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4.8 out of 5 stars
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4.8 out of 5 stars
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*** THIS REVIEW IS FOR THE 2013 2CD VERSION ***

First things first - the reissued album "Moondance" is presented in 'two' versions. The other is a DELUXE EDITION 4CD/1BLU RAY set in a book that has received derision for its packaging faults. This review is for the October 2013 'EXPANDED EDITION' 2CD version in a three-way foldout card digipak on Warner Brothers R2 536561 (Barcode 081227963842). I love the way this reissue looks, feels and sounds. Here are the fantabulous details...

1. And It Stoned Me
2. Moondance
3. Crazy Love
4. Caravan
5. Into The Mystic
6. Come Running [Side 2]
7. These Dreams Of You
8. Brand New Day
9. Everyone
10. Glad Tidings
Disc 1 has the 10-track album in 2013 remastered form (38:56 minutes). The original self-produced vinyl LP "Moondance" was released March 1970 on Warner Brothers WS 1835 in the USA and UK.

1. Caravan (Take 4)
2. Nobody Knows You When You're Done And Out (Outtake)
3. Into The Mystic (Take 11)
4. Brand New Day (Take 3)
5. Glad Tidings (Alternate Version)
6. Come Running (Take 2)
7. Crazy Love (Mono Mix)
8. These Dreams Of You (Alternate Version)
9. Moondance (Take 22)
10. I Shall Sing (Take 7)
11. I've Been Working (Early Version, Take 5)
Disc 2 (52:12 minutes) is an 11-track Bonus CD with Sessions, Alternates & Outtakes. The three-way card digipak houses CD1 in the left flap with pictures of the master tape boxes beneath - the 24-page sepia-effect booklet sits in a centred lip pouch with a photo of Van out walking amongst Autumn trees and Disc 2 is on the right - again with tapes boxes beneath the see-through tray. The booklet also features Janet Planet's original notes, a new essay by Alan Light, photo outtakes from the cover session and notes on the recording and master tapes. But then you get to the real meat and potatoes - the huge overhaul in sound...

The original tape engineer ELLIOT SCHEINER has been recalled for the remaster and he gives 3 pages of warm and detailed explanation. The album was recorded in Mono in two gulps - September and November 1969 - and then mastered into Stereo on the latest equipment of the day - an 8-track. There is faintly detectable hiss on some of the songs inherent to the original tapes - but the clarity on his vocals and the individual instruments is now truly fantastic - warm, sweet and allowed to breath. I don't detect any compression here - nor is it over trebled for effect - it's just beautifully handled and allowed to simply be.

While "And It Stoned Me" is a good sonic opener - the remaster really kicks in with "Moondance" and "Crazy Love" where John Kleinberg's bass and Jeff Labes' Piano are suddenly alive - while the fabulous threesome of backing singers Emily Houston, Judy Clay and Jackie Verdell add so much Soul to these renditions. Then you're hit with "Caravan" and everyone's Soul igniter - "Into The Mystic". And wow is the only appropriate response. Like so many fans I've waited too long to hear these joyous songs sound this good. And when he launches into that abandoned vocal during "Into The Mystic" ("...I Wanna Rock Your Gypsy Soul...Just Like Way Back In The Days Of Old...") - I'm blubbing like a teenager confronted by Ryan Gosling....

I hadn't expected the bonus to be so brilliant. It hits you on many fronts - the intimacy - sound engineers talking in the takes - classics in beautiful full-studio sound quality. Take 3 of "Brand New Day" is shockingly gorgeous and he may have lost something in the final translation. As if to reinforce that Take 2 of "Come Running" is even better - the band and song fresh - a truly lovely outtake (I'll re-play this cut more than the album version). Even the finger-clicked in "Crazy Love" which is Mono is lovely (possibly the mix used for the 7" single B-side to "Come Running"). The only one that sounds slightly off is the out-of-whack piano and vocal to Take 22 of "Moondance" - a jazz-based rock track he seemed to struggle with feel-wise.

Listening to Take 11 of "Into The Mystic" is as spine-tingling as the finished track and while the Jimmie Cox cover version "Nobody Knows You When You're Down And Out" is a bit of a let down - the new song "I Shall Sing" is properly fabulous stuff and only hammers home the huge contribution the horn section of Jack Schroer (Alto and Tenor Sax) and Collin Tilton (Trombone and Flute) made to the album. In fact it sounds like The Mavericks only 30 years before their time. The last entry is a genuinely unexpected high - the band fully rocking it out on Take 5 of "I've Been Working" which goes a little Beefheart in its quirky guitar parts. Its ten-plus minutes is cooking ("I've been working for Jesse James...") and ends Disc 2 with a feeling that you've been treated to something very special indeed. In fact in some respects I prefer the single disc of alternate versions and outtakes rather than the overload of the 5-disc version that for me actually spoils the magic of the original album.

In truth Van Morrison fans have been waiting more than 40 years to hear one of their favourite albums sound this good and finally be presented with a degree of packaging dignity its always deserved at least in the 2-disc version). The only real mystery is why it wasn't combined with a series of releases - one of which would be the masterpiece that preceded it - "Astral Weeks"? But that's another man's licensing headache.

"Switch on your electric light" Van sings on "Caravan". Well after all this time - "Moondance" is burning brighter than ever. Don't hesitate - buy this beautiful reissue...
77 comments| 29 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
Moondance is one of my favourite Van Morrison albums, a classic on a level with Astral Weeks and Tupelo Honey. There's a moving description of the numinous experience in the song And It Stoned Me which recounts an experience with a childhood friend. The playful arrangement of Moondance with its jazzy infusions celebrates a different kind of magic. His voice turns tender and subdued for the gentle love song Crazy Love but goes into full R&B mode for the soulful Caravan. Every note seems to be in exactly the right place on this masterpiece of an album with its exquisite arrangements whilst the words are sheer poetry, as in the yearning Into The Mystic. Slower songs like Mystic and faster ones like the buoyant ditty Come Running alternate with great effect. Every composition is special and memorable, whether it's a love song like These Dreams Of You or a more overtly devotional piece like Brand New Day. The poetic lyrics, evocative melodies and Van's varied vocal styles all contribute to the sonic splendour of Moondance.
0Comment| 48 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 16 November 1999
I absolutely love Van Morrison and I think that this is one of his best cd's ever. Right after I bought this I went on a road trip with some friends driving from San Francisco to Montana to fly fish (don't ask) and this cd was one of the staples in our cd player. It was absolutely perfect for the bright sunny days, wide roads and holiday time. Since that is not likely to happen again in the near future, I have to settle for listening to the cd on my stereo, in my flat - but the cd still brings back those feelings. Van Morrison has a wonderful voice and a soulfulness that I love listening to. "Into the Mystic" is easily one of the best songs on this cd. Definitely one to have in your collection.
0Comment| 29 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 22 October 2013
This refers to the deluxe edition only.
I already have an old half-speed master of this which I love, but had to get this for the bluray.
As expected it sounds great and the surround version opens up the mix nicely, although its not really surround. In fact the engineer says its effectively 8 track mono, but I don't care. There's not much added value to disks 2-4 except "I will sing" which is very interesting, nothing like it elsewhere in Van's discography, and you can see why it was left off Moondance. Also an outtake of "Nobody knows you when you're down and out" and early attempts at "I've been working" which finished up on "His band and the street choir". So far so goodish ..... however the packaging is a disaster. Be very careful when removing all the cellopane/sticky stuff - its very difficult to avoid damaging the contents. Also when I opened up the photo-album style contents it fell apart. Whoever thought double-sided tape would hold it together needs to go back to packaging school. I finished up drilling two holes right through the spine and running a chord through like a ........... photo album!
33 comments| 32 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
I can't describe how beautiful this album is. Just the thought of 'Into the Mystic' and I can hear Van's voice in my head - just the thought of 'Caravan' and I can hear Van ordering me to 'Turn it up, that's enough, so you know it's got Soul'. You can't do better than that!
0Comment| 19 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 23 October 2013
This album is a masterpiece in Van Morrison production and this super deluxe edition is amazing.
The set is comprensive of:
Disc 1 Original album 2013 remastering
Disc 2, 3 and 4 bonus tracks: Demo, outtakes, rarities
Disc 4: Bluray audio of original album remestered in stereo 192Khz/24bit and Surround 5.1 Dolby Thhru HD

Regarding the Bluray Audio in my player Denon DBP-4010UD the album start directly in Dolby Thru HD 5.1 96/24 and is impossible in any way to select the stereo PCM track 192/24. Is also impossible to see the main menu. I don't know if is a disc bug or a problem of my Denon player. I am going to try with another player to ckeck.
Hope to read the review of someone else about this.
66 comments| 8 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 23 October 2013
Musically, as anyone who has heard Moondance and likes rock, will know that this is 5 stars. If the max was 10, it would rate 10; were 100 the limit, it would still score the full amount. Just superb, and at the time it was issued, ground breaking, genre bending, gentle groove cutting. The main CD itself is perfect, although I couldn't detect any remastering, the CD is no better fidelity wise from my old, and still cherished, LP.
The other CDs flesh out the original, and give us the sense of how the masterpiece was created. Multiple takes of the best songs, which bear repeated plays effortlessly. Each version is not as fully arranged or instrumental ly augmented as the ones which made it to the published LP. However, most are well worthy of your attention, and are somehow more intimate. I'm always fascinated how a song is built, bent and expanded during the recording process, and the songs here are wonderful examples of this.
I bought the de luxe edition. Now, de luxe is defined by the on-line dictionary as 'particularly elegant and luxurious'. This packaging is anything but that description. The outer cover is sturdy enough, but is badly glued to the inner pockets housing the individual CDs. (The binding on mine came away as soon as I opened the parcel in which it came!). The pockets themselves are not aligned to the cover, and protrude from the bottom right of the cover. The pockets themselves are too tight, and it is difficult to remove or replace the CDs from the pockets. Worse, it seems as if they forgot to include a track listing in the original design, as the listing is badly sellotaped to the back of the outer cover! This is de luxe? And I haven't even mentioned that you cannot properly read the sleeve notes for fear of the binding coming completely apart. The CD was delayed from its originally intended release date, I imagine packaging problems were at least part of the problem. In truth, they should have scrapped this version, and started again. Terrible.
The music is great though - I'd suggest going the MP3 route and save yourself the hassle of fighting with the cover!
1111 comments| 19 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 12 December 2003
'Moondance' is, in my opinion, THE BEST popular music album ever recorded. Yes I'm a Beatles fan, Yes I'm a Dylan fan, Yes I'm a Beach Boys fan, Yes I'm a Stevie Wonder fan. Even if you don't agree with that first sentence, you have to agree that side A (of the LP) is the greatest sequence of tunes ever committed to vinyl.
In every way, this album is incredible - lyrically it's superb, the singing is the very best of one of the best, the musicianship and arrangements are staggeringly good, and the whole atmosphere is just on another level. Breathtaking.
11 comment| 27 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 24 October 2013
I won't add anything to what other people have said about the packaging; it really is as bad as they state. The sound, however, is another matter: warm, developed and infinitely superior to the previous editions.

One reviewer mentioned they can't find the Stereo sound option on the Blu-ray. The only way I found to access it was to choose sound options from my Blu-ray handset. Both choices come up on the screen and you can choose the one you want. Hardly deluxe design and hence the missing star.

In spite of this, as an album and a work of a major artist at (one of) the peak(s) of his creativity you have to have it.
0Comment| 9 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
I have the deluxe 4 cd's edition and frankly not one you'll listen to it very often with hald dozen not so different versions of the same song.

So I also bought this one, and this is the one normal people would choose. Sound is great.
0Comment| One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse

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