Veedon Fleece (Remastered) Van Morrison
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- 1Fair Play06:15
- 2Linden Arden Stole the Highlights02:37
- 3Who Was That Masked Man02:54
- 4Streets of Arklow04:22
- 5You Don't Pull No Punches, But You Don't Push the River08:50
- 7Cul De Sac05:50
- 8Comfort You04:24
- 9Come Here My Love02:20
- 10Country Fair05:40
- 11Twilight Zone (Alternative Take)05:50
- 12Cul De Sac (Alternative Take)02:53
Info for Veedon Fleece (Remastered)
The pick of the second batch of Morrison reissues, 1974’s Veedon Fleece brought down the curtain on a hugely prolific period of his career and was followed by three years’ silence. Arguably, Van scuttled off to lick his wounds, as much of the record recounts his divorce from wife Janet Planet, in particular Who Was That Masked Man? and Fair Play.
It’s a spartan set of songs, perhaps closest to Astral Weeks in terms of his previous output, although the emotional momentum is understandably more personal, the lyrics even more obtuse. The country-esque Bulbs lifts the spirits temporarily, but the overall mood is downbeat. Not that that’s a bad thing. Bonus tracks are limited to two alternative takes, as is the case with the rest of this month’s Van revivals; Common One, Inarticulate Speech Of The Heart, No Guru No Method No Teacher, Live At The Grand Opera House, Enlightenment, A Night In San Francisco and The Healing Game.
"The final album of Van Morrison's remarkably prolific and innovative 1968-1974 period (followed by three years of silence), Veedon Fleece brings the singer full circle, returning him to the introspection and poignancy of Astral Weeks. Composed following his sudden divorce from wife Janet Planet and subsequent retreat from the U.S., the songs are subtle and Spartan, the performances deeply felt; though less tortured and cathartic than Astral Weeks, it's a record fraught with emotional upheaval, as evidenced by such superior moments as "Linden Arden Stole the Highlights," "Who Was That Masked Man," and "You Don't Pull No Punches, But You Don't Push the River." That said, this is one of those -- and there are several -- forgotten classics in the Morrison catalog. Because it followed hot on the heels of his universally acclaimed double live album It's Too Late to Stop Now..., released only a month previous, this effort, like its likewise unheralded -- but equally wonderful -- studio effort Hard Nose the Highway, which was issued only six months before, the album suffered from a lack of exposure because of saturation in the marketplace rather than any lack in quality. Veedon Fleece is every bit the creative equal of its more famous predecessors. With its elegiac tone and deeply autobiographical lyrics, this was a Morrison who didn't so readily associate himself with the feel-good, peace, love, and rhythm & blues sound American audiences were used to. If any album reflects a real period of transition for an artist, it's this one. It's brilliant." (Jason Ankeny, AMG)
Van Morrison, vocals, guitar
Ralph Walsh, guitar
John Tropea, guitar on "Bulbs" and "Cul de Sac"
David Hayes, bass
Joe Macho, bass on "Bulbs" and "Cul de Sac"
Dahaud Shaar (David Shaw), drums
Allan Schwartzberg, drums on "Bulbs" and "Cul de Sac"
Nathan Rubin, violin
Terry Adams, viola
James Rothermel, flute, recorder
Jack Schroer, soprano saxophone
James Trumbo, piano
Jef Labes, piano on "Bulbs" and "Cul de Sac"
One of music’s true originals Van Morrison’s unique and inspirational musical legacy is rooted in postwar Belfast.
Born in 1945 Van heard his Shipyard worker father’s collection of blues, country and gospel early in life.
Feeding off musical greats such as Hank Williams, Jimmie Rodgers, Muddy Waters, Mahalia Jackson and Leadbelly he was a travelling musician at 13 and singing, playing guitar and sax, in several bands, before forming Them in 1964.
Making their name at Belfast’s Maritime Club Them soon established Van as a major force in the British R&B scene. Morrison’s matchless vocal and songwriting talents produced instant classics such as the much covered ‘Gloria’ and ‘Here Comes The Night’.
Those talents found full astonishing range in Van’s solo career.
After working with Them’s New York producer Bert Berns on beautiful Top 40 pop hit ‘Brown Eyed Girl’ (1967), Morrison moved to another realm.
Recorded over 3 days with legendary jazz musicians Astral Weeks (1968) is a still singular album combining street poetry, jazz improvisation, Celtic invocation and Afro Celtic Blues wailing.
Morrison would weave these and myriad other influences into the albums that followed in quick succession.
Reflecting on new life in America on the joyous Sinatra soul of Moondance (1970) and the country inflected Tupelo Honey (1971) he summoned old spiritual and ancestral life in the epic St Dominic’s Preview (1972) closer track Listen To The Lion.
Double live album Too Late To Stop Now (1973) highlighted Morrison’s superlative performing and bandleader skills. Mapping out a richly varied musical course throughout the 70s he shone among an all-star cast including Bob Dylan and Muddy Waters on The Band’s Last Waltz.
Indeed, borne of his Irish Showband instincts, the magic of the live performance has been a consistent feature of Morrison’s career.
Settling back into life in the UK in 1980 he released Common One an album centring on Summertime In England an extraordinary invocation of literary, sensual and spiritual pleasure the song would often become a thrilling improvised centrepiece to his live shows.
Steering his own course throughout the 80s on albums such as No Guru, No Method, No Teacher he claimed Celtic roots with The Chieftains on Irish Heartbeat. Teaming with Georgie Fame brought new impetus to his live show while Avalon Sunset saw him back in the album and single charts by the decades end.
Van Morrison continued to advance on his status as a game- changing artist through the 90s and into the 21st century.
Awards and accolades - a Brit, an OBE, an Ivor Novello, 6 Grammys, honourary doctorates from Queen’s University Belfast and the University of Ulster, entry into The Rock n Roll Hall of Fame and the French Ordres Des Artes Et Des Lettres - attested to the international reach of Van’s musical art.
Yet there was never any suggestion that Morrison, one of the most prolific recording artists and hardest working live performers of his era, would ever rest on his laurels.
Collaborations with, among others, John Lee Hooker, Ray Charles, Lonnie Donegan, Mose Allison and Tom Jones confirmed the breadth of his musical reach.
Morrison’s visionary songwriting and mastery of many genres continued to shine on albums celebrating and re-exploring his blues, jazz, skiffle and country roots.
The influence of the musical journey that began back in Post War Belfast stretches across the generations, and Morrison’s questing hunger insures that the journey itself continues.
Constantly reshaping his musical history in live performance, Morrison reclaimed Astral Weeks on 2009’s album Live At The Hollywood Bowl.
The subtitle of Van Morrison's latest album, Born to Sing: No Plan B, indicates the power that music still holds for this living legend. "No Plan B means this is not a rehearsal," says Morrison. "That’s the main thing—it’s not a hobby, it’s real, happening now, in real time."
With one of the most revered catalogues in music history and his unparalleled talents as composer, singer and performer Morrison’s past achievements loom large. But, as throughout his extraordinary career, how that past informs his future achievements and still stirs excitement and keen anticipation.
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