September 7, 2014

101 Reel-to-Reel Tapes 76: Van Morrison ~ Saint Dominic's Preview

 
Van Morrison ~ Saint Dominic's Preview
reel-to-reel tape box cover detail
photo by Michael Maggid 
detail photo by Styrous©



In addition to my vinyl LP record collection I'm selling, I have hundreds of reel-to-reel, pre-recorded tapes as well. This is an entry about one of them that is for sale on eBay (see link below). Interested? Contact me by email, please, not by a comment.

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Saint Dominic's Preview is the sixth studio album by Northern Irish, singer-songwriter, Van Morrison. It was released in July 1972 by Warner Bros. Records. Rolling Stone declared it "the best-produced, most ambitious Van Morrison record yet released." The diversity of the material on the album highlighted Morrison's fusing of Celtic folk, R&B, blues, jazz and the singer-songwriter genre.

The album was recorded during late winter and spring in 1971/72 at Wally Heider Studios and Pacific High Studios in San Francisco and at the Church in San Anselmo. The fourth track on the album, Listen to the Lion, was recorded during the Tupelo Honey sessions in 1971 at Columbia Studios in San Francisco. Ted Templeman was co-producer on the album. Several of the musicians who played on the album were newly recruited: Jules Broussard, saxophonist and previously from Boz Scaggs, pianist Mark Naftalin who had previously played with the Paul Butterfield Blues Band (also see links below), guitarist Ron Elliott from The Beau Brummels and Bernie Krause played the Moog synthesizer.




Van Morrison ~ Saint Dominic's Preview
reel-to-reel tape box cover
photo by Michael Maggid 
photo of album cover by Styrous©



The album opens with Jackie Wilson Said (I'm in Heaven When You Smile), pop and R&B in genre and a tribute to Jackie Wilson, one of Morrison's influences who had a hit with the song Reet Petite

According to Rolling Stone reviewer Stephen Holden on Gypsy: "Van states where he's at artistically; the rhythms, alternating between double and triple time, are driving and excited, the harmonies faintly Middle Eastern, and the multiple guitar textures exotic."




Van Morrison ~ Saint Dominic's Preview
reel-to-reel tape box back
photo by Michael Maggid 
photo of album cover by Styrous©



I Will Be There is a twelve-bar blues played with a honky-tonk piano and evoking Ray Charles composed of heavily realistic lyrics that speak of the singer grabbing an overcoat, his toothbrush and underwear



Van Morrison ~ Saint Dominic's Preview
reel-to-reel tape box back detail
detail photo by Styrous©




Listen to the Lion is an eleven-minute song that begins with a mellow opening and Morrison then improvises new singing methods, turning himself into a lion with growling, wailing and various other vocal techniques as the song progresses. It has been said to be, by both technique and emotion, "a vocal performance that remains unparalleled by his contemporaries. Caledonia, one of Morrison's favourite symbols, is referred to "during the coda when he works himself up into a trancelike gospel improvisation": "And we sailed and we sailed and we sailed and we sailed... way up to Caledonia. Brian Hinton described the song: "We are back in Astral Weeks territory, a bass led shuffle and Van lost in his own poetic universe, but here his voice takes wilder risks; growling, a near death rattle, feral grunts and roars. The chorus chanting "Listen to the Lion" behind the singer is made up of three male voices, including Morrison, "singing at himself".



Van Morrison ~ Saint Dominic's Preview
reel-to-reel tape box back detail
detail photo by Styrous©



Listen to the Lion is an eleven-minute song that begins with a mellow opening and Morrison then improvises new singing methods, turning himself into a lion with growling, wailing and various other vocal techniques as the song progresses. It has been said to be, by both technique and emotion, "a vocal performance that remains unparalleled by his contemporaries. Caledonia, one of Morrison's favourite symbols, is referred to "during the coda when he works himself up into a trance-like gospel improvisation": "And we sailed and we sailed and we sailed and we sailed... way up to Caledonia." Brian Hinton described the song: "We are back in Astral Weeks territory, a bass led shuffle and Van lost in his own poetic universe, but here his voice takes wilder risks; growling, a near death rattle, feral grunts and roars. The chorus chanting "Listen to the Lion" behind the singer is made up of three male voices, including Morrison, "singing at himself".



Van Morrison ~ Saint Dominic's Preview
reel-to-reel tape
photo by Styrous©



Redwood Tree is reminiscent of And It Stoned Me on the Moondance album, with a soulful celebration of nature, water and a boy's childhood experiences.

Almost Independence Day is a two-chord cycle that uses a moog synthesizer and various musical and vocal techniques to translate to the listener the feelings the singer had while staring across the San Francisco harbor. Along with Listen to the Lion, it is more than ten minutes in length and has been compared to it as being as "musically daring in its own way". Erik Hage describes the song as "a mood piece, and a precursor to his 1980s work (particularly Common One), where his whole raison d'ĂȘtre became trying to inspire meditative states in the listener. Speaking of this song, Morrison told Ritchie Yorke: "It wasn't my concept to write a sequel to Madame George. I like the song though. It was just contemplating organ and the Moog. Everything was recorded live except that one high part on the synthesiser. I asked Bernie Krause to do this thing of China Town and then come in with the high part because I was thinking of dragons and fireworks. It reminded me of that. It was a stream of consciousness trip again.



Van Morrison ~ Saint Dominic's Preview
reel-to-reel tape detail
detail photo by Styrous©



The album charted at number 15 on the Billboard 200. This would remain Morrison's best ever U.S. charting until 2008's Keep It Simple came in at number 10 on the Billboard charts. 

Erik Hage wrote that "it is one of the strongest albums in the Van Morrison canon because it seems to adapt and incorporate all of the lessons and discoveries of the rich period of evolution that came before it while still opening up new windows." Miles Palmer writing in The Times commented that "The cumulative impact is devastating." 

In Rolling Stone, Stephen Holden wrote that "The coexistence of two styles on the same record turns out to be very refreshing; they complement each other by underscoring the remarkable versatility of Van's musical imagination. He also declared it "the best-produced, most ambitious Van Morrison record yet released". 

Robert Christgau ends his A- rated review with: "The point being that words—which on this album are as uneven as the tunes—sometimes say less than voices. Amen." 

The Allmusic review with a rating of 4.5 stars comments that the album, "hangs together on the strength of its songs, an intriguingly diverse collection which draws together the disparate threads of the singer's recent work into one sterling package."



Van Morrison ~ Saint Dominic's Preview
reel-to-reel label detail
detail photo by Styrous©


Track listing

All songs were written by Van Morrison.

Side one

  1. Jackie Wilson Said (I'm in Heaven When You Smile) – 2:57
  2. Gypsy – 4:36
  3. I Will Be There – 3:01
  4. Listen to the Lion – 11:07

Side two

  1. Saint Dominic's Preview - 6:23
  2. Redwood Tree - 3:03
  3. Almost Independence Day - 10:05

Personnel

Musicians
Production
  • Producers: Van Morrison, Ted Templeman
  • Engineers: Donn Landee, Bob Schumaker, Jim Gaines, Dave Brown, Steve Brandon
  • Mixing: Donn Landee, Bob Schumaker on Jackie Wilson Said
  • Photography: Michael Maggid
  • Arrangements: Van Morrison, Tom Salisbury arranged the horns and backing vocals on I Will Be There, Redwood Tree and Saint Dominic's Preview
  • Remastering: Tim Young, Walter Samuel


Net Links:
 


Van Morrison ~ Saint Dominic's Preview, reel-to-reel tape is for sale on eBay 

reel-to-reel tapes on eBay





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