Van Morrison - Album by Album discussion - PART THREE

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

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  1. Clarkophile

    Clarkophile Through the Morning, Through the Night

    Oakville, ON
    Good post. It occurred to me while listening to You Win Again that in spite of all those quotes from Van over the years to the effect of, "I'm not a rock and roll singer," and all that stuff, that the man actually can sing rock and roll.
    I've been reconnecting with his work in Them lately and the guy sounded as venemous as a '77-era punk.
  2. drewslo

    drewslo Forum Resident

    It's easy to forget that we haven't covered Them or the Bang Sessions yet!
  3. Clarkophile

    Clarkophile Through the Morning, Through the Night

    Oakville, ON
    We'll get there eventually, I guess, if William and I survive this thread and bring it to its conclusion. I can't speak for DJ, but I'd venture as far as to say I think we're both pretty exhausted at this point. When did we start this thing, last September or something?:help: :laugh:
  4. benjaminhuf

    benjaminhuf Forum Resident

    Great thread! :cheers:

    Hey--Sept. isn't that long. The Nat King Cole Year by Year started last May (although it did die for a while). Have no idea how long it will last...

    Anyway, many thanks for all the good posts on Van the man.

    DJ WILBUR The Cappuccino Kid Thread Starter

    we'll bang them all before we finish...
  6. mrbillswildride

    mrbillswildride Internet Asylum Escapee 2010, 2012, 2014

    Earth to DJ Wilbur, come in DJ Wilbur, please PM me.... thanks... :righton:

    DJ WILBUR The Cappuccino Kid Thread Starter

    well you also have amazingly wordy posters like dale and apilocole who write proustian length essays about single songs, in here we're getting a lot less to read, so Tom and I are putting a lot less time into this at this point....

    Forum members should check out that Nat thread and read some of these volumnous posts, quite something to read! great thought and insight going into that thread...I keep popping in and out of it cause its so intimidating...haha...
  8. Sneaky Pete

    Sneaky Pete Flat the 5 and That’s No Jive

    O.K. gents I bought Keep It Simple today. I have not listened to it yet, but I'm eager to give it a spin. I guess I can stay on the thread after all.

    I don't now how you guys can maintain posts on more than one of these multi-album artist threads at the same time. I can barely keep up with one.

    DJ WILBUR The Cappuccino Kid Thread Starter

    did u get the vinyl with the live stuff on side four or the cd...???

    DJ WILBUR The Cappuccino Kid Thread Starter

    DOWN THE ROAD 2002

    Down The Road

    (US release date May 13, 2002)

    1. Down The Road (4:19)
    2. Meet Me In The Indian Summer (4:00)
    3. Steal My Heart Away (4:23)
    4. Hey Mr DJ (3:49)
    5. Talk Is Cheap (4:23)
    6. Choppin' Wood (3:30)
    7. What Makes The Irish Heart Beat (3:49)
    8. All Work And No Play (4:55)
    9. Whatever Happened To PJ Proby? (3:16)
    10. The Beauty Of The Days Gone By (5:50)
    11. Georgia On My Mind (5:37)
    12. Only A Dream (5:00)
    13. Man Has To Struggle (5:10)
    14. Evening Shadows (4:04)
    15. Fast Train (5:04)

    Lets stroll down the road and meet up in Indian Summer. Where Georgia is on our minds, she’s stealing away our hearts, and we’ll chop some wood cause all work and no play does make for interesting Van albums cause his talk is cheap, but a man has to struggle getting his dreams in our ears of the beauty of the days gone by, cause that’s what makes his irish heart beat.…Hey Mr. DJ, when you gonna post up “Down the Road”????

    I like this record, a lot. Van at his modern era best… Before I opened it, I liked it; the groovy record store window photograph with a few of Van’s loves and inspirations in that window, not too subtle, but a mallot over the head that this is who he is and what he is about and this record will reflect this and it does. Drop the laser on the first track and he’s taking you on his next journey and its gonna be retreading from his memories, dreams, reflections…its in the 21st century we get a tune like this and realize he’s not going to do anything other than this. Play his harmonica a bit, sing about his road, his journey, its all been about that now hasn’t it?

    So no new ground here, but a lovely stroll it is down this road none the less…blues stylings, some lounge vibe smokey stuff, a bit of the irish vibe, some acoustic, some folk, country dabbled. This is one of those later day Van records that I would recommend to someone who wanted to go beyond the classic years. So much great Hammond organ playing on this one…I tend to love the albums with lots of organ and jazz horn honking on it. “Meet Me In Indian Summer” has all the elements of that and the lovely ballad “Steal My Heart Away” another Organ track, with a mournful vocal by Van, this one coulda been a hit like “Have I Told You Lately”…IMO

    “Hey Mr. D.J.” was a single but this track didn’t make sense to work to radio IMO. One of the lesser affairs on this one, but I love the sentiment of the song, so I never skip it. “Talk is Cheap” GREAT ONE….a blues one two punch with “Choppin’ Wood”…another fave of mine on here next. You get a bit of C&W with “What Makes the Irish Heart Beat”…an oddly placed sounding track between the last two bluesy numbers and the next slammin blues workout “All Work and All Play” with a cool call and response Louis Jordan kinda thing. I LOVE THIS ONE TOO.

    The Honking Horns continue on “Whatever Happened to PJ Proby?”…seemingly an actor, this PJ who used to portray Elvis and Roy Orbison theatrically…name checking Scott Walker, Screaming Lord Sutch, Van is having fun on this record in every way. (how is that name checking list coming tom? must be miles long by now...haha)

    A stately version of “Georgia On My Mind”, another homage to his Ray Charles muse and I love this version. It’s beautiful in every way. The closer, “Fast Train”, not a very fast song with the “trying to get away from the past” lyric, well, not with this album, its steeped in Van’s past and it’s a solid listen…

    (album cover was photographed in a record store window by yours truly in Sitges Spain new years day imitating art.)

    Attached Files:


    DJ WILBUR The Cappuccino Kid Thread Starter

    Liner notes to Down The Road: (by Ben Sidran)

    There are not many roads. There is only one road, infinitely connected, like the grooves on an old record, endlessly leading away from home and back towards home at the same time. Its all one long journey and travelling is just what we do to stay alive.

    From the beginning, the seeker, the entertainer, the wanderer, bringing the news into town and then moving on down the road - the gypsy caravan - has haunted Van's songs. His road leads up into the mountains, where the cool breeze makes the squalor down below a distant memory, and it leads back down to New Orleans, to Chicago, to the fertile crescent, the heart of the matter, to the home of the blues.

    The blues is the mother road story. Every road story is different and yet the same. "Saw a bus coming", Van sings, "and I had to get on it; still trying to find my own way back". What he calls "the lonesome homesick Jones" is where the blues begins and ends.

    It's inevitable: the same gypsy voices that called you when you were a child, telling you to get on the bus, on the train, to move down the highway - Mahalia Jackson, Hank Williams, Ray Charles - hit the road, Jack! - thirty-five years later, these same voices now urge you to go back home. Don't lose the plot: remember why you came. The road, then, is a trap. You're always caught in the moment of primal love, half way to your destination, always half-way, never there, and no way back. This is the troubador blues that only the road can teach. The road is inside of you. It's a wound that won't heal.

    And yet healing is what Van is all about. He works live, conjuring, incanting, calling down the blues, drawing up the heat from the moment. He's got the radio on and he's reaching into the invisible night, into the dark we all share. "Play me songs for the lonely ones", he sings, "play me something I know..." And anybody who has seem him work knows this is true: he's singing about his life. This is really the blues.

    Van looks dead into the eyes of the future by looking over his shoulder, into the heart of the past. Half-way between where he started and where he's going, moving down the road. He wants to be clear about why we came, to maintain the standards of the trip. "There's not much to relate to anymore, unless you want to be mediocre", he sings in "Whatever Happened To PJ Proby?" He's making his way with a monkey on his back [the music], struggling to keep it real, to wake us up: "Whatever happened to the way it's supposed to happen?", he asks, "and whatever happened to me?"

    What happened to Van Morrison is that he kept going, he didn't turn back, and in the end he has contributed hundreds of songs to keep us all going. In the end, its all about the songs, the gestures, the road singing itself awake, back to sleep, and then awake again. In the end, it's all about traveling, moving on down that road, space occupying time, living rough. "The road is longer than we thought", Van sings. Its nice to know somebody is still thinking.
  12. Clarkophile

    Clarkophile Through the Morning, Through the Night

    Oakville, ON
    Here's what happened to P.J. Proby:

    Nice review William, and very nice shot.
    I'll chime in tomorrow, but suffice to say I'm onboard with your assessment. Great late-period Van.
  13. mrbillswildride

    mrbillswildride Internet Asylum Escapee 2010, 2012, 2014

    I remember when this came out, the local had a vinyl copy, and I just loved the cover, and almost bought it, but didn't as I wasn't really a huge van fan at the time (I got bigger later...), and it was the expensive import price... I regret that now... as I've since heard it is a great later day Van album (never yet heard it myself...) I'm sure that drewslo will have an extra postive review of this album with us asap... Meanwhile, KTS keeps worming its warm ways into my cold heart...


    DJ WILBUR The Cappuccino Kid Thread Starter

    i thought you might get a kick outta that photo....
  15. Clarkophile

    Clarkophile Through the Morning, Through the Night

    Oakville, ON
    You know how I've been changing my computer wallpaper to coincide with each album we discuss? (Oh, I skipped the last two, btw:laugh: ). When you use the "tile" effect on it, the Down the Road cover looks like some really cool continuous music building. You get 12 of them!
  16. Clarkophile

    Clarkophile Through the Morning, Through the Night

    Oakville, ON
    It's like a shout out to you, William!:cool:
  17. mrbillswildride

    mrbillswildride Internet Asylum Escapee 2010, 2012, 2014

    As Fate Would Have it...

    Stranger things have happened...

    I was looking thru the new arrivals bin for used cds at the local shop, and there it was, timely enough... "Down The Road' used, for 6.99, I got it for afiver, so I shall join in the fun and shames once semi-absorbed...



    DJ WILBUR The Cappuccino Kid Thread Starter

    ah yes, my own personal shout out from Van the man. So funny, where is everyone???

    Thanks and a shout out to wild bill for dropping a fiver to pick this one up. We look forward to your thoughts fresh from the first play or two.

    where is everyone else on this one? mighty quiet on this road....
  19. mrbillswildride

    mrbillswildride Internet Asylum Escapee 2010, 2012, 2014

    Maybe they're all "Down The Road" a spell choppin' wood... or, looking for the beauty of the days gone by... As the evening shadows grow long they'll come out...

    cheers Mr. DJ!!!:edthumbs:
  20. curbach

    curbach Some guy on the internet

    The ATX
    Sorry, never bought this one. Saw the cover art, saw the song titles, thought "nah". . . :hide:

    DJ WILBUR The Cappuccino Kid Thread Starter

    ha, knowing you the way I"m getting to know you, I'd say you made a good call...:righton:

    and based on the comments posted in this thread today I think everyone was with you on this one. Pity, its a good one...

    we'll wait for Wild Tom and Wild Bill's thoughts a comin'....
  22. drewslo

    drewslo Forum Resident

    Yes, this is one of the best later day Van albums. Like DJ Wilbur wrote, it's Van doing what he does best, effortlessly (I mean that in the best possible way). Van made the exact album I wanted him to put out at this point in his career. I'll give a more detailed review when I have a chance to listen to the album in the next couple of days. DJ Wilburn wrote most of what I would say at this he said a good album cover to boot! As I wrote earlier, after "The Skiffle Sessions" and "You Win Again" this album wiped away fears of Van losing his Muse/Irish Heartbeat/Ancient Highway/Back Street Jelly Roll.
  23. Sneaky Pete

    Sneaky Pete Flat the 5 and That’s No Jive

    This is a nice little album. I know someone (who was that jerk?) said on this thread that nostalgia was Van's true weakness and this album is swimming in it. However I believe when you lose a parent it is appropriate to experience some longing for the past.

    My favorite song on this album is Choppin' Wood written by Van, in memory of his Father. What I love about it, is its lack of sentimentality and maudlin emotion. He pays a tribute to his Father, and all men that work on, in a quiet life without celebration. He gives that common working life an appropriate sense of nobility. Quiet desperation, but not a disposable worthlessness. Van tells us over and over, his work is just a job, do not be fooled by the glamor. I get the sense that Van's Father was his truest hero.

    When his Dad retired Van moved his parents to California where they owned a small record store. I suspect that store was similar to the one on the cover. One of the best covers of any Van album.

    There a a few gems here, Man Has to Struggle, Only a Dream and Fast Train. And for anyone that wonders about PJ Proby hunt down his version of Niki Hokey. My Mom had that record back in the 60's and it smokes Aretha's version.

    Do you guys have a good recipe for crow? I do like this nostalgia drenched Van album, it's a workman like performance with moments of genius.
  24. Clarkophile

    Clarkophile Through the Morning, Through the Night

    Oakville, ON
    Spicy Cajun Crow Gumbo

    3 medium sized crows (feathers and stolen hearts intact)
    1 Beauty of Days Gone By
    2 tablespoons wood (chopped)
    5 teaspoons "Fireman Tom's 5-Alarm Hot Sauce"

    Cook for 1:07:09.
    Sneaky Pete likes this.
  25. drewslo

    drewslo Forum Resident

    I got to listen to "Down The Road" late last night. This album fully takes advantage of the CD format at 15 songs and 67 there's a lot to take in. Van doesn't take any musical chances on this album but has refined his art to a zen simplicity. This is probably the album that is most similar to "Keep It Simple" (although there are horns and strings on some songs).

    The title track is a rootsy journey to the source, great harmonica. You can feel the influence of all of the old blues and r&b albums represented on the cover.

    This is an album in which every song is solid. The other standouts for me are:

    -"Steal My Heart Away" -the kind of beautiful ballad that Van does so well
    -"The Beauty Of Days Gone By" - timeless Van song that could fit in on almost any of his albums from any period.
    -"Georgia On My Mind" - one of Van's best cover songs that is always a live show stopper.

    I also like the use of clarinet and violin which bring rich musical textures to some of the songs.

    Having seen Van a few times live since this album came out, just about every song has been performed at some point. There are no clunkers -"Hey Mr. D.J." is my least favorite because it's one of those obvious radio songs (D.J.'s can't resist)...but I hear it as a tribute to Sam Cooke.

    "Fast Train" is featured on a Solomon Burke album.

    Van pays tribute to his musical heroes and shows we he belongs among them.
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