Thursday, 30 January 2014

More Van Fan Insights

Here’s most of Greentangle’s post about being a Van Fan.  

Angry Islamist Cat Stevens
I sold most of my CD collection before I bought this laptop and as a result have wound up rebuying, ripping, and reselling a few which I decided I was sorry I’d sold. My Van Morrison collection was actually all on cassettes, so in order to get rid of them I bought a Greatest Hits set (in typically cantankerous Morrison style, these 3 CDs apparently didn’t have room for some of his actual hits such as Blue Money) and have found myself listening to it repeatedly in the past couple weeks, just as I repeatedly listened to a Bruce Cockburn collection at Yellowstone.

I saw Morrison in concert once, in Boston on a split bill with Bob Dylan. I remember that Dylan dominated the show and that Morrison seemed to give a fairly perfunctory performance, letting other band members often carry the show. But from all I’ve read about both performers, it could easily have been the other way around the next night.

My music collection tends to be split fairly evenly between those I bought because of the lyrics and those I bought because of the sound. Morrison falls firmly in the second category—joyful, excited, lush, romantic, saxophone, harmonica, driving r & b, soul singing with a jazz sensibility.
My first serious girlfriend was a brown eyed girl who worked at a motel near the stadium where the New England Patriots played. The motel and the football team are still there but I lost track of her more than 35 years ago.

Morrison’s another of the spiritual seekers whose music I was often drawn to—George Harrison, Cat Stevens, Mike Scott, Bob Marley. Morrison’s words are a mix of Paganism and Christianity—naturally, I go for the Nature worship (?) but even at their most explicitly Christian the lyrics usually don’t bother me because of the sound. For me, a song title like Whenever God Shines His Light doesn’t sound very promising. But it’s a great upbeat song which ends with variations of the repeated line, “Put your feet back, on higher ground,” which could repeat for a couple more minutes and I’d be perfectly happy. I don’t know, maybe it’s about climbing mountains.
Most of the slow songs are intense and moving also, such as Vanlose Stairway and Celtic New Year. But to be honest, there are some songs which are every bit as lethargic and ponderous as you’d expect from the titles.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Funny Comments on Van's Facebook

Yasmin   -   What about Ringworm? One of my favourites along with TB Sheets.

Meg Moffat   -   I burn 500 calories a day doing Van. But always make sure I wrap up with In The Garden. Absolute magic!
Daniel Alcala   -   Why no Madame George? that song finishes me off when I'm drunk.

Walt Hollifield   -  Mr Van, do you have 4 albums grouped together for sale?
Marie van Bokhorst   -   did not like the concert in Amsterdam, because he left without saying goodbye and the singing was terrible. Only the band was good. What an attitude!!!!!

Dessie Scott   -   Van has never performed in pubs....' So funny! Sure he's playing in one on New Year's Eve. What a laugh! (Clearly he's forgotten some of the joints he played in during the early days too)
Carolin Edwards   -   arrogant, self centred ass of a person BUT the man can sing! So I choose to listen to the music and not add to his coffers by attending any of his concerts. That is all THANKS!

LaShell Staley   -   Please come anywhere in the US and I'll come see you. Also will bring my two sons. Your music is part of my life.
Mark Fuller   -   Too bad, Van would be the best pub show ever.

(Left: Van's Twin Brother Jim.  Right: Jim Today)

Victoria Bunke   -   My door's open Van. Come on in.
Pat Donohue   -   As if, the one, the only, Van Morrison, reads these comments left on his facebook wall. Why, we'd all stand a better chance of him coming to our homes to clean our windows than read our comments. Dream on he reads these.

Richard Morrow   -   You mean some idiots actually tink the wee man would read this crap....away with ya!
Doris Noel   -   I long to be as cranky as he is. love the loose lyrics. There is nobody better.

Rhonda Fitzgerald   -   I thought someone exactly like you cared for me, long ago, and has been summoning me to reconnect, but I guess my raincheck has expired, a long time ago already ! My self made alias way way back, was...Madame George...I was 3 in 59.
Sláinte Brothers Tours   -   I met him before one of his shows with a professor I had at grad school in Dublin. Van is very quiet in person but I told him my mom is from the Drumshanbo County Leitrim area. Mid show he added the Drumshanbo Hustle to the set list. One of the most amazing moments of my life! Slanite.

John Estey   -   It's frustrating. Van's fans willing to pay anything to hear him live are being treated more and more like plastic people who just get a "Vegas Show". Of course us real fans take what we can get and are always blissed out by whatever we get.  Just trying to be honest.
Lisa Blackwelder   -   My mom loved your music!!!!!
Nancy Taylor   -   Saw him in the late 90's in SoCal. Was the most amazing performance ever. He shared the bill with Joni Mitchell & Bob Dylan. Van stole the show although Dylan was at his best boot scootin, shark skin suit best.

Jim Carlisle   -   Saw you in the Andrews Hall in Comber in 1960's and have followed you ever since. Thanks for the music.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Van Albums Worst to Best

The Nerve Site is an eclectic mix of entertainment, celebrity  and music news and lists.  Here's Nick Keppler's interesting Van list:

Ranked: Van Morrison Albums From Worst To Best
The Dizzying Highs and Stomach-churning
Lows of a Forty-five Year Career

by Nick Keppler

Van Morrison has proven to be the most prolific of the mid-'60s rock stars, averaging a new effort every year and a half for forty-five years. This week sees the first new Van Morrison album, Born to Sing: No Plan B, in a record four years. So we're talking a look back at Morrison's hulking discography, before he makes it any bigger.
33. Inarticulate Speech of the Heart (1983)

 Fresh from a flirtation with Scientology, Morrison included a "special thanks" to L. Ron Hubbard in the liner notes for this album. Hubbard isn't exactly known for inspiring people to make good decisions; maybe that explains why Morrison stuffed this album with instrumentals. Robbed of his two greatest assets — his voice and lyrics — Morrison has little to offer. "Cry for Home" is the only track with any oomph.
32. Common One (1980)

The line between good Van Morrison and bad Van Morrison is thin. When inspiration is missing, looseness can turn to sloppiness, loftiness can become pretentiousness, and lack of commercial appeal can be an excuse for lack of appeal, period. Case in point: Common One, a turgid attempt to recreate Astral Weeks that delivers six snooze-worthy tracks over fifty-five minutes. Saxophonist Pee Wee Ellis adds a little life to Haunts of Ancient Peace.
31. You Win Again (2000)

 You've got to give credit to Linda Gail Lewis, who sings with the same Southern grit as her more famous brother, Jerry Lee; it takes brass to sing alongside a voice as robust and familiar as Morrison's for forty-two minutes. Still, the two seemed to think rollicking old songs from Bo Diddley, John Lee Hooker, and Jerry Lee himself would work as duets between two old people. It turns out they do not.
30. Hard Nose the Highway (1973)

Here's a phrase that should inspire suspicion: "complete creative control." Morrison cut this record in a home studio, sequestered from record-label influences, so no one could tell him an ode to fall weather didn't need to be ten minutes long, or that he'd sound unintentionally hilarious covering Kermit the Frog's famous "Bein' Green."
29. Poetic Champions Compose (1987)
Morrison's whole New Age seeker thing and jazz leanings both get soupy on the ridiculously titled Poetic Champions Compose. Though "Did Ye Get Healed" and "Queen of the Slipstream" contain a few fine "Into the Mystic"-isms, the melodies seem paced for a supermarket's PA.  

28. Irish Heartbeat (1988)
Irish singer/songwriter Morrison teamed up with Celtic band The Chieftains for an album of traditional Irish songs called Irish Heartbeat. If that sounds corny, that's only because it is. While a bunch of supremely talented Irish guys playing national standards like "Star of the County Down" and "She Moved Through the Fair" is never a bad thing, this primer of Celtic-ism doesn't tap far into either party's range.

27. Hymns to the Silence (1991)
Oddly, Morrison didn't seem to have any big plans when he cut his first double album. Hymns to the Silence is just a velvety double dose of the remembering-days-of-old-this and deep-spiritual-craving-that that had been making it onto every release. I can't say he does anything wrong, but I'm also hard-pressed to remember any unique detail about it an hour after listening to it.

26. Back on Top (1999)
An R&B-ish album set at a toe-tapping pace, Back on Top is fairly nondescript within Morrison's catalogue, even if this style has always fitted Morrison like a glove. The standout track, "Precious Time," puts some rhythm to the realization that death is certain.

25. A Period of Transition (1977)
Returning after two years of writer's block, Morrison seemed to tell fans not to get too excited with a title like A Period of Transition. The album is slow, smooth, and well-crafted, but lacks the primal energy of the work he was putting out just five years prior. Still, The Eternal Kansas City has a great hook.

24. How Long Has This Been Going On? (1996)
Morrison once spent a pleasant afternoon performing a handful of his old songs and some jazz and pre-rock pop standards with a band of longtime friends. Venerable jazz label Verve put out the recordings, with no second takes or overdubs. How Long Has This Been Going On? is, by design, nothing spectacular, but it's obvious songs like "Blues in the Night" and "That's Life" are close to Morrison's heart.

23. A Sense of Wonder (1985)
There is some impressively heady stuff on A Sense of Wonder — Blake quotes, mysticism, a reference to French wordsmith-cum-arms dealer Arthur Rimbaud put into a catchy chorus — but musically, it's mercilessly slow and basic. Even the crescendos come in expected places.

22. Wavelength (1978)
Every '60s rock star who made it to the late '70s has one unfortunate synthesizer album to show for it (think Trans or In Through the Out Door), even the generally organic Morrison. There are some mighty, uproarious songs on Wavelength, particularly the title track and Kingdom Hall, so at times you can ignore or forgive the off-putting buzzing of the machinery (played on some tracks by Garth Hudson of The Band, who really should have known better).

21. Tell Me Something: The Songs of Mose Allison (1996)
Morrison's other one-day recording for Verve consists of covers of jazz pianist/singer/songwriter Mose Allison (with Allison present). Again, he sets the bar low, but by the end of the disc, Morrison and friends make a convincing case that Allison is a man of talent and wit. I'm pretty sure "Benediction," covered here, is a tribute to masturbation. ("There's just one thing baby / That comes from above / When push comes to shove / Thank God for self love.")

20. What's Wrong With This Picture? (2003)
Morrison got as throwbacky as he's ever gotten on What's Wrong With This Picture? On songs like "Evening in June" and "Once in a Blue Moon," he shows great ease with a format that doesn't veer far from classic vocal jazz, and proves he totally could have ruled a old-timey nightclub, even if the songs don't have much of his unique stamp on them.

19. His Band and the Street Choir (1970)
His Band and the Street Choir features the same warm alchemy of R&B, jazz, and folk as Moondance, but having delivered Moondance just nine months prior, Morrison evidently didn't have much left in the can. The opening Domino is an energetic soul romp, and the closing Street Choir recaptures Moondance's sweet full-band liveliness. Everything in between sounds exasperated.

18. Magic Time (2005)
Still working with a lite-jazz backing that makes an hour-long album a bit of a test in patience, Morrison nonetheless shows he's still in the game as a songwriter on Magic Time. His odes to isolation, "Stranded" and "Just like Greta," are some of his strongest compositions of the '00s. Also, he finds a spirit animal on "The Lion This Time."

17. Keep It Simple (2008)
Much about Magic Time also applies to its successor, Keep It Simple. The tempo rarely speeds up much, but if you're patient, you can hear Morrison get mean with the world at large on School of Hard Knocks, and give his manifesto on the power of music on "That's Entrainment."

16. Enlightenment (1990)
Even if the title track was named in irony ("enlightenment, don't know what it is"), Morrison does find a deep sense of reflective calm on Enlightenment. But it's a calm with spirit, embodied in the way he jumps all over himself to sing the lines "so quiet in here, so peaceful in here" on one track.

15. Days Like This (1995)
On Days Like This, lyrics seem secondary. (Did he really just say "Call me rain check" in the chorus of one song? What does that even mean?) But the title track is his most catchy single since "Jackie Wilson Said," and though there isn't much to it but a strong melody and some optimistic lyrics, it became an anthem for the Northern Ireland peace process.

14. Pay the Devil (2006)
Having mined jazz, blues, early rock and roll, pre-rock pop, Irish folk, and some of his own greatest hits to keep up his nearly album-a-year schedule, Morrison turned to vintage country. Everything about Pay the Devil is lovingly familiar, from the songs of Hank Williams and Bill Anderson to the replication of the classic Nashville sound to a voice that hasn't changed in forty years. But Morrison moving out of his usual range of genres was enough to make things more interesting than usual.

13. Too Long in Exile (1993)
Morrison hates overdubs or any form of self-editing. This is especially noticeable on Too Long in Exile, a messy seventy-seven-minute effort on which Georgie Fame's Hammond organ simmers long and slow through every track. It features everything from a Yeats poem set to music to a rerecording of Gloria with John Lee Hooker. It's good, but some self-control could have made it great.

12. Avalon Sunset (1989)
If you ask me, Morrison's best song is not "loria or Brown-Eyed Girl" or "Moondance" or anything off Astral Weeks; it's "Orangefield," a blip of a single released a good decade after his classic period. With a sweeping orchestra working in perfect cahoots with one jangley guitar, it tells of one long-remembered sunny afternoon, and it's Morrison doing only what Morrison can do: searing his own lucid memories into the mind of a listener through sublime force of will. The rest of Avalon Sunset is typical '80s Morrison, except for "Have I Told You Lately?," an unexpected rush for Barry Manilow territory. I hate it. Wedding DJs love it.

11. No Guru, No Method, No Teacher (1986)
We're lucky no church ever snagged Morrison for long. No proselytizer would never be able to utilize the Book of Genesis with as much ease and beauty as Morrison does in In the Garden. His most overtly spiritual album is deeply felt and sturdily written.

10. Blowin' Your Mind (1967)
Morrison's debut contains his most palpable hit, the ubiquitous Brown-Eyed Girl, but T.B. Sheets, a nine-minute dispatch from a lover's sickbed (which also happens to be a killer blues guitar workout) showed he was already aiming for something more lofty than pop gold. The rest fits into his short-lived group Them's excellent proto-garage sound.

9. Down the Road (2002)
Just when some cigar-breathed record executive was probably trying to get him to do a Supernatural-style monstrosity with guest appearances by Nelly Furtado and Moby, Morrison dropped this superb disc, the best from his easygoing nostalgia period. Down the Road includes a handful of songs, including "Hey Mr. DJ" and Meet Me in the Indian Summer, that count as some of the best straightforward soul-rock he has ever recorded.

8. Beautiful Vision (1982)
Morrison and George Harrison are the only songwriters to make stirring music out of vague, pantheistic concepts of God. This aspect of his work is central to Beautiful Vision. Dweller on the Threshold and Aryan Mist are two of his most sublime songs, while "Cleaning Windows" (really about cleaning windows) and Vanlose Staircase (a tribute to an actual staircase) find the transcendental in everyday life.

7. The Healing Game (1997)
After a few unambitious efforts, the pilgrim-poet in Morrison briefly roared back to life here. Everything about The Healing Game is meaty, from the swinging saxophones and bellowing backup singers to the deep human sentiment of Sometimes We Cry to nearly apocalyptic visions of Rough God Goes Riding and The Burning Ground (which Morrison delivers with assertiveness). Yes, the older Morrison is stylistically unadventurous. But The Healing Game shows the power of substance over style.

6. Saint Dominic's Preview (1972)
Though opened by the irresistibly bouncy single Jackie Wilson Said, Saint Dominic's Preview was Morrison's first attempt at a new Astral Weeks and the closest he ever came to achieving it. He stumbles a bit on the two ten-minute-plus numbers, but it's great to hear him once again so taken by the powers of his raw consciousness and the mechanics of his acoustic guitar. On the title track, a cityscape painted in lyrical hues borrowed from Blonde on Blonde, everyone in the band really works for their paycheck.

5. Into the Music (1979)
As a bandleader, Morrison has a knack for making dozen-person groups sound like one well-trained beast with twenty-four arms. There's no better example than Into the Music. That's Ry Cooder on Full Force Gale, but you'd never know a flashy slide guitarist was on board, since the track is so overall thick and energetic. The second half features some of Morrison's most dizzying displays as a vocalist.

4. Veedon Fleece (1974)
After Morrison and his first wife divorced, he (of course) holed up and wrote a wounded-sounding album of catharsis. Also in accordance with rock cliché, that album turned out to be one of the best, most emotionally charged entries in his catalogue. Just like Blood on the Tracks or Rumours, Veedon Fleece is as filled with mixed, sometimes contradictory emotions. Morrison bubbles over with residual warmth in "Bulbs," but croons through his loneliness on "Who Was That Masked Man?" The best track is "Streets of Arklow," which turns his obsession with getting lost in his surroundings into a soul-kicking feeling of autonomy, driven home by a forlorn recorder.

3. Tupelo Honey (1971)
With Tupelo Honey, Morrison proved he could sing American rhythm and blues better than most actual Americans, be it on a song as gentle as "Old Woodstock" or as frenzied as "Moonshine Whisky." "Wild Night," an ode to the power of rhythm itself, is one of his crown jewels, and if there's any part of your emotional makeup that can be moved by a love-struck pop song, the title track (in which he literally sings about something sappy) should do the trick. There's a emotional undercurrent to every song on Tupelo Honey, which puts it ahead of the albums on which Morrison merely showed a black-belt mastery of this sound.

2. Moondance (1970)
"We were born before the wind / Also younger than the sun," Morrison croons in the opening of his seminal "Into the Mystic." From the lunar fever of the title track to the summer rain recalled in "And It Stoned Me," Moondance is full of references to the power of nature. The album itself seems like an elemental force, a whirlwind of jazzy saxophones, soulful vocals, and acoustic guitars purring like cicadas. The above-mentioned songs are standouts, but for thirty-eight minutes and fourteen seconds, Moondance doesn't miss a single beat, showing twenty-five-year-old Morrison as the master of a vast domain of modernized Celtic folk and Anglicized jazz and R&B. 

1. Astral Weeks (1968)
Kept out of the studio for months due to a dispute with his former label, Morrison had a backlog of great material, when he finally scored three sessions with some jazz session musicians in New York City in the fall of 1968. The eight free-flowing tracks of Astral Weeks bear no marks of era or genre. The lyrics effortlessly move between memory, thought, and passion, but most importantly, you can feel them. When Morrison sings of "the slipstream between the viaducts of your dream where immobile steel rims crack," he doesn't sound like a poetry student trying to wow a professor, but a man lost on some psychic plane, trying to navigate his way home. There are a lot of descriptive details on Astral Weeks, and it wouldn't fully articulate their effect to say Morrison made Cypress Avenue seem like a real place or Madame George like a real person. He did one better and made them both seem like they forever exist in some dream state accessible only through listening to a record. If Dylan hadn't already, Astral Weeks proved rock could be as literary as beatnik poetry, because only rock and roll could light words on fire the way Morrison did here.

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Newcastle City Hall - July 27, 1973

Vintagerock's Weblog is an absolutely brilliant blog.  Here's one British guy's commitment to concert going since the late 1960s spelled out for all to see.  I keep thinking how can this guy (aka Peter) afford this obsession?  That's only a part of my jealousy.  It seems he's been to several thousand shows in those 45 years.  Van entries are scarce but he remains pretty positive abut the Man.  You've got to check this brilliant blog out.  Here's one Van concert described.  

Van Morrison & The Caledonia Soul Orchestra Newcastle City Hall July 27, 1973

I first saw Van Morrison at the Newcastle City Hall in 1973. He had just created The Caledonia Soul Orchestra which is often considered to be “one of the tightest performing backup groups of the 1970s” (Wikipedia). This was, without any doubt, one of the greatest gigs I have ever witnessed. The concert was put on by local promoter Geoff Docherty and his Filmore North organisation, and it cost me all of 60p to sit at the back of the hall and witness one of the greatest singers and performers I have ever seen.
Van sang with such passion and soul that night. I’ve seen him several times since this concert, but nothing has come close to matching that performance. The tour was captured on the live lp: Its Too Late to Stop Now, some of which was recorded at a show at London’s Rainbow Theatre, which took place just a couple of days before the Newcastle gig. The Rainbow Theatre gig was voted by Q Magazine readers as one of the top live performances of all time. Morrison was going through a divorce at the time and it is often said that his selection of material and impassioned performances were evidence of his inner turmoil.
“I would say that that tour represented the height of his confidence as a performer,” band member John Platania remarked”, and the resultant double live album is considered as representing Van Morrison at his peak. I can picture him now, singing great versions of Here Comes the Night and Gloria.

Everything about that show was perfect. The band was tight, the string section added a depth to the songs, Van was singing great, and more importantly he was clearly enjoying himself, and the crowd were up for it. We knew we were witnessing something special. If I had a time machine and could go back and relive a handful of gigs this would be one of them. I next saw Van at one or two festivals, including Knebworth, but didn’t catch up with him again at the City Hall until 1979. By then Morrison was moving in a more pop oriented direction.  I still enjoyed the gig, but the power and passion of the early 70s was lacking.

John Collis comments that “with the magnificent Caledonia Soul Orchestra on song Morrison came of age as a magnetic stage performer, culminating in the release of the double set It’s Too Late to Stop Now one of the most impressive of all attempts to squeeze the stage excitement of a rock performer on to vinyl.” (Collis, Inarticulate Speech on the Heart). So today I’ll think a little of that amazing 1973 concert, and look forward to the next time I have the chance to see Van Morrison, who for a couple of hours simply had me spellbound in the City Hall all those years ago.

The setlist from the Van Morrison Rainbow Theatre London concert of July 24, 1973: Warm Love; Take your Hands Out Of My Pocket; Here Comes The Night; I Just Want To Make Love To You; Brown Eyed Girl; Moonshine Whiskey; Moondance; Help Me; Domino; Caravan; Cyprus Avenue; Wild Night; I Paid The Price; Saint Dominic’s Preview; Gloria.
The Caledonia Soul Orchestra Line Up: Van Morrison – vocals; John Platania – guitar; Jeff Labes – keyboards; Jack Schroer – saxophones; Bill Atwood – trumpet; David Hayes – bass; Dahaud Shaar – drums; Terry Adams – cello; Nancy Ellis – viola; Tom Halpin – violin; Tim Kovatch – violin; Nathan Rubin – violin.

Saturday, 4 January 2014

Common One (1980) by Paolo Hewitt

Paolo Hewitt's review on the Caught by the River site is pretty interesting.  Common One is an album I really like (but then again I like everything Van!). A lot of people have dissed the album but I think it's great.  Here's most of  Paolo's review.  Click above for the full length version Paolo's post.

 Won’t you meet me in the country...

Common One (1980) is an absolute classic. Certainly, nature has never gripped a songwriter – or indeed Van – so vividly or so tightly. Nearly every song is set in the countryside, relates to the countryside, and is about the countryside.
For Van, nature is many things. On Haunts Of Ancient Peace it is a conduit into the past, a place of great relief, where love and light create the void where words do not exist. On Summertime In England it is where the poets Wordsworth and Coleridge meet and go smoking poetry. It is where his love in red robes rides down by Avalon and there is Van asking to meet her in the long grass, to enter nature as one. 

On Satisfied, the album’s out and out r’n’b gem, he opens up the song ‘walking up that mountainside.’ On the sublime Wild Honey, he urges his lover to open her arms and greet him in the early morning light. And on the experimental When Heart Is Open he asks time and time again, ‘hand me down my old great coat, I think I’ll go walking in the woods.’
Sex plays no part in this album. Van’s only desire is to respond to nature’s mystery and utter beauty. This is an album of the soul not an album of desire, a deep and holy music designed to evolve in the way nature does, that is, in brilliant and unexpected ways.

One of the album’s many triumphs is the overriding sense it gives of a band following the music wherever it goes, just as on a long hike into unknown territory you have no idea of the beauty that awaits you just around the bend.
Summertime In England is the perfect example. It begins with a drum beat, establishes a rhythm and an urgency which is simply compelling. The band maintain the groove until quite unexpectedly orchestral strings enter like a late guest at a party and signal the end of phase one.

The band then move into another gear before taking off again. But there is more, a church organ, another change in time and space which allows Van and the band to slowly strip away everything until there is just him standing on a hill asking can you hear the silence, can you hear the silence?

Furthermore, I think this Van’s best sung album. That is because the music demands he use that great vocal talent as an instrument as much as a method of conveying words, images. Often in this work of such great stature Van plays his voice off against Pee Wee Ellis’s brilliant saxophone playing or Mark Isham’s deliberate evocation of the Miles Davis’s trumpet sound, circa Kind Of Blue.

Fittingly, this wonderful album was recorded in a monastery, the Super Bear studios, located in the South of France. Guitarist Mick Cox refers to it’s recording as ‘highly charged’ and states that the rehearsals for the album (which took place in the dying months of 1979) actually yielded better versions than saw the light of day.

Overdubs etc were added in America and it was released in September of 1980. I was 23 years old at the time and not ready for it. I was a City Boy and full of attitude. I would have to wait many years to be ready for this masterpiece. The same could be said of many others. NME for example called it, ‘colossally smug and cosmically dull; an interminable, vacuous and drearily egotistical stab at spirituality”.  It was only later on that the great writer Lester Bangs started to say, you know what boys, this album might just well be something very special indeed.

Apparently, Van reacted badly to the critical dismissal of this album and you can see his point. To create a work of such magnitude, to create a music that demands the very best in terms of imagination and playing and commitment, and to be dismissed so easily, got to hurt, got to hurt bad.

Common One reached 68 in the UK charts and disappeared.

Time now to enter the silence and retrieve Common One.