Monday, August 31, 2015

Astral Weekdays: Moondance Monday

Hello again and sorry for my disappearance.... it's been kind of a bad month and I've been pretty withdrawn. Today I emerge on the month's ultimate day with a birthday boy who's graced these pages twice before, but never on his big day. Until today, that is.
Van Morrison is 70 today. I'd hope that everyone reading this knows who Van Morrison is, but if not, the short version is that he began in the mid-'60s with a group called Them in his native Ireland, and when he went on his own a couple of years later, the world of music would come to know his name in a big way.
The list of massive hits, seminal LPs, legendary concert performances and extensive influence over others goes on from there. Were I to list all his beloved tracks, from Brown-Eyed Girl to Moondance to Into the Mystic to Tupelo Honey and beyond, it would take up the rest of this page.... and perhaps into a second one. 
Surely one of the most beloved vocalists of the last 50 years, it's really impossible to put into words what his music means to the world. I remember hearing him as a little kid and thinking he was a Black American soul singer from Detroit. So much for racial typecasting of who can sound like what.
He is still at it, with no signs shown of slowing or stopping. He is playing tonight in Belfast's Cyprus Avenue, how appropriate is that? "Cyprus Avenue" is a track off Astral Weeks, his second solo record from 1968. It's only one of the ten most revered records of the rock era, folks, nothing to see here. I mean there's more important things, what with Kanye throwing his hat into the ring for 2020 and all.
Anyway there isn't much else to say other than Van turns septugenarian today and I am here to honor him with a (dare I say?) gorgeous remaster of merely one of the most legendary bootlegs of all time. I had been meaning to go after this one with the sonic sweeteners since forever, and yesterday I decided to go for it. A day later, here it comes.
This was recorded at the old Pacific High Recorders in SF, not long after Van's 26th birthday. It's been around for ages in a zillion different iterations. I took the best known version -- the "Flying M" repair, in which all the tape flaws were fixed but little revision to the sound was done -- and set about getting it as tremendous as the performance (hint: it's scorching to the power of towering) would merit. 
I spent Sunday working on it in Sound Forge 9 and after a passel of Graphic EQ, Graphic Dynamics intensification and volume adjustments (a couple of tunes needed a 1.5db boost), I think I made a significant improvement on what was already one of the greatest unissued live recordings of our lifetimes.
Van Morrison
Pacific High Recorders
San Francisco, California
9.5.1971
EN FM remaster

CD1
01 Tom Donahue intro
02 Into the Mystic
03 I’ve Been Working
04 Friday’s Child
05 Hound Dog
06 Ballerina
07 Tupelo Honey
08 Wild Night
09 Just Like a Woman
10 Moonshine Whiskey

CD2
01 Dead Or Alive
02 You’re My Woman
03 These Dreams of You
04 Domino
05 Call Me Up In Dreamland
06 Blue Money
07 Bring It On Home
08 Buona Sera Signorina

Total time: 1:35:16

Van Morrison - vocals, guitar, harmonica
Ronnie Montrose - electric and acoustic guitars, mandolin
Mark Jordan - piano, organ
Bill Church - bass
Bill Atwood - trumpet, trombone
Jack Schroer - soprano, alto, and baritone saxophones, piano
Rick Shlosser - drums, percussion
Ellen Schroer - vocals
Janet Morrison - vocals

FM reels recorded off KSAN-FM, passed down the years and repaired by Flying M, remastered by me
503 MB FLAC here
Someday the original pre-FM reels of this will surface and I can die a semi-happy man, but for now, listening back to this as I write these words, I feel like I did all right. Anyway pull it down and get Into the Mystic as we Listen to the Lion at the peak of his formidable powers tear through a magnificent hour-and-a-half of the finest in Celtic Rock and Soul... heck, you even get Ronnie Montrose on guitars! And oh yeah.... an extremely happy 70th to The Man, and may he go at least another 70 doing as he does.--J.