“Saint Dominic’s Preview” by Van Morrison - album review

features in: Album Chart of 1972Album Chart of the Decade: 1970s

TJR says

Bright and breezy, Van’s 6th release was a bounce-back after the disappointing “Tupelo Honey” from last year, and fuses many different styles and moods from the worlds of pop, soul, folk and jazz. Album opener “Jackie Wilson Said (I’m In Heaven When You Smile)” is a straight pop smash in anybody’s musical language, and pays tribute to one of Van’s influences whilst serving as a joyous opener for the album. Closing side 1 is “Listen to the Lion”, where Van revels in the art of repetition in a song which is all about him, his “love come tumbling down”, his subsequent soul searching and his quest to find the lion inside. It’s pure gospel in all but choir.

Van’s unique brand of soulful warmth continues straight away on the flip, with the 6½ minute title track which, amongst many things, expresses a longing for peace in the town of his birth. “I'd been working on this song about the scene going down in Belfast. And I wasn't sure what I was writing but the central image seemed to be this church called St Dominic's where people were gathering to pray or hear a mass for peace in Northern Ireland. A few weeks later I was playing at a gig in Reno, Nevada. I picked up a newspaper, and there in front of me was an announcement about a mass for peace in Belfast to be said the next day at St Dominic's Church in San Francisco. Totally blew me out. Like I'd never even heard of a St Dominic's Church.”

There’s another 10 minute epic at the close of play, with “Almost Independence Day” another of his trademark stream-of-consciousness lyrical deliveries, with a group which pulse in harmony with the front man and moog synths making a notable appearance in Van's work. In a 1984 interview, Morrison recalls that he took a cue for the first line from the following incident: “I picked up the phone and the operator said: ‘You have a phone call from Oregon. It's Mister So-and-So.’ It was a guy from the group Them. And then there was nobody on the other end. So out of that I started writing, ‘I can hear Them calling, 'way from Oregon.’ That's where that came from.” When he’s in full-flow like this, you get the feeling he could make a meal of beans on toast sound like a life-changing event.

The Jukebox Rebel

A1 [02:56] 8.5.png Van Morrison - Jackie Wilson Said (I’m In Heaven When You Smile) (George Ivan Morrison) Pop
A2 [04:35] 6.6.png Van Morrison - Gypsy (George Ivan Morrison) Cerebral Pop
A3 [03:03] 5.5.png Van Morrison - I Will Be There (George Ivan Morrison) Jazz
A4 [11:08] 7.5.png Van Morrison - Listen To The Lion (George Ivan Morrison) Soul
B1 [06:30] 8.7.png Van Morrison - Saint Dominic’s Preview (George Ivan Morrison) Soul
B2 [03:01] 6.2.png Van Morrison - Redwood Tree (George Ivan Morrison) Folk Rock / Americana
B3 [10:03] 7.7.png Van Morrison - Almost Independence Day (George Ivan Morrison) Folk Rock / Americana

© The Jukebox Rebel 2005-2020 All Rights Reserved