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Philosopher's Stone

Van MorrisonAudio CD
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)


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Audio CD, 1998 --  
Audio Cassette, 1998 --  

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Biography

VAN MORRISON

The subtitle of Van Morrison's new album, Born to Sing: No Plan B, indicates the power that music still holds for this living legend. "No Plan B means this is not a rehearsal," says Morrison. "That’s the main thing—it’s not a hobby, it’s real, happening now, in real time."

This sense of absolute conviction, which has ... Read more in Amazon's Van Morrison Store

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (June 16, 1998)
  • Original Release Date: June 16, 1998
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: Polydor / Umgd
  • ASIN: B000006P11
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #12,476 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Disc: 1
1. Really Don't Know
2. Ordinary People
3. Wonderful Remark
4. Not Supposed To Break Down
5. Laughing In The Wind
6. Madame Joy
7. Contemplation Rose
8. Don't Worry About Tomorrow
9. Try For Sleep
10. Lover's Prayer
See all 15 tracks on this disc
Disc: 2
1. The Street Only Knew Your Name
2. John Henry
3. Western Plain
4. Joyous Sound
5. I Have Finally Come To Realise
6. Flamingoes Fly
7. Stepping Out Queen Part 2
8. Bright Side Of The Road
9. Street Theory
10. Real Real Gone
See all 15 tracks on this disc

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com

For an artist's most devout fans, a peek at the sketches can speak volumes about the final canvas, and that's the merit behind this two-CD compilation of shelf tracks and alternate takes from Van Morrison's 1971-1988 studio output. The Philosopher's Stone favors his core instincts as a blues-based writer and arranger, its 30 songs dominated by shuffles and slow-burning blues with excursions into more gospel-lined melodies and some ripe experiments in funk. Collectors will welcome pristine versions of "Crazy Jane on God," the churning "Naked in the Jungle," an ebullient "Madame Joy," and several pieces exploring extended falsetto vocals, including "Twilight Zone" and "Try for Sleep," the latter being one of four tracks featuring Mark Isham on trumpet. New versions of "Real Real Gone" and "Wonderful Remark," however, confirm the wisdom of the artist's original release choices. --Sam Sutherland

Review

It's a more-than-welcome blast from the past: 30 outtakes and first drafts (26 of them previously unheard) from 1971 to '88, when the R&B shouter-cum-Celtic seer could summon magic with a single growl.

There are a few false starts and toss-offs, but not many; The Philosopher's Stone evokes Dylan, many of whose best songs have dribbled out years after they were cut. God knows why Morrison held some of this stuff back. -- Entertainment Weekly

The Irish singer's soulfulness permeates this rarities-packed double album of 30 tracks (26 of them previously unreleased) recorded from 1971-88. Morrison shines in a tangy "Real Real Gone" and "High Spirits," a lively collaboration with the Chieftains. The resentment in "Drumshanbo Hustle," a prickly slam at the music business, adds a bracing edge to Morrison's vocals. -- USA Today


Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
32 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Undergraduates, Keep Studying - This Gem Is For True Fans November 21, 2001
Format:Audio CD
In this world of over-dubbed, over-marketed and generally puff ball artists with a talent span of 1.5 albums and little ability beyond their 25-year old flavor-of-the-month publicists, it is utterly refreshing when we are provided a window into a great artist. Philosopher's Stone is just that album. It includes songs from 1971 to 1988 and as such we have bookends; we hear young Van on top post-Moondance to a Van that was 12 months from Poetic Champions Compose, two of Van's strongest albums. What a period and what music to document unreleased material! The Philosopher's Stone is not a perfect album by any measure (with 30 songs there are several B efforts). Then why should someone invest $+ on these two CD's. If you are new to Van, go through the primer first - Moondance, Astral Weeks, Tupelo Honey, Into the Music and Veedon Fleece. However, if you are a graduate student, you will appreciate and savor this fine, fine album. As you do, consider this::
1. Sound Quality: Whether you are listening to this CD on a Levinson/Thiel setup or a Sony Boombox, it will be clear that the effort was A+ on the remixing of these hidden gems. The cymbals on Wonderful Remark are waist high, the flute 6ft in the upper left hand corner of the soundstage - close your eyes and Van and the Band are in your living room taking requests.
2. A+ Tunes: Any Van fan has his/her gems. You will discover no less than 10, yes 10, new gems. I can't tell you which ones as Van affects everybody differently but here go a few of mine and why. Not Supposed to Break Down is a winding road here with Van taking the lead and a piano following along, the song starts slow with Van heating it up at the end (this song alone is worth the $).
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars As 'bootleg' collections go, the music is really solid January 31, 2005
By M. McM
Format:Audio CD
Van Morrison, one of rock's finest songwriters and arguably it's finest singer, crafted a number of strong albums, and that's where most should start. However, once you get through ASTRAL WEEKS, MOONDANCE, and the rest, if you still want more, PHILOSOPHER'S STONE is an excellent set to get. The packaging is a bit lacking (incorrect dates and lyric transcriptions, and even though Van wrote track-by-track notes, he decided not to include them), but as far as content goes, this is an excellent selection of unreleased studio material. Unfortunately, it doesn't include any content like demos or outtakes before the 1970's (hopefully there will be a Volume Two that includes them), but what's here is surprisingly consistent. Even the weaker material like "Twilight Zone" is enjoyable for Van's singing.

Few artists merit collections like these, because in order for them to work, one has to be prolific and, more importantly, shelve 'rejects' that hold up to their best work; this set fulfills both requirements. A strong, early version of "Wonderful Remark" arguably trumps the released version. "Madame Joy" and "Contemplation Rose" are beautiful tracks that could've salvaged HARD NOSE THE HIGHWAY (one of his weakest albums); so could've "Drumshanbo Hustle," an angry, vitriolic song against the music industry that miraculously transcends its bitterness. Then there's "Naked Jungle," possibly his greatest stab at funk, and excellent compositions like "The Street Only Knew Your Name" and "I Have Finally Come To Realize" that disprove the notion that he had trouble coming up with new material in the mid-70's (trouble releasing it, but not writing and recording it).
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Street That Knew My Name July 26, 2005
Format:Audio CD
Somehow I had either forgotten and/or misplaced my Phil Stone CD

and played it this past week. The years have gone by so quickly and Van's catalog has always been impressive.....so the headphones came out and I was again transformed... to another place and time and then back again to today.

I have read all 35+ reviews and agree with most all in some way or another but I do feel that PS is a masterpiece in so very many ways. Van shouts, growls...has the eternal "Fire in his belly" and brings us a sense of the blues and funk and gospel. As has come to be expected, VM had the presence of mind to use musicians of such stellar quality....especially the brilliant piano work of Jef Labes to forge this expensive gem.

As was noted by another reviewer, it is worth it alone for the superb, as yet unmatched, soulful version of "The Street...."

Damn!!!, what a sound, what charts, what a sax, a "Joyous Sound"

that no one save for Ray Charles has ever exhibited on vinyl.

I just love this mans' music.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A must have for true Van Morrison fans September 16, 2000
By JRK
Format:Audio CD
"Philosopher's Stone" is a collection of unreleased songs by Van Morrison spanning approximately 1971-1987. The two-disc album runs over two hours long.
I wouldn't advise newcomers to Van Morrison to necessarily pick up this album first. This is the sort of album that you throw on your shelf next to "Moondance", "Astral Weeks", "Greatest Hits Vol. I", and perhaps a newer album like "Enlightenment" first. The majority of the songs on this album are from the 70's and sound very much in line with what Van put out on "Greatest Hits Vol. I" or the songs "It's All Over Now Baby Blue" and "Don't Look Back" from "Greatest Hits Vol. II". Don't let the fact that these songs are unreleased deter you from this album; these songs are still very good and classic Van Morrison stuff.
There are at least 5 bluesy tracks on the album. There are a couple of funky ones, my favorites like "Street Theory" and "Naked in the Jungle". I'm a horn lover, Van does combine horns on a number of tracks. There is a good mixture of fast and slow songs. There are not any traditional Irish tracks. Booklet includes all lyrics and musicians. The best part of all is the subtitle of this album is: "The Unreleased Tapes: Volume One". After listening to this album, I will definitely get Volume Two if and when it comes out.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars I love it
VERY GOOD THANK YOU
Published 4 months ago by rocky austin
5.0 out of 5 stars I bought these cd's many years ago...they are as fresh as the day I...
Wow what a 2 cd set! This is a must for any serious music collector. As many of the reviews have pointed out the over production and overdubbing are almost nonexistant on these... Read more
Published 7 months ago by ByronS
4.0 out of 5 stars Ah, the Van Morrison Genius at Work
One of the gems from Van Morrison, what else can you say. Good listening and quality writing and output. Good stuff...
Published 7 months ago by Frank Beckendorf
5.0 out of 5 stars Love it
Came in excellent condition and was exactly what I was looking for without having to pay the over 100. Price rag for a new one
Published 8 months ago by Erin R.
5.0 out of 5 stars A Van the man you need
I originally thought this was an actual album. Not to say I was dissapointed. These sessions through out the years are some of his best recordings. Read more
Published 18 months ago by joel
5.0 out of 5 stars Now One of my Top 3 Van albums
Avoiding over-production and large orchestration, this album offers some of Van's best songs; the tribute to Dylan Thomas is brilliant, as it draws so accurately on the poet and... Read more
Published 18 months ago by Dr. William Costello
5.0 out of 5 stars Ipod Worthy.
I bought this on a whim,not sure what to expect.On my first listen,i was uninspired and it sat on the shelf.I recently pulled it down and gave it another listen,and boy... Read more
Published 24 months ago by Steven P. Troy
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential Van
This is the only Van Morrison album you'll ever need. Soulfull and real, bluesy and rich, stands the test of time.
Published on July 17, 2012 by queeniev
5.0 out of 5 stars Love the Van!
I looked for this for my husband forever, thinking I could download it from Itunes or another music website - but no! No one had this set, but luckily I found it on Amazon. Read more
Published on January 15, 2011 by srb1122
5.0 out of 5 stars The Man Has Found The Stone
The cover art announces the production of this compilation. Bare, unadorned standing stones on an Irish plain, the production of this two disc set is equally spare yet hopeful. Read more
Published on December 9, 2008 by Kevin Fuller
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