Van Morrison - Album by Album discussion - PART THREE

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

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  1. dee

    dee Forum Resident

    ft. lauderdale, fl
    Me too. :righton:

    DJ WILBUR The Cappuccino Kid Thread Starter

    i like both Magic Time and Back on Top...well the majority of them at least so money well spent.

    looking forward to discussing them myself.....

    thanks for the props and thanks for contributing as well...
  3. JA Fant

    JA Fant Well-Known Member

    I wanted to say I enjoy 'Days like This'
  4. dee

    dee Forum Resident

    ft. lauderdale, fl
    You just did, :D :righton:
  5. dee

    dee Forum Resident

    ft. lauderdale, fl

    Me too, and again, thank you...

    DJ WILBUR The Cappuccino Kid Thread Starter

    here is another review to ponder on the new album, while we wait and wait and wait for Tom to get this thread back on top, i mean track....:angel:

    Pop Matters it a 7

    Van Morrison
    Keep It Simple
    (Lost Highway / Polydor)
    US release date: 1 April 2008
    UK release date: 17 March 2008
    by Dave Heaton
    On his albums, Van Morrison has presented enough personas over his 40-plus-year career that some ambitious film director could riff on them as easily and fruitfully as Todd Haynes did on Dylan’s for I’m Not There. Van Morrison is a poet, an Irish folkie, a philosopher, a mystic, a showman, and a teenager-at-heart still dreaming of the R&B records he heard on the radio decades ago. In recent years, he has become a bluesman, complete with hat, sunglasses and deep voice. Or a cool-as-cucumber jazzy blues vocalist, at least. On his latest album, Keep It Simple, Morrison is somewhere between that jazz-blues cool cat and the head-in-the-clouds poet/philosopher of Astral Weeks, et al. For a stretch near the start, he almost literally switches back and forth, adopting a standard blues form nearly every other song.

    On the title track, he sings of being caught between the cold, hard reality of life and “pipe dreams”. Musically he’s in similar territory this time, halfway between the blues’ reality and the idle dreaming of a pop melody strummed on an acoustic guitar. In both cases the music is relatively simple, as the title promises. The instruments are few, and sparsely presented. That makes a banjo stand out nicely in a few places, strings in others. A few sharp guitar solos are also memorable, and an organ runs through much of the album, sitting comfortably within the blues songs, but also giving the other tracks a complementary glow. This more minimalist approach highlights Morrison’s band’s playing while also keeping his voice always the center of attention. The songs themselves are simple enough to do this as well. No busy arrangements or constructions distract from the central show of Morrison taking a humble little song and singing it.

    AmazonAs Morrison has aged, the enunciation in his singing has grown less distinct. On previous albums in the past decade, and definitely during live performances, it has sometimes seemed like he was mumbling and slurring his way through whole songs. That is mostly not the case here, though he does blur lyrics together in a place or two. Most of the time on Keep it Simple, his singing is worthy of its place at center stage. On “Lover Come Back” and “That’s Entrainment”, he sounds especially good, singing not just clearly, but with that ancient soulfulness that is his hallmark.

    Partly because of the singing, “That’s Entrainment” immediately stands out, one to add to the lengthy list of classic Van Morrison songs. The third track, it’s the first riveting moment of the album, possibly the first from Morrison in a while, where he holds time still like he used to. He starts singing right at the song’s opening seconds, painting a picture of a countryside, then of himself standing in rapt fascination, struck by the pure beauty of an unspecified “you”, seemingly the spiritual force of nature, but sung to like a lover. Handclaps and other hand percussion provide the song’s backbone, as Morrison sings up and down the hills of that countryside, eventually expressing his awe in the terms of classic R&B—when “you” come around, it makes him holler, makes him want everyone to shake their collective moneymaker, shake it on down. At first the chorus of “That’s entrainment” is jarring amidst all this ecstasy and calm, if only because it begs the question, “What the hell is entrainment?” As far as I can tell, it’s all about being drawn in and transformed, the way air forms into a cloud.

    Throughout the album, there are moments like this where Morrison’s clearly reaching at, or celebrating, something ineffable and inspiring. But he never goes at it quite as overtly or potently. Most of Keep it Simple has a demeanor of ease to it. He writes a couple blues songs, standard in form, and enjoys laying them down with his friends. He writes a simple ‘return to me’ song to a lover, calls it “Lover Come Back”, and stretches it out over five minutes, singing it with drama, but no urgency.

    While the songs strive towards familiarity and comfort in their form, Morrison does something similar with the lyrics. Whether singing with yearning about the way the world has changed, or tackling something less serious, he keeps relying on simple rhymes and familiar phrases. “One monkey don’t stop now show,” “I was educated by the school of hard knocks,” “got to run / towards the setting sun.” But despite one song, “Don’t Go to Nightclubs”, that essentially takes “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore” and turns it slightly, and another song, “Soul”, that is a walking cliché carrying an air of sincerity about it, you generally get the feeling that the clichés are here on purpose. When during the first song, “How Can a Poor Boy”, Morrison sings, “Tell me what evil lurks in the hearts of men / only the Shadow knows,” he’s obviously up to something. He’s not being lazy; he’s using the familiar to get to something deeper.

    It’s the last song, “Behind the Ritual”, where he makes that crystal-clear. The song takes the feeling of comfort behind the album and falls back into it like a bubble-bath, indulging. No longer trying to hold the spotlight, Morrison sings like he’s musing to no one in particular, thinking aloud about “drinking wine in an alley / making time / drinking that wine / in the days gone by.” He turns these words into a circling refrain, as the musicians play along. “Talking all out of my mind,” he sings, eventually emulating that with a whole string of “blah blah blah blah” nonsense words. But before he gets there, he sings his mission statement, spells it out: “Behind the ritual / you find the spiritual.” In one fell swoop, he links communion wine to a wino’s bottle in a paper bag, and highlights the meaning behind the album’s gravitation towards the familiar. Perhaps Keep it Simple is an exercise in going through the motions to get to the spiritual, using the everyday to illuminate the transcendent.

    As Morrison puts it right there in the title track, “We’ve got to keep it simple / and that’s that.” But of course it’s more than that. Even by the end of that song, he explains that keeping it simple is what we need to save our selves.
  7. gohill

    gohill Forum Resident

    Glasgow, UK
    DJ Wilbur - The whole 1973 Rainbow concert was professionally shot by the BBC for the Old Grey Whistle Test though i think they only broadcasted about an hour of it. To the best of my knowledge its been repeated a few times; in 1980 and certainly in 1984/85 on the Whistle Test Rock Around The Clock 12 hour special they used to do which was where i saw it but at age 14 was not into Van at the time so found it long and dull (probably hoping for Marillion or something to come on:sigh: ). How much would i like to go back and see that again now!! As soon as i got Its Too Late to Stop Now about 3 years later i recognised the pics and the shirt from sitting through it with my pal that night wishing it would end. They haven't shown it in years even on BBC4, its probably lying in the vaults or even been lost now. Maybe van has the footage now and its locked away for ever. Its easily available though in trading circles as it were.

    DJ WILBUR The Cappuccino Kid Thread Starter

    I'm running in the wrong circles i guess.
  9. Clarkophile

    Clarkophile Through the Morning, Through the Night

    St. Thomas, ON
    Sorry for the delay...


    Tell Me Something (with Georgie Fame, Mose Allison and Ben Sidran)
    (October 1996)
    1. "One of These Days" – 3:18
    2. "You Can Count on Me (To Do My Part)" – 3:22
    3. "If You Live" – 3:47
    4. "Was" – 3:28
    5. "Look Here" – 2:09
    6. "City Home" – 3:26
    7. "No Trouble Livin'" – 2:15
    8. "Benediction" – 3:01
    9. "Back on the Corner" – 2:23
    10. "Tell Me Something" – 2:40
    11. "I Don't Want Much" – 2:03
    12. "News Nightclub" – 2:43
    13. "Perfect Moment" – 2:13


    * Van Morrison - vocals, harmonica
    * Georgie Fame - vocals, Hammond organ
    * Ben Sidran - vocals, piano
    * Mose Allison - vocals, piano on "I Don't Want Much" and "Perfect Moment"
    * Alec Dankworth - bass
    * Ralph Salmins - drums
    * Guy Barker - trumpet
    * Pee Wee Ellis - tenor sax
    * Leo Green - tenor sax
    * Robin Aspland - Wurlitzer piano

    How Long Has This Been Going On? (January 1996)
    Van Morrison and Georgie Fame

    1. I Will Be There" (Van Morrison) – 2:30
    2 "The New Symphony Sid" - (King Pleasure, Young, add'l lyrics Fame) – 3:53
    3 "Early in the Morning" - (Bartley, Hickman, Jordan) – 2:44
    4 "Who Can I Turn To (When Nobody Needs Me)" - (Bricusse, Newley) – 4:02
    5 "Sack O' Woe" - (Adderley, Hendricks) – 4:06
    6 " Moondance" (Morrison)– 7:18
    7 "Centerpiece" - (Edison, Hendricks), including section from "Blues Backstage" (Foster) – 4:08
    8 "How Long Has This Been Going On?" - (Gershwin, Gershwin) – 3:49
    9 "Your Mind Is on Vacation" - (Allison) – 3:06
    10 "All Saint's Day" (Morrison) – 2:19
    11 "Blues in the Night" - (Arlen, Mercer) – 3:22
    12 "Don't Worry About a Thing" - (Allison) – 2:22
    13"That's Life" - (Kay, Gordon) – 3:52
    14 "Heathrow Shuffle" (Morrison) – 3:18


    * Van Morrison - vocal, alto saxophone
    * Georgie Fame - vocal, Hammond B-3 organ
    * Annie Ross - vocal
    * Pee Wee Ellis - alto saxophone
    * Alan Skidmore - alto saxophone
    * Leo Green - tenor saxophone
    * Guy Barker - trumpet
    * Robin Aspland - piano
    * Alec Dankworth - double bass
    * Ralph Salmins - drums

    As genre exercises go I suppose these albums are all right, and I must admit that this morning on the way in to work I was digging How Long Has This Been Going On? a little more than I thought I would, but by and large I don't see them as crucial additions to Van's canon. If that's damning them with faint praise then so be it, I guess. This may be heresy, and my compadre DJWILBUR may have me arrested by the Van police for saying this, but I don't think Van does jazz terribly well. He's a bit of a bull in a china shop to my ears--the mannered vocals in the completely unnecessary remake of "Moondance" being a prime example of what I'm talking about. Similarly, the remakes of "I Will Be There" and "All Saints Day" were perfectly acceptable in their original guise, and for my purposes anyway can be summarily dismissed. Clealy Van is fulfilling the dream of a lifetime with these two albums, but it doesn't necessarily mean they are successful as albums. Like Billy Crystal with the Yankees, Van may be playing with Jazz major leaguers, but that doesn't automatically confer upon him major league status.

    EDIT: If someone else really enjoys these albums, please tell me about your fave moments and I'll listen. My opinions are not set in stone here. I always want to hear your thoughts.
  10. Clarkophile

    Clarkophile Through the Morning, Through the Night

    St. Thomas, ON
    Yes, we could both use a little guidance in our circle-running endeavours, I guess. :whistle:
  11. mrbillswildride

    mrbillswildride Internet Asylum Escapee 2010, 2012, 2014

    Keep on "Keepin' It Simple"...

    I just wanted to say that the more I hear "Keep It Simple" the more I like it. It is winning this Van skeptic over slowly but surely. Maybe his best since No Guru... Try listening to the Cd starting with the title track to avoid second half fatigue...some great songs on that half...Song of Home, blah, blah, blah...

    AND get the vinyl why you CAN!!!


    DJ WILBUR The Cappuccino Kid Thread Starter

    actually cool to hear the album on 3 different it a nice way to enjoy it without it in one fell swoop....

    I'm digging it....i think a few in here are....I'm glad he's done another pleaser for his I hope he returns to this city in a good mood when he next tours and I hope i get to see it...
  13. curbach

    curbach Some guy on the internet

    The ATX
    I like How Long Has This Been Going On? while it's playing, but it doesn't have any real staying power, any resonance. As I mentioned in the Moondance discussion, I'd actually rather listen listen to this jazzed up rendition of "Moondance" than the original just because it's been so played to death. "Sack O' Woe" is a lot of fun and probably the highpoint for me. Non-essential, but good clean fun. Although I appreciate Van's enthusiasm, I agree with Tom--as a jazz singer, Van is no Tony Bennett. The lack of polish in his delivery does indeed tend to have a bull in a china shop effect.

    I've never heard Tell Me Something. I figured one disc of this stuff was more than enough ;)
  14. Clarkophile

    Clarkophile Through the Morning, Through the Night

    St. Thomas, ON
  15. curbach

    curbach Some guy on the internet

    The ATX
    Let's see how many more comments we get on these albums. . . :whistle: :whistle: :whistle: :nyah:
  16. Clarkophile

    Clarkophile Through the Morning, Through the Night

    St. Thomas, ON
    I think we'll be ready to move on before the day is done.:laugh:
  17. gohill

    gohill Forum Resident

    Glasgow, UK
    Never heard How Long..... but i have Tell Me Something and the only track that really stands out for me is If You Live which is sung by Ben Sidran (whoever he is) .....says it all really. All filler no killer. I'm sure they all had a fun time recording these but Van perhaps should have left it at that and not actually released them as albums to the paying public. Still no harm done i suppose.
  18. drewslo

    drewslo Forum Resident

    I better get some comments in on these two albums.

    After not really loving "Days Like This" (aside from "Ancient Highway) and then getting these two albums of non-original or redone songs, it seems that Van was in a creative rut.

    "How Long Has This Been Going On" is enjoyable but something of a holding pattern. I listened to it a couple weeks ago and it was better than I remember. This may be because Van has put out several very good albums since so I'm less concerned about his output than I was when it originally came out. "I Will Be There" is faster than the original, something of a throwaway with Van's diction in slurring mode. The final track "Heathrow Shuffle" is an instrumental that hadn't been released before but is now also available live on the Montreux DVD from 1974. My favorite track is probably "Who Can I Turn To?". "That's Life" became a regular at live shows and was always performed well. Georgie Fame's influence is big on this album.
    So, for Van collector's only - a good occaisional listen but not what you grab when you're in a Van mood. I agree that Van lacks the supple vocals required to really get inside a lot of the material. Maybe twenty years earlier his voice had the upper range to nail this stuff.

    "Tell Me Something": It seems nobody really has this one. I used to but lost it!
    My favorite track was the final one "Perfect Moment" that had an ethereal, hypnotic mood. I think Van sings on maybe 7 of the tracks. If I see it in a store I'll pick it up again. Mose is obviously a big influence on Van. My first live Van experience was in 1985 with Mose opening for Van. One of the songs
    "Benediction" is included on "The Best of Volume 3". This was titled "Thank God For Self Love" when Mose and Van sang it on the Beacon Theatre show from 1989 (available on VHS only). Mose does such a good job of singing his own songs that I really don't need to hear Van's interpretations.

    So file these albums under for Van fanatics only (along with "You Win Again" and "The Skiffle Sessions").

    One other note:

    The promo CD "Live At The Point" is an excellent 5 song EP that features the "How Long Has This Been Going On" band. Great version of "Satisfied" on it.

    The "Perfect Fit" single was also released around the same time and includes four bonus tracks. The highlight for me is the live "Cleaning Windows".

    I was impressed enough with this live stuff to know that there was a lot left in Van's tank. His next album would show that to be true (for me).

    DJ WILBUR The Cappuccino Kid Thread Starter

    oh no you dont....:tsk:

    you havent hosted an album since March 11th....almost a month ago, too long in exile you were and have been and it was....and as it is, you are gettin away with doing a two for one here today...and moving on tomorrow puts this thread back in my lap already!!!!! i thought I had two weeks still :confused: ....

    and now you wanna throw it back my way? NO WAY JOSE CLARK!!!....:D

    i'm busy listening to Beach House after all...:angel:

    and no time to poat about the two albums now up for discussion....
  20. mrbillswildride

    mrbillswildride Internet Asylum Escapee 2010, 2012, 2014

    Veedon Fleece, side one... The "perfect" Van side?

    Just back from a nice walk with my dog Abbey Rose on a gorgeous sunny day, and I took Veedeon Fleece along for a spin. Man I love this album. Maybe my fave of all this man's many masterpieces. And I was thinking that side one: Fairplay thru River might just be the most perfect Van side. Don't get me wrong, I love side two too, but side one... man it is out of this world, or should I say it takes me out of this world... a very good thing... Yes there are some other very VERY strong Van sides, like side one of Astral Weeks, side one of Moondance, side two of Into The Music, side one of No Guru (that is the side with Into The Garden right?). But, for me, each of these has one "weaker' song that makes the side just shy of being perfect, whereas Veedon Fleece, side one, utterly perfect through and through...

    Fairplay sets the stage, with Oscar Wilde and Thereau and Geronimo...sending us off to that Wild West that was so dreamed of in Into The West, every Irishman's dream of "Hi Ho Silver... I love you for that"...

    Linden Arden Stold The Highlands, such a deep dark mysterious beauty, a recent personal fave, which thanks to "living with a gun" flows right into Who Was That Masked Man, which could be the alternate, less mystical, title for this masterpiece... Just who could create ~ channel music this pure???

    The the final pair of the side, the "take no prisoners" go for the throat, I am The Man two-fer... Streets of Arklow, sublime, supreme, sexy, soaring, singin'
    The river is just down the road, follow the magical recorder into the mystic and float down the river, no use in resisting, You Don't Pull No Punches, You Don't Push The River... Your life is perfect, and will unfold just as it should...

    Well, nuff waxing poetic, I just gotta share that this side of Veedon Fleece is priceless to me, a healing salve, and a signpost to where the muse still liveth within the magic in our hearts, now just harder to hear through all this noise...


    DJ WILBUR The Cappuccino Kid Thread Starter

    it was also on a laserdisc...and some of us have a cdr of this laserdisc.....:whistle:

    DJ WILBUR The Cappuccino Kid Thread Starter

    :righton: :wave: :nauga: :cheers:

    i couldnt have said it better, and I dont think i did....and feel free to troll the part one of this thread to read all our thoughts on Veedon....
  23. Clarkophile

    Clarkophile Through the Morning, Through the Night

    St. Thomas, ON
    No, no, I was just kidding. Anyway, I thought you wanted me to handle The Healing Game?
    I'm not trying to get away with anything. I'm back in Happy Vanland for good.

    DJ WILBUR The Cappuccino Kid Thread Starter

    haha, i tease...still, amazingly busy at work and need a day or two to write about the two up...

    also, hey nice we have someone going back to Veedon...we can always spend another week on that one!!!!!

    you can do the healing game too if you want to...i'm good with dat....
  25. Sneaky Pete

    Sneaky Pete Senior Member


    You guys have pretty well covered it. I usually like more live sounding performances. It may be one reason that I connect with much of Van's work, it has the "live in the studio" feel. However these two both have a rushed feeling that spoils them a bit. I think they would have benefitted from some additional practice sessions.

    I love Mose and I liked Van's cover of his tune If You Only Knew so I was looking forward to the collaboration. I ended up feeling a little let down by the actual product. I agree Van is no Jazz singer, but he is a great soul and blues singer well suited for the Mose songbook. I seldom listen to these because utimately I found them to be a little too workmanlike in their execution. As a matter of fact after these two I skipped buying the Skiffle Sesssions altogether. However pulling them out after all this time I found them to be a little better than I remembered.
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