|1. Fair Play|
|2. Linden Arden Stole The Highlights|
|3. Who Was That Masked Man|
|4. Streets Of Arklow|
|5. You Don't Pull No Punches, But You Don't Push The River|
|7. Cul De Sac|
|8. Comfort You|
|9. Come Here My Love|
|10. Country Fair|
This is an album to languish in, and for me, can only be evaluated alongside other faves like Revolver, Don't Stand Me Down, Blood on the Tracks, Promenade and Forever Breathes the Lonely Word... music that transcends the boundaries of modern-pop. The sound is rich and hypnotic, with the tracks perfectly sequenced to give us a sense of cohesion, with the listener able to sit back and lose themselves in Morrison's tales of love, lost and found. Opening track, Fair Play, finds Van listlessly moaning like a wounded dog over a bed of acoustic guitars, the lyrics filled with poetry, grace and images of stark evocation... "fair play to you / Killarney's lakes are so blue / and the architecture I'm taking in with my mind / is-s so fine" managing to surmise the singer's emotional mindset, as well as setting up a mood and pace that will continue throughout the record.
The whole thing is just intense and relaxing and heartbreaking and elating... a mass of contradiction really; all we know for sure is that Van's voice drips like tupelo honey, as the instrumentation veers off in directions that suggest soul, folk and jazz simultaneously. The classic Van Morrison sound then! From this, the whole record could be seen as a continuation of the tracks from St Dominick's Preview - stuff like Listen to the Lion, Almost Independence Day and the title track - with Morrison and his ensemble of musicians improvising melodies over made up lyrics that try to capture an emotional moment of clarity. Throughout the record Morrison can be found howling wildly, his voice shifting from the deep bass-baritone of something like Linden Arden Stole the Highlights (with that classic line "and he loved the little children, like they were his very own") to the blistering falsetto of next track, Who Was that Masked Man, which leads off from the previous track perfectly, with that bleak opening line, "oh ain't it lonely... when you're living with a gun".
The album's centre piece is the (near) ten-minute epic You Don't Pull No Punches - But You Don't Push the River, a real Madame George moment, in which guitars, strings, flutes and horns all make an appearance, as the whole thing just goes beyond the limitations of popular music into the realms of the fantastique. Throughout the track Van can be found baring his soul. He means these words... he ruminates and pontificates, and often strays from the course of what he intends to say, but we can forgive this... because he's lost in his own emotions. And in today's musical climate, that is a rare feet indeed.
From hereon-in, the whole thing just sails by on the crest of a wave, with Van fusing ambient folk-infused instrumentation with free-from lyrics and breaking our hearts with every subsequent track. The entire album is just a joy to listen to from beginning to end, making it hard (and morally, quite wrong) to choose favourites, though it goes without saying that Cul-de-Sac offers a rare moment of up-tempo soul (bringing to mind earlier VM tracks like You're My Woman and The Way Young Lovers Do)... whilst closing track Country Fair has some beautiful guitar work and lyrics that swirl around our heads, lingering for days on end. As noted previously, Veedon Fleece remains one of *the* lost-classics of the 70's (along with Dennis Wilson's Pacific Ocean Blue, which has similarities in style), and is a record that really should be revaluated. If anything, this has become the 'real' Astral Weeks of Van's career, what with the latter now featuring in one in ten student's collections... so this is where to come if you want to discover the real cult of Van Morrison.
To quote that other lyrical Irish rebel, Shane MacGowan; "ten seconds into a Van Morrison record you know exactly what you're gonn'a get... he don't f*ck around". And it's true. From those very first picks of Ralph Walsh's guitar, we're hooked... hypnotised even, by the lushness and elegance of these amazing compositions. It's a mood you either buy into or you don't... simple as that. But this is just too good to give up on. Veedon Fleece represents a master singer, songwriter and musician at the height of his game, crafting a beautiful and transporting piece of work that offers the listener an undiluted moment of true, heart-wrenching purity (no wonder Kevin Rowland loves it!!). This is the aural equivalent of strolling through a summer's meadow, by a babbling brook, under a pastel rainbow... to put it simply, you need this.
This product's forum
Active discussions in related forums
Search Customer Discussions