Well, unlike the popular opinion (it seems), this happens to be one of my favorite Van Morrison albums. I put it right up there with Moondance, Tupelo Honey and His Band & Street Choir.
The title track itself is an experiment in groove and worth the purchase alone ~ T.B. Sheets (track 5) is just over 9 minutes of a single musical theme while Van wails out vocals about having to face the untimely death of a dear friend, (based upon an actual event in his life, I believe. Yes, TB = tuberculosis.) It's bitter sweet, with his voice at the pinnacle of decadence, and his heart in every word as only Van Morrison can deliver.
Surprisingly, each of the other tunes are just as good. Considering that 'Brown Eyed Girl' appears here, which is probably what people notice first and end up buying the CD for, it actually manages to take a back seat to the other tracks. Perhaps due to so much air play and commercial over-saturation, I find myself listening to the lesser known tunes most of all.
It is difficult to sum up in only a few words, but the album seems to me a more free form recording than anything else he's released (live albums aside). Almost as if you've walked into a corner pub that Van Morrison happens to be playing at before his great popularity, and sit down to witness a blues artist turning his insides out. Although the album was indeed recorded in a studio, the songs, each one of them, are so very raw that this image always comes to mind when I listen to it.
'Madame George' is here, a quicker tempo version of the song, (the sorrowful 10 minute version to be found on Astral Weeks), and probably exemplifies the improvisational facet of the CD best of all. 'He Ain't Give You None, Beside You, It's All Right,' and 'Who Drove The Red Sports Car?' are all wonderful songs in a similar vein ~ blues driven and soulful. And, 'Ro Ro Rosey,' being the only truly UPbeat tune on the CD, adds a bit of the rock/pop element.
Excellent musicianship, soulful delivery, well produced and RAW ~ even if you do buy this CD for 'Brown Eyed girl,' you'll end up keeping in the changer for everything else.