Thursday, November 10, 2016

Tupelo Honey - Van Morrison

Today I finally sat down and decided to review, or finish, this album. I've heard songs and parts but here it is, front to back, in all its glory. This is the fifth studio effort by famed Irish songster George Ivan Morrison. This album was released in October 1971 and is the only album not on Spotify he's released. What the hell bro, there has to be a reason for that. Legal stuff most likely, but I like to think of it like this. Either the albums a hidden gem, or it's a piece of shit. There are also a number of notable musicians whom I know like Ronnie Montrose, Ted Templeman (who also produced this), Luis Gasca and Connie Kay.
  1. Wild Night: I genuinely love this tune. The first time I heard it, I feel in love. This is one of those just, if you can't feel it I don't know. Remember Sir Duke, what's the line "You can tell right away from the letter A, When the People start to move. They can feel it all over". That could be incorrect, but this is one of those songs. The backing band is so damn amazing I kind of, I wish I could find players to be this nice tight and make it sound as if it was on the spot as this. It's kind of the perfect opening and its kind of a flawless track. Even when I get into the arrangement of the bass line and the guitar notes it still works quite well and I'm glad that it is what it is. The horns even accent what they're supposed to and add an extra texture that makes the song more interesting than just a straight forward rocker. I wouldn't and you shouldn't, change a thing about this. While I prefer my radio when I hear this, the guitar seems louder and the horns are a bit more subdued, I still think this works. Plus that saxophone solo is something that I'm glad wasn't a guitar solo, but could have been you know.
  2. (Straight to Your Heart) Like a Cannonball: I like this title, and think it's rather funny. The song it self has a very country twang to it, but it's not straight country. John McFee (I checked he plays the pedal steel) has a sort of bar band sound to his guitar, but I like the added acoustic guitar and the sort of extra vocal harmony part. I really like the flutes in the track and it's nice. I wish the track was maybe a bit slower, not much but just a bit to sort of let you soak everything in possibly. I don't think it's the greatest track ever, but I do think it works and keeps me listening the whole time.
  3. Old Old Woodstock: This track's refrain very much reminds me of Caravan. Not the one with the drum sola, but the one he did two albums prior. I do like the laid back feeling of this track, but I don't think its really does all THAT much for me on my initial listen. It doesn't really go anywhere, but it's not terrible.
  4. Starting a New Life: This has a sort of nice country shuffle to it. I like the bouncing bass line, and the drums sound pretty solid. I also like the chord progression, I mean it isn't anything that crazy, but I like it. The harmonica sounds pretty good, not phenomenal, but it fits the tone of the track. There's something about this that appeals to me, kinda like the same way Country Dreamer (outside of the musicality) does. I know the idea of starting a new life with someone very special and being able to just be with the pulls a chord with me. But I don't know for sure. 
  5. You're My Woman: This song has a nice vibe to it, but there is a feeling to it that reminds me of maybe Chicago, or something. Soft rock, that isn't a complaint just an observation. The only thing is the beginning of the song doesn't do much for me. Yeah I like the build and the tension that happens in the pre-chorus, but it still doesn't completely pay off for me. I mean I like the vibe, but I just don't think it really pays off so much. Plus it's kinda long, in the same way the following song is long.
  6. Tupelo Honey: On paper, and lyrically, this look like a great tune. I've actually hear other versions and it is a great tune, sadly the thing about this is just...... I don't think it's the tune everyone says it is. At least based on the sole performance used on this album. To be honest, I couldn't even listen to the whole thing at first. It took multiple tries to even get a minute in.... Honestly. Once I heard it I liked it, but the reused Crazy Love melody hurts it a lot for me. I mean it's great tune, just no click for me. I prefer Crazy Love if I'm being honest. But for being as praised as it is..... I don't get it. Then again the only song that "doesn't fit" on Astral Weeks is my favorite, and only one I like. So.... I once read that Bob Dylan said this song has always existed and Morrison was the only who happened to have the song go through him, that's a load of bullshit. At no part in the performance do I feel it needs to be 6 minutes or do I feel elevated. Fuck, Wild Night is more natural and flowing than this track. I mean it does flow in one ear and out the other, but I don't get it. I just ain't diving his version bru. I mean as time has passed I've warmed up to it, even to where I can forgive the CL thing, but it's still not the master piece people say it is in my mind. Lyrically though, I do enjoy the imagery and I like the sax solo. It's more when he sings and what not where I can't get behind the track. The instrumental sections are gorgeous and I wish there was more moments like that. When the vocals come in something just isn't right. I guess it might not work as well if there was no words, but I just don't feel when he's singing. Maybe its a drop out or a mixing problem or editing problem more noticeable on the CD version, but I don't know. Also I feel the song could have ended at around the 4:30 mark and it could have slowed down or faded out but this feels like a live jam that lasts too long. You know those, where they keep going or ad libbing. I'm just not as sold on the song as some others I guess. Also once I played it on guitar I was like, this reminds me a lot of People Get Ready. But whateva... also I'm not sure if the organ, played by Ted, is all that necessary.
  7. I Wanna Roo You (Scottish Derivative): This song makes me wanna do a country jig or whatever it's called. I'm actually surprised that this isn't a Dylan song, like if it was slowed down I could see it being on one of the early 70's albums, or one with The Band backing him. This isn't a terrible song, and I kinda like the change of pace. This isn't the best song ever, but it's well enough.
  8. When That Evening Sun Goes Down: I really like the piano in the beginning, the kind of ragtime/honky-tonk. It's also nice that it's only 3 minutes long and not 6. This is a country number that kinda actually wouldn't sound out of place if played by The Stones. I mean, if you like Exile or Beggars you might like this track. I like the latter, I'ven't heard the entire former. Also I fucking love this title. 
  9. Moonshine Whiskey: This is another driving country tune, that again isn't that bad and feels kind warm.This is a decent song, the only problem is it keeps going for almost 7 minutes. I do like this track, but really like what the fuck. This song could have so easily been edited to the three main sections being condensed to 4 or 5 minutes.
Overall I have to give this album a 7/10. I guess you could compare this to a Nashville Sky or a more country folk record. It isn't that, but there is a sort of secluded and more mature, less fiery feeling I am getting here. It's easy to listen to and comfortable, and that's not a bad thing. As if he's at peace with life. I mean, like Cat Stevens, I find their beliefs and song topics more interesting than the music itself. While I've grown more found of Stevens I've also grown more found of Morrison. But I like Cat more.

Even thought I felt as I do I still feel I should review the first string of records to at least Common One, or maybe up to Veedon Fleece and then some albums that I think are worth after that. But I can't imagine myself really reviewing anything post The Philosopher's Stone, or Back on Top.

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