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CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Van Morrison: Moondance Expanded

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Described as classic by the artist himself, Van Morrison's Moondance is one of those albums that is nothing but a sublime pleasure to rediscover it via the expanded edition. In its remastered version, the polished perfection of the original ten collection of tracks heightens a delicate density that's further illuminated by hearing the outtakes, alternate versions and rehearsal sessions from which the beloved album was condensed. The relative simplicity of the material and its arrangement may be the first of multiple epiphanies arising from a hearing of this 1970 album revisited. The prominence of acoustic guitar and piano ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Van Morrison: Born to Sing: No Plan B

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A propitious return to Blue Note Records, Born to Sing: No Plan B is one of the most inspired and accessible albums of singer/songwriter Van Morrison's storied career. It would not be appropriate or accurate to draw direct comparisons to Moondance (Warner Bros., 1970), His Band & The Street Choir (Warner Bros., 1970) or Tupelo Honey (Warner Bros., 1971), but it is fair to say this is comparable work, albeit in a more mature musical and emotional context.In keeping with the title of the album as a statement of purpose, “Open the Door (To Your Heart)" sounds like ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Van Morrison: Born to Sing - No Plan B

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When Ray Charles died in 2004, he left only one artist with a comparable musical vision and depth and breadth of creative reach: Van Morrison. For 40 years, Morrison has surveyed the spectrum of American music, just as Charles had. Morrison passed blues, soul, R&B, rock, country, jazz and folk of the New World through an emerald prism that imparted each with his personal Irish quintessence. On Born to Sing--No Plan B, Morrison's 39th album and his first studio recording in four years, the singer remains in good voice and steady in direction. Morrison recordings are often ...

LIVE REVIEWS

Van Morrison Live At The Civic Theater

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Van MorrisonCivic Theater San Diego, CA October 6, 2010 Talk about excitement in the air: after skipping San Diego for 37 years, Van Morrison staged a triumphant return on Wednesday night. The concert at the Civic Theater sold out almost instantly months ago. On the long walk into the venue, four or five different individuals made pleading queries of “extra ticket?" to no avail. The gathering audience were mostly in the “fifty-something" category--and ready to rock. Morrison has a dodgy reputation when it comes to live performance--so that anxiety was also ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Van Morrison: Astral Weeks Live At The Hollywood Bowl

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Forty years after the release of his seminal work, Astral Weeks (Warner Brothers, 1968), Van Morrison decided that the time was right to play the entire album live. To recreate the record acknowledged by many critics as one of the best of all time, Morrison enlisted guitarist Jay Berliner (who played on the original album), many musicians he had worked with previously, and a full string section.

Recorded in early November, 2008, almost forty years to the date from the release of the original LP, this CD finds Morrison more world-weary and grayer, as well as in a ...

MULTIPLE REVIEWS

Van Morrison: Remasters Redux

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Inasmuch as the six titles range from the sublime to the pedestrian, the latest batch of Van Morrison remasters constitutes a microcosm of The Belfast Cowboy's entire discography.

Because Morrison is such an uncommonly gifted artist, it's possible to excuse the oversights in the overall archiving process, including lack of details in the remastering preparation and production as well as the ostensible lack of contribution from the artist. The Belfast Cowboy has never been comfortable dealing with his past and the remasters series, so far at least, is clearly no exception.

Nevertheless, because such a project provides the opportunity to ...

MULTIPLE REVIEWS

Van Morrison: Remasters at Last

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Van Morrison's position as one of the leading white soulmen of our times is as firmly grounded as his begrudging acceptance of celebrity status. The Belfast Cowboy so reviles the cult of personality that has surrounded him since his days leading Them, that it has resulted in his steadfact refusal, since the advent of the compact disc, to take advantage of the extensive archiving possibilities offered by the format.

Coincidental with the release of a new album, however, Morrison consented to the remastering and expansion of his catalog--but this is barely more revealing than Morrison himself has been during interviews. ...

LIVE REVIEWS

Van Morrison Concert in Palace of Jewels: Less Than Dazzling

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Van Morrison in Concert United Palace TheaterNew York City March 15, 2008

The air was cool and the streets were filled with middle-aged transplanted white folks from the suburbs, all making there way to the upper reaches of Manhattan island--175th Street and Broadway, to be precise--the area known as Washington Heights. The occasion for this excursion was a much anticipated and somewhat rare performance by the iconoclastic singer/songwriter Van Morrison at the magnificent United Palace theater.

The real story of this evening of entertainment was the venue itself, originally built in ...

DVD/VIDEO/FILM REVIEWS

Van Morrison and Rory Gallagher: Live at Montreux

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Van Morrison Live at Montreux 1980/1974 Eagle Eye Media 2006

For close to forty years the Montreaux Jazz Festival has set the standard for jazz as an all-inclusive art form. Two artists, purely coincidentally both Irish, have recently released DVDs containing concert performances at the famed fest, each of which, in its own way, illustrates how broad the definition of jazz can really be.

Van Morrison titled one of his albums A Period of Transition, but that phrase might well apply to his entire career. Under the tutelage of ...

MULTIPLE REVIEWS

Van Morrison & Cassandra Wilson

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Submitted on behalf of Ollie Bivins.

Van Morrison What's Wrong With This Picture? Blue Note 2003

This is rock singer's Van Morrison's first release on the venerable Blue Note jazz label. It is not a jazz album, however. Rather, it is pop music drenched in Memphis and New Orleans-style blues with a sprinkling of country and western and a dab of 1950s rock. Morrison is an Irishman with a deep love and respect for American pop music and the blues and it shows.

With its twangy guitar accompaniment, swirling violins and cooing background vocals, ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Van Morrison: What

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As I have grown, Van Morrison has steadily become one of my favorite singers. Maybe that's because it’s so tough to explain what he does or what kind of singer he is. You find him lumped in retail bins between Meat Loaf and Morrissey under “pop/rock”... which is an easier sell, I guess, than “the real swinging Celtic folk blues” or something closer to the truth.

Underneath its surface, beneath the structure of its songs, What’s Wrong...? swims deeply in the blues. Some are obvious blues: a visit to “St. James Infirmary” done New Orleans style, Morrison’s original ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Van Morrison: What

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For those readers who may think that Van Morrison has no business recording for Blue Note Records, I have just two words...

Norah Jones.

What’s Wrong with Picture? is Morrison’s debut on the jazz label and I suppose it is jazzy enough. He provides his characteristic Celtic blue-eyed soul over a broad landscape of musical styles. The blues play a big part, of course, and show up in the some spectacular iterations. The title cut and disc opener is a plush crooning vehicle with strings and bass clarinet that curiously reminds me of Eddie Arnold via ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Van Morrison: What's Wrong With This Picture?

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Van Morrison has always been difficult to categorize. He straddles a line between Hank Williams, Sr. and William Blake; between W. B. Yeats and Muddy Waters. He’s Ireland’s rock and roll saint; a genuine rhythm and blues Rimbaud. He’s Jack Kerouac on the road to Belfast.

Looking back on Morrison’s long and storied career, it’s almost impossible to identify a single highlight. Some partisans will choose Astral Weeks, Van’s murmured farewell to childhood, and arguably one of the greatest albums ever made. Many will choose singles like “Brown Eyed Girl,” “Moondance,” “Caravan,” “Tupelo Honey,” “Domino,” or “Wild ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Van Morrison: Down the Road

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A Ray Charles from Belfast...

 

I used to wonder if there were any other artists like Ray Charles. Mr. Charles has made significant contributions to all of the flavors of popular music: the Blues, Jazz, Soul, Rhythm & Blues, Gospel, Country, and Rock & Roll. He made these contributions in a voice so distinct and unique that anyone could identify him from a mile away. When Terry Gross of National Public Radio's Fresh Air asked Charles what genre of music he played, he responded that it was not a certain kind of music; it was “just music." Ray Charles ...



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