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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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    DJ WILBUR The Cappuccino Kid Thread Starter

    its ok to like the cd even if Brian is singing too.....
  2. Clarkophile

    Clarkophile Through the Morning, Through the Night

    St. Thomas, ON
    I'm still on the fence as far as Days Like This goes, but I have been warming up to many tracks lately, especially "In the Afternoon."
    My better Van-half, DJWILBUR, convinced me to re-listen with open ears and I'm glad I did.

    Incidentally, none of the problems I have with Days Like This are attributable to Brian.
  3. drewslo

    drewslo Forum Resident

    I've been listening to "A Night In San Francisco"...I've always enjoyed this album. It is like an old Soul/R&B review....older influential artists are honored and younger musicians are introduced. Van is in fine form, obviously enjoying himself and his band. They are playing for eachother as much as for the audience. The highlights for me are the longer extended songs like "See Me Through/Soldier Of Fotrune/Thank You.." and "So Quiet In Here/That's Where It's At". I like it when an old obscure song is rescued from oblivion and Van does that with "It Fills You Up" here. Yes, I would prefer that Van sang all of his own classic songs instead of sharing them with Brian Kennedy. I don't really mind Kennedy as a background vocalist (as on Healing Game). This is a 4 out of 5 star album for me - energetic, fun and inspiring. I'll take it over the "Belfast" live album but it's second to "It's Too Late To Stop Now" over all.
  4. Randy W

    Randy W Original Member

    I think maybe Brian had toned it down some by then - I'll give it another listen.

    DJ WILBUR The Cappuccino Kid Thread Starter

    :agree: you and me both....
  6. Clarkophile

    Clarkophile Through the Morning, Through the Night

    St. Thomas, ON
    Nice to have a positive review posted.:righton: Gives me cause to go back and listen with these comments in mind.
  7. peterC

    peterC Aussie Addict

    Didn't the parroting business all start with live performances of Summertime In England, well before Brian joined? In any event, I can't imagine Brian was doing anything Van didn't tell him to do.

    BTW I love the version of It's a Man's World on A Night In San Francisco. The whole album has the feel of a James Brown revue in a way.
  8. Clarkophile

    Clarkophile Through the Morning, Through the Night

    St. Thomas, ON
    Right, it's Van's show, after all. We just like to have a little fun at Bri's--and by extension, Van's--expense. I think you can love an artist and still take the piss every now and then, especially one as surly and uncompromising as our cherubic chum. The good-naturedness of it all doesn't always translate on a computer screen.

    The Revue analogy seems reasonable to me and doubtless what Van was going for...except for the fact that Van's name--and Van's name only--is featured on the front cover, which would lead an unsuspecting fan to believe this is a Van Morrison album featuring songs sung exclusively by Van Morrison.

    DJ WILBUR The Cappuccino Kid Thread Starter

    I’m so glad for this thread. It got me back to really giving a good ear to “Days Like This”

    I have come to think of it is a mighty strong collection of songs. It has lots of different styles and this makes for a cohesive listen for me. I love it lyrically, its affirmations of life on life’s terms. I also love the horn section work on this one. They are perfectly understated and just oh so soulful. Gone is some of the smooth jazz vibes of recent releases.

    Van’s exploring familiar themes here, the anticipation of love and its promises with unchecked joy as he does in “Perfect Fit” and love gone awry, segueing into the head games we play on ourselves in “Russian Roulette”, and dealing with the external circumstances that try to undermine our faith in “No Religion” and the BRILLIANT “Ancient Highway” (the best track on this album IMO) and in ourselves with a determination to get through it all regardless as also stated in “Raincheck”.

    These are several songs that deal with coping with life on life’s terms and although Vans’ perspective may be tripped up with a discomforting paranoia in spots “when you don’t get betrayed by that old Judas kiss” in the title track. He probably has every justification for these sentiments...and I’m sure he’d blame the record companies.

    Little wonder the title track was used in the soundtrack of As Good As it Gets, where Jack Nicolsons’ weary and cynical character cursed by OCD, starts off a journey in search of redemption, with a homemade cd titled “Driving Music”, - it’s inherent optimism is not naïve, but rather borne of the disappointments that we’ve experienced in life, yet determined to still understand that it won’t last, and despite all, know that hope is in sight.

    Even “Underlying Depression” carries this message of hope with the refrain of “have to make some concession, when everything is working right, have to count my blessing, and help me make it through the night”. So does his next ode to sadness with “Melancholia”; just the way his voice caresses this blue sentiment, with the ending refrain of “It’s only melancholia”, well yeah, but Van does make it sound so lovely and we know it won’t last. It’s a wicked journey of mood swings tinged with the knowledge we can get through this in one piece.

    The only tunes that he doesn’t pen here are lovely covers of unrequited love, where his daughter, Shana, joins him in the bluesy duets of “You Don’t Know Me” a song I knew originally from Ray Charles and “the Mose Allison I’ll Never Be Free”.

    Ok, what would I edit out of this nearly perfect collection? “Songwriter” – “and it’s not for the birds” – what is he on about? It’s a very lame tune for me – Van you are so much more than a songwriter. And he knows this I’m sure, so a blight on an otherwise really great latter day Van.

    Besides all is forgiven when this collection ends with two of the best, “Ancient Highway” followed by the painfully beautiful “In the Afternoon” … I just want to be everything to you…. You got me reeling and rocking and talkin all outta my mind”

    Track listing
    All songs by Morrison unless noted otherwise

    "Perfect Fit" – 4:33
    "Russian Roulette" – 3:56
    "Raincheck" – 5:53
    "You Don't Know Me" - (Arnold, Walker) – 4:32
    "No Religion" – 5:14
    "Underlying Depression" – 4:35
    "Songwriter" – 2:50
    "Days Like This" – 3:13
    "I'll Never Be Free" - (Benjamin, Weiss) – 3:37
    "Melancholia" – 3:56
    "Ancient Highway" – 8:53
    "In the Afternoon" – 6:21

    Van Morrison - vocal, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, harmonica, alto saxophone, Hammond organ
    Shana Morrison - vocal
    James Huntsman - electric guitar, background vocals
    Ronnie Johnson, Foggy Lyttle - electric guitar
    Teena Lyle - recorder, piano, vibraphone, congas, background vocals
    Leo Green - tenor saxophone
    Matthew Holland, James McMillan - trumpet, flugelhorn
    Jonn Savannah - Hammond B-3 organ
    Nicky Scott - bass guitar
    Geoff Dunn - drums, tambourine
    Liam Bradley, Noel Eccles - drums

    Attached Files:

    • van.jpg
      File size:
      12 KB
  10. curbach

    curbach Some guy on the internet

    The ATX
    I somehow missed this album when it was released, and I have studiously avoided acquiring it in later years because I know <<shudder>> that Brian Kennedy is hiding somewhere in that little plastic jewel-case. Of course I've heard the title track, but that hasn't really tempted me to buy it either.

    But your review intrigues me, Mr. DJ. I will eventually face my fears and pick it up. I have strong completist tendancies afterall :sigh:
  11. Clarkophile

    Clarkophile Through the Morning, Through the Night

    St. Thomas, ON
    Oh, I would, and not just for the completist in you. My problems with the album stem from more than just "Songwriter" (laughably bad)--but wow, what an incredible recovery during the second half of the album: the title track, "Melancholia," "Ancient Highway" (a nice return to the long piece) and "In the Afternoon" are all winners.
    Gotta split for now, but I'll post a more in-depth review tomorrow.
  12. mrbillswildride

    mrbillswildride Internet Asylum Escapee 2010, 2012, 2014

    I owned this years ago, but lost it along the way. However, the two tracks lifted from it for the Best of Vol. III are most excellent, a highlight of the first disc of that essential collection/set. If it is all as good as those two.:righton:
  13. albert_m

    albert_m Forum Resident

    Atl., Ga, USA
    Wow, I saw Days like This and I'm about to chime in on the tired, bloated last couple tracks and see that I'm opposite of most comments so far.

    I do agree that Songwriter is pretty weak, but the soulful sounds that permeate the first half (maybe two thirds) of the album more than make up for its flaws.

    Perfect Fit is a good opening and upbeat tune. There's a consistent tempo and sound among many of the following songs, from Roulette to No Religion, Days like This and Underlying Depression.

    Van and Shana do a great "You Don't Know Me" and Raincheck while "Vanpetitive" and long is quite good and I have to add that Kennedy's back up works well for this one.

    Again the last two just don't work for me this time. I was shocked that Ancient Highway was on the Best of 3 in fact.

    I picked this cd up the week (well the day actually) it went on sale in '95 and I remember that the annoying sticker along the top of the case listed the title as Raincheck. Does anyone else recall this? Was that the original title (and changed too late for production) or just a manufacturing mistake?

    Too Long in Exile was good, but the indulgent blues and jazz just made it one that I don't listen to much - other than the few that have made it on to my travel cdr's. When Days came out, Van was back to more R&B.

    I would give Days Like This a solid * * * and a fine edition of songs for the traditional pop r&b side of Van. It’s not as good as some the excellent albums he would produce in the coming years... but it has some similar flavor (albeit more polished than the more recent ones) and appeal.
  14. conniefrancis

    conniefrancis New Member

    Brookfield, OH
    Oh, I haven't played this one in probably eight years........guess I'll have to get it out. I'll bet I enjoy it.
  15. Clarkophile

    Clarkophile Through the Morning, Through the Night

    St. Thomas, ON
    If DJWILBUR sees this he's going to give you one of these for sure::tsk:

    DJ WILBUR The Cappuccino Kid Thread Starter

    DJ Wilbur is just happy to see Conniefrancis back in the thread...it's getting a little lonely in here lately....:nauga: welcome back....

    :tsk: to Tom for starting trouble....
  17. Clarkophile

    Clarkophile Through the Morning, Through the Night

    St. Thomas, ON
    :angel: I'll be good.

    And welcome back to the thread, conniefrancis.

    Had a great listen to "Ancient Highway" on the way home from work tonight. Readying my thoughts for tomorrow.
  18. drewslo

    drewslo Forum Resident

    I've been a big defender of the last few albums but I do have a hard time really getting into "Days Like This". Starting with the cover: Van and Michelle walking their depressed looking dogs, one of the muzzled - is this supposed to inspire us? My first thought was this must be the anti-Veedon Fleece.
    It also prepares us for the possibility of a content Van album, not one of searching and yearning.

    O.K. on to the music: It's a great band - the guitar work of Ronnie Johnson in particular and Pee Wee is back but it's all a bit too slick and accessible for my taste. The music and lyrics aren't really challenging in any way with the exception of the one masterpiece, "Ancient Highway". "Ancient Highway" is a return to what we loved about "No Guru" and "Veedon Fleece", classic Van. In comparison, most of the rest falls flat for me. "In The Afternoon" is my next favorite track but the later live version "In The Afternoon / Raincheck" (a CD single release) is vastly superior.

    The Brian Kennedy factor does come into play here too. I think if used more sparingly, his vocals would be more effective. They do work for me on "Ancient Highway".

    Still, this isn't necessarily a bad album. It's easy to put on as background music..it just doesn't really take me anywhere.

    I would compare it to Steve Winwoods "Back In The High Life Again", highly accessible but lacking the depth and scope of "Low Spark" or "John Barleycorn".
  19. Clarkophile

    Clarkophile Through the Morning, Through the Night

    St. Thomas, ON
    But Greyhounds always look like that! :laugh: EDIT: If, in fact, they're both Greyhounds. My wife thinks the one on the right is not. Also, the muzzles may be for the dogs' safety.

    I think the cover is significant in that it's the first time since 1971 he has put the image of a love interest on the cover of an album.

    DJ WILBUR The Cappuccino Kid Thread Starter

    i think that cover is a riot myself. at this point, after discussion on 20 or so covers, he's not about to come up with anything worthwhile...he's got the worst covers...

    also, remember the hand drawing "Keep It Simple". I had as an avatar?..well that WAS the cover van wanted for his new album, so my spies tell me anyway...

    the album got delayed in multiple territories because demands were made for another cover...hence the gloomy gus pus visage on the new one....
  21. drewslo

    drewslo Forum Resident

    I find the cover somewhat ironic in that Van is (I think) intending to refer to his happy relationship on the cover but the dogs project pure melancholia.
    Albums about new relationships can be very complex - think of Springsteen's "Tunnel Of Love". Here there's the blissful "Perfect Fit" later followed by "Underlying Depression". The music on this album obscures some of the darker lyrical content.

    DJ WILBUR The Cappuccino Kid Thread Starter

    great point....one I somewhat tried to make in my post but put very well here.
  23. drewslo

    drewslo Forum Resident

    I made reference to Lonnie Johnson's guitar work on this album but it's actually Foggy Lyttle who shines on "Raincheck".
  24. Clarkophile

    Clarkophile Through the Morning, Through the Night

    St. Thomas, ON
    Good point, and the lyric of "Perfect Fit" reflects this tension between bliss
    and blues: "This could be the perfect fit." There is still some doubt, even though the music suggests there isn't.
  25. Sneaky Pete

    Sneaky Pete Senior Member

    I missed out on One Night In San Francisco because I was so busy with work. I've been lagging behind on my Van thread obligations.

    I've been keeping up with reading the thread, just not posting. The glib side of me wants to say Days Like This is Van Morrison's Silk Degrees, without the hit singles. But I will resist the urge to be dismissive and, I'll try to give it a fresh listen and post a serious comment.
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