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Old 06-06-2008, 08:19 AM   #11 (permalink)
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If anything I'm slighlty perplexed that you rated the individual songs on AW relatively low, especially given your transparent love for the album. The Way Young Lovers Do is one of my very favourite songs.

I'll be interested to hear what you make of Veedon Fleece, one of VM's most divisive works. Personally I love it, particularly the first half.
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Old 06-06-2008, 05:55 PM   #12 (permalink)
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I'll save my feelings on Veedon, save to say I own the album on four separate formats. I didn't give any song on AW lower then 8.5\10. That's, as you'll see, a very good score. I could have easily made them all 9.5 or 10's but honestly it's the way they all fit together more then how good they are individually that makes me enjoy the album as much as I do. Please keep posting thoughts, comments, input as you see fit. Thanks Mustard.
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Old 06-06-2008, 07:02 PM   #13 (permalink)
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'Astral weeks' or 'Sweet Thing'. The violins ending each line in the second half of Sweet Thing are such a cool touch. Is he admitting he is a pedophile in 'Cypress Avenue'? "Nobody, no, no, no, nobody stops me from loving you baby/ So young and bold, fourteen years old"
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Old 06-07-2008, 06:25 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bsmix View Post
'Astral weeks' or 'Sweet Thing'. The violins ending each line in the second half of Sweet Thing are such a cool touch. Is he admitting he is a pedophile in 'Cypress Avenue'? "Nobody, no, no, no, nobody stops me from loving you baby/ So young and bold, fourteen years old"
Never heard anyone interpret it that way, Cypress avenue is a place from his childhood and that line could be about him or the girl in the song.

A lot of people interpret Astral Weeks as a work of fiction played out in song style. Madame Geroge is supposedly about S&M and a transvestite protagonist.

Personally I think people read too much into things sometimes. Van likes to stuff a lot of information into a single line and stretch another line or single word for all it has. His music has predominantly been about, Love, spirit and faith and my guess is Astral Weeks main story line is such.

The violins kick in after the line "I shall drive my chariot down your streets and cry" and I agree it's a very dramatic moment and one that stands out for me as well.
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Old 06-07-2008, 01:19 PM   #15 (permalink)
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I swear I'm not a sexual predator. hmm you're prob right. weird he mentions drinking wine. car vs carriage seemed weird too
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Old 06-07-2008, 05:23 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Default Moondance (1970): Part One

Following Astral Weeks release Van took a sort of hiatus, the first, though by far shortest, of what would become a pattern following on of his “darker” song cycle style albums. Almost a full year after the release of Astral Weeks Van entered the studio and began constructing the concept he had for Moondance. Intentionally contrary but executed with the same passion regardless. The result is the best example of what Van Morrison was, is and hopefully will continue to be.






Moondance (1970)

This was the first Van Morrison album I ever listened to, ever bought and ever loved. Almost the anti-Astral Weeks in the sense that the songs stand out individually much more then collectively, still there is a tremendous consistency in quality and a unique nature that is somehow more soulful and sincere then much music of similar styles. Poppy and brash at times, nostalgic and optimistic throughout. Every song is a celebration of either a good time had or bright things to come. From the opening track’s “Rain let up and sun came up” till the finale “Glad Tidings” Morrison shows that the dark side of Astral Weeks which deals with the agony of life at times is worth the struggle because of the beauty and happiness displayed in Moondance…

1. And it Stoned Me – Country style R&B ditty recanting a day in the life of a young Van Morrison. Horn driven chorus as Morrison expresses his childhood apprehension towards leaving the countryside. The optimism builds from verse to verse as first the kids are soaked by the rain, then the sun comes out to dry them in verse two are their fortune changes. Arriving at their destination they embrace the day and jump fully clothed into the pond, their positive attitude is rewarded in the final verse when they while thirst encounter a stranger who shares who gives them a drink. This song’s placement is no accident. This is Van pulling his from the depths of Astral Weeks fatale finale into the celebration awaiting them. 8.5\10

2. Moondance – Has probably become the most popular song from the most popular album Morrison has ever released and it’s doubtful that’s how it was envisioned in its infant stages. This jazzy and jumpy proclamation of confidence within the uncertainty of love has become a pop radio staple but was originally thought of as more of a sophisticated song, a foray into Jazz but a young man who prided him self of incorporating all elements of music he felt into his own. The stand up bass contrasts the flute behind a steady rhythm section as the songs snaps from note to note with that characteristic Morrison grace. Probably better then I give it credit because I take it for granted due to its success and relative over exposure. At least an 8\10

3. Crazy Love – Acoustic style ballad driven by a delicate vocal and a soothing bass line. As relaxing a track as the Van had introduced as of the time. A good song that has the ability to be even better when the listener is in the mood. There is almost no disturbance to the song, it paces along very consistently as one does when trying to pass through a room without waking someone. The bridge is as close to a step-up as there is. Best known version my be duet with bob Dylan. 8\10

4. Caravan – Some songs are better live then they are on LP, while great either way, Caravan is magical live. Van makes it this way by pouring his heart and soul into every performance. Caravan is a fun song that celebrates the radio and music in general while using gypsy life as a sort of parallel vehicle\metaphor. Highlighted by a gentle acoustic backup and a pulse setting horn section, includes on of Morrison’s more extended instrumental works on the albums final takes. With a powerful punchy bridge driving the song from verse to chorus and back the song is up-beat and energetic and mellow from the beginning; a real solid piece of the Moodance puzzle. 9\10

5. Into the Mystic – The first four bars of this song are perfect. It just doesn’t get any better then this. This song gives me Goosebumps almost every time I hear it. The gentle rhythms of the verse lead into the dramatic escalating pre-chorus before exploding into the powerful symphonic chorus ascending “into the mystic”. With horns, strings, brass and keys all at work in perfect synchronization the song is a spiritual musical journey that takes a hold of you and won’t let go. As unselfish a song as there could ever be, it allows you to exist among it as if perfectly designed. Morrison describes it’s neutrality best: "Into the Mystic" is another one like "Madame Joy" and "Brown Skinned Girl". Originally I wrote it as "Into the Misty". But later I thought that it had something of an ethereal feeling to it so I called it "Into the Mystic". That song is kind of funny because when it came time to send the lyrics in WB Music, I couldn't figure out what to send them. Because really the song has two sets of lyrics. For example, there's "I was born before the wind" and "I was borne before the wind", and also "Also younger than the son, Ere the bonny boat was one" and "All so younger than the son, Ere the bonny boat was won"...I guess the song is just about being part of the universe.” Exactly. 10\10

(to be continued...immediately)

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Old 06-07-2008, 05:29 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Default Moondance (1970): Part Two

Van in late 1970...



Moondance - continued

6. Come Running – This is the song that made me buy this album. Poppy and confident Van instructs his admirer to simply “come running” to him. He even details the outcome of her actions as specifically as the lyrics can allow. Oddly, it was the only remaining song from Van’s initial Astral Weeks demos for Bang Records. A light hearted song of very care free subject manner it is simply a toe-tapper and a very good one. It’s in large part Van’s ability to go back and forth from a song like “Into the Mystic” to this that makes the album so successful. It’s strong, demanding chorus elevates this song for me. Van jumps out and back into place lyrically, adding to the care free nature of the song. Another extremely well placed horn section is the final piece to the puzzle. 8.5\10

7. These Dreams of You – Van’s biography describes it as a song about a dream he had where as the lyrics dictate among other things “Ray Charles was shot down” and “We played cards in the dark”. Very surreal lyrically yet it keeps it’s story structure it’s more firm and structured musically and contrast creates an interesting mood for the song. Probably the strongest lyrically performance of the album all things considered. Sad at times, but never losing faith nor insistence (“…you are an angel”). Perhaps the most unfortunate of songs in terms of its outcome is Van is thrown out, kicked when he’s down and up against the wall. Still there is a determination and that prevailing optimism in the voice of Morrison as despite their unfortunate nature Van still cherishes the dreams of his love and would not trade them for anything even though it hurts. 8.5\10

8. Brand New Day – With a soft and sanguine start, this song is about hope and it reflects that lyrically and musically. With a chilling steady strummed acoustic chorus and its electric bass fills backed by harmonizing vocals it give new life to a tried and true musical format. Van was “inspired” to write this song by hearing “The Weight” (Take a load off Annie) by the Band. He set out to write the song he felt when he was lifted by their song. Each verse is an ascending celebration with musical tempo and key to correspond. An excellent song and probably Van’s “favorite from the LP” as he’s hinted. The lyrics while not particularly insightful or original are secondary to the overall message and tone of the song which is supremely hopeful. 9\10

9. Everyone – Another up-tempo and uplifting number but in a more care free way. The all-inclusive romp of song you may remember from the movie “The Royal Tenenbuams” is a ballad of hope as Morrison envisions, if somewhat indirectly as is his nature, for a quick end to brooding civil war in his home land of Ireland. “and make dreams come true if we want them to” and “we shall walk again…just like we use to” are among the song’s hopefully imagery. Musically highlighted by the organ and flute which had stand out performances amongst an otherwise very steady and circular musical pattern. A solid jumpy song that moves at a fast and fun pace. 8\10

10. Glad Tidings – The final song of Moondance encapsulates the spirit of the album immaculately. With a strong and steady opening and lyrics of love leading into a celebratory chorus. The horns and strings build around the humming drum and bass rhythms which open the song and allow for continuity throughout while still having a free flowing and unpredictable aspect to the music. With a creative and beguiling lyrically structure. The song takes about faith and the happiness and satisfaction in seeing positive results from commitment. It is a song of well wishing and good intentions and an end to a cycle of a different kind with a much more desirable departing message. 9.5\10

...Moondance is a powerhouse of hits. Each track has the capacity to be a radio hit as well as a fan favorite for the nuance and diverse nature of the songs and their relatable upbeat message of hope and happiness. What’s so startling about this album is how different it is from Astral Weeks and yet how great it is. At such a young age Van had already became as dynamic and multidimensional a musician as almost any of his era.

First Time I Listened to it: 1971
Defining Track(s): Moondance, Into the Mystic, Caravan. For commercial success, iconic status amongst many fans, myself included and how great it was live respectively.
Line in my head: "I dreamed you paid you dues in Canada and left me to come through"

Star rating: (1-5) (from my personal catalog) *****
How it made me feel today: (1-10): 9.5
Overall Ranking: TBD (1 or 2)




Next up: His Band and the Street Choir - 1970

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Old 06-11-2008, 02:10 PM   #18 (permalink)
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I definitely see what you mean contrasting this with Astral Weeks... these songs are much more individual. I've never been a big fan of brass though and there is alot. Moondance doesn't seem like a hit at all, that's weird it was so successful. I like 'Into the Mystic' and 'Caravan' and the classical sounding piano in 'Brand New Day'. And that bass in 'Glad Tidings' is catchy and draws you in, that was an awesome surprise for a last song.
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Old 06-11-2008, 03:19 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Great review Jay. I look forward to more.
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Old 06-11-2008, 07:41 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bsmix View Post
I definitely see what you mean contrasting this with Astral Weeks... these songs are much more individual. I've never been a big fan of brass though and there is alot. Moondance doesn't seem like a hit at all, that's weird it was so successful. I like 'Into the Mystic' and 'Caravan' and the classical sounding piano in 'Brand New Day'. And that bass in 'Glad Tidings' is catchy and draws you in, that was an awesome surprise for a last song.
I'm so glad your diving into this music, I really appreciate your input. I'm guessing you favor Astral Weeks overall, but I'll ask anyway, It's the classic "Van the Man Fan" argument. Moondance or Astral Weeks? Also would it be interested if later on down the line in this thread I revisit the argument with another post contrasting the two featuring quotes from critics, musicians, fans and Van himself?

Thanks again!
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