Sorry for the lateness of my post today. I just got in the door from New York where I saw Van Morrison at the Beacon Theater. As I mentioned Friday, this tour is supporting his new release, in which he covers the entire 1968 release Astral Weeks.
The first set was a grab bag. Highlights included Caravan, Brown Eyed Girl, and a cover of Pink Floyd’s Comfortably Numb (!). He performed Astral Weeks as his second set. Sweet Thing, Madame George, and Ballerina were amazing. I’ll be off to the record store tomorrow to get Astral Weeks Live at the Hollywood Bowl.
Van is still the man. Throughout the show he played piano, saxophone, harmonica, and guitar. In fact, he not only played them as part of an ensemble, he soloed on each instrument melodiously and with technical precision. His voice has lost some of the power and athletic range he displayed 40 years ago, but his melodic sense and playfulness are undiminished. I’m so happy to have gotten a chance to see this Hall of Famer while he’s still alive, touring, and has his chops. See him if you can. Check out his catalog of music.
Since I already put together the Van Morrison mix last Friday, I’m not going to do Van again today. Today, I want to recommend the CD Twinemen, by Twinemen. Perhaps I should have saved this for after I have blogged about Morphine. If you haven’t heard Morphine, go immediately to the record store and get Cure for Pain and Like Swimming. Then spend the next couple days with a pair of headphones (and the chemical enhancement of your choice, if that’s your thing) listening. I’ll wait.
OK. You’re up to speed? Good. Mark Sandman collapsed and died on stage in 1999. He was a musical genius and is sorely missed, but he was not the only genius in the band. The two surviving band members got together with a new vocalist, Laurie Sargent, and formed Twinemen. When I picked up this disc, I didn’t know who they were. About two tracks in, I was thinking, “Geez. These guys listened to a lot of Morphine.” Heh.
The music picks up where Morphine’s musical evolution was headed with their last release, The Night. Saxophones that are alternately ballsy and haunting still permeate the music, but there is more layered instrumentation and Laurie Sargent’s voice adds a sweetness and harmony that Morphine never had. I particularly like three songs on this release.
- Spinner – This one is a rocker. Dana Colley (sax) and Billy Conway (drums) both play like they’re angry at their instruments throughout this song.
- Golden Hour – This is such a relaxing groove with an incredibly fat sax hook. Dana and Laurie sing together and the effect is very cool.
- The Harper and the Midget – I find this track as interesting as the title suggests. Complex and syncopated percussion pulses while sax and vocals take turns harmonizing during this strange and bloody tale.
I just discovered they have two more discs I haven’t heard yet. Maybe I’ll pick up a few discs at the store tomorrow…