Parc De L'Ile St. Germain
Sony clip-on stereo mic clipped to front of painter's cap -> Sony D6 cassette (FOB dead center, on TDK-MA110 tape, Dolby C)
Cassette Transfer: Master cassette -> Nakamichi Dragon (Dolby C decode, auto azimuth adjust) -> Sound Devices 722 (@24/96)
Mastering: Sony SoundForge 11 (EQ, volume normalization, resample to 44.1 with iZotope 64-Bit SRC set higher than "Highest Quality" setting w/anti-alias filter; 24->16 bit dither using iZotope MBIT+ Dither with Ultra noise shaping, High dither settings, clap/whistle/yell scrubbing). IDv3 tagged in Tag&Rename 3.9
Cassette side A (51:59):
Band warms up without Van:
2. Big Brother *
3. I Love The Life I Live *
Van joins the band:
4. introducing Van
5. So Complicated
6. Did Ye Get Healed? ->
7. It's All In The Game / Make It Real One More Time
8. The Youth of 1,000 Summers
10. Whenever God Shines His Light
11. Sweet Thing
12. See Me Through ^
Cassette Side B (41:42):
14. Tore Down A La Rimbaud
15. All Saints Day
16. I Will Be There
17. Some Peace Of Mind
18. Northern Muse (Solid Ground) / Auld Lang Syne ->
19. When The Healing Has Begun
20. Vanlose Stairway / Trans Euro Train
21. Summertime In England
22. encore break ~
23. Full Force Gale
* = whole band warms up without Van Morrison, Georgie Fame sings the vocals
^ = w/quotes from "Baby What You Want Me To Do"
~ = note there was a pause in the master tape here as was customary at the time, just in case the encore went long
Sorry for the semi-abrupt fade out at the end of each cassette side -- for Side A I stopped as soon as the song ended to flip the tape. For Side B, I quickly ejected and popped in a new tape in case Van did another encore, but alas he did not.
I scrubbed out hundreds of individual loud (and sometimes constant) nearby claps plus I squelched a whole bunch of nearby piercingly loud shrieks, wails, yells and whistles.
The band (thanks to ivan.vanomatic.de for the info):
Haji Ahkba - flugelhorn & trumpet
Richie Buckley - tenor saxophone
Dave Early - drums
Georgie Fame - organ, vocals
Howard Francis - keyboards
Steve Gregory - tenor saxophone
Ronnie Johnson - guitar
Nicky Scott - bass
Special guest EQ by Bill "The Genius" Mulvey
Cassette Transfer 8/17/2013. Recorded, mastered, and tracked by Scott Bernstein (4/19-5/6/2015)
It's been a bit since I put out the last entry in my BARN series, (and in fact had another one all locked and loaded ready to go), but I got really inspired to put out one of my "classic" Van Morrison recordings. And unlike most bands that I jump into, instead of putting out the oldest recording I made of Van, I'm putting out my favorite one. And not only is this my favorite Van Morrison concert -- I would still rate this as one of the best (of THOUSANDS) concerts I've ever attended, by any musician or band!!! Why? Well, let's set the scene: How about being given the opportunity to see one of your favorite musicians outdoors in a general admission space in a park on a SPECTACULARLY beautiful summer day in the middle of Paris! I was lucky enough to have had the opportunity to spend 6 weeks studying abroad in Paris in the summer of 1991, and of course got to take advantage of the music scene there (also squeezing in a Sting concert and the JVC Jazz Festival where in one day I got to see Pat Metheny Group, John Scofield, and Herbie Hancock all in separate performances).
For any listener who's not a hardcore Van-o-phile, let me put this a bit into perspective -- Van is and has never been the type of musician to come out and do a "greatest hits" type of show. He is a musician "following his muse" as he claims, and therefore you're going to a get a show consisting of whatever songs of his are moving him at that point in time. Typically he focuses some portion of his setlist on his current album at the time of the show, and the rest will be songs from deeper in his catalog. Also note that he does not work from a pre-written setlist, instead calling out songs to his band on-the-fly. In practice, on a tour his shows don't vary greatly, repeating maybe 75% of the setlist from night to night (though not necessarily in the same order), but you never know what he's going to pull out or what songs he might find the "magic" in on any particular night and stretch out on. He's also been a notoriously moody performer from night-to-night. This show is typical of the formula of his shows from the era -- though we get surprisingly few cuts from his album Hymns To The Silence (which I LOVE) released earlier that year ("Some Peace Of Mind" and "All Saints Day", both of which he seems to enjoy playing). We do get some choice cuts from 2 of his other recent albums of the time -- a tight "Enlightenment", "See Me Through", and "Youth Of 1,000 Summers" (from 1990's excellent Enlightenment) and "Whenever God Shines His Light", a minor hit he had from his 1989 album Avalon Sunset. The rest of the show is populated with only 1 song a casual fan might know (an uptempo, jazzy version of "Moondance") and one other song someone who has a little depth of knowledge of his catalog might know -- the classic "Sweet Thing" from his masterpiece "Astral Weeks" -- here stretched to mythical proportions over 9 minutes -- including TWO wild harmonica solos by Van himself (and listen to how closely the band is paying attention to his as they respond to his harmonica licks!), a guitar solo, and a long improvisation vocal scat segment trading vocals with Georgie Fame ("When your motivation is right..."). This is really evidence of some of the MAGIC we're talking about that can come about when Van finds his muse.
Other highlights include, early on, his cover of the classic 50's rock & roll song "It's All In The Game", paired with his own "Make It Real One More Time" in which pays tribute to some of Van's favorite singers, Wilson Pickett, Solomon Burke, Sam Cooke, James Brown, and Billy Stewart and breaks down into him imploring us to "meet me down by the pylons"; dropping quotes from Jimmy Reed's "Baby What You Want Me To Do" into a beautiful version of his own "See Me Through"; and then some strong performances which take us far and away the best part of the show -- the last 30 minutes or so starting at "Northern Muse (Solid Ground)" through "When The Healing Has Begun", and the best part of the night "Vanlose Stairway / Trans Euro Train" and "Summertime In England" (both of which have amazing improvisational vocal trade-offs between Van and other members of the band -- "Trans Euro Train" where he sings about "Kilroy Was Here" and "Summertime In England" where he sings about the "Squealin' Feeling") -- all magic.
You can hear Van grunt out the titles of the next song to the band members after the previous one ends, and they keep things loose enough that sometimes you can even hear him yell "bridge!" or a key change at various points, and the band always picks up on it.
Getting to the technical aspects of this recording -- at the time I just had with me a tiny Sony clip-on stereo mic, which I would clip to the front of a painters' cap which I had poked a hole in to run the cable through and down my shirt, to a portable Sony D-6 cassette recorder I held at my waist. The recorder was solid, but the microphone was hardly high fidelity. I did my best at the time -- and this is one of the first times it really came together in my head how much the location you are taping from can affect your final outcome -- even more so than the gear that you use. I took advantage of the time I was there before the show started to walk around the entire audience space and listen to how the pre-show music being played over the PA sounded and went to exact spot where it sounded the best and just stood there. :) I also used all of the tools that I could to make it sound the best I could -- the Dolby C that the D6 had built in (which is, I know, controversial), and one of the new-fangled TDK-MA 110 tapes -- a very high quality metal tape with an unheard-of length (to minimize the potential of songs cut due to tape flips!!!). Add in my bank-account-breaking purchase and restoration of the best cassette deck ever made (the Nakamichi Dragon) a few years back which I specifically purchased for transferring shows like this into the digital domain, and you've got some great raw material.
Of course, given the less-than-high-fidelity microphone I was using at the time, while the recording was clean, it was a little thin sounding and needed some EQ to really bring out its fullness. I gave a shot at an initial EQ, after which I presented my best attempt to my friend with the most golden ear I know, Bill "the genius" Mulvey, and he took my work and voluntarily produced a MUCH bolder and fuller sounding EQ than I did, for which we should all be very thankful for. He took a very thin sounding recording and gave it low end kick (when it had none) and a little high end polish (thank you Dolby C for allowing us to do that and giving us a cassette recording with absolutely ZERO hiss, and the TDK metal tape for holding up perfectly after all these years and providing great dynamics).
Even after all of the EQ work and volume normalization I had to do, there were hundreds of nearby claps, banshee-like inhuman wails (some of which you can still kind of hear occasionally) from people, whistles, and such, all of which I needed to scrub out or attenuate to bring this up to my standards. At this point, this recording is as good as it will EVER sound! My favorite concert, in a beautifully crisp dynamic, cleaned up presentation for all of you to enjoy as well. I hope that this will lead you to dig deeper into Van Morrison's catalog or to search out other recordings of his live shows in search of the magic that Van can provide!
I have taped him a BUNCH of other times, and hope to get those out eventually too, but here's the first of my (mostly uncirculated) Van Morrison master recordings I am presenting as part of my BARN series.