Saint Dominic's Flashback: Van Morrison's Classic Album, Forty Years On Paperback – 10 Oct 2012
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So I got onto Amazon. The book, including p and p comes in at well under 'two pints', but the album came in at a hefty 9 pints and a kebab. I cheated; ordering the book, but using YouTube and Audacity to assemble the tracks.
The album is an absolute corker and I ask myself how had I missed this for 40 years. So I'll be checking Amazon periodically to see if the price drops.
As for the book, Dangerous Doug was just about spot on.
It has to be a labour of love from the author, as are so many self published works. But this author really can put words together that brings the history of this piece of art, and the atmosphere of the time and place, to life. There are times that you are in a grimy Californian recording studios wondering what kind of Van Morrison is going to turn up. It is well research, well written and well presented.
The book may well appeal to a 'long-haired anorak' - if that is not a human oxymoron. Running to about 150 pages, most is dedicated to the assembling of the album. The author gets the history and personnel across well. The last thirty or so pages try to read what is behind the lyrics of each song. That is all a bit dinner partyish for me. I was more happy to read and listen at the same time and allow the foot to tap, the blood to rush and occasionally, the tears to roll.
We know little about the author himself. He was about 15 when the album came out, so he is around my age. He also admits to have been a bit snotty in his music tastes, and there was always somebody like that at school in the seventies. But if he was an early drinker, he forked out about eleven pints of beer money for Saint Dominic's Preview in 1972, and one gets the feeling that it was money well spent. As was the £6 I spent on his book.
This labour of love shows what can be done when an author sets out to properly investigate the genesis and production of one of the seminal works in Van the Man's cannon.
The format successfully mixes background material with verbatim interviews with all the major musicians, except for Morrison himself. This doesn't prevent the book from being entertaining, enlightening and erudite.It allows the participants to reflect on their own individual contributions and we are taken through the creative process with love and care.There is an overview of the the recording schedule followed by a track by track analysis of lyrics and music.
Scholarship and careful accurate research shine through. The author should be congratulated on his hard work and I can highly recommend it to anyone with an interest in Van Morrison and his music.
The author offers a well-researched account of the making of the album (including some original interviews with key players on the record), alongside insightful, retrospective comment.
Despite being a Van Morrison fan - and owning a number of his albums - I had not listened to "St. Dominic's Preview" prior to reading the book. However, I still found the text engaging and entertaining. It also, obviously, encouraged me to get my hands on a copy and hear for myself! I then went back to the book to re-read setions on tracks that caught-my-ear.
Some very funny anecdotes and a personal yet well-informed feel make this an excellent choice for listeners looking for a new perspective on a pivitol album ... or (like me!) an introduction to an over-looked classic.