In a Natalie Imbruglia stylee, I’m torn – torn, I tells ya! It’s just been announced that the prestigious opening act at the new Hull Venue will be Van the Man. This is something of a coup, and as a long-standing fan I should be really excited that he has deigned to grace us with his presence for the first time in 30-odd years. However, my fan-dom is markedly lapsed, in that I don’t think he’s actually done anything truly great since the early 90s. I’ve seen him give some truly outstanding, transcendent performances up until around the same time, but over the years the new material and live shows I’ve seen on screen have all been a real disappointment. I think the main problem I have is that the voice which was once a thing of beauty is now just a horrible bark, and the idiosyncratic mannerisms and stagecraft I once found endearing I now just find rather irritating. Adding to this the legion of stories about his perfunctory approach to performing (the clocks, etc.) I just don’t get the feeling that renewing my live acquaintance with the fella would be a rewarding experience. And yet, and yet…the residue » Continue Reading.
Track 7 on 1974’s Veedon Fleece stands as everything that is great about Van Morrison, mysterious about his art and in its own way proof positive for those who find him utterly unapproachable. I have read of the obsessions that others have had with various songs and albums, claims that listeners are on their third copy since the groove was so worn. These claims have often made me feel like a pretender, a dilettante – until I come to Cul De Sac. I never tire of listening to it – listening to everything in it with confidence that its peculiar greatness will never pall. I have no great certainty about what Morrison is on about here. Lyrically, it is bizarre, as odd as anything in his very odd ‘catalogue’ ( and what a strangely typical Morrisonian word that is); it is as strange as anything on the unremittingly strange ‘Common One’ album and is, in fact, I think a completely autobiographical song about his own sense of his autistic ( I say this with love) otherness. It is, in some ways, the bleakest song he has ever written yet he does not communicate bleakness in his performance which is determined, » Continue Reading.
New one of standards, called Versatile. Just in time for Christmas.
Van Morrison should be right up my avenue. But he wasn’t. For years. To be fair, I was only 12 years old when Astral Weeks came out but, in the early seventies, he was, as they say, right in my wheelhouse. But, for whatever reason, I didn’t bite.
Fourteen years, and 11 albums later, I paid attention.
Bob Harris played this song as a pre-release from the Beautiful Vision album. I was lying on my sofa, headphones on. Despite the sofa, I was floored.
Since then, I have bought everything. I have seen him many times (not a duff gig, thanks,) and love his music.
So, what will you admit to coming late to? What was the track that did it?
Who thought this was a good idea for an album sleeve? ANy other contenders?
I know we’ve done live albums on more than one occasion before, but still, it’s a rich vein.
I was listening to Van Morrison’s It’s Too Late To Stop Now, Vols II, III and IV yesterday and marvelling at what a remarkable record it is. And the arrangements really make it. There are eleven people onstage including Morrison, and every part has its own lines, distinctive and clear. Strings are invariably used on rock records to provide a gloopy background, but here the quartet has a real role to play with lead lines and melodies enhancing the songs throughout. Ditto the two brass instruments which are never just reinforcing noise. Jeff Labes’ keyboard and John Platania’s guitar weave in and out with the texture of a jazz ensemble.
The playing is fantastic, and, above it all, Van’s vocals magnificent as he goes from bullhorn to whisper and back again in a stroke. What you hear is the essence of all great live albums – musicians feeding off each other, off the audience, and off the moment in a way that can never be created in the studio.
Many of my favourite live albums do this – Allman Brothers at Fillmore » Continue Reading.
Good, ain’t they? I’ve a few of these, including the rebooted “deluxe” Brooce issue. Anyway, the newest one, out this week, is on Van Morrison! I thought some of you lot might want to know, particularly with the It’s Too Late To Stop Now bonanza about to come out.
At last, Avalon can be found on an Ordnance Survey Map. It appears to be located in a suburban park in East Belfast. In fact, as I type, I could walk there in 10 minutes. I’ll pass on the Afterword’s ‘hello’ to King Arthur, Sir Lancelot, Guinevere, Merlin, Sir Galahad, ‘Justin’ and all the rest of the guys. I fully expect to find a short fat man in a Blues Brothers outfit in a paroxysm of transcendence, “playin’ R&B with the fauns and the satyrs, eatin’ pies with Reepicheep an’ Aslan, Mahalia Jackson comin’ through the ether, Bix Beiderbecke and Georgie Best crossin’ the bridge, take me back, take me back, take me way back…” etc etc etc
Before the big purge of 2006, I had every issue of Q magazine to date, every single one of them. From the first issue in October 1986, running right through past the birth of Mojo in 1993 and on into the new millennium, I had them all neatly shelved in meticulous and correct order of release. Even after all the bands worth reading about had migrated to sister magazine Mojo and Q had become home to the Spice Girls, Robbie Williams, Oasis and other horrors I still kept on buying it, mainly for the Q Charts and the quality writing of Tom Hibbert.
Then one day, after realising I would probably never read that Rory Gallagher or John Martyn interview again (let alone be able to find it, even if the mood took me) I ditched the lot, freeing up acres of shelf space and feeling enormously liberated in the process
But today I found around 20 early copies of Q which had somehow escaped the expulsion. The earliest of these is issue #7 from January 1987 and what a keyhole into the (recent) past it is. This morning I read it almost from cover to cover, just so you » Continue Reading.
Moonshine Whiskey (Van Morrison) popped up on shuffle tonight. These lines jumped out. “Gonna put on my hot pants And promenade down funky broadway ’till the cows come home” I can’t erase this image from my mind.
Still not smiling……….
We all know he is famous/infamous for his live performances so boots become a treasure trove.
All are downloadable off the net ( whither the business model of the humble bootlegger)
Here’s a few of my favourites.
On DVD Van Morrrison For Rainbow. the London show of the 2 shows that that comprised the seminal Too Late To Stop Now album. Great sound, great vision quality and right up close.
Audio If You Don’t Like It You Can Go Fuck Yourself. Montreux,1974. 4 piece band including Dallas Taylor and Pete Winfield. Title reprising a remark Van made to a fan who complained how long he took to come back for an encore.
Can You Feel The Silence. Essen,Germany 1982- Celtic Soul/Common One period -fantastic sound.
Rave On. Glastonbury 1987. SoundboardMoreCeltic Soul. 7 minutes of Healing , 9 mins of Summertime and another 9 of John Donne.
have fed the contents of the Van Morrison thread into the mainframe computer and the results are in. A few rules of engagement. I only allowed five songs per person (sorry, Owlsley). However where people indicated a clear change of mind I allowed it, because that’s the kind of guy I am. Where people indicated a specific live or alternative recording I noted it as such; otherwise I assumed it was the original studio recording. I took the lists in the order presented, with five points for the first down to one for the last. I realise not everyone was specific about the order so I also totted up the number of votes, and guess what – it hardly made any difference. This may be worth bearing in mind should anyone be foolish enough to do one of these in the future. In all 45 of us voted, with 220 votes for 101 tracks. A fair spread. Well over half were chosen by just one person. However there was a clear winner.
Full details in the comments below
Stolen wholesale from Eamonn Forde’s Twitter feed. But in keeping with my posts this weekend featuring 1970s kids TV characters
As of today (Van’s 70th birthday). I’ve just walked home from the splendid Lamp Post Cafe (https://www.facebook.com/TheLindoresCoffeeHouse), to start about 10 hours of proofreading, and passed a stage full of Van musos soundchecking, down on Cyprus Avenue, with a couple of beefy guys and traffic cones blocking off the end of the adjoining Beersbridge Road.
I asked Van, ‘Why?’ But he told me, ‘It ain’t why, why – it just is…’
For those who are interested, a link to BBC Radio Ulster’s radio broadcast is at the end of the BBC News piece. The BBC NI TV broadcast on Sept 4 will be accessible to anyone in the UK with one of those Virgin multichannel box things (you can find all regional variations of BBC on there if you scroll down diligently enough).
This is a long-ish post which you may not be arsed to read all the way through, so let me draw your attention to the fact that at the end there is a call-out for yet another Afterword a list.
It’s turning out to be a pretty good year for Van Morrison. He turns 70 this weekend and is celebrating with two hometown gigs on Cyprus Avenue. He released his Duets album which whilst hardly his greatest hour was well received and appears to have sold well. Almost his entire back catalogue is finally available again after a ludicrous hiatus. He has been knighted. And knocking all of that into a cocked hat, in recent weeks there have been many posts in praise of him here on the Afterword. So here’s another one. I have been listening to Van for over 40 years. I remember watching and marvelling at an Old Grey Whistle Test broadcast of a live Caledonia Soul Orchestra performance sometime in the mid 70s. My main source for finding music then was the record section of my local library. This led to some fairly quirky introductions to many of the greats. I didn’t hear Astral Weeks or » Continue Reading.
Get your harmonicas ready because it seems this weekend will be a big Van celebration. All the albums hit Spotify & Co on Friday, and Legacy CD editions are to follow after that. Sky black with hats, etc.
In case you’re not aware, the Van Morrison Cyprus Avenue gig this Friday is going out on Radio Ulster, with a TV screening on BBC NI – all should be easily available on the iPlayer. Here’s a bit from the Radio Ulster website:
Van Morrison Live On Cyprus Avenue: On Monday 31 August, the day of Van’s birthday – BBC Radio Ulster will exclusively broadcast Van Morrison’s full 70th birthday concert live from Cyprus Avenue – the street which famously inspired the Astral Weeks track of the same name. Broadcast on BBC Radio Ulster and BBC Radio Foyle from 2.45pm, this is a unique opportunity for Van Morrison lovers to hear the artist in all his live glory as he performs his sold-out matinee concert as part of the Eastside Arts Festival. Prior to the concert starting, Ralph McLean will be setting the scene for listeners as he takes in his surroundings at the Cyprus Avenue concert and chatting to fans lucky enough to get tickets for the event.
BBC Northern Ireland viewers will also have the chance to witness Van Morrison in action and relive the concert when it receives its exclusive television broadcast on BBC One NI on » Continue Reading.
We’ve had a bit of a love in of late and I just bought a bootleg DVD of a Van concert ( why I wonder as it is in full on YouTube , see attached, – but I digress) ..anyway the first thing I do is look at the date and the band members.
2 are the core for me Jeff Labes the keyboardist/ arranger who started on Astral Weeks and continued on up to around No Guru I think . The other one is bassist David Hayes who I remember vividly from the Too Late concert video- totally into it, looks a substance fuelled. He started around Hard Nose and has toured with the curmudgeon for longer than anyone.
Then watching this video I noticed the superb work of Pete Wingfield (18 with a bullet) on keyboards, even doing twirls mid-song and the soul slickness of ex James Brown sax player Pee Wee Ellis, perhaps the core of latter day Van’s sound. And that’s leaving out the Georgie Fame period.
I have only seen Van twice so any other opinions out there?
… is the answer to the question – What do you do if you want to buy a Van Morrison CD at a reasonable price?
Luckily I have most of what I need but Veedon Fleece is sorely missing from my collection. It would seem that Van’s back catalogue remains elusive except at eye watering prices.
Van Morrison has been knighted!
I have been thinning my CD collection out over the past year or so trying to keep just my ‘essential’ discs and, normally, I drop a few off at a local charity shop.
The time has come to thin out my Van Morrison selection but, after looking at availability and prices on Amazon, I am tempted to try and sell them off (for a fair but not greedy price) rather than just give them away. I can then put the money towards a new phone. if I go to a nearby ‘market stall’ I expect I’d be offered 50p or so in which case I would rather give them to the charity shop so can anyone suggest any site(s) that I could contact please? Obviously there is EBay but, again, I’d probably get next to nothing for them!
Thanks for any (polite!) suggestions
The glaring lack of many works by The Man on Spotify sent me back to iTunes recently, in the hope of adding to my existing “best of”, assembled a good 10 years ago.
Unfortunately, he’s pretty unrepresented on there as well these days, so I’ve spent the last week listening to the further reaches of his back catalogue and ripping the odd find to iTunes.
So, now my best of is a good 50 songs long, covering as many of the veteran R&B grump’s Caledonian soul stompers, Celtic reveries and metaphysical musings as I could find.
But it’s too late to stop now. I fear there must be some deep cuts that I’ve missed. Or perhaps you could help me rearrange the running order so that the GLW doesn’t insist that I turn it off whenever we get into the more “difficult” likes of Rave On, John Donne. Maybe some of his recent records are under-represented (The Healing Game seems quite good).
So, here’s my work in progress. What more needs to be done? (I’m assuming it won’t be improved by any of the forthcoming duets with Hucknall and the like). Strangely, the Guardian’s music site hasn’t covered » Continue Reading.
My heart sinks at the news that Van Morrison has re recorded some of his songs with such luminaries as PJ Proby, Chris Farlowe and Mick Hucknall for a duets album. Everyone seems to do one of these records these days, and they’ll all rubbish aren’t they- basically just money making exercises? Or are there some good examples out there?
Only just come across this guy. He seems to be channeling Bert Jansch, Van Morrison and Tim Buckley all at once. I’m expecting great things from his new album of which this song is a part.