Thursday, 27 June 2013

Bobby Bland Dead at 83


Bobby “Blue” Bland died on June 23, 2013 at the age of 83.  He was a distinctive vocalist who blended Southern blues, r’n’b and soul on 28 studio albums and in songs such as Turn on Your Love Light and Further On Up the Road.  He died from an ongoing illness at his Memphis home surrounded by relatives.

Bland was born Robert Calvin Brooks on January 27, 1930 in Rosemark, Tennessee.  His father left the family home when he was an infant and the name Bland came from his stepfather. Bobby Bland never went to school, and remained illiterate throughout his life.
After moving to Memphis with his mother in 1947, Bland started singing with local gospel groups including The Miniatures. Bland began frequenting the city's famous Beale Street where he became associated with a circle of aspiring musicians including B.B. King, Rosco Gordon, Junior Parker and Johnny Ace, who collectively took the name of the Beale Streeters.

Between 1950 and 1952, he recorded unsuccessful singles for Modern Records and, at Ike Turner's suggestion, for Sun Records — who licensed their recordings to the Chess label — before signing for Duke Records. Bland then spent two years in the Army.  When the singer returned to Memphis in 1954 he found several of his former associates, including Johnny Ace, enjoying considerable success. He joined Ace's revue, and returned to Duke Records, which by that time had started to be run by Houston entrepreneur Don Robey.
Bland released his first single for Duke in 1955.  His first chart success came in 1957 with the R&B chart no. 1 hit Farther Up the Road, which also reached no.43 on the Billboard Hot 100, and followed it up with a series of hits on the R&B chart including "Little Boy Blue" (1958).  Bland's craft was most clearly heard on a series of early 1960s releases including Cry Cry Cry, I Pity The Fool — an R&B chart no.1 in 1961 — and Turn On Your Love Light, which became a much-covered standard.

His final R&B no.1 came with That's The Way Love Is in 1963.  However, he continued to enjoy a consistent run of R&B chart entries throughout the mid-1960s. Never truly breaking into the mainstream market, Bland's highest charting song on the pop chart, Ain't Nothing You Can Do peaked at #20 in the same week in 1964 that the Beatles held down the top five spots. Bland's records mostly sold on the R&B market rather than achieving crossover success. He had 23 Top Ten hits on the Billboard R&B charts. 
Financial pressures forced the singer to cut his touring band and in 1968 the group broke up. He suffered from depression and became increasingly dependent on alcohol, but stopped drinking in 1971. His record company Duke Records was sold by owner Don Robey to the larger ABC Records group. This resulted in several successful and critically acclaimed contemporary blues/soul albums including His California Album and Dreamer, arranged by Michael Omartian and produced by ABC staff man Steve Barri. The rest of the 70s were spent trying to expand his fan based with more pop efforts and even disco inflections at time.  The 80s marked a return to his roots. 
In 1985, Bland was signed by Malaco Records, specialists in traditional Southern black music for whom he made a series of albums while continuing to tour and appear at concerts with fellow blues singer B. B. King. The two had collaborated for two albums in the 1970s. Despite occasional age-related ill health, Bland continued to record new albums for Malaco and perform occasional tours alone, with guitarist/producer Angelo Earl and also with B.B. King, plus appearances at blues and soul festivals worldwide. Bland was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame described him as "second in stature only to B. B. King as a product of Memphis's Beale Street blues scene".  Bland was also inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 1981 and received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1997.

Van and Bobby Bland

Bobby worked with a lot of artists but Van was probably one of the earliest artists to pick up Bland’s music.  In the early 1960s he covered Turn On Your Love Light with Them.  He later covered Bland’s Ain't Nothing You Can't Do on Van’s 1974 live album It's Too Late to Stop Now.  Van has worked with Bland in concert when he has brought Bland on as a guest singer.  He also included a previously unreleased version of a March 2000 duet of Morrison and Bland singing "Tupelo Honey" on his 2007 compilation album, The Best of Van Morrison Volume 3.  A tribute to Bobby Bland was quickly put up on Van’s website after Bland’s death.  
Fan Comments

Mang   -   Blues is literally dying off in America. I remember when Bobby played this hole-in-the-wall bar in my neighbourhood. Hardly anybody under the age of 40 was there aside from me. He was about 65 at that point…

Mostincredible   -   I grew up listening to Bobby Blue Bland, my grandfather would play the cassettes in the car everyday all day. Blues played in the garage all summer.

Bob Everett   -   I saw Mr. Bland a number of times. My favourite event was at Radio City Music Hall in the late 1970s when he appeared with B.B. King. Also on the bill were Albert King and Muddy Waters. It was a great show and probably the best I ever saw. I also love the two albums, (especially the second, ‘Together Again Live’), that Bobby did with B.B. King. Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland was a great singer. His tunes remain ingrained in my memory. He will be sorely missed.
Jay Greene   -   Yeah our blues/soul men are steady passing away. I remember my mom, dad, and aunt would go see Bobby, Johnnie, and Stevie Ray at some hole in a wall every time we’d visit my aunt in Houston. My aunt would act like the old woman at the Apollo.
a_protohominid   -   Bummer. I do love the great old bluesmen. So few of these national treasures left.

Vibrissae   -   No! I loved BBB! What a silky smooth blues that man sang. No forgetting him, ever!
Spitbull   -   Oh my. One of the mightiest of his era.  Gonna recommend Charles Keil's 1964 book Urban Blues, which has a delicious description of a BBB club show in it.

Jonmc   -   RIP to one of the truly great ones. Ain't No Love in the Heart of the City, is a true masterpiece.
Bukvich   -   On the intro to his Further on up the Road I swear Clapton says "Bobby Blue band" but the song sounds pretty great.

Esteemed Offendi   -   When I was a student in Chicago there was a late night public radio program which had Bland's Love to See You Smile as the theme...always made pulling an all-nighter more pleasurable.
Biscotti   -   Little Boy Blue. The range of texture and sound he could get out of his voice. Starts out all croony and controlled, gets awesomely screamy (and very modern-sounding), then back to croony. Amazing control.   I hadn't really listened to him before, happened to hear that track on a tribute on the radio, now I have some new-to-me blues to listen to.   I'll be in my bunk.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Jerry Garcia Van Cover Uncovered

The second instalment in a series of archival concert albums from the Jerry Garcia Band has just been released. Garcia Live Volume Two: August 5th, 1990 Greek Theatre is an album that features a complete and previously unreleased performance the late Grateful Dead frontman’s side group in Berkeley, California.

The 16-track album, which is available as a two-CD set and a digital download, features a number of interesting cover tunes, including Bob Dylan‘s “Tangled Up in Blue” and “Forever Young,” Van Morrison‘s “And It Stoned Me,” The Band‘s “Evangeline,” and the Motown classic “How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved by You).”  Banjo virtuoso Béla Fleck joins the group for a couple of songs, including a rendition of Jimmy Cliff‘s The Harder They Come. 

Garcia Live Volume Two features a late-era lineup of the group, with John Kahn on bass, Melvin Seals on organ, David Kemper on drums, and Jaclyn LaBranch and Gloria Jones on backing vocals.  The album is now available at, and iTunes. 

Track Listing 

CD 1
How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved by You), Stop That Train, Forever Young, Run for the Roses, That’s What Love Will Make You Do, My Sisters and Brothers, Tears of Rage and Deal.

Midnight Moonlight (featuring Béla Fleck), The Harder They Come (featuring Béla Fleck), And It Stoned Me, Waiting for a Miracle, Evangeline, Think, That Lucky Old Sun and Tangled Up in Blue.

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Funny Things People Say - Part 2

Joe Fletcher   -   Van Morrison was born with sixteen red hairs damply coiled on a chest already barrel-thick. His urine smelled of peat.

John Wang-Fitzpatrick   -    From studying Have I told you lately that I love you I would think that Van Morrison loves Sinead OConnor very very much, and you can't blame him for doing so. I think she is terrified of him, very very much, and you can't blame her for that either.

Mahons   -   Technically I am not sure if Madame George was actually gay since Van Morrison claimed he didn’t know himself – though I would imagine a man in high heels strolling along Cyprus Avenue in Belfast would still cause some passing looks. But if Madame George is gay, he won’t be able to marry in Northern Ireland.

Mr Fab   -   I may be wrong - admittedly I haven't sat down to listen to those albums all the way thru - but isn't Into The Mystic just a few short steps away from Enya?
Peter   -   Van Morrison has some of the best albums with some of the worst ever covers!

Jon Wilde   -   Please tell me I'm not mad. Each morning I wake up and unease myself into a long-practised routine. While the first cuppa of the day is still brewing, I log on to Guardian Unlimited and fretfully plunge into the obituaries section. I check that my foremost musical heroes (Van Morrison, Little Richard and Bob Dylan) are still in the land of the living. Thus reassured, I perform an inexpert dance of celebration, drink my tea and get on with my day.

Stroidy   -   euh my dad always plays f###ing van m. It's boring, and just rips off things. It all sounds the same. Listen to Lightnin' Hopkins, Son House Robert Johnson and Howlin Wolf etc when you next think of putting on Morrison. Some music with some actual warmth and genuinity if that's a word. He sounds like slow porn music with saxophones and what not.

Johnny Doom   -   A friend of a friend saw Van spit on a dog.

Rob O’Conner   -   Short, pudgy, moody Irish guys don't get recording contracts anymore. At least that's what they told me when I applied. Of course, I also can't sing. But neither can half the music industry and it hasn't stopped them! Never mind what Van looks like. I don't think they sign people who make music that sounds like this anymore anyhow.

YoSaffBridge   -   If I'm going to compare Astral Weeks to films, let's say that I understand WHY someone would enjoy “Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill!” or “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” or, hell, even “Twilight”. This isn't any of those. This is Napoleon Dynamite. It's a cult thing, and I have no idea WHY it's a cult thing. It's not particularly original, it's not particularly interesting. It has a couple of good tracks (the title track and The Way Young Lovers Do) so it isn't even so unbearably bad that it's cultish for that reason. It's just dull, is the long and short of it.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Van and Jackie DeShannon

Despite being known as a solo artist and something of a misanthrope ("Hell is other people"), Van has always been willing to share the stage with other performers.  Some have been some of his heroes like Ray Charles (on the Genius Loves Company CD), John Lee Hooker, Bob Dylan, Lonnie Donegan, Bobby Bland, etc., while others have lesser music significance.  Linda Gail Lewis, Chris Farlowe, Jackie DeShannon, Candy Dulfer, Brian Kennedy, etc. are all talented musicians in their own right but definitely concede centre stage when working with Van.  When you think about who Van has worked with over the years it's pretty obvious that he enjoys the experience of working with other performers and is fairly democratic in his approach.  What other performer of note would allow Richard Gere anywhere near a microphone?  Or let the Red Hot Pokers try to extemporise on some of his classic songs? For some concert goers it adds a new dimension to the Van experience.  For others, it's a distraction from the main show - the Man himself. 

Jackie DeShannon is one such Van acolyte.  Jackie was born Sharon Lee Myers in Hazel, Kentucky, on  August 21, 1941 and is an American singer-songwriter with a string of hit song credits from the 1960s onwards. She was one of the first female singer-songwriters of the rock 'n' roll period. DeShannon was born into musically inclined farming family.  By the age of six she was singing country tunes on a local radio show and by the age of 11, DeShannon was hosting her own radio program. When life on the farm became too difficult they moved to Illinois, eventually settling in Batavia, Illinois, where Jackie attended high school. 

She got increasingly into her music career and eventally left school to start a recording.  She began to record under various names such as Sherry Lee, Jackie Dee, and Jackie Shannon, with mixed success.  Her early recordings caught the attention of Eddie Cochran, who arranged for her to travel to California to meet his girlfriend, singer-songwriter Sharon Sheeley, who formed a writing partnership with DeShannon in 1960. The partnership produced hits such as "Dum Dum" for Brenda Lee. In 1960, DeShannon signed with Liberty Records, adopting the name Jackie DeShannon, believed to be the name of an Irish ancestor, after executives at Liberty thought the name Sharon Myers would not help sell records.

Armed with her new name, she made the WLS Chicago radio survey with the single Lonely Girl in late 1960. A string of mostly flop singles followed, although The Prince bubbled under at No. 108 in the United States in early 1962, and Faded Love became her first US Billboard Top 100 entry, squeaking in at No. 97 in February 1963.  She fared better with the Sonny Bono-Jack Nitzsche song Needles and Pins and the self-penned When You Walk in the Room later in 1963. Both reached the lower rungs of the US pop charts, but were Top 40 hits in Canada, where "Needles and Pins" made it all the way to No. 1. Needles and Pins and When You Walk in the Room later became US and UK hits for The Searchers.

DeShannon recorded many other singles that encompassed teen pop, country ballads, rockabilly, gospel, and Ray Charles-style soul that didn't fare as well on the charts. During these years it was her songwriting and public profile rather than her recording career that kept her contracted to Liberty. DeShannon dated Elvis Presley and Jimmy Page and formed friendships with The Everly Brothers and Ricky Nelson. She also co-starred and sang with Bobby Vinton in the teen surf movie Surf Party.  DeShannon's biggest break came in February 1964 when she supported The Beatles on their first US tour, and formed a touring band with guitarist Ry Cooder. DeShannon also wrote "Don't Doubt Yourself Babe" for the debut album of The Byrds. Her music at this stage was heavily influenced by the American West Coast sounds and folk music. Staying briefly in England in 1965, DeShannon formed a songwriting partnership with Jimmy Page, which resulted in the hit singles "Dream Boy" and "Don't Turn Your Back on Me". Page and DeShannon also wrote material for singer Marianne Faithfull, including her Top Ten UK and US hit "Come and Stay With Me". 

DeShannon continued writing and recording, but it was not until 1969 that she scored her next smash single and album, both entitled "Put a Little Love in Your Heart". The self-penned single sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc. The single "Love Will Find A Way" from the same album was also a moderate hit. In 1973, she was invited by Van Morrison to sing on his Hard Nose the Highway album.
While DeShannon has not produced any further Top Ten singles of her own, her songs have been covered by other artists who have converted them into hits. On June 17, 2010, Jackie was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

 Van and Jackie DeShannon

Jackie's relationship to Van is patchy.  Most well-known is the songwriting collaboration on Santa Fe from the 1978 album Wavelength, although it was written earlier.  Another official collaboration is Jackie's back-up vocals credit on 1973's Hard Nose the highway.  But there were numerous other connections and collaborations along the way.  In 1972 Jackie released her Jackie album which contained a version of Van's I Wanna Roo You that Van recorded for his Tupelo Honey album. Both artists worked together at The Lion's Share venue in San Anselmo.  There is also a claim that Van provided background vocals on Jackie's single Sweet Sixteen.   There are also a few Van bootlegs which feature both artists on microphone.     

For the Van fan wanting to check out Jackie DeShannon you should try Jackie...Plus.  It's a disc lovingly assembled by Rhino Handmade. The opening twelve tracks are from Jackie, her 1972 album and tracks 13-24 consist of two b-sides from singles plus ten previously unreleased outtakes from 1972-1973 sessions. Some of these are some interesting collaborations with Van Morrison and include I Wanna Roo YouSweet SixteenFlamingos FlySanta Fe and Drift Away.  

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Mystic Avenue

Celebrations have begun here at Sunshine Coast Van Fans.  We'd thought that John Gilligan and his wonderful Van Morrison News site was gone forever.  Fortunately the change is in name only.  Mystic Avenue is the new name and it retains all the old material.  Really, it's the No. 1 Van Morrison blog on the planet and deserves your regular patronage. 

I only found out that it was still in operation when Celtic Soul's frontman Clarke Wilson let me know by email.  Celtic Soul is a great Van tribute band based in Northern Ireland.  Check their website for shows by clicking on their name above.

Thursday, 13 June 2013

20 Facts About Born to Sing

    1.  Born to Sing: No Plan B is Van's 34th or 35th studio album depending who you listen to. 
    2.  It was recorded in Belfast, Northern Ireland and is 59:54 long.  Can we just call that an hour?
3.  The album states the content as ten new original songs although Close Enough for Jazz was featured as an instrumental on his 1993 release Too Long In Exile. 
   4. On most internet sites that count these sort of things, Goin' Down to Monte Carlo is the fan favourite from the album.
   5.  If in Money We Trust finds Van meditating about the all-encompassing power of money and the ways in which cash has replaced God at the centre of the modern belief system. Said Morrison: "That came from looking at a dollar bill and turning the concept on its head. I thought, 'what is this stuff on here, what does it mean?' Some people's God is money."

  6.  Born To Sing is Van's first album of original songs since 2008's Keep It Simple.
  7.  The album features three songs at around the 8 minute mark - Goin' Down to Monte Carlo (8:12), If in Money We Trust (8:02) and Pagan Heart (7:52). 

  8.   It cracked the Top Ten in the U.S, Austria, Ireland and Spain.
9.  Born to Sing is the first Van album to feature a trombone (supplied by Alistair White).

10. The album was favourably reviewed generally with most reviewers giving it four out of five stars.  

11.  The only vocals on the album are Van's.

12.  Van plays was recorded live at the studio and features a six piece band of musicians, with Morrison on vocals, piano, guitar and alto-saxophone.

13.  One of the album's themes and some of the songs reflect on the current worldwide financial crisis and Morrison has spoken out that he felt the need to comment on what he perceives as "the worldwide preoccupation with money, materialism, income equality, and the greed that has poisoned society". 
14.  The single from the album was Open the Door (To Your Heart) and was released by EMI on 24 September 2012.
15.  In an interview with John Bennett with the Belfast Telegraph, Morrison described his meaning of the title as: "Well it’s all about doing what you’re meant to do and no frills, like Mose Allison said about me, if you want to look it up, ‘There's no smoke or mirrors, there’s no lights. It is what you get.' That’s basically what you get. I’m not a tap dancing act. It’s just singing."

16. Slant Magazine called it the "recession album but four years too late"
17. Van originally wanted to do an album of jazz covers but Blue Note President Don Was nixed that idea. ("C’mon man, let’s do the real thing: write some songs that mean something to you. And let’s make a real record!”)
18.   The 'East' Morrison is singing about on this song is east Belfast (his home city). This song finds the singer disgruntled and fed up with the world. He explained the song's meaning to The Guardian: "When you've had a conspiracy against you, then you can't speak, because nothing that you say will be even taken on board. If the media wants to bring somebody down, which is what they were trying to do to me at the time, you can't fight that 'cos it's too big. So that's what that's about."

19.  The single from the album, Open the Door (To Your Heart) , was featured as the Record of the Week on BBC Radio 2 during the week commencing 25 August 2012.
 20. Educating Archie refers to both a ventriloquist's dummy on a popular BBC radio show of Morrison's youth and television's working-class anti-hero Archie Bunker, both representing the kind of average guy whom the singer warns, "You're a slave to the capitalist system/Which is ruled by the global elite."

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Van - the Better Recordings

Tom Albertz asked somewhere on the net 'Who likes Van Morrison?  Which do you think are the better recordings?' 
Here are some of the answers:
Simon Brown   -   Try Van Morrison and the Chieftains - not at all bad.

Lasse Svendsen   -   I love his music, and has done so for the last 18 years.  Astral Weeks, Moondance, Inarticulate Speech, Beautiful Vision,No Guru-No Method...Poetic Champions...Days Like This and of course Live in SF and the Healing Game.

Just me  -   Used to listen to him a lot back in the 1970's. Haven't really kept up with Van the Man, however. Some of my favourite albums from the early 1970's are St. Dominic's PreviewMoondance and Veedon Fleece.  I still love his Brown-Eyed Girl single from the mid/late 1960's.
Dylan Ginsburg   -   I'm a big VM fan. I feel his best album, without question, is Astral Weeks. I won't even attempt to describe because it defies description. There are too many great VM albums to list but my other favourite is It's Too Late to Stop Now which is a killer live show.
Steve Maki   -   Couldn't do without lots of Van.  Poetic Champions blew me away on first listen and I still play it a lot.
HEA   -   Begin with Astral Weeks and Moondance.
F. Blaine Dickson   -   I have every North American, non-live CD done by Van, who some critics have called, "the greatest non-black musician-songwriter in the 20th century."  Moondance is clearly my favourite; the bass line on Into the Mystic always sends me into another state of consciousness. I am also fond of Street Choir, especially the song, Gypsy Queen. His early stuff is far superior to his latest CDs IMO because of his less emphasis on religion, although Enlightenment is an exception, I feel. His early stuff still reeks of spirituality, but it is more subtle and metaphoric. Van Morrison is the ONLY artist who I would pay any amount to see live.
Dylan Ginsburg   -   I think The Healing Game is easily the best album he did in the 90s. I don't care for most of VM's albums after Veedon Fleece but I like this one.
Bob M   -   I'm a big Van fan myself, and I had the rare opportunity to see him live a few years ago. I was living in Petaluma, CA in 1994 which is about 40 miles north of San Francisco. There's a small movie theatre in town called, of all things, the Mystic. At the time, Van was scheduled to do a two night concert in San Francisco. I found out about a week before his SF concert, that-- yes believe it or not-- he was scheduled to do a practise concert in Petaluma at the Mystic Theatre the weekend before. Well, I immediately went down there and scooped up two tickets! There were about 1200 seats in the theatre, and my wife and I were sitting in the balcony, centre. This was the tour with Georgie Fame, and it seemed that Van had Georgie doing almost half of his vocals throughout the show. Van would wonder off stage for ten minutes at a time then wonder back on. I understand that he's got a bit of a problem with alcohol, and that definitely showed in his performance that evening. Regardless, the concert was thoroughly enjoyable, and something which I will always remember. This concert actually was part of his live album which was released from that tour in '94. They had the entire theatre miked for a live recording. The year before I went to see him in San Francisco, and missed half the concert because I could not find a parking place (Nob Hill, during the holidays), so this intimate setting was a nice make-good for that experience.

HEA   -   I still just don't get it I guess.  I love Moondance.  I think it is one of the best CDs I have and I listen to it a lot.  I have several Van CDs in fact and  I love them all.  Except Astral Weeks.    I know it is critically acclaimed and some say it is the best album of the whole rock genre.  I know it is intelligent and introspective and expresses some profound truths of who we are but to me the music seems to have no easily followed melody or structure.  It's not like I don't ever like unstructured music though.  I even like early Pink Floyd stuff (when Syd was still with them).   I like jazz usually but it can go too far in this direction for me as well and I know that this is what style of music Astral Weeks is but... I have the CD and I have tried to see what everyone likes so much about it but so far I have not succeeded.  I guess I just like what some would call his popular music.  Seems to me that there is a reason it is popular though. I think I'll fire it up and try one more time.  I know I am not one who usually misses such things but I believe this one has slipped by me.  I feel like I am missing something too.  Any suggestions for me?
John   -   Wow, Someone who has finally verbalised something I have kept hidden for a long time! I also tried to "like" Astral Weeks but could not really get that hyped up about it.  Many of the words make great poetry, but to me the music is just so-so.  In fact, it sounds to me like the acoustic guitar is not tuned properly on much of the album. I also like Moondance and many of his other early albums.  His more recent albums seem to be hit or miss--I either love a song or hate it.  I like what I have heard from The Healing Game, but I know there must be a few clunkers on there...
F. Blaine Dickson   -   I think Astral Weeks is critically acclaimed because it was NOT like anything at the time,lyrically and musically. A Celtic flavoured pop album by a respected pop artist... in 1968? Who'd a thunk it? Yet, it influenced a number of musicians to come BECAUSE they heard that album, Gerry Rafferty being one. There are a number of great songs: Madame George, Astral Weeks, and Cyprus Ave.

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Van Worth 50 Million Pounds

Van is worth £50m according to a recent Sunday Times Rich List.  The incredible legendary singer/songwriter, whose career spans six decades, is ranked in 39th place in the 25th anniversary list for British entertainers. Van's £50m fortune has not changed from the last few years, although his position in the table has improved slightly. In 2012, he released his 34th studio album, Born To Sing: No Plan B. He has also undertaken a series of intimate gigs at venues across Northern Ireland, including the Culloden and Europa hotels and the Strand Cinema in East Belfast, close to where he grew up.

The British/Irish Music Millionaires List also features Irish rock band U2 in third place, worth a cool £520m, Irish/American dancer Michael Flatley in seventh position with £191m and singer Enya in 26th place with £87m.
Overall, the wealthiest performer in the UK and Ireland is Sir Paul McCartney, who shares a £680m fortune with his wife Nancy Shevell. McCartney (70) has topped all the wealthiest musician charts since The Sunday Times Rich List began in 1989, when the former Beatle was worth £80m.
Profits from his hugely successful stage shows, such as Phantom of the Opera, Evita and Cats, have helped to boost composer and theatre owner Lord Lloyd-Webber's fortune by £30m to keep him in second place in the Music Rich List, at a worth of some £620m.  Sir Elton John is in fourth place with an estimated value of £240m.

 Top  British/Irish Music Millionaires

1. Sir Paul McCartney and Nancy Shevell – £680m
2. Lord Lloyd-Webber – £620m
3. U2 – £520m

4. Sir Elton John – £240m

5= David and Victoria Beckham and Sir Mick Jagger – £200m

Monday, 3 June 2013

Van Censored Twice in the 60s

Van Morrison was censored twice in the 1960s.  The songs at the centre of the controversies were two of his best known - Gloria and Brown Eyed Girl
In 1965, Van was first heard by the broader American public when his group Them had a hit with Gloria.  It was a quite a big hit in Southern California, though it did poorly on the national charts, peaking at a very modest #71. Them had other songs on the Billboard Hot 100 but eventually Van left Them to forge a solo career.  In the summer of 1967, he had his first hit as a solo artist with Brown Eyed Girl.

Both Brown Eyed Girl and Gloria attracted the attention of the censors.  Many radio stations banned the two songs for suggestive lyrics”  and both had to be fixed”. One was re-recorded by Van and the other was fixed” in another instance, in order to make them more appropriate for airplay.

The original lyrics to cause controversy were she make me feel so good, Lord, I wanna say she make me feel all right.  Comes a-walkin’ down my street, then she comes up to my house.  She knock upon my door and then she comes to my room, yeah an’ she make me feel all right.  The line and then she comes to my room was deemed offensive back in 1965. That part of the song was then re-sung by Van and replaced with a tame and then she calls out my name

Brown Eyed Girl

It was originally titled Brown Skinned Girl, and was about an inter-racial relationship.  Van then changed the title (and, hence, the lyrics) to a less controversial Brown Eyed Girl. All this was back in 1967 and shows how far we've "progressed".  Now we have hip hop to improve our vocabularies.  However, another controversy existed in the lyrics. 

Cast my memory back there, Lord,
Sometimes I’m overcome, thinkin’ about it
Making love in the green grass, behind the stadium with you,

My brown-eyed girl… 

Radio stations decided these were offensive lyrics but Van didn't have to go back to the studio.  Instead, recording engineers took parts of lyrics already in the tune and spliced together a totally different line from an earlier section of the song.  The lyrics  Down in the hollow, playin’ a new game, Laughin’ and a-Runnin’ hey hey Skippin’ and a-Jumpin’ in the misty mornin’ fog with our hearts a-thumpin’” became “runnin’ and a-jumpin’The lyric line was changed to “runnin’ and a jumpin’” behind the stadium with you
The splicing job also assured that an earlier phrase didn’t quite repeat, taking a hybrid of both laughin’ and a runnin’ and skippin’ and a-jumpin’ to make runnin’ and a-jumpin’, a totally different pair of words!
It's interesting to note that the original 'racy' versions endure and are the standard versions you now hear on radio.