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Van the Man moondances again

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Van Morrison in the sixties.
Van Morrison in the sixties.

Van Morrison will revisit one of his classic albums with a five-disc deluxe edition of his 1969 classic Moondance.

Yes, once again the classic rock dinosaur teams up with the panicked record company to shore up the declining revenues of album sales in this digital age.

And once again, I will line up to buy this one.

How many times did Van the Man become my wingman during my brief and regrettable bachelorhood?  That the whole affair of the evening barely lasted the 2:33 of "Come Running" was besides the point. Moondance was so good you could play it the morning after, during an ill-fated attempt to make brunch the next morning.

According to Rolling Stone, the deluxe Moondance collection will include remastered and expanded versions of the songs, and will also feature 50 unreleased tracks, including studio outtakes of favorites like “Caravan,” “Moondance” and “Into the Mystic."

There is but a meager smattering of unreleased songs in this package. "I Shall Sing," a Morrison original that he completed but left off the album, is also featured as part of the collection, and includes multiple takes of the song. Hearing the song in demo form is always fun, as it allows the diehard fan unfettered access to the creative process.

At the time, Rolling Stone praised the album when it was released for Morrison's "full command of the musicians that play with him," in addition to "the striking imagination of a consciousness that is visionary in the strongest sense of the word creates an atmosphere that instantly sets its own terms."

Multiple versions of an album will be available on September 30 to suit any budget.

For my money, a more interesting compilation of rarities is The Philosopher's Stone, a 2-disc, 30-track set Morrison released back in 1996. It was not only crammed with alternative versions of tracks like 1975's "Naked in the Jungle," it had some great rare material as well.

You can only catch momentary glimpses of the ginger-haired gypsy poet in his late years.  There was the anniversary tour of Astral Weeks a few years back.

Nowadays, he uses the gruffness of his low register to full advantage on blues and jazz originals, like the excellent Born to Sing/No Plan B that he released last year.

Morrison has been keeping busy with a string of summer festivals throughout Europe. He is part of a fantastic blues festival in Notodden in Norway from August 1-4 that includes Eric Burdon, John Mayall and harmonica great Charlie Musselwhite.

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