Title - ...It's Too Late to Stop Now...Volumes II, III, IV
Artist - Van Morrison
For all us devotees of the one, the only, the great Van Morrison, we have yet another little slice of his musical heaven now in our hands with the release of a "new" live set culled from the concerts that spawned his classic 1974 concert album It’s Too Late to Stop Now.
The new set, titled … It’s Too Late to Stop Now … Volumes II, III, IV & DVD, includes three CDs and one DVD taken from Morrison’s May and June 1973 at Los Angeles’ Troubadour, the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium and London’s Rainbow.
For those in the know, and I guess for those that aren't, the original It's Too Late to Stop Now live album is frequently named as one of the best live albums ever recorded. Indeed, It's Too Late to Stop Now was recorded during what has often been said to be Morrison's greatest phase as a live performer.
The original double album is composed of performances that were recorded in concerts at the Troubadour in Los Angeles, California, the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium and at the Rainbow in London from a three-month tour with his eleven-piece band, the Caledonia Soul Orchestra, from May to July 1973.
That double album, which featured 18 songs, more precisely grabbed its track listing from eight sets performed on May 23, June 29, July 23 and July 24 in California and London. The new album collects the remaining songs not included on the original 1974 album on three volumes and adds a DVD featuring the July 23 show in London – footage that aired on the BBC in the ’70s.
That aforementioned 11-piece Caledonia Soul Orchestra were gelling just so darn great over those tour dates that aside from yielding one of rock’s all-time greatest live albums - and one which was released with few after-the-fact overdubs - it's contained nine-minute version of “Caravan” is still a firm highlight of his career today.
VOLUME II (Recorded live at The Troubadour, Los Angeles, May 23, 1973) - “Come Running” - “These Dreams of You” - “The Way Young Lovers Do” - “Snow in San Anselmo” - “I Just Want to Make Love to You” - “Bring It on Home to Me” - “Purple Heather” - “Hey, Good Lookin'” - “Bein’ Green” - “Brown Eyed Girl” - “Listen to the Lion” - “Hard Nose the Highway” - “Moondance” - “Cyprus Avenue” - “Caravan”
VOLUME III (Recorded live at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, California, June 29, 1973) - “I’ve Been Working” - “There There Child” - “No Way” - “Since I Fell for You” - “Wild Night” - “I Paid the Price” - “Domino” - “Gloria” - “Buona Sera” - “Moonshine Whiskey” - “Ain’t Nothing You Can Do” - “Take Your Hand Out of My Pocket” - “Sweet Thing” - “Into The Mystic” - “I Believe to My Soul”
VOLUME IV (Recorded live at the Rainbow, London, July 23 & 24, 1973) - “Listen to the Lion” - “I Paid the Price” - “Bein’ Green” - “Since I Fell for You” - “Into the Mystic” - “Everyone” - “I Believe to My Soul” - “Sweet Thing” - “I Just Want to Make Love to You” - “Wild Children” - “Here Comes the Night” - “Buona Sera” - “Domino” - “Caravan” - “Cyprus Avenue”
DVD (Recorded live at the Rainbow, London, July 24, 1973) - “Here Comes the Night” - “I Just Want to Make Love to You” - “Brown Eyed Girl” - “Moonshine Whiskey” - “Moondance” - “Help Me” - “Domino” - “Caravan” - “Cyprus Avenue”
OK, now all the fluff-n'stuff is out the way, let's tell it like it is: This is a serious must-have for any serious follower of Van Morrison's work. These live shows with the Caledonia Soul Orchestra have been written about and talked about for years. He would revisit this idea in 1986 touring in advance of the release of No Guru No Method No Teacher.
A BIG shout out should go to Vic Anesini (Sony/BMG's in-house mastering engineer and one of the best out there IMHO) who does a stellar job of mastering this release. It's dynamic, has nice depth and detail without losing dynamics. These are all remixed from the original 16 track multi-tracks.
The performances are stellar also, of course, for none are unadorned performances. There are no overdubs and no duplicate performances (although there are duplicate songs, but the set lists vary). James Brown may have been the hardest working man in showbiz, but Van and his band from this time were a close second.
In conclusion, ...It's Too Late to Stop Now...Volumes II, III, IV & DVD showcases a first-rate band playing at the top of their game and Morrison does not disappoint. Especially noteworthy is John Platania's sublime guitar work. Let's hope there are more releases from Van's vaults forthcoming, because without his music in our lives, old or new, music just isn't worth listening to.