Saturday, July 31, 2010

1. Van Morrison - Moondance

Counting down my favorite 25 albums of 1970:

Van Morrison - Moondance

Van Morrison must have been in a fantastic mood when he produced this album - it's the most comfortable album ever recorded.

Stylistically, the songs on this album have a wide range of moods and genres (blues, jazz, country, folk, rock), but thematically, they all address the warmest, most natural, most universal human experiences: nostalgia for carefree youth ('And It Stoned Me'), the buzz of good times with good friends ('Moondance'), the giddiness of a new infatuation ('Crazy Love'), the sense of security and validation that comes with camaraderie ('Caravan'), the rapture you feel in the awesomeness of nature and your place in it ('Into the Mystic'), etc.

The Moondance vs. Astral Weeks debate divides Van Morrison fans. The critical concensus is that Astral Weeks is Van Morrison's best album; Acclaimed Music ranks Astral Weeks as the #15 album of all time with Moondance at #95. I'm in the Moondance camp. My defense is that the emotions this album evokes are so primal, so visceral, that it doesn't pose much challenge to the listener - it's simply not humanly possible to dislike this album. I suspect this makes the album seem slight or vapid, but this is deceptive; It's not as easy as it looks to make it look this easy.

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