Saturday, 27 July 2019

Oh, no,another Van Morrison album

The Afterword website contains the following reader comment mainly attacking Van's prodigious album output of late:

Minibreakfast   -   New one of standards, called Versatile. Just in time for Christmas.

SteveT   -   Didn’t get his most recent one but I do like the sound of this one. No doubt the naysayers will all be on here saying he ain’t what he used to be. Maybe so but I saw him do a joyous show last year.

dai  -   I believe buying it is not obligatory. I like that some of the old guys are speeding up their releases as they hit the home straight. Leonard Cohen did it, Dylan is doing it (albeit with covers), David Crosby also and Neil Young keeps on at his usual breakneck pace.

duco01   -   That’s true. Jackie Leven was also releasing albums with amazing regularity in the final years of his life.

Junior Wells   -   Oh my God ! 13. Affirmation featuring Sir James Galway (Van Morrison). My worst.

Vulpes Vulpes   -   I think you may be turned off by how he’s sometimes been presented on the telly. His choice of promotional vehicle has often been poor. As a musician he’s right up there with the best. His career as a flautist has been nothing short of stellar.

retropath2   -   For a moment I thought this would be his own tilt at the (godspareus) Great American Songbook, bits of which it may be. So we have to wait for Seal to deliver that dubious pleasure.

Black Type   -   I just ventured a listen of the I Get A Kick… stream – it’s truly, truly horrible.

Moose the Mooche   -   We saw that kick in The Last Waltz.

H.P. Saucecraft   -   I “auditioned” that track, too. The band’s good, swinging away back there, but the vocal sounds like that homeless bloke who thinks a beer can is a mic.

Tiggerlion   -   They are called The Sleaford Mods.

Retropath2   -   I assumed it was M.E.S.

Mikethep   -   He’s no Vic Reeves, is he?

Blue Boy   -   Oh no, please stop. He’s clearly been watching what Dylan is up to. I saw my copy of Triplicate yesterday and realised I hadn’t played it since the week I bought it. Decided to give it a go again. Lasted four tracks. I see Versatile follows the ‘massive success’ of Roll With The Punches.

Dai   -   Massive success? His chart positions last 10 years (non compilations):

Keep it Simple - 15
 Born to Sing - 10
 Duets - 5
 Keep Me Singing - 4
 Roll With the Punches - 4

Baron Harkonnen   -   Massive success? Those chart positions look good to me.I`m in for this album and the next. By the way, it`s 50% covers, 50% originals although some of these are new versions. You can cover your old songs without calling them covers, can't you?

SteveT   -   The only one of those I have is Born to Sing which is actually pretty good.

Blue Boy   -   You’d probably like Keep Me Singing then – it’s a decent record, and like Born to Sing has a couple of great tracks. Looking at those titles in sequence like that – he hasn’t given them a great deal of thought has he? Looking forward to Born to be Simple.

Black Type   -   Shouldn’t the next one be Stop Me Singing?

Mike_H   -   Stop Me And Buy One.

Sewer Robot   -   I Missed Me Stop! (Shoulda got off around 1990)

Moose the Mooche   -   I won’t buy it, but I’m very happy for the maungy old bastit to reap as much as he can after all those years if barely scraping into the top 50 with masterpieces like Veedon Fleece. If the only good thing he’d ever done had been, say, Starting A New Life, he’d still have the right to make as many crap records as he wants.

Sewer Robot   -   Yep. That’s the perspective required. From my angle, as a music collector and “fan”, I’d much prefer it if Kevin Rowland retired from making music after Don’t Stand Me Down, so that he could be – as the blurb on the back back of the James Joyce books used to go – someone who only produced masterpieces. But from the point of view of the career musician a large part of the music making is related to the getting food into your mouth part. (Obviously this argument appears weak in relation to multi-millionaire Van, but the principle holds that they’re entitled to keep bashing stuff out and you’re under no obligation to buy).

Geoffbs7   -   Just listened on Spotify. They are both joyless. Surely the whole point of both these songs – and especially Makin’ Whoopee – is that they’re happy; celebratory; joyful etc etc. He’s forgotten how to have fun.

H.P. Saucecraft   -   Those bonus track Anythin’ Goes lyrics in full:

In olden days a glimpse of stockin’
Today the record company bastids
 Suck yer blood till yer puke yer guts
 Heaven knows, Anything Goes!

Saturday, 20 July 2019

Wonderful Remark (1969)

The Song Facts site has facts about hundreds of Van songs.  It’s well worth a look and hopefully someone will contribute more to that site. Here’s what Song Facts had about the little-discussed Wonderful Remark which was written in 1969 and first appeared on The King of Comedy soundtrack album in 1983.

Wonderful Remark (1969)

Van Morrison recorded this song in 1969, which was a transitional time for the singer, as he had recently gotten married and moved to Woodstock, New York.

Morrison has said that his Woodstock experience was an influence on this song - he moved there for the creative ambiance (Bob Dylan lived there), but grew weary of the town after meeting folks he felt were disingenuous.

What is the "wonderful remark" that Morrison sings about here? In his book Small Town Talk, Barney Hoskyns explores the possibility that it came out of an incident that happened between Morrison and Albert Grossman. In 1969, word went out that Grossman wanted to manage Morrison, so the Irishman went to his house to demo some songs. After listening to the tunes, Grossman simply replied, "Burn it" - that's the "wonderful remark."

At that time, Grossman was the major moving force of the town Woodstock and the music scene that had developed there. The story certainly seems to fit with lyrics such as:

How can your empty laughter
Fill a room like our with joy?
When you're only playing with us
Like a child does a toy?

Morrison's first effort to record the song came at his Moondance session in 1969. Nothing came of it, so he recorded it again in 1972 during sessions for Saint Dominic's Preview. This 8-minute version also went unreleased, and the song remained unheard until Robbie Robertson (of The Band) asked Morrison to contribute a song to the movie The King of Comedy, for which Robertson was working on the soundtrack. The film stars Robert De Niro and Jerry Lewis, and was directed by Martin Scorsese, a huge Van Morrison fan.

Robertson wanted Morrison to do a poignant track for the end of the film, but they had trouble finding one. After a while, Morrison sang some lines from the unreleased Wonderful Remark and that's what they decided to use. They started recording a new version of the song with Robertson on guitar and a group of session men including Jim Keltner on drums and Nicky Hopkins on organ. They couldn't get the right mood and had to stop when a storm knocked out power to the studio. The next day, Morrison had a clear direction in mind, and they got the sound they were looking for.

Wonderful Remark was featured in the film and included on the soundtrack. Scorsese was thrilled with it; Robertson explained in an interview with BAM, "Marty loved how the song worked in the end, how it embraced the DeNiro character and how it also put him down at the same time. It comes down on violence and it comes down on insanity."

The King of Comedy version was included on Morrison's 1990 compilation The Best of Van Morrison. The 1972 recording didn't surface until 1998, when it made the tracklist to The Philosopher's Stone, a collection of Morrison outtakes.

Thursday, 11 July 2019

Fake Van Morrison Interview

False Memory Foam has to be one of the most bizarre music sites on the Net. The writers supposedly led by Farquhar Throckmorton III, are a mischievous and intelligent bunch of pranksters. Here's a fake Van interview from the site: 
"It's All Been Splendid Fun!" The Van Morrison Interview 

This interview - a FMF© exclusive - with the musician known as "Van Morrison" will, it is fervently hoped, dispel at last and once and for all the myths surrounding this enigmatic and larger-than-life character, revealing him for the man he really is; a sensitive and deeply committed artist who has, over the years, created a persona that threatened to overwhelm him.

A little background: "Mr Morrison" (we'll get to that) was once a neighbour of mine at the Bide-A-Wee Residential Motel in Petworth, Washington, D.C., located between the Armed Forces Retirement Home and Rock Creek Cemetery on Blockbuster Avenue, accessed by a private alley next to the Polish Polecat Poledance Club. The Bide-A-Wee was a haunt of artists, and much patronized by those shunning publicity, or on the lam. I'd recognized the great Irishman in the lobby, but respected his privacy as much as he respected mine. One morning, he knocked at my door wearing his trademark damask smoking jacket, fez, and Persian slippers, and enquired - in a surprisingly aristocratic English voice - if I could "possibly spare a drop of milk for one's morning cuppa." I was of course delighted to oblige, and he kindly invited me to share it with him. His room was opulently furnished with fine antiques and costly wall hangings. A tall bookshelf displayed leather-bound volumes, and a vase of fresh-cut flowers stood on an ormolu table. Over a "cuppa" served from an exquisite Dresden bone china set, we fell to chatting about this and that, an informal and very private conversation that I present here, in confidence, for the first time.

FMF: You're not registered as Van Morrison, then?
VM: Good lord no! Nobody uses their real name here, eh, Mr. Foam?

FMF: You're obviously not Irish!
VM: Ah! I suppose it had to come out sooner or later. One was born Cholmondeley [pronounced Chumley - Ed.] St. John  [pronounced Sinjun - Ed.] Featherstonehaugh [pronounced Fanshaw - Ed.], to the Great Titterington Featherstonehaughs. Papa was Lord Featherstonehaugh of Great Titterington, where Titterington Hall has been in the family since the Crusades. So naturally one had a privileged upbringing.

FMF: But you moved to Belfast?
VM: [shudders] Heavens no! That came later. Dreadful place. Full of unemployed drunkards bombing each others' legs off.

FMF: So your earliest musical influences weren't American R'n'B singles brought into the docks by merchant seamen?
VM: I should rather think not! Mama was celebrated for her salons, chamber music soirées, at which one was a keen attendee! I think one became quite addicted to the celeste at an early age! More tea?

FMF: Thank you. When did you first sing in front of an audience?
VM: Ooh! That would be the Footlights Revue whilst one was up at Cambridge. One had adopted the highly theatrical persona of Madame George - spent an entire term in drag! Happy days! And the act proved riotously popular!

FMF: But still no touch o' the Blarney?
VM: Well, when one was sent down from Cambridge one decided to work up a new act. My little circle of dissolute gentry found Irishmen most amusing at that time, their delightful accents, red noses, funny walks, and so Madame George, with a lot of hard work and cathartic rehearsal, became George Ivan Morrison, the absolute antithesis of everything I was in real life. Curmudgeonly, abusive, aggressive, drunk ... and disgustingly working class. I had in mind the quintessential Irish poet, inarticulate yet somehow in touch with his muse. We - my little band of classically trained musicians and I - toured the Working Mens' Clubs of Belfast as an R'n'B band, keeping our true identities secret. My! They were rough brutes! But strangely exciting ... one could sense the homoerotic sublimated in their virile displays of drunken violence - quite intoxicating!

FMF: This would be Decca recording artists Them.
VM: Them being showbiz argot for, well ... as in [arch look] "he's one of them." One is constantly amazed the public didn't catch on!

FMF: And then the move to Boston, as a solo artist.
VM: Yes! And that was when this little Irishman, my creation, became ... Frankenstein.

Wednesday, 3 July 2019

Funny Things People Say - Part 30

Redhead   -   Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones (later of Led Zeppelin) both played on this recording (they used to be studio musicians), to the protest of Them's guitarist and bassist. Personally I think that threesome would have made a better group than Led Zeppelin.

Michaelangelo Matos   -   The most hip-hop thing about Morrison may be that he's been bitching about record labels — Industry Rule number 4,080 — for nearly his entire career.

Kylebr   -   I'm sorry don't know who Van is.

pamtur1956   -   I've got to say Van Morrison has a lot of "number 1 fans", simply because the man’s singing and artistic abilities is on the number 1 unbeatable list. He's amazing at what he does. Thank you Mr Morrison for the wonderful music that I have had the opportunity to listen to through out my life. Another number one fan.

billybird   -   I hope Van isn't one of the whispery singers?

Gender Neutral   -   Van challenges me. I can't work out if he is male or female. He wears male clothes like a man but then he colour co-ordinates like a woman. I'm confused and I hope he is too.

Yvon Haley-Peabody Lynch   -   Listening to Van fills your senses....when emptiness threatens to take your soul. it is like a moment with the sun melting upon your skin, catching spring raindrops upon your tongue and April wind in one's hair....the scintillating scent of winter's first snow and watching the heat of passion in your lover's eyes. He steals your heart away and makes it his...and oh so willingly it follows.

AussieRock   -   In the track Ringworm, Morrison sings "I tell you. You're very lucky to have ring worm, because you may have had...something else". Van Morrison is genius, even in fun.

Tadhg Mac Séaghdha   -   Van you're just badass. Love you brother. If I won the lottery, hey I gotta a chance, one of the first things I would do is hire Van for a private jam session with my friends and family. Now that would be a good day.

waterlilybarb   -   Love his voice. Not crazy about the man.

Anonymous   -   Nobody quite understands Van Morrison. If Bob Dylan’s long stretches of patent bizarreness in the 1980s seem incomprehensible to most, then Van Morrison’s entire career surely must remain an enigma.

Candy   -   I am a serious music lover and enjoy almost all genres of music. Some of my favourites are old 1970's (reminds me of my college days) one of my favourite artists is Van Morrison, I am also a big Cher fan! I must say though I'm not a big country music or hip hop lover.

lstidom   -   Early songs were pretty good but Van has ranged too far.

Jeff Liles   -   The A-side was a cover of The Kinks’ classic song You Really Got Me; the flipside a track called Atomic Punk. Who knows? Maybe this was a “gimmick” song by a guy like Van Morrison who put out a record to make fun of punk rock, and they figured giving it away free was the only way anyone was going to hear it.

Steve   -   Could I live in a word ruled by Van Morrison? Now that we are grown up democracy people do we not know that with leadership you have to take gregarious blows. Yes you’re going to laugh at the pols trying to bend reality to overcome circumstance but the end result is that while you may work out religiously the power of government is going to be in your pants. In a world of psycho killers this should be some kind of romance. But the truth is really hard. Hate is easy, understanding at the point of a gun is difficult. For anyone thinking killing people is a path to progress I ask you what about your tribe and how death effects you. Well I can tell you one truth that should really understand, its the worst thing we can experience in the mortal world. Those who can convince people to give up their life for some security boogieman should be Zombie food. We live on plane earth. We have made this existence no different than living in a good neighbourhood. Wake up Zombies we are heading into flesh eating days.