Here goes with day 56 of my countdown of 75 Albums that in my opinion should have a place in everyones music collection. They are not in any particular order though the top 10 will be my personal take on the top 10 albums ever released. You might be surprised at some of my picks and some of my omissions. Feel free to chime in with your comments and let me know if you love (or hate my choices).
Van Morrison – Moondance
Let me stay straight out that Moondance is an almost peerless recording, it is innovative, displays a wide range of influences, has probably the best ‘A’ side of any album ever, the musicianship is nothing short of extraordinary, the lyrics sublime and Morrison’s voice is simply incredible. This is an album that deserves to be in anyones top 10 albums. So why isn’t it in mine? Two reasons! Firstly I hate the title track. Most definitely a case of over exposure, I have seen Morrison live over 200 times and frankly I just got sick of hearing the song. it has also been covered by just about every jazz influenced artist on the face of the planet. The second reason is the track on side 2 ‘Everyone’, it is a pretty dreadful song and so out of place on this great album that it sticks out like a sore thumb.
Across the album van displays his love of American Blues, Jazz and Soul music. The jazz infused creativity and spontaneity of Jeff Labes on keys, John Platania on Guitar and Jack Schroer on Sax blows through the album like a warm summer breeze. The ‘A’ side of the album is as near a perfect 20 minutes of music as you are ever likely to hear. From the opening notes of ‘And it Stoned me’ to the closing foghorn whistles of ‘Into The Mystic’ you should simply sit back, close your eyes and let Morrison and his band transport you to a much better world. A world of Jelly Roll (Morton), of letting your soul and spirit fly into the mystic, of dancing with Emma Rose by the firelight next to a Gypsy Caravan. As Morrison says in ‘Caravan’ Turn it up, turn it up, so you know it’s got soul. It is a marvellous, joyful, life affirming, uplifting experience of life, love, passion and hope.
“It Stoned Me” is a folk infused tale of childhood reminiscing, Moondance a jazz influenced soul classic, “Into the Mystic” and “Crazy Love” are slow burning addictive, slow dance numbers that gradually worm their way under your skin filling every fibre of you being with warm comfort. It is the perfect antidote to a cold winter evening. Through it all Morrison’s voice is pure gold, stunning in its delivery, pace and phrasing.
The first side of the album sets the bar impossibly high and to be honest, at least for me, the second side doesn’t quite hit those heights. With the exception of ‘Everyone’ the songs are of a quality that lesser mortals can only dream of attaining. That said it does feel a little like ‘after the Lord Mayors Parade’ to me. Nonetheless a quite brilliant album from a master songwriter.
- 75 Essential Albums – #1 – Van Morrison – Astral Weeks
- 75 Essential Albums – #2 Van Morrison – No Guru, No Method, No Teacher
- 75 Essential Albums – #3 Stiff Little Fingers
- 75 Essential Albums – #4 The Levellers
- 75 Essential Albums – #5 Van Morrison – Into The Music
- 75 Essential Albums – #6 – The Clash – London Calling
- 75 Essential Albums – #7 Ramones
- 75 Essential Albums – #8 Nirvana – Nevermind
- 75 Essential Albums – #9 Bruce Springsteen – Born To Run
- 75 Essential Albums – #10 RedHot Chili Peppers – Californication
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