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Van Morrison
Warner 7434
Dec. 1970
Billboard: #9    Lyrics Icon Videos Icon

His Band & Street Choir
"Domino" was the first track on Van Morrison's 1970 album His Band & Street Choir, which also featured the #23 March 1971 hit "Blue Money." Released in Dec. 1970, the album peaked at #32 on the Billboard Hot 200 and stayed on the charts for 17 weeks.
Van Morrisonomino" is a riff-heavy and remarkably contagious example of Van Morrison's desire to pay tribute to his well of inspiration. Melodically and structurally, the song is purely his own, with horn charts and a syncopated riff that keep it continually exhilarating. Instead of relying on Fats Domino's style to make his point, he maintains his own sense of musical originality while singing of the rock and roll forefather who set him on a journey of discovery. He would pursue similar topical turf in the remarkable "Jackie Wilson Said (I'm In Heaven When You Smile)," but the song would be denied its commercial destiny by never gaining entry to the upper echelons of the singles charts, a fact as unacceptable as it is inexplicable.

Considering that Morrison grew up in Belfast before the days of rock and roll, it is important to remember just what his sources of inspiration were. Anybody who has ever been there would agree that Ireland wears its culture proudly. No matter how immersed in American blues he was, the ingredients supplied by his home country must have been equally influential. From a distance, Irish music and American blues seem to be worlds apart. Upon closer examination, though, the experiences of black Americans and the colonized Irish bear comparisons that are more than superficial. Musically, the similarities are fundamental. Both rely on simple structure to express complex emotions. But while Irish music tends to be congregational, the blues tends to be private. Gospel, then, is the interface that links Negro blues to Irish balladry. The sense of continuity that gospel music nourishes shares common ground with the spirituality of Celtic music. This is why Morrison can be both a great Irish singer and a great blues singer without any compromise toward either. It also explains how he can sing one of the most effective and authentic tributes to R&B while maintaining his own inimitable style.

- Thomas Ryan, American Hit Radio, Prima Entertainment, 1996.

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