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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. JohnB

    JohnB Forum Resident

    I've heard the ITLTSN album was originally going to be a 3 record set. There are songs out there from an alleged acetate which contain good versions of Wild Night, Blue Money, The Way Young Lovers Do and Green, and GREAT versions of Come Running, Purple Heather and Sweet Thing. Unfortunately none of these ended up on the released album.

    As for Astral Weeks (we're still discussing this one aren't we?) I can't add much to the wonderful comments already shared in this thread. Like many, it took me a while to really appreciate this incredible album. If I remember correctly it was probably the 3rd or 4th album by Van I ever bought, and was quite different from anything I'd heard by him before. I played it once, then it sat in my closet for a few months before getting another chance. Even then it didn't hit me, but only after a year or so did I finally become absorbed by it. To my ears it sounds both old and ancient as well as new and fresh. I still hear something new each time I play it.
     
  2. MikeP5877

    MikeP5877 Non-essential

    Location:
    OH
    I'll start a new thread. I'd like to understand this, without taking up too much space in this thread. Plus I don't want to wait until we get to that album, only to find out they are the same :D
     
  3. MikeP5877

    MikeP5877 Non-essential

    Location:
    OH
    See here for new thread on this specific topic.
     
  4. dee

    dee Forum Resident

    Location:
    ft. lauderdale, fl
    Well said.
    :thumbsup:
     
  5. Clarkophile

    Clarkophile Up in T.O. keepin' jive alive

    Does anyone have any further thoughts on Astral Weeks?
     
  6. DJ WILBUR

    DJ WILBUR The Cappuccino Kid Thread Starter


    an interesting quote i found....


    The first piece of music that captured my imagination was probably Ray Charles Live At Newport. - Van Morrison

    compare that to the capturing of others imaginations with Astral Weeks. I'm going to spin this ray charles album now....see if i can hear what he heard. Wonder when he first heard it?
     
  7. dee

    dee Forum Resident

    Location:
    ft. lauderdale, fl
    The string arrangements are wondrous!
    Beside You - especially Beside You - Young Lovers, Madame George, and the title track (the 1st song, after all these years I'm not even sure if that's what it's called :p ), and Slim Slow, are five of the most compelling, distinct, and fantastic performances...and the rest of Astral Weeks is pretty good too!:p
    I think Astral Weeks should have its own continuous thread. :D . Where does one even try to go to and do after Astral Weeks?
    Well, to the moon, of course, for a "moondance?"
     
  8. DJ WILBUR

    DJ WILBUR The Cappuccino Kid Thread Starter

    not to thread crap again in my own thread, but did anyone see the moon last night? Man, it was spectacular here in NY...
     
  9. dee

    dee Forum Resident

    Location:
    ft. lauderdale, fl
    Yes, I did. I thought it was "spectacular" as well! A relatively cool night in South Florida, and when I saw the moon, I thought "there's a beautiful full moon rising, above the/that mansion on the hill." :)
     
  10. sbroache

    sbroache Forum Resident

    Location:
    Richmond, Virginia
    Was indeed awesome! When I saw it, it was near the horizon and man did it look huge. Love the harvest moon
     
  11. jason100x

    jason100x Forum Resident

    I saw it too and it was a great sight indeed!
     
  12. DJ WILBUR

    DJ WILBUR The Cappuccino Kid Thread Starter

    Its Sunday morning....(well in the US at least, you europeans are about to enjoy "tea"...also...

    a perfect time/day to listen to Astral Weeks and for all the non contributors to this thread yet, now's the time to get your impressions and posts in, I think we'll be Moondancing in a few days.....
     
  13. Clarkophile

    Clarkophile Up in T.O. keepin' jive alive

    My thoughts exactly. I'm giving Astral another listen right now while reading over the great comments posted thus far.

    One thought occurred to me about "Slim Slow Slider"--that moment when Van smacks his acoustic to end the song, and the album, is one of the most chilling moments on record.
     
  14. dee

    dee Forum Resident

    Location:
    ft. lauderdale, fl
    I like that part too. But now I'm wondering what happens after that - since I was previously unaware of the continuing instrumental section afterwards. But I do like how Slim Slow finishes. And you know, I can't remember if it's a woodwind, or stringed instrument, but doesn't when Van smack the acoustic, there's then an instrument that makes a sound like it's "fluttering," like it has "wings" and is "flying away?" Like a spirit leaving or a life ending? And this happens of course after the "I know you're dying, and I know, you know it too..." lyric.
     
  15. Clarkophile

    Clarkophile Up in T.O. keepin' jive alive

    I know it's probably an unrealistic dream, but it would be interesting to have an expanded reissue of Astral Weeks with the extended ending for SSS and songs like "Bit by Bit" and "Hey, Where Are You," plus any surviving demos included in the package.
     
  16. DJ WILBUR

    DJ WILBUR The Cappuccino Kid Thread Starter

    oh dream on...considering how little he's really released of outstanding material, this seems unlikely to me. still i'd love to hear the full slim slow myself.
     
  17. Clarkophile

    Clarkophile Up in T.O. keepin' jive alive

    And with that, we'll be moving on to Moondance soon.
    So turn up your ra-a-a-a-a-ad--deee-o, switch on your electric light, and we'll get down to what's really wrong (or right) about the album.

    I'll post my review, tracklist and cover art in a few hours.
     
  18. Clarkophile

    Clarkophile Up in T.O. keepin' jive alive

    Side one

    1. "And It Stoned Me" – 4:30
    2. "Moondance" – 4:35
    3. "Crazy Love" – 2:34
    4. "Caravan" – 4:57
    5. "Into the Mystic" – 3:25

    Side two

    1. "Come Running" – 2:30
    2. "These Dreams of You" – 3:50
    3. "Brand New Day" – 5:09
    4. "Everyone" – 3:31
    5. "Glad Tidings" – 3:42

    Personnel

    * Van Morrison - guitar, rhythm guitar, tambourine, vocals
    * Judy Clay - vocals, background vocals
    * Cissy Houston (Emily Houston) - vocals, background vocals
    * John Klingberg - bass
    * Jeff Labes - organ, percussion, piano, keyboard, clavinet
    * Gary Malabar - percussion, drums, vibraphone
    * Guy Masson - conga
    * John Platania - guitar, rhythm guitar
    * Jack Schroer - alto saxophone, soprano saxophone
    * David Shaw - clarinet, percussion
    * Collin Tilton- flute, tenor saxophone,
    * Jackie Verdell - vocals, background vocals

    For fans of the mercurial Mr. Morrison, the arrival of Moondance in early 1970 must have come as a complete volte-face after the stream-of-conscious jazz-folk of Astral Weeks. Where Van had conscripted the hired-gun jazz pros on Astral to create a suitably entrancing backdrop for his extended poetic musings, Moondance is lean, taut and concise: no extended or gratuitous solos; the entire album feels well-rehearsed and focused, as if nothing were left to chance.

    But such abrupt changes in style were not uncommon for the times. John Lennon followed up his gritty and uncompromising Plastic Ono Band with the sugary melodies of Imagine. Gene Clark’s 1967 solo debut featured a heady brew of chamber pop and “Last Train to Clarksville”-style guitar rockers, but was followed up in 1971 by the stark and stately eloquence of White Light---a style which was itself abandoned for his 1974 masterpiece No Other, a case study in ‘70s production excess which seems even more overtly overstuffed when placed in direct comparison to its more acoustic-based predecessor.
    And don’t even get me started on Neil Young's chameleonism …

    One can easily acknowledge the obvious change in Van’s style, but it’s also interesting to seek out the similarities between Astral Weeks and Moondance. The most obvious similarity exists between the finger-snapping structures of “The Way Young Lovers Do” and “Moondance”, as Van’s jazzier leanings come to the fore. But to my ear anyway, Van’s phrasing has matured in the time since Astral Weeks; he sounds like a well-seasoned pro on “Moondance” whereas some of his singing on “Young Lovers Do” sounds a tad off-key (I don’t know this for a fact; it’s just the way it sounds to me).

    The aspect of mysticism—which, it should be acknowledged, characterizes almost every album in Van’s long career—is continued with “Into the Mystic” and one of my personal favourite Morrison songs, “And It Stoned Me.”
    My first serious girlfriend loved this record. One day, close to twenty years ago now, we were discussing the album in general, and the first track in particular, and she said, “I don’t get this line about ‘Oh, the water.’” I remember thinking that I didn’t really understand it myself in a way that I could offer any kind of intelligent reply, so I just faked it. With mock stoned-hippie solemnity, I said, “He’s not saying ‘Oh, the water’. He’s saying, ‘OHHHHH, the WA-A-A-A-A-TER.’”

    It turns out I wasn’t far off. Here’s what Van the Man said about the track:

    Who knows, perhaps it was from this very memory which inspired Van's “Can you feel the silence?” leitmotif.
    In this respect, Van’s spiritual-mystical questing serves as the most elemental example of continuity within his oeuvre, notwithstanding the shifting faces of musical presentation. It is my personal belief that, perhaps unconsciously, every subsequent record Van made was his attempt to recapture that one moment of transcendence as first tasted in that drink of water on “And It Stoned Me.”
     

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  19. Craig

    Craig (unspecified) Staff

    Location:
    North of Seattle
    When I used to listen to this on vinyl I used to play side two first then side one.

    I wanted my listening to finish with Crazy Love>Caravan>Into The Mystic - a perfect trio of songs. Caravan is still my favorite song by Van.
     
  20. Solaris

    Solaris a bullet in flight

    Location:
    New Orleans, LA
    I recall reading that Morrison said the first record he ever bought was by Brownie McGhee and Sonny Terry. I can't remember the name, or if he even said the name, but Parlophone released one or two McGhee/Terry records in the fifties, which are the only releases by those in the British isles I know of from the mid to late fifties. Of course, I could be wrong, some other label might have also released some of their records and I just haven't run across them yet.
     
  21. DJ WILBUR

    DJ WILBUR The Cappuccino Kid Thread Starter

    “So real and so true”…as van sings in “These Dreams of You” and so describes this album, the complete 180 from his last one. He is name dropping Ray Charles on this tune. (The people Van has name checked in his career, WOW, so glad Tom has volunteered to keep a tab on all this namedropping, cause that’s gonna be some list of influences). Ray must have had such an impact on him, and he’s covered a few of his tunes over time…

    One of the goals for me in this thread is to get a better understanding of what influences Van, so anyone please with thoughts on this topic, please mention anything you might know about the music Van loves as a fan….

    Back to Moondance, maybe the most gorgeous tune among all these gorgeous tunes on here, “Crazy Love”, now I disliked this one as a kid, when I first heard this song, but as a grown up, this song is quite beautiful. The gospel energy of the backing vocals, the gentle guitar, his vocal delivery, there is clearly someone he wrote this for and he was still crazy in love with her when he sang it, so it sounds to me.

    Another song I disliked as a kid but now love, “Brand New Day”. What an incredible song, simple, gorgeous, again those backing vocals, that I really despised as a kid and now love…

    I was lost and double crossed, With my hands behind my back
    I was longtime hurt and thrown in the dirt, Shoved out on the railroad track
    Ive been used, abused and so confused, And I had nowhere to run
    But I stood and looked, And my eyes got hooked
    On that beautiful morning sun


    But the showcases on the album, “Caravan”, “Into the Mysic”, “And It Stoned Me” and the title track, few write four songs of this calibre in a lifetime and here they are on one album.

    The best cover song from this batch of songs I ever heard was in concert with David Gray. He encored his MSG show with “And It Stoned Me”. David was obviously so high from selling out madison square garden and the show was beyond all expections, just amazing and he came out and made this song his own. Boy, I wish they’d released it at some point as a b-side or something. I’d love to hear that again someday by him.

    The album cover is quite telling though I’m not sure it was intentional. But already its clear there are many faces to Van, that he’s going to be mercurial and moody and mysterious and turn you upside your head at every turn in the road.

    An album everyone should hear at some point, still not one of my top five van’s…but close….
     
  22. seriousfun

    seriousfun Forum Resident

    "1. "And It Stoned Me" – 4:30
    2. "Moondance" – 4:35
    3. "Crazy Love" – 2:34
    4. "Caravan" – 4:57
    5. "Into the Mystic" – 3:25

    Side two

    1. "Come Running" – 2:30
    2. "These Dreams of You" – 3:50
    3. "Brand New Day" – 5:09
    4. "Everyone" – 3:31
    5. "Glad Tidings" – 3:42"

    Ohhhhh, the waaaaaaaater...

    From the elemental and natural, to the lunar, to the carnal, to the Rom and the mysticism of Radio...on to the return of the wayfaring son...this is Van the Druid. His world here is the earth. He has moved on over the years to the heart, the mind, and the soul, but this is Van as-one with the natural.
     
  23. Clarkophile

    Clarkophile Up in T.O. keepin' jive alive

    And on one side of an album, at that! A fact which leads many to believe that the album is front loaded with hits and that side 2 is a letdown. But I too have come to appreciate the brilliance of "Brand New Day" and the rest of side 2.
     
  24. JA Fant

    JA Fant Well-Known Member

    Such a pivotal album in the VM arsenal. Happy Listening...
     
  25. DJ WILBUR

    DJ WILBUR The Cappuccino Kid Thread Starter

    Yes, it was a side one listen for me for decades...Still my first vinyl was long gone. I've managed to find a german import for .25 cents when J&R was getting rid of its vinyl section and its incredible sounding. not sure its as good as what I originally had, but its a corker.

    I know there is a "target" pressing on Moondance, would be curious to know if anyone's compared it to the original WB cd.
     
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