Triple Played: Re-mastered classic ‘Moondance’

I had been looking forward to this week’s shipment of new CDs with great anticipation and excitement.

Some 43 years after its original release on LP, Van Morrison’s classic “Moondance” finally has been re-mastered, and given the deluxe re-issue treatment it deserved. Since the original CD had subpar sound, this re-issue has been long-awaited by Morrison fans.

“Moondance” was released in February 1970 as a follow-up to another classic, “Astral Weeks.” Morrison then released “His Band & Street Choir” featuring the songs “Domino” and “Blue Money” in October 1970 followed by “Tupelo Honey” a year later.

Like most people, my first exposure to Morrison was through the classic single “Brown-Eyed Girl.” I still turn the radio up when it plays hoping it is the original version.

I was in the eighth grade when I first heard it, and my friend Charlie had the 45 RPM. His older brother had the “Tupelo Honey” LP, and we listened to it all the time. I liked every song on it, especially “Old Old Woodstock” and the title track.

I then bought “Moondance” at John Mazzuca’s Budget Tapes and Records. I liked that album even more, from the opening cut of “And It Stoned Me” to the last track, “Glad Tidings.” I have been a huge fan of Morrison since.

I don’t have all of his discs in my collection now, but through my life I have owned every one of his commercial recordings. He is right up there with Neil Young, Bob Dylan and Mark Knopfler as singer/songwriters who I admire. He is one of the finest singers in rock ‘n’ roll history. Harry Griff told me Morrison is his very favorite jazz singer.

Morrison also is the only one of the singer/songwriters listed above who I haven’t seen live. He just doesn’t come to the United States to play very often and he only plays a few shows when he does.

“Moondance” has been Morrison’s best-selling CD and LP at Triple Play Records for the 25-plus years we have been in business, and it is available in three different formats:

■ As a single disc with the original 10 songs sounding better than ever.

■ As a two-CD expanded version that contains the original LP, plus a second disc of eight alternate tracks, plus three outtakes. Standouts include the outtakes of “I Shall Sing” and the blues classic “Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out” and an early version of “I’ve been Working.”

I really like the alternate versions of “Caravan” and “Moondance,” but the one that really got me was the stripped-down version of “Into the Mystic.” If you had to pin me down, I would say any version of “Into the Mystic” is probably my favorite Morrison song. It is the song that reveals Morrison as the mystical minstrel he truly is and this acoustic outtake only adds to the legend.

■ And as a five-CD deluxe version encased in a hardbound sleeve containing the album in standard and Blu-Ray and 5.1 versions, three discs of alternates and outtakes, mono mixes and an unreleased song. There are nine versions of “Caravan,” five of “Into the Mystic,” six of “Come Running” and only three of “Moondance.”

The five CD set would only be for the most ardent Morrison fans, which includes me. I want to hear all five takes of “Into the Mystic.”

Rock Cesario owns Triple Play Records, 530 Main St., and hosts “Acoustic Sunday” from 9 a.m. to noon Sunday on the Vault 100.7 FM. Email him at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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