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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Classic Van Morrison Remastered

Written by Jon Williams

This week marks the re-release of Van Morrison’s landmark 1970 album Moondance. The standard edition features a complete remastering of the original album, while the expanded edition includes a second disc containing alternate takes and mixes of tracks from the album, as well as a number of previously unreleased tracks from the album’s recording sessions.

Morrison, a legendary Irish singer-songwriter, started his career as lead singer for a garage rock band simply called Them. After two albums (and a brief tour of the U.S., during part of which they were supported by an up-and-coming band called the Doors), Morrison left the band to embark on a solo career. He was generally unsatisfied with his 1967 debut compilation, Blowin’ Your Mind!, but the lead single “Brown-Eyed Girl” continues to be his signature hit more than 45 years later.

Given his distaste for that album, Morrison considers his second album, 1968’s Astral Weeks, to be his true debut. The album drew wide critical acclaim upon its release, and continues to do so—Rolling Stone, for instance, listed it #19 in its 2003 list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. Sales didn’t match the reviews, though, and Astral Weeks didn’t go Gold until 2001, 33 years after its release.

That wasn’t the case for Moondance, Morrison’s commercial breakthrough in 1970. It continued the critical success of Astral Weeks while also becoming popular with music buyers. From that point on, Van Morrison was a bona fide star. To capitalize on this success, another album, His Band and the Street Choir, was released later that same year. While it didn’t perform as well as Moondance, it did contain the single “Domino,” one of his biggest hits.

Unfortunately, the follow-up to that album, 1971’s Tupelo Honey, is currently out of print. I say “unfortunately” because that album contains my personal favorite of Morrison’s songs (and one of my favorite songs overall), the gorgeous title track. Fortunately, a version of the song can be found on the 2007 compilation The Best of Van Morrison, Vol. 3.

Now, nearly fifty years since his musical career began, Van Morrison is still going strong. His most recent album, 2012’s Born to Sing: No Plan B, contains ten original songs and was, again, well received critically. With 34 studio albums to his credit, he has covered any number of themes and genres. He has won two Grammy Awards and been nominated for several more. The albums Astral Weeks and Moondance are in the Grammy Hall of Fame, and Morrison himself was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993. Be sure to SmartBrowse his name on our homepage for a full list of albums available from this classic performer.

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