Van Morrison - Album by Album discussion - PART THREE

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

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  1. mrbillswildride

    mrbillswildride Internet Asylum Escapee 2010, 2012, 2014

    Here's to hoping he doesn't post what Chrisco writ about it... :)

    DJ WILBUR The Cappuccino Kid Thread Starter

    yeah I know, :eek: some task he's roping me into.....:D

    Still, there are so many fantastic tracks out there still to cover, notice i said tracks, though there are a few albums coming up I'm quite fond of entirely....compared to the hymns to the ****elence...

    still we've covered the cream of the crop, but he's in no way done yet....
  3. mrbillswildride

    mrbillswildride Internet Asylum Escapee 2010, 2012, 2014


    And what about The Healing Game? or Magic Time? or Keep It Simple?

    DJ WILBUR The Cappuccino Kid Thread Starter

    well I like the Healing Game and Magic Time a lot, but I'd not put them in my "cream" of the crop stack.....

    for me the last amazingly necessary desert island disc would be No Guru for moi....but I totally dig Poetic Champions, Avalon Sunset after it....hard to quantify them all, so many top tier and second tier albums....really its about what moves you, ya know?
  5. mrbillswildride

    mrbillswildride Internet Asylum Escapee 2010, 2012, 2014

    Agreed, it IS what moves you. Well put...

    So the top tier? Does it look something like this?

    Astral Weeks
    St. Dominic's
    Veedon Fleece
    Into The Music
    Common One
    No Guru?


    or is "one" of those in dispute?
  6. Clarkophile

    Clarkophile Through the Morning, Through the Night

    Oakville, ON

    You ain't seen nothin' yet. Watch us pull a rabbit outta Van's hat.

    Heh-heh, maybe we should plan to have meetings before I start making grand pronouncements.:laugh:
    I think Down the Road and Back on Top are going to surprise a few folks who may not have had the pleasure.
  7. butch

    butch Senior Member

    Healing is in my "cream of the da crop" file for reasons that I'll go into when we cross that bridge.That Silver Era of Van's career ends with Back on Top for me.It's not that the other stuff after that is bad,but the stuff from Guru til Back is great (with certain exceptions).In the immortal words of an old friend called Oreganohead(he consumed a lot of the herb that rhymes with Vannabis!),Van the Man can't make a bad album!
  8. albert_m

    albert_m Forum Resident

    Atl., Ga, USA
    Not to dwell on ones we will discuss soon, but albums like Healing Game have some standout tracks, including a few that I rank very highly, but as an album it's mostly decent/ok.

    However, Back on Top to me, is a very, very, enjoyable listen almost all the way through and one I listen to more often to than most of his albums. Down the Road is comparable companion - with Magic Time almost as good (but maybe its best songs, better than the best of the other two.... )

    I realize that we have yet to get into this, but if the more recent period is going to be dismissed I feel compelled to mention its merit.
  9. butch

    butch Senior Member

    I wonder if you've ever heard Tom Jones' version produced by Van the Man himself?Interesting take..........
  10. tfarney

    tfarney Active Member

    For me I think it would have to be

    Astral Weeks
    It's Too Late To Stop Now
    Into The Music

    ...and I think Hymns is a transitional album that led to a new Van era for which I haven't yet picked a favorite.


    DJ WILBUR The Cappuccino Kid Thread Starter

    hahaha, no its fine..i like when you speak on my behalf...besides, I like a lot of whats to come, and there are so many amazing songs to discuss still. Not to mention some top shelf performances....

    this man is no slouch in his latter years....we'll go down the road together and find him back on top pulling some magic outta that hat he's always wearing. We'll chop some wood, stop drinking, talk cheap in the afternoon, in the midnight, in somerset where sometimes we cry and realize all work and no play makes a whinin' boy moan...and you know what they're gonna be writing about...:nauga: there are too many myths and he's stranded at saint james infirmary where it once was my life, just dont worry about a thing cause its the celtic new year and we're gonna keep mediocrity at bay in here....we'll carry on regardless, through the magic time on the evening train on the ancient highway where he steals my heart away early in the morning with bb king....

    and you all say "Hey Mr. D.J."....i dont want to go on without you but thats life in days like this on the lonely avenue at 4 o'clock in the morning, thats precious time, back on top, dont take a raincheck, dont leave us stranded....dont leave these newer albums too long in exile.
  12. Craig

    Craig (unspecified) Staff

    North of Seattle
    You can listen to That's Entrainment at the Lost Highway web site.

    They indicate it will be available on vinyl.
  13. mighty_quinn

    mighty_quinn Forum Resident

    Following the above, my desert island Van discs are:

    Them Again
    Astral Weeks
    St Dominics Preview
    Too Late to Stop It Now
    Veedon Fleece
    Into the Music
    Beautiful Vision
    Avalon Sunset
    Hymns to the Silence
    (Disc 2)
    The Philospher's Stone

    Look fwd to the discussion of the post-Hymns material
  14. jostber

    jostber Forum Resident

    Skien, Norway
    Can't find that anyone has discussed the theme of the album, which I think is very fine. Not the most consistent Van album maybe, but it has a lot of good songs and some great ones.

    To me the double album has a theme on how one can find one's place, and peace of the mind and soul in a turbulent world. It might be a bit to incoherent theme and song wise to make the message clear, but to me in some moments it all comes through. Especially on part 2 of the album.

    Got it on vinyl from the original release and enjoying that good sound. :)
  15. jostber

    jostber Forum Resident

    Skien, Norway
  16. Clarkophile

    Clarkophile Through the Morning, Through the Night

    Oakville, ON
    Thanks, Craig. Very nice. Understated, gently insistent--and are those handclaps I hear in the background? As someone once said, it's impossible to dislike a song with handclaps.

    Very interesting comments. You know, on my way in to work this morning I was playing disc 2 and thinking about the theme of Hymns as well. I'll try to come up with some coherent thoughts at lunchtime when we move on.
  17. butch

    butch Senior Member

    DJW,what I like about this period of Van's career is that he still had "it"!There were artists from a common era that didn't have the same dedication to lyrical and musical quality.In essence Van's work(LP work that is) held up.

    As for Hymns,Disc one I still like it especially the flow of the songs.Yeah,Candy Dulfer is annoying because she's Ms Smooth Jazz,but her contribution works here.I really haven't changed my opinion of the album since it came out and I wish I had more time to write about it,but work is calling...........
  18. Clarkophile

    Clarkophile Through the Morning, Through the Night

    Oakville, ON

    11. "By His Grace" – 2:34
    12. "All Saints Day" – 2:28
    13. "Hymns to the Silence" – 9:42
    14. "On Hyndford Street" – 5:17
    15. "Be Thou My Vision" - (Traditional) – 3:49
    16. "Carrying a Torch" – 4:26
    17. "Green Mansions" – 3:38
    18. "Pagan Streams" – 3:38
    19. "Quality Street" - (Morrison, Rebennack) – 3:57
    20. "It Must Be You" – 4:08
    21. "I Need Your Kind of Loving" – 4:31

    * Van Morrison - vocal, guitar, harmonica, alto saxophone
    * Steve Gregory - flute, baritone saxophone
    * Kate St. John - English horn
    * Neil Drinkwater - accordion, piano, synthesizer
    * Candy Dulfer - alto saxophone
    * Haji Ahkba - flugelhorn
    * Eddie Friel - piano, organ, synthesizer
    * Georgie Fame - piano, organ, background vocals
    * Terry Disley - piano
    * Derek Bell - synthesizer
    * Nicky Scott, Steve Pearce - bass guitar
    * Dave Early - drums, percussion
    * Paul Robinson - drums
    * Carol Kenyon, Katie Kissoon - background vocals
    * The Chieftains

    My sincere thanks to William for his information about Hymns to the Silence having originally been conceived as two separate albums which had their coexistence in a fatboy case foisted upon them as opposed to having been the product of one focused artistic vision. Now it all makes sense to me. If CD1 is MeanVan, then CD2 is MysticVan. Who knows, as far as thematic structure, one might say that CD2 offers healin' and hope for the woes expressed on CD1.

    "By His Grace" is the musical equivalent of a fresh breath of cool morning air after a stormy night. Georgie Fame's organ leads the charge of righteousness here, and, in fact his work would become a mainstay in Van's work for quite some time to come. To call the song breezy might seem to do it a disservice, but it truly is energetic, peaceful. Glad tidings are abounding here and do much to make amends for the ear-pulling diatribes of the previous CD.

    The title track is an epic, almost 10 minutes in length, yet feels half that. Having redeemed himself with "By His Grace," Van feels confident enough to draws us further into his spiritual think-tank. Gentle yet stirring, it is a welcome return to the long songs of his past, yet with none of the wheel-spinning repetition found in "Take Me Back." The "burn the candle at both ends" chant sounds improvised to me, as if Van found a lyric which at that moment held personal significance for him and ran with it.

    "On Hyndford Street", to me, is the second-most moving track on the album (next to "Carrying a Torch"). Its sister spoken-word song on this record is obviously "Pagan Streams," but I feel it's more closely aligned with "Coney Island" in its efforts to distill life's mysteries and meaning into singularly perfect moments of personal transcendence. One needn't have experienced these specific moments to appreciate the underlying thrust of the words, that memories are the only things which, in the end, we truly possess:

    Take me back, take me way, way, way back
    On Hyndford Street
    Where you could feel the silence at half past eleven
    On long summer nights
    As the wireless played radio Luxembourg
    And the voices whispered across Beechie River
    In the quietness as we sank into restful slumber in the silence
    And carried on dreaming, in God
    And walks up Cherry Valley from North Road Bridge railway line
    On sunny summer afternoons
    Picking apples from the side of the tracks
    That spilled over from the gardens of the houses on Cyprus Avenue
    Watching the moth catcher working the floodlights in the evenings
    And meeting down by the pylons
    Playing round Mrs. Kelly's lamp
    Going out to Holywood on the bus
    And walking from the end of the lines to the seaside
    Stopping at Fusco's for ice cream
    In the days before rock `n' roll
    Hyndford street, Abetta Parade
    Orangefield, St. Donard's Church
    Sunday six bells, and in between the silence there was conversation
    And laughter, and music and singing, and shivers up the back of the neck.

    "Carrying a Torch" is a tremendously moving love song--another unacknowledged Standard in the tradition of "Have I Told You Lately" as far as I'm concerned. I won't pull on your collective ear to explain its significance in my life story, but I will say this: there is a moment towards the end where Van instructs the band to go into a double chorus ("One more," he mutters, slightly off mic.) that moves me like nothing else in his recorded output. That double chorus is a wonder, a especially when Van and the band hunker down and bring it home. You can tell Van feels it happening too, the collective thrust of musicians and singers joining as one force, and the ad-libbed "Ow!" is the wordless release of emotion flowing from it. The female backup singers are a nice counterpoint of hopefulness to Van's cries of despair, conveying empathy for what we, as listeners, take to be a love in vain.

    "Green Mansions" is another effortlessly brilliant and evocative song--really, I have no idea how The Man does it. Most songwriters would give their strumming arm to be able to write one song like this, and here it's just another album track on a Van Morrison album. Georgie Fame adds much to create the peaceful pastoral vibe.

    "I Need Your Kind of Loving" was first recorded, to the best of my knowledge, around the time of Astral Weeks. Amazing that what was probably an outtake from an album made over twenty years before would be resurrected, but having seen how Van brought back "Real Real Gone," it's safe to assume he has a great memory of all his songs. This is more proof that when critics slag him for repeating the same images and phrases, essentially saying that he has run out of ideas, that Van is well aware of it, and is in fact doing it deliberately for purposes unknown to them.

    Lesson learned: That no one should ever underestimate George Ivan's artistic vision. CD2 of Hymns to the Silence reiterates that cautionary advice.

    DJ WILBUR The Cappuccino Kid Thread Starter

    great post Tom!

    it's true these two discs seem very odd together in one package and your thoughts are quite well put. I will listen to this on my drive home tonight with your post in my mind and be back at you in a day or two...
  20. mighty_quinn

    mighty_quinn Forum Resident

    Great review. You pretty much said it all. One question - does anyone know the origin of Quality Street? Of course, Van worked with Dr. John (fitfully) during his Period of Transition , but I wasn't aware of any continued collaboration between the two men. Does this song date back that far?
  21. Clarkophile

    Clarkophile Through the Morning, Through the Night

    Oakville, ON
    Apologies for the many glaring typos. I had to rush and get back to work.

    DJ WILBUR The Cappuccino Kid Thread Starter

    i actually enjoyed your typo's....:nauga: ...more than me, FOR ONCE.!!!
  23. Clarkophile

    Clarkophile Through the Morning, Through the Night

    Oakville, ON
    When you told me the circumstances behind the recording and release of this set it was a real "Eureka!" moment for me.
    I tend to gravitate towards Van's spiritual/love songs more than his business rants. I'm getting the feeling I'm not the only one who feels this way.:shh:

    That's a good idea about playing it while driving. "By His Grace" and "All Saints Day" would be nice for that.
    "Hymns to the Silence" would be the ideal calm-me-down if you get stuck in traffic.:laugh:

    DJ WILBUR The Cappuccino Kid Thread Starter

    its pouring and I will be, so I'll let you know.
  25. mrbillswildride

    mrbillswildride Internet Asylum Escapee 2010, 2012, 2014

    Just played side three three times thru, it blew the socks off of anything on sides one and two... even as background music whilst posting... :)
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