Van Morrison: Moondance (1970)

Van Morrison is on my shortlist of highly respected artists I know I'm supposed to enjoy a whole lot more than I actually do. (I imagine that falling short of outright reverence draws the same backlash as daring to be ambivalent about Steely Dan.) Don't get me wrong, I appreciate that he's released some great music (at least before he became better known as a loon railing against Covid precautions -- check out this assessment of his recent slate of anti-lockdown songs.) And I do like to take out his earlier albums (roughly '68-'74) for an occasional spin. But a few highlights aside, I find a lot of his work deathly dull, and his vocals a mixed bag. (See also, again, Steely Dan.)

All that said, I genuinely enjoy the jazzy, poppy Moondance, even if liking his most obviously appealing record makes me feel awfully pedestrian. Yeah, I'm ok with the more subtle, meandering charms of Astral Weeks and Tupelo Honey; but this one seems to do the best job of walking the line between his R&B-flavored pop (the title track, "Come Running," "Glad Tidings") and his more reflective side. "And It Stoned Me" and "Caravan" are terrific mid-tempo numbers that retain his free-form cosmic leanings but tethered to tuneful melodies.

I may never be all-in on the guy, but considering how much I avoided his music for most of my life, I've come a long way, and Moondance probably makes the strongest case for continuing to listen with an open mind.

 

Comments

  1. I like Moondance a lot, but agree some other stuff leaves me cold. I find Veedon Fleece almost unlistenable and it’s often called his forgotten masterpiece. Full agreement on Steely Dan too!

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