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

    my wager is its gonna be unanimous....:angel:
  2. Clarkophile

    Clarkophile Through the Morning, Through the Night

    I'm not so sure about that now. :whistle:
    I had an interesting listen to WWWTP on the way home. Need to organize my thoughts for tomorrow...and steady myself for the flak headed my way.

    DJ WILBUR The Cappuccino Kid Thread Starter

    ah intrigue, though i said pick on whats wrong with it, a play on the title, its not a dog of a record by any means, but its another "Jazz" outing well, we'll wait for Toms heady words...i havent played it in a while myself I do dig the Saint James Infirmary a lot...will spin this tomorrow as well and re-aquaint....

    DJ WILBUR The Cappuccino Kid Thread Starter

    Well there's Sartre and Camus, Nietzsche and Hesse
    If you dig deep enough
    You gonna end up in distress
    And no one escapes having to live life under duress
    And no one escapes the meaning of loneliness

    who else would rhyme Hesse with duress...haha
  5. mrbillswildride

    mrbillswildride Internet Asylum Escapee 2010, 2012, 2014

    Hesse: One of my three fave authors, the other two being Tolkien and Wilde...
    Van just jumped up two notches in my pantheon...
    That ought to keep him going a spell...
    great lyric quote!
  6. Clarkophile

    Clarkophile Through the Morning, Through the Night

    A little clunky, that.:laugh: There's also another ham-fisted line in the last song:
    "I’m just trying to get some results
    Listen baby I’m not trying to start my own cult."

    Good song though.
  7. tfarney

    tfarney Active Member

    I go away for a few days and look what happens: Curbach becomes a verb. Tom admits a deep need for R&B intervention (probably doesn't like "Take Me To The River" either) and William, of course, gets a new avatar. But the roughest blow of all? The threat to move on early to "What's Wrong With This Picture?" The answer to that question is achingly long or brutally short, depending entirely on the editorial approach. But I'd rather answer what's right with "Down The Road." Though it appears I'll have to do that tonight. I guess I'm staying up late. Thank God I have wine.


    DJ WILBUR The Cappuccino Kid Thread Starter


  9. benjaminhuf

    benjaminhuf Forum Resident

    That's pretty intense stuff to be quoting all in one line. Yowza. Do you really think he's read all of those people? Probably. He's Irish, right, and they're intellectual in their own ways. Got some good Irish blood on me mother's side. Brannons, they were. When I visited a friend who was a prof. at Trinity in Dublin I was impressed at how intellectual they were--quoten postmodern authors and all--and still with those beautiful accents. They were thinkin, talkin, and drinkin me under the table. The meals were taken in robes, with latin prayers beforehand, as I recall, like something out of time. Tradition. And a pint of Guinness ("black lemonade!" as my friend called them) was something. They don't taste quite the same here....

    Oh, I know I'm goin waaaay off topic.

    Anyway, I'm curious about this song. Is it good musically, is what I'd like to know. And what's the title of the number?
  10. tfarney

    tfarney Active Member

    Down The Road

    I like this one quite a bit. It has its ups and downs, but overall it’s a good latter-day Van album.

    The ups? The title cut, I think, would fit right in on Moondance or Tupelo Honey. It’s just the kind of sunny jaunt Van use to take us on when he was young and in love. Steal My Heart Away…it’s got that almost tidal sway, the lightly dancing acoustic guitar arpeggio over rich organ swells, the clipped vocal phrasing and the deep, deep romance. I sometimes wonder how many times Van can write this song, but that’s not the real mystery. The real mystery is why I never tire of it. The downs? Talk Is Cheap – In a complete reversal of Steal My Heart Away, I wonder how many times Van is going to insist on writing this song, and I wish he would stop. And this is not my favorite rendition of Georgia On My Mind. I think he over-vamped it quite a bit.

    Overall, another great reason why so many of us keep listening to Van, picking up his records and, for the most part, enjoying them. There are exceptions, of course. Every now and then a real turkey comes along. I suppose it is bound to happen to an artist who is so prolific and follows his own road so faithfully. But why, God, why did it have to happen with Linda Gale Lewis?

    Sneaky Pete likes this.
  11. mrbillswildride

    mrbillswildride Internet Asylum Escapee 2010, 2012, 2014

    Down The Road a spell...

    DTR is spinning in the Cd player now... Georgia... nice cover, but hardly essential... at first I felt this album was Van by numbers, but about mid-way through, I felt he found a groove, and got into it, and the thing picked up the proper mojo magic it takes to go to the next level, if not the top... :righton:

    Really like the three songs before Georgia... and some others, but I didn't catch the titles...:shake: I'll be coming into this one a bit late as well too, minus 5 points for slacking... but an A for sticking with Van for THREE solid months... (the family is starting to form an underground coup d' tat thou)

  12. tfarney

    tfarney Active Member

    I'm of the opinion that pretty much all of this late period is Van by numbers. Even when he doesn't touch all the stones and delivers, instead, a neat little R&B album, they're really pleasant to listen to, way beyond the latter-day efforts of almost all of his contemporaries, but not quite up to his 70s/80s heyday. Sometimes the "numbers" are much better than others though. And even the weak efforts are strong enough. Another friend, on another board recently dissed Van online. I threatened him.

  13. Clarkophile

    Clarkophile Through the Morning, Through the Night

    Nice to see Tim back.:righton:

    DJ WILBUR The Cappuccino Kid Thread Starter

  15. Clarkophile

    Clarkophile Through the Morning, Through the Night

    What's Wrong with This Picture?
    Blue Note, 2003

    All songs by Van Morrison (unless noted otherwise)

    1. "What's Wrong With This Picture?" – 6:00
    2. "Whinin Boy Moan" – 4:17
    3. "Evening in June" – 4:00
    4. "Too Many Myths" – 4:32
    5. "Somerset" - (Bilk, Collett, Morrison) – 4:09
    6. "Meaning of Loneliness" – 6:41
    7. "Stop Drinking" - (Hopkins, Morrison) – 3:24
    8. "Goldfish Bowl" – 6:01
    9. "Once in a Blue Moon" – 3:30
    10. "Saint James Infirmary" - (Traditional) – 5:32
    11. "Little Village" – 4:30
    12. "Fame" – 5:21
    13. "Get on With the Show" – 5:40

    If the opening moments of the title track of this album promise a return to the lushness which characterized much of Van's late-80's period, with strings, horns and drum brushes, the strange guffaw he emits about halfway through seems to undermine any sincerity in his approach. Van seems entirely pleased with his "It don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing/and a ring-a-ding-ding" ad lib, but I find it a little distracting, and his delivery seems a little lazy to me.
    Van resents being pigeonholed, and the image of a photo in a frame conveys the idea he resents having to conform to people's visions and expectations of him, whether it be the bearded hippie of Moondance or the pudgy, brooding philosopher on the cover of Poetic Champions Compose. I don't think it's necessarily a repudiation of the ideas expressed on those albums, but a refusal to taken as a static figure frozen in time, as one on an album cover inevitably becomes. Fair enough. It's wrong to assume people cannot change and evolve over time. If there were fewer whinge-a-thons on his records I might be tempted to take him at his word.

    'Whinin' Boy Moan' is a cooking blues number that gets better for me with every listen, and 'Evening in June' recalls the spiffy horn lines on the Poetic Champions Compose album. It doesn't quite reach Instant Van Classic status, but it may as I get deeper into this record. The horn solos are exquisite.
    'Too Many Myths' and 'Fame' are bellyaching numbers that drag the album down. The undistinguished melody of 'Somerset' makes it (yet) another Four-Minute Time Waster.
    'Stop Drinking' is a corker. Nicely sequenced, it lifts the album out of its doledrums at the perfect moment, only to be brought crashing down again by more dreary, self-serving blues, 'Goldfish Bowl.'
    To be honest, I don't dig the blues as much as I did when I was in my 20's, so when I hear Van sing blues it's almost an instant turnoff.
    It's not you, Van, it's me.:laugh:

    'Once in a Blue Moon' is the Instant Van Classic of the album. It leaps into your ears with an exuberant cha-cha vibe that screams radio. Van's songs are usually slow growers with me, but this one jumped to the forefront of my favourites on this album; it gets a bye to the finals.:laugh:
    'Saint James Infirmary', although not a Morrison original, provides further evidence Van is mounting a bit of a rally in the latter stages of the album. So creepy is this song that you can almost smell the funeral parlour. A truly chilling cut.
    Musically, 'Little Village' is sort of an update of 'Cyprus Avenue', yet it creates an entirely different vibe. 'Cyprus Avenue' always felt claustrophobic and dark to me, but 'Little Village' creates a vibrant and charming musical soundscape ---exactly the sort of orchestral mood piece I'm sure most of us thought Van had abandoned long ago. A real beauty. Another Instant Van Classic.

    I haven't passed judgment on 'Meaning of Loneliness' yet. I'm still on the fence about that one.

    What's Wrong With this Picture? may be bogged down in places with rote run-throughs of dreary blues, but there is more than enough here to recommend it, especially the incredible 'Little Village.'

    DJ WILBUR The Cappuccino Kid Thread Starter

    another well written review by our own Tommy Boy....Now I'm gonna listen with your observations in mind....
  17. Clarkophile

    Clarkophile Through the Morning, Through the Night

    Thank you, William. Check out 'Little Village'--man, I love that song!

    DJ WILBUR The Cappuccino Kid Thread Starter

    I love Little Village already. one of the best on this album as you've noted...
  19. curbach

    curbach Some guy on the internet

    The ATX
    I hate to be glib (nah, actually I love to be glib and I am grateful to have the Tamborine Man and the DJ to do the heavy lifting of writing something thoughtful, so I can be a clown), but here is my review of What's Wrong With This Picture?:

    Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. . . Huh, what's that? Van's belly-aching again?. Great :rolleyes: Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. . . Hey, that's a great cover of "St. James Infirmary". . .Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

    For some reason, I was very excited about the idea of Van releasing an album on Blue Note and bought this immediately despite my misgivings when looking at the song titles. I haven't listened to it in ages, so I'll have to break it out and cue up "Little Village" at least (since right now I couldn't tell you anything about it except that my well-respected fellow Van-o-philes seem to like it).

    Ok, Tim. Do your worst ;) :wave:
  20. mrbillswildride

    mrbillswildride Internet Asylum Escapee 2010, 2012, 2014

    Froget where's Waldo? Where's Van?

    "What Wrong With The Picture"? (cover?) There's no Van in it... :eek:

    I'm headed back "Down The Road"

  21. mrbillswildride

    mrbillswildride Internet Asylum Escapee 2010, 2012, 2014

    Little Viilage is one of my very FAVES on Best of Vol. III, a real highlght along with Red, Green and Gold, or whatever colours Van was on about... and the live Little Village on the fourth side of Keep It Simple's vinyl is to die for...:righton:
  22. Clarkophile

    Clarkophile Through the Morning, Through the Night

    Wow, that's some cold $hit!:laugh:
  23. curbach

    curbach Some guy on the internet

    The ATX
    I know, I know, especially coming from a big fan. Tim's gonna call me names again :winkgrin:

    I really need to listen to the album again. Surely, it contains something worthwhile besides "St. James Infirmary". I tried to like "Once In A Blue Moon" because it sounds like it ought to be likeable, but something about it just doesn't work for me. Had to yank it from my iPod. :shake:

    And I just wandered over to Amazon where the average review for this album 4.5 stars out of 5. What's wrong with that picture?
  24. mrbillswildride

    mrbillswildride Internet Asylum Escapee 2010, 2012, 2014

    What's wrong? You forgot the classic AFTER St. James, Little Village...;)
  25. drewslo

    drewslo Forum Resident

    "What's Wrong With This Picture" to me is a slightly below average Van album. I wouldn't recommend it to anyone who isn't a completist. That said, I enjoy even the lesser Van releases...his vocals and arrangements are always interesting to me. On this album they save some pretty mediocre material.

    I actually like the opening track, especially the part where he cracks up after
    the "ring-a-ding-ding" improv. He's having fun. The arrangement is beautiful as well.

    The other highlights for me are "Whinin' Boy Moan", "Stop Drinking", "Saint James Infirmary" and of course "Little Village", the agreed upon classic.

    The problem over all? Well, we've been mentioning it all along: the self-referential "celebrity sucks" songs. Typically, Van puts maybe one of these songs on an album which is O.K. But here, we have "What's Wrong With This Picture" (which would have been enough), "Too Many Myths", "Goldfish Bowl", "Fame" and "Get On With The Show"(which is also a keeper). I don't mind Van mining this terrain but it's just a bit too much of it.

    I didn't really like this album too much when it came out and have only listened to it a few times. Seeing and hearing some of the songs live really changes things. "Saint James" has become a centerpiece of his shows and the live "Little Village" included on the vinyl "Keep It Simple" opened my eyes (and ears).

    So one of his lesser releases to me, but still enjoyable for the simple reason that Van's voice is always compelling to me and his honesty (even when he obsesses) is admirable. I also find a lot of humor in the lines (when he name drops all over the place or sings lines like "Well there's parasites and psychic vampires / Feeding on the public at large / Projecting their shadow onto everyone else" or the previously mentioned "I'm not trying to start me own cult, no / Just tell me something I don't know".

    The next album will be a step up.
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