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Soundtracks To Our Lives W/E 11/01/03
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Fitter Stoke
Fitter Stoke
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Soundtracks To Our Lives W/E 11/01/03
Jan 12, 2003, 12:22
Joolio's a bit late this week it seems, so I hope he won't mind me getting his weekly thread underway instead.

It's been a week dominated by Van Morrison for me, spurred on by Clinton Heylin's new biography which I've just finished reading. I've largely enjoyed the book, but have reservations about the continually dismissive tone that pervades it - exactly why the author is so down on The Man isn't explained - and some of his opinions on Morrison's oeuvre which are different to say the least. Sure, Van the Man is a curmudgeonly, twisted beast much of the time, but the one thing that makes himself and his music so vital for me is the sheer love of music that has sent him on his endless search for perfection and ultimate "enlightenment". He'll never find it of course, and this is in part what makes him so difficult. Too much of Heylin's book is wasted on accounts of Van being an asshole. Which of course, he is. Tell me something new! But it's sent me back to Morrison's vast back catalogue with renewed vigour, so it must have achieved something.

So, this week I listened to:

'His Band And Street Choir' - surely the Man's most 'feel good' record from a time of comparative domestic peace. Even non-fans would find something to enjoy on this one;

'Veedon Fleece' - rightly hailed by Heylin as the nearest thing to an 'Astral Weeks' follow up. If not quite as inspired as that seminal release, it has an atmosphere and feel that I find wholly satisying;

'A Period Of Transition' - not The Man's best album, it's true - but Heylin and others are too critical of what is the funkiest record he's ever made. I'd've loved to have had more from the collaboration with Dr John;

'Wavelength' - hmmm. Maybe Heylin's right about this one. Van was never a pop singer is the conventional sense;

'Into The Music' - another uncharacteristically positive release from 1979;

'Beautiful Vision' - just a lovely album. Nuff said;

'Too Long In Exile' - another record that is much better than how Heylin descibes it. Late Van bringing his R & B chops back out to play;

'The Philosopher's Stone' - easily the best collection of outtakes ever released by anybody. Quite why his 1975 recordings, for example, were rejected at the time is beyond me. There's not one track here that isn't at least the equal of anything that made the relevant final album cuts. Essential to all fans.

I also bought a cheap box set of three of Deep Purple's 1990's albums - 'Slaves and Masters', 'The Battle Rages On' and 'Purpendicular'. So far I've only played the first named, and can't say I was blown away by it. Sounds too much like the (dangerously AOR) later Rainbow albums for my liking, probably because of Joe Lynn Turner's presence. Luckily the other two albums feature Gillan instead. I'll play 'em this week if I can keep the Van Morrison albums away.

I've been playing that 'Harvest Festival' label retrospective some more too. God, I'd love to get my mitts on the Bakerloo, Quatermass and Forest albums, rated at up to £100 apiece! On the evidence of the Bakerloo track, that band sounded the spit of Blodwyn Pig - no bad thing. Anybody got a copy of their only album?

Rave on John Donne and all that,

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