Tuesday, May 5, 2015

I’ve got a couple of crates full of old vinyl albums that I haven’t listened to in years due to lack of equipment to play them. Over a period of about a year and a half I revisited each album on the internet or bought the CD and ranked the songs. I also recorded some brief thoughts, rated the album, and posted the results on Rolling Stone’s 100 Greatest Artists comment section. I’m recycling and categorizing/grouping the posts on this website.

His Band and the Street Choir
Wow. I remember liking this album a lot but not as much I enjoyed it upon further review. I had a hard time ranking the songs after the first two; they’re all pretty good IMO. Makes me wonder why this album doesn’t seem to rate highly among Van’s discography. Much better than “St. Dominic’s IMO, and even rivals “Moondance”.
Scale of 1 to 10:  A

1-I’ll Be Your Lover Too
3-Crazy Face
4-Gypsy Queen
5-Call Me Up in Dreamland
6-Virgo Clowns
7-If I Ever Needed Someone
8-Blue Money
9-I’ve Been Working
10-Sweet Jannie
11-Give Me a Kiss
12-Street Choir

Tupelo Honey
A Van Morrison classic. Although the general consensus disagrees, I don’t rate this one as high as “His Band and the Street Choir”.
Scale of 1 to 10:  B

1- Tupelo Honey
2- Wild Night
3- When That Evening Sun Goes Down
4- Starting a New Life
5- (Straight to Your Heart) Like a Cannonball
6- Moonshine Whiskey
7- I Wanna Roo You
8- Old Old Woodstock
9- You’re My Woman

I bought this one for the title song, which I like. Didn’t care for this album much back then, and further review hasn’t changed my mind. A few good songs, but this one isn’t on par with some other Van Morrison albums, imo. The song rankings (after the first few) are somewhat random because I don’t have much familiarity/memory to rely on. I kinda dismissed this album soon after I bought it, so it doesn’t have much “listening” mileage on it.
Scale of 1 to 10:  D +

1- Wavelength
2- Venice, USA
3- Checkin’ It Out
4- Natalia
5- Santa Fe/Beautiful Obsession
6- Kingdom Hall
7- Take it Where You Find It
8- Hungry for Your Love
9- Lifetimes

Saint Dominic’s Preview
Van Morrison apparently is growing on me as I age ‘cuz this is another one of his albums that is better than I remembered. I always liked the first two on my list, and “Redwood Tree”. But now I’ve also come to appreciate the third and fourth song as well. The problem though, is that I don’t care much for the last two songs and both are 10-plus minute marathons that eat up a good chunk of the album. “Jackie Wilson” is among the most uplifting songs I know of, and “Redwood Tree” impresses me with the amount of ground (subject matter) the lyrics cover in two short verses. I haven’t researched it so I don’t know if Van maintains a band or if he hires various session players from album to album, but I’ve noticed as I revisit his work that the music is impeccable/professional. I think that point gets lost in the shadow of Van’s vocal prowess.
Scale of 1 to 10:  B –

1- Jackie Wilson Said (I’m in Heaven When You Smile)
2- Saint Dominic’s Preview
3- Gypsy
4- I Will Be There
5- Redwood Tree
6- Listen to the Lion
7- Almost Independence Day

Van Morrison (bellaphon)
This album is kind of an oddity, a collector’s item perhaps. It’s titled “Van Morrison” and was released in 1967 by a company in Germany named “Bellaphon”. I bought it for the song “Brown Eyed Girl” and at the time figured this was the album the song was originally released on. But Wiki’s discography credits an album titled “Blowin’ Your Mind” and doesn’t even acknowledge this one. When I “Googled” it, I found that half of the songs on this album are also on “Blowin’ Your Mind”. I don’t think the other half appear anywhere else aside from later compilation albums. Anyway, it’s pretty good. But it’s different from later Van albums. Very “bluesy” and much more gritty/raw. I gave “Brown Eyed Girl” a bit of a handicap since it’s not as fresh as the other songs. Otherwise “Joe Harper” would occupy the #1 spot. Check out the link below if you haven’t heard it. Not bad for a song that didn’t make the cut.
Scale of 1 to 10:  B –

1- Brown Eyed Girl
2- Joe Harper Saturday Morning
3- Goodbye Baby (Baby Goodbye)
4- The Back Room
5- The Smile You Smile
6- It’s All Right
7- Spanish Rose
8- Send Your Mind
9- He Ain’t Give You None
10- Ro Ro Rosey

I believe this is the second Van Morrison album on this list behind “Astral Weeks”. Personally I think there are a couple others that are better, but still, this is a great album. Solid. Only one song that I wouldn’t consider above average. But then, only one song that I would consider to be a top ten candidate for a list of Van’s best.
Scale of 1 to 10:  A –

1- Into the Mystic
2- Glad Tidings
3- Moondance
4- And it Stoned Me
5- Caravan
6- These Dreams of You
7- Crazy Love
8- Brand New Day
9- Come Running
10- Everyone

No comments: