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Saint Dominic's Preview
Studio album by Van Morrison
Released July, 1972
Recorded Late spring or early summer 1971 and late winter/spring 1972
(at Wally Heider Studio, Pacific High Studio & Columbia Studio, San Francisco)
Genre Folk rock, R&B
Length 41:12
Label Warner Bros.
Producer Ted Templeman,
Van Morrison
Van Morrison chronology
Tupelo Honey
(1971)
Saint Dominic's Preview
(1972)
Hard Nose the Highway
(1973)
Singles from Saint Dominic's Preview
  1. "Jackie Wilson Said (I'm in Heaven When You Smile)" b/w "You've Got the Power"
    Released: July 14 1972
  2. "Redwood Tree" b/w "Saint Dominic's Preview"
    Released: September 20 1972
  3. "Gypsy" b/w "Saint Dominic's Preview"
    Released: January 1973

Saint Dominic's Preview is the sixth album by Northern Irish singer-songwriter Van Morrison, released in 1972 (see 1972 in music). The diversity of the material on the album highlighted the skill with which Morrison could fuse Celtic folk, R&B, blues, jazz and the singer-songwriter genre. "Jackie Wilson Said (I'm in Heaven When You Smile)" and the title track, top quality blends of Stax soul and folk, became staples of his live set, while lesser known tracks such as "Gypsy" and "Redwood Tree" continued to display a lyrical celebration of nature's beauty.

Also on the album were two lengthy, hypnotic tracks, "Listen to the Lion" and the closing "Almost Independence Day" which were given primal, cathartic and intense vocal performances from Morrison. These tracks were similar to the songs on his critically lauded 1968 song cycle Astral Weeks.[1]

Rolling Stone Magazine declared it "the best-produced, most ambitious Van Morrison record yet released."[2]

Contents

Composition

"Jackie Wilson Said (I'm in Heaven When You Smile)" is pop R&B in genre and is a tribute to Jackie Wilson, one of Morrison's influences who had a hit with the song, "Reet Petite".

On "Gypsy": "Van states where he's at artistically; the rhythms, alternating between double and triple time, are driving and excited, the harmonies faintly Middle Eastern, and the multiple guitar textures exotic" according to Rolling Stone reviewer, Stephen Holden.[3]

"Listen to the Lion" is an eleven minute song that shows Morrison's skills as a songwriting innovator and as one of the most daring singers in popular music. It begins with a mellow opening and Morrison then improvises new singing methods turning himself into a lion with growling, wailing and various other vocal techniques as the song progresses. It has been said to be by both technique and emotion, "a vocal performance that remains unparalleled by his contemporaries." Caledonia, one of Morrison's favourite symbols is referred to "during the coda when he works himself up into a trancelike gospel improvisation": "And we sailed and we sailed and we sailed and we sailed... way up to Caledonia."[4]

The title track, "Saint Dominic's Preview" was said by Morrison to have been composed after seeing an ad for a peace vigil to be held at St. Dominic's Church in San Francisco.[4] The song is written in a "stream of consiousness" fashion as with the Astral Weeks songs. Lyrics in the song refer to different stages of Morrison's life: "chamois cleaning all the windows" (teenage years) and "The record company has paid out for the wine" (his contemporary status as a pop music star). Erik Hage calls it "expansive and groundbreaking, representing an enlarging scope and ambition in Morrison's music."[4]

"Redwood Tree" is reminiscent of "And It Stoned Me" on the Moondance album, with a soulful celebration of nature, water and a boy's childhood experiences.

"Almost Independence Day" is a two chord cycle that uses a moog synthesizer and various musical and vocal techniques to translate to the listener the feelings the singer had while starring across the San Francisco harbor. Like "Listen to the Lion", it is more than ten minutes in length and has been compared to it as being as "musically daring in its own way." Erik Hage describes the song as "a mood piece, and a precursor to his 1980s work (particularly Common One), where his whole raison d'être became trying to inspire meditative states in the listener."[5]

Reception

 Professional ratings
Source Rating
adriandenning.co.uk 8.5/10 stars[6]
Allmusic 4.5/5 stars[7]
Robert Christgau (A-)[8]
Geocities (A)[9]
Rolling Stone not rated[10]

The album charted at #15 on the Billboard 200. This would remain Morrison's best ever U.S. charting until 2008's Keep It Simple came in at #10 on the Billboard charts.[11]

Erik Hage comments that "it is one of the strongest albums in the Van Morrison canon because it seems to adapt and incorporate all of the lessons and discoveries of the rich period of evolution that came before it while still opening up new windows."[12]

In an Allmusic review, Stephen Holden found that "The coexistence of two styles on the same record turns out to be very refreshing; they complement each other by underscoring the remarkable versatility of Van's musical imagination."[3]

Adrian Denning's review refers to the album as "No filler, all killer", and comments that the space limitations of albums on vinyl of the sixties and seventies created some of the really great albums.[6]

Robert Christgau ends his A- rated review with: "The point being that words—which on this album are as uneven as the tunes—sometimes say less than voices. Amen."

Album cover

It was his first album not to have love as its central theme and significantly (as his marriage was deteriorating) the cover shows Morrison playing guitar with ripped trousers and scruffy boots looking like a gypsy troubadour out on the street.

Track listing

All songs written by Van Morrison unless noted.

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Side one

  1. "Jackie Wilson Said (I'm in Heaven When You Smile)" – 2:57
  2. "Gypsy" – 4:36
  3. "I Will Be There" – 3:01
  4. "Listen to the Lion" – 11:07

Side two

  1. "Saint Dominic's Preview" – 6:23
  2. "Redwood Tree" – 3:03
  3. "Almost Independence Day" – 10:05

Personnel

Musicians
Production
  • Producers: Van Morrison, Ted Templeman
  • Engineers: Donn Landee, Bob Schumaker, Jim Gains, Dave Brown, Steve Brandon
  • Mixing: Donn Landee, Bob Schumaker on "Jackie Wilson Said"
  • Photography: Michael Maggid
  • Arrangements: Van Morrison, Tom Salisbury on "I Will Be There", "Redwood Tree" and "Saint Dominic's Preview"
  • Remastering: Tim Young, Walter Samuel

Charts

Album

Billboard (North America)

Year Chart Position
1972 The Billboard 200 15

Singles

Billboard (North America)

Year Single Chart Position
1972 "Jackie Wilson Said" The Billboard Hot 100 61
1972 "Redwood Tree" The Billboard Hot 100 98
1973 "Gypsy" The Billboard Hot 100 101

Notes

  1. ^ Hinton. Celtic Crossroads. p. 141. 
  2. ^ Turner. Too Late To Stop Now, p. 111
  3. ^ a b Holden, Stephen (1972-08-31). "Saint Dominic's Preview Review". http://www.rollingstone.com/artists/vanmorrison/albums/album/186447/review/5945763. Retrieved 2010-01-17. 
  4. ^ a b c Hage, The Words and Music of Van Morrison, pp. 65-69
  5. ^ Hage, The Words and Music of Van Morrison, p. 67
  6. ^ a b Denning, Adrian. "Adrian Denning review". adriandenning.co.uk. http://www.adriandenning.co.uk/vanmorrison.html#sdp. Retrieved 2010-02-17. 
  7. ^ Ankeny, Jason. "Saint Dominic's Preview - Overview". Allmusic. http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=10:63rc288c052a. Retrieved 2010-02-06. 
  8. ^ Christgau, Robert. "Saint Dominic's Preview". robertchristgau.com. http://www.robertchristgau.com/get_artist.php?name=Van+Morrison. Retrieved 2010-02-06. 
  9. ^ Floman, Scott. "Saint Dominic's Preview". oocities.com. http://www.oocities.com/sfloman/vanmorrison.html#5. Retrieved 2010-02-06. 
  10. ^ Holden, Stephen. "Van Morrison: Saint Dominic's Preview". rollingstone.com. http://www.rollingstone.com/artists/67/albums/album/186447/rid/5945763/. Retrieved 2010-02-06. 
  11. ^ "AllMusic: Van Morrison Charts & Awards". allmusic.com. http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=11:jifuxqygldhe~T5. Retrieved 2010-01-18. 
  12. ^ Hage, The Words and Music of Van Morrison, p.63

References

  • Hage, Erik (2009). The Words and Music of Van Morrison, Praeger Publishers, ISBN 978-0-313-35862-3
  • Hinton, Brian (1997). Celtic Crossroads: The Art of Van Morrison, Sanctuary, ISBN 1-86074169X
  • Turner, Steve (1993). Van Morrison: Too Late to Stop Now, Viking Penguin, ISBN 0-670-85147-7

External links


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