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Van Morrison - Album by Album discussion - PART THREE

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by DJ WILBUR, Feb 29, 2008.

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  1. tfarney

    tfarney Active Member

    Not to veer off topic, but what jazz acts? I struggle to find anything I want to listen to past about '65.

    The Curmudgeon of Charlotte
  2. Sneaky Pete

    Sneaky Pete Senior Member


    I don't want to digress but in NYC we have world class jazz every night of the week. I have seen McCoy Tyner, Mingus Big Band, and Sonny Rollins. As for younger artists I've sen the Harper Brothers, Joshua Redmond, and James Carter. All these acts were at small venues.:agree:

    Recent rock acts I've seen at small clubs were Rose Hill and a personal favorite Super 400. That is one nice thing about NYC.

    DJ WILBUR The Cappuccino Kid Thread Starter

    Hey gohill, I managed to hear this for the first time last night. Man, on first listen his new album is quite a nice surprise and several songs already seem like songs I'm going to like for a long time. The Closer "Behind The Ritual" is another classic closing Van track....the "blah blah blah blah blah blah blah" section had me cracking up. what a fun way for him to riff for a bit, but man if that song doesnt make you wanna drink some wine and get high on the ritual...wow...getting high, so high....

    many other songs hit right on first listen..., No Thing and Soul along with Ritual make for a stunning one two three punch closing section....still need a few more listens...wondered what cuts were standing up for you.....

    anyone else hearing the new album yet? its out oversea's...and in the US in a couple of weeks....

    regarding the rest of this weeks topic. its open for all sorts of Van Morrison discussion....we'll regroup late in the week/early next week to discuss the 1990's decade live offering....so anything Van is welcome right now...and we're still waiting for Mr. Toms celtic ruminations....or did i miss that? :eek:

    DJ WILBUR The Cappuccino Kid Thread Starter

    the New York Times concert review from Last Saturday's show

    Van Morrison on Science, the Spiritual and Rituals

    Published: March 17, 2008
    “Entrainment” is not an everyday word, but it’s a term used in various fields of science. It can describe the phenomenon of one organism rhythmically and internally adjusting itself to another. It’s when life-pulses coordinate.

    Fireflies lighting up in synchronization has been described as entrainment. Jazz musicians locking in together is, in its way, entrainment. On Saturday at the United Palace Theater in Washington Heights, Van Morrison used the word about 20 times in a new song. The 11-piece band cycled through three chords, and he sang entirely about love, or entirely about music: hold the words up to the light, and they could go either way.

    You when the sun goes down
    You in the evening, in the morning when the sun comes round
    You with your ballerina dance
    Well you put me back in a trance

    “That’s entrainment,” he sang in the chorus, six times in a row. Then:

    You make me holler, make me holler when you come around
    Oh want you to shake your money maker, want you to shake ’em on down
    Shake your money maker, shake your money maker, shake ’em on down.

    And again: “that’s entrainment, that’s entrainment, that’s entrainment, that’s entrainment, that’s entrainment, that’s entrainment.”

    The song, “That’s Entrainment,” is on Mr. Morrison’s new album, “Keep It Simple” (Lost Highway), to be released April 1. Like a lot of the record — and a lot of Saturday’s 90-minute show, which centered heavily on new songs — it’s both nothing special and extraordinarily wise. It’s an album about calming down after a life of rigmarole. On Saturday Mr. Morrison played a ukulele with it, brushing out simple chords. It felt like an instant song, though one that had magically acquired a richly detailed, beautifully practiced accompaniment.

    The feeling of the new songs was somewhere between Western swing and rhythm and blues. The band, a weird compound, included pedal-steel guitar, fiddle, trumpet, Hammond organ, piano, a British drummer (Neal Wilkinson) with a perfected Los Angeles studio-session slow groove, and backup vocalists with an archaic, Jordanaires style of ooh-wee-oohing. Mr. Morrison, oblique behind sunglasses and in a dark suit, saying nearly nothing, cued the band throughout. He tugged it and pushed it with abrupt, shooting-hand gestures, working it like a kite. They looked tense, and he looked imperious. It was consummate, exemplary bandleading.

    He halted solos or ordered new ones, shut down songs before they outstayed their welcome, made downbeats stronger and quieted the band for little repetitive vocal solos. In his version of “St. James Infirmary” he sang long melismatic stretches on the word “James.” In “Behind the Ritual,” another new song, he sketched out a vision of youthful excess: “Boogie-woogie child in the alley/Drinking that wine, making time, talking out of my mind” — and then stilled the band to a whisper for one of his solos. He sang, “Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah voo-a, voo-a, voo-a, voo-a.”

    The moral of that song — the chant that ended up in your head — was up a level from the subject of wine and alleys: it is “behind the ritual/You find the spiritual.” Other new and recent songs dwelled directly on leaving old excesses behind — “don’t need juice to unwind,” “stop drinking that wine, sonny boy” — but they weren’t necessarily moral or health warnings. They suggested that drinking and staying out late was just more ritual, more stuff invented to obscure what matters in the end.

    DJ WILBUR The Cappuccino Kid Thread Starter

    Times U.K. online review of "Keep It Simple"

    From The Times March 14, 2008

    Van Morrison: Keep It Simple
    Pete Paphides

    “I was educated by the school of hard knocks,” sings Van Morrison a mere six minutes into his 32nd studio album. To anyone familiar with the leafy Belfast boulevards bordering what a recent biography described as the “secular, quasi-liberal” environs of Orangefield Boys School, the opening line of School of Hard Knocks may come as something of a revelation.

    But then, so what if Violet Morrison's cossetted only child is gilding the biographical lily? Lately, Morrison's work has suffered from the reverse problem - a say-what-you-see procession of R&B dirges concerning, variously, the music industry, fame and critics. He's been shooting the messenger for so long now that it's a wonder he can get beyond the front door for all the bodies piled up outside it.

    Criticisms from outside can be ignored, less so the ones from within. And the air of musical and spiritual decluttering on Keep It Simple - not least the rhapsodic title track - suggests that even Morrison himself was willing to change the record. It starts with a pared-back blues called How Can a Poor Boy, which sounds OK at first, and then - once you realise that it's a prelude to later, greater heights - somehow doubles in your affections.

    We're not talking Astral Weeks or Veedon Fleece-style flights of fancy here. At this point it would be insane to expect such sonic off-roading. Nonetheless, songs such as Soul and Entrainment reveal an engaged Morrison allowing his phrasing to flourish in the space vacated by his horn section. It would be better still if he felt brave enough to rest the backing singers occasionally - especially on the nondescript No Thing - but Morrison's insistence that he produce all his records precludes any possibility of an album that lays him bare in the same way that Rick Rubin did with Johnny Cash and Neil Diamond.

    That said, Keep It Simple is a better Van Morrison album than anyone had a right to expect - not least on its closing song. Fanning out from a rimshot-riding mandolin phrase, Behind the Ritual returns to a theme that has informed his best songs from Into the Mystic and on. When he's on that sort of form, he could sing “blah blah blah” for 16 bars and still suspend your entire sense of self. No idle conjecture, this. That's exactly what he does. And that's exactly what happens.


    DJ WILBUR The Cappuccino Kid Thread Starter

    The Rolling Stone 3 1/2 * review

    Rolling Stone online review....

    At this point in his career, Van Morrison is less interested in surprises than in further exploring his long-standing obsessions: surviving the shocks of this life and rising gracefully toward the next one. Keep It Simple finds him looking back on his sixty-two years, filled with longing — for home, for deliverance from the world's demands, for spiritual transcendence. He boasts of surviving the "School of Hard Knocks," wryly chronicles a newfound sobriety in the aging roustabout's lament "Don't Go to Nightclubs Anymore" and sails into the mystic on the album closer, "Behind the Ritual." Typically, the band settles into a comfortable groove while Morrison lifts off into the trancelike realm he calls "entrainment." Meanwhile, the arrangements are elegantly spare: subtle works of guitar, bass, keyboards, percussion, occasional backup singers and, at the center of it all, Morrison's incomparable voice, as expressive as ever. "Only a fool could think that things would ever be simple again," he sings on the title track. But on this simple, soulful record, that kind of foolishness feels like wisdom.
  7. Solaris

    Solaris a bullet in flight

    New Orleans, LA
    Well I don't know what happened, but I'm able to visit the forum at work again (I wasn't able to for a while there). So...Hi again all!

    Did I miss Irish Heartbeat?

    DJ WILBUR The Cappuccino Kid Thread Starter

    no, you can chime on in whenever you'd like to. we did figure it best for St. Pats day, but somewhere somehow that day must still be celebrated. Nice to see you Jason...I owe you an email.....been crazy....

    its "any van" topic week, so anything you care to Van speak about.
  9. Solaris

    Solaris a bullet in flight

    New Orleans, LA
    Well good then!

    I think this was my third Van Morrison album, right after Moondance and Astral Weeks. I must have bought it around 1989, just as I was starting to explore Irish traditional music. Loved it then, still love it now.

    Interesting fact about Van not going beyond a few takes, which I think kept The Chieftans from being too polished, which I find some of their other recordings to be. This one has a spark to most of it that keeps it fresh.

    DJ WILBUR The Cappuccino Kid Thread Starter

    Nashville show review on Reuters

    Van Morrison a little too mellow at Ryman show By Tom Roland Mon Mar 17, 12:24 AM ET

    NASHVILLE (Hollywood Reporter) - Van Morrison's new album "Keep It Simple," just released Tuesday, hinges on various roots music forms -- blues, folk, country and the occasional gospel -- and if you're going to limit your U.S. tour to three public shows and a South by Southwest showcase, then Nashville's historic Ryman Auditorium is a strong symbolic location to underscore the premise.

    Two years ago, touring behind his country album "Pay the Devil," Morrison gave a stellar, emotional performance at the Wiltern in Los Angeles, but on this evening, the emotions were much more subtle -- unfortunately, so nuanced that much of the night turned into a mellow, mildly satisfying affair.

    Dressed in his typical black suit, black hat and sunglasses, Morrison led the band through a 90-minute rendition that set aside, with one exception, the most familiar elements of his catalog, devoting at least half of the performance to "Simple." He fueled every song with his trademark ad-libs: throaty slurred phrases, scat vamps and compulsively repeated words.

    It worked at times, particularly when several songs faded to low volume and he punctuated the air with staccato shouts. But mostly, the lines felt like filler, less inspired than required.

    The band fared much better, each player weaving lyrical solos on top of his or her predecessor's work with taste and fluidity. Their pass-around solos, tossed out by Morrison with small, undramatic gestures, were somewhat reminiscent of Bob Wills' Western swing shows, a particularly interesting comparison given an unexpected twist in the staging for the program.

    Morrison called out the crew early to move the drums from the back of the stage to a more intimate location; Ryman legend has it that in Wills' 1944 debut on the Opry, which did not allow drums, he convinced management to allow drummer Monte Mountjoy to play behind a curtain, only to pull the kit onstage at the last minute.

    Rather appropriately, Morrison's one truly inspired section came when he played tribute to the Opry, belting a unique version of late member Don Gibson's "I Can't Stop Loving You." His roller-coaster vocal slides and a shuddering fiddle solo brought deserved applause.

    He picked up an even bigger response by closing the night with "Gloria." It was hardly a transcendent version, but garage rock at least stayed with the theme: It doesn't get much simpler than that.

    Reuters/Hollywood Reporter

    DJ WILBUR The Cappuccino Kid Thread Starter

    yeah it is a great one and I been enjoying a minty fresh vinyl on this one all day yesterday...i might have to needledrop that one....:whistle:
  12. Solaris

    Solaris a bullet in flight

    New Orleans, LA
    Yes you might indeed!

    DJ WILBUR The Cappuccino Kid Thread Starter

  14. Clarkophile

    Clarkophile Too Long in Exile

    St. Thomas, ON
    I've been out of the office all day so I didn't get a chance to "work" at SHtv. :laugh: Interesting posts, William. Will tap in later after I've settled in.
  15. pdenny

    pdenny 19-Year SHTV Participation Trophy Recipient

    Hawthorne CA

    "Mack Rawden of BlendMusic may have hit the nail on the head when he said,

    Goddamn you, Van. I don’t want an entire LP about how much it sucks for people to ask for autographs while you’re dining at a classy restaurant. I need more unspeakable pain and more dreary hopelessness. Whoever tore out your heart a few months before recording Astral Weeks needs to reenter your life and remove the charred last remnants of your soul. Now, that would be something to sing about."

    DJ WILBUR The Cappuccino Kid Thread Starter

    yeah, SO interesting, nary a comment all day....:winkgrin:

    Maybe I assigned too much homework?
  17. adriatikfan

    adriatikfan Forum Resident

    New album:

    Music: 8 out of ten
    Vocals: 6 out of ten
    Lyrics: 2 out of ten (and I think I'm being generous).

    'I was educated by the School of Hard Knocks' !!! This is embarassing from an artist of the man's stature - the 'Blah blah blah' I find cringeworthy too (although others seem to appreciate it)

    Would we accept such paltry fayre from lesser artists? Probably not. I'd love to love this album but I don't think that's going to happen. Sadly!

    Best Wishes

    DJ WILBUR The Cappuccino Kid Thread Starter

    are we all on vaNcation?
  19. Clarkophile

    Clarkophile Too Long in Exile

    St. Thomas, ON
    I've been away from the office for a couple of days and have been too exhausted at nighttime to get anything together.

    Listening to the Chieftains album made me wonder how many Celtic-styled songs Van has done throughout his career. Might be fun to compile songs of this flavour. Off the top of my head I can think of "Rolling Hills" from Into the Music and "Tura Lura Lural" from The Last Waltz.
    Anyone else think of any?
  20. Baron Von Talbot

    Baron Von Talbot Well-Known Member

    got the new Van Morrison album since monday and i like it a lot. It is about as good and pleasing as Down The Road. The most daring piece is the last track where he sings " Bla Bla Bla Bla blah blah blah, La la la la la lah lah love.."!!!
    The album is very enjoyable, much easier to digest than Magic Time. Keep It Simple does exactly that - Simply a nice and very good album from Van Morrison!

    DJ WILBUR The Cappuccino Kid Thread Starter

    yeah, I love that bit....quite an ironic mystical workout that....
  22. Clarkophile

    Clarkophile Too Long in Exile

    St. Thomas, ON
    I've only had a cursory listen to Keep It Simple, but I'm impressed at the low-key nature of the thing. Very sparse production. The songs haven't really kicked in big time yet, but that's not unusual with Van and me. After all, I just recently clicked with "Melancholia" from Days Like This and I used to despise that one.
    William is dying to move on to that one, btw...
  23. rdnzl

    rdnzl Forum Resident

    Frankfurt, Germany
    "Keep It Simple" is a great album. I saw Morrison live on the 1st of March and though most of the songs were unknown to me then (he played really a lot from the new album), I enjoyed the whole concert. Really no need to play any well known "hits" if the current album is THAT strong. "Behind The Ritual" was a fantastic closer to the show (how can one expect an encore after that?) as it is to the album. Already one of my favorite Morrison songs ever!
  24. curbach

    curbach Some guy on the internet

    The ATX
    Another letter-to-the-editor in the Austin paper this morning bashing Morision's show for being too short and containing only 2 "classics". We take our live music very seriously in this town :agree:
  25. Clarkophile

    Clarkophile Too Long in Exile

    St. Thomas, ON
    Don't mess with The Live Music Capital of the World.:righton:
    Sneaky Pete likes this.
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