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4.9 out of 5 stars
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4.9 out of 5 stars
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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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on April 28, 2016
Excellent insight in to the makings of the final cuts. Had no idea he would play around with the songs this much. It's obvious why the final cuts were chosen in most cases, but a few make you wonder and I think he made the wrong choice in one case (Come Running) plus you get a few unreleased tracks. Worth it for fans.
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on November 23, 2012
I had forgotten what an enjoyable album this is until I blundered across my worn-out vinyl copy. Now the CD is even more enjoyable without all the crackles. Needs to be played really loudly when non-believers are out of the home. Into The Mystic is electric and the least three songs finish the album beautifully. First rate stuff.
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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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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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The remaster is stellar! Got a copy today downtown! This is one of the
best upgrades of music recorded 69/70..... This version will make a great
gift this coming holiday season....There aren't any remaster credits on the
Canadian pressing....but it is very well done! I am impressed....I think I'll
order a few from the Amazon seller. As of this writing, there is only $0.20 of
a difference between online/in-store....Delivered to my door for pennies more...
is a lot cheaper than "car-fare".....This is one of my best purchases this year!
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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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For the last 15 years or so I’ve been constantly checking everywhere for a re-mastered release of this masterpiece title (see chaztoronto list of Masterpiece Albums) and truth be told the long wait was indeed worth it.
What's the worth of a moonrock? Exactly.
Not only does this current release surpass in brilliant stereo re-mastering clarity but also includes 5.1 surround-sound mixes, which in itself is worth the price I have paid. That is to say that after my listening experience to this version I admit that I would gladly pay twice the price! However, I am a shrewd shopper who has the time to check out many sites nonetheless I usually find the most reasonable pricing comes from ImportCDs through amazon.ca, Van Morrison's Moondance being one of them.

The stereo mixes are pure digital with the surprisingly difference being that it delivers all the warmness of early vinyl (analogue) sound. ‘Nuff said.
And yet the real gems in this deluxe edition are the surround sound mixes (kudos to the engineer!) These (re)mixes are pure ear candy: the tracks contain a full spectrum of sound (lacking neither in highs, midrange or bottom-end) as well as a full separation of 5 channels+ sub-woofer. The sax solos stream into your Surround Right ear while the keyboards play in your Surround Left ear. Vocals are correctly sound staged in your Center and Rear speaker while the bass fills up the ambiance in your entire room!

In my entire collection of over 60 surround-sound titles, only a few albums can truly boast of ‘true’ surround sound and as such, Moondance will be rated at the very top together with the equally brilliant Eagles “Hell Freezes Over” and Queen “A Night At The Opera” 5.1 surround-sound versions.
Having said that, not everything is perfect. The one and only disappointment I experienced was the sound of the ‘foghorn’ from the track Into The Mystic. The stereo mix captures the realistic deepness of the foghorn in a way that you feel almost like being there but in the surround mix the foghorn sound is sadly weak, thereby quite losing its prominence: in fact, I could almost swear that the sound has been replaced by a cello!
(Note: the product description on amazon.ca notes this release as 48K 24 bit. This is an error and should be noted as: 192kHz/ 24Bit.)
Overall, for those who enjoy the listening experience of surround sound, this version is in your face. I mean that you'll feel that Van and his boys are playing right there- in your living room.

Thank you for this fine piece of music, Mr. Morrison. Can we expect surround-sound versions of Tupelo Honey or TB Sheets in the near future?
As an ending to this comment I will now quote one of Van The Man’s album title: BlowinYour Mind is a pretty good description of what will happen every time you listen to this release of Moondance.
And so, I’m good for the next 15 years……
Chaztoronto: for what its worth
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on February 26, 2001
Van Morrison's masterpiece will always be MOONDANCE... it's simply one the greatest albums ever made. Van Morrison is one of those rare artists that successfully combine many different genres of music: R&B, Jazz, Celtic and Rock. This CD seems to be his most complete, with his greatest song (Moondance) and some classic songs that would define a career. Here's a song by song review:
And It Stoned Me: This is a very personal song that is full of great messages of personal quest and self discovery. The lyrics are surprisingly complex, and the song itself is very well done... almost folk-like in sound and feel.
Moondance: Absolutely Van Morrison's greatest song (possibly the greatest song ever). It's a light jazz tune that perfectly combines bass, piano, a soft beat, and great vocals. This song is amazing, with no real downsides... worth the album price alone!
Crazy Love: A very soft, and gospel sounding song. Very well written and thoughtfully done. This is a song that might go overlooked in this album, but would be considered the best song in plenty of others.
Caravan: A great sounding song with insightful lyrics and a great melody. The greatest part of this song has to be the chorus, which gets better every single time you listen to it.
Into the Mystic: This extremely well written song basically establishes the themes of mysticism that would be incorperated in many of Van Morrison's following albums... this one seems the most complete and satisfying.
Come Running: Another great song... this one uses the instruments very well... it's simply a delight for the senses.
These Dreams of You: Van Morrison's take on a swing song might take some listenings to get used to, but it eventually grows on you and becomes a very entertaining song.
Brand New Day: Another light sounding Van Morrison song with heavy meanings... the gospel refrain is well used, and the piano on this song is exceptional.
Everyone: A great feel-good song, this one sounds very different from the rest of the songs from the album. That's not necessarily a bad thing...
Glad Tidings: The perfect closer song... the lyrics to this one are phenomenal and it gets better every single time I listen to it!
So what are you waiting for? Buy this CD today, and experience the best of Van Morrison! (Also check out Astral Weeks and Saint Dominic's Preview - in my opinion the top 3 Morrison albums)
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on June 27, 2014
I had been pondering this purchase for a while, given the steep price. I have to say it has been worth every penny!

The BD disc is what all surround recordings should aspire to be. It's immersive and revealing without being intrusive or gimmicky. If "Into the Mystic" does not give you goosebumps, check your pulse.

I've owned every release of Moondance, including 3 vinyl incarnations, and am astounded at how this version made me feel like I was hearing it for the 1st time. I was disappointed when the Elliot Scheiner DVD-A Moondance project got shelved. Kudos to Warner for believing in his work, and bringing it forward to this format. Hopefully this will open the door to other masterpieces.

The bonus material is like spending the day in the recording studio with Van and his band - great stuff.

This package is highly recommended!
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