Van Morrison – Moondance – Our Shootout Winner from 2009

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

For the first time ever… a WHITE HOT STAMPER pressing of Moondance on QUIET VINYL! This Warner Bros. Green Label copy has a side two that just can not be beat — A+++ all the way.

It took us a long time to build up enough copies to get this shootout rockin’, a fact that anyone who has ever sought out a copy of this album will certainly understand. Clean originals just aren’t hanging around in the bins, and when you do find one it usually costs a pretty penny. Add on the fact that most copies just don’t sound all that hot and you can forgive us for thinking that we might never list a Hot Stamper copy again.

Well, folks, I’m pleased to report that today is the day that you Moondance Maniacs have been waiting for. Here’s the copy that will finally enable you to put away the CD, trash the heavy vinyl version, and unload your half-speed pressing on eBay!

We played a serious stack of copies recently and MAN, was it ever a struggle! We’re talking about YEARS worth of copies that we’ve picked up — most of them just didn’t deliver or were too noisy to sell. We even threw a good number of the half-speed mastered Super Disk pressings in the mix for good measure. Some of them were actually in a league with the better Green Label originals, but unsurprisingly The Real Thing finished on top when it was all said and done.

What are the biggest problems with pressings of this album? Hardness, edge, and grit to the mids; lack of extension up top; veiled mids; tubby bass (practically epidemic); lack of energy; thin vocals and pinched brass. Sounds fun, right? You should have seen us halfway through side one. We were ready to run out of here screaming!

Eventually we started to recognize the hallmarks of a properly mastered copy and were able to eliminate some of the more painful pressings before they spent too long on the table. A copy like this makes all the trouble worthwhile; it’s a real treat to hear this amazing music with the kind of top sound that had eluded us for years.

A Great Side One, An Incredible Side Two

Side one is big, bold, and lively with a ton of tubey magic. The flute sound is lovely — airy and sweet. There’s dramatically less hardness and edge to the overall sound than on most of the copies we’ve played. The bass could stand to be a bit punchier and I wouldn’t mind just a little more presence. That said, most side ones out there aren’t going to come anywhere near this one.

Side two is PHENOMENAL. It’s got all the energy, all the tubey magic, all the top end extension and virtually none of the hardness and edge that we’ve come to expect! The bass is much cleaner than on the typical pressing of any vintage. The hand percussion sounds amazing and really comes through nicely. The overall sound here is open, spacious and transparent with a silky sweet top end. Both the lead and background vocals are incredibly full-bodied and clear. We’ve played a TON of copies and in our experience, side two just don’t get any better than this!

What An Album

Musically, the record this album most reminds me of is After The Gold Rush. Neil Young set out to make a commercial album that had nothing but strong songs built around catchy melodies, with the highest quality production values. What better describes Moondance? Every song is good, you can sing every one of them, and in fact you’ll probably feel like singing every one of them as they are playing. And the whole album is produced with the best sound that was available at the time.

Van Morrison never made another album as good as this one, and neither did Neil Young. If there are two records on the planet that belong in everybody’s collection, it’s those two. Finding good sounding LPs of both of them is a tricky proposition — unless of course you are a customer of Better Records, where superb sounding pressings of these Classic Rock Albums can sometimes be found.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

And It Stoned Me
Moondance
Crazy Love
Caravan
Into The Mystic

Side Two

Come Running
These Dreams Of You
Brand New Day
Everyone
Glad Tidings

AMG Review

The yang to Astral Weeks’ yin, the brilliant Moondance is every bit as much a classic as its predecessor. Van Morrison’s first commercially successful solo effort, it retains the previous album’s deeply spiritual thrust but transcends its bleak, cathartic intensity to instead explore themes of renewal and redemption.