Posts Tagged ‘Van Morrison’

May be an image of text that says 'LATEST RECORD PROJECT VOLUME 7TH MAY 2021'

Van Morrison has shared the first single from his new album,”Latest Record Project: Volume 1“. It’s got the sound and spirit of a classic Van Morrison song and single: upbeat, swinging and cool. He merges purity and passion with R&B, rock and roll, blues and whimsy, resulting in a song that is essentially Van, a story told in real-time soul by one of the greatest of the greats.

The lyric is songwriter-oriented more directly than most songs, based on this minimization of the impact and meaning of any one song:

That idea, and the words chosen, echo quite closely what Bob Dylan said about his songs when I interviewed him in 1991. I asked about his song “Precious Angel,” from Slow Train Coming, and he said this: BOB DYLAN: It could go on forever … When people ask me, “How come you don’t sing that song anymore? “It’s just too much and not enough. … It’s too hard to wonder why about them. To me, they’re not worthy of wondering why about them. They’re songs. They’re not written in stone. They’re on plastic.

Either way, Van is invited to talk to us anytime. It would be our honour. He’s one of those songwriters whose songs matter forever. His impact on song writing is vast. People are forever getting through life with the great soulful and lyrical aid of his songs. And songwriters are forever exulting in those great little details, so specific that they become universal. Randy Newman, and other songwriters, told me they loved his song “Brown-Eyed Girl,” and especially this picture of young romance:

Making love in the green grass
Behind the stadium with you

From “Brown-Eyed Girl” by Van Morrison

“I just love that it’s ‘behind the stadium,’” Randy Newman said.

Latest Record Project: Volume 1 has a great range of songs. And the fact that this is Volume 1 indicates there is more coming, which means the man has been on song writing fire.

Both “Only A Song” and the recently released title track are provided as instant downloads to fans who pre-order the album. Latest Record Project: Volume 1 will be released May 7th via Exile/BMG.

Buy Online Van Morrison - Latest Record Project Volume 1 Standard 3LP

“Latest Record Project’ is the opening track and introduction to Van Morrison’s forthcoming 42nd studio album ‘Latest Record Project Vol. 1’ which explores the classic and timeless quality of the blues from a fresh perspective. Van charms the listener, soulfully singing “Have you got my latest record project?” Instinctive walking basslines, colourful backing vocals, and organ melodies bring warmth to his latest release. Equal parts blue-eyed soul shouter and wild-eyed poet-sorcerer, Van Morrison’s status as an artist of integrity and distinction is self-evident.

Van Morrison will release his 42nd album Latest Record Project: Volume 1 (Exile/BMG) on May 7th. The 28-track collection, weaved around Morrison’s love of jazz, R&B, blues, and soul, was born out of a period of forced isolation in 2020, following the onset of the pandemic. When Morrison found himself without a tour in site, he immersed himself in a constant flow of song writing, starting songs off on piano, guitar or saxophone as he pieced together the new material, all textured in his rhythm and soul.

The album’s title track is from the heart, wrapped in upbeat harmonies and backing sha la la las with Morrison reflecting a newfound excitement for his new music in Not something that you’re used to / Not something you might be able to relate to in the present through livelier refrains of Have you got my latest record project?

Other tracks revealed off Latest Record Project included an R&B tinged “Jealousy,” garage rock “Stop Bitching, Do Something,” and a more country-fused “A Few Bars Early.”

In releasing Latest Record Project, which will be available on double-CD, deluxe-CD, triple-vinyl and digital formats, Morrison says he’s breaking out of the rotation of his greatest hits. 

“I’m getting away from the perceived same songs, same albums all the time,” says Morrison ofLatest Record Project. “This guy’s done 500 songs, maybe more, so hello. Why do you keep promoting the same 10? I’m trying to get out of the box.”

The Official Lyric Video for Latest Record Project by Van Morrison. The new double album Latest Record Project Volume 1 will be release on 7th May 2021.

The Caledonia Soul Orchestra was the band created by Northern Irish singer-songwriter Van Morrison in 1973. The band was named after an eighteen-minute instrumental outtake on the His Band and the Street Choir album. Actually, Morrison could have released two more albums in 1973, because I’ve already posted an album he did of country standards recorded from 1971 to 1973, After the success of ”Astral Weeks” and  “Moondance”, Van Morrison initially wanted his third album for Warner Bros, “His Band And The Street Choir”, to be a vocal album. “It was originally a concept to do an a cappella album. Street Choir was to be an a cappella group and I wanted these certain guys to form a group so I could cut a lot of a cappella with just maybe one guitar,” Morrison later told biographer Ritchie Yorke. “But it didn’t turn out; it all got weird.”

In the end, His Band And The Street Choir, released on 15th November 1970, contained plenty of sizzling brass sounds – with Morrison himself playing tenor saxophone on the tracks Crazy Face and Call Me Up in Dreamland – in an album full of funky, radio-friendly singles. Guitarist John Platania said that when they finally got down to recording the album at A&R Recording Studios, in New York City, in the spring and summer of 1970, Morrison “had designs on getting stuff played on radio”.

The album’s biggest hit single was the opening track, “Domino”, a potent mix of R&B and funk that is, in part, a tribute to Fats Domino. “Hey Mr DJ/I just want to hear some rhythm and blues music/On the radio” sings Morrison on a song that gained plenty of airplay, and which earned the Belfast-born musician a Top 10 hit in the US. The bass, drums and horns meld brilliantly on Domino and it quickly became a song Morrison would regularly perform live. On the single, he even starts one chorus by shouting words “Dig it!”

One of the key musicians on the album was drummer Dahaud Elias Shaar, who went on to become an essential member of Morrison’s Caledonia Soul Orchestra backing band. Shaar, who also sang backing vocals and played bass clarinet on  His Band And The Street Choir, remembered “a positive vibe around that whole record”.

Few songs in Morrison’s career are as upbeat as Virgo Clowns, with its encouragement to “let your laughter fill the room”. The song was inspired by the memory of Morrison playing with his young daughter Shana. “We’ve become so serious, we get too heavy about what everything means,” Morrison told Melody Maker. “I was sitting one day feeling very heavy, and my daughter came up to me and started cracking up. And then I started cracking up when I realised it. I’m sitting here thinking that it’s all too serious and it’s not.”

Though “Give Me A Kiss” was a rather formulaic love song, the inventive “I’ll Be Your Lover Too” was sung with soulful intensity. You can hear Morrison ask “How’s that?” at the end of the tender love song. Crazy Face is about a man who pulls out a gun and announces, “I got it from Jesse James” – an appropriate song for Morrison, given that he had recently been nicknamed The Belfast Cowboy by The Band’s Robbie Robertson.

The splendidly infectious rocker I’ve Been Working was an out-take from Moondance, while Morrison sings some splendid falsetto on Gypsy Queen. When Jon Landau reviewed the album for Rolling Stone in February 1971 he was particularly impressed by “the powerful “Call Me Up in Dreamland”, which he described as “the singalong of the year”.

Landau also hailed the closing track, Street Choir, as one of the singer’s “two or three finest songs”. The plaintive chorus (“Why did you leave America?/Why did you let me down?”) was sung by The Street Choir, who comprised Shaar, Andy Robinson, Larry Goldsmith, Ellen Schroer (wife of the album’s saxophonist, Jack Schroer), Martha Velez (wife of trumpeter Keith Johnson) and Morrison’s then wife, Janet Planet.

Planet, who divorced Morrison a couple of years later, was living in Woodstock with the singer at the time the album was made, and she is the subject of the love song Sweet Jannie. Planet designed the His Band And The Street Choir album cover and wrote the original sleeve notes, on which she gushed: “This is the album that you must sing with, dance to, you must find a place for the songs somewhere in your life. They belong to you now, dear listener, especially for you.”

Morrison has sometimes expressed dissatisfaction over an album that he said he “cranked out”, but His Band And The Street Choir retains a real charm and features several Morrison classics, especially Domino and I’ve Been Working. One of the overlooked gems is the religious If I Ever Needed Someone, which features a stunning trio of backing singers. Morrison specially hired gospel stars Judy Clay and Jackie Verdell along with Emily “Cissy” Houston – the mother of Whitney Houston who, in her own right, won Grammys as a solo artist after having worked with Elvis Presley and Aretha Franklin – and they provided superb support for his heartfelt singing.

As for this album, the highlight has to be song from the session which was excluded on the album is this wonderful track “Caledonia Soul Music.” It’s seventeen minutes long and mostly instrumental. 

His+Band+and+The+Street+Choir+s

Van’s third solo album, November 1970’s His Band and the Street Choir, will never be considered one of Van’s grand statements, but it holds its place as a necessary piece of the Van Morrison puzzle. And is cherished by many Van the Man fans, who should enjoy this remastered and expanded near gem.

The songs on Street Choir are relatively compact and seemingly quite well-adjusted. Any allusions to being a “stranger in this world” appear to have been quelled by the band who achieve a perfect groove. “Domino” so immediately announces its ease of execution that Van can’t help but glide over the backing band with a sense of freedom so contagious that every listener floats on its merry wave. This sense of camaraderie among the players – enforced by the album’s photos taken at a birthday party for Peter, the son of Van Morrison’s then-wife Janet Planet – enabled Van to nail down several songs that had previously eluded him, including “Domino,” that hailed from the Astral Weeks-era of November 1968, according to Cory Frye’s informative liner notes.

The album itself was meant to capitalize on Van’s current hot streak withMoondance, whose single “Come Running” peaked at #39. His manager, Mary Martin, convinced him to return to New York’s A&R Studios, only a month after that album’s release. Working with the stellar core group of guitarist John Plantania, saxophonist Jack Schroer, bassist John Klingberg and the addition of keyboardist Alan Hand, trumpeter/organist Keith Johnson, and tour drummer Dahaud Elias Shaar (aka Daoud Shaw and David Shaw). Van rehearsed in an old church in Woodstock, NY, before laying down the official tracks in the studio. Martin’s instincts proved correct, as the album’s first single, “Domino,” went to No#9, Van’s highest charting pop hit in the U.S., passing “Brown Eyed Girl” (#10) by a notch.

His Band and the Street Choir is another beautiful phase in the continuing development of one of the few originals left in rock. In his own mysterious way. Van Morrison continues to shake his head, strum his guitar and to sing his songs. He knows it’s too late to stop now and he quit trying to a long, long time ago. Meanwhile, the song he is singing keeps getting better and better.”- John Landau,

The Album also called “Street Choir”  was the fourth solo album by Northern Irish singer-songwriter Van Morrison. It was released on 15th November 1970 by Warner Bros. Records. Originally titled “Virgo’s Fool”  but was renamed by Warner Bros. without Morrison’s consent. Recording began in early 1970 with a demo session in a small church in Woodstock, New York. Morrison booked the A&R Studios on 46th Street in New York City in the second quarter of 1970 to produce two sessions of songs that were released on His Band and the Street Choir. Reviewers praised the music of both sessions for its free, relaxed sound, but the lyrics were considered to be simple compared with those of his previous work. Morrison had intended to record the album a cappella with only vocal backing by a vocal group he called the Street Choir, but the songs released on the album that included the choir also featured a backing band. Morrison was dissatisfied with additional vocalists to the original quintet that made up the choir,

Compared to the meditative beast that is Saint Dominic’s Preview (1972), with its twin 10-minute-plus epics, “Listen to the Lion” and “Almost Independence Day,” or the complete return-to-Ireland masterpiece that is Veedon Fleece (1974), Street Choir feels less ambitious. However, one should never discount Van’s handling of more succinct material. The Fats Domino homages are obvious (“Domino,” “Blue Money”) and slightly under the radar (“Give Me a Kiss”) and occasionally come across as workmanlike. But considering the Belfast fireplug’s impulsive phrasings and his behind-the-beat inclinations are always just an Irish Heartbeat away from creating an alternative Ulster R&B universe, it’s worth giving him his genre exercises. Besides, pianist Alan Hand works double-time to ensure everything rolls as it should.

Anyone versed in Van’s career knows he doesn’t stay in one place for long and no amount of Fats Domino love is going to contain him. Street Choir’s best moments –besides the ease of “Domino,” the Curtis Mayfield sweetness of “Gypsy Queen,” and the meditative acoustic revelry of “I’ll Be Your Lover, Too” – come from the full-band blast-off of “Call Me Up in Dreamland,” where all is pure locomotion with Van on tenor sax, “Virgo Clowns,” where loosely doubled vocals create a rare-but-effective moment of joy from the legendary crank, and the closing duo of “If I Ever Needed Someone” and “Street Choir,” where Van teases out a George Harrison sentiment to the breaking point and Keith Johnson’s organ takes the title track to the next astral plane.

Essentially, it’s A-minus Van Morrison, which is still light years beyond all but ‘A’ list artists like the Stones, Kinks, Dylan, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Ornette Coleman, Thelonious Monk, Sonics and Stooges. The original album packed 12 songs with no room for the improvisational sidetracking that makes his A-plus discs impossible to beat. At the same time, the album came just eight months after its predecessor and 11 months before its followup, Tupelo Honey. It wasn’t like Springsteen or Paul Simon who took lifetimes between releases. Despite Van’s masterful reach, he’s never treated any of his work as so precious that it had to be shined a thousand ways before final release. If something isn’t working, he moves on to something else and saves the idea for another day. Van’s genius is rarely in the writing. As a lyricist, he’s often lazy and as a songwriter he rarely ventures beyond the usual chords. Though he’s done more with two chords than most musicians do with a full arsenal. Van’s genius is in the execution.

The bonus tracks – alternate takes of “Call Me Up in Dreamland,” “Give Me a Kiss” and “Gypsy Queen” and alternate ‘versions’ of “I’ve Been Working” and “I’ll Be Your Lover, Too” (distinctions between ’takes’ and ‘versions’ not apparent) – mostly offer unvarnished, simpler takes that since not chosen were not subjected to overdubs.

Regarding these bonuses, all are welcomed, though none shock the system. (Inexplicably, the seventeen-minute instrumental “Caledonia Soul Music” was eliminated from the final product.) The alternate version of “I’ve Been Working” is mildly quicker and looser with an extended sax solo in its mid-section. “I’ll Be Your Lover, Too,” the album’s most meditative and heartfelt cut, puts Van’s vocal right in your ear, without the mild studio reverb of the official track and with yet another superlative performance. “Gypsy Queen,” the first cousin to Moondance’s “Crazy Love,” begins with several false starts before aiming for – and landing in – the heavens. It’s another fine alternate take that illustrates how Van had these songs where he wanted them at this point and could at any moment out-sing just about anyone not named Stevie Wonder or Al Green.

Van Morrison has released the third of three new songs that’s he’s recorded to protest the “ongoing U.K. lockdown restrictions.” “No More Lockdown” arrived October 23rd, following the release of “As I Walked Out” on October 9th, and “Born To Be Free,” which he released on September 25th. Morrison says he will donate the profits from the songs to charity to support musicians impacted by the ongoing lockdown. The singer-songwriter resumed touring on September 3rd with the first of several socially distanced concerts for 2020. Listen to all three of them below.

Profits from the songs will be steered to the Van Morrison Rhythm and Blues Foundation, which aids musicians. “No more taking our freedom, and our God-given rights,” Morrison sings on “No More Lockdown.”

On August. 25th, Morrison wrote, “We are doing socially distanced gigs. This is not a sign of compliance or acceptance of the current state of affairs; this is to get my band up and running and out of the doldrums. This is also not the answer going forward.

“I call on my fellow singers, musicians, writers, producers, promoters and others in the industry to fight with me on this. Come forward, stand up, fight the pseudo-science and speak up.”

“As I walked out,” Morrison sings on “As I Walked Out,” “all the streets were empty. The government said, ‘Everyone should stay home.’ And they spread fearing and loathing, and no hope for the future. Not many did question this very strange move.” On “Born To Be Free,” Morrison sings, “Don’t need the government cramping my style. Give them an inch they take a mile.”

Morrison performed the first of several socially distanced concerts for 2020 on September. 3rd in Newcastle, U.K., and then two more in the London borough of Camden, on Sept. 5-6. The dates followed his August statement in which he railed upon the “pseudo-science” associated with the Covid-19 pandemic.

He’s since added several more for this autumn, some of which are billed as “Save Life Performance” concerts. Many of the other upcoming concerts were postponed from earlier this year; all have limited capacity. Eric Clapton offered his support, writing, “There are many of us who support Van and his endeavours to save live music, he is an inspiration! We must stand up and be counted.”

To date, Morrison has released 40 albums. His newest, Three Chords and the Truth, was released on Exile/Caroline International in Oct. 2019. (Before that came 2018’s The Prophet Speaks, where he returned to his blues roots.) Morrison’s biggest hits include “Brown Eyed Girl,” “Have I Told You Lately,” “Moondance” and “Into the Mystic.” In 2018, he celebrated the 50th anniversary of the release of his Astral Weeks album in 1968.

Morrison turned 75 on August 31st

Exile Records Released on: 2020-09-25 Producer: Composer: Lyricist: Van Morrison

See the source image

On this day (March. 28th) in 1967: Van Morrison recorded the track “Brown Eyed Girl” during a two-day session at A&R Studios in New York City; written by Van, it was one of eight songs recorded at the time for his new record label, Bang Records; produced by Bang founder Bert Berns in 22 takes, the finished version was different than what Van had envisioned; “The record came out different,” he later explained…”This fellow Bert, he made it the way he wanted it & I accepted the fact that he was producing it, so I just let him do it”…(this fab clip from 1973, likely more how Van heard it…). The song spent a total of sixteen weeks on the chart. It featured the Sweet Inspirations singing back-up vocals and is considered to be Van Morrison’s signature song. “Brown Eyed Girl” has remained a staple on classic rock radio, and has been covered by hundreds of bands over the decades.

Because of a contract he signed with Bang Records without legal advice, Morrison states that he has never received any royalties for writing or recording this song. Morrison vented frustration about this unjust contract in his sarcastic nonsense song “The Big Royalty Check”. Morrison has stated that “Brown Eyed Girl” is not among his favourite songs, remarking “it’s not one of my best. I mean I’ve got about 300 songs that I think are better.

After finishing his contract with “Decca Records” and the mid-1966 break-up of his band, Them , Morrison returned to Belfast seeking a new recording company. When he received a phone call from Bert Berns owner of Bang Records who had produced a number of recordings with Them, he flew to New York City and hastily signed a contract (which biographer Clinton Heylin says probably still gives him sleepless nights). During a two-day recording session starting 28th March 1967, he recorded eight songs intended to be used as four singles. The recording session took place at A & R Studios and “Brown Eyed Girl” was captured on the 22nd take on the first day. Of the musicians Berns had assembled, there were three guitarists Eric Gale Hugh McCracken and Al Gorgoni plus bassist Russ Savakus pianist Paul Griffin and drummer Gary Chester It was released as a single in mid-June 1967.

Originally titled “Brown-Skinned Girl”,Morrison changed it to “Brown Eyed Girl” when he recorded it. Morrison remarked on the title change: “That was just a mistake. It was a kind of Jamaican song. Calypso. It just slipped my mind [that] I changed the title. After we’d recorded it, I looked at the tape box and didn’t even notice that I’d changed the title. I looked at the box where I’d lain it down with my guitar and it said ‘Brown Eyed Girl’ on the tape box. It’s just one of those things that happen.

The song’s nostalgic lyrics about a former love were considered too suggestive at the time to be played on many radio stations. A radio-edit of the song was released which removed the lyrics “making love in the green grass”, replacing them with “laughin’ and a-runnin’, hey hey” from a previous verse. This edited version appears on some copies of the compilation album The Best of Van Morrison. However, the remastered album seems to have the bowdlerised lyrics in the packaging but the original “racy” lyrics on the disc.

“Brown Eyed Girl” joined an elite group of songs as it was honoured for having 10 million US radio air plays

Van Morrison Three Chords and the Truth

Van Morrison has announced a new album, “Three Chords and the Truth”, and shared its lead single, “Dark Night of the Soul”.
Due out October 25th via Exile/Caroline International, the new LP marks Morrison’s 41st record overall and sixth in just the last four years. It’s follows 2018’s The Prophet Speak and You’re Driving Me Crazy, his collaborative effort with jazz musician Joey DeFrancesco.Morrison produced and wrote all the tracks himself, save for “If We Wait for Mountains”, which was co-written with Don Black. Guitarist Jay Berliner, who played on the classic Astral Weeks, contributed to the sessions, while The Righteous Brothers’ Bill Medley appears on the duet “Fame Will Eat the Soul”.

“Dark Night of the Soul” serves as a first listen to the 14-track collection. The song is vintage Morrison, mid-tempo and as graceful as an evening breeze. Smooth instrumentation provides a velveteen bedding for Morrison’s ageless vocals, which he really unleashes on the marathon of runs during the closing third.

Take a listen below, and pre-order Three Chords and the Truth at Morrison’s website.

Van Morrison and Joey Defrancesco / You're Driving Me Crazy

The Calendonian soul singer reworks solo material, jazz and blues standards on 39th album, featuring Hammond organ/trumpet player Joey DeFrancesco . Van reinvents jazz, blues standards and deep cuts from his catalog on the new LP, You’re Driving Me Crazy, released back in April via Sony Legacy Recordings. The soul singer collaborated with Hammond organ/trumpet virtuoso Joey DeFrancesco on the album, which is his 39th studio project.

Van Morrison’s third album in a matter of months – following the bluesy Roll With the Punches and the jazz-focused Versatile – seems to have been sparked by musical camaraderie as much as by any overt creative impulse. Both of those 2017 albums featured Morrison band regulars, while You’re Driving Me Crazy finds him working with organist Joey DeFrancesco and his sizzling soul-jazz combo. Both share an enduring desire to preserve mid-century music – but also to extend its reach. Like Morrison, DeFrancesco is no staunch traditionalist. They fiddle with the genre, revel in it. The results can’t exactly be called ground breaking, but You’re Driving Me Crazy crackles with wit and verve. That’s contagious.

Jazz journeyman DeFrancesco – who has previously worked with Miles Davis, John McLaughlin and Grover Washington Jr. – recruited his own band for the Morrison sessions, with guitarist Dan Wilson, drummer Michael Ode and tenor saxophone player Troy Roberts contributing to the LP.

You’re Driving Me Crazy alsoincludes reworked jazz and blues classics (Peter Chatman’s “Every Day I Have the Blues,” Eddie Jones’ “The Things I Used to Do,” Cole Porter’s “Miss Otis Regrets”) alongside tunes from throughout Morrison’s discography (“The Way Young Lovers Do from 1968’s Astral Weeks through the title-track to 2005’s Magic Time).

The Prophet Speaks is Van Morrison’s 40th studio album and will be released on 7th December. This 14 track album follows a recent run of hugely acclaimed albums (Roll With The Punches, Versatile and You’re Driving Me Crazy), each delving into musical styles that have inspired Van throughout his life – vocal jazz and R&B. Here, Van takes on a series of classics by the likes of John Lee Hooker, Sam Cooke and Solomon Burke and makes them unmistakably his own, alongside six phenomenal new Van compositions.

Van the Man has been revisiting his roots with set after set of jumping jazz, blustery blues and classic R&B standards. With his gruff vocals and natural sway, the so-called Belfast Cowboy revisited the music with an authenticity and eagerness that’s never deserted him throughout his 50 plus year career. Here again, his enthusiasm is infectious, from the effusive shout-out of “Got To Go Where the Love Is,” one of half a dozen songs Morrison contributes to this 14 song set, to the easy, seemingly effortless swing and sass of “Dimples,” “Laughin’ and Clownin’” and “Greenwich Mean Time.” Clearly Van’s still got his groove, and his devotion to form is evident throughout. Indeed, his effortless sway on “I Love the Life I Live” seems to bear out the sentiments expressed in the title. The Prophet Speaks becomes a matter of his own personal preference. The rural backwoods Morrison of Tupelo Honey, Morrison, the celestial traveler of Astral Weeks and Morrison, the Celtic crooner that shared his ancient hymns throughout the ‘80s have clearly succumbed to his new persona as a timeless troubadour of a distinctly vintage variety.

The Prophet Speaks is Van Morrison’s is released via Caroline International. Van takes on a series of unarguable classics by the likes of John Lee Hooker, Sam Cooke and Solomon Burke (among others) and makes them unmistakably his own. Alongside these reinterpretations,

The latest track ‘Spirit Will Provide‘ Taken from the forthcoming album ‘The Prophet Speaks’ out on 7th December.

 

Summer 1968 was a transitional time for the Belfast Cowboy Van Morrison. Recently departed from his garage rock band Them and unsatisfied with the release of debut solo album “Blowin’ Your Mind”, he was determined to move his music from the peppy pop of “Brown Eyed Girl” to someplace deeper. He was briefly living in the Boston area, where he conceived of the mystical blend of soul, jazz, folk, and Celtic music that would define his masterpiece of a second album Astral Weeks

Crucial to the development of that sound were a series of live performances in August at a small subterranean club called the Catacombs, backed by a local bassist and flautist. Writer and musician Ryan Walsh, in his book about the album and wider happenings in Boston at the time (also called Astral Weeks), He describes a recording of one of those Catacombs gigs, perhaps the only known document of this embryonic stage of an album that is routinely cited as among the greatest of all time. The recording was never released, nor was it circulated as a bootleg. Much of the Astral Weeks book is spent documenting Walsh’s own heroic efforts to find a recording copy.

Then, on Wednesday of this week, an official download of the recording, simply titled Live in Boston 1968suddenly appeared online as an official download. It was only available via iTunes UK, and the cover art was essentially blank. But by Thursday afternoon, this rarest of rare recordings had disappeared again, wiped from the store. Van Morrison has always been a bit of a strange guy, but this was bizarre even for him.

Walsh has a pretty good theory about what’s happening here. He speculated that the release was intended as a “copyright dump.” By officially making the recording available for purchase, according to Walsh, Morrison is asserting and preserving his copyright over it before it defaults to the public domain in January, 50 years after it was made. The optimistic interpretation of this move is that Morrison is gearing up to release the show officially; the pessimistic interpretation is that he’s moving to block anyone who would attempt do so themselves after it became public domain. Either way, it would not be surprising if this were spurred on by Walsh’s book, which was published in March of this year. If you missed out on downloading the show yourself, it seems likely that it will soon pop up via various non-sanctioned channels if it hasn’t already, now that it’s out there.


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