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.

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