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Best Moon Safari Albums

Swedish progressive rock band Moon Safari, are one of my favourite modern (i.e. post the 1970s peak) bands.

They play in a very melodic, symphonic rock sound (think a combination of early 70s Genesis and Yes) with excellent five part harmony singing.

Their live album, The Gettysburg Address, makes my Desert Island Top 200 list.

Moon Safari Releases & My Ratings

This band is very consistent and here are my ratings (10 brilliant, 9 excellent, 8 very good). Although several of the album titles are in Swedish, the lyrics are in English.

2005 Studio – A Doorway to Summer = 8
2008 Studio – Blomljud (it means Flower Sound) = 8
2010 Studio – Lover’s End = 8
2012 Live – The Gettysburg Address = 9
2013 Studio – Himlabacken Vol. 1 (it means Heaven Hill) = 8
2013 Studio EP – Lover’s End Pt. III = 8
2014 Live – Live In Mexico = 8

I suspect these ratings will rise as I get to know these recordings better.

Hear Moon Safari samples at and

What Others Say About Moon Safari

I consider as the definitive website for progressive rock. Here are their ratings (19 March 2021) from their Moon Safari page:

  • A Doorway to Summer  = 3.58
  • Blomljud = 4.13
  • Lover’s End = 3.86
  • The Gettysburg Address = 4.55
  • Himlabacken Vol. 1 = 3.92
  • Lover’s End Pt. III EP = 4.73
  • Live In Mexico = 4.02

I’m puzzled as to why the rating is so low for A Doorway to Summer. I don’t see it as inferior in any way.

The critics at AllMusic haven’t rated the albums, but their Moon Safari page shows user ratings that are all in the 4 to 5 star levels, with Blomljud, The Gettysburg Address and Live In Mexico all shown as 5 stars on 19 March 2021.

On YouTube

The Notes Reviews channel is very good for progressive rock and it has several videos about Moon Safari, starting with the worst to best:

Interestingly, the reviewer favours the early studio albums and places them in this order:

  1. A Doorway to Summer
  2. Blomljud (this is a double CD and CD1 is his favourite)
  3. Lover’s End
  4. Himlabacken Vol. 1

Personally, I think it’s really hard to decide on an order because they are all so good and have similar qualities.

He’s also produced more detailed review videos for his two favourite albums:

A Doorway to Summer


 Final Thoughts

If you like classy, symphonic progressive rock, I don’t think you can go wrong with Moon Safari.

My favourite is still their first live album, The Gettysburg Address, but if you prefer studio albums, I’d start at the beginning with A Doorway to Summer and then work forwards in time.


Magnolia Boulevard New Illusion EP

If you are a fan of the Tedeschi Trucks Band, you need to hear this EP from a great new band called Magnolia Boulevard.

Sadly TTB have been quiet this year but this does very nicely, thank you.

The Songs On New Illusion

There are just four songs on it:

  1. Ride 3:20
  2. Lovin’ Me 5:01
  3. Smooth Sailin’ 5:21
  4. Sister 4:23

The band only has five members so it’s smaller sound that TTB without the backing singers, brass section etc but the singer, Maggie Noelle sounds extraordinarily similar to Susan Tedeschi, the lucky woman because Tedeschi is a terrific blues/soul/rock singer. She also plays rhythm guitar.

The Derek Trucks of the band is Gregg Erwin and whilst I won’t claim he’s as good as Derek, because I don’t have the expertise to assess them fairly, I really like what he does. Completing the band are John Roberts on bass, Ryan Allen on keyboards and Todd Copeland playing the drums.

This is a tough time for new bands who probably thrive on live performances. I really hope this band are working on their first full length album, because I’m buying it without any hesitation.

Treat yourself by getting it from or

Magnolia Boulevard On YouTube

Fortunately all four songs on the EP have been posted as videos on YouTube for you to enjoy.


Lovin’ Me

Smooth Sailin’


I told you it was good – Treat yourself by getting it from or

There are also a bunch of live videos for you to watch where you can see that they do the traditional thing of extending their songs in a concert.


Smooth Saiin’

Here is Sister live

And a few songs not on the EP


Strong Willed Women

I’m hoping for big things from this band.

Best Blues & Blues Rock Albums 2020

What are the best blues and blues rock albums released in 2020?

Below you will find a poll where I ask you to vote for up to TEN of your favourite albums from 2020. Please help others to find the best blues albums and let them guide you to albums that you haven’t yet heard.

My Favourites

If I’m asking you to recommend albums, it’s only fair that I tell which blues albums have made the biggest impression on me from 2020.

I have a weakness for female blues singers so you’ll see more albums by women in my list and probably more in the poll than you’d normally expect.

I rate out of 10 with 10 = brilliant (an all-time top 100 album), 9 = excellent (top 250 to 300 album), 8 = very good, 7 = good, 6 = pretty good. I’m also reluctant to give 9s and 10s out until they have stood the test of time. I like albums when I first buy or hear them but too often they don’t leave a lasting impression. The last 9s I have for blues albums are the 2019 albums by Elles Bailey and Whalia and the last 10 is Let Me Get By from the Tedeschi Trucks Band.

Here are my thoughts so far for blues albums released in 2020

Blackbird & Crow – Ailm 8/10

A folk blues hybrid from this Irish pair. In a world where blues can have a generic  sound, this is lovely and different.

Crystal Shawanda – Church House Blues 8/10

A new artist to me but this won’t be the last album I buy of hers now that she’s converted from country to blues. A native American from Canada with a terrific, husky voice.

Joe Louis Walker – Blues Comin’ On 8/10

One of those artists I’ve meant to investigate before but there’s something about this that tipped me over the edge to try it through my streaming service and it was so good, I just had to own it.

Larkin Poe – Self Made Man 8/10

A well publicised band in the music press, but they live up to the hype.

Robert Jon & The Wreck – Last Light On The Highway 8/10

I don’t understand why this fine Southern rock band aren’t much better known. Their music has the big hooks needed to be a crossover hit.

The title track is a two-parter.

Vanessa Collier – Heart On the Line 8/10

Vanessa has only released four albums but it speaks highly that I rate my third favourite of hers as high as 8/10. She is one of the female blues singers I’m turning to most often. I’m probably biased because I love the saxophone but this album has quite a wide range of styles including funk and soul.

Whitney Shay – Stand Up! 8/10

Powerful rhythm and blues by this singer from Texas.  I’m very taken with her previous album, A Woman Rules The World.

The Best Blues & Blues Rock Albums In 2020

Here is the poll for studio albums. I’ll probably start another poll for live albums.

  1. Please vote.
  2. I’d love it if you leave a comment with details of explaining why you love certain albums or perhaps giving ratings for albums. Personally I use a rating out of 10.
  3. Leave a comment to tell me about great blues albums I’ve missed. It’s inevitable that I’ll miss something and it’s probably really obvious to you.

Best Blues Albums 2020 - Pick Up To Favourite TEN Albums To Recommend

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More Details About The Albums Selected

Bear with me on this. It’s going to take a lot of time and effort to load all the album covers and links.

Albert Cummings – Believe

Reviews at &

Rock & Blues Muse – “Every moment of Believe is to be savored and proves without a doubt that Albert Cummings belongs among the biggest names in blues music today.”

Blues Blast Magazine – “Believe is a winner from the jump.”

Blues Rock Review  – “Believe is an enjoyable album”

Allman Betts Band – Bless Your Heart

Reviews at and

Anthony Gomes – Containment Blues

Reviews at and

Bai Kamara Jr – Salone

Reviews at and  .

Bette Smith – The Good, The Bad And The Bette

Reviews at and  .

Blackbird & Crow – Ailm

I may be pushing the definition of blues here but this lovely Irish album sits at the junction of folk and blues but it’s not folk blues.

Reviews at and  .

Bridget Kelly Band – Dark Spaces

Reviews at and  .

Bettye LaVette – Blackbirds

Reviews at and  .

Billy Childish – Kings of the Medway Delta

Reviews at and  .

Bobby Rush – Rawer Than Raw

Reviews at and  .

Casey Hensley – Good As Gone

Reviews at and  .

Crooked Eye Tommy – Hot Coffee And Pain

Reviews at and   .

Crystal Shawanda – Church House Blues

Reviews at and   .

Danielle Miraglia – Bright Shiny Stars

Reviews at and   .

Dion – Blues with Friends

Reviews at and   .

Don Bryant -You Make Me Feel

Reviews at and   .

Again I may be pushing the boundaries for this soul blues album.

PopMatters Review – “A Sunday mornin’ masterpiece that’s ethereal and sanctified.”

Hot Press Review – “This is grown-up soul music that should shame any of the current crop of over-emoting show boaters.”

Duke Robillard – Blues Bash!

Reviews at and   .

Review at Rock And Blues Muse – “For any blues/roots fan, Blues Bash with Duke Robillard & Friends is something to treasure, a journey into another world that will carry you effortlessly across an ocean of soulful sounds.”

Review at The Rocking Magpie – “Take my word for it, this is right up there with the best of them…”

Early James – Singing for My Supper

Reviews at and   .

Review at the New York Times

4 Star Review at – “James is just idiosyncratic and genuinely talented enough to avoid pastiche, as he effortlessly amalgamates Southern blues, country, folk, pop, and jazz.”

Eric Johanson – Below Sea Level

Reviews at and   .

Review at Blues Rock Review – “With Below Sea Level, Eric Johanson draws the perfect blueprint for avoiding the dreaded sophomore slump by simply being more creative and doing everything better.”

Review at Blues Blast Magazine – “The first time I heard this album I fell in love with it.”

Eliza Neals – Black Crow Moan

Reviews at and   .

Review at Blues Rock Review – “The wild chemistry between Neals and guitarist Joe Louis Walker is what makes her Black Crow Moan such a thriving, thrilling biosphere of an album.”

Review at Blues Blast Magazine – “If you’re a fan of modern blues-rock, this one’s definitely for you.”

Elvin Bishop & Charlie Musselwhite – 100 Years of Blues

Reviews at and   .

Review at Rock and Blues Muse – “…the simple sound of these two masters in a room playing together is absolutely joyous.”

Review at Grateful Web – “…one of the finest, most memorable recordings of either artist’s career.”

Fantastic Negrito – Have You Lost Your Mind Yet?

Reviews at and   .

Frank Bey – All My Dues Are Paid

Reviews at and   .

Gina Sicilia – Love Me Madly

Reviews at and   .

G. Love – The Juice

Reviews at and   .

Jan James – Justify

Reviews at and   .

Jeremiah Johnson – Unemployed Highly Annoyed

Reviews at and   .

Jeremiah Johnson – Heavens To Betsy

Reviews at and   .

Jerry Joseph – The Beautiful Madness

Reviews at and   .

Joe Bonamassa – Royal Tea

Reviews at and   .

Joe Louis Walker – Blues Comin’ On

Reviews at and   .

John Blues Boyd – What My Eyes Have Seen

Reviews at and   .

John Campbelljohn – Feeling Alright Blues

Reviews at and   .

John Primer & Bob Corritore – The Gypsy Woman Told Me

Reviews at and   .

Kat Riggins – Cry Out

Reviews at and   .

King Solomon Hicks – Harlem

Reviews at and   .

Kirk Fletcher – My Blues Pathway

Reviews at and   .

Kenny “Blues Boss” Wayne – Go, Just Do It!

Reviews at and   .

Kirsten Thien – Two Sides

Reviews at and   .

Kim Wilson – Take Me Back

Reviews at and   .

Larkin Poe – Kindred Spirits

Reviews at and   .

Larkin Poe – Self Made Man

Reviews at and   .

Lloyd Jones – Tennessee Run

Reviews at and   .

Lucinda Williams – Good Souls Better Souls

Reviews at and   .

Laura Green- Green Eyed Blues

Reviews at and   .

Liz Mandeville – Playing with Fire

Reviews at and   .

Marcus King – El Dorado

Reviews at and   .

Mark May – Deep Dark Demon

Reviews at and   .

Neal Black & The Healers – A Little Boom Boom Boom

Reviews at and   .

Phantom Blues Band – Still Cookin’

Reviews at and   .

Rob Tognoni – Catfish Cake

Reviews at and   .

Robert Cray – That’s What I Heard

Reviews at and   .

Robert Jon & The Wreck – Last Light On The Highway

Reviews at and   .

Roomful of Blues – In a Roomful of Blues

Reviews at and   .

Rory Block – Prove it on Me

Reviews at and   .

Ryan Perry – High Risk, Low Reward

Reviews at and   .

Sass Jordan – Rebel Moon Blues

Reviews at and   .

Savoy Brown – Ain’t Done Yet

Reviews at and   .

Seasick Steve – Love & Peace

Reviews at and   .

Shaun Murphy – Flame Still Burns

Reviews at and   .

Shemekia Copeland – Uncivil War

Reviews at and   .

Shirley King – Blues For A King

Reviews at and   .

Sonny Landreth – Blacktop Run

Reviews at and   .

Sugar Ray & the Bluetones – Too Far From the Bar

Reviews at and   .

Thorbjørn Risager – Come On In

Reviews at and   .

Tinsley Ellis – Ice Cream In Hell

Reviews at and   .

Vanja Sky – Woman Named Trouble

Reviews at and   .

Victor Wainwright & The Train – Memphis Loud

Reviews at and   .

Walter Trout – Ordinary Madness

Reviews at and   .

Whitney Shay – Stand Up!

Reviews at and   .


Best Albums 2020

Here are links to other people’s of the best albums of 2020.

I’ll probably have pages for more specialised genre-specific selections.

Rolling Stone – Best Albums of 2020

50 albums are listed in order and the top 5 are:

5 Dua Lipa – Future Nostalgia
4 Bob Dylan – Rough and Rowdy Ways
3 Bad Bunny – YHLQMDLG
2 Fiona Apple – Fetch the Bolt Cutters
1 Taylor Swift – Folklore

I was surprised to see Springsteen’s “Letter To You” as high as #12. It’s good but it’s nowhere near his classics from the 1970s.

Paste Magazine – The 50 Best Albums of 2020

This has excellent descriptions of the albums nominated

The top 5 are:

5. Perfume Genius – Set My Heart on Fire Immediately
4. Sault – Untitled (Rise)
3. Run the Jewels – RTJ4
2. Waxahatchee – Saint Cloud
1. Fiona Apple – Fetch the Bolt Cutters

Others I thought sounded interesting are:

47. Lianne La Havas: Lianne La Havas
42. HAIM: Women in Music Pt. III
34. Bonny Light Horseman: Bonny Light Horseman
12. Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit: Reunions
9. Adrianne Lenker: songs

The Guardian – 50 Best Albums Of 2020

They are publishing their top 50 in groups of 10 albums

50-41 at

Glide Magazine –  The 20 Best Albums

These aren’t in order of best but you get short descriptions of 20 albums plus 20 more as honourable mentions.

Another mention for Haim. Fleet Foxes, Run The Jewels, Sault, and probably others.

I’m also interested in

Laura Marling – Song For Our Daughter
Pokey LaFarge – Rock Bottom Rhapsody


They’ve only highlighted a few albums:

Fiona Apple – Fetch the Bolt Cutters
Chloe x Halle – Ungodly Hour
Bob Dylan – Rough and Rowdy Ways
Dua Lipa – Future Nostalgia
Róisín Murphy – Róisín Machine
Perfume Genius – Set My Heart on Fire Immediately
Run the Jewels – RTJ4
Rina Sawayama – Sawayama
Nadine Shah – Kitchen Sink
Taylor Swift – Folklore

Plus a few tracks of the year.

The Peak

They’ve only picked a few and there is no order.

Loudwire 70 Best Rock & Metal Albums

No order again, so I can’t show the top 5. Even the album covers are scary.

The Quietus Top 100 Albums Of The Year

Their top 5 albums are:

5: UKAEA – Energy Is Forever
4: Lyra Pramuk – Fountain
3: Special Interest – The Passion Of
2: The Soft Pink Truth – Shall We Go On Sinning So That Grace May Increase?
1: Hey Colossus – Dances/Curses

Time 10 Best Albums of The Year

Here are the top 5

5. Eternal Atake, Lil Uzi Vert
4. Gaslighter, The Chicks
3. Fetch the Bolt Cutters, Fiona Apple
2. Ungodly Hour, Chloe x Halle
1. Folklore, Taylor Swift



Van Morrison Best Albums In the Studio & Live In Concert

Van Morrison is my favourite artist.

His catalogue is very extensive. Unlike many of his peers, not only has Morrison continued to record, he’s continued to create beautiful music.

There are some obvious classics that appear on the various best albums ever lists – Astral Weeks, Moondance (both terrific) – my favourite studio album of all time in Saint Dominic’s Preview and some less well known stunners.

Catch him on a good night and he’s a brilliant live performer too, as shown by the exceptional It’s Too Late To Stop Now and A Night In San Francisco.

What’s On This Page

  • My personal ratings
  • Readers Polls for the best studio and live albums by Van Morrison
  • Van Morrison on the Steve Hoffman forum
  • Van Morrison on
  • Van Morrison on
  • Essential Albums at Rolling Stone Magazine
  • Readers Views From BestEverAlbums
  • Books On Van Morrison

My Ratings For The Studio Albums By Van Morrison

10 = an absolute classic, 9 is an excellent album, 1 is abysmal. Any 6 and above is well worth hearing. Any album rated at 10 is in bold.

A great conundrum is how a notorious moody, grumpy man can create such extraordinary beauty so consistently. I’m just extremely grateful that he has as I can’t imagine my life without Van Morrison’s music. If I was forced to choose 20 albums to take to a desert album, 5 of them would probably be by Van Morrison. That’s how important he is to me and I love many other artists.

Blowin’ Your Mind! (1967) – 7 – this has been released in other forms too
Astral Weeks (1968) – 10
Moondance (1970) – 10
His Band and the Street Choir (1970) – 8
Tupelo Honey (1971) – 8
Saint Dominic’s Preview (1972) – 10
Hard Nose the Highway (1973) – 7
Veedon Fleece (1974) – 9 (it’s taken me 40 years to appreciate this one)
A Period of Transition (1977) – 6
Wavelength (1978) – 6
Into the Music (1979) – 10
Common One (1980) – 10
Beautiful Vision (1982) – 9
Inarticulate Speech of the Heart (1983) – 8
A Sense of Wonder (1985)
No Guru, No Method, No Teacher (1986) – 10
Poetic Champions Compose (1987) – 9
Irish Heartbeat (with The Chieftains, 1988) – 6
Avalon Sunset (1989) – 9
Enlightenment (1990) – 8
Hymns to the Silence (1991) – 9
Too Long in Exile (1993) – 8
Days Like This (1995)
How Long Has This Been Going On (1995)
Tell Me Something: The Songs of Mose Allison (1996)
The Healing Game (1997)
Back on Top (1999)
You Win Again (2000)
Down the Road (2002)
What’s Wrong with This Picture? (2003)
Magic Time (2005)
Pay the Devil (2006)
Keep It Simple (2008)
Born to Sing: No Plan B (2012)
Duets: Re-working the Catalogue (2015)
Keep Me Singing (2016)
Roll with the Punches (2017)
Versatile (2017)
You’re Driving Me Crazy (2018)
The Prophet Speaks (2018)
Three Chords & the Truth (2019)

I have some go-to albums that I play regularly or, in the case of Astral Weeks and Moondance played many times when I was younger but I’m going to have to give others a detailed listen before rating them. Don’t expect to see many ratings of 5 or lower.

The official live albums are:

It’s Too Late to Stop Now – 10
Live at the Grand Opera House Belfast – 9
A Night in San Francisco – 10
The Skiffle Sessions – Live in Belfast 1998 – 5
Live at Austin City Limits Festival
Astral Weeks Live at the Hollywood Bowl – 9 (probably 10 if they add the extra songs performed at the concert)
It’s Too Late to Stop Now vols 2, 3 & 4 – 10

Readers Polls For The Best Albums By Van Morrison Recorded In The Studio and Live In Concert

What are the Best Studio Albums By Van Morrison

This is a new poll (March 2020) but the live poll has many more people taking part. I’ve asked you to identify your six favourite albums. Since I have since I’m rating at 10/10, it saved me from having to make a difficult decision.

What Are The SIX Best Studio Albums By Van Morrison?

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What are the Best Live Albums By Van Morrison?

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Van Morrison live albums are nominated in several music genre polls:

Best Blues Rock Live Albums
Best Singer Songwriter Live Albums

If you’re a fan, you might like to give him some extra votes as he’s not dominating these polls.

Van Morrison On The Steve Hoffman Forum

The Steve Hoffman forum is a great place where there is often excellent discussions of music. There are some exceptional items on Van Morrison. Very highly recommended reading although I’ve felt too intimidated to take part in the discussions.

Van Morrison Album by Album Discussion: Part 1 (1968-1977) (Link)

This series of threads looking at the Van Morrison albums has some excellent reading although it i hard to navigate if you want the low-down on a particular album you’re planning to listen to.

Discussion by album:

Astral Weeks


His Band And Street Choir

Tupelo Honey

Saint Dominic’s Preview

Hard Nose The Highway

It’s Too Late To Stop Now

Veedon Fleece

A Period Of Transition.

Van Morrison Album by Album Discussion: Part 2 (Wavelength 1978 – Enlightenment 1990) (link)


Into The Music

Common One

Beautiful Vision

Inarticulate Speech of the Heart

Live at the Grand Opera House Belfast

A Sense of Wonder

No Guru, No Method, No Teacher

Poetic Champions Compose

Avalon Sunset


Van Morrison – Album by Album discussion – Part Three (link)

Hymns To The Silence CD1

Hymns To The Silence CD2

Too Long in Exile

Irish Heartbeat

No Prima Donna : The Songs of Van Morrison – a tribute album

A Night In San Francisco

Days Like This

How Long Has This Been Going On? & Tell Me Something:The Songs of Mose Allison

The Healing Game

Back On Top

The Skiffle Sessions – Live in Belfast

You Win Again

Down The Road

What’s Wrong with This Picture?

Magic Time

Pay the Devil

Live in Austin

Van Morrison Album by Album (2018 Thread) (Link)

There follows a series of polls, basically by decade.

Best 60s/70s Album Poll (link)

This is the classic period for Van Morrison as many people turned off after 1974 (Veedon Fleece) when he had a three year break. Sadly that included me for many, many years. I thought that he didn’t do anything as good as this early period but I was very WRONG.

Here are the top 5 from the poll:

  1. Moondance
  2. Astral Weeks (this lost out by 2 votes)
  3. Veedon Fleece
  4. It’s Too Late To Stop Now
  5. Into The Music

As great as these are, it’s beyond me how the absolutely brilliant Saint Dominic’s Preview is only ranked at #6.

Best 80s Album Poll (link)

This is another brilliant decade of music. The top 3 in the poll are:

  1. No Guru, No Method, No Teacher
  2. Common One
  3. Beautiful Vision (beating Avalon Sunset by 1 vote)

Best 90s Album Poll (link)

I love A Night In San Francisco but the general consensus is that there is a slight drop in quality in this decade. Plenty of great songs but perhaps no absolute classic, must-have album.

The top 3 in the poll are:

  1. Hymns To The Silence
  2. The Healing Game
  3. Enlightenment

Best 00s Album Poll (link)

A quieter decade and again, some great songs but no must-have album. Here are the top 3 from the poll:

Down the Road
Magic Time
Keep It Simple

Van Morrison – Best 10s Album Poll (link)

No match for the glorious music creates from 1968-1991 but there are albums  worth hearing.

The top two in the poll are:

  1. Keep Me Singing
  2. Three Chords & the Truth

Your Top 5 Van Morrison Albums (Link)

Members were asked to jot down their top 5 albums. Plenty of love for the 1968 (Astral Weeks) to 1974 (Veedon Fleece) period but plenty of attention is given to later albums too. The nice thing about these lists are that it can help you find albums you’ll love, for instance if you didn’t like the introspective Astral Weeks but loved the more commercial R&B of Moondance (or vice versa).

With more time on my hands than I expected because of the coronavirus lockdown, I went through and counted the individual recommendations, which gives you an album ranking.

  • Moondance (86 recommendations)
  • Astral Weeks (80)
  • Saint Dominic’s Preview (68)
  • Veedon Fleece (68)
  • Into the Music (40)
  • Tupelo Honey (36)
  • His Band And The Street Choir (29)
  • It’s Too Late to Stop Now (24) plus three extra for the 3 CD version
  • Common One (19)
  • No Guru, No Method, No Teacher (16)
  • Hard Nose the Highway (13)
  • Beautiful Vision (12)
  • Inarticulate Speech of the Heart (12)
  • Poetic Champions Compose (12)
  • Avalon Sunset (9)
  • Hymns To The Silence (9)
  • Enlightenment (8)
  • The Healing Game (8)
  • Wavelength (6)
  • Back On Top (5)
  • Irish Heartbeat (4)
  • Blowin’ your Mind! (3)
  • Magic Time (3)
  • A Period Of Transition (3)
  • Down the Road (2)
  • Keep It Simple (2)
  • Keep Me Singing (2)
  • The Philosopher’s Stone (2)
  • T.B. Sheets (2)
  • What’s Wrong with this Picture? (2)
  • Astral Weeks: Live at the Hollywood Bowl (1)
  • Born to Sing: No Plan B (1)
  • Live at the Grand Opera House Belfast (1)
  • A Night in San Francisco (1)
  • Roll with the Punches (1)
  • A Sense of wonder (1)As you can see, most of the albums have received some love and there are a few recommendations for albums by Them too although neither of the studio albums or compilations are receiving repeated selections.

I have a few thoughts.

You can see the domination of that golden period between 1968 (Astral Weeks) and 1974 (Veedon Fleece).  There is little doubt that Van Morrison produced a string of outstanding albums in these years, with Hard Nose The Highway generally seen as the weakest but what we see here may be part of the self-perpetuating myth.

If you’re told the best period is in the early years and you only feel you need three or four albums, you probably don’t feel much urge to venture out into his later catalogue. I know I fell into this category and was only buying the live albums from later years to give me his “best tracks”.

I now see this as a mistake and Into The Music has done very well to jump ahead of Tupelo Honey and His Band And Street Choir. My other two later 10/10 albums, Common One and No Guru, No Teacher, No Method trailed in behind those two albums from 1970 and ’71. I think they’d do better if more people had heard them.

While the predictable classic albums – Moondance and Astral Weeks – came out on top, you can see that there isn’t a big drop-off once you get passed those two and the slop is quite gradual as you go right down the list. The joint 15th most popular albums (Avalon Sunset and Hymns To The Silence) still received 9 top-5 recommendations.

Van Morrison on is probably the go-to website for many people to investigate an artist. Certainly it’s one I consult regularly although I do get frustrated when the star rating and review aren’t consistent in their praise or criticism.

The 5 star rated albums by the critics are (as at 30 march 2020):

  • Astral Weeks
  • Moondance

At 4.5 stars are:

  • His Band And Street Choir
  • Tupelo Honey
  • Saint Dominic’s Preview
  • It’s Too Late To Stop Now
  • Veedon Fleece
  • Into The Music
  • Irish Heartbeat

Readers are also given a chance to rate the albums and their 5 star selections are:

  • Astral Weeks
  • Moondance
  • It’s Too Late To Stop Now

Just behind at 4.5 stars are:

  • His Band And Street Choir
  • Tupelo Honey
  • Saint Dominic’s Preview
  • Veedon Fleece
  • Into The Music
  • No Guru. No Method, No Teacher
  • Poetic Champions Compose
  • Irish Heartbeat
  • Hymns To the Silence
  • A Night In San Francisco
  • The Healing Game
  • Astral Weeks: Live At The Hollywood Bowl
  • Roll With The Punches
  • The Prophet Speaks
  • Three Chords And The Truth

I’m very surprised Comnon One hasn’t received more support to push it up from the 4 star reader rating.

Van Morrison on is an excellent website that records the concert dates and setlists of the performances.

Very usefully it summarises the information it collects to produce statistics for the artist’s career and individual years and tours. It relies on user support to record the setlists so there is a bias towards the last few decades rather than the 1960s and ’70s.

The 10 songs it believes Van Morrison plays in concert are (as at 30 March 2020):

  • Moondance
  • Gloria
  • Brown Eyed Girl
  • Help Me (this is a cover of a Sonny Boy Williamson song that first appeared on It’s Too Late To Stop Now)
  • Have I Told You Lately (from Avalon Sunset)
  • Precious Time (from Back On Top)
  • Days Like This (album title track)
  • Cleaning Windows (Beautiful Vision)
  • Bright Side Of The Road (Into The Music)
  • Jackie Wilson Said (Saint Dominic’s Preview)

These seem to be fairly popular choices aimed at the general public and the more casual fan.

Some of the more longer, stream-of-consciousness tracks are played fairly regularly with summertime In England at #12, In The Garden at #17, And The Healing has Begun at #32, Cyprus Avenue at #95, Madame George at #109 and the amazing Listen To The Lion at #116. I’m sure that if we had more setlists from the 70s and 80s, these would be pushed much higher. Morrison has refused to get stuck in the past, unlike many of his peers.

Essential Albums at Rolling Stone Magazine

This excellent article has five must-haves in:

Astral Weeks
Saint Dominic’s Preview
It’s Too Late To Stop Now
Veedon Fleece

with further listening recommended for:
Into The Music
Blowin’ Your Mind!
Tupelo Honey
The Healing Game

Again little love for Common One. This is strange.

Readers Votes From

If you love lists, then you’ll find this website fascinating as it’s compiled from readers posting their favourite albums of all-time.

Their Top 5 albums are:

  1. Astral Weeks
  2. Moondance
  3. Veedon Fleece
  4. Saint Dominic’s Preview
  5. Into The Music

My other 10/10 albums are rated as:

  • It’s Too Late To Stop Now at #7
  • No Guru, No Method, No Teacher at #9
  • Common One at #11
  • A Night In San Francisco at #24
  • It’s Too Late To Stop Vols 2, 3 & 4 at 33

Books On Van Morrison

I’m much more drawn to books about van’s music than his life and squabbles with the music industry or other musicians.

Van Morrison 20 Best Albums: A Guide by Mark Holmes

This kindle book is excellent and a bargain at 99p at

Mark’s top albums are:

  1. Veedon Fleece
  2. Astral Weeks
  3. Saint Dominic’s Preview
  4. Common One
  5. No Guru, No Method, No Teacher
  6. Into The Music

No wonder I like it, his top six includes five of my 10/10 albums with Moondance down at #8.

He writes with great enthusiasm about his favourite albums and he always makes me want to listen to the album to see if I agree with his comments. Further own the list, he’s not shy about being critical, even though he loves Van Morrison.

It also includes a top 50 songs which I’ve compiled as a musical tour across the albums.

The Words And Music of Van Morrison by Erik Hage

This is a more thoughtful, less passionate analysis of Van Morrison’s music. As I was reading it, I was learning a lot about how the music evolved but it doesn’t encourage me to listen in the same way as the above book.

As a book it is very good but I feel that it is expensive for what’s here.


Where should you start?

If you’re interested in standard R&B/soul than Moondance is perfect but if you feel more like something quite and introspective, then head for Astral Weeks. I don’t feel that there’s another album like it by anyone, not just by Van Morrison.

I still stand by my 10/10 recommendations which also include:

  • Saint Dominic’s Preview – my all-time favourite studio album
  • Into The Music – another great starting place
  • Common One – rapidly moving up my list of favourites, perhaps now at #2
  • No Guru, No Method, No Teacher

Many others love Veedon Fleece which is a good albums with some excellent songs but I am a bit mystified by the amount of recommendations it gets.

Best Live & Studio Albums: Why The Change Of Direction

If you have visited the blog before, you will have noticed two things:

  1. The change in title from Best Live Albums to Best Live & Studio Albums.
  2. I haven’t been posting and updating. That’s partly because of time and also because the floodgates have opened with these radio broadcast based releases that squeeze through the copyright laws. Some are fantastic in performance and sound quality but too many are shabby. I hate wasting my time listening and writing about something that isn’t good enough.

I’ve come to realise that I’ve painted myself into a bit of a corner by purely focusing on live albums.

It was never my intention to listen to live albums 95% of the time but that’s what happened. For a long time, I was updating you on the live albums I was listening to each month, partly so you could see my favourites in action and partly to help my website maintain links to pages.

I still love live albums and they will often be my “go to album” for an artist when I’m in the mood.

But there are other artists who refuse to release a great live album, even when I’m sure they are capable or who release fine live albums but at the wrong time.

I’ve long recognised the vital link between great studio albums and great live albums. Take The Rolling Stones for an example, it’s no coincidence that the fantastic Brussels Affair 1973 comes after the terrific set of studio albums in Let It Bleed, Sticky Fingers and Exile On Main Street. Goats Head Soup isn’t too shabby either and is widely underrated.

When an artist or group is hot, they are usually hot in the studio and live in concert as confidence flows from one to the other.

In my reconfiguration of the website, I’m planning to provide some comprehensive guides to major artists backed up with the readers polls and resources from other music enthusiasts. I still want to help you to maximise your listening pleasure by guiding you to the “best” and that has to go beyond my own favourites.

The Who Best Albums In the Studio & Live In Concert

With my Christmas money back in 1975, I bought The Who Live At Leeds and Pink Floyd’s Dark Side Of The Moon to double my album collection. A good friend of mine was given The Who By Numbers for the same Christmas. Shortly afterwards I bought Who’s Next and Meaty, Beaty, Big & Bouncy. Another friend bought A Nice Pair, bringing together A Quick One and The Who Sell Out.

The Who were my favourite band back then and have continued to be one of my favourite bands ever since.

The Who: A Guide To Buying & Listening To This Great Band

What To Find On This Page

  • My Album Ratings
  • The Readers Poll
  • My Favourite YouTube Channels
  • The Who On The Steve Hoffman website
  • Final Conclusions

Studio Albums By The Who – My Ratings Out Of 10 (10 is an outstanding classic, 1 abyssmal)

My Generation / The Who Sings My Generation (US) – 7
A Quick One  – 6
The Who Sell Out – 8
Tommy -7
Who’s Next – 10
Quadrophenia – 10
The Who by Numbers – 10
Who Are You – 8
Face Dances – 5
It’s Hard – 7
Endless Wire – 6
Who – 7 (provisional but could be edged up)

Live Albums By The Who

Live at Leeds – 10
Who’s Last – 3 (a great set list, a tired, limp performance and badly produced)
Join Together – 9 (a quirky favourite of mine with horns)
Live at the Isle of Wight Festival 1970 – 9
BBC Sessions – 7
Blues to the Bush – 10
Live at the Royal Albert Hall – 8
Live from Toronto – 8
View from a Backstage Pass not heard
Greatest Hits Live not heard
Live at Hull 1970 – 9 (great but a point deducted for deja vu)
Quadrophenia Live in London – 8
Live in Hyde Park – 7
Live at the Isle of Wight Festival 2004 (not heard)
Tommy Live at the Royal Albert Hall (not heard)
Live at the Fillmore East 1968 – 7
Woodstock 1969 – Live & Remastered (not heard)

Significant Compilations By The Who

Meaty, Beaty, Big and Bouncy – 10
Odds & Sods – 9
Thirty Years of Maximum R&B – 10
The Ultimate Collection – 10

Soundtracks By The Who

Tommy – 8
The Kids Are Alright – 8
Quadrophenia – 8

Readers’ Polls For The Who

What are the best Who Studio Albums? (This has been promoted much less than the live album poll)

What Are The Two Best Studio Albums By The Who?

View Results

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What are the best Who live albums?

What Are The FOUR Best Live Albums or Live DVDs By The Who?

View Results

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How The Who Fare In The Genre Polls

Best Hard Rock Live Albums

Live At Leeds is ranked at #3 (March 8, 2020), some distance behin #1 Made In Japan by Deep Purple but not far behind #2, Styrangers In The Night by UFO. Both are great albums.

Best Classic Rock Live Albums

I see classic rock as quite commercial and I feel Live At Leeds is too raucous and, of course, it doesn’t include the well known anthems from Who’s Next and onward.

I entered Join Together and Quadrophenia Live which are attracting moderate interest. I think Join Together is excellent and it has a different sound because of the use of the horns, even though it’s been accused of the Who does Las Vegas.

What My Favourite YouTube Channels & Videos Have To Say About The Who

Pete Pardo at the Sea of Tranquility (link to channel)

Watch the video but Pete’s top three are:

  1. Who’s Next
  2. Tommy
  3. Quadrophenia

Adam At Rock Record Reviews (much less well known but quality reviews) (link to channel)

Adam’s favourites are

  1. Who’s Next
  2. Tommy
  3. Quadrophenia

Hanna at The Omaha Introvert (link to channel)

The Who are her favourite band.

Her top four albums are:

  1. The Who Sell Out
  2. Tommy
  3. Live At Leeds
  4. Who’s Next

A quirkier set of choices with The Who Sell Out as her #1 but our favourites are usually those that connect with us most emotionally. I gave it a rating of 8/10 which means I think it’s very good and I’d hate to be without it but it’s rarely one that starts off my bout of listening to The Who.

The Who On The Steve Hoffman Website

This is a great forum for real music enthusiasts although I find it a bit intimidating. These people know what they’re talking about.

What’s your favorite The Who album? (link)

This thread has a poll where I think you could only vote for your #1and the top three albums are:

  1. Who’s Next
  2. Quadrophenia
  3. The Who Sell Out

There are seven pages of comments too.

Your Top 3 Who Albums – POLL (link)

The same top 3 with Tommy just missing out. My Generation, A Quick One, The Who By Numbers and Who Are You all received 30 or more votes.

What Was the Last Great Who Album? (link)

Another poll with Quadrophenia coming top by a long way but Who Are You and The Who By Numbers were second and third.

This is a website for people who love lists since it’s a website where people put in their lists of favourite albums and songs and out pop rankings of bands, albums, songs across the years and decades.

You can spend a lot of time on (link to The Who’s page) but here are the top 5 albums by The Who (as at March 8, 2020)

  1. Who’s Next (ranked #36 overal)
  2. Quadrophenia
  3. Tommy
  4. The Who Sell Out
  5. My Generation

An easy to go place to get album reviews, even if there is maddening inconsistency between the reviews and review ratings.

The Who at

The official reviews 5 star albums (at March 8, 2020) are:

  • My Generation
  • The Who Sell Out
  • Live At Leeds
  • Who’s Next
  • Quadrophenia

As for the readers, they have fewer 5 star albums based on the average ratings.

  • Live At Leeds
  • Who’s Next

Final Conclusions – The Best Albums By The Who

The beauty of streaming services is that you can hear these albums for yourself very easily – or if you don’t stream, pop to Amazon or iTunes and hear the samples.

But where should you start?

The broad consensus is that Who’s Next is their greatest creation. Two of these songs – Won’t Get Fooled Again and Baba O’Riley are CSI theme tunes so you probably know them, even if you don;t know The Who. They are also likely to regularly appear on classic rock radio shows along with Behind Blues Eyes (also from Who’s Next), Pinball Wizard (from Tommy) and Who Are You (from the album of the same name.)

The next place to go is Quadrophenia although I think it would be tempting to work through the albums chronologically so that you can see how the band has developed. The albums were consistently strong up to and including Who Are You.

As for live albums, Live At Leeds is an absolute classic but we don’t (yet) have that classic live album of the band at their peak featuring plenty of songs from Who’s Next of Quadrophenia. Blues To The Bush is excellent but it’s really hard to track down and it’s from 1999 and features Ringo’s son Zak Starkey on drums.

Guide To Paul McCartney After The Beatles

Do you ever wish you knew more about Paul McCartney’s career after he left The Beatles?

If so, I have found the answer on the excellent Steve Hoffman forum, a place for music enthusiasts. I’ve found it a bit intimating to join but it’s a great place to read.

Ratings For Paul McCartney’s Studio Albums

A member (MrJinks) has been conducting a series of polls to discover how McCartney’s albums have been rated by forum members and the results can be found at Continue reading Guide To Paul McCartney After The Beatles

Live Recordings: How To Protect Yourself In The “Grey” Market

If you look at Amazon or iTunes, you’ll see a lot of live recordings by bands and it’s now hard to distinguish between:

  1. Official live albums approved and released by the artist and their record company.
  2. Third party recordings where royalties are paid to the artists for performance and songwriting. (I’m thinking of the BBC and Rockpalast recordings here).
  3. Grey market live recordings which are legal in Europe because of the copyright laws only protect music for 25 years unless it’s been officially released. (I’m not a legal expert but this is my understanding).

With category 1, you should expect excellent recordings, both in performance and sound quality. Of course, this doesn’t always apply as live recordings have been abused as a way to fulfil contractual obligations. Continue reading Live Recordings: How To Protect Yourself In The “Grey” Market

The Best Live Albums By 147 Groups And Artists

I thought it would be interesting to produce a post that summarises what I recommend as the best ONE live album per group or artist.

This covers rock, pop, blues, soul & funk, reggae, folk, country and jazz.

This is going to be controversial in places and will involve some hard choices. Other times, the answer is pretty obvious because a group has released an absolute classic that stands head and shoulders above anything else they’ve done.

Sometimes I’ve gone with my personal opinion when I have strong views on the merits of albums, other times, I’ve bowed to the wisdom shown in my readers polls.

In nearly all occasions, the band or artist will have more than one live album to consider but occasionally, there is just one that I think is much to important to ignore. For example, if I take two personal favourites of mine The Cate Brothers Live isn’t included but Wings Over America will be. I’ll do my best to explain why.

I’ve numbered the albums so that I can keep changing the title of the article but the albums are listed in alphabetical order of the artist or band. To save confusion over whether Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band should be under S for Springsteen or B for Bruce, or the Steve Miller Band should be under S or M, I’ve opted to go with the first name featured, unless it is The… so The Who are under W.

I don’t think it’s spoiling the surprise if I say that many of the choices come from the 1970s, the decade where live albums became an essential part of the catalogue.

I was adding the albums too slowly so I’ve started listing them and will come back later to add in explanations for the choice and album covers. Please bear with me.

The Best Live Albums By The Groups And Artists

Continue reading The Best Live Albums By 147 Groups And Artists