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Old 06-11-2008, 09:52 PM   #21 (permalink)
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Default His Band and the Street Choir

Following up Moondance a scant seven months later is Van's fourth studio album and evolving proof of his seemingly unique prolific and dynamic nature...

His Band and the Street Choir (1970)

The second album of 1970 and really, while partly a spill over from Moondance, another stand alone classic. Loaded, again, with shorter more self contained songs, it as another celebratory tale and while not as great as its predecessor, an ultimately enjoyable album. Featuring a steady and sure nod to a number of Van’s musical idols and inspirations most notably Fat’s Domino and the R&B sounds of early rock and roll. A lighter more graceful version of Moondance without the emphatic brilliance but still a bright brimming example of Morrison’s dynamic excellence. Featuring more brass and less of the flute and piano styling on the prior records, one of the most successful and well reviewed albums of Van’s early years.

1. Domino – Hammering out the sounds from the first note, energetic and inspired it’s a jazzy opener to the second album of 1970. Horns drive the sound from end to end as the guitar sways back and forth along with the bass. Steady percussion rounds out the sounds as the brass pushes the song into its signature chorus complete with the revolving resetting instrumental outro\intro. It’s the unbridled love and admiration Van delivers this number with that makes it more then a pop song and a hit single. It’s a damn good song that’ll move you side to side. 9\10

2. Crazy Face – This one will sneak up on you, and before you know it, you’ll love it. Each listen provides a new level to the lyrical or musical composition that adds to the overall picture and purpose of the song. The horns scream out the chorus in place of Vans signature vocals. The verses and mesmeric and melodious and packed with nuance and feeling. Core-shaking instrumental interludes and forays into variable vocal registers and cadence. An abrupt but satisfying finale completes the pact. 8.5\10

3. Give me a Kiss – Old style R&B number that never fails to satisfy. The addition of the horns in the second verse give the song the pep and panache necessary to fit the album and serve justice to van’s creativity. Do-woppy back-up vocals and punchy horns that define an era define this song. Surprisingly delightful if not as original as a number of Vans’s other work and this and surrounding albums. 8\10

4. I’ve Been Working – A definite stand out. This songs pulls you into a smoke filled studio on the day of its creation and immerses you in it’s essence. Jazzy and with a soulful swing as it motors from end to end in with a stammering swagger. Funky at its soul; it blends funk\jazz\blues\R&B seamlessly. With its “one word say’s it all” chorus there is no doubting the drive behind this song. Rumored to have been reworked from an original version jettisoned from Astral Weeks, that’s not beyond belief although it’s hard to see where a version like the final product would have fit, the origins are unquestionably alike. 8.5\10

5. Call me up in Dreamland – An elegant and effortless soul churner. Graceful spirit and urgent anxiety are the catalyst for this forceful remnant dropped from Moondance into perfect place at the tail end of side one. Included amongst a cavalcade of instrumentation is a simple but satisfying sax solo inspired by or inspiring the round about ageless lyrics of the song. “Never to grow old on the saxophone” Van spits and snarls as the lyrics to open each verse are unleashed. This contrasting style along side the harmonious and full chorus propel this one to elite status. 9\10

6. I’ll be your Lover, too– Soft and slow with guitar plucking lead and vocal emphasis put where needed. It’s a bit of a slow if ever developing song, but a style that Van had visited before and would revisits several times over in the future. Strong lyrical performance with poetic prose and phrasing to match. The influence on Lyrics of T.S Elliot and William Blake is most notably present on this album and this song in particular. 7\10

7. Blue Money – Another old time styled R&B tribute number, with as much playful and self effacing innocence as any Van track prior or since. Typical Van the Man musical evolution from section to section and bar to bar. Incorporating the entire arsenal including some of Van’s goofiest vocal bridge work ever. The piano pounds away the rhythm as the lyrics dance to and fro amongst a brass background. Blue Money was one the biggest hits from the album and remains critically acclaimed and universally loved by fans. 8\10

8. Virgo Clowns – A noble and punchy sort of ballad amongst an R &B country canopy of acoustic guitars and well placed stings and brass backing. The Fog horn provides another subtle note to a song that delicately adjusts itself from punchy to strummy throughout while instructing the occupant to “let your laughter fill the room”. You’ll discover another level of the music with every listen. Impossible not to enjoy if for nothing else it’s originality and nuance. 8.5\10

9. Gypsy Queen – Feathery light and gentle as Van ventures to falsetto and whispery tones in this reassuring walk through the clouds. Guided by bass and brass mainly the starry bells musical backdrop sets the necessary mood. An interesting song that can turn off a novice listener or fan. Another solid number amongst a quality compellation and while not a personal favorite all the time a song I occasionally really enjoy. 7.5\10

10. Sweet Jannie – Simple bar-blues style number, which seems out if place other then the fact it’s clearly a style Van has always had allegiance towards. Very safe and limited because of its structure it fails to excite and evolve in the necessary manner. A well executed but unneeded break from the already loose format of the album. Selfishly I give it 6.5\10

11. If I ever needed Someone – Soulful and spiritual foreshadowing though almost certainly unknowingly. There is no question the conviction of Vans pleas for divine intervention from the opening moments of the song. With gospel style back-up vocals and a step-up style bass and drum section, it’s strong musically, spiritually and lyrically. Still if there is a critique it is another somewhat safe and predictable musical effort leaving you wanting just a little more. 8\10

12. Street Choir – The clear cut standout performance from the album. Prodigious and prestigious with an ambiguous central dynamic revolving around Van’s potentially rhetorical inquiry “Why did you leave America, why did you let me down” It’s impromptu opening, church style organs as the yin to the bellowing and fluttering horns yang, a harmonica led interlude in the songs late-middle and the fraught and frantic vocals are the elements that drive the song to excel as it does. Still a personal favorite. 9.5\10

“…“His Band and the Street Choir” is another beautiful phase in the continuing development of one of the few originals left in rock. In his own mysterious way. Van Morrison continues to shake his head, strum his guitar and to sing his songs. He knows it's too late to stop now and he quit trying to a long, long time ago. Meanwhile, the song he is singing keeps getting better and better.”
“Van Morrison: Rock on.”

John Landau, Rolling Stone 1971

First Time I Listened to it: 1974
Defining Track(s): Domino, I’ve Been Workin’, Street Choir.
Line in my head: "Why did you leave America"

Star rating: (1-5) (from my personal catalog) ****
How it made me feel today: (1-10): 8.5
Overall Ranking: TBD (Top 10)

Next up: Tupelo Honey - 1971
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Old 06-11-2008, 10:32 PM   #22 (permalink)
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i love van morrison especially into the mystic
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Old 06-11-2008, 11:29 PM   #23 (permalink)
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You know where I stand, Moondance, Veedon Fleece, Weeks, then Tuplo Honey.
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Old 06-12-2008, 04:32 AM   #24 (permalink)
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I'd be really interested in the comparison, but Blowin' Your Mind could be my favorite right now. I'm just listening to most of this for the first time but for a first (or any) record how could you dream of topping Brown Eyed Girl, He Ain't Give You None, and T.B. Sheets as your 1,2,3? Astral Weeks is epic and I'm gettin into Moondance. Thank you for all the info here.
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Old 06-12-2008, 07:20 PM   #25 (permalink)
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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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Old 06-12-2008, 11:17 PM   #26 (permalink)
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When the time comes.

Whenever Bob Shines His Light on Van by Van Morrison & Bob Dylan : Reviews and Ratings - Rate Your Music

Team review? (once I track it down?)
Originally Posted by METALLICA89 View Post
Ive seen you on muiltipul forums saying Metallica and slayer are the worst **** you kid go suck your **** while you listen to your ****ing emo **** I bet you do listen to emo music
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Old 06-14-2008, 04:42 PM   #27 (permalink)
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Default Time Warp Media

Van Morrison: The Rolling Stone Interview
Blue Money & Tupelo Honey

by John Grissim, Jr.

This sullen, tweedy-looking little man, light sweater-vest pulled over checkered dress shirt, not saying a word, standing stiffly up there behind the mike, working his magic..."Into the Mystic," "Moonshine Whiskey," "Tupelo Honey." Six thousand people were packed into this old Ice Follies hall called Winterland to hear Van Morrison, but two songs later, when the mike went dead for an instant on the first verse of "Moondance," he took the snap as a sign. He finished the song instrumentally, thrashing at his acoustic rhythm guitar, barely allowed another song--an instrumental--to be completed, and stalked off the stage, up the back ramp, out of the smoke, away from the cheers...

Mark Naftalin, the pianist, was the first to reach him, darting into his path, pleading, not over dramatically, "Van, you gotta go back out there. We're really on!" Bill Church, the bassist, joined in, seating, eager, but Van just shook his head, still saying nothing, and marched into the dressing room. Taj Mahal, who'd played earlier, dashed in. "C'mon, man, you gotta go on again. They love you, it's beautiful. Let's get it together!" Van took a deep breath and finally sighed, resigned to his showbiz fate. Two more numbers: "Blue Money" and "Domino" to send the crowd crazy again.

Then Van Morrison dismissed his band and the Street Choir.

Two days before, he had told his manager and agent that Winterland would be his last booking. Now, despite the show he seemed to do, despite the apparent rapport with his band, and despite the audience response, he quit. Here, in November, 1971, he was convinced the world was crashing in around him.

This night, he'd been half-paralyzed by stage fright, which strikes just about every time he approaches a stage. But there were other circumstances. Just before the show, an LA Times reporter who'd heard about his impending "retirement" cornered him in the dressing room for a high-pressure interview. Van was caught unprepared and got completely unnerved, let his confidence be sabotaged. And Van kept saying he didn't know, for sure, why he wanted to to break away at this stage of his career. He was tired of being so nervous in front of large crowds. Tired of the road. Tired of doing the hits. Tired of the whole business.

Don't wanna discuss it,
Think it's time for a change,
You may get disgusted, and think I'm strange,
In that case I'll go underground,
Get some heavy rest
Never have to worry, about what is
worst and what is best....

But this story has a happy beginning. Van stayed in seclusion for just a few weeks, and right now he's on the road again. Crowds going crazy again.

"People have told me that I have this cult following, but I don't think that's true at all. It's really just people who have been hanging in with me for a long time."

But there is a cult of followers. And they love to give testimonials. "So there I am stuck for three days in my crummy apartment on the Lower East Side in the middle of a blizzard, right? I've had it with New York and my plane doesn't leave till Monday. I'd never heard the record but I happened to put it on and listened to it and then I just kept playing it over and over. Six, maybe eight times a day. It just kept bringing me up." This is Jeanette telling how -Astral Weeks-helped-pull-me-through story. She escaped New York, her psyche intact.

An art student back from an eight-month bus trip through India and Afghanistan tells of picking up hitch hikers, many of them with knap sacks loaded with cassette recorders and tapes of his albums.

The name of the bus: THE VAN MORRISON.

A psychiatrist friend swears he has on repeated occasions been privy to certain higher truths listening to "Into the Mystic" with headphones while under the influence of an exotic gas. And a few nights ago in a bar a 40ish woman, overhearing Morrison's name, cheered: "He's my boy, I got his Tupelo Honey -- first album I've bought in three years." Asked why, she got a bit misty: "Well, it's warm... and it's got the kind of jazz that my father used to love."

Whether or not such endorsements parallel the feelings of his audience at large, there's no question that Van Morrison writes and performs songs that carry immense impact, songs that have a way of becoming associated with personal milestones. More often than not, it's his voice that makes it happen.

Dave Mason: "There's no one to compare his voice to. It's unique. That, together with the overall effect of his band and his arrangements, makes you feel so good, so alive."

Jackie DeShannon "Van is a great blues singer, one of the rare few who can drag you through the most down lyrics, really make you feel them, yet at the same time bring you up. Billie Holiday had that quality. So did Janis. Astral Weeks just brings you up from the lowest low. That album just cleansed my soul."

John Lee Hooker: "He's my favorite white blues singer--and one of the greatest around."

Taj Mahal: "I love his ideas and the way he approaches his music. He lives it, he puts the feeling on you, and that's where it all starts from."

Tom Donahue (record producer and manager at KSAN-FM, San Francisco): "He's got the voice and lyrics that remind you of generations of hard times and misery and that kind of black Irish soul."

There is no lack of hard times in Van's background. He was born August 31st, 1945, the only child of working class parents, in Belfast, Northern Ireland, at a time when post-war Europe was in economic shambles. With jobs impossible to find, his father left his family behind and went to America where he lived in Detroit and for several years worked as a railroad electrician. Van grew up listening to the family collection of jazz and blues records. He heard Leadbelly, John Lee Hooker and Ray Charles as well as Jimmie Rodgers, Hank Williams, Carl Perkins, and Elvis Presley.

"My family was supposed to move to America when I was five. Things didn't work out, but like all the kids I grew up with thought they were American anyway. See, Belfast is not like England, even though it's a part of Great Britain. It's got its own trip going. The American influences are stronger than the English influences because of all the Irish who have emmigrated to the United States in the last few generations. Like all my relatives lived in Detroit and Toronto. Places like that."

While in grade school Van got a taste of the bitterness that today divides Northern Ireland. "I wasn't even aware of religious prejudice until one day a couple of kids I'd never seen before came up to me and two friends and started swinging. They were going around punching out Catholics. Or Protestants, I forget. It was weird, 'cause at the same time we were fighting 'em we were asking why they were trying to beat up on us. They stopped when we said we weren't whoever they thought we were. The whole thing was unreal. I really feel for what the people are going through over there, but I couldn't give you an elaborate statement because I haven't been home in over five years and I haven't followed the situation that closely."

Van began to sing at age 12, and by 13 was playing guitar, sax, and harmonica. During his early high school days he played in several neighborhood bands, some with names more reminiscent of Surf City than Belfast. "I used to play in a group called Deanie Sands and The Javelins. This chick Deanie and I did the singing and I played guitar. We did a sort of country-blues-rock type of music." Away from the Javelins, Morrison spent a lot of time hanging out in Belfast clubs regularly visited by American bluesmen such as Jesse Fuller, John Lee Hooker, Memphis Slim and Champion Jack Dupree.

At 16, Van dropped out of high school to turn professional. With a group called the Monarchs, he toured England and the Continent, playing five sets a night at raunchy clubs that insisted they sound like a loud jukebox. "In some of those clubs," he remembers, "the audience might've worked us over if we didn't do at least three encores of 'What'd I Say.'" For Van it was a drastic change: "I was under age. I had to get special permission from the British Embassy in every country. We worked Germany a lot, playing US Army bases and places like the Odeonkeller in Heidelberg and the Storyville clubs in Frankfurt and Cologne." Van often did stand-by duty on bass and drums in addition to sax, harp, and guitar. Those months abroad were chaotic and exhilarating, a life of cramped, sweaty backstage rooms, trains, hotels, and learning what it's like to be bored and wasted on the road.

It was in Germany, too, that Van, as a Monarch, recorded his first single--"a really bad song," he recalls--"but we gave it a dynamite instrumental track." It was a bitter experience, this encounter with a producer wanting strictly commercial product. "But we needed the session money. You do when you're drinking your pay every night."

In 1964, Van was 19 and back in Belfast, this time to form Them out of the nucleus of the Monarchs plus a couple of old friends. The group found work at the Maritime Hotel and soon turned it into a home turf. There, under Van's direction as lead singer, Them developed a hard -core regional following. For Van, the first two years were the only time that Them was truly Them:

Yeah, good times, wild sweaty, cruddy, UGLY, and mad,
And sometimes just a little bit sad,
Yeah, they sneered and all, but up there, we just havin' a ball.
It was a gas, you know,
Some good times....

To read the entire article follow this link

[From Issue 111 — June 22, 1972]
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Old 06-17-2008, 04:32 AM   #28 (permalink)
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I'll be posting another review tonight or tomorrow morning, any final comments on the previous reviews\media so far?
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Old 06-18-2008, 02:24 AM   #29 (permalink)
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lots of horns in HIS BAND.. 'Virgo Clowns' is maybe my favorite. I really notice more of a country sound and lots of electric guitar in Tupelo Honey.
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Old 06-18-2008, 08:55 PM   #30 (permalink)
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Following another successful release in 1971 with the Country rock styled “Tupelo Honey” Morrison, despite his outward appearance was beginning to feel his marriage and the person he had become within it slipping away. It later be known that during the recording his relationship with wife Janet was falling apart and divorce had become a question more of when then if. This album he decided would focus on nothing more then music and exactly whatever kind at whatever moment he wanted to create...

St. Dominic’s Preview (1972)

Van’s sixth studio album features several firsts for the artist. It’s noted as his first album not to focus on Love as the central theme; it’s also the first to repeatedly combine elements from both Astral Weeks and Moondance. With his marriage falling apart behind the scenes, Van demonstrates his personal maturation by focusing his musical energy not on self loathing and pity but instead by embracing the chance to fully engorge himself in the music. Sometimes underrated and somewhat overlooked, by rarely disregarded, St. Dominic’s Preview is a shining example of all out effort and commitment to honest and personal music.

1. Jackie Wilson Said – The first song is always a radio song, usually the biggest hit commercially in the end, that’s Van’s M.O since “Blowin’ Your Mind” opened with “Brown Eyed Girl” Following a tried and true formula from the past two albums, Van leads off Saint Dominic’s Preview with a jazzy upbeat radio single paying homage to a childhood hero musically. Inspired by Jackie Wilson’s “Reet Petite” as the opening lyrics cite, a full band behind the peppy lyrics constructs the energy and atmosphere of the song. 8.5\10

2. Gypsy – Interesting songs are always favorites of mine and Gypsy is if nothing else interesting. Skittish and jagged it’s a haunting follow up and the best performance Van has turned in, in this style to date. The songs lyrics spell out the formula and necessary imagery to create the song’s transient and torrid mood. “Sway to sounds of two guitars around the campfire bright; then mellow out like violins in the morning light.” Despite its blistering chorus and choppy, crumbling half-broken verses and bridge it’s a rather satisfied and celebratory song. 8.5\10

3. I Will Be There – Old time R&B jazz style song featuring a youthful sound. Lyrically satisfactory if not ordinary but it’s all in the delivery anyway here. Rugged and ragged Van on vocals backed by piano and brass alongside the standards. With a definitively and distinctly full sounding bridge floating into the second piano solo backed verse and then into with a horn led instrumental and capped off with a powerful final chorus and all inclusive escalating outro it is again, two in a row, a high point within a genre\style for Morrison. 8.5\10

4. Listen to the Lion – Vocally driven hypnotic perfection. Beautiful and beguiling, one of the longer songs Van’s ever released at over 11 minutes; each one necessary to express the angst is clearly feeling over his internal revelation (“all my love come tumblin’ down”) Van and it’s impending consequences (“I shall search my very soul”). The song is not just an internal monologue but a plea to others to follow his ambition. Let the Lion inside yourself out, be as courageous and proud as you can, stand up for yourself, love yourself, and be true to yourself. Instrumental tranquility as bass and percussion create a bouncy pulse and swim in the stinging acoustic and vocal leads. Bells and triangles ring behind the scene as back up vocals reinforce the suffering artists plea to himself and all. Van himself spends a good portion of the song caught in the music’s wake and growling like a Lion himself. Infinitely relaxing and at some point of almost everyone’s life relatable, a very memorable cut. 9\10

5. St. Dominic’s Preview – The apocalyptic title track almost steals the show amongst a brilliant assembly of diverse and dynamic tracks. As soulful and nostalgic as the greatest gospel music, as melodious and entrancing as the most aesthetic pop music. Featuring a dominant performance from a backing brass section and as palpable and enjoyable lead guitar work as has been seen in a long time within van’s work. A brilliant lyrical performance scanning nostalgia, prophecy, mysticism and all with the natural ambiguity we’ve come to expect. The only song to embrace both the Moondance and Astral Weeks sides of the album. With my favorite cycle of verse, pre-verse and chorus ever as well as a poignant and cathartic personal sentiment it’s my second favorite stand alone Van song ever. 10\10

6. Redwood Tree – Morrison outdoes himself again as he reaches the pinnacle of country pop\rock with a powerful and peppy story telling song. Lyrically well assembled and with esoteric phrasing and emphasis throughout as well as obvious soulful punches. Horns and bass standout outside of the vocals and guitars and keys provide rhythm and occasional flair. A potentially pop hit that sort of faded into relative obscurity but also noted by fans as a fond memory, Morrison makes this song with a vocal performance that makes it believable and authentic. 9\10

7. Almost Independence Day – Ending side the album just as he ended side one Van feels his way through an eerie environment finding an esoteric and alluring dysfunctional landscape for his final gasp on the most overlooked and underrated album Van the Man has produced. The song is an amazingly celebratory extravagant venture as Van looks forward to a metaphorical (or maybe not so) Independence Day. The bellowing foghorn appropriately overwhelms the rest of the music and only the punchy portions and Van’s sharpest shrieks can be fully heard as played. There is emphasis on the acoustic guitar the one tie that has continued to bind throughout. 8.5\10

...This album has always stood out for me; it's the most consistent album outside of the big two and if maybe too rangy to fit most tastes at least technically sound and undeniably to itself and the artist true. The break-up and his impeding breakdown are inevitable at this point, what he hinted in "Moonshine Whiskey" is coming to fruition, this is the next natural progression as Van pours out his emotion putting himself first without being spiteful or petty. Brilliant production taking full advantages of a raised budget and technological advancements in the profession. An album I appreciate more and more all the time.

First Time I Listened to it: 1973
Defining Track(s): St. Dominic’s Preview, Listen to the Lion
Line in my head: "Meanwhile Back in San Francisco, trying hard to make this whole thing blend"

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

Next up: Hard Nose the Highway- 1973

Last edited by Son of JayJamJah; 06-20-2008 at 05:23 PM.
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