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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. dee

    dee Forum Resident

    Location:
    ft. lauderdale, fl
     
  2. pig whisperer

    pig whisperer CD Member

    Location:
    Tokyo, Japan
    It's a hit or miss album for fans. You can tell us how you like it in five weeks.
     
  3. Solaris

    Solaris a bullet in flight

    Location:
    New Orleans, LA
    Fair Game sets things up really well -- I admire the simple arrangement of the song, and I love the descending double bass figures. The next two songs, while not bad, just don't reach the level of the rest of the album to me. Once we hit Streets of Arklow, though, the groove settles in and we're off -- mystery, spiritual yearning and a floating, pastoral bliss follow. You Don't Pull No Punches, You Don't Push the River as a song meets the expectations of that wonderful title (and extra points for that killer intro with the circular piano bit).

    Bulbs follows that nearly nine minute workout perfectly in tone and tempo. As I listened to the album last night and that song came on, I thought "what a great side-opener," even though I've never owned this on vinyl.

    The next three songs resonate at different levels for me but don't really stand out as songs individually, though I can't say I dislike any of them.

    Country Fair, however, is a Mystical Workout of the highest order. My only complaint is that it's too short. The recorder is indeed the perfect touch, and who's playing that sitar in the background? Again, a simple, effective arrangement -- just four pieces -- uncluttered, meditative and graceful.
     
  4. curbach

    curbach Some guy on the internet

    Location:
    The ATX
    I second that emotion :righton: For awhile it was my hands down favorite (despite the fact that I often have no idea what he's singing about :o ). These days I'm less certain. It draws you in right from the start and doesn't let go as it goes from strength to strength. There's not a song on this album I'd even think of skipping. "You Don't Pull No Punches" is a real tour de force.

    He sure took a strange musical path to get from Astral Weeks to Veedon Fleece, but the end results are worth it. And he would head off in another couple of strange directions before returning to his "Rolling Hills". Oh, well. Enjoy the ride, right?

    Has anyone else noticed that Van "borrowed" the vocal melody from "Country Fair" for "The Mystery" on Poetic Champions Compose?
     
  5. Clarkophile

    Clarkophile Too Long in Exile

    Location:
    St. Thomas, ON
    Agreed. That could have gone on for another five minutes easy and I'd still be left wanting more.
     
  6. DJ WILBUR

    DJ WILBUR The Cappuccino Kid Thread Starter

    Oh we're gonna have to change that Jason. Veedon Fleece is wonderful on vinyl. I've got an original U.S. pressing, which I'd needledropped a couple years ago, but more recently added to my collection is a Canadian pressing, which i bought sealed on ebay a few months ago and let me tell you, its as gorgeous as the song Come Here My Love is gorgeous....so one of these days, I"ll probably have to needledrop the canadian one as its head and shoulders above the one I did do.

    I have the original US cd and also the polygram remaster and the original US WB cd is the way to go on this. The remaster, when A/B'd to the original really sucks IMO.

    still that canadian vinyl is my fave of what i've heard.
     
  7. Sneaky Pete

    Sneaky Pete Senior Member

    Location:
    NYC USA
    This album is like a meditation. Van takes you on the journey with him through his homeland. It has a feeling like calm after a storm. Since Astral Weeks Van's career and personal life was like a runaway train. On this album he seems to find a center. I too feel this one is the closest to Astral Weeks, but for me I would group those two with No Guru No Method No Teacher as a musical Troika. I would rather group St. Dominic's Preview with Into The Music and Common One, somehow the instrumentation, arrangement and expression of those two groupings share a commonality to my ear.

    This is one album that I am likely to listen to straight through every time I decide to put it on. It is a brave work that takes many chances. It is not background music and demands your focus. Lyrically this has the streams of consciousness, automatic writing feeling. Van's Ulysses. Vocally, Van does not pull any punches, he uses every grunt, growl, falsetto, squeal and whisper. That is the album's strength and its' weakness. Fair Play has the most "yuck" in the vocals of any song since Bob Dylan's Lay Lady Lay. Only Bob and Van can pull it off. To my ear there are times when the amount of "yuck" in Van's voice on Fair Play and the falsetto on Who Was That Masked Man intrude on my enjoyment of the music. When that happens I put it away and wait for another day to go on the musical journey.

    From Streets of Arklow on there is no misstep, Van moves from strength to strength. Don't Pull No Punches is truly a tour de force, as is Cul De Sac. The music is at once spare and lush. The players are listening to each other and engaging in a dialogue, as the music flows with an organic beauty. The strings add that feeling of lushness, and they are punctuated perfectly by the recorder and soprano saxophone. This is chamber music for a soul singer. Even Bulbs the only remotely traditional soul song really exists out side the normal sound for that idiom.

    By the time you reach the Country Fair you are spent and ready to let your thoughts drift away on the glistening waters of a mountain stream. Van's romance with nature is now in full bloom. It takes an equal place with romantic and physical love as a source of inspiration. Veedon Fleece may be a made up term to express Van's search for the musical holy grail; but I hope he keeps looking for it, as long as he shares his quest with us.

    I have had this one since back in the seventies, and I must say Astral Weeks and Veedon Fleece suffered the most in the translation to ones and zeros. Those two albums breathe on vinyl in a way that is missing on the CDs.

    Sign of the Times: I just saw a TV commercial for the Van Morrison's new greatest hits. It even has Brown Eyed Girl did he make peace with Bang? Well, I hope he makes a mint he has worked hard enough. Get ready to hear howls of "Sell Out."
     
  8. DJ WILBUR

    DJ WILBUR The Cappuccino Kid Thread Starter

    You make an interesting observation grouping these two sets of albums. In a way No Guru is very much close to my heart like Veedon, so much so it may be my second or third most favorite. I'm going to have to spend some time with these two groupings and see if I agree via your instrumentation theory...thanks for this thought and also a wonderfully thoughtful read overall.
     
  9. willy

    willy hooga hagga hooga

    A review in Q magazine from a lot of years ago described the strings in 'Streets of Arklow' as the sound grass makes when it is growing! And it probably is!

    This is my favourite Van album. I'll add more later cos I'm at work......except to mention the 'feel of the room' in 'Linden Arden...'. You are there!
     
  10. Clarkophile

    Clarkophile Too Long in Exile

    Location:
    St. Thomas, ON
    So convinced was I that No Guru completed the trifecta that years ago I made a cassette tape for a friend (who had recently gotten into Astral Weeks) consisting of Veedon on one side and No Guru on the other, because I thought the connection would be as obvious to him as it was to me. Unfortunately, he didn't see it that way, and dismissed NG,NM,NT as being "overproduced."

    As you'll see when we get there, I cannot exaggerate how much I disagree with him about this point.
     
  11. Clarkophile

    Clarkophile Too Long in Exile

    Location:
    St. Thomas, ON
    Anybody notice that the opening/main melody line from "Country Fair" was recycled for "The Mystery" on Poetic Champions Compose?
     
  12. pig whisperer

    pig whisperer CD Member

    Location:
    Tokyo, Japan
    I don't think "No Guru" is over produced, but it does have a distinct sound. I call it the Van Morrison "deep voice" album - when I first bought the album I was surprised and thought Van was loosing his voice as it was so different from the previous "A Sense Of Wonder". His voice would be back for the next album, "Poetic Champions Compose," but his band would be gone. :sigh:

    "Common One" has some of the pastoral elements of "Veedon Fleece" (or maybe it is just the album cover :p ), but musical director/arranger Pee Wee Ellis' sax takes the place of the "VF flute.

    "Common One" has "Satisfied," "Veedon Fleece" has "Bulbs" and "Young Lovers Do" from "Astral Weeks" are the songs common to each album that doesn't really fit the overall sound and offers them all a nice change of pace. And then there are the long numbers... If you want "Country Fair" to go on longer just listen to "When Hearts Are Open" which drags on for three times the length.

    I've always thought that "Ancient Highway" form "Days Like This" sounded a bit like a "Common One" tune with a "Veedon Fleece" flute (and a "No Guru" reference thrown in for good measure - if Morrison sings about something "ancient" it has to be goode, Johnny). This song also gives you an idea of what those albums would have sounded like if Brian Kennedy was singing with Morrison at that time. :eek: (his vocal is growing on me over time)
     
  13. curbach

    curbach Some guy on the internet

    Location:
    The ATX
    I did :agree: See my last post. It's interesting that he frequently reuses lyrical ideas, but this is the only case I can think of where he reuses a melody.
     
  14. Clarkophile

    Clarkophile Too Long in Exile

    Location:
    St. Thomas, ON
    Oops, missed that one!:o
    My apologies.
     
  15. Randy W

    Randy W Original Member

    I agree with the trilogy idea. I really like Veedon Fleece. I like Common One even better, and No Guru better still.
     
  16. DJ WILBUR

    DJ WILBUR The Cappuccino Kid Thread Starter

    oi....:sigh: I just heard Streets of Arklow from the 3 cd "Still on Top" release. you gotta believe whoever has remastered that has got his hand in the new remasters....

    I'm so glad I've got an original WB cd on this one. this remastered track does not sound warm at all on the new compilation and makes me think the catalog forthcoming could sound like this, which will be disappoint me. Also the tape flaw at 1:45 is so annoying on this version, where on other cd releases, something that never bothered me, now its an amplified glitch.

    very disappointing and I wont be getting this new best of, (not that I needed it) and I fear its the way the new catalog is going to sound...So now its all about the bonus tracks we're getting on these titles more than hoping for definitive cd versions.
     
  17. pig whisperer

    pig whisperer CD Member

    Location:
    Tokyo, Japan
    Check out the cymbals on "Dweller Of The Threshold". They stand out more than ever now. I just listen to "Greatest Hits - Still On Top" in the evening at low volume and I am happy. I do like the sequencing of the set. I have original CDs from Canada, Japan, U.S., W. Germany, Australia for my regular album listening.

    Compare the songs from his last few albums with the new remaster.
     
  18. DJ WILBUR

    DJ WILBUR The Cappuccino Kid Thread Starter

    I cant' I dont have it. Someone was kind enough to send me a flac file on this one song, as I'd wanted to compare this as Veedon is fresh in my mind, having both cd issues and 2 vinyl issues and have been A/Bing them all.

    i'd probably not buy this now, if it was a gift...well i'd listen but I'm not going to buy this one now. I have every song on it anyway, so dont need it and can recreate the sequencing in a playlist.

    I figured if they can get this one song to sound good, then I'd go for it. but its clipped, compressed, to my hearing, just kinda wonky.

    but if the bonus tracks are cool i'll be buying the new catalog anyway....
     
  19. pig whisperer

    pig whisperer CD Member

    Location:
    Tokyo, Japan
    David Hayes would be back on bass in 1979 for "Into The Music" (it's always a good album when Hayes is on bass), but Morrison wouldn't play with some of the great musicians from these albums again.

    After this he would take a break. All things must pass.
     

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  20. willy

    willy hooga hagga hooga

    Nice sleeve observation there PigW.

    I hope that in time we may mention the sublime 'When The World Was Made' from the W.B Yeats tribute album Now And In Time To Be. But that's for later lest it is forgotten or overlooked in This Grand Thread!
     
  21. dee

    dee Forum Resident

    Location:
    ft. lauderdale, fl
    :thumbsup:
     
  22. dee

    dee Forum Resident

    Location:
    ft. lauderdale, fl
    Agreed! :)
     
  23. Clarkophile

    Clarkophile Too Long in Exile

    Location:
    St. Thomas, ON
    :idea: :idea: http://youtube.com/watch?v=BZpt0H8gNoM:idea: :idea:

    Found this. Not the best vid quality, but still nice to hear.

    Does anyone agree with my earlier observation that "Bulbs" on Veedon sounds under-produced, as though it has the makings of a hit a la "Wild Night," but Van deliberately under-produced it? The "la-la-la-la-la-la" chorus is somewhat reminiscent of earlier hits (like "Brown Eyed Girl") but the performance feels relaxed, restrained. Let's face it, if Van had wanted a hit record, all he would have needed to do to that song was take away the drummer's brushes, give him some sticks, add a peppy horn section, and some female backing vocalists.
    Obviously that kind of approach would have been horribly out of place with the rest of the album.
    As it is, I can keep going back to "Bulbs"; I rarely listen to BEG anymore unless it's in a grocery store.
     
  24. DJ WILBUR

    DJ WILBUR The Cappuccino Kid Thread Starter



    cool clip, thanks for sharing that. I'm still curious about what Veedon songs he's peformed live and when. Anyone able to shed any light on this one?
     
  25. Sneaky Pete

    Sneaky Pete Senior Member

    Location:
    NYC USA
    I agree re: bulbs and BEG. I understand BEG has sold more copies than any other Van song, and he has never received any royalties on it.

    I wonder if he gets any royalties on Ringworm?:laugh: ;)
     
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