Top 100 Album Review: #65 – Moondance, Van Morrison (1970)

Brass Folk

Morrison mixes folksy guitar work with some brass backing to make a unique sound.

81zgLKYhaCL._SL1425_

Rolling Stone’s Ranking: #65/100
My Rating: cropped-smooth-starcropped-smooth-starcropped-smooth-star

I put on this album before I started a 5 mile run. Reaching the crest of a hill with the sun peaking out on the horizon, “Into the Mystic” began to play. It made me reach a spatially different mindset where time seemed to neither move nor matter. I had moved into some alternative space where my run was effortless and my thoughts easy.

The entire Moondance album has an otherworldly feel: it slowly hypnotizes you with easy guitar, folky lyrics, and soft brass bands interspersed through the music. The style becomes repetitive though, with not all the songs making an impact.

VM-Essential_retouch-TIDAL-1200x720-II.jpg

[overview.]

“Moondance” was Van Morrison’s second chance. His “Astral Weeks” was a commercial flop (even though history has changed its mind on that album), and he needed to create something that was more accessible. This outing was more R&B based, easier to follow, less avant guard, and really cemented the style of  Van Morrison. Each song has a horn section that plays a down-tempo chorus paired with Irish-infused lyrics.

[track listing.]

  1. And It Stoned Me
  2. Moondance
  3. Crazy Love
  4. Caravan
  5. Into the Mystic
  6. Come Running
  7. These Dreams of You
  8. Brand New Day
  9. Everyone
  10. Glad Tidings

All song written by Van Morrison. 

[best track.] Into the Mystic 

Dreamy lyrics speaking to the soul, “Into the Mystic” easily puts you in an ephemeral mood where you feel at one with the universe. The soft horn section defines the song, somehow making impact even though it’s entirely low key. It plays beautifully with the other instruments giving it an organic feeling as you drift away into the mystic yourself.

[best track – runner up.] Moondance

I never would have placed this song as Van Morrison. For some reason, it seems like a big band ballad from one of the crooners, more at home in the discography of a Frank Sinatra or Micheal Buble. Few people have made a song that transcends their time, but Moondance sits well in any era.

[best hidden gem.] And it Stoned Me

Jelly Rolls.

Who knows what it means: sex, a singer, a candy? People seem to have differing opinions, but whatever Morrison is talking about, the message is clear: there are all moments in life where it’s so good that it stand stills for us.

And it stoned me to my soul
Stoned me just like Jelly Roll
And it stoned me.

[conclusion.]

The only thing keeping this from being more highly rated is that the rest of the album is only unique for its sense of style. Morrison continues to do the bluesy, folksy, horn section arrangements that make you revel in its originality, but the actual compositions didn’t do anything special for me.

It’s kind of like listening to bluegrass; I can appreciate the musical format, but most of it all sounds the same.  The songs where his unique sound and composition align to make something powerful, however, or quite worth it.

Other People’s Take: 

  • BeetleyPete: “A relatively short album of just ten tracks, but one that had a great effect on me at the age of 18.”
  • Greil Marcus: Unlike Van’s masterful Astral Weeks, this one will be immensely popular; Van’s picture already fills the windows of record stores and his new music is getting more airplay on FM stations than anything in recent memory.”
  • Kiersten Buelow: “However I think the most important lesson I could have ever learned is about love, and that came from Van Morrison’s Moondance, which I believe has some of the best songs ever written.

Author: Casual But Smart

I review the top 100 books, movies, albums, and games of all time.

2 thoughts on “Top 100 Album Review: #65 – Moondance, Van Morrison (1970)”

  1. Love Van- Moondance on my Van Mount Rushmore of Albums! Into The Mystic one of my Mount Rushmore Van The Man songs- probably second only to Madame George.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s