Thursday, November 14, 2013


The question is, how into Moondance are you?  Not just the song, but the whole album.  What we have here is an album exploded, with three 70+ discs of different takes, early versions, alternative mixes and out-takes, as we walk through the studio sessions.  Plus, two more discs, the original album remastered, and a Blu-ray audio version too.  There are three previously unheard cuts, but for the most part you're listening to, say , take 16 of Into The Mystic, as Van and band try to perfect the arrangement and tempo.

All that is pretty fascinating, if you indeed love the original album, and are interested in how tracks develop from rough ideas to full band creations.  It can also get tedious, after 25 minutes of Caravan stops and starts.  Really, you have to decide your level of interest:  The 5-disc treatment for the obsessive, the 2-disc, with an overview of the alternatives, or just the single album.

Whichever, you have to have this, even if you still have a perfectly fine copy of the CD or album.  They've done a tremendous remaster of the original, with the horns much clearer, and much more space between the instruments and backing vocals.  I'm hearing lovely little touches I never knew were there.

It is a glorious album, of course, with one of the great Side 1's of all time:  And It Stoned Me, Mooddance, Crazy Love, Caravan, and Into The Mystic.  Listen again to the subtle answering horns after Morrison sings "When the foghorn blows".  If you get the expanded set, check out the alternative instrumental take of Moondance, with completely different solos.  And you should be tempted by a major out-take, the famous I Shall Sing, dropped from the album but picked up by Art Garfunkel, who had a sizable hit with it.  Note to purchasers:  The 2-disc deluxe set is only a couple of bucks more than the single disc, so you might as well get at least that.

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