Not the Greatest

Van Morrison is my favorite rock singer. At least three of his songs are in my ten all-time favorites . I own a considerable number of his albums, including nine LP’s that needed to be converted to CD’s or iTunes so I could listen to them.

When I bought my Ion iTTUSB turntable, plugged it into my computer, and started converting LP’s, I began with the Van Morrison albums, starting with Astral Weeks.

Getting them into iTunes while maintaining the best possible sound ended up being a bit more complicated than I originally thought as I first recorded them in Sound Studio, cleaned them up in SoundSoap 2, and, then, sent them back through Sound Studio, which means I listened to each album three or more times.

Let’s just say that by the time I’d finally finished recording the ninth album I no longer wanted to play any of the songs for a while. That feeling was never stronger than when I recorded a long-forgottten album entitled A Sense of Wonder recorded in 1984, which might also explain why I quit buying Van’s albums for several years.

I should have known not to buy it merely by glancing at the back of the album:

which included a little “fable” about “Boffyflow and Spike,” which seemed to me so badly written that I would have flunked any 9th grader who dared to turn it in.

The only song that even seems bearable is “Ancient of Days,” though an internet search for the album revealed that some of Van’s avid followers thought the album contained some of his greatest music. Hopefully they’ve since recovered from whatever ailment destroyed their taste buds.

It’s easy to forget that even great artists can produce flops. This album ought to serve as inspiration for every artist who’s ever produced a work of art he hates. With a new perspective, the next work might turn out to be a masterpiece.

14 thoughts on “Not the Greatest”

  1. Maybe not Loren (Van Morrison has never been a particular favourite of mine overall) but you just solved a big problem for me – how to get my 150-200 pristine albums into MP3 format 🙂


  2. LOL! That cover is a hoot. Your INTP temperament came though again: you weren’t going to quit until you finished your project, were you? There are two or three Van Morrison songs I could not live without. “And It Stoned Me” is at the top of my list.

  3. All the PBS stations have slightly different programming, but ours is airing Van Morrison on Austin City Limits this weekend. Might want to check your local listings.

  4. I used to work with drug addicts, treating them with Ibogaine – after a session I always found Astral Weeks along with some miso soup to be really helpful and healing for em.
    Easliy one of my all-time favs – the pic above cracks me up, that crazy old beautiful drunk!

  5. I gave up buying his albums around the time of ‘Veedon Fleece’. They became very uneven – just the occasional outstanding track and a lot of fillers. But the early ones are excellent, and of them Astral Weeks is my favourite.

    And yes, what a picture!

  6. How’s that turntable working out? I have somehow missed it completely, but with some 300 albums lying around, it could be really useful!

  7. The turntable seems to work fine. Some people complained that they had trouble getting it synched with the included software, which is admittedly second rate, but if you use your own recording software everything goes rather smoothly.

  8. That photo has “Buyer Beware” written all over it, doesn’t it?

    Happily joining the chorus on Astral Weeks.

    And despite the unevenness of much of his later work, Van’s still got a way of taking me places I would not typically expect to go while listening only to music.

  9. I didn’t mean to suggest that I haven’t bought any of his latest albums. I have 13 CD’s that I bought after these albums and one I just purchased on iTunes.

    The main point I was trying to emphasize is that even geniuses can produce less than great works. I used to get myself in trouble in English Department meetings by commenting that I really didn’t care for many of Shakespeare’s plays. I still don’t.

  10. OK — re that album cover? eeewww!! I feel like cropping it and using it in my story about Zorro and Captain Underpants. Almost made milk come out my nose, there, Loren. Guess we’ve all had our undignified moments.

  11. Loren, I don’t know if yr aware of “Van Morrison’s Contractual Obligation Album” … in which he is recording intentionally bad tunes … and a few of them … like the immortal “ringworm” … are pure genius & really really “bad” at the same time … or that’s how they sound to me … He probably should have remembered this process on some of his other not-so-stellar albums where he seems to be trying way too hard … or so think I …

    check out

  12. Thanks for the link, brtom. I had heard rumors about this but had never actually heard any of the cuts from it.

    I know that throughout his career he’s fought with record companies, and it crossed my mind that this might have been the case with this album. If so, I couldn’t find any confirmation of that online.

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