Van Morrison – The Genuine Philosopher’s Stone (2006)

Posted by Green on December 15, 2021as


This very well-assembled, handsomely packaged bootleg gathers interesting odds and ends, mostly unreleased, from Morrison’s early career. His very early career, actually; ten of the 18 songs were done by his pre-solo career group Them in 1964-1966, while the remaining eight are publishing demos from the summer of 1968. Leading off the set are two unreleased June 1964 versions of songs Them later released, “Stormy Monday” and “Don’t Start Crying Now.” The “Stormy Monday” take is definitely rawer than the released one, with the kind of eerie knife-scraped descending guitar swoops that prove that Jimmy Page probably didn’t play all of the guitar parts on Them’s early records. “Don’t Start Crying Now” isn’t as good as the official version (put out as Them’s first single), particularly since one verse or so seems to have been hacked out of the early part of the tape. Then there are four good 1965 BBC live-in-the-studio performances, including “Here Comes the Night” and “Gloria”; an alternate version of “I Gave My Love a Diamond”; shambling live run-throughs of “Here Comes the Night” and “Turn on Your Lovelight” from their 1965 NME Pollwinners Concert; and a “demo” of “Mighty Like a Rose” that in fact sounds like Them’s official studio recording of that number (which was the only Them track left off the compilation The Story of Them Featuring Van Morrison). The eight 1968 demos are sparely arranged tunes that find Morrison getting close to the fusion of folk, blues, jazz, and rock that would characterize his early albums Astral Weeks and Moondance. Two of the songs, “The Way Young Lovers Do” and “Ballerina,” would appear on Astral Weeks, but the rest would not be used, though you can hear him working out ideas and feelings that would crop up in some of his early solo albums. The sound on these demos is good (though there’s a drop-out on one number), and the performances loose and breezy, though kind of skeletal. “The Way Young Lovers Do,” for instance, is done as a mournful folk song, rather than the upbeat soaring jazz-with-strings tune it turned into on Astral Weeks. This is by no means on the same level as the best Them or early Van Morrison records, but for anyone who’s a serious fan of that music, this is worthwhile listening, pleasurable beyond mere historical interest. Incidentally, it’s the first part of a three-volume Genuine Philosophers Stone Morrison bootleg series, available in separate installments or as a three-CD set.

CD1(1964-68) – 1:17:27
01. Stormy Monday 5:23
02. Don’t Start Crying Now 1:36
03. Here Comes The Night 2:44
04. All By Myself 2:42
05. Gloria 3:05
06. One More Time 2:38
07. I Gave My Love A Diamond 3:04
08. Here Comes The Night 3:49
09. Turn On Your Lovelight 6:30
10. Mighty Like A Rose 3:53
11. Bayou Girl 5:40
12. The Way Young Lovers Do 3:33
13. Ballerina 4:41
14. Bayou Girl 6:21
15. Magic Night 6:23
16. I Need Your Kind Of Loving, part 1 6:31
17. I Need Your Kind Of Loving, part 2 3:47
18. Mona Mona 5:16

CD2(1969) – 1:15:45
01. Caravan 4:43
02. Everyone 3:52
03. Brand New Day 5:54
04. Come Running 7:53
05. These Dreams Of You 2:26
06. And It Stoned Me 4:21
07. You Set My Soul On Fire 5:06
08. Come Running (fast version) 5:49
09. Standing On A Corner 2:27
10. Bit By Bit 4:58
11. If I Ever Needed Someone 4:28
12. If You Rock Me 2:22
13. If I Had A Rainbow 3:01
14. Domino (with flute) 4:33
15. Hey, Where Are You 2:53
16. Lorna By The River 6:18
17. On A Rainy Afternoon 3:14
18. I Can’t Get It Straight 1:27

CD3(1970-75) – 1:17:46
01. Domino (Harmony Version) 3:26
02. Domino (Rap Version) 4:58
03. Domino (2nd Rap Version) 5:33
04. When the Evening Sun Goes Down (Jazz Version) 2:50
05. Lorna ( wBand) 4:42
06. Wild Night (wBand) 6:23
07. Friday’s Child 5:44
08. Just Like A Woman 7:46
09. Dead Or Alive 5:18
10. Tell Me About Your Love 3:37
11. Spare Me A Little 2:36
12. Redwood Tree 3:18
13. Hard Nose The Highway 7:14
14. I Just Want To Make Love To You 7:48
15. When I Deliver 6:33

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