Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Veedon Fleece - The Fans Speak

Veedon Fleece was Van’s eighth solo studio album and was released in October 1974.  In the year before the album’s release Van broke up with his first wife and visited Ireland shortly thereafter for the first time in six years.  Many of the songs were were written on that trip.  The album didn’t sell well and was a critical failure as well.  Later, Veedon has come to be re-examined and generally declared either “a masterpiece” or “my favourite Van album”.  Here’s what some fans have said:

Weird Brother   -   "Forgotten masterpiece"? Not in this parish. Companion piece to Astral Weeks in stream of consciousness channeled songwriting and off the cuff delivery (plenty choice vocal tics and trademark mannerisms to be had). Journeying westwards as ever, into pastoral Irish tradition, invoking poets -  Blake and the Eternals - and citing metaphysics - discussing Baba, no less - before this became depressingly rote in yer man's oeuvre. Still possible to care about the quest and, lest we gush, get swept away.

Mr Mungbean   -   The greatest voice ever to grace my ears.  Like Astral Weeks the lyrics seem like streams of consciousness, Van's vocals like free jazz and the instrumentation is lush and pastoral. This is not a groovy R'n'B record. This will make a grown man weep.  It's stunning from start to finish.

Lord   -   Possibly, the best recorded singing, music and writing ever to be gifted to mankind by possibly the best poet/singer/composer (on a par with Leonard Cohen, in my mind, and that's saying a lot).  Veedon Fleece is more than an emerald....more than a thousand emeralds.

Count 5   -   An neglected gem of Van Morrison's discography that is overlooked on Van best of's, which is probably a good thing since the albums is probably best appreciated as a whole. An extremely intimate song-cycle, Veedon Fleece is similar in depth and mood to Astral Weeks, but it is no mere imitation. Where as Astral Weeks is a unclassifiable melding of folk, jazz and blues, Veedon Fleece brings Van's love of Irish music and country music to the fore. Veedon is a deliberate, thoughtful and unheralded masterpiece that casts a powerful spell all its own.

Unearth   -   Veedon Fleece happens to be a very personal album for my wife and I and what beautiful music it is. Going back to the meditative song cycle, the format that spun the magic of astral weeks, Van once again plumbs the depths of heart and soul. This is deeply intimate music. A warm embracing cocoon of shared secrets. Geronimo.

Bjenny   -   Warm , pastoral and sad eyed. I just bought it recently after being intrigued by the bad cover for so long! I grew up with Van constantly playing...but my folks never had this for some reason...I wonder why it's never been celebrated like it should have been? Living in the shadows of Astral Weeks cant be easy, but this record sounds like it really doesnt care...it would be spinning in its own parallel universe forever, regardless. For me, the best combination of Van's Celtic mystisism, gentle instramentation and trancendental blues.  
Timregler   -   This is as close as Morrison ever came to recapturing the sound of Astral Weeks.  Not that it was his intention to do that.  Van the Man is never one for looking back.  This is a great album filled with soul.  Check out his emotion in the falsetto Who Was That Masked Man positively gripping.  I also love You Don't Pull No Punches But You Don't Push The River.  You gotta love the title alone, but it's another soul revealing tour de force. 

Rumblefish   -   Astral Weeks is a great album. Veedon Fleece is greater. Simple as that.
Meeballsaque   -   This is my sad album. Sad in a good way. Self pity, battered ego, broken heart and a bottle of whiskey sort of thing. It belongs to a time when I seemed to get dumped rather a lot. This record came to my youthful collection courtesy of my godfather going all cd and getting rid of all his vinyl (something he inevitably came to regret) about the same time I'd bought a recycled Rotel record player. Talk about destiny. Anyway, I adore this album with its rolling piano and haunting recorder.
ListyGuy   -   Not Van’s best, but some good stuff here. Come Here My Love is a great song, and Streets of Arklow is cool. The album also has some strange parts, like the bizarre noises Van makes at the end of Cul de Sac.
Theressomecolors   -   I can't understand what he's saying 50% of the time but I FEEL every bit of it.
40footwolf   -   I've seen Veedon Fleece compared to a more grizzled Astral Weeks multiple times, but it's too structured to really warrant that comparison. Morrison grunts and mutters his way through a collection of soul tunes with Irish folk influences that are sometimes ambitiously composed but frequently don't lead anywhere revelatory. There should be no arguments about the standouts here-Fair PlayStreets of Arkow, You Don't Pull No Punches and Country Fair. Everything else is serviceable but either sounds derivative of past work ("Comfort You") or falters with the concept of lonesome gentility that the album toys with (Who Was That Masked Man).

Berryman   -   Effortlessly cathartic and verbose, Veedon Fleece, sounds like the wiser, road-weary cousin of Astral Weeks. Van's stream of consciousness style speaks descriptively through characters, most notably Linden Arden, a man misunderstood and consumed by his own nature. The beautiful companion piece, Who Was That Masked Man, is helplessly love-struck and yearning for the divine in hopes of reaching one's higher nature; a disquieting utterance to a momentarily bewitched world alive with the prospect of hope and atonement. Vulnerable and unflinchingly stern in its sentimentality, Veedon asks for redemption but falls fittingly short for its own honest pragmatism. Transcendental midnight music for reconciling with fear and desire.
Nervenet   -   I know in my heart of hearts that this is not a great Van Morrison album. And yet, I find that almost any time in the last nine months I've had a craving for Van's music I've gone for this one over any of the other nine or ten Van albums I own. I am not sure I can figure out why, but I think there are a couple reasons. Most of these songs are mildly melancholic, mid-tempo meanders that just sort of drift by in their pretty way and then move along to make way for the next one, but fit perfectly with certain moods.
Rupert Lenz   -   All in all, Veedon Fleece is one big longing for love, peace and harmony... say, a longing for home wherever or whatever it is... a longing of the soul that eventually became so strong it's making the soul arrive there. All those images of nature and fairness and the folky pace of the music are nothing but a help to get there. And the wailing complaints about despair and violence, as their counterparts, are telling you why. This music is pure inspiration that directly made its way into songs, and we're being given the favour of having an experience that there is a higher force and purpose, no matter how far we are from it, or even divided.  If only we can listen we can also have an epiphany.
7_AA_1KS   -   Veedon Fleece is, for me, as coherent a stab as Van would ever make at both a withdrawal from stardom, a quiet meditation on English pastoral themes a la William Blake and simply great songwriting which manages to ebb and flow. For a long time, it was a bit of an overlooked epiphany in the catalog due to its having spawned no significant hit singles or radio-ready themes. Even Bulbs, the single subsequently released to try and boost the albums' sales is tinged with a sardonic bitterness aimed at showbiz cronies in the record business.
Coming off of his divorce with his wife, Van settled down in the countryside and let a simple honest flow of creativity come right out. It's the kind of record you need to be alone with at night when you're trying to find some glimmers of hope in your solitude. It's a look at how superficial much of the seventies were becoming with a back-to-basics straightforwardness that reveals a lot of the ugliness behind the world. Van avoids self-glorifying isolation and pain - he prefers to simply tell the truth to himself through some abstract imagery and calming settings.
SandyMc   -   The overall effect is just daydreamy afternoon. Linden Arden Stole the Highlights has a classic simple melody with its delicate evocative piano motif. The quietly intense “You Don’t Pull No Punches” could be respected as one of his best, and flipping onto side two, Bulbs lifts the mood completely into real country party joy. As for the lyrics, I’ve given up completely on scrutinising him here, I don’t think it’s the point, you’ve just gotta dig the feel man.
Streetmouse   -   Let’s get the bad news, or should I say interesting news, out of the way first ... Van Morrison has never been know for wonderful album covers, matter of fact, his Hard Nose The Highway has to be one of the all time worst covers ever.  I have no idea what he’s trying to convey with this hand-tinted image of himself and two Irish Wolfhounds, harkening back to an era that suggests some sort of antique portrait, rather than a young man attempting to break new musical ground.  Though according to Mr. Morrison, the cover is full of mysticism and suggested meanings, echoing hidden aspects of his life at the time. This is the eighth studio album by Van Morrison, and was recorded shortly after his divorce from Janet Rigsbee.  Both Melody Maker, and Rolling Stone printed quite horrid dismissive reviews.

lanky_caravan   -   Where's Veedon Fleece at Hollywood Bowl?!  Now that would get me excited, for real, actually I would probably have to move out to LA to see that one.  As he had previously done on Astral Weeks, Van completely disregards concerns for being commercial.  It starts off gently with a heart-wrenching performance on Fair Play.  As inscrutable as the lyrics are, a theme arises of loneliness.  Sadly, my fondness for Veedon Fleece has increased almost incrementally with my own loneliness.  Don't know if that's a coincidence, but its true.

Jeeeesus   -   Comparisons with Astral Weeks are optimistic. Linden Arden's niggardly two-and-a-bit minutes have Morrison stretching his vocals to the limit for the first time since "Beside you" in recounting the bizarre tale of a drinkin' man with a penchant for decapitation.  Accompanied by an undulating piano melody that sounds like it was written for a harpsichord, it really is unlike anything else in the Van index.  The other obvious parallel lies in the sparse, fluid final track, as Country Fair takes on the impossible task of emulating "Slim Slow Slider" and nearly measures up.  Two difficulties: Streets of Arklow may have been recorded 30 years ago, but its tremulous whistle had to be as insufferably Oirish.  And what the bejabers is going on at the end of Cul-de-sac?  It sounds like he's rooting for truffles.

Alain Robert   -   This is Van's rural pearl. No good-times Americana as on Tupelo Honey though, but brooding and mysterious introspection, drenched in his Irish roots. Of all Van's albums, Veedon Fleece comes closest to his mystic masterpiece, Astral Weeks.

Kurt Harding   -   Veedon Fleece was one of the Van Morrison recordings I missed in the mid-70s. Along with Astral Weeks, Veedon Fleece is generally held to be one of the most inaccessible and mystical works in the Morrison canon. But despite the similarities and the near reverence with which the earlier Astral Weeks is regarded, I think that Veedon Fleece is a much better album. While Astral Weeks can be rambling and flaccid, Veedon Fleece is tighter and more focused.

Van involved with dog fighting?
B. E. Jackson   -   Veedon Fleece almost demands to be mentioned in the same sentence as Astral Weeks. Both albums sound really personal to me, and both albums feel like they were written in such a carefully planned kind of way as a means for listeners to become really attached to them.

Angeline   -   I came of age through Van Morrison, and, in particular 'Veedon Fleece' when it first came out. At that time I found it intoxicating, deep, and inspiring. This album and 'Astral Weeks' were on the top of my list of favourites.

Kari   -   This is one Van Morrison record that seems to have gotten better with age. When it first came out, and for many years after, it seemed that Veedon Fleece did not get its due as a great record. The objectivity of hindsight reveals that Veedon Fleece certainly belongs with Astral Weeks, Moondance, His Band and Streetchoir, Tupelo Honey and St. Dominic's Preview as Van's greatest work.

Fire Boyon   -   Van's voice is often echoing, sustained, never coming down. At his best there is no other that can convey the spirit within. Haunting ballads. Never disappointing.

S. Kennedy   -   I think it is a better album than Astral Weeks.
Msnvwls   -   The album on which the artistic flowering began on Astral Weeks came full circle, Veedon Fleece was Morrison's last record for three years. It's also one of the more subtly heartbreaking records ever made, recorded shortly after his divorce with Janet Planet and imbuing Weeks' introspective stream-of-consciousness with a sadness that stood in stark contrast to his recent hits like Jackie Wilson Said, Tupelo Honey and Moondance. Easing the listener into its particular, understated frequency with the low-key but deeply soulful Fair Play, Fleece unfolds slowly, preferring intimate compositions that highlight the breadth of Morrison's range as a singer and his sultry, vulnerable side: while tracks like Who Was That Masked Man allow him to be laid bare, a more impenetrable composition like the Irish folk tale "Linden Arden Stole the Highlights" is imbued with a sense of sadness by the mournful melody and Morrison's breathtaking vocal performance (arguably the best he ever gave).
Amoux   -   Beautifully delicate, but to be painfully honest I found it to be incredibly boring. I expected so much more, and I can't sit here pretending that I'm enjoying this drab. The main problem is that Veedon Fleece has nothing which to me is that memorable. Van Morrison's voice, which I've never had a problem with is becoming increasingly annoying. His performance on Who Was That Masked Man is excruciating.  

Warthur   -   Veedon Fleece finds Van Morrison vocally returning to the stream of consciousness approach that was so distinctive on Astral Weeks, but this time set against a solid folk rock musical backdrop, often resorting to something as simple as a bare piano track to provide backing for his vocal performance. The change in tone achieved by this is stark: whereas his ramblings on Astral Weeks seemed natural against the music presented on it, here the contrast between vocals and music is more troubling, casting Van as someone who has lost his moorings and is drifting helplessly whilst we stand on the shore and watch. It's a subtle but powerful effect which makes Veedon Fleece a truly intriguing album, though I do find myself wishing for more adventurous fare from the musicians.
Halvor   -   Amazing album, this one really strikes a mood and sticks with it.  It did take me a while to appreciate this.  This has an amazing feel to it - sad and melancholy but also drifting and indistinct - really beautiful. This is what Astral Weeks should have been. 
mulletguy16   -   Possibly better than the venerable Astral Weeks (everyone's favourite Van album). even if it's not better, it definitely has his best tune, "you don't pull no punches...". The album has a similar magical vibe to it as the aforementioned masterpiece of an album, but for some reason I prefer this one ever-so-slightly. Maybe because I spin it at work twice a week and it is entirely embedded in my subconscious. I consider it essential.

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