Friday, 28 October 2011

Ugly Things Fanzines

The Ugly Things site seems to be dedicated to music that emerged in the sixties.  Generally, they favour music that has a rawer edge to it.  Them seems one of the favourite bands and is covered in editions 31 and 32 of their fanzine.  Past issues and other merchandise is available for purchase.  In the era of dying magazines and fanzines it's great to hear of one that continues doing its own thing and challenging the big players like Rolling Stone, Q, Uncut, Mojo, etc., a little. 

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Van Tribute Bands

When Van Can't Be Everywhere There's Always The Vancoovers

Van Morrison tribute bands abound.  All major performers have their imitators.  (What you never want to become is the warm-up act for a tribute band).  

Tribute bands based on the Beatles has become a major industry complete with Beatle tribute band competitions.  Van is probably a bit harder to copy because of the sheer variety of his music.  Some performers hate them, others are flattered by their imitators.  A night out seeing a tribute band is always a bit of fun, although I did have a negative experience at a 'Kenny and Dolly' tribute show once.  (Yes, I'm admitting I went to a Kenny and Dolly tribute show.)   

Here are some Van tribute performers you may want to check out in your neck of the woods:

VM  -  VM are an Australian Van tribute band based in Melbourne.  David McCall is the band's Van.

Celtic Soul - Celtic Soul are a fantastic band based in Northern Ireland.  They look like they produce some great versions of Van songs. The link here directs you to their facebook page which has some interesting film clips on it.  They tend to mine the deeper cuts on albums which always makes for a great show.  Check out this further link on youtube.    

Van the Man  -  is another Australian artist but the site shows little sign of activity recently.

The Belfast Cowboys  -  Are an outfit from Minneapolis in the US. 

The Van Band - Seems like a good band with a good lead singer. 

Greg Hester from Augusta, Georgia does a Van show as well as generally playing his own music which ranges from country to Americana and soul.

The Vancoovers are based in Dorset.  Their 'Van' is Sean Geraghty who has appeared in stage shows such as Buddy and The Patsy Cline Story
Van-tastic  -  Iain Sparks does a Van tribute show as Van-tastic.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

A Tale of Two Morrisons: The Doors and Them Onstage

The Whisky a Go Go was a music venue on the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles that played host to a number of seminal 60s bands.  The Byrds, Alice Cooper, Buffalo Springfield and Love were all performed there. Audience members included a number of important musical figures as well.  The Doors were the 'house band' for a while until Jim Morrison's controversial performance of The End one night. 

Them had a two week residency that ran from June 2 to June 18, 1966.  The Doors opened for them and the two groups were on particularly friendly terms.  On the last night of the residency Jim Morrison joined Them onstage for a classic jam of Gloria.  In an interview in Wavelength 21 Jim Armstrong, who payed guitar with Them, reminisced about the Whisky residency.  He said that part of the band's deal for the shows was free beer and spirits at half price.  Nonetheless in two weeks the band accumulated a $2600 bar tab.  He is quoted as saying rather redundantly, "they were heavily into drugs while we were all heavily into drink."   

The Whiskey a Go Go shows were part of an exhaustive west coast tour which ultimately were among the last shows performed by a Van Morrison-led Them. Van Morrison left the group in September, 1966 after their return to Ireland. The Whisky shows were sell-outs and extremely well-received. Apparently, The Doors had difficulty finding places in the audience to watch Them's opening night. Jim was very impressed with the band and with Van Morrison's performance.
The famous jam between Them and The Doors was mentioned by John Densmore in his book.  He said it was one of the greatest musical moments of his life to be on stage with two drummers, two guitarists, two keyboard players and two Morrisons.

In a 1983 interview, Ray Manzerk also spoke about the night they appeared with Them.

“Yeah, there were some good times at The Whisky-A-Go-Go, boy that's for sure. We played with Them; the first gig we played at The Whisky was Van Morrison and Jim Morrison - on the same stage. And Van Morrison was insane. You know how he got into just standing there and singing? I haven't really seen him in a long time, but when he was with Them, the guy was ALL OVER the stage, man. Absolutely insane. Did that thing of holding the microphone stand upside down, and singing, and smashing the mic stand into the stage, and just...God, was he incredible! He was so good. Then the last night we played we had a jam, We got a couple of photographs of that somewhere, but nobody recorded it. The Doors and Them, together on stage, the two Morrisons.”
(Paul Lawrence, Ray Manzarek: The Audio Interview, Audio, Dec. 1983)

Friday, 21 October 2011

Top 5 Van Sites on the Net

Before the Internet there was something beautiful and pure called music.

  1.  Van Morrison News blog   -  deserves its number 1 spot since this is where Van fans go first to check on anything Van, especially current news.   

  2.  Wikipedia   -    A great source of information and you can spend days following all the links.  Allows the reader to trace obscure parts of the Van story.  Accuracy and comprehensiveness are what the Van fan finds here.
 3.  Gunter Becker's Song Database   -   Mr Becker has produced an obsessive site crammed full of information/data on just about anything to do with Van.  How does this guy do it?  Honestly, where did he find all those concert track listings?  The length of every song done in concert?  All the concert medleys?  Does this guy ever sleep? Amazing.

 4.  Visions of Pat blog   -   Pat's blog is a fantastic from-the-heart blog.  The above sites are food for the mind.  Pat's blog is food for the spirit and heart.  One man's career as a Vanatic.  

 5.   an ebay 'Van Morrison' search (Worldwide, all categories)   -   It's not just about the buying and selling.  Type 'Van Morrison' on ebay every so often and you'll be amazed at the array of Van stuff out there. One of the amazing things you find is how many ripoff CDs have been created from the Bang material.   

Monday, 17 October 2011

10 Van Quotes - Part 2

 1. "There's an obsession at the moment with what some people call the comics and what I call the propaganda magazines, Mojo, Q Magazine, The Word There's this obsession with the past."

 2. "Being famous was extremely disappointing for me. When I became famous it was a complete drag and it is still a complete drag.”

 3. "There are the people who write these so-called biographical books, who haven't done the research, and don't know enough about me in the first place. I think the guys who wrote the last couple of books were complete ignoramuses, not qualified for the job."

4. "I write songs. Then, I record them. And, later, maybe I perform them on stage. That's what I do. That's my job. Simple.”

 5. "Even today skiffle is a defining part of my music.  If I get the opportunity to just have a jam, skiffle is what I love to play."

 6. "I educated myself.  To me, school was boring." 

 7. "I learnt from Armstrong on the early recordings that you never sang a song the same way twice." 

 8. "When I started you were more in touch with the people you were playing to.  There wasn't the distance or the separation that there is now."     

 9. "The first piece of music that captured my imagination was probably Ray Charles Live at Newport."   

10.  "There's always got to be a struggle.  What else is there? That's what life is made of.  I don't know anything else.  If there is, tell me about it."

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Vince Taylor

Van sources are pretty limited online particularly as the best sources seemed to have halted.  One of the purposes of this blog is to point all levels of Van fans in the direction of the best of the Van Morrison stuff online.  It's a bit of a minefield out there.  So many supposed 'Van Morrison sites' simply contain a generic Van article surrounded by numerous ads for things like suppositories and cheap airline tickets. 

Anyway, "Van Morrison" is a Van article by Sean Elder written in 2000.  It contains some interesting insights and links about Vince Taylor and information about the early days of Van.  Vince Taylor was name-checked by Van in the song Goin' Down Geneva on the 1999 album "Back on Top".  In the song Van asks the unanswerable 'where does Vince Taylor fit in?'.  It's another cryptic lyric from the master.

In Wavelength 19 (March/April 1999) Simon Gee has another interesting piece about Vince Taylor.  In it he reprints parts of a David Bowie interview in which Bowie claims that Vince Taylor was the inspiration for Bowie's Ziggy Stardust persona. It seems from various sources Vince Taylor suffered a mental disorder in the last few decades of his life eventually passing away in August, 1991. 

Bowie recounted an unusual story about Taylor.  "And he used to carry maps of Europe around with him.  And I remember very distinctly him opening a map out on Charing Cross Road outside the tube station and putting it on the pavement and kneeling down with a magnifying glass and I got down there with him and he was pointing out all the sites where UFOs were going to be landing over the next few months". 

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Pat's Little Book Shop on ebay

Legendary Van fan Pat Corley has a book shop on ebay.  He's got a quality range of books considering he only keeps 100 books up at any one time.  Topics include beat writer Jack Kerouac, music, Ireland and poetry. Pay a visit today and remember Van fans support each other.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Geoffrey K. Pullum Doesn't Like Van

Geoffrey K. Pullum contemplates Van's "bare, strained voice".

In an internet article entitled "Van Loses It On stage"  Mr Pullum discusses a concert incident where one naive fan yells out "we love you Van".  Mr Pullum comments the comment moved Van to make his only comment to the audience that night.  He replied, "F###ing shut the f### up.      
Mr Pullen then goes on to voice his disapproval of Van.  "I happen to detest Van Morrison's music. His bare, strained voice appeals to me not at all, and I hate even his most popular recordings".  Mr Pullum embarrasses himself further by saying "I once offered to put five dollars in the tips jar at the Stevenson College Coffee House at UC Santa Cruz if they would stop playing the Van Morrison CD they had put on. They did, and I did. So his music has negative cash value for me: I have actually paid money to not hear it."

But around the world hundreds of thousands of people, if not millions, list Van among their favourite performers.  Out of that number there are a core of many thousands who count themselves as "Vanatics" for whom Van Morrison is an obsession.