herald

Monday 25 September 2017

the 12 songs You should download -- and why

with 39 albums the choice is wide for a 'best of' selection

Who isn't familiar with the music of Van Morrison? But there's much more to Van's repertoire than the casual listener could ever imagine.

In an age when most pop stars disappear after one or two releases, 66-year-old Van has released 39 albums and a bunch of compilations. A consummate musician, he masters a range of styles from soul to jazz, folk to rock'n'roll and gospel to country. He's very much his own man, refusing to be dictated to by industry trends or styles.

A towering presence in the Rock'n'Roll Hall of Fame, his music has influenced hundreds of artists and bands. If you want to download a selection of top Van tunes, this is a good place to start. Then you can go on to extend it by another 100 titles. Every one a killer.

1 Gloria

This remarkable three-chord trick began life as the B-side of the single Baby, Please Don't Go in 1964 but went on to become an essential in the repertoire of thousands of beat groups and rock bands. Van's singing elevates the song to mysterious heights.

2 Jackie Wilson Said (I'm In Heaven When You Smile)

Paying homage to an early musical influence of Van's, this is soulful joy unconfined.

3 Moondance The title track of a 1970 album, this song simmered for years, it's direct link to the jazz classics we call the Great American Songbook appealing to singers such as Michael Buble and Ramsey Lewis.

4 Brown Eyed Girl Its popularity as a radio staple since its release in the mid-'60s doesn't diminish this infectious summery anthem.

5 When the Leaves Come Falling Down Adorned with strings, this beautiful ballad is an evocative impressionist incantation of all things autumnal. You'll find it on Van's 1999 album Back On Top.

6 Into the Mystic A supreme example of how Van works on intuition, this soothing 1970 release was originally called 'Into The Misty' but Van sensed something deeper and captured the questing psychedelic-era zeitgeist by changing the title.

7 Domino Another of those Van songs that acknowledges his influences, in this case Fats Domino, this illustrates how Van is a master of big band swing.

8 Have I Told You Lately? A big wedding song, this is heartfelt evidence that Van is a big softie at heart. Knowing a monster hit when they hear it, Rod Stewart, Andy Williams and Kenny Rogers jumped on this.

9 Real Real Gone When Van lets it all hang out there's no one finer. Van reaffirms life in a song which I sense was inspired by the death of our mutual friend Donal Corvin. And, yes, he does sing "blah, blah, blah . . .".

10 Behind the Ritual Thirty-three solo studio albums and Van can still nail it as he does on this shuffling trance-like groove.

11 Coney Island Never afraid to take risks, Van gets stuck into some of his impassioned freeform spoken poetry on this celebration of place and nostalgia.

12 Warm Love Van choose this instead of Crazy Love for his It's Too Late To Stop Now concert album. Who am I to argue?

>Eamon Carr

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