Van Morrison: Saint Dominic’s Preview (1972)

saint dominic's preview album coverKronomyth 6.0: WITH SILENT TONGUE AND AWESTRUCK SOUL. On rainy days, this is my umbrella. Saint Dominic’s Preview is a shelter from the crude thunder of modernity. Like all of Van’s classic works, it opens with a joyful embrace, “Jackie Wilson Said,” three minutes of Heaven if ever there was on this giant elemental orb. What follows are strolls through the gardens of ancient God (“Redwood Tree,” “Gypsy”), musical meditations (“Listen To The Lion,” “Almost Independence Day”) and Van as human camera (“Saint Dominic’s Preview”). Morrison’s music again seems effortless, flowing from a natural place like a clear spring of pure inspiration. There’s a feeling of, not just empathy, but community in the music, as though every musician and backing singer were tuned into the same frequency. That’s been part of Morrison’s enigma since Astral Weeks, this unspoken language carried in sound that seems part muse, part spirit. While SDP follows a similar road as Tupelo Honey, it forks at the 11-minute “Listen To The Lion,” a perfect embodiment of Morrison’s soulful, mystical approach to music. An earlier version of this song dates back to the Moondance sessions, but its appearance here several years later is providential, as Morrison was more comfortable in his genius at this stage. I’ve often found myself comparing Van Morrison to Bob Dylan, although the differences here are more striking than the similarities. Dylan’s lyrics were delivered at boiling point, while Morrison lets his ideas simmer on “Listen To The Lion” and “Almost Independence Day” through the use of repetitive phrases. This effect creates an air of solemnity, almost prayer-like, as Morrison’s voice re-examines the words from multiple angles. In a sense, the best Van Morrison albums are like a walk in the woods; natural beauty floods the senses as we stroll and, suddenly, we’re arrested by some sunlit scene, silent and awestruck.

Original LP Version
A1. Jackie Wilson Said (I’m In Heaven When You Smile) (2:56)
A2. Gypsy (4:35)
A3. I Will Be There (3:03)
A4. Listen To The Lion (11:08)
B1. Saint Dominic’s Preview (6:30)
B2. Redwood Tree (3:01)
B3. Almost Independence Day (10:03)

All selections written by Van Morrison.

The Players
Van Morrison (vocals, rhythm guitar, 12 string guitar), Jules Broussard (saxophone), Bill Church (bass), Gary Mallaber (drums, vibraphone and percussion), Doug Messenger (guitar), Jack Schroer (saxophone) with Lee Charlton (drums on B3), Ron Elliott (6 string guitar on B3), “Boots” Rolf Houston (saxophone on A1, backup vocals on A4), Mark Jordan (piano on A4), Connie Kay (drums on A4), Bernie Krause (Moog on B3), John McFee (steel guitar on B1), Ronnie Montrose (guitar & backup vocals on A4), Mark Naftalin (piano, Moog on A1/A2/B3), Pat O’Hara (trombone on A2/B1), Janet Planet (backup vocals on A2/B1/B2), Tom Salisbury (piano, organ on A3/B1/B2), Rick Schlosser (drums on A1/A2), Ellen Schroer (backup vocals on A2/B1/B2), Mark Springer (backup vocals on B1/B2), Leroy Vinnegar (bass on B3). A1/A3/B2 produced by Van Morrison, A2/A4/B1/B3 produced by Van Morrison and Ted Templeman; engineered by Donn Landee, Bob Shumaker, Jim Gaines, Dave Brown, Steve Brandon; mixed by Donn Landee except A1 by Bob Shumaker.

The Pictures
Photography by Michael Maggid.

The Plastic
Released on elpee and 8-track in August 1972 in the UK (Warner Bros., K-46172), the US (Warner Bros., BS 2633) and Germany (Warner Bros., WB 46 172) with lyrics booklet; reached #15 on the US charts.

  1. Re-issued on elpee in the 1970s in the UK (Warner Bros., K 46172, Burbank label)
  2. Re-issued on elpee in Germany (Warner Bros., K46172, Original Rock Classics series)
  3. Re-issued on elpee and compact disc in 1989 in the UK (Polydor, 839 162-1/2).
  4. Re-issued on compact disc in 1989 in the US (Warner Bros., W2 2633).
  5. Re-released on remastered compact disc on June 1, 1997 in the US (Exile/Polydor, 7451-2).

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