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duaneiac

The All Things Van Morrison Thread

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I tried the search function here, but did not find a general purpose thread related to Van Morrison  That kind of surprised me, so it's time to start one.

I think the two living musicians who have brought the most joy to my heart over the years are Sonny Rollins and Van Morrison.  The two are somewhat alike.  While each has produced a few classic albums, for the last half of their careers, each man put out albums which often had moments of inspired beauty, but which did not come close to fully capturing the performer's unique greatness.  The only way to fully appreciate their artistry was to see them live.

Last night I saw Van Morrison perform at the Fox Theater in Oakland.  It's the fourth time I've seen his show.  While this one did not give me the soul stirring experience I have had in previous shows, this one did certainly fill my heart with gladness and brought tears to my eyes.

This was a tight 95 - 100 minute show in which he covered a lot of his musical history.  He sang several of the crowd pleasing hits -- "Brown Eyed Girl", "Moondance", "Wild Night" -- but also included a lot of treasured album cuts like "Sometimes We Cry" and "Real Real Gone".  He also seems to really like the title songs from his albums, as he sang "Enlightenment", "Days Like This" and "Magic Time".  There were also a couple of standards -- an uneven version of "Let's Get Lost" on which the drummer and bassist did not seem to be on the same page at the start, but they later got it together (still I didin't much care for the "Caribbeanishesque" arrangement) and "The Party's Over" as well as his interpolation of "My Funny Valentine" tagged onto "Moondance".  He concluded the concert with a beautiful, grooving verison of "Into The Mystic" and that's when the tears came to my eyes.  After VM left the stage, the band kept playing on and gave one hope that there might indeed be an encore.  But  the band just kept jamming for 5 or 6 minutes, with every one getting some solo time.  It was a soft, beautiful end to the show, not at all disappointing that there was no encore.

Here's this band playing "Into The Mystic" from Feb. of this year.  The video, though, gives you just a hint of how great and grooving it was in person

Wow, those L.A. audiences are a rowdy lot compared to the Oakland crowd last night.  Sounds like they were a lot younger audience too.

This was perhaps the jazziest performance I've seen by VM.  The band consisted of guitar, bass (electric and acoustic, depending on the song), keyboards/trumpet (same guy), drums, and two female backup singers, one of whom doubled on vibes and percussion.  Since there was no saxophonist, VM featured his alto playing quite a bit.  He also included "Symphony Sid" in the show and the Ray Charles classic, "I Believe To My Soul".

One thing that really stands out about VM is his productivity.  He's still writing new songs and still putting out new albums.  His second album of this year alone will come out next month.  Two albums in one year is what rock/pop stars might have done 50 years ago, but it's practically unheard of nowadays.  One thing I would really like to hear from him would be an album full of his interpretations of songs from the Great American Songbook.

He may not tour as prolifically as Dylan, but hey, at least it's more than the Stones.  His next US dates will be in Vegas at the end of January, so if you are a fan who has never seen him in concert, now might be a good time to plan your Vegas vacation.  I would certainly recommend catching this show.

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What else can you say about Van the Man.  He is simply great and is the essence of living legend.  Van unites rock, soul, celtic, mystical, jazz, blues, and God only know what else.  I suppose he's getting a bit repetitive now, with many pieces showing up repeatedly, either as remakes or on live albums.  And yet, as noted above, he still continues to write new songs.

By the way, my favorite record that would be in the post-classic era is A Night in San Francisco, a 2-disc concert set that is surely the next best thing to actually seeing Van live.  Talk about melting the grooves!

I have two of his three quite recent records.  One of these is You're Driving me Crazy, with Joey DeFrancesco as virtually a full partner.  it is probably Van's jazziest record, and while not a full-blown classic it is top-of-the-line and should not be missed. Roll With the Punches, which is very blues-oriented, may be even better.

 

    

 

Edited by Milestones

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Yeah, I have that CD with Joey DeFrancesco.  I liked it, but I don't know where I put it so I can't find it again right now to give it a listen.

One of my favorites from the past few years was his Duets:  Re-working the Catalogue album on which he redid some of his songs with guests like Taj Mahal, George Benson, Georgie Fame, Mick Hucknall, Natalie Cole, P.J. Proby, Mavis Staples and others.  It might seem like a commercial gimmick, but I thought most of the collaborations worked well.

Just watched this quartet version of "into The Mystic" from 1974. Equally fabulous as the 2018 version.

A poster on YouTube has identified the band as Jerome Rimson on bass, Pete Wingfield on piano/Fender Rhodes, Peter van Hooke on drums.

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I really liked, and was rather surprised by, the duet with Michael Buble on "Real Real Gone."

 

  

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My favorite Van Morrison song is "Where Flamingos Fly". I've got any number of favorites, but that one's the top.

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1 hour ago, duaneiac said:

 .  He concluded the concert with a beautiful, grooving verison of "Into The Mystic" and that's when the tears came to my eyes.  After VM left the stage, the band kept playing on and gave one hope that there might indeed be an encore.  But  the band just kept jamming for 5 or 6 minutes, with every one getting some solo time.  It was a soft, beautiful end to the show, not at all disappointing that there was no encore.

 

That seems to be how every concert ends nowadays. I can't remember if he ever did encores (I first saw him about 1970).  Anyone remember one? 

 

Here's Van back on Cypress Avenue:

 

Edited by medjuck

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"Common One" is my fave .... but so is also "Moondance" und "No Guru, No Method, No Teacher" and ....

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2 hours ago, medjuck said:

That seems to be how every concert ends nowadays. I can't remember if he ever did encores (I first saw him about 1970).  Anyone remember one?

 

I first saw him in concert back around 1999/2000.  I've seen him 4 times total and I have never seen an encore.  Not that I ever once felt short-changed.  Each concert, though different from one another, was completely satisfying. 

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I am a huge Van Morrison fan.  Very happy that he has been as active as he has been over the past few years - putting out new music at quite a pace.  I've really enjoyed all the stuff he's put out these past few years. 

I've only seen Van once - back in 15 or 16 at City Folk in Ottawa.  Great show - and very jazzy

I can't say I have a favorite as I enjoy so much of his music -though a sentimental favorite song might be "the Beauty of the Days Gone By" - which I played at the funeral service of my father last month.  Just beautiful and emotional.  Obviously there are some great Morrison songs and albums, but I try to take them and enjoy them as they come, without comparing to past releases.  I think the only Van album I don't have is the one where he does country music.

One thing I love about his music is whether I'm feeling happy, sad, contemplative, on edge, or whatever - throwing on some Van always gets me to the place I want to be.

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Well, if this (terrific) concert film is to be believed, he did an encore back in 1979.

The encore starts around 44:07.  Maybe he only does them in Ireland. ;)

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I'm a sucker for a good ballad and this one from the album, "Keep Me Singing" turned the trick for me.  Some nice guitar wok from Dave Keary who's been with Van since 2010:

 

 

  

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I'm also a fan of Van Morrison.   My personal favorite Van Morrison song is Tupelo Honey.  I've internalized that one, play it myself.  

 

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I came to Morrison's music for ASTRAL WEEKS. It's still a favorite. I mean, "Madame George." It's transcendent. But I think I've stayed with his music the many years since because of VEEDON FLEECE.

PS: somewhat in the same vein, in case you've never heard it... Terry Reid's RIVER...

 

Edited by Joe

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Dave - you're not the only sucker.  "Every Time I see a River" is a big favorite of mine from his recent body of work.  I think the whole "Keep Me Singing" album is very good as well

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6 hours ago, Ed Swinnich said:

Dave - you're not the only sucker.  "Every Time I see a River" is a big favorite of mine from his recent body of work.  I think the whole "Keep Me Singing" album is very good as well

Agreed.  I thought it was the best album he's done in quite awhile.  I have a friend who's such a big fan, he travelled to Belfast a few years back for the 50th anniversary celebration honoring Morrison's career. He said it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that he wouldn't trade for anything.

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Massive Van fan too.

My favourite albums today are 'Astral Weeks', 'Veedon Fleece' and 'Common One'. Tomorrow it will be the same three but in a different order. The day after that 'Wavelength' or 'Hard Nose The Highway' may get a look in

I have to say that I think the albums since 'Hymns To The Silence' have been patchy at best.  I really started to be annoyed by the increasing number of songs he wrote generally moaning about the music business.  Everyone who follows his career knows his reputation for not being the cheeriest but these songs sound like self-indulgent whining at best. 

However, I still listen to each new album and would make a good double album compilation of the stand out tunes from the recent albums.  I'd actually prefer it if he were less prolific and exercised a little more quality control but he his who he is and just on the basis of tunes like that sublime one posted by Joe above he's earned the right to release whatever he wishes irrespective of what I think.

The multi-disc 'It's Too Late To Stop Now' is ridiculously good and I'm also very fond of the outtakes  compilation 'The Philosopher's Stone'.  I hope they release more expanded versions of the earlier albums.

Edit to add: how on earth did I forget to mention the sublime 'No Method...'

On 16/11/2018 at 1:02 PM, Joe said:

I came to Morrison's music for ASTRAL WEEKS. It's still a favorite. I mean, "Madame George." It's transcendent. But I think I've stayed with his music the many years since because of VEEDON FLEECE.

PS: somewhat in the same vein, in case you've never heard it... Terry Reid's RIVER...

 

Joe, thanks for posting the Terry Reid which I had never heard but shall listen to a lot now that I have. Lovely

Edited by mjazzg

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On 11/15/2018 at 1:03 PM, JSngry said:

My favorite Van Morrison song is "Where Flamingos Fly". I've got any number of favorites, but that one's the top.

Ok, apparently there's a later version of this song that's more dreamy/whatever, that's not the one I meant. It's this one from the uniquely imperfect Period Of Transition album. Reggie McBride, Ollie Brown and ALL them unison saxophones!

 

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Haven't seen this mentioned yet, but earlier this month "Live in Boston 1968" was released on iTunes in the UK. It was only available for about 24 hours before it was removed, and speculation is that the hit-and-run release was only intended to maintain copyright, similar to the various "copyright collection" releases in Europe from Dylan. 

Of course, now that it was out there, someone put it up on YouTube, which was also taken down in short order. Having heard it, it's absolutely worth seeking out if you like Van.

The text from the now-deleted YouTube post has more details on the recording:

 

Quote

Here's something very new, very great, and very unexpected. In November 1968, Van Morrison released the album "Astral Weeks," which is so acclaimed that on an average of greatest albums of all time lists, it ranks number 15. He spent most of 1968 living in Boston and developing the unique sound that would result in that album. There never have been any publicly available audio recording of his time in Boston that year... until now!

A few days ago (early November 2018), Morrison's record company released the album "Live in Boston 1968" that has long been the unattainable holy grail for Morrison fans. Unfortunately, they only released it on iTunes in Britain for about 24 hours, and it's already gone! This apparently was done to maintain legal rights to the recording, given that there is a European copyright law that says the rights are lost after 50 years unless the recording is made available for sale to the public somewhere in Europe, if only briefly. Since this recording dates from 1968, the deadline would be the end of 2018. This appears to have been an attempt to make the recording public but in the most low key, unnoticed method possible. Here's an article about it:

https://www.spin.com/2018/11/van-morrison-catacombs-1968-legendary-recording/

Here's another very interesting article from March 2018 on what Morrison was doing in Boston in 1968, and how this concert was recorded:

http://www.wbur.org/artery/2018/03/06/ryan-walsh-van-morrison-astral-weeks

It turns out that the show was recorded by none other than Peter Wolf, who was a Boston D.J. at the time, but would become the long time lead singer of the J. Geils Band. He used a reel-to-reel machine set up on the stage, at a small Boston club called The Catacombs in August 1968. So while it is an audience recording, to my ears it sounds as good as many soundboard recordings, especially considering the concert recording standards of 1968. If you're a fan of Morrison's music, you need to hear this!

It contains three songs that would appear on "Astral Weeks" later that year: "Beside You, "Madame George," and "Cyprus Avenue." Also, there's a version of a legendary still unreleased "Astral Weeks" outtake previously known as "Train," but which appears here under the title "Train, Train." He also does a Them song ("One Two Brown Eyes"), another unreleased song ("He Ain't Give You None"), a song that would appear on a 1970 album ("Virgo Clowns"), and his great 1967 songs "T. B. Sheets" and "Brown Eyed Girl." The band consists of just Morrison on acoustic guitar plus a double bass and a flute, so the whole recording has an "Astral Weeks" vibe, even including "Brown Eyed Girl."

Unfortunately, the recording ends at the end of the last song, "Madame George," as one can hear the sound of the tape running out. So it's too bad we don't have the rest of the show. But still, it's a miracle that at least this much of Morrison live in 1968 was recorded at all, and with such quality sound.

This album needs to be heard by lots of people. If and when it's ever for legal sale in the U.S, I'll take this down. But it's quite likely that it's going to stay in the vaults after this one brief appearance in Britain, done for legal purposes only.

For the cover, I used a handbill of the Morrison shows at The Catacombs where this was recorded. (For a very short time in 1968, his band was going by the name the "Van Morrison Controversy.") I resized the top left drawing of a female head so the best of the rectangular handbill could fit on a square album cover. I also replaced some text relating to other shows at the club on the upper right with the title of the album.

 

Edited by Dave Garrett

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https://electricliterature.com/the-still-untold-story-of-van-morrisons-astral-weeks-cc68c3c09233

That summer, Van played with a string of Boston and Cambridge musicians. These included John Sheldon, a 17-year-old guitarist living with his parents (Van asked to move in; Mrs. Sheldon said no), Tom Kielbania on bass, Joey Bebo on drums, and John Payne on flute.

Other than John Payne, what happened to these other people?

 

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The Prophet Speaks has arrived.  It's another collaboration with Joey DeFrancesco.  Three songs in - it's very nice indeed.

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On 12/8/2018 at 5:51 PM, Ed Swinnich said:

The Prophet Speaks has arrived.  It's another collaboration with Joey DeFrancesco.  Three songs in - it's very nice indeed.

I'm just finally getting around to listening to this new CD myself.  Listening to it right now (also just 3 songs into it) and it seems pretty good so far.  Nothing new or unusual, just Van Morrison doing his thing once again.  What kind of organ is Joey DeFrancesco playing these days.  It does not sound like a B-3.

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I like Van's latest "The Prophet Speaks"...but I'm still loving his double blues album "Roll With the Punches" a bit more.  And my birthday present to myself in late April is tickets to see Van at The Chicago Theatre.  Van in April, Stones in June...looks like a geriatric summer for me.

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