Today’s album re-evaluation features that well known mardy arse Van Morrison and his 1974 live album, It’s Too Late To Stop Now. It features performances that were recorded in concerts at the Troubadour in Los Angeles, California; the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, and the Rainbow in London during Morrisons three month tour with his eleven piece band, the Caledonia Soul Orchestra, from May to July 1973. Frequently named as one of the best live albums ever, It’s Too Late to Stop Now was recorded during what has often been said to be the singer’s greatest phase as a live performer. Well let’s put that to the test, shall we.
Other than being a known moody git, all I know about Van the Man is the song Gloria, from his 60’s band Them, the Moondance and Astral Weeks albums and hearing Brown-Eyed Girl at every wedding, Xmas and birthday party I attended in the 80’s and 90’s. I still get PTSD every time I hear the opening bar of that song. Oh, and an ex-manager of mine, who loved Van, told me when he saw him live it was once of the worst shows he’d ever been to. So despite seeing all the plaudits for this album, I was a little apprehensive to listen to this album. I shouldn’t have been concerned, this is an absolute belter of a live album. Soulful, joyful and featuring some of the best interpretations of soul, blues and rock songs ever committed to vinyl. The slow, sultry rendition of Willie Dixon’s I Just Wanna Make Love To You is probably the best version I’ve ever heard and following that up with Sam Cooke’s Bring It On Home To Me is why CDs were made to exist. It’s just an exquisite 1-2 soul/blues punch that you are more than happy to take. Van’s own songs are probably some of the best versions I’ve heard: Domino, Caravan, Gloria, Saint Dominic’s Preview all stand head and shoulders over their respective studio cuts. I honestly can’t say enough great things about this record, it’s an upbeat, good time album full of great rock, blues and soul numbers performed by Van and his fantastic Caledonia Soul Orchestra.
So is it excessive? Only 1 of the 18 tracks is over 10 minutes, so it’s not excessive at all. Would I listen to it again? Most definitely! Would I recommend it? YES! If you’re after an album to lift your spirits and make you feel good all over then It’s Too Late To Stop Now is the album to do just that. Is there a drum solo? Don’t be silly! This is Van’s world, ain’t got no room for drum solos!
So for my first foray into live Van Morrison, I’m giving this a 9/10. An absolutely essential 70’s live double album and one you should listen to as soon as is humanly possible. TTFN!