Van Morrison

Rocks His Gypsy Soul: Van Morrison Gets His Chance to Wail, Vol. 3

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Recorded live at the Fillmore West on April 26, 1970, this bootleg is a fine performance with release-quality sound -- excellent for a boot, that's for sure. The dozen songs include solid concert versions of much of Van Morrison's finest early material, among them "Moondance," "Brown Eyed Girl," "Into the Mystic," "Caravan," "The Way Young Lovers Do," and "And It Stoned Me" (there's nothing from his Them days, though). These aren't mere re-creations of the studio arrangements, either -- a nearly seven-minute "Crazy Love" goes into some improvised sections, "The Way Young Lovers Do" is done sans string arrangement with emphasis on horns and piano, and "Cypress Avenue" stretches out to 12 minutes. Unfortunately, the very last part of "Caravan" chops off abruptly, though it's a fairly minor flaw in a fine set. If Morrison ever does decide to release in-concert documents of his early career in a single-disc or multi-disc fashion (and he had not as of this writing in 2004), this would be a solid contender for official exposure. In whatever form you find it, it's a testament to his sometimes brilliant skills as a live performer during this era, which have been somewhat undervalued in the absence of an official live album. After the concert finishes, the CD tags on five bonus tracks. The first three are two 1964 Them demos and a 1965 BBC Them performance of "All by Myself," which are interesting, but better heard in the context of the bootleg The Genuine Philosophers Stone One, which focuses solely on Them rarities and 1968 Morrison solo publishing demos. The final two bonuses are "Caledonia" and "What's Up, Crazy Pup?," both listed as live performances with the Caledonia Soul Orchestra in 1973; the sound on those is superb, though there are ticks that sound like these might have been transferred from vinyl, not to mention a suspicious lack of crowd noise.