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Old 06-12-2008, 07:20 PM   #25 (permalink)
Son of JayJamJah
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Default Tupelo Honey

Continuing his prolific production Van released his fifth album in four years with 1971's "Tupelo Honey" The album became his best selling US release to date and flexed mass appeal by crossing genres often times within single songs.

Tupelo Honey (1971)

The fifth studio album for Morrison and the pinnacle of happiness and self content in Van’s early life. His marriage to Janet at the time was thriving and commercially and critically his music was very well revered and received. The result is a country spirited blissful nine track gambol and the third straight nostalgic and celebratory opus. Tupelo Honey finds its comfort zone early and cruises along unremitting with some of the more soulful songs in each genre of Vans repertoire…

1. Wild, Wild Night – Energetic opener was a strong performer as a single. Seems out of place as a lead track but probably there, like a lot of Van’s albums, because it was the first single. Thrilling bass line and frenzied lyrics feed the song into your unconscious as the horns build the back drop in between measures. A really excellent overall composition. One of Morrison’s strongest up-tempo efforts from any album or era. A personal favorite of mine for quite a long time. 9\10

2. Like a Cannonball – Brazen, brash and blithe with a simple, strong circular melody and a free from old time rhythm. It’s an inoffensive if ultimately forgettable song. Playful lyrics that mirror the presumed mood, the domestic bliss Van was feeling at the time. Horns and flutes are the key instrumentation to give it a mood matching sound. 7.5\10

3. Old Old Woodstock – Mellow and harmonious with a casual build and paced with a strong bass line. An ode to rural good times from childhood, another song of satisfaction in a more subtle manner. The Piano is the dominant instrument within the song, providing the energy via the role of catalyst for the percussion and guitars. Built around the title line lyrically it’s not very complex but provides a nostalgic mood reflective of the song throughout. 8\10

4. Starting a New Life – A sort of thematic track reflective of the albums overall nature. Ironically and perhaps more notable then typically observed is the theme of rebirth as cited in Astral Weeks “to be born again” but instead here it seems to point to family life. Country Music influence present but still with an R&B soul. Features a harmonica solo as well as occasional back-up behind the vocals. The song is short and sweet, simple and repetitive musically but catchy and enjoyable. 7.5\10

5. You’re My Woman – A raw emotional proclamation; a celebration of life and love new and eternal. Steadily developing from the dramatic opening cadence of the verse to the spectacular cry of a chorus. Outstanding vocal performance and diverse instrumental line-up including keys and horns which are paramount to the songs ability to reach the listener, eventually culminating for a fantastic finish. Jazzy “really real” bridge is yet another highlight as it unveils a microcosm of the songs whole unfolding in a heart beat. As raw and real a proclamation of devotion and love as there could be. A well written song to say the least. 8.5\10

6. Tupelo Honey – “You can take all the tea in China…” Title track and one of the strongest commercial successes from the album. Maybe Van’s most notable and traditional love songs. Really in sync with the rest of the album, combining elements from all of the previous tracks and sort of rounding out the first portion of the album. Light and smooth instrumentally as it drifts from chorus and verse and all about throughout the song. Builds and slows occasionally and includes a freestyle lyrical tangent in signature Van style. Excellent presentation and emotion from start to finish. 8.5\10

7. I Wanna Roo You – One of the more folky efforts of the album. Has a playful and incredibly fitting feel almost transporting your thoughts to the Scottish plains. Poetic standard lyrical prose with a fitting fun chorus. More country\bluegrass guitar work is present an unquestionable signature of the album. Fails to stand out for me, but another enjoyable effort. 7\10

8. When the Evening Sun Goes Down –Bar room style piano stamps the melody for the song over a Beatles-like guitar riff. Electric guitar heavy musical interlude. Innocent and playful lyrically, simple and circular. Feels like you’re riding a merry-go-round as a Van the Man Cover band does a Blue money remix. Not sure what the purpose of this song is. By no means a bad song but the low point of the album for me. 6.5\10

9. Moonshine Whisky – Shifty and unpredictable. Changes tempo, key and tone almost constantly, finding a pattern amongst the chaos eventually. Another song with a palpable build that can send Goosebumps down your arms and legs and chills down your back in the right mood. Country style guitar in the title chorus and stirring poignant verse\bridge sections scattered amongst the song give it a compelling contrast within the song. The song deteriorates from whatever structure it still has as Van begins to “get funky” and follow feeling rather then sheet music of lyrical notes. As Van slurs out the final chorus and flows into the stream of conscious vocal culmination there is an undertone of hopelessness and helplessness to the song which is a frightening bit of foreshadowing. Almost an admission by Van that he can not or perhaps will not ever be happy. 8.5\10

…Buried beneath the outward joy and jubilation of “Tupelo Honey” is a menacing darkness, a sort of admission of fate by Morrison, that even now at the height of his happiness, when he’s attained all he ever hoped there is still emptiness and despair. This album is the first hint that he is still haunted and there is more room to grow and more scars to show. Despite how enjoyable its joyous disposition externally is it’s that dynamic underlying ambiguity that is so intriguing and gripping about this album. His approach to both love and life has changed in its musical presentation and there is an emotional cause for this effect undoubtedly.

First Time I Listened to it: 1974
Defining Track(s): Wild, Wild Night, Tupelo Honey, Moonshine Whiskey.
Line in my head: "Gonna put on my hot pants and promenade down funky Broadway 'till the cows come home"

Star rating: (1-5) (from my personal catalog) ****
How it made me feel today: (1-10): 8
Overall Ranking: TBD

Next up: Saint Dominic’s Preview- 1972

Last edited by Son of JayJamJah; 07-15-2008 at 02:37 PM.
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