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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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  1. drewslo

    drewslo Forum Resident

    Here's my one disc version of "Hymns". I actually like the so-called "complainin
    g songs" on this album (the concept hadn't got old yet), so they remain. I kept it under 50 minutes (close to the length of the original discs).

    1. Professional Jealousy 3:42
    2. I'm Not Feeling It Anymore 6:34
    3. Ordinary Life 3:29
    4. Why Must I Always Explain 3:50
    5. On Hynford Street 5:17
    6. Hymns To The Silence 9:42
    7. Quality Street 3:57 (this won out because I can't get it out of my head)
    8. Take Me Back 9:11
    9. Pagan Streams 3:38
  2. mrbillswildride

    mrbillswildride Internet Asylum Escapee 2010, 2012, 2014

    Sounds great, I'm 'into doin' that sorta thing, one of the great educational exp. offered in this unique biome... looking forward to it...:goodie:
  3. curbach

    curbach Some guy on the internet

    The ATX
    BTW, "blaoed" was intended to be "bloated", not that there's anything wrong with a thread of over 2,000 posts in 3 parts :angel:
  4. mrbillswildride

    mrbillswildride Internet Asylum Escapee 2010, 2012, 2014

    Hate to quote meself, but I had to...:shake: anyone know the answers to the two questions posited above? :help:
  5. Craig

    Craig (unspecified) Staff

    North of Seattle
    Those four aren't in the U.S. remasters series yet because Van evidently doesn't have the rights. Perhaps they'll come out domestically (U.S.) in the future, otherwise we'll have to get them as imports like the 1998 remasters of these titles.
  6. mrbillswildride

    mrbillswildride Internet Asylum Escapee 2010, 2012, 2014

    Thank you very much. I've just ordered Into the Music on import and bought the current Cd to compare it with...
  7. mighty_quinn

    mighty_quinn Forum Resident

    That is a nifty little song isn't it? One of my favorities. I'm still trying to figure out when it was written...

    I like all the street names on Hymns; Hyndford, Honey, Quality. Not sure whether the last two are actual place names, or just poetic license.
  8. jostber

    jostber Forum Resident

    Skien, Norway
  9. mighty_quinn

    mighty_quinn Forum Resident

    I read Under a Hoodoo Moon some years ago, and recall Rebennack found (surprise!) Morrison to be moody and difficult to work with. I remember a particular story about Ray Parker Jr.

    I just found the section -

    We flew over, went up to meet Van in Oxford, and we were sitting at the table eating when Ray Parker started getting nervous 'cause his guitar hadn't come through customs. A high-strung person, Ray began to laugh, which is how he acts when he gets in a new situation that sets him at angles. At one point, Van got the idea that Ray was laughing at him--he'd missed the origin of Ray's hilarity. We wound up the next day with Van firing Ray Parker. Now, this was a time when Ray was playing on sessions with Diana Ross, Marvin Gaye, and heaps of other stars. He'd canceled stuff like that to come do the gig with Van, and Van shot him down before he even got started. Suddenly we ain't got a guitarist, and Ray's pissed with me because I'm the one who contracted him.

    I told Reggie and Ollie, "Look, guys, we're going to make this record no matter what," and even though they were a little weirded out, they stuck it out because they wanted to go through with it. We all hung in there because Van just draws in musicians on account of his powerful singing; he may not have the best personality to deal with people, but the mystical quality of his voice could make you go through hell in dealing with him.

    Anyway, so I guess the song Quality Street dates back to the late 70's.
  10. Clarkophile

    Clarkophile Up in T.O. keepin' jive alive

    Great anecdote. Thanks for posting it. It seems Van has left a trail of disgruntled musicians in his wake throughout his career.

    I'm now virus-free, thanks to a suggestion made by Gort Sckott and I'm feeling re-Vanitized enough to move on to Too Long in Exile tomorrow around noontime. I'm very curious to hear what everyone has to say about this one so fire up the CD or vinyl (was it even released on vinyl?) and take a walk down a lonely avenue, put your long robes on, and we go way on down in the forest. And I'm talkin' to you, you, you, you, you, you, you, you-y-y-y-y-y-y-y-y-y-y-y-y-you, you, you, you, you, you.
  11. jostber

    jostber Forum Resident

    Skien, Norway

    DJ WILBUR The Cappuccino Kid Thread Starter

    that is a great anecdote and Tom I'm glad you got your machine sorted out. You were Too Long In Exile man.
  13. Clarkophile

    Clarkophile Up in T.O. keepin' jive alive

  14. jostber

    jostber Forum Resident

    Skien, Norway
  15. Clarkophile

    Clarkophile Up in T.O. keepin' jive alive

  16. curbach

    curbach Some guy on the internet

    The ATX
    Jumping the gun just slightly, I note that Too Long In Exile just like Hymns sounds like two albums welded together. The last six songs just don't seem like they belong on the same album as the first 10. More on this when our dear moderators officially start the Exile discussion. . .
  17. Clarkophile

    Clarkophile Up in T.O. keepin' jive alive

    Hi everyone, terribly sorry, I'm really tied up at work today so I don't have enough time to throw anything coherent together (I trust we all remember my typo-a-thon from last week). If you want to go ahead without me please feel free, otherwise we can just delay it one more day; I'm fairly certain I'll be able to get my act together for tomorrow.

    btw, Monsieur Curbach, I totally agree with your thoughts about the album, except I hear three distinct albums going on here (albeit short ones).

    DJ WILBUR The Cappuccino Kid Thread Starter

    and I'm going into Exile for a week or so with a family matter....
  19. Clarkophile

    Clarkophile Up in T.O. keepin' jive alive

    Thanks for waiting everyone. :righton: I'm on track today so we'll get all jazzy at around 1:00 or so, EST.
    btw, the Too Long in Exile cover makes for a great screensaver.

    All the best, William. Hope you're back with us soon.
  20. Clarkophile

    Clarkophile Up in T.O. keepin' jive alive



    "Album One"

    1. "Too Long in Exile" – 6:18
    2. "Big Time Operators" – 6:03
    3. "Lonely Avenue" (Doc Pomus) – 6:24
    4. "Ball & Chain" – 5:36
    5. "In the Forest" – 4:38
    6. "Till We Get the Healing Done" – 8:29
    7. "Gloria" – 5:19
    8. "Good Morning Little Schoolgirl" (Sonny Boy Williamson) – 4:07
    9. "Wasted Years" – 3:57


    "Album Two"

    10. "The Lonesome Road" (Nathaniel Shilkret, Gene Austin) – 3:16
    11. "Moody's Mood for Love" (James Moody, Dorothy Fields, Jimmy McHugh)
    - 2:32
    12. "Close Enough for Jazz" – 2:39
    13. "Before the World Was Made" (text by William Butler Yeats, adapted by Morrison, music by Kenny Craddock) – 4:24
    14. "I'll Take Care of You" (Brook Benton) – 5:19
    15. "Instrumental/Tell Me What You Want" – 8:08


    * Van Morrison – Vocals, Electric Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Alto Saxophone, Harmonica
    * John Lee Hooker – Vocals and Electric Guitar on "Gloria" and "Wasted Years"
    * Georgie Fame – Hammond Organ
    * Ronnie Johnson – Electric Guitar
    * Nicky Scott – Bass guitar
    * Candy Dulfer – Alto Saxophone
    * Kate St John – Tenor Saxophone, Cor Anglais
    * Teena Lyle – Backing Vocals, Hammond Organ, Percussion, Vibes
    * Jonn Savannah – Backing Vocals, Hammond Organ
    * Geoff Dunn – Drums
    * Howard Francis – Hammond Organ, Piano
    * Paul Robinson – Drums
    * John Allair – Hammond Organ
    * Richard Cousins – Bass
    * Kevin Hayes – Drums

    I suppose the smug and glib reviewer in me wants to toss off a line like "Too Long in Exile is simply too long" or some such nonsense, but that wouldn't be fair to our Van, even though it is, essentially, my take on this album.
    Independent of Heylin I came to the same conclusion as he, that Van, like many others in this same period, fell victim to the freedom afforded by the length of a CD: songs could meander into the forest and never need double back because the listener was along for the walk...now for up to 80 full minutes!
    For artists such as Van, who answered to no one and was essentially his own boss, this gave him just enough freedom to get lost in the wood.

    As curbach mentioned quite perceptively yesterday, Too Long in Exile feels like two albums stuck together (although for me album one ends with "Wasted Years" and album two begins with "The Lonesome Road").

    I had initially toyed with splitting the album into three EPs, (1. Spiritual/Mystical, 2. Blues, and 3. Jazz) but I think curbach's idea works best: this album is really a blues album and a jazz album forced into coexistence.
    What is odd is that, according to Heylin, there were not separate "jazz" sessions or "blues" sessions; jazz numbers were recorded alongside blues songs. The separateness appears to have been the deliberate result of sequencing only.

    So I'll begin by referring to the first album. The title track is a fine opener, but somehow, somewhere over its six-plus minutes, it becomes tedious; the excitement and tension doesn't build for me over the course of the song. Truthfully, in preparing for this review, I had assumed that "Too Long in Exile" was in the eight-plus minutes range. It's perhaps not surprising that it was trimmed down for its inclusion on the recent best-of CD.
    While I'm on about dynamics, or the lack thereof, I should probably mention the biggest offender on "album one," "Till We Get the Healing Done," a Mystical Workout which, while aspiring to the same heights as its sister song from Into the Music, "And the Healing Has Begun", fails to deliver the same mystical goods. There are only two parts for Van and the band to work with here, and so it relies solely on a buildup of feeling over the course of the song to create a dizzying trance effect (like Van has done from the get-go, so on paper this is not an issue). What happens though is that the musicians don't really have much to work with, apart from Van's cries of "Ow!" every now and then. I usually love those little interjections, but here they seem baseless and forced.

    "Ball and Chain" is product for product's sake. These lyrics could have written by anyone. There is nothing to distinguish them as being from Van's hand. In truth, the smug irony of the lyric reminds me of someone like Huey Lewis more than Van Morrison (Remember "Stuck with You"? Ugggh).

    The album's finest moment for me is "In the Forest," a song which I rank right up there with "Oh the Warm Feeling" in terms of grace, beauty and impact, and the by now familiar creation of a moment of transcendence. What is different here though is the moment is suspended; it is a future occurrence:
    "By the waterfall I will hold you in my arms..." et cetera. The use of future tense leads me to believe this is Van's vision of the afterlife---or quite possibly my own wishes for it. However one looks at it, the beauty of the lyrics, and their ability to conjure up visions of imagined, suspended beauty, is something to behold:

    By the sacred grove, where the waters flow
    We will come and go, in the forest

    In the summer rain, we will meet again
    We will learn the code of the ancient ones
    In the forest

    By the waterfall, I will hold you in my arms
    We will meet again by the leafy glade
    In the shade of the forest

    With your long robes on, we will surely roam
    By the ancient roads, I will take you home
    To the forest

    In the forest, in the forest
    In the forest, in the forest

    With your long robes on, we will surely roam
    By the ancient roads, I will take you home again
    To the forest

    Satisfy the soul baby
    Birds sing all day long of the mother lode
    We can let it roll, in the forest

    With your long robes on
    I know where you’re coming from
    By the big oak tree you’ve gotta come and go with me

    In the forest, in the forest
    In the forest, in the forest

    By the waterfall
    I will hold you in my arms, and we will meet again
    By the leafy shade, in the, in the forest

    Satisfy the soul
    Birds sing all day long of the mother lode
    We can surely let it roll, in the forest

    With your long robes on
    I know where you’re coming from
    We will surely roam, down by the ancient roads

    The duet with John Lee Hooker, "Wasted Years," is a haunting statement of regret and loss. I love how the two men urge each other on, as if trying to elicit each other's hidden depths of pain: "Now, Van..." "Now, John..."
    The only thing wrong with this song is it feels too damn short. The trance it induces could go on for for three times its length in my opinion.

    Time constraints force me to end part one at this point, but tomorrow I'll write my thoughts about the "bonus jazz album" that comes after, and any remaining thoughts about songs I've missed.:)
  21. curbach

    curbach Some guy on the internet

    The ATX
    Two phrases from your review jump out at me, Tom: "Tedious" and "Product for product's sake". You've heard it all before and even Van sounds pretty listless in places. And yet I am generally favorably disposed toward this little plastic disc. Though there is nothing too important going on here, it remains a pleasant and mostly engaging listen from beginning to end, a minimum standard that Van would begin to have trouble reaching from here on out.

    It's funny, I came to the realization that the last 6 songs don't really fit when I pulled out the disc this weekend after not having played it in ages. Browsing the tracklist, I could easily sing a few lines from any of the first 9 songs, but I was shocked that I was unable to summon up a single memory of any of those last 6 tracks. Not a word, not a melody, nothing.

    So I played the last part of the album beginning with "The Lonesome Road". Each song sounded familiar when I heard it (oh yeah, I remember it now), but they all kind of blend together into an instantly forgettable smooth jazz miasma. Particularly disappointing when a Yeats adaptation gets lost in the stew (no Let The Slave" happening here :sigh:). And it became instantly apparent to me that this group of songs bore no relation to what had come before on the album. I don't think I was so aware of this before because when you listen to the album from beginning to end it's hard to still be paying much attention by the time the smooth jazz takes over.

    So it's an album of small pleasures, perhaps on par with A Period Of Transition in that respect. No great achievements, but on the whole I'd rather listen to it than Hymns. And I must confess I'd rather hear this re-working of "Gloria" with John Lee than the original Them version :hide:
  22. Clarkophile

    Clarkophile Up in T.O. keepin' jive alive

    Yeah, he's going through the motions he would soon describe in "Songwriter" from Days Like This--among the worst songs in his career, that one.

    Back in the time when this album came out, it had the dubious honour of putting me to sleep after "Wasted Years"---quite literally. I was not to hear the full album, start to finish, in its entirety, wide-eyed and bushy tailed, until this past weekend. The jazz-lite noodlery :)) :laugh: ) was a real bore to me back then.

    I like that version too! But does John Lee's guitar seem kind of buried in the mix to you?
  23. curbach

    curbach Some guy on the internet

    The ATX
    I'll have to get back to you on John Lee's guitar. Since reacquainting myself with the last part of the album, I've been trying to listen from the beginning on headphones the last couple of nights just before I go to bed, but I keep falling asleep before it gets to "Gloria" :laugh: (More a comment on my state of tiredness than the album--I think ;) ) I need to play it on my main system, anyway. I'm pretty sure I never have.
  24. Clarkophile

    Clarkophile Up in T.O. keepin' jive alive

    I liked this line very much.:laugh: :thumbsup:
  25. curbach

    curbach Some guy on the internet

    The ATX
    I'm just trying to keep up with you, Tom :) BTW, I finally acquired Gene Clark With The Gosdin Brothers :thumbsup:
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