Wednesday, September 23, 2015

on a couple of VM records

Of Van Morrison's great early records, aside from Veedon Fleece, the one least-mentioned, least-lauded by those in the know (critics, super-fans) is "His Band and the Street Choir." I imagine that's because this record has little-to-none of his "mystical" bent but is mostly straight R&B and bluesy stuff, up until the album closer, "Street Choir," which actually aspires to a different kind of height, a semi-veiled paean to immigrant experience and disillusionment, wrapped in the well-worn tropes of lost love. But I wonder how many casual listeners make it to the final track.

Tupelo Honey is similarly rootsy, this time with a feel the kids these days would call "Americana." I jokingly refer to it as Van's Country Album, and if His Band and the Street Choir was a celebration of American music, of urban life, Tupelo Honey is the other side of that American dream, a rough pastoral, an ode to country living, not an ounce of Irish Mysticism present. But there's the soaring beauty of the lengthy title track that lifts it out of the backwoods, and elevates the lowly magic of the rest of the music here.

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