Often counted among the greatest live albums of all time, Van Morrison’s It’sToo Late to Stop Now features the Irish singer-songwriter at his prime in live performances.
The 1973 tour, featuring his newly formed Caledonia Soul Orchestra, holds a mythical place among Van the Man’s fans for its marathon brass-and-string-laden renditions of classics like “Into the Mystic” and “Cyprus Avenue” alongside soulful renditions of pop standards like “Bring It On Home to Me.”
But video from the legendary performances included on Too Late is hard to come by. One night’s gig at the Rainbow Theatre in London aired on the BBC in the ’70s, but even that is almost nonexistent online.
On Friday, June 10, however, Legacy Recordings will release that video on DVD, along with three CDs worth of previously unavailable live performances from the shows Morrison culled from for the 1974 live album.
“I am getting more into performing,” Morrison said during the famed tour. “It’s incredible... all of a sudent I felt like, ‘You’re back into performing,’ and it just happened like that.” He nodded to his history of mercurial live performances: “A lot of times in the past I’ve done gigs and it was rought to get through them. but now the combination seems to be right and it’s been clicking a lot.”
And click it did.
One of the finest examples of the tour’s power is in the rendition of Moondance classic cut “Caravan,” which novelist and screenwriter Nick Hornby identified as what he’d like to have playing at his own funeral.
“In the long, vamped passage right before the climax Morrison’s band seems to isolate a moment somewhere between life and its aftermath, a big, baroque entrance hall of a place where you can stop and think about everything that has gone before,” Hornby ruminated.
With eyes closed, Morrison looked intent on every word—including the chorus’s iconic “la-las”—before taking a break to introduce his performers. Each section of his orchestra solo’d in hypnotic fashion before the stage lights dimmed and the song seemingly came to a close. And then Morrison and his Caledonia Soul Orchestra burst into a dizzying finale, with the chant “turn it up, turn it up, a little louder” never seeming more fitting.
Featured on It's Too Late to Stop Now... Volumes II, III, IV & DVD are sets of 15 tracks from the Belfast Cowboy’s May 23, 1973,, gig at The Troubadour in LA; his June 29 show at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium; and July 23 and 24 sets at the Rainbow.
None of the tracks featured on Volumes II, III, IV overlap with what fans have long heard on the original release of It's Too Late to Stop Now.