Van morrison

The quiet radicalism of the Chieftains

Pop quiz time: which act was named Melody Maker Group of the Year in 1975? The answer is not, as you might expect, some testosterone-fuelled blues-rock outfit or a hip gang of proto-punk gunslingers, but a gaggle of semi-professional Irish musicians who performed trad tunes sitting down, dressed for church in cardigans, sensible shoes, shirts and ties. The Chieftains were so far from rock and roll they met it coming back the other way. On the cover of Irish Heartbeat, a later collaboration with Van Morrison, they could be mistaken for a loose affiliation of farmers, minor office clerks and earnest ornithologists waiting for a bus outside the town hall.

The death of the live album

Next week The The release The Comeback Special, a 24-track live album documenting the band’s concert at the Royal Albert Hall in June 2018. Meanwhile, Steely Dan’s last man standing, Donald Fagen, has just released two live albums recorded in 2019. Their musical qualities notwithstanding, these releases feel like relics from a lost world. Much like the fondue set, the live album is much reduced from its 1970s and 1980s heyday, when a pretty blonde sideman-turned-solo artist called Peter Frampton could somehow shift eight million copies of the anodyne Frampton Comes Alive! The stand-alone contemporary live album is now an endangered species; MTV’s Unplugged series in the 1990s offered a

The sermons poked out of the songs like busted bed springs: Van Morrison livestream reviewed

Over the decades, Van Morrison’s role within the tower of song has shifted from chief visionary officer to head of complaints. It’s not a promotion. The title track of his new album, Latest Record Project, Volume 1, is a rebuke to those who insist on living in an artist’s past rather than his present. A laudable sentiment, perhaps, but one less easy to put into practice when Morrison’s present consists of 28 tracks which hone an already ornery world view to a paranoic peak. When he isn’t griping about his divorce he’s peddling half-baked conspiracy theories, sneering at internet users and ‘media junk’, and bitching about modern music, crooked politicians

Spiky, sticky, silly: interviewing Van Morrison

Q: ‘How would you define transcendence?’ A: ‘Well, how would you define it?’ I interviewed Van Morrison last year. (I’m fine now, thanks.) While the exercise wasn’t quite the near-death experience of industry legend — he was polite and accommodating, if not always exactly forthcoming — it got sticky at times, as the above exchange illustrates. Let’s call it a solid 6.5 on the Lou Reed Scale. Morrison, who turns 75 on the last day of this month, was formed in an age when a people-pleasing public persona wasn’t essential for musical success. In rare interviews, he engages with informed questions about music but refuses to indulge in the game

Meet Dion, one of the last living links to the earliest days of rock ’n’ roll

Only two of the Beatles’ pop contemporaries are depicted on the cover of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. One is Bob Dylan. The other is Dion DiMucci. In a pleasing third-act twist, Dylan contributes the liner notes to Dion’s new album Blues With Friends — an act of deference that the recipient is still processing. ‘I asked him, I didn’t know if he had the time, but he sent me back those paragraphs and said that I knew how to write a song.’ He whistles. ‘That’s from a Nobel Prize winner. I thought, I’ll take it, I’ll take it!’ So he should. Dion — like Kylie, a single moniker