Van Morrison: Moondance (deluxe)

Album cover art for upc 081227963859
Catalog: 2536560
Format: CD + BLU-RAY

The long awaited remastered version of Van Morrison's best-selling album comes in a variety of formats. This deluxe version is encased in a hardbound sleeve containing five discs: the album in standard and Blu-Ray/5.1 versions, three discs of alternates and outtakes, mono mixes and an unreleased song. The package also includes essays by engineer Elliot Scheiner, writer Alan Light, and the original notes by Janet Planet. The three session discs are arranged chronologically from September through December of 1969. Disc one contains eight takes of "Caravan." Though all are inferior to the one eventually picked, most are solid, particularly the first and seventh takes. There are three early versions of "I've Been Working." Two are long, funky jams over 10 minutes; still raw; they didn’t fit the album's flavor. A fine finished version appeared on His Band and the Street Choir. There's a fun, throw away read of "Nobody Knows You When You're Down And Out," followed by numerous takes of the previously unissued "I Shall Sing." Evidenced here, Morrison desperately wanted to include this song. He eventually cut it, not because it's inferior, but because it detracted from the tight balance he sought here. Disc three contains several takes of "Into The Mystic," commencing with take 10; most are so fascinating in their various approaches, it makes one wonder about the unincluded earlier ones. There are more than a handful of takes of "Brand New Day," with some real beauties among them; Morrison searches far and wide to capture the nuance in the lyrics. Four takes of "Glad Tidings" close it out, including one scratch take that's fast as hell, driven by the bassline. Its' similar in pace and melody to the refrain from "Brown Eyed Girl." But Morrison isn't referencing it for the hook, but rather to enunciate that groove for the band. Disc four contains very fluid and diverse takes of "Come Running," two takes of "Moondance" (whose horn charts are far more jazz-oriented that resemble the readings in his live set since the 1990s), and a slew of mono mixes. The final track is a monaural "I Shall Sing." It might be a compiler's trick but, since these mixes were done after the set was delivered, this inclusion makes it seem that he struggled with keeping this cut until the very end--at least as a B-side. The deluxe version of Moondance reveals that Morrison-the album's producer--knew exactly what he wanted throughout. Even his studio banter--there is pretty a fair amount--is all business. He was searching vocally through his phrasing and timbre, in the arrangements, and even through the studio (as an instrument) for the best way to make it manifest. This set proves he ultimately made all the right choices in the end. While the whole of the Moondance sessions may be too much for casual listeners, hardcore fans will find most of this a revelation. ~ Thom Jurek, Rovi

Price: $92.98