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His Band and the Street Choir

Warner Bros. 1884-2
(Released November 15, 1970)

  1. Domino (3:06)
  2. Crazy Face (2:56)
  3. Give Me a Kiss (2:30)
  4. I've Been Working (3:25)
  5. Call Me Up In Dreamland (3:52)
  6. I'll Be Your Lover, Too (3:57)
  7. Blue Money (3:40)
  8. Virgo Clowns (4:10)
  9. Gypsy Queen (3:16)
  10. Sweet Jannie (2:11)
  11. If I Ever Needed Someone (3:45)
  12. Street Choir (4:53)
    Total time: (42:22)

Musicians:
Janet Planet: Vocal
Martha Velez: Vocal
Larry Goldsmith: Vocal
Alan Hand: Piano/Saxophone
Keith O.Johnson: Trumpet/Keyboards
John Klingberg: Bass
Van Morrison: Guitar/Keyboards/Saxophone/Vocal
John Platania: Guitar
Andrew Robinson: Vocal
Ellen Schroer: Vocal
Jack Schroer: Piano/Saxophone
David Shaw: Clarinet/Percussion

Review by Scott Thomas:
His Band and the Street Choir covers much of the same ground as Moondance: tightly constructed songs, an overpowering and, in this case, somewhat strained sense of hopefulness, and a sound that hearkens back to earlier forms of R&B, rock, and soul; namely, Otis Redding ("I've Been Working"), Smokey Robinson ("Gypsy Queen"), late 50's Elvis ("Give Me a Kiss"), and Fats Domino ("Domino," "Blue Money"). This time, however, in what may have been a self-conscious attempt at counteracting Van's budding reputation for reclusiveness and moroseness, the disciplined sound of the earlier album has been traded in for a raw, unrehearsed, front porch ambiance complete with studio chatter and flubbed notes. This cuts both ways: on "Domino," the rollicking "Call Me Up in Dreamland," and the acoustic "I'll Be Your Lover Too," the "one take only" aesthetic imbues the songs with an air of spontaneous excitement. At other times, however, the performances are pointlessly sloppy. Regrettably, interesting songs like "Virgo Clowns," "If I Needed Someone," and "Crazy Face" are never given the performances they deserve.

Notes about the making of His Band and the Street Choir from Janet Morrison Minto (formerly Janet Planet):
Here are a few odds and ends which I'll pass along to you before I become senile and forget them altogether!

There's a small picture of Mary Martin, Van's miracle worker of a manager at the time (the lady with short hair and glasses) on the inside dust jacket: I remember her once saying to me at about the time of the recording of this record, "Janet, don't let him get too happy - the music will start to suffer." I thought at the time that it was a most shocking sentiment and naturally paid no attention to her point. My one and only obsessive activity during my time with Van was this fool's errand: To MAKE him Happy! As misguided and ultimately futile as this mission of mine was, during the time we became The Street Choir and made HB&TSC I really thought I was winning the battle!

I still think that there is much to love about the songs on this album: Blue Money, Crazy Face, Call Me Up In Dreamland, Domino - these are just great songs in any era, but certainly one important thing to remember about this one in particular was that Van was at his most relaxed and contented in his personal life; this was no small accomplishment after the the last few years of struggle and travail. We were finally, really LIVING in a dreamland - believe it or not - it was that magical a time. And may I just say one other thing - Van was absolutely the most adorable gingery heart throb I ever hope to meet! Thank you - I just needed to state that for the record.

The photos were taken during a family birthday party of Peter's. It had been a lovely afternoon, very relaxed and the band had set up and played in our front yard for the families of Peter's friends and of course our own very extended group of band members' families. Shana was a few months old and the apple of her Daddy's eye. I should have known right away she would be a singer - this child had the loudest voice I'd ever heard coming from a baby!

So for me, HB&TSC was a musical manifestation and paean to real happiness, such a fleeting commodity, so hard-won and hung onto about as successfully as a juggler balancing spinning plates on sticks, but precious to me beyond saying and worth noting again, I think. /P>

  • A note in the October 23, 1987 issue of Goldmine states that the "provisional title" for His Band And The Street Choir was originally Virgo's Fool.

  • See also this Glossary entry on The Montgomeries...

    Part of the van-the-man.info unofficial website

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