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Van Morrison

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Belfast, Northern Ireland (1958 – present)

George Ivan Morrison (generally known as Van Morrison) (born 31 August 1945) is a Grammy Award-winning artist from Belfast, Northern Ireland. He’s a singer, songwriter, author, poet, and multi-instrumentalist, who has been a professional musician since 1958. He plays a variety of instruments, including the guitar, harmonica, keyboards, drums, and saxophone. Featuring his characteristic growl - a unique mix of folk, blues, Irish, scat, and Celtic influences - Morrison is widely considered one of the most unusual and influential vocalists in the history of rock and roll.

Known as “Van the Man” by his fans, Morrison first rose to prominence as the lead singer of the Northern Irish band Them, writing their 1964 hit “Gloria”. A few years later, Morrison left the band for a successful solo career, starting with the album Astral Weeks.

Morrison has pursued an idiosyncratic musical path. Much of his music is tightly structured around the conventions of American soul and R&B, such as the popular singles “Brown Eyed Girl”, “Moondance”, “Domino”, and “Wild Night”. An equal part of his catalogue consists of lengthy, loosely connected, spiritually inspired musical journeys that show the influence of Celtic tradition, jazz, and stream-of-consciousness narrative, such as his classic album Astral Weeks and lesser known works such as Veedon Fleece and Common One. The two strains together are sometimes referred to as “Celtic Soul,” and Morrison rejects the characterization of his genre of music as Rock, citing Elvis Presley as a non-influence.

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  • Nakkinak

    his 80s albums are insane

    4 Aug 2:25pm Reply
  • Irryco

    Astral Weeks and Veedon Fleece are mine.

    30 Jul 12:26pm Reply
  • Tymbolic

    Not that anyone cares, but Tupelo Honey and Veedon Fleece are my favorites.

    24 Jul 5:17pm Reply
  • Irryco

    If you like his early 80s albums, especially Beautiful Vision, his "Live at the grand opera house in Belfast" from 1984 is a must.

    22 Jul 6:49pm Reply
  • towlesda

    I'm starting to think that Veedon Fleece is his best album.

    24 Jun 2:41pm Reply
  • Irryco

    The song Ancient Highway is one of the highlights of his career, I think. :)

    9 Jun 12:32pm Reply
  • ralfsu

    The 'Days Like This' album is rather good !

    9 Jun 9:52am Reply
  • Keila_M

    Tupelo Honey ♥

    25 May 9:32am Reply
  • Irryco

    Check out the latest issue of Uncut for a very nice text about Veedon Fleece. :)

    27 Apr 1:29pm Reply
  • TheUselessGolem

    Hm. Interesting point. I don't know when I'll get to hear the whole thing, but someday we'll discuss it further.

    29 Mar 1:59pm Reply
  • ralfsu

    I think it breaks the spell of the album a LITTLE, I mean his stuff is so archaic and transcendental that just taking the journey there to 1969 to A&R Studios and hearing him go through these songs one by one with those involved making comments inbetween just destroys its magic, but maybe that's just me. I understand releasing box sets like that in the case of for example The Beach Boys where you can experience how they worked their cohesive harmonies into their multi-layered songs but in the case Van, it doesn't do much to hear 11 Caravans. Some of those outtakes are real shiners nonetheless.

    28 Mar 11:13pm Reply
  • TheUselessGolem

    I've only heard the samples on Rolling Stone's website but they were goooood. And you're certainly right that such a thing isn't "necessary" - but for the obsessives, or for fellow musicmakers like I hope to be, an entire session becoming available like that is an unbelievably cool thing.

    28 Mar 1:10pm Reply
  • ralfsu

    Well the Moondance remaster sure sounds like a million dollars, some of the outtakes are pretty lovely too, although I question the necessity of such a box set... Apparently Van wasn't happy either, he never granted permission for such a release!

    27 Mar 7:50am Reply
  • TheUselessGolem

    Van is certainly an artist who just keeps carrying on, but I'd cite him as a rare example of someone who can get away with it. A record like Days Like This, thirty years into the man's career, breaks no new ground whatsoever, for music or for Van, and yet it's terrific.

    21 Mar 10:08am Reply
  • Irryco

    I don't agree with you on that point.

    8 Mar 6:14pm Reply
  • RussellChap

    Van Morrison is a case of an artist who keeps going doing his thing. Pity most of it has been uninteresting for the last 30 years or so. Sometimes just carrying on is the worse thing an artist can do.

    7 Mar 10:51pm Reply
  • FrankShiner

    I recently had the honor of recording Van's Brand New Day with producer Gary Katz of Steely Dan renown. If you get a chance please check it out and let me know what you think. http://youtu.be/8wN00ImO8Yk

    5 Mar 2:20am Reply
  • BJBooth

    I've been lucky enough due to my age to have been listening to Van M since his days with Them. It's practically impossible to put in order his best songs or albums. He has always been, as Neil Young has, dedicated to communicating his feelings as they occur and in different styles. Astral Weeks and Too Long for Exile would be my first two favorites but it's impossible not to appreciate the ground-breaking influence Moondance had, although Moondance tends to be over played. The performance with the Band on The Last Waltz is up there, as is too many other albums to mention. The best idea: get his entire library, lay back for the weekend it will take to listen to it all, and note the numbers that move you the most. Knowing his favorite bluesman was John Lee Hooker, I would recommend his Too Long In Exile album to the novice. His voice and lyrics are pretty much unparalleled. We are fortunate that he's still producing great works.

    3 Mar 10:17pm Reply
  • Irryco

    Nice choices! Hmm, yeah, Astral weeks is obvious for the 60s. Though, I like Them, they are not close to Astral Weeks. Veedon Fleece for the 70s. It is also clear for me, with Saint dominic's Preview on second place and Moondance and Into the Music close behind. The 80s is tougher, but for me it is between Common one and No Guru. It is very hard because both are among my favourites of his, but I might choose No Guru in the end. I would say Hymns to the silence for the 90s with The Healing Game and Enlightenment behind. The 00s is pretty easy for me, I'd say Magic Times. :) And he has only released one album this decade, so far.

    25 Feb 5:53pm Reply
  • TheUselessGolem

    I haven't been thorough enough with the '90s yet, nor reached the '00s, but it's the back-to-back of Into the Music and Common One for me, with Saint Dominic's Preview and Beautiful Vision right behind in their respective decades. Astral Weeks for the '60s, of course; I've never gotten too into Them, but I doubt many would put one of those two records, or the meant-to-be-singles Bang Sessions stuff, over Astral Weeks. How about you, lrryco?

    25 Feb 12:21am Reply
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