One of my favorite Van Morrison albums is his 1991 double CD Hymns to the Silence, which is admittedly uneven but is also eclectic and lovely and swinging, religious and profane, too. And that’s what the best of all Van Morrison’s work is.
Hymns wasn’t on any streaming service and my version of it is vinyl, so I hadn’t listened to it for a long time, but Steve’s post prompted me to look for it again and there it is now on Google Music. But that’s not today’s story. While looking for Hymns today I found a record called The Infamous Contractual Obligations Albums of 1967, which consists of 30 songs, not one of which is more than a minute and half long.
The title is relatively new. The record was originally released as The New York Sessions ’67, and the story is complicated, involving contracts, hatred and death. You can read the whole thing here, at Dangerous Minds.
The writer there ponders the question of whether there is musical merit in these dashed-off tunes, a Minutemen-colored version of Van the Rocker. I’m not sure about merit, but what is cool about listening to the album through is how elemental the chord progressions of these “songs” are. Many refer to other hit songs, like Hang On Sloopy and Twist and Shout, but others are just clever enough to stand as underdeveloped bits of rock ‘n’ roll with goofy lyrics.
This is more derivative than some, more rockin’ than others. Go ahead, try out the whole thing. It’s fun.