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Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013

Van Morrison | Moondance Deluxe Edition (Warner Brothers)

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Soulful and thoughtful, Van Morrison had a gift for words and memorable songs. His fans argue over which album is greatest from his flourishing years, 1968-1974. A case could be made for Moondance (1970), an exceptional song collection whose sum is nearly as memorable as its parts.

Moondance Deluxe Edition includes remastered and Blu-ray audio versions of the album in all its easy-going but never slack or mellow grandeur. With the exception of the crisp, autumnal jazz of the title number, Moondance is a distillation of ’60s soul, gospel echoes and The Band’s homey aural texture. Surely, the sound and songwriting of Moondance inspired a young man half the world away in New Jersey, Bruce Springsteen.

In addition to versions of the classic album, Deluxe Edition includes three discs of outtakes, the rough sketches before the ideas coalesced into the canvas of Moondance. More interesting than 10 early takes of “Caravan” are the songs that never made it onto the album, including the hard-rocking early rendition of “I’ve Been Working” and six versions of “I Shall Sing,” previously known only from Art Garfunkel’s cover.