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Customer Review

TOP 500 REVIEWERon 8 February 2013
There are those who`ll have you believe this is a below-par effort after Van`s bluesy, troubled semi-official debut Blowin` Your Mind, the sublime masterpiece Astral Weeks, and its glorious follow-up Moondance. Not a bit of it.
Van was apparently a happy man, especially judging from the group photos in the booklet, living with Janet Planet (a union which wasn`t to last) and their child in Woodstock, NY. There is even a note by Janet, reproduced from the original foldout LP sleeve, testifying to Van`s newfound bliss. All of this comes across in what is his loosest, most `hippyfied` album, though it`s also a record with heaps of soul, and the high degree of musicianship we`ve now come to expect on each and every Van release.
Van invariably gives us a great opening track, and Domino is no exception, taking its honoured place beside Stoned Me, Wild Night, Bright Side Of The Road and Jackie Wilson Said as a killer upbeat taster of what`s to come.
Next is the offbeat, irresistible Crazy Face - which I notice another reviewer dares us to try and sing! I kind of know what he means.
Another highlight is Call Me Up In Dreamland, a song that couldn`t be simpler, but could hardly be less memorable too.
Blue Money is a bit throwaway, but then comes what might just be the loveliest song on the album, Virgo Clowns, which is as compelling as its title. Van sings it with passion and soulfulness.
If I Ever Needed Someone is pure, unadulterated soul. Gypsy Queen is superb, as is the terrific and cathartic closer, Street Choir.
There are some excellent musicians playing with the Man, including John Platania on guitar and mandolin, Jack Schroer on saxes, with Janet Planet herself and Martha Velez (remember her?) as two of the backing singers.
The number of songs about or inspired by Janet are positively Lennon-esque in their devotion, but who could blame him? They look so happy...
After this record came the wonderful Tupelo Honey, and many more great albums. But let`s not damn this underrated record with faint praise. It stands up on its own, a deceptively loose-knit, euphoric set of twelve songs sung with soulful power by the man who will always and ever be - Van the Man!
As he sings on Virgo Clowns:

Let us free you from the pain
Let us see you smile again -
Let your laughter fill the room...
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Product Details

4.7 out of 5 stars
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4.7 out of 5 stars
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