Saturday, March 17, 2007

Van The Man

It's St. Paddy's Day which is usually an excuse for all the rookies to hit the road stuffed to the gills with green beer and corned beef. As for me, I prefer to stay home, pour myself a pint of the black stuff and listen to my favorite Irish soul singer Van Morrison. If anyone out there comments that Van IS NOT a soul singer I'll have to beat you down Belfast style.
Van Morrison is certainly one of the more charismatic figures in all music. Notorious for being moody and unpredictable, it's not uncommon for Van to get upset and walk off a stage just a few minutes into his set never to return. A slave only to his own muse, Van has covered all genres with ease from jazz to pop to country to blues. Soulful, heartfelt vocals are the constant that have earned Van a cult following of rabid fans (myself included). If your only experiences with Van Morrison are Brown Eyed Girl and Moondance I strongly urge you to dig deeper in his vast catalog. You won't be disappointed.

Van Morrison: Chick-A-Boom

This is taken from Van's 1967 Bang Records sessions recorded just after his departure from his band Them. Not typically considered an essential Van recording, it has always been one of my personal favorites. It has a great bouncy energy and almost Latin vibe with it's LaBamba-esque guitar riff. I have to dance like a Muppet to this one!

Van Morrison: Bein' Green

Speaking of Muppets...Van does a great job interpreting this Joe Raposo classic made famous by the one and only Kermit the Frog. Taken from 1973's Hardnose The Highway Van's vocals and great backing band really tell the story. Border lining on schmaltz, Van manages to reel it in just enough to make it quite a moving tale of self acceptance.

Van Morrison: Georgia On My Mind

Here we really see the true soul of The Man. Taken from one of the many live bootlegs Van has left in his wake, this one has it all. Performed in the late 90's we hear Van's John Lee Hooker influenced wordplay and as a bonus two tremendous solos from none other than Fred Wesley and Candy Dulfer. I saw Van perform Georgia at a show several years back in LA and it nearly moved me to tears. He later recorded it on 2002's Down The Road where it somehow falls flat. It just shows the fragility of Van's talents. He can hit clunkers, but when he's feelin' it, Van IS the Man!

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