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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. Clarkophile

    Clarkophile Up in T.O. keepin' jive alive

    Well, you know what they say, if you're gonna steal, steal from the best.:laugh:
     
  2. MikeP5877

    MikeP5877 Non-essential

    Location:
    OH
    "Copycats ripped off my songs....copycats ripped of my words....copycats ripped of my melodies..."
     
  3. DJ WILBUR

    DJ WILBUR The Cappuccino Kid Thread Starter

    See for me How Long Has This Been Going On is even more "jazz" than What's Wrong With This Picture. but see this is just me and my "vibe" I get. Its not a "soul" vibe for me, and thats the beauty of this discussion and this artist. so many things to so many different people

    I cant really pigeon hole many Van albums as one genre....but these both are for me in the Van "jazz" category...which is maybe not "jazz" in anyone's mind but my own...."Picture" is really a melange of everything, but its being on Blue Note with that cover so its just a jazz record for me....its not really a jazz record in the traditional sense, but it works for me...

    still "How Long Has This Been Going On is a Jazz record big time for me, with some blues, swing, classic vocal stuff. some of its very Joe Jackson Jumpin Jive vibey as many in here might be familiar with that. was that a jazz record? most would say no, but i think of it as a jazz record of sorts...still with songs like "thats Life", Blues In the Night", "The New Symphony Sid", its very jazz/blues/swing to me.

    its also a heck of a listen, but I love Georgie Fame, so he's just an added treat.
     
  4. Clarkophile

    Clarkophile Up in T.O. keepin' jive alive

    We'll be making a real heavy connection with 1977's A Period of Transition on Monday. Until then, there's still adequate time for weekenders, or those vacationing in the eternal Kansas City, to post their thoughts on Veedon Fleece.
     
  5. dee

    dee Forum Resident

    Location:
    ft. lauderdale, fl
    Alright. Long Paragraph! After a longer afternoon and evening at work, I settled in late last night and revisited the Fleece. Really, I don't like to listen to it too often as I find it to be a "magical" sort of experience, and I need to listen to it straight through, without any interruptions, and consider the Fleece rather precious, and not to be overcommercialised (And yeah, I think I hear the musings and stirrings of No Guru too - especially in side one of Veedon). In Veedon Fleece, it's the performances, and the arrangements - and the recording itself - that leaves me speechless. It's so perfect I find it makes it a little difficult for me to even evaluate the songs, as songs, on the first half of the disc, as I think to myself, what singer-songwriter would even dare to dream of "covering" these songs, and have an unsuspecting audience not respond, "huh?" Regardless, I find so many revelaing lyrics in those first five songs, anyway. "Oh, ain't it lonely, when yer livin' with a gun, when you can't slow down and you can't turn around, and you can't trust anyone, you just sit there, like a butterfly, well-protected by the glass, you're so fragile you just might break, and you don't know who to ask." Or something like that, I mean, that's some revealing suff and insight into the psyche. Some very dark "humor" in Linden Arden, such as, "(he) cleaved their heads off with a hatchet...lord he was a drinking man." And harsh reality yet still, by brute force, or intransigent will, "And when someone tried to get above him, he just took the law into his own hands." Streets Of Arklow and You Don't Pull No Punches may as well not have any proper written lyrics, as far as I'm concerned, or acutley aware of, because the music alone is so lyrical and powerful that just the sound and flight of Van's voice with the music, is about all the musical transcendence I need.

    Imo, I think Country Fair is perfect as it is. I tried to make a concerted effort to try to gauge the length of time on it, and it seems wonderfully natural to me as it is. Bulbs, Cul De Sac, and Comfort You, make for a wonderful trifecta, and Come Here My Love is a reflective and moving interlude, after the trilogy, and before the receding finale of Country Fair.
     
  6. dee

    dee Forum Resident

    Location:
    ft. lauderdale, fl
    An interesting overall review of Van Morrison, and even VF, imo, still:
    1) No way!
    2) I dunno, but he does!
    3) I find it's an amazingly focused and nuanced performance of material that could very easily be perceived as too self-indulgent and narcissistic if attempted by a lesser artist, but as done by Van, in this context, it sounds pure and in tune. :) .
     
  7. tfarney

    tfarney Active Member

    Location:
    Charlotte,NC
    I'm gonna veer off-topic a bit as we roll through the weekend toward a period of transition. Bear with me. It is going to be about Van. I was listening to David Crosby's "If I Could Only Remember My Name" the other day. On one level, that is kind of the definitive smoky hippie epic, with the perfect cast of characters to boot. On another, it is one of those recordings that is so unique, so perfect and such a thing unto itself, that it was no more "in style" when it was released than it is today, and no more dated today than it was then. It is truly timeless.

    I thought that might be a great topic for a thread here, and began thinking about other albums that were similarly timeless. I realized after a few moments that nearly all of Van's records are that way. And we already have this thread.

    Tim
     
  8. I've never liked 'Astral Weeks' much (there, I said it, so shoot me ;)), but strangely enough, since its the album its most often compared to, 'Veedon Fleece' is my favourite Van Morrison album, and one of my favourite records period. The first side as it originally was on the vinyl might just be my favourite 'side' ever. Other than that I can't really add anything to any of the praises previously mentioned here.

    This part of the thread kind of confirms what I've thought about the album for a long time, that while it seems to be one of Van's lesser known releases, at the same time there's a small, but significant, minority that would judge this the man's meisterwerk over AW, and perhaps if it were better known, would be appearing in all those 'all time greatest' lists along with it.
     
  9. curbach

    curbach Some guy on the internet

    Location:
    The ATX
    VF tidbits from Heylin's book:

    All the songs save "Bulbs" and "Country Fair" (HNTH leftovers) and "Come Here My Love" (written during the recording sessions) were written during a trip to Ireland with his new girlfriend.

    The following tracks were recorded in Nov 1973 at Van's Caledonia Studio shortly after his return: Album versions of "Streets Of Arklow", "Fair Play", "You Dont Pull No Punches", "Who Was That Masked Man", "Linden Arden", "Comfort You", "Country Fair", "Come Here My Love"; outtakes "Street Theory", "Cul De Sac".

    Jeff Labes was then brought in for string and woodwind overdubs, and he helped Van edit "You Don't Pull No Punches" down from 12 plus minutes. Apparently, the initial tracklisting did not include "Bulbs".

    Van then recorded new versions of "Bulbs" and "Cul De Sac" with a different set of musicians at Mercury Studios, New York, in March 1974. According to Labes, Van felt the earlier versions didn't have "the right feeling." The New York versions ended up on the album. It is Heylin's conjecture that this was the result of pressure from Warners, although he doesn't offer up any direct evidence. Van's only comment was that it was the single and he had "nothing to say about it". The completed album was in the can before ITLTSN was released.

    Only "Bulbs" has ever been regularly featured in live sets over the years. According to David Hayes, during the '74 tour the band couldn't "get [the new songs] happening on stage." "Streets Of Arklow" was part of the acoustic set in '74 never to reappear, and "You Don't Pull No Punches" and "Cul De Sac" each made one appearance.
     
  10. dee

    dee Forum Resident

    Location:
    ft. lauderdale, fl
  11. Clarkophile

    Clarkophile Up in T.O. keepin' jive alive

    Great info here. Thanks curbach!
    It certainly sounds like there is possible bonus tracks available for the reissue of VF! A 12-minutes+ version of YDPNPBYDPTR? Unusued versions of "Bulbs" and "Cul de Sac"? I hope somebody is considering tacking those on the tail end of the re-ish.
     
  12. dee

    dee Forum Resident

    Location:
    ft. lauderdale, fl
    So then, is this "kind of an end" to the recordings/releases of Van Phase I?

    I think Astral Weeks, Moondance, St. Dominic's Preview, and Veedon Fleece, are major works from a major artist, imo. All created in a span of like only six years or so. I find it interesting that if you were to remove Moondance from that quartet, Van's music might be interpreted more as Jazz-Folk than R&B?

    I think His Band and Street Choir and Tupelo Honey are good works too. At any rate, I enjoy them both (Tupelo Honey being more consistent, imo). I'm less certain about Hard Nose, because like some of Street Band, imo, I think it's kind of too much all over the place with respect to genre and individual song quality - plus Hard Nose includes the only two cover songs he had released for his own studio albums. I think a few of the outtakes from those HN sessions are among his best work.

    So, from AW through VF, those are my thoughts on "The Man's" great work!! :righton: :thumbsup:
     
  13. dee

    dee Forum Resident

    Location:
    ft. lauderdale, fl
    And it makes me wonder...if we'll get to hear that longer instrumental exit from Slim Slow - maybe on another Philosopher's Stone release? I think the one outtake Tom really wants to hear though is the extended outro of Virgo Clowns - apparently the laughing goes on for a bellyaching and gutbusting additional ten minutes or so. :p . Does anybody remember laughter? At this rate, I have apparently and unwittingly realized Van's Music at this stage does indeed make me feel like I'm both levitating and rushing towards the top of any imagined stairway to heaven.
    :goodie:

    Van Zeppelin or Led Morrison? No fear, no more Hindenberg references. Damn the Zeppelin! Must they permeate even the most sacred of all? smileyface. However, Battle Of Evermore and Friends might even be Morrison-friendly turf. Over The Hills and Far Away anybody. Hmnn! Oh, let's not go there. Sorry!
     
  14. Clarkophile

    Clarkophile Up in T.O. keepin' jive alive

    Either that or the legendary Van-less, Janet Planet-only extended takes that are rumoured to exist of "Call Me Up in Dreamland" and "Blue Money."
    ...with extra "Doo-dah...doo-dah" parts.:p

    Time is running out for Veedon and we'll make the transition into another period tomorrow morning.
    "And we'll a-take those ol' wolfhounds a-promenadin' down by the churchyard,
    go walkin' way into the gloamin'...All right..."

    ...and so on.
     
  15. Planbee

    Planbee Forum Resident

    Location:
    Chicago
    I never heard Veedon Fleece until this week. I've listened to it three times and like most of it. "Bulbs" doesn't do a whole lot for me, and Van's, um, "vocalizing" toward the end of "Cul De Sac" ruins the song for me. Otherwise, it's a cool album--really strong first half.

    I noticed Van's falsetto, but since Moondance is the only other album of his I've heard, I thought maybe that was a standard Van thing.
     
  16. DJ WILBUR

    DJ WILBUR The Cappuccino Kid Thread Starter

    but you do HAVE Poetic's Champions Compose, dont you Bee? as several of those songs are instrumentals, i imagine your compose-ition for that one will be shorter than this one....:eek:
     
  17. DJ WILBUR

    DJ WILBUR The Cappuccino Kid Thread Starter


    i think its time for a Transition Mr. Boreen...the Bee has spoken, time to move on....
     
  18. Planbee

    Planbee Forum Resident

    Location:
    Chicago
    Hey, I'm not getting paid by the word here... ;)
     
  19. DJ WILBUR

    DJ WILBUR The Cappuccino Kid Thread Starter

    Well that was Charles Dickens I guess....Still, you're such a wordy bloke....I feel cheated on your personal "looking for the Veedon Fleece".....:(
     
  20. Planbee

    Planbee Forum Resident

    Location:
    Chicago
    Well, maybe if we were talking about another 1974 album, Court and Spark... :love:

    Maybe I didn't write very much, but you should take some pride in getting Planbee to listen to a non-jazz, non-female album three times in one week. Doesn't happen very often...
     
  21. tfarney

    tfarney Active Member

    Location:
    Charlotte,NC
    Planbee -- Jen likes Van.

    Tim
     
  22. Planbee

    Planbee Forum Resident

    Location:
    Chicago
    Too funny--it took me a bit to figure out you were talking about Jennifer Aniston. My avatars are usually of more obscure women--I'm not used to my avs getting the attention that Jenny has (boy, could I tell you a story...)
     
  23. Clarkophile

    Clarkophile Up in T.O. keepin' jive alive

    A Period of Transition, 1977

    Side One

    "You Gotta Make It Through the World" – 5:10
    "It Fills You Up" – 4:34
    "The Eternal Kansas City" – 5:26

    Side Two

    "Joyous Sound" – 2:48
    "Flamingos Fly" – 4:41
    "Heavy Connection" – 5:23
    "Cold Wind in August" – 5:48

    Personnel:
    Van Morrison: acoustic and electric guitars, vocal, harmonica
    Mac Rebennack (Dr. John): piano, organ, clavinet, guitar
    Reggie McBride: bass guitar
    Ollie E. Brown: drums, percussion
    Marlo Henderson: guitar
    Jerry Jumonville: tenor and alto saxophones
    Joel Peskin: baritone saxophone
    Mark Underwood: trumpet
    Robbie Montgomery, Roger Kennerly-Saint, Gregory Wright, Carlena Williams, Paulette Parker, Candy Nash, Toni McVey, Gary Garrett and Joe Powell: backing vocals

    Producers: Van Morrison, Dr. John
    Engineer: Gary Ladinsky


    By today’s standards, two and a half years is not an unusual interval between album releases. In fact this seems to be the norm, if not the rule for most artists. For Van Morrison, who had released seven albums of all-new material in seven years, along with a double-live outing, a rest may have been in order. The 1974 to 1977 period is often referred to as Van’s “retirement”, but it’s clear from The Philosopher’s Stone compilation that he was recording throughout this supposed retirement. (He also made a memorable appearance at The Last Waltz in 1976.) Inexplicably, bizarrely, over an album’s worth of superb material was recorded and left on the shelf. Consider this formidable list of just some of the vault-bound gems:

    1974
    “Twilight Zone”
    “Foggy Mountain Top”
    “Flamingoes Fly”

    1975
    “Naked in the Jungle”
    “There There Child”
    “The Street Only Knew Your Name”
    “Western Plain”
    “Joyous Sound”
    “I Have Finally Come to Realize”


    In my review of Veedon Fleece I made grand claims about how this album was a defining moment wherein Van realized he would need to pursue his own artistic vision, separate and distinct from the rigours of the Music Biz. I stand by that contention, even though the first results of this declaration of independence, 1977's A Period of Transition, would mark the first in a two-album artistic slump (along with 1978's Wavelength), which would not be overcome until 1979's Into the Music and 1980's Common One.

    A Period of Transition has many problems, the first of which can be attributed to an over-reliance on repetition without a trace of nuance or inspiration---both hallmarks of Van’s earlier repetitive triumphs, like “Listen to the Lion”. Here, the repetition seems to be gratuitous and evidence of a paucity of any real songwriting ideas. The musicians chosen for this album do not seem capable of adding anything memorable to this material. They may have been under-rehearsed, simply lacking the empathy previously exhibited by the Caledonia Soul Orchestra, or Van just did not give them much of a song to play off of–-perhaps a combination of all three.
    Song by song, then: “You Gotta Make It Through the World” is okay, but overlong, and quickly wears out its welcome before becoming just plain irritating with its tiresome string of false endings.
    “It Fills You Up” has sort of a bayou lasciviousness that gets bogged down in its own repetitive quagmire. “The Eternal Kansas City” is, well...
    Just.
    Plain.
    Odd.
    “Joyous Sound” pales in comparison to the earlier recorded version mentioned above; same goes for “Flamingoes Fly.” In my alternate Van universe, the Philosopher’s Stone versions are the real versions, and the APOT versions are the castoffs.
    Only “Heavy Connection” survives the bland production and uninspired performances to reach Van’s usual high standards.
    “Cold Wind in August” ends the album with an undistinguished whimper.
    Ironically, rather than having been rejuvenated by this period of transition, Van seems to have temporarily lost the artistic vision and direction he fought so hard to have the freedom to express.

    A note on the cover: A Period of Transition also features one of the worst album covers ever issued on behalf of a major artist. It’s as if someone gave the explicit instructions to the photographer: “I want you to shoot an entire roll of the most unflattering shots imaginable of this man and fit as many of them as possible onto this cover...or else you’re fired. Do you understand me?” By turns, Van looks uncomfortable, flatulent, seedy, constipated, intoxicated, bored silly, ghostly pale, awkward and nauseous. It also appears that his “casual, relaxed Van look” amounts to nothing more propping up his menacing countenance with his left hand, with his left elbow on the table.

    An atrocious cover.
     

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  24. onlyconnect

    onlyconnect The prose and the passion

    Location:
    Winchester, UK
    As I understand it, the title actually refers to the cover pic. I recall some interview when Van expressed surprise that some people thought it was about the music.

    Tim
     
  25. MikeP5877

    MikeP5877 Non-essential

    Location:
    OH
    "The Eternal Kansas City" is appropriately named because it seems to go on for eternity.
     
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