Van Morrison – It’s Too Late To Stop Now (1973)

FrontCover1It’s Too Late to Stop Now is a 1974 live double album by Northern Irish singer-songwriter Van Morrison. It features performances that were recorded in concerts at the Troubadour in Los Angeles, California; the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, and the Rainbow in London, during Morrison’s three-month tour with his eleven-piece band, the Caledonia Soul Orchestra, from May to July 1973. Frequently named as one of the best live albums ever, It’s Too Late to Stop Now was recorded during what has often been said to be the singer’s greatest phase as a live performer.It’s Too Late to Stop Now is a 1974 live double album by Northern Irish singer-songwriter Van Morrison. It features performances that were recorded in concerts at the Troubadour in Los Angeles, California; the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, and the Rainbow in London, during Morrison’s three-month tour with his eleven-piece band, the Caledonia Soul Orchestra, from May to July 1973. Frequently named as one of the best live albums ever, It’s Too Late to Stop Now was recorded during what has often been said to be the singer’s greatest phase as a live performer.

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Noted for being a mercurial and temperamental live performer, during this short period of time in 1973, Morrison went on one of his most diligent tours in years. With his eleven-piece band, The Caledonia Soul Orchestra, which included a horn and string section, he has often been said to have been at his live performing peak.

Morrison said about touring during this period:
I am getting more into performing. It’s incredible. When I played Carnegie Hall in the fall something just happened. All of a sudden I felt like ‘you’re back into performing’ and it just happened like that…A lot of times in the past I’ve done gigs and it was rough to get through them. But now the combination seems to be right and it’s been clicking a lot.[9]
It’s like watching a tiger. The tiger isn’t thinking about where he’s going to put his paws or how he’s going to kill… and [it’s the] same thing with Van. He’s just so there that you’re completely drawn to it.“”-Jim Rothernel

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Evidence of his newly invigorated joy in performing was on display during the ending of the over-ten-minute-long dynamic performance of “Cyprus Avenue”. When an audience member shouts out, “Turn it on!”, Morrison good-naturedly replies, “It’s turned on already.” At the very end he finished the concert with a final heartfelt, “It’s too late to stop now!” giving the album its title (this line first appeared on the song “Into the Mystic”).
The concert performances were described by Erik Hage as “sequences of a young soul lion whipping the crowd into a frenzy and then stopping on a dime—teasing out anticipation, rushing, receding, and coaxing every drop out of his band.”

Guitarist John Platania says “He had a funeral for a lot of his old songs on stage. With Caledonia, he really got off on performing. There was definitely joy getting onstage at that point. That was a wonderful time for everybody. It was really like a family. Ordinarily, with rock ‘n’ rollers, jazzers and classical musicians in the band, you’d think it was a three-headed serpent but everybody got along famously.”

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The performances on the live album were from tapes made at the beginning of the tour in Los Angeles and also in Santa Monica and London. Marco Bario, who attended the opening night concert at The Troubadour, said in Playgirl: “he was exceptional. The mood was right, the audience was receptive, and the music left no comparisons to be made. It was the finest opening night performance by a consummate musician that I have ever witnessed.”A large cream-coloured and tiled building stands at the intersection of two roads. Dark grey clouds dominate an overcast sky. Two flags are flying from the fascia of the building, which is covered mostly by a large advertising hoarding.The Rainbow Theatre in London
The London concerts were the first time he had appeared in that city since performing with Them, six years earlier. The two concerts at the Rainbow Theatre in London were referred to as “the rock event of the year” by critics according to Ritchie Yorke in his biography. The 24 July 1973 London Rainbow concert was the first BBC simulcast broadcast simultaneously on BBC 2 television and Radio 2 stereo so that viewers with strategically sited loudspeakers could enjoy “stereo TV”. The broadcast took place on 27 May 1974.

VanMorrison03A mixture of songs that inspired his own musical development, together with some of his own compositions, allied to a backing band and orchestra (The Caledonia Soul Orchestra) and several performances (as noted in the album’s liner notes) that were recorded in concerts at The Troubadour in Los Angeles, California (24–27 May 1973), the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium (29 June 1973) and The Rainbow (23–24 July 1973) in London.

These performance result in what Myles Palmer of the Times reviewed as demolishing “all barriers between the soul, blues, jazz and rock genres”. The songs chosen went back to his days with Them with versions of “Gloria” and “Here Comes the Night”. His first solo hit “Brown Eyed Girl” was performed but not included on the album until the reissue in 2008. M. Mark called the album “an intelligent selection of songs that draws on six of Morrison’s records and five of the musicians he learned from.” These musicians were Bobby Bland, (“Ain’t Nothing You Can Do”), Ray Charles, (“I Believe to My Soul”), Sam Cooke (“Bring It On Home to Me”), two songs by Sonny Boy Williamson II (“Help Me” and “Take Your Hands Out of My Pocket”) and a cover of a Willie Dixon song, “I Just Want to Make Love to You” that was popularized by Muddy Waters.

Unlike most live rock albums, there was no studio overdubbing allowed by Morrison, which resulted in the exclusion of “Moondance” from the album due to one wrong guitar note. Morrison strictly adhered to his concept of authenticity in presenting the live performance but his musical perfectionism prevented him from including “Moondance”.[15] “It’s common practice to go back and fix things, but not with Van,” bass player David Hayes said, “I think that’s what makes it one of the best ever.” It is thought to be one of the first live albums with no overdubs and the first live album to have string players.

Fellow biographer Johnny Rogan said that “Morrison was in the midst of what was arguably his greatest phase as a performer.”

It’s Too Late to Stop Now has been on lists of greatest live albums of all time. (by wikipedia)

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Named for the mighty Belfast singer’s exhortation at the close of his song, Into The Mystic, It’s Too Late…is oft-referred to as one of the greatest live albums ever recorded. Included in the first batch of remasters of the ‘Man”s back catalogue, now’s your chance to argue the toss again.

When Morrison hit the road in the Summer of 1973 -ITLTSN collects material from gigs in LA, Santa Monic and London – he’d not only notched up a run of six absolutely flawless collections of what would probably now be referred to as ‘soul jazz’, but he’d also assembled a team of players that were the equal of his own perfectionism. Such was this perfectionism that the original running order was shorn of his most widely-known tune, Moondance, due to one bum guitar note. In other words this is one of the few live albums you’ll ever hear with NO overdubs.

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When you hear ITLTSN you realise why this had to be the case: Morrison’s blend of his own classics along with a fair smattering of tracks that influenced him is delivered with such passion, and belief that any studio tinkering would be like throwing a tin of paint over the Mona Lisa. In a live setting all the hyperbole about Morrison’s blend of genres into one Celtic, mystic vision makes perfect sense. This is soul music in a very real sense.

It was also a sign of how Van had matured that he can deliver classics like Ray Charles’ I Believe To My Soul or Sonny Boy Williamson’s Help Me and make them his own. Not only this he improves on his own compositions. Cypress Avenue, complete with the strings of the Caledonian Soul orchestra may even be better than the original on Astral Weeks. Quite a feat. And just listen to how playful Morrison is on the improvised breaks (”You say in France!”): grunting, wailing, going beyond mere words in his striving to convey the heart of this music. This is a master live performer at work. And enjoying it.

With just one bonus track (a version of Brown Eyed Girl) this polished edition gives you the chance to hear one of the best bands and their genius of a singer deliver the goods one more time, 35 years on. It’s never too late… (Chris Jones, BBC, 2008)

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Personnel:
Teressa Adams (cello)
Bill Atwood (trumpet, background vocals)
Nancy Ellis (viola)
Tom Halpin (vocals)
David Hayes (bass, background vocals)
Tim Kovatch (violin)
Jef Labes (keyboards)
Van Morrison (vocals)
John Platania (guitar, background vocals)
Nathan Rubin (violin)
Dahaud Shaar (David Shaw) (drums, background vocals)
Jack Schroer (saxophone, tambourine, background vocals)

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Tracklist:
01. Ain’t Nothin’ You Can Do (MaloneScott) 3.48
02. Warm Love (Morrison) 3.05
03. Into The Mystic (Morrison) 4.31
04. These Dreams Of You (Morrison) 3.37
05. I Believe To My Soul (Charles) 4.09
06. I’ve Been Working (Morrison) 3.55
07. Help Me (Williamson/Bass/Dixon) 3.25
08. Wild Children (Morrison) 5.04
09. Domino (Morrison) 4.48
10. I Just Want To Make Love To You (Dixon) 5.16
11. Bring It On Home To Me (Cooke)4.43
12. Saint Dominic’s Preview (Morrison) 6.18
13. Take Your Hand Out Of My Pocket (Williamson) 4.05
14. Listen To The Lion (Morrison) 8.44
15. Here Comes The Night (Berns) 3.14
16. Gloria (Morrison) 4.15
17. Caravan (Morrison) 9.21
18. Cyprus Avenue (Morrison) 10.28
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19. Brown Eyed Girl (Morrison) 3.26

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Van Morrison – Enlightenment (1990)

frontcover1Enlightenment is the twentieth studio album by Northern Irish singer-songwriter Van Morrison. It was released in 1990 (see 1990 in music) and reached #5 in the UK charts and “Real Real Gone” charted at #18 in Mainstream Rock Tracks.

The June 2008 re-issued and re-mastered version of the album contains alternative takes of “Enlightenment” and “So Quiet in Here”.”Start All Over Again” from this album was listed as one of the standout tracks from the six album reissue.

The album was recorded in London, England, and Real World in Box. The arrangements were by Fiachra Trench and Micheal O’Suilleabhain played piano with a brass section made up of British jazz musicians from the late sixties: Frank Ricotti, Henry Lowther and Malcolm Griffiths. One of the songs “So Quiet in Here” was recorded at the Kirk, Rode, Somerset, a setting which served as both church or studio.

Contrary to the meaning of the title, the theme of the album is actually full of doubt and the songs seem to be saying that everything is what you make of it — heaven or hell. The song “Enlightenment” contains the words: “I’m in the here and now and I’m meditating/ And still I’m suffering but that’s my problem/ Enlightenment, don’t know what it is”. “So Quiet in Here” is a continuation of the song “Into the Mystic” from the Moondance album. The single released from the album, “Real Real Gone”, was originally written and meant for the 1980 album Common One.[9] The song “In the Days Before Rock ‘N’ Roll” was a collaboration between Morrison and the Irish poet Paul Durcan. (by wikipedia9

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Throughout Van Morrison’s long career, his hit records have usually been followed by more obscure ones, so it should come as no surprise that 1990’s Enlightenment was more subtle than its hit predecessor, Avalon Sunset. The intention of Enlightenment is marked by its first two songs, the scorching Celtic rhythm & blues of the opener, “Real Real Gone,” and the pained spiritual yearning of the title track, a midtempo ballad drenched in nylon-string guitars, atmospheric synths, a gorgeous melody, and a tough Wurlitzer piano. The first tune, with its raucous horns, B-3, and crackling hi-hat and snare work, comes from the shouting R&B singer we’ve known since Moondance. It’s addressed to a nameless other, with a call-and-response horn section answering his every line like it was the gospel truth. The slippery bridge-like lines at the ends of the verses and his invocation of truths from the gods of soul — “And Sam Cooke is on the radio and the night is filled with space/Wilson Pickett said ‘In the Midnight Hour’/That’s when my love comes tumblin’ down/Solomon Burke said, ‘If you need me, why don’t you call me’/James Brown said, ‘When you’re tired of what you got, try me’/ Gene Chandler said, ‘There’s a rainbow in my soul'” — suggest he’s almost found the truth in these moments from his past, a past that haunts him and whose secrets pour from his mouth when he sings, though they elude him. We can add to these, “Van Morrison said, ‘Real, real gone/I can’t stand up by myself/Don’t you know I need your help/I’m real real gone.'” This is only underscored in “Enlightenment,” where these koans mix with those of the Buddhist masters. Some of them come literally from Zen, others from the pit of the protagonist’s life: “I’m in the here and now/And I’m meditating/I’m still suffering/But that’s my problem…wake up.” The rest of the album becomes a suite, with these themes underscored everywhere through an ethereal blend of sonic atmospheres and carefully crafted melodies that seem to come from the oblique shadow of the soul as it wanders, discovers, and sheds its trappings, still seeking. There’s the folksy Irish folk-pop of “So Quiet in Here” and the dramatic yet elegiac regality of “Avalon of the Heart,” where the ghosts of Keats, Shelley, and Yeats all meet to confer and wail. These songs are kissed further down the road by the contemplative jazz in “See Me Through,” a sung prayer that is partially obscured by its chant-like melody. Morrison also does his trademark evocation of memory in the sprightly gospel of “Youth of 1,000 Summers.” Jazz returns in the Friday night strut of “Start All Over Again,” where sadness and hope mix inextricably. “She’s My Baby,” with its nylon-string guitars and taut snares, is breezy Celtic soul at its best, expressing an adult lovesickness in song. Enlightenment, like Avalon Sunset, marks one of Morrison’s best productions, if not albums. Its sound is warm, enveloping, and humid. If the songs seem to bleed together a bit, that’s on purpose; it’s meant to be taken as a whole. It’s an overlooked gem. (by Thom Jurek)

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Personnel:
Dave Bishop (saxophone)
Dave Early (drums)
Georgie Fame (keyboards, background vocals)
Alex Gifford (synthesizers piano)
Steve Gregory (saxophone, flute)
Malcolm Griffiths (trombone)
Van Morrison (vocals, guitar, harmonica)
Steve Pearce (bass)
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The Ambrosian Singers (choir, with John McCarthy as choirmaster on 04.)
Paul Durcan (spoken word on 07.)
Bernie Holland (guitar on 02., 06. + 09.)
Henry Lowther (trumpet on 06., 08. + 09.)
Brian Odgers (bass on 02. + 09.)
Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin (piano on 03.)
Frank Ricotti (vibraphone on 08.)
Steve Sanger (drums on 04+ + 10.)
Steve Waterman (flugelhorn on 06., 08. + 09.)

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Tracklist:
01. Real Real Gone (Morrison) 3.43
02. Enlightenment (Morrison) 4.04
03. So Quiet In Here (Morrison) 6.09
04. Avalon Of The Heart (Morrison) 4.45
05. See Me Through (Morrison)  6.13
06. Youth Of 1,000 Summers (Morrison) 3.45
07. In The Days Before Rock ‘N’ Roll (Durcan/Morrison) 8.13
08. Start All Over Again (Morrison) 4.10
09. She’s My Baby (Morrison) 5.14
10. Memories (Morrison) 4.14

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Van Morrison – Too Long In Exile (1993)

FrontCover1Too Long in Exile is the twenty-second studio album by Northern Irish singer-songwriter Van Morrison. The album was produced by Morrison and draws on urban blues and soul jazz sounds, including collaborations with John Lee Hooker and Georgie Fame. Released in 1993 by Polydor Records, Too Long in Exile received positive reviews from most critics and reached number four on the UK Albums Chart.

Too Long in Exile received generally positive reviews. Rock critic Peter Paphides wrote in Melody Maker at the time, “never has one man’s regression therapy sounded this exhilarating”, while Gavin Martin from the Daily Mirror remarked that Morrison has “rediscovered his ‘earthy, elemental fire’. He is still the foremost blues auteur.” Chicago Tribune critic Greg Kot found his singing “freer than ever” and most of the performances “joyful”, praising the music’s urban blues and soul-jazz sounds. Kot said the album is a “casual tour de force”, with the exception of the cover song “Moody’s Mood for Love”, which he felt would nevertheless be enjoyed by fans of Morrison’s “Moondance” (1970). In The Village Voice, Robert Christgau said Morrison draws on the spiritual guidance of blues greats for the album’s best material, highlighting the collaborations with John Lee Hooker on “Gloria” and “Wasted Years”, although he lamented some aimless songs such as “In the Forest”.

Morrison+HookerIn The Rolling Stone Album Guide (2004), Rob Sheffield said Too Long in Exile was the “breeziest” of Morrison’s post-1980s albums. Rolling Stone included the album in its list of the “Essential Recording of the 90’s”.

Van Morrison celebrates today  his 70th birthday !

BookletBackCover1Personnel:
Richard Cousins (bass)
Candy Dulfer (saxophone, recorder)
Geoff Dunn (drums)
Georgie Fame (organ, background vocals)
Howard Francis (keyboards)
Kevin Hayes (drums)
John Lee Hooker (vocals)
Bob Lifton (guitar)
Teena Lyle (organ, percussion, vibraphone, background vocals)
Van Morrison (guitar, vocals, harmonica, saxophone)
Paul Robinson (drums)
Jonn Savannah (organ, background vocals)
Nicky Scott (bass)
Kate St. John (saxophone)

Booklet02ATracklist:
01. Too Long in Exile (Morrison) 6.18
02. Big Time Operators (Morrison) 6.03
03. Lonely Avenue (Pomus) 6.24
04. Ball and Chain (Morrison) 5.36
05. In the Forest (Morrison) 4.38
06. Till We Get the Healing Done (Morrison) 8.29
07. Gloria (Morrison) 5.19
08. Good Morning Little School Girl (Williamson) 4.07
09. Wasted Years (Morrison) 3.57
10. The Lonesome Road (Austin/Shilkret) 3.16
11. Moody’s Mood For Love (Fields/McHugh/Moody) 2.52
12. Close Enough For Jazz (Morrison) 2.39
13. Before The World Was Made (Morrison) 4.24
14. I’ll Take Care of You (Benton) 5.19
15. Instrumental/Tell Me What You Want (Morrison) 8.08

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Van Morrison

The Chieftains – The Wide World Over (2002)

FrontCover1In the Chieftains’ four decades of recording, they’ve changed labels a handful of times, and each label has seen fit to record at least one or two collections of the band’s output under their tenure. At this point they have so many best-ofs and greatest-hits compilations, it’s tough for the listener to know the best of what they’re actually hearing. New millennium — new collection: the band’s longtime label, RCA Victor, has done the Celtic community a favor by releasing a collection that deals more with the band’s journey through their different phases as opposed to trying to reassemble a hits package. The end result is almost like listening to a radio station that only plays Chieftains songs. There are some live tracks, their countrified romp through “Cotton-Eyed Joe”; Van Morrison’s adult-contemporary “Shenandoah”; an unusual introduction of the bandmembers in Chinese; appearances from Sting, Diana Krall, and Art Garfunkel; and a couple of new recordings. The breezy cover of “Morning Has Broken” fares better than the hybridized “Redemption Song” (in fact, it’s a challenge to think of any instances of a successful Celtic/reggae alloy). The album will be enjoyed by Chieftains fans as a fun collection of songs they have never heard back-to-back before, and those looking for a greatest-hits collection will have plenty of other places to look. (by Zac Johnson)

Inside1Personnel:
Derek Bell (cláirseach, oboe, keyboards, tiompán, vocals)
Kevin Conneff (bodhrán, vocals)
Martin Fay (fiddle, bones, vocals)
Seán Keane (fiddle, tin whistle, vocals)
Matt Molloy (flute, tin whistle, vocals)
Paddy Moloney (uilleann pipes, tin whistle, button accordion, bodhrán, vocals)
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Anúna (vocals)
Jean Butler (dancer)
Ry Cooder (electric guitar, mandocello)
Elvis Costello (vocals)
Art Garfunkel (vocals)
Diana Krall (vocals, piano)
Ziggy Marley (vocals, guitar, percussion)
Joni Mitchell (vocals)
Van Morrison (vocals)
Carlos Nunez (bagpipe)
Sinéad O’Connor (vocals)
Linda Ronstadt (vocals)
Ricky Skaggs (vocals)
Don Was (percussion)
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Belfast Harp Orchestra
Chinese Ensemble
Cincinnati Pops Orchestra conducted by Erich Kunzel
Los Lobos
The Corrs
The Rolling Stones

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Tracklist:
01. March Of The King Of Laois (Traditional) 4.25
02. The Foggy Dew (feat: Sinéad O’Connor) (Traditional) 5.01
03. I Know My Love (feat: The Corrs) (Traditional) 3.27
04. Cotton-Eyed Joe (feat: Ricky Skaggs) (Traditional) 2.45
05. The Magdalene Laundries (feat: Joni Mitchell) (Mitchell) 4.57
06. Live from Matt Molloy’s Pub (Traditional) 2.21
07. Shenandoah (feat: Van Morrison) (Traditional) 3.52
08. The Munster Cloak (Traditional) 6.12
09. Morning Has Broken (feat: Art Garfunkel / Diana Krall) (Traditional) 2.55
10. Morning Dew /Women Of Ireland (P.Moloney) 2.57
11. Mo Ghile Mear (feat: Sting) (P.Moloney/Traditional) 3.20
12. Carolan’s Concerto (feat: Belfast Harp Orchestra) (Traditional) 3.02
13. Guadalupe (feat: Los Lobos / Linda Ronstadt) (Traditional) 3.31
14. Full Of Joy (feat: Chinese Ensemble) (Traditional) 3.24
15. Here’s A Health To The Company (Traditional) 3.03
16. Chasing the Fox (feat: Erich Kunzel / Cincinnati Pops Orchestra) (P.Moloney/ Traditional) 4.11
17. Long Journey Home (Anthem) (feat: Anúna / Elvis Costello) (Costello/P.Moloney) 3.20
18. The Rocky Road To Dublin (feat: The Rolling Stones) (Traditional) 4.17
19. Redemption Song (feat: Ziggy Marley) (B.Marley) 4.22

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