Van Morrison: Moondance (1970)

Van Morrison never lost the little boy in him who sat spellbound listening to rock & roll for the first time on a record player. That same wide-eyed wonder is at work on Moondance. When he sings on the opening track, “Hope it don’t rain all day,” he’s not being completely honest. He wants to get wet, to baptize himself in rhythm and blues. Moondance is his sharing of the rapture. It contains some of his most memorable music: “And It Stoned Me,” “Moondance,” “Crazy Love,” “Caravan.” His songs have the earthy intellect of Dylan, the soulfulness of Ray Charles. Earthy intellect? Man I’m sorry about that. Dylan was a loquacious Loki, a troublemaker, an intellect first but also, somewhere under the veneer, a balladeer. Invert that and you have Van Morrison. There’s a kernel of chaos in every song, but Van Morrison isn’t preaching revolution to the world, he’s preaching freedom from within. The same freedom I felt as a kid when I first heard rock & roll. You wanted to hoard it, share it, run down the street singing it and end every conversation with it. That’s the message of Moondance: love and music will set you free. I don’t see the mystic at work in this music so much as the imagery of allegory. Trains, boats, gypsies are all signs of freedom. Really, there’s nothing that mystical about it. But Morrison is a converted man, singing from the other side. He wants you to jump in the water with him, to dance under the moon, to turn up the radio and feel free. You should. It’s a marvelous night for it.

Original LP Version
A1. And It Stoned Me (4:30)
A2. Moondance (4:35)
A3. Crazy Love (2:34)
A4. Caravan (4:57)
A5. Into The Mystic (3:25)
B1. Come Running (2:30)
B2. These Dreams of You (3:50)
B3. Brand New Day (5:09)
B4. Everyone (3;31)
B5. Glad Tidings (3:13)

All songs written by Van Morrison.

The Players
Van Morrison (vocals, rhythm guitar and tambourine), John Klingberg (bass), Jeff Labes (piano, organ and clavinette), Garry Malabar (drums and vibes), John Platania (lead and rhythm guitars), Jack Schrorer (alto and soprano sax), Collin Tillton (tenor sax and flute) with Judy Clay (girl singer), Emily Houston (girl singer), Guy Masson (congo drum), Jackie Verdell (girl singer). Produced by Van Morrison; executive produced by Lewis Merenstein. Engineered by Tony May, Elliott Schierer, Shelly Yakus, Steve Freidberg and Neil Schwartz.

The Pictures
Photography by Elliott Landry. Design by Bob Cato.

The Plastic
Released on elpee in March 1970 in the UK (Warner Bros., K-46040) and the US (Warner Bros., WS-1835, on green label) with gatefold cover; reached #32 on the UK charts, reached #29 on the US charts (RIAA-certified 3X platinum record). Re-issued on elpee and 8-track in 1973 in the UK (Warner Bros., K-46040, on palmtree label), in 1973 in the US (Warner Bros., WS/8WM-1835, on palmtree label), in the 1970s in Canada (Warner Bros., WS 1835, Burbank label), in 1977 in the US (Warner Bros., BSK-3103) and in the 1980s in Germany (Warner Bros., 46 040). Re-issued on cassette in the UK (Warner Bros., K4-46040). Re-released on elpee and CD in the US (Warner Bros., 3103) and in Germany (Warner Bros., 27326-1/2). Re-released on expanded 2CD edition in 2013 in the UK (Warner Bros., 796384) with bonus disc of material.

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