Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Van Morrison in the Dutch Charts

The Netherlands has always had a strong Van following.  According to the wonderful statistics site Vanomatic, Van has played Netherlands 121 times.  For the original source for the information below click on Van Morrison in the Dutch Charts .

Brown Eyed Girl (1967)   -   peak - 12, weeks on chart - 7
Domino (1971)   -   peak - 22, weeks on chart - 2
Spanish Rose (1971)   -   peak - 18, weeks on chart - 3
Wild Night (1971)   -   peak - 24, weeks on chart - 2
Bright Side Of The Road (1979)   -   peak - 48, weeks on chart - 1
Have I Told You Lately (1989)   -   peak - 14, weeks on chart - 13
Orangefield  (1989)   -   peak - 70, weeks on chart - 6
Gloria (with John Lee Hooker) (1993)   -   peak - 37, weeks on chart - 4
Precious Time (1999)   -   peak - 96, weeks on chart - 3
Hey Mister DJ (2002)   -   peak - 91, weeks on chart - 4


Moondance (1970)   -   peak - 9, weeks on chart - 5
St Dominic's Preview (1972)   -   peak - 10, weeks on chart - 2
Wavelength (1978)   -   peak - 50 weeks on chart - 1
Into The Music (1979)   -   peak - 33, weeks on chart - 2
Beautiful Vision (1982)   -   peak - 25, weeks on chart - 9
Inarticulate Speech Of The Heart (1983)   -   peak - 14, weeks on chart - 5
Live At The Grand Opera House Belfast (1984)   -   peak - 50, weeks - 1
A Sense Of Wonder (1985)   -   peak - 30, weeks on chart - 3
No Guru, No Method, No Teacher (1986)   -   peak - 30, weeks on chart - 8
Poetic Champions Compose (1987)   -   peak - 13, weeks on chart - 7
Irish Heartbeat (1988)  -  peak - 35, weeks on chart - 7
Avalon Sunset (1989)  -  peak - 8, weeks on chart - 25
The Best Of (1990)  -  peak - 13, weeks on chart - 15
Enlightenment (1990)  -  peak - 33, weeks on chart - 8
Hymns To The Silence (1991)  -  peak - 34, weeks on chart - 7
The Best Of Volume Two (1993)  -  peak - 38, weeks on chart - 5
Too Long In Exile (1993)  -  peak - 21, weeks on chart - 15
A Night In San Francisco (1994)  -  peak - 39, weeks on chart - 15
Days Like This (1995)  -  peak - 33, weeks on chart - 10
How Long Has This Been Going On (1996)  -  peak - 81, weeks on chart - 4
The Healing Game (1997)  -  peak - 29, weeks on chart - 11
The Philosopher's Stone (1998)  -  peak - 80, weeks on chart - 3
Back On Top (1999)  -  peak - 21, weeks on chart - 11
The Skiffle Sessions Live In Belfast (2000)  -  peak - 99, weeks on chart - 1
You Win Again (2000)  -  peak - 94, weeks on chart -  3 
Down The Road (2002)  -  peak - 13, weeks on chart - 15
What's Wrong With This Picture? (2003)  -  peak - 13, weeks on chart - 15
Magic Time (2005)  -  peak - 10, weeks on chart - 16
Pay The Devil (2006)  -  peak - 31, weeks on chart - 8
At The Movies - Soundtrack Hits (2007)  -  peak - 16, weeks on chart - 12
The Best Of Volume 3 (2007)  -  peak - 89, weeks on chart - 2
Still On Top - The Greatest Hits (2007)  -  peak - 25, weeks on chart - 24
Keep It Simple (2008)  -  peak - 12, weeks on chart - 12
Astral Weeks: Live (2009)  -  peak - 31, weeks on chart - 10
Born To Sing: No Plan B (2012)  -  peak - 20, weeks on chart - 8 

Sunday, 20 April 2014

A Few More Fan Stories

Memories can be tricky things.  Just get a load of some of the following gems, particularly item number 1. 

Roger Kirkpatrick   -   My cousin recently met Van Morrison aboard a cruise ship(?!?). She told him that one of her all-time favourite songs was Brown-Eyed Girl. Van told her that as a young boy he had a female dog that had one blue eye and one brown eye, and that he wrote Brown-Eyed Girl for that dog. I had heard that story behind the song before, but this is the first time I had heard of Van telling the story himself.

J.R.   -   I first saw Van at Portsmouth Guildhall in early 1979 (around January/February) , when he was touring to promote his latest album Wavelength. I’d never seen Van before and actually drove from Preston to Portsmouth that evening to see the gig – and then drove all the way back again after. I don’t recall the setlist, but it seems likely it would have been similar to the gig he played in Belfast on 1st February 1979 – Moondance. Checkin’ It Out, Moonshine Whiskey, Tupelo Honey, Wavelength, Saint Dominic’s Preview, Don’t Look Back, I’ve Been Working, Gloria,Cyprus Avenue.

I don’t recall who was in the band either, although on the Wavelength album musicians included our very own Herbie Armstrong -Van played electric piano on the track “Hungry For Your Love” (which also featured in the1982 film “An Officer and a Gentleman” accompanied by Herbie on acoustic guitar.
Also on the recording were Garth Hudson from The Band, Bobby Tench from Roger Chapman’s Streetwalkers, and Peter Bardens, who played with Van in Belfast with Them and later formed Camel. Van also appeared at the Guildhall on 6th November 1984. I know ‘cos I bootlegged it! Band then was Richie Buckley on sax, Kenny Craddock on keyboards, Jerome Rimson on bass, Martin Drover on trumpet, Arty McGlynn on guitar and Terry Popple on drums.
He was at The Hexagon, Reading on 8th May 1988 with The Chieftains ( a GREAT gig!) Southampton on 14th October 1989 too – I still have my ticket stub, and bootlegged both gigs.  After that I’ve seen Van quite a few times, including about nine nights one after the other when he toured with Bob Dylan on a double header U.K tour in 1998, but that first gig at The Guildhall in 1979 will always be very special to me.

Norman Seeff  (photographer for Van Morrison’s 1979  album, Into the Music)   -   I met with him at his home in Northern California and he took me on a crazy drive in his Porsche as we listened to the album.

But by the end of the day the quixotic artist expressed doubts about using his image on the album cover. Seeff turned to a mutual friend, who had played violin on one of Morrison’s previous records, for help. She assembled a makeshift band in a studio near Morrison’s home. This is going to be fun, I told him,” says Seeff. I explained he didn’t have to do anything special—just play music. Morrison wound up performing for three hours, leading the band through much of his monumental catalogue. It was an amazing jam session, recalls Seeff, who brought along a small film crew. He was in the zone. I believe it’s one of the great pieces of music captured on film.

Terence Dackombe   -   Van Morrison is a noted curmudgeon who rarely fails to deliver. Numerous examples exist of his boorish unaccommodating behaviour.  His excruciating lack of manners when being interviewed by Nicky Horne on Capital Radio in the 1970s has become quite legendary, and I witnessed a similar bout of petulance from him, when I accompanied a presenter from BBC Radio London to a gig where she was due to introduce Van Morrison.

Just before going on stage, she asked Morrison how he would like to be introduced and he simply shrugged his shoulders and scowled.  She walked on, reminded people to take their belongings and rubbish home with them (the gig was in a park) and said, Ladies and gentlemen… Van Morrison!

As they passed each other Morrison screwed up his face and yelled Ya didn’t mention my band!

Warren Ellis   -   I saw a TV interview in which Lonnie Donegan (the secret font of rock’n'roll) explained how Van Morrison basically issued instructions for the Belfast gigs that would become the SKIFFLE SESSIONS album. “And no overdubs.” 

And it’s Van Morrison, the old monster himself, who gets caught out by the no-overdubs rule. Because halfway through I Wanna Go Home, Lonnie Donegan opens up his pipes and reminds everyone that he’s Lonnie Donegan and he can blow the doors off the room if he feels like it, gets a round of applause at the end of his bit and that and Van Morrison realising he has to follow that has the old monster cracking up on mic.
Jeff Schrembs   -   The King of Rock (Elvis Presley) and the King of Soul (James Brown) knew each other, respected each other, and were friendly with one another. Back in 1966 Elvis went to a performance of Jackie Wilson and George Klein.  George Klein introduced Elvis to James Brown. Interestingly in the same audience were Van Morrison and members of The Rolling Stones and Buffalo Springfield.

Jesse Kornbluth   -   In l968, I lived in Cambridge, Massachusetts, just down the block from Van Morrison. Whenever we passed one another on the street, I would nod. Morrison would just stare. Or glare. "Unpleasant," I concluded. I have seen Van Morrison in concert many times over the past 40-odd years. I have never had to reconsider this opinion. Van Morrison is one chilly, angry guy.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Astal Weeks Live: a Fan's Notes

Shannon Vale's book Astral Weeks Live: a Fan's Notes and her Follow Shannon website are a must for any Van Fans.  The book chronicles her one year attending 23 Van concerts.  It begins in November 2008 when Van launched the year of Astral Weeks Live, performing the songs from his critically acclaimed 1968 album Astral Weeks. The first two shows were the ones at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles on November 7 and 8, 2008 that gave birth to the live album and the now rare DVD.  The Astral Live concerts ended 12 months later at the MGM Grand in Connecticut.

Check out the website and buy a signed copy of the book.  Of particular interest is the fact that Ms Vale is releasing her Van Morrison Chronicles in instalments on her website.  The Chronicles component is her unreleased biographical book project about Van. 

The book has been culled from her concert reviews, blog posts, and discussions with the fans.  (Almost as famous in Van circles as game show contestant Pat Corley's moleskine notebook!) It also includes essays on the eight songs that make up Astral Weeks.

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Top 10 Love Songs by Van Morrison

Just when you thought you needed another music list we have the Top 10 Love Songs by Van Morrison according to someone called JG. 

Top 10 Love Songs by Van Morrison
Van Morrison's bluesy, soulful love songs make him one of rock's greatest singer-songwriter's of all time. His songs sometimes come across written by a tormented soul who has insight into the object of his affection without her knowledge or as a man starring into his lover's eyes entwined with passion. Morrison's lyrics give women hope for men who lack his poetic prowess the world over. He goes way, way deep and it's impossible not to be sucked into the emotion he is tapping into when you hear the emotion his voice brings out. The images Morrison produces creates a feeling in his listeners with a sound as soothing as it is stirring to the soul. Van Morrison's music will live on forever as classics yet contemporary in sound and meaning. Here is an attempt at his top ten love songs.

1. Someone Like You from Poetic Champions Compose, 1987
A love song with pure optimism for the weary, lonely-hearted who think they will never find someone as well as those who are already in love with someone. All feels possible when we find the right person.

2. Into the Mystic from Moondance, 1970
This song reaches out and captures your heart as it reaches it's climactic chorus. These words and this song should be preserved for THE love of a lifetime. Yet there's something hidden that tells you this love was not meant to last forever.

3. Crazy Love from Moondance, 1970 

The gospel of love pours out of Van Morrison and exists for us all to worship. Crazy Love is one of those songs that takes over your mind and spirit when you hear it. You just want to spend the day in bed with your lover once the song grabs hold.

4. I'll Be Your Lover Too from His Band and the Street Choir, 1970
Dark with raw emotion that makes you want to weep at it's plea. This song reaches depths that not many others in music do. Stirring up feelings that keep you awake until sunlight, I'll Be Your Lover Too is magical.

5. Tupelo Honey from Tupelo Honey, 1971
Although it seems to have a simple message, when you listen closely to the words it's more like a song of two lovers against the rest of world, escaping something or someone attempting to hold them back from one another.
6. Sweet Thing from Astral Weeks, 1968

Songwriters and poets the world over wish they could write a song like Sweet Thing. The lyrics ring true to anyone who has suffered from love. A beautiful treasure.

7. Moondance from Moondance, 1970
Much commercial success doesn't take away from the appeal for love. One of the more upbeat love songs, Moondance paints a classic portrait.

8. Steal My Heart Away from Down the Road, 2002
A practical love song that offers the romance through imagery that only Morrison can do.

 9. Have I Told You Lately that I Love You from Avalon Sunset, 1989 

One of the most popular love songs of all time. A song of old love that brings peace of mind to those who have been in a long relationship. 

10. Brown Eyed Girl from Blowin' Your Mind, 1967

There's not much better than young love. Brown Eyed Girl has to be one of the best anthems of young lovers around the world - rightly so.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Van in Glastonbury 2007

Below are some of Voiceover Bob's recollections of Van's 2007 appearance at Glastonbury Abbey .....

Glastonbury – Van Morrison & Corinne Bailey Rae   

Day one of the three-day Glastonbury Abbey Musical Extravaganza, a sort of extension to the famous festival that had taken place in Michael Eavis’s muddy fields a couple of weeks before. This was, you might say, his more genteel version of the real Glastonbury music festival, this one being held in the grounds of the ruins of Glastonbury Abbey at the heart of this ancient Somerset town. The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra were playing on the Saturday evening, with Ray Davies (formerly of The Kinks) performing on the Sunday night. But we were all geared up for Friday night’s stars, Corinne Bailey Rae and the mighty Van Morrison.

When the gate opened we all entered in an orderly fashion, to be greeted by a longish walk through the abbey grounds to the concert stage. There was a great atmosphere already building — the warm sun added to the festival feel. It wasn’t long before we were pitching our chairs in the middle-front of the stage and being surrounded by other folks setting up their chairs and picnic tables, many complete with table-cloths, bottles of champagne, candle-holders and full meals! It was all terribly “British”.
I popped off to photograph the magnificent ruins of Glastonbury Abbey, set in 36 acres of parkland. The concert brochure tells us: It was at the abbey in 1191 that the monks sought and found the remains of King Arthur and his Queen Guinevere. Their bones were reburied in 1278 inside the abbey church. They remained there until the abbey was vandalised after Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries and no-one has seen or heard of them since.
As legend has it, the abbey was also the first Christian sanctuary in Britain and was visited by Joseph of Arimathea, Saint David and Saint Patrick. Many believe that the Holy Thorn tree that can be seen in the grounds originated from Joseph of Arimathea’s staff, and others are convinced that King Arthur was really buried there.  

Back to the concert  -  After Corinne’s set, the crowd was full of anticipation. And then, suddenly, Van The Man was on stage. In contrast to Corinne’s friendly banter, Van just got right on with it — no “hello,” no introduction to the songs and virtually no gaps between them. I’d never seen Van live before but I’d heard he could be, shall we say, a little terse. Grumpy, even. But the audience didn’t care — we all went wild. By the third song, I was a total convert. There was something in his voice that made me want to cry with a peculiarly overwhelming joy. People jumped up and down and danced with abandon, me included. Personally, I found it a remarkably engaging experience.  

Tell you what, though — he looked mighty impressive up there, stocky bloke that he is in his hat, dark glasses and suit. He carries them well. I should look so good in 2017. His career spans four decades and we all know so many of his songs from radio plays, but there’s so much more to him than those classic hits. He played guitar, harmonica, keyboards and sax, to a mixture of blues, jazz, country music and ballad, some rock ‘n’ roll and all sorts. Some I knew, many I didn’t. But I loved ‘em all. At one point, after a particular favourite with the audience, we thought he was actually conversing with us when he turned to his band and said, “Result.” And then, rather gruffly,”What do you want me to do? What do you want me to do?” We all started shouting out the titles of our favourite songs. But he was only shouting the next song title at the band. He sounded a bit miffed about something.

Fireworks. The band played on, and on, with barely time to gather breath between songs. Before we knew it, the best part of two hours had passed, and Van was finished. While the band still played and the guitarist shouted “Mr. Van Morrison!” several times, he walked off the stage to wild applause. I looked behind me. Everyone was standing now, little twinkly lights from glowsticks, candles, torches and flashing necklaces showing here and there amongst the crowds of smiling faces that stretched off into the darkness back towards the ruins of the abbey, lit up with gentle greens and blues. It looked magical.

Then he came back and did Gloria as an encore and we shouted ourselves hoarse doing the chorus. He wandered off again leaving the band playing and us singing, and this time he was really gone, leaving without a wave. Apart from a few asides to his band, it seemed like he’d spoken hardly a word — certainly none to us. But do you know what? I forgive him. Seeing him live, I understand now that all he needs to do to communicate is sing. Why bother talking? Give ‘em the music, that’s his policy. And it worked for me — that’s what that joyous shiver was that I felt earlier in the concert: I suddenly really get him, you know? He feels like an old chum I’ve just rediscovered and I want to know all about him. So I’m perusing his back catalogue as I write.

An excellent ten-minute firework display from Dragonfire exploded above our heads to round off a fantastic night.