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4.9 out of 5 stars156
4.9 out of 5 stars
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on October 26, 2013
You wouldn't be reading this if you didn't think Moondance was a great album. So instead of reviewing the original music or the alternate takes, I'm going to focus on my perception of the sound quality and mix of the 2013 remastered cd, the 192kHz/24Bit high resolution blu-ray, the Japanese manufactured cd and the original North American cd. I don't have a surround processor so I can't comment on the 5.1 mix and I don't have an lp version to comment on either. I bought the Deluxe set specifically to get the high resolution blu-ray, hoping that it would provide the best audio quality.

First things first. The 2013 cd and blu-ray in the Deluxe set are not just a remastering (i.e. cleaner sound, with a little boosting here and there to improve the sound quality of bass and drums, or compression to increase overall volume levels). Both of these are also a remix of the music. This means that the placement of instruments in the soundstage is different, the relative prominence of some instruments/vocals is different and the amount of reverb/echo is different. Depending upon what you value, you may or may not like these changes or more likely, you may have a mixed reaction.

In terms of sound quality, the 192kHz/24Bit blu-ray is excellent. The music is very clean with no hard edges or distortion and instruments sound very realistic. The musical content is well balanced from bass through mid-range to treble. This is the best "audio sound" of any version. This is what I bought the Deluxe version for!

The 2013 cd for some reason sounds very different. The bass is very, very boosted. So much so, that while listening on a good audio system with full range speakers, my attention is drawn to the bass every time. As a result, the bass seems to overwhelm the music in the mid range and treble (acoustic guitars, vocals, cymbals etc). Overall, this makes the music sound muffled. I think the mid range and treble information is there, but the relative volume of bass overwhelms the music in the other ranges. A few other reviewers on here have commented on this and referred to it as sounding like a blanket was thrown over their speakers. This impression is exacerbated by the new mix which also reduces the prominence of horns and acoustic guitars. In contrast, on the new blu-ray the bass is always well balanced and clear. On the title song, Moondance, I've always "heard' the walking bass, but this is the first time I've clearly heard the exact pitch of each note.

I'll use Into the Mystic to illustrate the difference between the old mix and the new blu-ray version. (The new cd remix is similar to the blu-ray, but due to the amount of bass, "sounds" different). The original mix has some instruments placed very hard left or right. The horns for example on Into the Mystic are placed so far right, that they are almost exclusively in the right speaker. The horns also have a lot of reverb giving the impression that they are in a larger and different room then the rest of the band. The most noticeable change on the new mix is that the instruments are distributed better across the soundstage. Your attention is drawn more to the music and less distracted by the placement of the instruments. The low, reedy sounding "foghorn" is in the centre rather than hard right and the horns, while still on the right of the soundstage, don't sound like they're just in one speaker. There is much less reverb on the horns. This is all good.

Another noticeable change is that the horns are mixed lower. Van's voice is the central focus of the music, with less "competition" for attention from the horns, especially on the louder passages. The remix of the Band's Rock of Ages on the recently released Live at the Academy of Music 1971 makes a similar change in the new mix. Initially I found both unfamiliar. I've decided I like this choice on both releases, but it's very subjective and I can understand that some people will not like this change at all. This is especially noticeable on the last one minute of Caravan, when Van is doing the lead "la la la la la" vocals and also backing himself. You can hear the various vocal parts in his backing chorus more distinctly, but the horns don't contribute as much rhythmic punch.

The remastered sound of acoustic guitars sounds very good in the new versions. They are however lower in the new mix. As with the horns, little guitar licks don't pop out as much in the new mix. This is OK on the quieter passages at the beginning of Into the Mystic for example, but as the song progresses, especially in the last 30 seconds or so, I miss the hard driving rhythmic strumming that engages in a sort of call and response with the horns.

One final comment on Into the Mystic. The new mix has a very noticeable tambourine. I like it, but I've never heard it on a previous cd version. I don't know whether it was on the original lp. I assume, it's another example of the change in instrumental balance in the new remix.

A quick comment about the Japanese cd release. It's not really a remaster. I think some processing was added during the transfer process to boost the midrange and treble across the board, but I wouldn't say it was "remastered" with a remastering engineer, producer or artist making aesthetic choices about the sound. It mostly sounds like the North American cd, but with a bit more boost in some frequencies. It sounds fine, but I wouldn't recommend going out of your way buy it.

On the whole, I'm very happy with the high resolution blu-ray, including the new mix. I'd have preferred it if it had been made available in a 3 disc version (1 remastered cd, 1 disc of outtakes and the high resolution blu-ray).

I almost forgot to mention the blu-ray menu. When you insert the blu-ray it into your player, there's no automatic pop up menu to choose the 5.1 mix or the stereo. The 5.1 mix automatically starts playing even if you just have a stereo system. You'll have to use the "audio" button on your remote to find the menu if you want to play the stereo mix.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on June 13, 2004
It's not as complex, beautiful and enigmatic as "Astral Weeks" and it's not as much of a soulful, one-two-punch workout as "Blowin' Your Mind," but for sheer, consistent, horn-driven happiness, you can't do much better than "Moondance."
But because of my affection for those other two disks, I admit, I generally tend to underrate this album. But "Moondance" keeps coming back to me in the most unexpected ways at the most unexpected times: I'll hear "Caravan" in "The Last Waltz," or "Everyone" at the end of "The Royal Tenenbaums" or "Glad Tidings" three times in the "Sopranos" Season 5 finale, or notice "Into the Mystic" on the PA at the grocery store and be reminded that I need to let it out to play more often. That's the sign of a truly great musical work.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on July 21, 2011
Moondance is a classic, must-have album with great songs from start to finish. The songs and musicianship are first rate. Unfortunately, the sound quality has always been stuck in 1970. Without putting too fine a point on it, the album - vinyl or CD - has always sounded a bit AM radio.

The original mix suffers from a too much midrange and very little at the low and high extremely. This has lead to a poorly differentiate sound and caused many instruments to lose definition. This Japanese remastered CD fixes those problems. Switching back and forth between this CD and one purchased in the early 1990s is like listening with and without cotton wadded in your ears. It truly is that good.

Right from the first cut, "And It Stoned Me", you get to hear details that are absent on previous pressings. On that song, the acoustic rhythm guitar on the right side rings out clearly and all the instruments get to enjoy their own space in the mix. Listen to a song on the Japanese pressing and go back to an older version of the same song and your ears will feel plugged.

The only complaint I can make is that Van's vocal can sometimes recede a bit since there is so much more sound at the ends of the spectrum and the mid-range hump - which favors the vocals - is largely gone. Still, the overall effect is very satisfying.

This is the best $26 I have spent in a long time.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on November 5, 2003
Whether his music was recorded in the late 60s or early 70s, it is never dated. Yet he always seemed ahead of his time. The man is a vocal genius emanating sounds awarded to the most talented vocalists. And there is only ONE way to listen to Morrison, and that is with quality equipment and loud!
I can't get over how much I LOVE "And it Stoned Me" about a playful fishing trip romp with a friend, the voice, the lyrics, and the beat!
Another favorite, "Moondance", a sultry jazzy number that many other performers have covered. "Into the Mystic" is a bluesy, jazzy ballad.
But I can't reiterate enough, the BEST CD ever is Morrison's '68 "Astral Weeks" It's uncomprehensive that at the young age he was, this phenomenal masterpiece evolved, .....way back in the 60's ...unbelievable. That one is my stranded-on-an-island cd. ......MzRizz
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on May 28, 2004
I was only familiar with the Brown Eyed Girl and Gloria Van Morrison but bought this because of the strong 5 star rating with nearly 130 reviews. They are right. This is a great CD filled with easily listened to (not easy listening) music. The lyrics are absolutely heartfelt. The speed of the music fluctuates from not to fast to slow and cool. This would be great entertaining music for a small group of people or just for that one person.
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on August 18, 2003
According to Pop Music Orthodoxy, rock 'n' roll is white, soul is black. Such arbitrary segregation, of course, doesn't explain why Jimi Hendrix remains the greatest rock guitarist of all time, and why Moondance, made by a white Irishman, is the greatest soul record ever made.
From the Smokey Robinson crooning of "Crazy Love" to the restless spiritual romance of "Into The Mystic," Van Morrison merges the concerns of mind and heart, heaven and earth as seamlessly as any artist in the history of recorded music. The title track riffs on jazz without sliding into pretention, while "Glad Tidings" harks back to "Brown Eyed Girl" with its pure giddy good feeling and punchy horns.
Even more than Astral Weeks, this is the record where Van Morrison proved himself a legendary writer, singer, and band leader with an uncommon power to entrance and move his listeners.
Whether you're making out or making your peace with the Great Beyond, Moondance is a must. And next time you play the CD or hear a cut on the radio, follow Van's command at the end of "Caravan."
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Moondance is one of my favorite Van Morrison albums, a classic on a level with Astral Weeks and Tupelo Honey. There's a moving description of the numinous experience in the song And It Stoned Me which recounts an experience with a childhood friend. The playful arrangement of the title track with its jazzy infusions celebrates a different kind of magic. His voice turns tender and subdued for the gentle love song Crazy Love but goes into full R&B mode for the soulful Caravan. Every note seems to be in exactly the right place on this masterpiece of an album with its exquisite arrangements whilst the words are sheer poetry, as in the yearning Into The Mystic. Slower songs like Mystic and faster ones like the buoyant ditty Come Running alternate with great effect. Every composition is special and memorable, whether it's a love song like These Dreams Of You or a more overtly devotional piece like Brand New Day. The poetic lyrics, evocative melodies and Van's varied vocal styles all contribute to the sonic splendour of Moondance.
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on January 17, 2003
I'm only 24, and I had the fortune of buying this cd a few years ago on a whim. I had heard "Brown Eyed Girl" and recognized a few tracks on the cd (Moondance, Crazy Love), and decided it looked good enough, and was worth it just for Moondance.
All I can say is, this is probably one of the greatest albums of all time; it's just beautiful from start to end. Every song is musically perfect, with all the tracks and instruments swirling around, it'll remind you of someone you were in love with at one time, or someone you're in love with now. It's not sappy like McCartney can be sometimes, and it's not too artistic like others get at times; it's just perfect. Extremely well written, beautiful songs, every song on the album will stick with you. The best to me are "Moondance" of course, if you haven't heard that song, slap yourself. "Crazy Love" I never realized Morrison wrote, but his version is twice as good as any cover you've ever heard. "Into the Mystic" is just beautiful, beautiful stuff. "Caravan" is a little rowdy, very soulful. "And it Stoned Me" is a great song; really, you can just go down the line, they're all great. "These Dreams of You", another classic, perfect song. I really can't say enough about this album, it's amazing.
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on April 19, 2002
I love this album but I rarely play it due to the number of times I hear the title track on the local classic rock radio stations.
This must be the most well known and thus general favourite of all of the Van Morrison albums. Coming early as it does in his solo career and with some great songs with catchy lines and recognisable lyrics this album encapsulates in a sense all of Van's career.
Along with Astral Weeks this album carves out it's own territory. It is hard to remember how different those vocals sounded to people back in 1970. Sung in what was essentially a revolutionary way with very different phrasing Van Morrison's singing style was a counterpoint to the soft San Francisco vocals and a step removed from the blues style vocals which characterised Britain's blues scene.
The quality of the songs is exceptionally high both lyrically and instrumentally. Van conveys his emotions very clearly and the result is an album which seems light and summery but which transmits themes of spirituality and romance with the celtic mysticism which was to become a more important part of the maestro's work in later years.
The sun was shining yesterday and it was a glorious day to revisit the album. Strangely enough when the album was over I turned on the radio only to hear the first bars of Moondance behind the DJs mindless chatter. I was glad when he shut up and I could hear it's magnetic refrain once again.
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on September 4, 2001
If I had to choose only one Van Morrison album (perish the thought), it would have to be Moondance. I donÕt know if itÕs MorrisonÕs best (there are just too many riches to choose from), but I know it is an absolutely flawless album, made up of ten perfectly crafted songs, not one of them less than stellar.
ItÕs also the only one of his albums I know of Ð the only album by anyone, for that matter Ð that is rewarding to listen to no matter what kind of music youÕre in the mood for. Unlike Astral Weeks, or Veedon Fleece, which you wonÕt appreciate unless youÕre willing to sit down and listen carefully, Moondance can work as high-energy background music while youÕre doing something else. The horns, the rhythm, that soothing, but never bland voice Ð it has a soulful, jazzy groove that wonÕt quit and is fun to listen to over and over.
But it has another side. When youÕre ready, sit down and pay attention and youÕll find lyrics as deep and poetic as anything on Astral Weeks, and fine, subtle, soulful singing that youÕll miss when youÕre just focusing on the big, brassy sound. ItÕs not just that Van Morrison has a gorgeous, soul-shaking voice, and brilliant phrasing, although he certainly does. He sings with so much genuine passion that he makes you see the world in a whole new way. And It Stoned Me, for instance, is about nothing more than water Ð fishing, swimming, rain and drinking Ð but the way he sings "oh, the water" makes the experience shine like great poetry.
I donÕt know any other album that has it all the way Moondance does. No matter how many times you listen to it, you can never exhaust its possibilities. I have hundreds of CDs, but, hands down, this is the one I play the most.
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