Thursday, June 08, 2006

"I Said, 'Oh, Oh, Domino'"

Van Morrison released HIS BAND AND THE STREET CHOIR (1970) just 8 months after the masterpiece Moondance. Again, the songs are shorter and more tightly crafted (which is in no way meant to imply *better*) than with Astral Weeks. In fact, the evolution seems to have been in the direction of more radio-friendly pop music, as witnessed by the 3 singles produced from this LP. These included "Call Me Up In Dreamland", which barely scratched the Hot 100 at #95. However, "Blue Money" reached #23, and the ultra-classic "Domino" broke into the Top 10, peaking at #9.

There seems to be less of a jazz influence, as the horns here have more of a Chicago Blues or '50s R&B sound. As with the previous two albums, all songs were written by Van Morrison.

Side One
Domino - 3:06
Crazy Face - 2:55
Give Me a Kiss - 2:30
I've Been Working - 3:25
Call Me Up In Dreamland - 3:52
I'll Be Your Lover, Too - 3:57
Side Two

Blue Money - 3:40
Virgo Clowns - 4:10
Gypsy Queen - 3:16
Sweet Jannie - 2:11
If I Ever Needed Someone - 3:45
Street Choir - 4:53

"Domino" is a catchy classic, with great, rockin' horns. This is probably the second-most recognizable tune from Van's solo career, after only "Brown Eyed Girl". I think the line "Mr. DJ, I just wanna hear/Some rhythm and blues music/On the radio" pretty well sets the tone for this LP.

"Crazy Face" has a nice piano intro, with bass and acoustic guitar joining in. The horn and organ come in later. Nice tune. "Give Me a Kiss" is very upbeat. "I've Been Working" has a funky guitar part with great saxophone accompaniment. "Call Me Up In Dreamland" is a cheerful, up tempo tune, with rockin' horns.

Side one ends with "I'll Be Your Lover, Too", which begins with acoustic guitar, and Van's plaintive vocals. Some very understated accompaniment joins in, and makes this a wonderfully mellow song, in my opinion.

"Blue Money" starts side two in an upbeat mood, with a little "scat" singing by Van as an interesting twist. "Virgo Clowns" places the emphasis on acoustic guitars, with much less horn, and Van repeatedly requesting "Let your laughter fill the room."

"Gypsy Queen" has an almost fairy-tale like intro, which is revisited at the end of the song. In between, there are some great backing vocals, and a nice acoustic guitar/horn combo. "Sweet Jannie" (presumably written for Van's then-wife, Janet Planet) features a nice, bluesy electric guitar.

"If I Ever Needed Someone" sounds as if it could be a remake of some old, lost, Ray Charles song. The album concludes with "Street Choir", which has a great organ/horn mixture.

All in all, this is a pretty darned fine album. In fact, it compares quite favorably to the average album (whatever that would be). Of course, after Astral Weeks and Moondance, it might be an ever-so-slight letdown. But, on the other hand, "Domino" is as good a song as you'd ever want to hear. I'm certainly glad I have this album, and I enjoyed listening to it 3 times through in an evening. That has to say something. Now, as to why I never bought Tupelo Honey, Saint Dominic's Preview, or any other Van Morrison albums, I have NO IDEA!!!


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