Saturday, September 19, 2020


Looking for some of the wit and wisdom of "Here Comes the Knight" Sir George Van the Man Morrison? Sorry to disappoint, he is strictly off my menu for the foreseeable, courtesy the simplistic guff of his recent return to form. By form, I mean of being the contrariest celtic r-soul in rock. Dissatisfied with providing the surliest birthday thank you message in history, following the splendid accolades corralled together and gifted him by the always great Hot Press of Dublin, he has followed this up with an EP of puerile, ill-researched and poorly conceived assaults on those who restrict his freedoms. That is, his freedoms to contract and transmit C19. It's common knowledge, and I am not going to grace him with any links to his music; he'd get 'em taken down anyway, but I can't resist not offering some of the social media ripostes directed his way. So we got Inarticulate Speech of the Fart, we got Moondunce, we got A Sense of Blunder. For sure he is no teacher, has only madness in his method and is is no longer any guru of mine.

But this is a music blog. Not for us to question the man behind the muse. Maybe, maybe not, but it certainly leaves a sizeable hole in my collection to excise him and his influence from history. So it got me thinking. Is there anyone else who can tap that same philosophers stone? Well, praise be, happen there can.

Light Shine/Jesse Colin Young

Jesse Colin Young, erstwhile Youngblood, was cutting a very similar cloth back in the early 70s, this, the title track from the LP of the same name, of a very similar vibe to the Caledonian Soul Orchestrations around about the same time, with heartfelt vocals, sublime brass and as uplifting as anything from the cheerful chappy of Cyprus Avenue. OK, it couldn't last for the whole of the record, fading into the second side, but I still exhort you to search it out.

Call Mother a Lonely Field/Jackie Leven

Of course this man is an obvious and worthy contender, with a body of work nearly as broad, until cruelly cut down getting on for a decade ago. Much less lauded, much less well known, but a much more reliable source of brilliance, at least in my opinion. A much more affable and approachable man, likewise, and one whose live performances certainly trumped the hit and miss of Van with his personality free zones.

Ride On/Mary Coughlan

Proving this is no purely masculine domain, here is the might of Mary Coughlan, who has ignored every classifying as she travails the domains of blues, folk, rock, jazz. Or music, as we call it. This is an early example, a transformation of the otherwise gentle lament penned by Christy Moore. From the Republic of Ireland rather than the North, her history suggests she could chew up Morrison for breakfast and probably would.

Nothing But the Same Old Story/Paul Brady

Let's stick with the Irish, not least one who has famously had spats with Morrison over the years, with likely little love lost. Paul Brady began a folkie, reaching acclaim with the second iteration of Planxty, ahead of relaunching himself as a songwriter and performer of anthemic and emotional music. Similarly sometimes judged a curmudgeon, age has seemingly had a mellowing effect, as this interview discusses. 

Over the Fields/Blue Rose Code

Finally, a much younger man, the wonderful Ross Wilson, from Scotland. Performing as Blue Rose Code he has just put out his 4th full length recording. Widely seen as owing many an influence to Morrison, there is also a distinct hint of John Martyn, but with hefty additional hits of hebridean melody. The featured song is the opener from his penultimate record and is gloriously fleshed out as compared with his live shows, often just he and a single accompanist, sometimes two. Huge in Scotland, recognition elsewhere awaits.

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