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Music Moondance

By Jill Curtis

1970 HAS SO far been a pitifully insignificant year for rock. Much of what is being done has been done before and is not aging gracefully. But there are a few albums around that are worth having. One is a Warner Brothers release- Moondance by Van Morrison. It is not a hard rock record, but Morrison's background is in rock and that is the audience which Moondance is directed toward.

Back in the winter of '68-'69 Morrison's Astral Weeks was released, a record which never sold well in spite of a large production push about eight months later. At this point, Morrison had given up such lyrical simplicity as

Do you remember when we used to sing

Sha-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-de-dah

for

If I venture in the slip-stream

Between the viaducts of your dreams.

Apparently the results were too obscure for AM radio and perhaps not opaque enough for WBCN. The album was a much less driving sort of rock. Of course it had guitars, bass and drums, but in combination with flute, violins, saxophone and vibes these instruments became less important. At any rate, it was before its time and, unfortunately, sold poorly.

Quasi-mystical, nature-oriented, Morrison's words do not always make sense taken at face value. He deals in images which are echoed in the style of the music. Taken together, they produce a rather impressionistic view of the subject. From "Madame George":

Down Cypress Avenue,

With the child-like visions leaping into view,

Clicking-clacking of the high-heeled shoe,

Freud and Fitzroy and Madame George.

Marching with the soldier boy behind

He's much older now with hat on drinking wine,

And the smell of sweet perfume comes drifting through

O'er the cool night air like Shalimar.

Moondance is a more mature album. Though there are no virtuoso instrumentals, the music is much stronger. Morrison has added another sax, piano, organ and congo drum-practically a small orchestra. But the music itself is not the vital part of Moondance. Its function is to provide a background for Morrison, as The Band did for Dylan. And this is superbly done; the instrumentalists almost, but never quite drop out of sight.

With a Jagger-like twang and a positive repulsion against pronouncing any word in its entirety. Morrison sings, shouts, croons and yodels his way through the album. Some lines immediately imprint themselves on your memory, but they are often juxtaposed with utter banality or nonsense syllables to finish out the lines he never quite wrote. Somehow he manages to make this unoffensive, and even likeable.

I dreamed we played cards in the dark, and you lost and you lied.

Was it so very hard to do

To hurt me deep down inside?

BUT Morrison is generally able to sustain lyrics with more finesse. He wavers between seeing love as a cure-all and seeing it as the cause for all the trouble in the world. There is something of the gypsy in his words, and something of the mystic-both in combination with the adolescent lover.

We were born before the wind,

Also younger than the sun,

And the bonny boat was one

As we sailed into the mystic . . .

And when that foghorn blows I will be coming home

When that foghorn blows I want to hear it-

I don't have to fear it.

And I want to rock your gypsy soul

Just like way back in the days of old

And together we will flow into the mystic.

You probably missed Astral Weeks; don't miss this chance to make up for it.

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