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Rock - Released June 10, 2016 | Legacy Recordings

Hi-Res Distinctions 4F de Télérama - Best New Reissue
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Rock - Released October 30, 2015 | Rhino - Warner Bros.

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography - Pitchfork: Best New Reissue
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Rock - Released June 10, 2016 | Legacy Recordings

Hi-Res Distinctions 4F de Télérama - Pitchfork: Best New Reissue
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Rock - Released February 28, 1970 | Warner Bros.

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Rock - Released October 18, 2013 | Warner Bros.

Distinctions 4F de Télérama
The yang to Astral Weeks' yin, the brilliant Moondance is every bit as much a classic as its predecessor; Van Morrison's first commercially successful solo effort, it retains the previous album's deeply spiritual thrust but transcends its bleak, cathartic intensity to instead explore themes of renewal and redemption. Light, soulful, and jazzy, Moondance opens with the sweetly nostalgic "And It Stoned Me," the song's pastoral imagery establishing the dominant lyrical motif recurring throughout the album -- virtually every track exults in natural wonder, whether it's the nocturnal magic celebrated by the title cut or the unlimited promise offered in "Brand New Day." At the heart of the record is "Caravan," an incantatory ode to the power of radio; equally stirring is the majestic "Into the Mystic," a song of such elemental beauty and grace as to stand as arguably the quintessential Morrison moment. ~ Jason Ankeny
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Rock - Released June 30, 1975 | Rhino - Warner Bros.

Distinctions Stereophile: Record To Die For
Released in 1970, Van Morrison's Moondance was a hit commercially and critically. Encouraged by his manager, Morrison and a sextet -- including three players from the Moondance sessions -- hit the studio and delivered His Band & the Street Choir in time for that year's holiday season. Morrison responded to the pressure by relaxing into it. The feel here is loose, often celebratory. He digs deep into his long-held fascination with the New Orleans R&B tradition for inspiration. "Domino" is his highest charting single. The funky guitar lick, left-hand piano rumbling, driving, Memphis-style horns, and pumping bassline kick things off in grand party style. The ballad "Crazy Face," written in 1968, melds acoustic guitar, mandolin, and piano. Morrison's brittle, bluesy saxophone line and a grooving B-3 tip the balance toward R&B. "Give Me a Kiss" has a great Zigaboo Modeliste feel in the horn charts; Fats Domino gets referenced in Alan Hand's piano stroll, and the punchy, doo-wopping tag in the chorus nods at Frankie Ford. "I've Been Working" (which dates to Astral Weeks) is Morrison at his funky best, roaring above a cooking choogle. The acoustic guitar vamp is highlighted by swirling organ, and electric Meters-esque guitar and basslines. Drummer Dahaud Elias Sharr lays down tough breaks and fills throughout as jazzy horns frame the singer. "Call Me Up in Dreamland" features the loose-knit "street choir" (musicians, wives, girlfriends, etc.). It's built on the ragged, Celtic soul-gospel template that Morrison would continue to refer to. The intimate "I'll Be Your Lover Too," adorned only by acoustic guitar and whispering drums, is haunted with the slow-burn passion that would flow so easily on 1972's Saint Dominic's Preview. Second single "Blue Money" is a Rhodes-and-brass driven blues that returns to the NOLA trick bag for fire. The poetic "Virgo Clowns" is painted in a lovely meld of 12-string acoustic guitars and bass clarinet. "Gypsy Queen" is slippery love song, with Morrison offering a gorgeous falsetto. The Celtic soul in "If I Ever Needed Someone" is highlighted by the same trio of backing vocalists that appeared on Moondance's "Crazy Love." The closing title track draws on the swaggering, testifying gospel that inspired that album's "Caravan" (and, played back-to-back, seems to grow right out of it). The street choir's backing is sweeter, balanced by eloquent sax and harmonica breaks. As an album, His Band & the Street Choir may not equal Astral Weeks or Moondance, but the aim was never that lofty. That most of these songs have endured as fan favorites is testament enough to their quality. ~ Thom Jurek
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Vocal Jazz - Released December 1, 2017 | Exile

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Van Morrison never had to choose between rock, blues, rythm ‘n’ blues, soul and jazz, since he created his own style, the Van Morrison style; that is to say a subtle blend of rock, blues, soul and jazz… Sometimes, however, the septuagenarian bard from Belfast insists a bit more on one of those genres. Like here with Versatile, where the mood is definitely jazzy. Only three months after having released Roll With The Punches, in which he covered soul and blues wonders penned by Sam Cooke, Bo Diddley or Little Walter, this time round he revisits classics that have become legends of the blue note. In this return to the basics, Van The Man sings the Gershwin brothers (A Foggy Day and They Can't Take That Away From Me), Cole Porter (I Get A Kick Out Of You) and some essentials like Let's Get Lost (popularized by Chet Baker), Bye Bye Blackbird, Makin' Whoopee, The Party's Over, Unchained Melody (magnified in the last century by the Righteous Brothers) and I Left My Heart In San Francisco which was one of Tony Bennett’s greatest hits. It’s a 38th studio album that the master of the blue-eyed soul tackles with some serenity. His crooner voice is no longer his same voice from his 20s or 30s, but he manages to make each and every one of his sentences endearing, poignant even. There’s nothing revolutionary here which could compete with his masterpieces Astral Weeks, Moondance or Veedon Fleece, but a great feeling of serenity anyway. That’s not so bad in a way… © MD/Qobuz
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Vocal Jazz - Released April 27, 2018 | Legacy Recordings

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Blues - Released September 22, 2017 | Exile

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One cannot say that Van Morrison’s recordings of the last twenty years have left as much of an impression as his early 70s masterpieces such as Astral Weeks, Moondance or Veedon Fleece. But in 2012 Born To Sing: No Plan B was a nice come back, proving the Irish bard still had a lot left in the tank. Four years later Keep Me Singing confirmed this intuition with new songs on which Van The Man not only adapted to the constraint of age – he doesn’t sing like in 1969 anymore – but in fact masterfully tamed these limitations, giving each track a lived-in and warm atmosphere. Less passion and exuberance, more finesse and heart, all in his usual wonderful combination of soul, jazz and blues, his true trademark. This spirit remains on Roll With The Punches even if the repertoire is mostly made up of blues and soul covers (Bo Diddley, T-Bone Walker, Count Basie, Sam Cooke, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Lightnin' Hopkins, Mose Allison, Little Walter, Bo Diddley), along with five original songs. A 37th album produced by Van Morrison himself and on which he collaborated with Jeff Beck, Paul Jones, Jason Rebello, Chris Farlowe and Georgie Fame. © CM/Qobuz
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Rock - Released November 1, 1968 | Rhino - Warner Bros.

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Rock - Released September 30, 2016 | Exile

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Rock - Released March 13, 2015 | Exile Productions - RCA Records

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It's not hard to wonder if Van Morrison was trying to drive away listeners by titling this album Duets: Re-Working the Catalogue, a name that practically howls this is a work defined by a lack of ambition and a desire to rest on his laurels. The clumsy title is especially strange because this an honestly good album that doesn't fit those negative expectations. Even though Re-Working the Catalogue finds Morrison reviving songs from his extensive repertoire, he wisely focuses on lesser-known tunes rather than compete with his best-known work, and Morrison is able to generate a genuine enthusiasm for this music, which might not be the case if he tried to record "Moondance" or "Brown Eyed Girl" one more time. And the Belfast Soul Man for the most part has chosen duet partners with intelligence; rather than load up this set with current chart-toppers who have little knowledge of Morrison's legacy, most of the singers working with Morrison are cut from similar cloth, such as Steve Winwood, Chris Farlowe, Georgie Fame, and Bobby Womack (in what proved to be one of the latter's final recordings). If Joss Stone is considerably younger and more melismatic than Van's other partners, she understands what "Wild Honey" needs, and Michael Bublé delivers an admirably lively performance on "Real Real Gone." There are almost certainly other singers who would have sounded better on "Whatever Happened to P.J. Proby?," but Mr. Proby himself seems to be in on the joke with his delivery, and Van honestly sounds like he's having a lot of fun (not a common occurrence) with Taj Mahal on "How Can a Poor Boy?" And if Mavis Staples' voice is a bit rough on "If I Ever Needed Someone," she delivers the song with a churchy authority that Morrison clearly respects. As for Van himself, at the age of 69 his vocals lack the power and emotional force he so easily conjured in the '70s, but his sense of phrasing is as soulful and idiosyncratic as it has ever been, and he seems determined to find something in these songs that he missed the first time. This could easily have been a very lazy album, but Morrison gives this material an honest and thoughtful effort. (His grainy but potent sax work is a lot of fun, too.) And the production (by Don Was) and mix (by Bob Rock) is smooth without polishing out the personality of Morrison and his guests. Recutting a batch of your old songs is usually a sign you've run out of ideas, as is recording a full album of duets; while it's hard to know what Morrison's motivations were for making Duets: Re-Working the Catalogue, the pleasant surprise is that Morrison has managed to dodge both those bullets, and if it's a long way from a triumph, it's a solid, heartfelt work from a veteran artist who isn't about to give up the ghost. ~ Mark Deming
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Rock - Released September 30, 2016 | Exile

Van Morrison does exactly what he wants, when he wants, and continually mines the past no matter the cost. It's been four years since the Celtic soulman issued a collection of new, original studio material (Born to Sing: No Plan B), but given the music, it could have been yesterday. Morrison has no interest in innovation, he's already done that. The pace here is (mostly) laid-back, the music drenched in jazz, R&B, blues, and classy pop. He revels throughout in an elegant slow burn; his lyric themes are bittersweet, melancholic, filled with emotional and symbolic memory; his longing for the previous prevalent. The first line on album-opener "Let It Rhyme" is: "Throw another coin in the wishing well/Tell everybody to go to hell…" atop skeins of country and R&B as he reveals his recalcitrance. Celtic folk burrows underneath soul in the title track, as a trio of female backing singers, swelling B-3, and a snare undulate beneath his lyrics: "Keep me singing, a new beginning/waiting for my change to come...." A breezy harmonica solo adds a twist, but this tune reflects (musically as well as poetically) the protagonist in "Tore Down à la Rimbaud" from 1985's A Sense of Wonder, who is far down the road, holding stubbornly to a hope he knows (like his countryman Samuel Beckett) will elude him. "Out in the Cold Again" is one of Morrison's finest torch songs in a decade. His delivery hovers just above a small string section and Fiachra Trench's Errol Garner-esque piano. "The Pen Is Mightier Than the Sword" weaves blues-drenched electric guitar and organ exchanges in a midtempo steamy groove appended to excellent backing vocals from Dana Masters and Lance Ellington. The lone cover is a gospelized-blues version of Don Robey's and Alfred Braggs' ballad "Share Your Love with Me." (It was originally recorded by Bobby "Blue" Bland in 1963, and made immortal by Aretha Franklin in 1970. Morrison's version lies closer to the original in spirit.) The singer revisits his time in the San Francisco Bay area for "In Tiburon," where a circular Celtic jazz melody flows under his poetic lines as they name check various signposts in memory, invoking Beat poets, musicians, and locales. At its heart is a mysterious person he invokes over and again with the lines "Now we need each other to lean on…." A muted trumpet solo is misty, bittersweet, and tender. "Look Beyond the Hill" is a fingerpopping jazz tune with ghost traces of a "Moondance" musical feel, but without the magic hook. The outlier is "Going Down to Bangor," a raw blues, that directly references the early Chicago sound. Morrison offers his best blues shout and wails on harmonica. Keep Me Singing closes with "Caledonia Swing," an instrumental where skiffle, punchy R&B, and bluebeat ska rhythm (yes, really) come together in trademark style. Morrison delivers each of these songs with attentiveness; the material is consistently presented with finesse. Nothing further is required. ~ Thom Jurek
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Rock - Released June 30, 1975 | Rhino - Warner Bros.

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Rock - Released April 11, 2017 | Acoustic Legends Records

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Rock - Released October 18, 2013 | Warner Bros.

The yang to Astral Weeks' yin, the brilliant Moondance is every bit as much a classic as its predecessor; Van Morrison's first commercially successful solo effort, it retains the previous album's deeply spiritual thrust but transcends its bleak, cathartic intensity to instead explore themes of renewal and redemption. Light, soulful, and jazzy, Moondance opens with the sweetly nostalgic "And It Stoned Me," the song's pastoral imagery establishing the dominant lyrical motif recurring throughout the album -- virtually every track exults in natural wonder, whether it's the nocturnal magic celebrated by the title cut or the unlimited promise offered in "Brand New Day." At the heart of the record is "Caravan," an incantatory ode to the power of radio; equally stirring is the majestic "Into the Mystic," a song of such elemental beauty and grace as to stand as arguably the quintessential Morrison moment. ~ Jason Ankeny
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Rock - Released June 1, 2010 | Purple Pyramid Records

Purple Pyramid's Essential Van Morrison is comprised of the (much compiled) recordings Morrison made for Bang! after his split from Them. Teaming with Brill Building vet producer Bert Berns, Morrison's wild-eyed lyricism is often a tight fit with Berns' straight-ahead commercial sound (see the silly but fun "Chick-a-Boom" for an example). Still a number of great songs can be found here, including the all-time great "Brown Eyed Girl," "The Back Room," "He Ain't Give You None," and "Ro Ro Rosey." Early versions of tracks from Astral Weeks, "Madame George" and "T.B. Sheets," also appear. Despite Van's objections to being a pop artist, the conflict between the two styles makes for some very interesting and invigorating listening. These sessions aren't vital to the casual Morrison fan, but anyone whose love of the man goes beyond the hits needs to add these to their collection. The best place to go is Legacy's Bang Masters as it is a legitimate and well-mastered set that includes all the songs from the sessions. This collection for some reason only has 12 of the 18 and to make matters worse has two horrifying dance mixes tacked on: a drum'n'bass mix of "Brown Eyed Girl" and a dubby version of "Spanish Rose." ~ Tim Sendra
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Rock - Released August 28, 2015 | Legacy Recordings

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Rock - Released May 3, 2017 | Mountain-X

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Rock - Released March 24, 2017 | Legacy Recordings

In 1966, Van Morrison was a rough-and-tumble blues singer with the rowdy Belfast band Them. In 1968, Morrison was a solo artist who created a genre-defying, visionary masterpiece with his album Astral Weeks. Clearly a great deal happened during the time in between, and arguably the most important thing was Morrison reconnecting with songwriter and producer Bert Berns, who had worked with Them. Berns understood Morrison had tremendous talent and potential, and when he learned than Van had left Them, Bert invited him to come to New York City and cut some solo material for his label, Bang Records. A few months later, Morrison had his first solo hit, "Brown Eyed Girl," and his first quarrel with the music industry when the material he cut for Berns was compiled into an album, Blowin' Your Mind!, without his consent. While Morrison's material for Bang has been collected in many different forms, 2017's The Authorized Bang Collection is the first time anyone has done so with Van's participation and approval, and if it's not quite revelatory in its presentation (most of this material has been widely available before), it's certainly definitive in its quality. The first disc features the 17 Morrison tracks that Bang released as singles and on the albums Blowin' Your Mind!, The Best of Van Morrison (despite the title, most of it was unreleased), and T.B. Sheets, while disc two is devoted to single edits and session outtakes. While the material on the second disc is clearly for completists and hardcore fans, the tracks offer a fascinating look into the way Berns' production style complemented Morrison's loose but impassioned working methods in the studio. Berns was willing to create a spontaneous environment where the musicians served Morrison's vision, and it's not at all hard to see how tracks like "T.B. Sheets," "He Ain't Give You None," and "Send Your Mind" set the stage for the poetic conceits of Astral Weeks (especially given the presence of an early version of "Madame George"). The crisp new remastering of the original mixes shows Berns got a tough, lively sound out of his studio band, and the interaction between Morrison and the players is even more impressive with this set's new clarity. And closing out the collection is the first official release of the infamous set of demos Morrison cut to get out of his Bang contract. These songs were clearly meant to be too bad to be released, but it's all but impossible not to be fascinated as Van improvises spirited nonsense like "Ring Worm," "Up Your Mind," "Here Comes Dumb George," and "Want a Danish" over the space of 36 minutes. Morrison's 1967 work with Bert Berns at Bang was vital as it set the singer and songwriter on his creative path, and The Authorized Bang Collection offers an outstanding look into this annus mirabilis. ~ Mark Deming

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