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36 of 36 people found the following review helpful
Taking its title from a lyric at the end of "Into The Mystic" on "Moondance" (1970) - Van Morrison's live set "It's Too Late To Stop Now" was released in February 1974 as a double-album on Warner Brothers K 86007 in he UK and WS 2760 in the USA. It's always been a fan favourite and was equally championed by critics the world over at the time - muted by some as even being one of the best live albums ever made.

Well - on hearing it again after all these years on this superb-sounding January 2008 2CD remaster on Polydor/Exile 530 545-5 (Barcode 600753054550) - it's easy to see why everyone went nuts for it. "It's Too Late To Stop Now" is a magical body of work and with this latest sonic upgrade (including a Previously Unreleased bonus track) - it's never sounded better. Here are the jelly-rolls and mystical caravans:

Disc 1:
1. Ain't Nothin' You Can Do
2. Warm Love
3. Into The Mystic
4. These Dreams Of You
5. I Believe To My Soul
6. I've Been Working
7. Help Me
8. Wild Children
9. Domino
10. I Just Wanna Make Love To You

Disc 2:
1. Bring It On Home To Me
2. Saint Dominic's Preview
3. Take Your Hand Out Of Your Pocket
4. Listen To The Lion
5. Here Comes The Night
6. Gloria
7. Caravan
8. Cypress Avenue
9. Brown Eyed Girl [BONUS TRACK]

Produced by Van and Warner Brothers resident production genius Ted Templeman - "It's Too Late To Stop Now" was recorded in the Troubadour in Los Angeles, the Civic in Santa Monica (both in California) and the beloved and much missed Rainbow Theatre in London. His super tight house band "The Caledonia Soul Orchestra" consisted of JEF LABES on Piano & Organ, JOHN PLATANIA on Guitar, DAVID HAYES on Bass, JACK SCHROER and BILL ATWOOD on Sax and Trumpet with DAHAUD SHAAR pounding away on Drums. The String section featured NATHAN RUBIN, TIM KOVATCH TOM HALPIN, NANCY ELLIS and TERRY ADAMS.

Disc One opens the proceedings with a cracking version of Bobby Bland's "Ain't Nothin' You Can Do". There are quite a few covers on the album and they sit perfectly alongside his compositions making it a far more varied listen. There's a slick version of "Help Me" by Sonny Boy Williamson (Willie Dixon writer), "I Just Want To Make Love To You" by Muddy Waters (again Willie Dixon writer), "Bring It On Home To Me" by Sam Cooke and "Take Your Hands Out Of My Pocket" by Sonny Boy Williamson. THEM classics "Here Comes The Night" and "Gloria" are superlative too - especially the barnstorming "Gloria with "it's gonna be alright..." and the crowd bashing their hands together as hard as they can. The album is full of great moments like that - the James Brown funky tightness of "I've Been Working" with the brass, piano and guitar all playing up an absolute storm - the beautiful otherworldly Tim Buckley meandering feel to the soulful nine minutes of "Listen To The Lion" and the infectious joy of the crowd to the opening guitar flicks of "Domino".

The supposedly upgraded booklet is very disappointing. The few colour shots of Van and the band that adorned the original triple gatefold sleeve are here but nothing else - no lyrics, no history of where the album fits in, no new liner notes, no new photographs of the tour, the band, the audiences etc. And speaking of short change - while all the other 6 releases in this reissue batch have had two bonus tracks each - here we get only one bonus cut - a previously unreleased version of "Brown Eyed Girl" (admittedly its excellent though). Could have done better lads...

Some reviewers have said they found the sound `thinny' - I don't. To me it's warmer and more revealing than it's ever been and I'm digging this fab set so much more for it. The original master tapes have been 96K/24 Bit digitally remastered by TIM YOUNG at Metropolis Mastering in London and the sound is gorgeous - really amazing. Tracks like "I Believe To My Soul" (a ray Charles cover) with its delicate piano and strings and stop-start vocals sounds awesome.

To sum up - a bona fide 5-star masterpiece then - given a superb remaster - and I for one am loving every second of it...

PS:
Including "It's Too Late To Stop Now" - 29 Van Morrison albums were to be re-issued in remastered form throughout 2008 and into early 2009. However the last batch of the 4 listed below (January 2009) never appeared. These lists by way of info...

January 2008 (7 titles)
Tupelo Honey (1971), It's Too Late To Stop Now (2 CD Live Set) (1974),
Wavelenght (1978), Into The Music (1979), A Sense Of Wonder (1985),
Avalon Sunset (1989) and Back On Top (1999)

June 2008 (8 titles)
Veedon Fleece (1974), Common One (1980), Inarticulate Speech Of The Heart (1983), Live At The Grand Opera House, Belfast (1984), No Guru, No Method, No Teacher (1986), Enlightenment (1990), A Night In San Francisco (2CD Live Set) (1994) and The Healing Game (1997)

September 2008 (7 titles)
Saint Dominic's Preview (1972), A Period Of Transition (1977), Beautiful Vision (1982), Poetic Champions Compose (1987), Hymns To The Silence (2CD Studio Set) (1991), How Long Has This Been Going On (Live At Ronnie Scott's) (1995), Tell Me Something - The Songs Of Mose Allison (1996)

January 2009 (8 titles) - CANCELLED
Hard Nose The Highway (1973), Irish Heartbeat (with The Chieftains) (1988),
Too Long In Exile (1993), Days Like This (1995), The Story Of Them (2CD Set) (1999), The Skiffle Sessions - Live In Belfast (with Lonnie Donegan & Chris Barber) (2000), Down The Road (2002) and What's Wrong With This Picture? (2003)

PPS:
Those hoping to see desperately needed sonic upgrades of his 1st and 2nd album masterpieces on Warner Bothers "Astral Weeks" (1968) and "Moondance" (1970) or even "His Band & The Street Choir" (late 1970) will be disappointed to hear that they're NOT in this re-issue campaign - on either side of the pond. "Astral Weeks" and "Moondance" in particular have both been languishing around on crappy-sounding non-remastered CDs for over 20 years now and they're glaringly obvious omissions in this supposedly 'extensive' re-issue campaign. These universally recognized masterpieces have long deserved 2CD DELUXE EDITION treatment (some tracks in remastered form are available across the 3 volumes of "Best Of"). However, I've recently been informed by a good source that all 3 are NOW AVAILABLE since June 2008 in JAPAN in RHINO REMASTERED form. See the excellent Japanese site CDJAPAN.CO.JP for details (worded in English).
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on 5 February 2008
I've been following Morrison since the beginning of his solo career and have seen him live on numerous occasions. I was at several of the concerts on the tour this album was recorded on, including the London and Dublin shows. Believe me, this is the best Morrison has ever sounded and this is the best band he has ever graced a stage with.

How a previous poster can describe this as "immature" is beyond me. Also I suggest he gets himself some new audio equipment or a new pair of ears, as the sound of this set is as far from "tinny" as one can get. This album has long been considered by fans and critics as not only one of the best live albums anyone has produced, but a classic album in its own right. Buy with confidence - the live Van doesn't get any better than this.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on 18 March 2004
I like live albums. This is the best of the lot. Morrison has an electric band with a brass section and a string section. Lots of colour. Everything is well arranged but never staid or precise. Lots of little tight and fluid cameos from different musicians. But the cherry is Van Morrison's voice. He somehow goes into intense mode when on form and singing live and THIS IS IT! He sings phrases over and over to to convey the feel. His voice swirls and barks. At the end somebody shouts out "Turn it on." "It's already on!" he growls. It is - switched on to the full.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on 27 March 2000
The sheer bravado of this short, shuffling and tortured genius was exhibited here in 1972. His grandiose plan of taking his eclectic mix of jazz, R+B and soul,and adding a string section to it was ridiculous enough. To then add a huge brass section should have been disastrous. The actual result was breathtaking.If you get the chance to see the video-do so;if not just make sure you buy this.
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on 1 February 2008
This is my favourite album of all time and I don't class myself as a big fan of Van. The previous review said the sound is tinny which I just don't get. It's produced by the great Ted Templeman and is really well engineered, highlighting John Platania's guitar, the piano and strings at all the right moments. The interaction with the audience is captured perfectly. The material is Van's strongest in my view and his voice in 1973 had matured from its Them era squeak to be a very good rock voice, capable of fronting a big band. Highlights for me are Caravan Listen To The Lion and I've Been Working. Play it right through. It's a blast!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 11 March 2008
I think the reviewer who describes this as "immature" and compares it unfavourably to "San Francisco" demonstrates the divide in the Van Morrison camp. Some people got on board around Have I Told You Lately and only know him as the gruff curmudgeon we see today. Some of us remember him as a young, lithe firebrand, however, someone not permanently hiding behind shades and grumbling about copycats, and this is an excellent document of that artist.

I have to say that the bluesy covers drag a little for me, but the rest really does justify this album's reputation as possibly the greatest live album ever (though my personal favourite is Tim Buckley's Dream Letter). From the quadruple whammy opening salvo of Ain't Nothin' You Can Do/Warm Love/Into The Mystic/These Dreams Of You to the triumphant finale of Cypress Avenue (and, in the case of this version, Brown Eyed Girl), the adrenalin only flags occasionally (in my opinion anyway) during the likes of I Just Want To Make Love To You.

Cypress Avenue itself is an absolute triumph - Morrison has surely never sung better in his life and the band and he are in total accord. There cannot be a more exciting moment in recorded music than when Morrison shouts the album's title at the song's climax and the band come crashing back in.

The additon of a good version of Brown Eyed Girl provides a nice chill-out moment, and then it's over.

Springsteen has spent an entire career trying to be this joyous, this intense, but there can only be one master.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Van Morrison's "It's Too Late to Stop Now" released in 1974 is a double CD showcasing the best moments distilled from three live performances on Van's 1973 world tour: at The Troubadour in LA, the Santa Monica Civic and the great and much-missed Rainbow Theatre in Finsbury Park, London (which, alas, is no more). Many make a convincing case that this is the greatest live-performance album of all time, by any artist.

Van has always been a multi-talented writer, producer and arranger and this tour featured his "Caledonia Soul Orchestra" with string and brass sections complementing the rock music instrumental backing line-up to highlight every mood change during the gig: brass for the full-on rock/soul numbers, strings to fill out the more atmospheric pieces, and the whole held together by Van's unique, powerful and insistent vocal. The result by any logic shouldn't even work, but Van's extraordinary genius for synthesising different styles into his own trademark sound makes for a one-off, an all-time great. Even if you're not a committed Van Morrison fan, listen and you'll understand why he inspires such respect and has such a loyal fan base. From the explosive opener "When you got a heartache, ain't nothin' you can do" you'll just be overtaken by the irresistible urge to jump to your feet and dance - even if you're driving, which can be a problem!

I saw this line-up live at the very first Knebworth One-Day Festival on a hot summer Saturday in 1974 (I was very young and it was my first ever outdoor concert), and have never forgotten Van belting out those powerful, soulful vocals into the summer afternoon sunshine backed by a band so tight, so seamlessly unified yet infinitely flexible and responsive they were one beautiful organic whole, to treat the listener to a truly awesome, unforgettable experience. I mean, wow. Since that day, I have been a die-hard Van Morrison fan.

The 18 numbers performed on this album are the best of the best, performed by one of the world's great musical artists in his prime, still with the power and restlessness of youth in his soul but with enough experience and maturity to understand the complexities of sound and instrumentation mix and the discipline necessary to pull it together and make it work. The power of Van's vocal delivery and his ability for on-the-spot improvisation to go with the mood of the moment often belie the committed professionalism of execution, the attention to minor details behind the performance. It's masterful.

This album is a true classic. It's outstanding. It has soul. Whichever of the various releases over the years you listen to (I have most of them and it doesn't really matter), just listen to it. Almost nothing else you ever hear afterwards will compare. Go on, treat yourself.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 4 February 2004
Perhaps the only album ever to be both sexy and spiritual at the same time.
I don't care how miserable you are - this album is gonna help.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 27 November 2010
It's Too Late to Stop Now is a live album by Northern Irish singer-songwriter Van Morrison,released in 1974. Frequently named as one of the greatest live albums of all time, it was recorded in concerts at the Troubadour in Los Angeles, California, the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium and at The Rainbow in London during what has often been said to be Morrison's greatest phase as a live performer.Featuring a mighty,horn and string augmented line-up of his Caledonia Soul Orchestra.This music has the authentic American Blues, Jazz and melodic Folk sound that he loved and listened to in his childhood.There is a liberal nod to the American Blues that he grew up with: Ray Charles,Sonny Boy Williamson,Willie Dixon,Sam Cooke,Muddy Waters.His versions easily matching theirs,with a Celtic passion and Celtic soul.He also does plenty of his own classics inimitably.

A perfectionist,his voice sounds like another instrument from deep in his chest.His barbaric yawp, isolating phrases and repeating them,building up riffs,his mystic tones undercut by a syncopated beat,the rich rhythm section of guitar, drums, base, saxophone and trumpet has the brassy extravagance of James Brown,with his voice doing the dancing and him leading the audience on.Hear them respond, call out in appreciation or anticipation. He turns it up, because he's got soul. Rich soul tones are sung out loud with a choppiness of delivery, structured by R&B conventions.Tight musically and reining in his explosive voice.Heartful and warm with pure joy and emotion. Brilliant music,Blues,Rock,Jazz,Soul,Folk,that goes direct to the heart.Surrounding himself with gifted musicians of great technique,frequently giving them their leads.Stand out tracks:Into the Mystic,Domino, Gloria, Cypress Avenue,often better than the album tracks themselves.See also his DVD,'Live at Montreux'if you like this.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 27 July 2009
I saw this concert on TV. Indeed, I recorded it off the TV onto VHS, but I played it so much that the tape wore out. Hopefully, the DVD of this concert won't be too long in surfacing (it's already been too long!).

All those decades ago, yet the gig was so good that I can still remember so much of it - the tightness of the band, the enjoyment of playing that was so evident on the gorgeous cellist, Terry Adams' face, Van high-kicking during one song (Caravan?). I recall thinking that that band must be the best backing band that anyone has ever had - they were astonishing.

So when It's Too Late To Stop Now was released on LP, I went out and bought it. I then bought this 2CD set. I would happily pay out again for the DVD.

I can think of individual songs on other artists' live CDs which I would put at a similar level to this gig, but I can't think of a full Live CD that I've heard, by anyone, which is anywhere near this good (another reviewer thought that Tim Buckley's Dream Letter, which I've never heard, was better, so I'll have to check that out. If it's even close to being better than this, it must be worth hearing).

I'm reluctant to pick out my personal highlights on the CDs as it's all good, but Caravan blows me away every time - the drive that the band inject into the song is amazing.

Buy this 2CD live document of a unique talent at his peak, with one of the best bands I've ever heard backing him.
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