Sunday, May 04, 2014

Review,Van Morrison: My New World Crystal Ball

One of the great things I have found about the Internet is that I have made hundreds of friends all over the world.Every Van Morrison concert I go to I meet up with several of them.They have been very kind to me as well, sending me concert recordings. Recently one of  my friends sent me a CD called My New World Crystal Ball. It is a recording of two shows Van gave at The Lions Share in San Anselmo, California on August 8th 1971. The Lions Share was a tiny club frequented by musicians I believe and was famously the venue for the wake after Janis Joplin's funeral. I don't know why Van played two shows in one night at the club but I am glad he did because to my ears this is amongst the best ever Van live recordings I have  heard.The sound quality is first rate, you could almost feel you were there in the intimate atmosphere and Van is on great form.
                                                                                          Disc 1 is the early set and begins with three acoustic songs,Sweet Thing,I Wanna Roo You and Tupelo Honey.Some of the words to Tupelo Honey are different to the official version. Then the band join in with Van singing part of  Que Sera Sera which I remember Doris Day singing and this suddenly changes to Hound Dog and I don't think I have heard Van sing Rock n Roll like this.John Platania's guitar playing deserves a mention,It is great. This is followed by These Dreams Of You with some great sax by brother Jack Schroer.  Then another surprise, Van sings the Everly Brothers Let It Be Me and as usual Van effortlessly makes the song his own. It is quite brilliant.This is followed by Tennessee Waltz made famous by Patti Page. Moonshine Whiskey follows and this is really good. I think Van's wife Janet is one of the backing singers. I wonder if it might have been inspired by Janis,anyway it is nine minutes of genius as is the next song which is Bob Dylan's classic Just Like A Woman. Nobody interprets Bob as well as Van.This version is sublime.Two songs from the Street Choir album follow,I've Been Working and Domino.Jack Schroer's sax is quite incredible and the two songs are thirteen minutes of jamming, scatting, improvising and being quite amazing. The final song on Disc 1 is Buena Sera Senorita which I think was originally recorded by Louis Prima in 1956. Then the MC asks everybody to leave by the back door as people are already queuing for the second show.                                                      
                                                                                                              Disc 2 is much the same show apart from three songs.Street Choir replaces I Wanna Roo You and it is from the lyrics of this song that the recording gets it's name.It is acoustic with just Van and the three girl backing singers. When That Evening Sun Goes Down replaces Tennessee Waltz and there is the addition of Gloria. I must say though you can play both discs after each other because it is wonderful.Sweet Thing is particularly great with just Van and guitar. The whole recording is worthy of an official release because it captures a genius at the height of his powers in the early days of one of the most illustrious careers in modern music. Highly recommended.

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