got around to getting it, and now that I've finally heard the samples, it sounds pretty good to me. I got back into Van's Music at the time of No Guru, and I think maybe that was the beginning of another golden era of Van Music? Poetic Champions, Irish Hearbeat, Avalon Sunset... :)
     
  6. dee

    dee Forum Resident

    Location:
    ft. lauderdale, fl
    :p
     
  7. Clarkophile

    Clarkophile Up in T.O. keepin' jive alive

    Everyone ready for Hard Nose the Highway tomorrow?
     

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  8. curbach

    curbach Some guy on the internet

    Location:
    The ATX
    Actually, I'm not ready yet. I really need to give it another thorough listen to see if my opinion has softened any :angel:

    In the meantime, I almost forgot to comment on Saint Dominic's Preview. I won't be going against the grain on this one. An obvious highlight in his catalog. Probably my favorite to this point as it seems to represent an amalgam of all things Van, building on past triumphs while pointing to the future. As Tom says a transitional album, but in the best possible way (although I would say Hard Nose interrupts the transition in progress :p).

    My favorites are the title track and "Listen To The Lion". The possible weak link is "Gypsy", but it's not really that weak.
     
  9. Clarkophile

    Clarkophile Up in T.O. keepin' jive alive

    There's no rush, really. I just wanted to give the thread a bump and remind everyone we're moving on.
     
  10. willy

    willy hooga hagga hooga

    It's not easy bein' Boreen ;)
     
  11. DJ WILBUR

    DJ WILBUR The Cappuccino Kid Thread Starter

    nice bit of subliminal advertising here with that teeny photo Mr. Green Boreen...:D

    its about the purples not the green's on this album....i have it on now....
     
  12. curbach

    curbach Some guy on the internet

    Location:
    The ATX
    No worries, Tom. I'm certainly ready to read attempts to defend Hard Nose, and I'll definitely have time to give it another listen or two this week before I rip it :p
     
  13. Clarkophile

    Clarkophile Up in T.O. keepin' jive alive

    HARD NOSE THE HIGHWAY
    1. "Snow In San Anselmo" – 4:33
    2. "Warm Love" – 3:22
    3. "Hard Nose The Highway" – 5:12
    4. "Wild Children" – 4:19
    5. "The Great Deception" – 4:50
    6. "Bein' Green" (by Joe Raposo) – 4:20
    7. "Autumn Song" – 10:34
    8. "Purple Heather" (traditional) – 5:42


    Musically, Hard Nose the Highway reaches back reassuringly even as it lurches tentatively, sometimes even bizarrely, forward.
    To be perfectly honest, for years I thought of this album as "the one with ‘Warm Love’" because I couldn’t really sink my teeth into anything else. It all seemed so unfocused and maddeningly linear when compared to St. Dominic’s Preview, an album which also featured lengthy pieces, but pieces which seemed to fly by in a flash without any fat to trim.
    In short, the rest of this album bored me silly.

    "Warm Love" effortlessly recalls lush Moondance-style romanticism to the degree that if someone told me that it was, in actuality, an outtake from those sessions it wouldn’t surprise me in the least, except to say I can’t imagine even Van casting aside such a superior song. I’ll even go as far as to say this: We take songwriters like Van for granted. "Warm Love," whether critics or the general public will acknowledge it or not, is a Standard. There’s just no two ways about it, imo.

    The title track is a rock-solid Van creation featuring another one of my favourite Van pronunciations: "No time for shoe shi-ee-yi-ee-yi-ines...":laugh:
    The sterility of a studio setting often makes it difficult to capture the kind of dramatic shifts in dynamics that can be created in a live setting, but listen to how Van--through the sheer power of his voice--elevates the intensity of this song in the latter stages.

    It is the album’s dreary mid-section which continues to alienate me to this day. Things start to go downhill with "Wild Children," a hymn to baby boomers, which really does nothing for me, in spite of a couple of interesting unexpected chord changes and some name checking of Rod Steiger, James Dean, Tennessee Williams and Marlon Brando. But the album’s nadir is surely "The Great Deception," a plodding, excruciatingly repetitive rant which, in spite of the attractive use of echo on Van’s voice, is undone by its unfocused bitterness and a melody which is about as attractive as the accompanying lyric. It seems to me that whenever Van gets angry about some issue, his lyrics tend to suffer as a result, becoming trite and obvious, lacking the poetic lilt that characterizes his most memorable lines. I know, I know there are exceptions to this rule, ("Thanks for the Information") but I call them "The Great Exceptions.":p

    "Snow in San Anselmo" is an ethereal, frightening (in a good way) track for me. The inspired use of the Oakland Symphony Chamber Chorus, the jarring tempo changes, the running bass and eerie sax---all of these things combine to produce one of the most bizarre tracks in Van's career (right up there with "The Eternal Kansas City":p ). I have nothing to support this theory, but I would bet a young Kate Bush was inspired to a certain degree by the trilling choral arrangement during the recording of her first three albums.

    "Autumn Song" is a pleasant, if slight, diversion. Despite its 10-plus minutes length it's no Mystical Workout, but a soothing, evocative mood piece. While it lacks the intensity of a Mystical Workout, its lush autumnal vibe, taken for what it is, is its saving grace.

    "Purple Heather" took a while for me to appreciate. My esteemed colleague DJWilbur told me I should listen to this song three times in a row to help it sink in properly for maximum effect. As usual, William was right, it did grow on me, and, although I much prefer the Byrds' take on this song, the string arrangement was so beautiful that the song finally won me over.
    However, I cannot say the same for "Bein' Green", "The Great Deception" or "Wild Children."
     

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  14. Clarkophile

    Clarkophile Up in T.O. keepin' jive alive

    How's this?:D
     

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  15. pig whisperer

    pig whisperer CD Member

    Location:
    Tokyo, Japan
    I haven't heard this one in years and don't own the CD, but I do like how his voice sounds during this period.

    Did he record "Bein' Green" before it became Kermit's signature song? It is an interesting choice for Morrison's first cover. We know that the had many other songs of his own he could have put in place of this (but I like it). EDIT: I see Sinatra recorded this one (in '69?) before Morrison.

    Did Morrison produce this one himself? I know Templeton was back for the next album.

    Who are the musicians? He toured behind this one, so I assume it is most of the musicians on "It's Too Late To Stop Now". Does David Hayes debut on bass, he has played on many Morrison albums over the years? Jack must be back on sax.
     
  16. Craig

    Craig (unspecified) Staff

    Location:
    North of Seattle
    The Moody Blues-type cover art was another left turn from previous albums that makes this one stick out.

    I still like this album because it has it's moments like "Purple Heather" and the title track.

    I've never met a Van Morrison album I didn't like. I just like some more than others. :D
     
  17. Clarkophile

    Clarkophile Up in T.O. keepin' jive alive

    AFAIK, this was the first album over which Van wielded complete control.

    Nicked from Wikipedia:

    Personnel
    * Van Morrison: Guitar, Keyboard, Saxophone, Vocal
    * David Hayes: Bass guitar
    * Jules Broussard: Tenor Saxophone
    * Bill Atwood: Harmonica
    * Marty David: Bass guitar
    * Jackie De Shannon: Vocal, Vocal (Background)
    * Joe Ellis: Saxophone
    * Nancy Ellis: Strings, Viola
    * Michael Girling: Violin
    * Jeff Labes: Piano, Keyboards
    * Gary Malaber: Percussion, Drums
    * Zaven Malikian: Violin
    * Zovan Melikian: Strings
    * John Platania: Guitar
    * Nathan Rubin: Strings
    * Rick Schlosser: Drums
    * Jack Schroer: Piano, Saxophone
    * John Tenney: Strings/Violin

    Production

    * Producer: Van Morrison
    * Engineers: Neil Schwartz, Jim Stern
    * Arrangers: Van Morrison, Jeff Labes, Jack Schroer
     
  18. Clarkophile

    Clarkophile Up in T.O. keepin' jive alive

    Earlier in this thread I mentioned that I've been changing my screensaver at work to reflect whatever album we're currently discussing, just to get into the spirit of things.

    In the case of this album I made an exception.
     
  19. JohnB

    JohnB Forum Resident

    At first I didn't like Hard Nose much, probably due to other's opinions influencing me.

    Warm Love and Wild Children were the first ones to stand out, maybe because I had heard them on the It's Too Late to Stop Now album first. A while later I heard Van do Hard Nose in concert and really liked it, the studio version has since grown on me.

    Just fairly recently have I learned to appreciate Autumn Song, now I like that one quite a bit.

    Finally, I don't know how Purple Heather slipped under my radar but now it's one of my favorite songs Van does.

    All in all, this is not one of Van's top tier albums, yet it's got a lot more going for it than many people give it credit for.
     
  20. I like the first four tracks on the album much better than the last four.

    I think the opener is really weird. It's not that I don't like the song, I find it quite interesting, but it is such a weird track to open an album and I think it catches you on the wrong foot, kind of like getting out "on the wrong side of the bed" in the morning. This might be the reason many people didn't give the album the necessary attention.

    Warm Love is really a great song, and I also like the title track a lot. Wild Children is also still decent in my opinion, but things are going downhill a little bit from that point on.

    Autumn Song is sort of pretty, but just too long and that memorable.

    Certainly not as good an album as the one that preceeded it and the one that followed it.
     
  21. By the way, what is considered the best CD version of this album?

    I only have the WG Polydor, and I read before that the US WB for this album is not that great, but I never actually compared them myself.
     
  22. pig whisperer

    pig whisperer CD Member

    Location:
    Tokyo, Japan
    Thanks. I always like to know who he is playing with. Morrison wrote the songs, but the band makes a huge difference. If we don't mention them the posts make it sound like he did everything alone.

    Here are some key names from past and future albums:

    * David Hayes: Bass guitar
    * Jack Schroer: Piano, Saxophone
    * John Platania: Guitar (Moondance, His Band and the Steet Choir)
    * Jeff Labes: Piano, Keyboards (Moondance)
    * Gary Malaber: Percussion, Drums (Moondance, Tupelo Honey, St. Dominic's Preview)
    * Rick Schlosser: Drums (Tupelo Honey, St. Dominic's Preview)
     
  23. Clarkophile

    Clarkophile Up in T.O. keepin' jive alive

    Excellent point.
     
  24. jason100x

    jason100x Forum Resident

    I like Hard Nose The Highway. It's definitely a better album than the reviews would show. It's not a masterpiece, by any means and I don't play it that much but it I have some songs that made it on my compilation of Van that I listen to frequently. I actually like "The Great Deception". Yeah, it's an early prototype of the bitter Van Morrison-rant that would frequent his '80s and certainly '90s albums but I think it's a pretty good song with a nice melody. "Warm Love" is definitely the standout on this album, though. "Wild Children" is a good one. "Snow In San Anselmo" is definitely weird but occasionally I feel in the mood to listen to it.
     
  25. tfarney

    tfarney Active Member

    Location:
    Charlotte,NC
    I don't own "Hard Nose The Highway" on CD or vinyl, so I'm pretty unfamiliar with it. I don't really have much to say except that I enthusiastically agree with this:

    I rarely like Van's rants against the business, his biographers, the press, the fans, etc. They rarely seem to manifest themselves as anything remotely close to his best work, and they just remind me of his reputation for being bitter and difficult. I much prefer his spiritual side. Is Van bi-polar? He sure seems to fit the bill. Nah, come to think of it, the consistent volume and quality of output doesn't fit at all. He's probably just a grouch. More Oscar than Kermit.

    Tim
     
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