Archive for Van Morrison

Video Du Jour: Van Morrison

Posted in News with tags on October 7, 2012 by 30daysout

Van Morrison has a new album out, Born To Sing: No Plan B,  which features him playing saxophone, guitar, piano and yes, singing. It is Van’s 35th solo album, and it was recorded in his hometown of Belfast.

Van Morrison official web site

Kiss me, it’s St. Patrick’s Day

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 14, 2011 by 30daysout

Trying to recall St. Patricks’ Days past is always a hazardous endeavor.  If you can’t remember one for some, ah, reason … then you can’t remember any! For the past seven years or so St. Paddy’s Day shenanigans have gotten a little mixed up for me. That’s because it always falls in the middle of SXSW madness – the beer always flows anyway.

Well this year I’m taking some Irish music with me … not that there won’t be some playing around Austin during the festivities. Irish music is a lot like the Cajun music I grew up with – that shit rocks out. And you can’t seem to get enough of it. Nevertheless, here’s my St. Patrick’s Day mix that is good for drinking along to, or not.

MP3: “Irish Drinking Song (Drink And Fight)” by Buck O’ Nine

MP3: “As I Roved Out” by The Hit The Bottle Boys

MP3: “Celtic Rock” by Donovan

MP3: “Whiskey In The Jar” by Thin Lizzy

MP3: “I Useta Lover” by the Saw Doctors

MP3: “Ditch” by Irish Stew Of Sindidun

MP3: “I Know My Love” by Maura O’Connell

MP3: “March To Battle (Across The Rio Grande)” by The Chieftains & Ry Cooder w/Liam Neeson

MP3: “Sunday Bloody Sunday” by U2

MP3: “And A Bang On The Ear” by the Waterboys

MP3: “Thank Christ For The Kids” by the Mighty Stef

MP3: “Danny Boy” by the Three Irish Tenors

MP3: “Celtic New Year” by Van Morrison

MP3: “Haste To The Wedding” by the Corrs

MP3: “Cracklin’ Rosie” by Shane MacGowan & the Popes

MP3: “Celtic Storm” by the Mighty Regis

MP3: “Whiskey Makes Me Crazy” by The Tossers

MP3: “Tomorrow Comes A Day Too Soon” by Flogging Molly

MP3: “Paint The Town Red 2010” (The Fighter mix) by the Mahones

MP3: “Body Of An American” by the Pogues

MP3: “The Irish Rover” by the Dropkick Murphys

MP3: “Kiss Me, I’m Shitfaced” by the Dropkick Murphys

Sampler Daze: The WB/Reprise Loss Leaders, Part 11

Posted in Lost Classics! with tags , , , , , , , , on September 26, 2009 by 30daysout

cookbook limo

By 1977 Warner Bros. had quite a stable of artists producing R&B, soul, funk and dance music – or disco, in the parlance of the time.  That is what sold and what managed to get on the radio, but in truth the Warner R&B artists were as varied as the label’s underground acts just eight years before.  Cook Book, a two-LP sampler focusing mainly on the WB/Reprise R&B acts (“black” music, in the parlance of radio programmers) had a little bit of everything: pop artists (Dionne Warwick), jazz artists (George Benson), gospel soul shouters (Candi Staton), Motown alumni (Undisputed Truth, Lamont Dozier) – all put into duty in service of the Great and Powerful Disco.

I must admit, I do not own Cook Book so I cannot judge its worthiness or faults.  The four cuts included here did appear on the sampler, however.  You know, I’m not sure how these Loss Leaders samplers were marketed in the mid-1970s.  I did see ads for some of the earlier albums in comic books and in Rolling Stone;  and truth to be told, I spotted an ad for one of the later Loss Leaders and after purchasing that one I filled in the missing back copies in my collection from a coupon printed on an inside sleeve of the record.

So let’s move on to Limo, also from 1977.  Ostensibly a return to the diversity of the earlier Loss Leaders, Limo transported the usual suspects (Ry Cooder, Van Morrison, Jesse Winchester, Jesse Colin Young, Little Feat, Bonnie Raitt, Emmylou Harris), chart-topping singles (“Tonight’s The Night” by Rod Stewart; “You Make Me Feel Like Dancing” by Leo Sayer; “Dreams” by Fleetwood Mac) as well as a collection of oddities and novelties (The Gabby Pahinui Hawaiian Band).  Another novelty was the sprightly British group Deaf School, brought to Burbank by the Beatles’ faithful press agent Derek Taylor.  Gary Wright followed his big hit “Dream Weaver” here with “Phantom Writer,” which to my ears sounds a little like “Love Is Alive.”

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Sampler Daze: The WB/Reprise Loss Leaders All-Star Team

Posted in Lost Classics! with tags , , , , , , , , , , on September 5, 2009 by 30daysout

Arlo Guthrie

We take a short break from our exhaustive, year-by-year look at the Warner/Reprise Loss Leaders to cite a few of the artists who appeared throughout this series with great music.  We could call it our Loss Leaders All-Star Team.  Between 1969 and 1980, the label issued 35 samplers that were available to the public, and these artists were perennials.

Arlo Guthrie – Woody’s son made 13 appearances in the Loss Leaders series, appearing on the very first sampler in 1969 with “The Pause Of Mr. Claus,” a performance that features one of his trademark comedic rap/song combinations.  The best known of these is of course “Alice’s Restaurant Massacree,” the nearly-19-minute-long song that made Guthrie famous in 1967 and is played on hip radio stations every Thanksgiving.  Arlo hit the top 40 in 1972 with his version of Steve Goodman’s “City of New Orleans,” and he cut 14 albums for Warner Bros. before the label dropped him in 1983.

Randy Newman

Randy Newman

Randy Newman – Like Guthrie, Newman was one of those hard-to-market artists but he nevertheless earned a critical following when he first appeared in 1968.  Known for writing satiric songs (often from the point of view of a reprehensible character) with beautiful melodies, Newman actually penned hit songs for other artists (“Mama Told Me Not To Come” was a hit for Three Dog Night) and had a few hits of his own, including “Short People” (1977) and “I Love L.A.” (1983).  Newman is a runner-up to Arlo, with 12 appearances in the Loss Leaders series.

Frank Zappa/The Mothers of Invention – Zappa and/or his band made 11 total appearances in the Loss Leaders, they even gave him his own one-disc sampler in 1970 (Zapped) to showcase all the artists on his Bizarre/Straight labels.

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Review: Live Albums

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , on April 7, 2009 by 30daysout

leonard-cohen-crop                 stevie-front

Live albums are always pretty interesting, beyond the music.  It’s like the artist wants to make some sort of statement – like, “Here’s a souvenir from my last tour.” (Rolling Stones).  Or, “You know, these songs may be 40 years old but I can still make ’em sound pretty damn good.” (Paul McCartney).  Or, “Hey, we’re still relevant … aren’t we?” (The Eagles).  Here’s a handful of live recordings that manage to make pretty much all of those statements:

Live In London by Leonard Cohen – This 72-year-old songwriter and (sometimes) singer has never sounded better in this two-disc souvenir of a show in London’s O2 arena from last summer.  His songs – especially the lyrics – are rivalled only by Dylan and like ol’ Bob, Leonard deftly turns his not-pretty voice into a powerfully expressive instrument.  Cohen’s songs are cast in a musical framework that recalls German cabaret and Hollywood movies, similar to what Tom Waits has been doing the past few years.  Cohen’s backing band is highly skilled and tasteful, they always hit their mark without taking the spotlight off the star.  I must admit I enjoyed this album way more than I intended to; after all, this is moody non-rock that nonetheless hits hard and cuts deep.  If you are a fan of mature, adult-oriented rock music, this is certainly a keeper.

MP3: “Sisters Of Mercy” by Leonard Cohen

The Soundstage Sessions by Stevie Nicks – The soundtrack for a DVD cut live in Chicago two years ago, this disc updates some of Nicks’ classics from both the Fleetwood Mac days and her solo days, and tosses in a new tune to boot. Nicks, currently on tour with the Mac, offers little reinterpretation (and quite a bit of post-production) on these curious remakes, wiped clean of any sign of the live audience.  That kind of makes the music a little more sterile, and considering that Stevie’s voice isn’t the supple instrument it was in the past, makes it also a little more irritating.  Still, the orchestral version of “Landslide” and a stripped-down “Sara” manage to shine, even if the rest of this is for hardcore fans only.

MP3: “Landslide” by Stevie Nicks

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All Saints Day!!!

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 31, 2008 by 30daysout

We hope you had a Happy Halloween, but today, Nov. 1, is All Saints Day in the Catholic church. So go to church, you heathens.  The feast honors all saints, known and unknown.  Since we spent most of the week putting up songs about devils and pictures of scantily clad women, we figured we better come correct and put up something that deals with the Divine.  Here are some tunes that feature the word “Saint,” although I’m not sure any of them really have anything to do with those who reached sainthood.

Happy All Saints Day!

MP3: “It’s Hard to be a Saint in the City” (live) by Bruce Springsteen

MP3: “I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine” by Bob Dylan

MP3: “St. Teresa” by Joan Osborne

MP3: “St. Stephen” (live) by the Grateful Dead

MP3: “St. Dominic’s Preview” by Van Morrison

MP3: “St. Judy’s Comet” by Paul Simon

MP3: “East St. Louis Toodle-oo” by Steely Dan

MP3: “St. Louis Blues” by Louis Armstrong

MP3: “Saint Estephe” by the Last Hombres

MP3: “The Saints Are Coming” by U2 and Green Day

Rock Moment: Vince Taylor and U.K. Rockabilly

Posted in Rock Moment with tags , , , on October 23, 2008 by 30daysout

After the explosion of Elvis in the mid-1950s, a host of rockabilly pretenders popped up to hopefully one day knock the King off his throne.  One of the more fascinating characters was Vince Taylor, an Englishman who hit it big overseas but remains virtually unknown on this side of the Pond.

Born Brian Holden in England, the guy who would become Vince Taylor moved with his family to New Jersey and later, to California.  He absorbed the rockin’ music of Gene Vincent and Elvis, and at age 18 Vince became a rockabilly artist.  His manager was Joe Barbera, half of the Academy Award-winning animation team Hanna-Barbera (Tom & Jerry, Yogi Bear); Barbera was Taylor’s brother-in-law.  The two went to London in the late 1950s to check out the music scene; Taylor assembled a band there and took off.

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Review: “Soul Speak,” Michael McDonald

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 26, 2008 by 30daysout

Michael McDonald has one of the most distinctive and best voices in rock and R&B. His last two discs of Motown classics were instant smashes and both sold millions. His latest, Soul Speak, follows the same the formula (although not strictly Motown), but sounds very tired.

McDonald seems to labor through classics like Stevie Wonder’s “Livin’ for the City,” Aretha Franklin’s “I Knew You Were Waiting,” Jackie Wilson’s “Higher and Higher,” and the Teddy Pendergrass hit “Love TKO.” The few bright spots include his take on Van Morrison’s “Into the Mystic and Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” which seems to be recorded a lot these days. He does offer a couple of new original songs, “Only God Can Help Me Now,” and “Can’t Get Over You (Getting Over Me),” but both are forgettable.

I’ve always thought that if you are going to record someone else’s material you have to either do it better or at least different. Unfortunately, McDonald doesn’t do either on the majority of the tracks on Soul Speak.

MP3: Into the Mystic

MP3: Only God Can Help Me Now

Michael McDonald Official Website

Review: Van Morrison, “Keep It Simple”

Posted in Review with tags on March 27, 2008 by 30daysout

Van Morrison  

At first you think: now this is more like it.  In the past 24 months Van Morrison has issued a faux-country album (lame), a volume-3 best of (why?), a 2-CD greatest hits package (terrific) and a collection of his songs used on movie soundtracks (wha?).  But now he’s issued Keep It Simple, his 33rd studio album, and his first one in a long time with original songs.  The tunes put one in mind of Morrison’s 1970 Moondance, even if they ultimately fail to live up to that classic. 

On the new album Van makes like a mellow Irish blues man, playing pretty good lead guitar, saxophone and ukelele on 11 songs that dig deeper into his roots than just about any other album of his 41-year career. 

On the opener, “How Can A Poor Boy,” he riffs, Dylan-like, on a traditional blues lyric which he winds up turning into a lament on how people don’t take the time to get to know the true Van the man.   “That’s Entrainment” is a nimble toe-tapper that manages to live up to its title, and “Song Of Home” dips a toe into Tupelo Honey-style Celtic country.  And the closing epic “Behind the Ritual” closes down the bars with a sad tale of “drinking wine in the alley.” 

As entertaining as it is, Keep It Simple elicits a few complaints.  It seems Morrison loses interest pretty much midway through every song.  You rarely get a new idea, a fresh lyric past the middle, just some repetition and vocal scatting.  Not that I mind that so much, but on “Behind the Ritual” he even resorts to muttering “blah blah blah blah” like he’s checking his BlackBerry while wrapping up the session.   

Nice album Van, but next time how about you stick around long enough to finish it?  Just sayin’.    

Van Morrison official website