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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
    The Man looks good! :)
     
  2. JohnB

    JohnB Forum Resident

    That's about 7 more than I was aware of :p
     
  3. tfarney

    tfarney Active Member

    Location:
    Charlotte,NC
    Is that a smile? I thought it was gas.

    Tim
     
  4. Clarkophile

    Clarkophile Too Long in Exile

    Location:
    St. Thomas, ON
    A Period of Transition and Hard Nose the Highway bear the dubious distinction of being the only Van covers I have refused to keep as my screen saver through the week of their discussion.
    I skipped right to Wavelength.
     
  5. JPartyka

    JPartyka I Got a Home on High

    Location:
    USA
    I have this album on vinyl, and I don't really have any complaints about the sound quality really. My complaints are more about the music itself, which I find quite leaden and charmless ... I love Van's music dearly overall, but I just have not been able to get into this one at all. But I do plan to give it another chance after reading some of the comments above.

    As for the cover ... some of those pics are almost funny, and one or two or a little creepy (I'm thinking of one in particular where Van is giving this odd look to the camera out of the corner of his eye).
     
  6. dee

    dee Forum Resident

    Location:
    ft. lauderdale, fl
    I'm with ya on the HN cover. Lousy post of mine to have the distinction of leading off a page. Ugh. I'll try to elaborate!

    Finally revisited Too Late To Stop Now, on Sunday night. Was going to wait till APOT discussion slowed, but t'is all I haver to share right now. Itunes! Anyway, how often can I sit through an hour and a half, or thereabouts, of any one/two particular shows from the same concert era, and not get bored...at all! Not that often. Good Stuff! Really enjoyed virtually every song and performance!

    Just a thought...Wild Children has always sounded a little "different" to me on this live set than any of the other recordings/performances from ITLTSN. Probably just me, and my imagination, but I was reminded of that again when I listened the other night. It's the "presence" or "atmospere" of the vocal, that sounds peculiar to me (like it's not "live-sounding"). I must be imagining it! I know Van said he did no overdubs for the concerts.

    Anyway, I say, I enjoyed everything - even the subtle variations of some of his epics. It finally dawned on me that Take Your Hand Out Of My Pocket might as well be aimed at the music business too.
     
  7. dee

    dee Forum Resident

    Location:
    ft. lauderdale, fl
    Well, geez. I listened to ITLTSN again last night. :righton: :righton:
     
  8. JPartyka

    JPartyka I Got a Home on High

    Location:
    USA
    :righton: It's great, right from the first track "Ain't Nothing You Can Do." Van's recording moved me to seek out the Bobby Bland version, which has a different feel and structure, but is also fantastic.

    [​IMG]
     
  9. DJ WILBUR

    DJ WILBUR The Cappuccino Kid Thread Starter

    seems slow in this thead...is it this album? or the looming holiday????

    and speaking of holidays, our next album "Wavelength" might start a bit later next week than I'd like to start it, so

    Oh mama, oh mama, oh mama, oh mama oh mama, oh mama

    Wavelength
    Wavelength
    You never let me down...no
    You never let me down...no


    might post next tuesday....:sigh: sorry for the delay, holiday issues in the way....
     
  10. DJ WILBUR

    DJ WILBUR The Cappuccino Kid Thread Starter

    no rules in here, its a Van free for all, we have an agenda, but still, all Van talk is worthwhile IMO....and I think the APOT discussion has not only slowed but come to a grinding halt....
     
  11. Clarkophile

    Clarkophile Too Long in Exile

    Location:
    St. Thomas, ON
    ...which I attribute to the putrid, nauseating orangey-pink-yellow colours on the APOT cover. Wanna see it again? Do ya? I know ya do. :evil: :thumbsup:

    Even the chosen font looks cheap.
     

    Attached Files:

  12. DJ WILBUR

    DJ WILBUR The Cappuccino Kid Thread Starter


    now that my be my favorite sentence of the day!
     
  13. dee

    dee Forum Resident

    Location:
    ft. lauderdale, fl
    Y'know. I agree with you about those brighter colors. I like the "blues," but all together the colors look a bit whacked to me too :p But I love the poses!

    Wow, the 45, no less, of Bobby "blue" Bland's recording! Very, very cool! I saw him perform in a little club in Deerfield Beach, FL, about - oh - six years ago, or so. Anyway, the tour bus parked right outside the main entrance to the club. A few hangers-on, like me, loitered on the adjacent sidewalk, and eventually we lined up in file like a stack of "dominos" :p and got our chance to meet the fellow. He looked very old and moved very slowly, but was ultra cool. Very strange scene was that there was a much younger woman, who to my mind didn't know Mr. Bland, and as he greeted her and said something innocuous and barely put his hand on her shoulder in greeting, she freaked and gave him attittude and said something like get away from you old man. I think Bobby might have thought she might be there to see the show, or meet him, like the rest of us were, but I believe she was just walking down the sidewalk, oblivious to the whole thing. It was kinda funny, but kinda sad -more I thought a reflection on that young thing than on anything the legend might have done! One of Mr. Bland's people was like, what the heck is your problem, sister? Anyway, the concert itself was exciting to see. Not sure if the vocal mic worked though! Couldn't hear hardly a word. No one was really sure if his voice was gone that night or they had trouble with the mics. The whole thing was quite surreal.
     
  14. dee

    dee Forum Resident

    Location:
    ft. lauderdale, fl
    Moving from left to right, photos two and nine look like Van is playing cards! Maybe trying to win a bet and avoid "paying the devil."
     
  15. tfarney

    tfarney Active Member

    Location:
    Charlotte,NC
    Perhaps what this has referred to all along is the period in which he began transitioning out of his hair.

    Tim
     
  16. DJ WILBUR

    DJ WILBUR The Cappuccino Kid Thread Starter

    any more thoughts on this transitional period of hair loss and lousy photos?

    here is the Rolling Stone review (reviews this and the Bands "Islands" album together)....



    It's been a long haul for both the Band and Van Morrison; they have made their livings as rock & rollers for close to 20 years now. To judge solely by their new albums (Morrison's is his first release since 1974) time is catching up with them, though whether they will again outdistance it remains an open question. Morrison made better music in '64 and '65 with Them, the first (and last?) great Irish rock & roll band; as the Hawks, the Band made better music in '63, covering Bobby Bland and Muddy Waters tunes at the tail end of a Ronnie Hawkins session. Not that rock & roll has ever had anything to do with "progress."

    There is a lot of neo-R&B huffing and puffing on A Period of Transition (from what to what?), but Morrison's performances rarely find a focus, almost never hit a groove. The grand gestures of Morrison's style at its most rhetorical ("We are Them, take it or leave it," he snarled during his 1964 sessions) fade in the air. The emotion that would justify those gestures, that would put a little terror into borrowed lines like "From a whisper to a scream," is just out of reach: Transition is "Jackie Wilson Said" without the bite.

    The key to the album's sluggishness is the dullness of the horn charts. Van is the most inventive and lyrical arranger of horns rock & roll has known since the heyday of Stax-Volt, but "Flamingos Fly" is the only tune to which the horns add anything but sound; there, they add wit and a sense of fun. This is "Jackie Wilson Said" and something more; the album's finest number by a long distance. The groove is irresistible, and it capsizes the rest of the album.

    Van Morrison once sang "Listen to the Lion" and made you feel as if you'd been cornered by one; he will do it again, but he doesn't do it on Transition. This is by no means a bad album, but it lives up to its title all too well.

    "I'm not really here, I just stick around for my friends," Captain Beefheart used to say, and that sums up what I hear on Islands—which is not nothing. To be sure, there's not a grand gesture on it. I can't imagine this album meaning anything to someone who does not feel that his or her successes and failures are somehow reflected in the Band's. If one does feel that, Islands is anything but hollow—it may sound like an unassuming last word, if hardly a last stand.

    Since the members of the Band have not moved to Hawaii, it's the album's title, and the specter of the Band's recent farewell concert, that implies that last word. Rick Danko and Levon Helm have signed solo recording contracts, and Helm is already working with Dr. John and Paul Butterfield; the thinness of the material on Islands suggests they may be keeping their best songs for their own albums, and the inclusion of a couple of oldies doesn't make up the difference. "Ain't That a Lotta Love," a barband staple that a couple of years ago on a San Francisco stage Levon, Garth Hudson, Danko, Neil Young, Tim Drummond and Ben Keith stomped out as if they meant to stop the sun in its tracks, is on Islands the stiffest excuse for R&B I ever want to hear; too many of Robbie Robertson's tunes offer cracker-barrel banalities without the music that could redeem them—or disguise them. "You don't know what you want 'til you find out what you need" might be true and it might not be, but the point is it isn't interesting.

    Save for a couple of Richard Manuel's vocals, I was ready to give up on this record. Then I began to hear it on the radio, and it sounded fresh. Now, while the first side of the LP passes pleasantly and tiresomely enough, side two seems like real people talking: that last word. "Islands," the title instrumental, is slight and pretty—it disarms one's desire for grand gestures, and it sets a tone. The tone is one of moderation; that is almost what the best songs here are about, in their music, in the feeling they get across. Manuel's version of "Georgia on My Mind" recalls the heart he put into "Whispering Pines," almost eight years ago. "Knockin' Lost John," a fine, unprofound ditty about the Great Depression of the Thirties, simply speaks to the present, and again, Manuel, without ever reaching for a note, gives the piece its authenticity; his voice carries the authority of an old man who can put up with anything but who'd just as soon not. "I went through it once," he seems to be saying. "I'm damned if I'll go through it again."

    And then there is "Livin' in a Dream," which closes out the set: a rewrite of "Row Row Row Your Boat." Well, it is the best song on Islands—a perfect cut. I hear it as a leave-taking, but then I have finales on my mind. The beat could not be less hurried, nor could the lines Levon sings, nor the way he sings them:

    I'm gonna buy buy buy you

    A sheepskin coat

    I'm gonna string red rubies round your throat

    Gently down the stream I will row your boat

    'Cause you know we're only livin' in a dream.

    There's no languor in the song, only pleasure; there are no promises that can't be kept, and the promises Levon makes seem to have been kept when the tune ends. That spirit doesn't sell records, but it may keep them in mind, when the time is right.



    Still, in rock & roll a little modesty goes a long way. These are not the worst albums Van Morrison and the Band have made, but except for Morrison's "Flamingos Fly" and the Band's "Livin' in a Dream" they make the best almost inexplicable. One cannot think of the power of "Chest Fever" and easily understand the triviality of "Ain't That a Lotta Love"; one can't quite pin down the fatal difference between the urgency of "St. Dominic's Preview" or "You Don't Pull No Punches but You Don't Push the River" and the unconvincing strain of most of Transition. What you do, if you are committed to these artists, is wait. (RS 239)



    GREIL MARCUS



    (Posted: May 19, 1977)
     
  17. Clarkophile

    Clarkophile Too Long in Exile

    Location:
    St. Thomas, ON
    Personally, I think it's a little unfair to compare those two albums side by side, since Van had 2 1/2 years to come up with APOT and Islands was a tossed-off contractual obligation album featuring some songs which had been lying around for years as opposed to an honest-to-goodness late-period Band album like Northern Lights-Southern Cross.
    However, I do think both albums display a certain amount of '70's Ennui-Burnout Syndrome.
     
  18. albert_m

    albert_m Forum Resident

    Location:
    Atl., Ga, USA
    It's worth it for me with "It fills you up" alone, but I also enjoy this version of "flamingos fly" a lot. I do prefer the Philosopher's Stone version of Joyous Sound better though. I have a hard time with the KC song, but "Cold Wind in August" is a decent slower Van song. As an a;bum, it's not as solid to me as Wavelength which I enjoy pretty much every track, but the good R&B sounds are worthwhile.
     
  19. Clarkophile

    Clarkophile Too Long in Exile

    Location:
    St. Thomas, ON
    I was flipping through Hinton's Celtic Crossroads looking for APOT info and came upon this interesting (well, for me, anyway) comparison of it with Gene Clark's No Other:

    He goes on to compare "Heavy Connection" with "From a Silver Phial" and "Flamingos Fly" with "Silver Raven," but I'm not sure I buy the idea of a parallel between the two albums anyway; I just thought I'd post it to see if anyone else sees a heavy connection between them that I'm missing.
    The comparison seems inapt, or possibly even gratuitous, to me.
     
  20. MikeP5877

    MikeP5877 Non-essential

    Location:
    OH
    Wow, I don't hear any connection whatsover (heavy or otherwise) between No Other and APOT.

    If the author compared the "lost dreams and found dreams in America" theme of Wavelength to No Other I'd (maybe) get the connection, but certainly not with APOT.

    If I had to find a parallel album to APOT it would be Wings Wild Life - songs with little substance in the first place being stretched out with seemingly endless repetition to fill up an album side (side 1 moreso than side 2). Not necessarily bad songs, but songs that would have benefited greatly from a little editing.
     
  21. Clarkophile

    Clarkophile Too Long in Exile

    Location:
    St. Thomas, ON
    Yep, I think that's a more fitting comparison there. Hinton's book is subtitled "The Art of Van Morrison," and he seems desperate to let the reader know how well-rounded his [Hinton's, that is] listening and reading habits are. He has a regrettable penchant for name checking various works, authors and musicians, setting up as false parallels with Van--or at least parallels that had they been drawn to Van's attention would doubtless draw hearty laughter--and all of it signifying nothing.
     
  22. Clarkophile

    Clarkophile Too Long in Exile

    Location:
    St. Thomas, ON
    Van Quiz: In what respect do these albums have a link to Van Morrison?
    The first person with the correct answer will receive a limited edition CD-R of DJWilbur Sings Van recorded live in the shower.:p
     

    Attached Files:

  23. JohnB

    JohnB Forum Resident

    Were the albums covers shot by the same person who did Van's Wavelength cover? They have the same ambiance. I'm probably wrong, but if I'm somehow right then I have a question for you. Does this prize come with a set of earplugs? :help:
     
  24. Clarkophile

    Clarkophile Too Long in Exile

    Location:
    St. Thomas, ON
    You are correct, sir. Norman Seeff is the photographer.

    A collection of some of his covers can be viewed here:
    http://www.normanseeff.com/

    We aren't starting Wavelength until Monday, I guess, but I just wanted to give the thread a Saturday morning bump.
     
  25. dee

    dee Forum Resident

    Location:
    ft. lauderdale, fl
    So, it was like 2 years plus between the release of VF and APOT, and APOT amounts to little more than a half-hour of music, and seven songs? I've only heard Flamingos Fly and Joyous Sound - from the PS release. I love Flamingos Fly :righton: (Joyous Sound sounds like a bit of a toss-off to me :eek:). So, with this in mind, what do you think of the recordings during the time between VF and APOT that are included on Philosopher's Stone? Might the inclusion of any of them have improved the fans and critics opinion of APOT? As part of revisionist history, certainly Van (and his record label?) had enough material from outtakes of his previous album sessions to have used a few of those recordings to put together a stronger follow-up to VF?
     
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