Van Morrison – Then and Now-What’s He Been Doing?
Putting Van Morrison into a musical category is like trying to nail Jell-o to a tree. The man seems to re-invent himself not only from album to album, but sometimes, from song to song. Morrison has been a “rocker-folksinger-blues wailer-Celtic Roots-New Age-Jazz-Country” artist over the years. Some of his albums have been hailed as the best ever made, while others have been dismissed by critics as “spotty.”
The history of Van Morrison goes back to the early British Invasion with his group “Them.” It’s been a very long, very varied journey.
Somehow, the rumor that Van Morrison was from Louisiana got started back in the late 60‘s when his hit “Domino” was riding the charts. Actually, Van Morrison was born August 31, 1945 in a very troubled Belfast, Northern Ireland. He was exposed to American R&B by way of his father who was a collector of R&B and Jazz. The die was cast.
Morrison dropped out of school at the age of 15 and became a sax player with a group called “The Monarchs.” From there, the wayward teen opened his own club and formed the group “Them” to be the house band. After the release of “Here Comes the Night” which went to #2 on the British charts, Morrison began a trend of hiring and firing members of the group at random. At one point, Van Morrison and Them released the song ”Gloria” (G-L-O-R-I-A) in 1964 but their version failed to chart in the U.S.. The group ”The Shadows of Night” from Chicago took the Morrison-penned song to ”10 in the Spring of 1966. “Them” was not really a band but a group of session players including Jimmy Page.
Morrison decided that, rather than being saddled with a group, he would become a solo artist. The result was a trip to New York to record for Bang Records. One song that came out of that session was “Brown-Eyed Girl” (Which Morrison wrote as “Brown Skinned Girl) . The song went to #10 on the Billboard Top 40. It would be three years before Morrison had another hit.
That follow-up hit was “Domino” in December of 1970. Morrison’s only other hits came in 1970 when “Blue Money” and “Wild Night” made it to #23 and # 28 respectively. Lucky for Morrison that it was about that time that performers were becoming more concerned with album sales than with making hit singles. While his Top 40 hits have been few, he is one of those artists whose albums are a much awaited event. And so it is with his upcoming release “Born to Sing-No Plan B.”
The album is slated for release on October 2nd. So far, there is no indication as to what genre or genres may be on the release. Interesting that Morrison chose to return to Belfast for the recording sessions. Can’t wait to see what Morrison has been up to musically since his 2003 release of “What’s Wrong With This Picture.”