It's Too Late to Stop Now

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It's Too Late to Stop Now
Live album by Van Morrison
Released February 1974
Reissued January 2008
Recorded 24 May - 24 July 1973 in Los Angeles, Santa Monica and London
Genre Folk rock, R&B, Rock
Length 92:33
Label Warner Bros.
Producer Van Morrison, Ted Templeman
Van Morrison chronology
Hard Nose the Highway
(1973)
It's Too Late to Stop Now
(1974)
Veedon Fleece
(1974)
Singles from It's Too Late to Stop Now
  1. "Ain't Nothin' You Can Do" b/w "Wild Children"
    Released: 3 April 1974
  2. "Gloria" b/w "Warm Love"
    Released: 1974
  3. ""
    Released:
  4. ""
    Released:

It's Too Late to Stop Now is a live album by Northern Irish singer-songwriter Van Morrison, released in 1974 (see 1974 in music). Frequently named as one of the best live albums ever recorded, It's Too Late to Stop Now was recorded during what has often been said to be Morrison's greatest phase as a live performer.

The double album was composed of performances that were recorded in concerts at The Troubadour in Los Angeles, California, the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium and at The Rainbow in London from a three-month tour with his eleven-piece band, The Caledonia Soul Orchestra from May to July 1973.

The tour and performances[edit]

Noted for being a mercurial and temperamental live performer, during this short period of time in 1973, Morrison went on one of his most diligent tours in years. With his eleven piece band, The Caledonia Soul Orchestra, which included a horn and string section, he has often been said to have been at his live performing peak.[1][2][3][4][5][6][7]

Morrison said about touring during this time period:

I am getting more into performing. It's incredible. When I played Carnegie Hall in the fall something just happened. All of a sudden I felt like 'you're back into performing' and it just happened like that...A lot of times in the past I've done gigs and it was rough to get through them. But now the combination seems to be right and it's been clicking a lot.[8]

It's like watching a tiger. The tiger isn't thinking about where he's going to put his paws or how he's going to kill... and [it's the] same thing with Van. He's just so there that you're completely drawn to it.

-Jim Rothernel[7]

Evidence of his newly invigorated joy in performing was on display during the ending of the over-ten-minute long dynamic performance of "Cyprus Avenue". When an audience member shouts out, "Turn it on!", Morrison good-naturedly replies, "It's turned on already." At the very end he finished the concert with a final heartfelt, "It's too late to stop now!" giving the album its title (this line first appeared on the song "Into the Mystic").

The concert performances were described by Erik Hage as "sequences of a young soul lion whipping the crowd into a frenzy and then stopping on a dime—teasing out anticipation, rushing, receding, and coaxing every drop out of his band."[7]

Guitarist John Platania says "He had a funeral for a lot of his old songs on stage. With Caledonia, he really got off on performing. There was definitely joy getting onstage at that point. That was a wonderful time for everybody. It was really like a family. Ordinarily, with rock 'n' rollers, jazzers and classical musicians in the band, you'd think it was a three-headed serpent but everybody got along famously."[9]

The performances on the live album were from tapes made at the beginning of the tour in Los Angeles and also in Santa Monica and London. Marco Bario who attended the opening night concert at The Troubadour said in Playgirl: "he was exceptional. The mood was right, the audience was receptive, and the music left no comparisons to be made. It was the finest opening night performance by a consummate musician that I have ever witnessed."[10]

A large cream-coloured and tiled building stands at the intersection of two roads. Dark grey clouds dominate an overcast sky. Two flags are flying from the fascia of the building, which is covered mostly by a large advertising hoarding.
The Rainbow Theatre in London

The London concerts were the first time he had appeared in that city since performing with Them, six years earlier.[10] The two concerts at the Rainbow Theatre in London were referred to as "the rock event of the year" by critics according to Ritchie Yorke in his biography. The 24 July 1973 London Rainbow concert was the first BBC simulcast broadcast simultaneously on BBC 2 television and Radio 2 stereo so that viewers with strategically sited loudspeakers could enjoy "stereo TV". The broadcast took place on 27 May 1974.[11][12]

The songs[edit]

A mixture of songs that inspired his own musical development, together with some of his own compositions, allied to a backing band and orchestra (The Caledonia Soul Orchestra) and several performances (as noted in the album's liner notes) that were recorded in concerts at The Troubadour in Los Angeles, California (24–27 May 1973), the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium (29 June 1973) and at The Rainbow (23–24 July 1973) in London.[12] These performance result in what Myles Palmer of the Times reviewed as demolishing "all barriers between the soul, blues, jazz and rock genres".[13] The songs chosen went back to his days with Them with versions of "Gloria" and "Here Comes the Night". His first solo hit "Brown Eyed Girl" was performed but wasn't included on the album until the reissue in 2008. M. Mark called the album "an intelligent selection of songs that draws on six of Morrison's records and five of the musicians he learned from."[14] These musicians were Bobby Bland, ("Ain't Nothing You Can Do"), Ray Charles, (" I Believe to My Soul"), Sam Cooke ("Bring It On Home to Me"), two songs by Sonny Boy Williamson II ("Help Me" and "Take Your Hands Out of My Pocket") and a cover of a Willie Dixon song, "I Just Want to Make Love to You" that was popularized by Muddy Waters.

Unlike most live rock albums, there was no studio overdubbing allowed by Morrison, which resulted in the exclusion of "Moondance" from the album due to one wrong guitar note. Morrison strictly adhered to his concept of authenticity in presenting the live performance but his musical perfectionism prevented him from including "Moondance".[15] "It's common practice to go back and fix things, but not with Van," bass player David Hayes said, "I think that's what makes it one of the best ever."[16] It is thought to be one of the first live albums with no overdubs and the first live album to have string players.[10]

Reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4.5/5 stars[17]
bbc.co.uk (not rated)[5]
Robert Christgau (A)[18]
Rolling Stone 5/5 stars[19]

Biographer John Collis calls this album, "one of the most impressive of all attempts to squeeze the stage excitement of a rock performer on to vinyl."[20] Jason Ankenny with Allmusic ended his review by concluding that it was "An engaging, warm portrait of the man at the peak of his powers".[17]

Chris Jones of the BBC wrote: "In a live setting all the hyperbole about Morrison's blend of genres into one Celtic, mystic vision makes perfect sense. This is soul music in a very real sense."[5] Robert Christgau gave the album an A rating and noted that "Morrison documents his debt to blues and r&b definitively--you can hear Bobby Bland all over the record, and cover tributes are paid as well to Ray Charles, John Lee Hooker, Sonny Boy Williamson, Muddy Waters, and Sam Cooke."[18]

Ken Emerson with Rolling Stone remarked: "On It's Too Late Morrison's voice is in fine form, but much else is not...The other musicians, most of whom have played with Morrison many times before, never detract, but Morrison could be better served....But the power of Morrison's vocals overcomes these drawbacks."[19]

Hal Horowitz with American Songwriter on reviewing the 2008 remasters of some of Morrison's albums, rated this album with five stars and commented: "The classic is 1974’s double live It’s Too Late…, rightfully on anyone’s shortlist of finest concert albums. Van typically blows hot and cold on stage, but when he ignites on the oldies and choice blues covers here, few can touch him for pure blue-eyed soul passion."[21]

Legacy[edit]

Three months after the concerts for the Too Late to Stop Now tour, Morrison had disbanded the The Caledonia Soul Orchestra and went on a vacation tour of Ireland for three weeks that resulted in the album, Veedon Fleece. A remastered version of the album was released on 29 January 2008 containing a live take of "Brown Eyed Girl" not included on the original release.[22]

It's Too Late to Stop Now has been on lists of greatest live albums of all time.[23][24][25][26] Biographer Johnny Rogan states that "Morrison was in the midst of what was arguably his greatest phase as a performer."[27]

Track listing[edit]

The compact disc version places sides one and two on disc one with sides three and four with the bonus track on disc two.

Side one[edit]

No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Ain't Nothin' You Can Do"   Joseph Scott 3:44
2. "Warm Love"   Van Morrison 3:04
3. "Into the Mystic"   Van Morrison 4:33
4. "These Dreams of You"   Van Morrison 3:37
5. "I Believe to My Soul"   Ray Charles 4:09

Side two[edit]

No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "I've Been Working"   Van Morrison 3:56
2. "Help Me"   Sonny Boy Williamson II, Ralph Bass, Willie Dixon 3:25
3. "Wild Children"   Van Morrison 5:04
4. "Domino"   Van Morrison 4:48
5. "I Just Want to Make Love to You"   Willie Dixon 5:16

Side three[edit]

No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Bring It On Home to Me"   Sam Cooke 4:42
2. "Saint Dominic's Preview"   Van Morrison 6:18
3. "Take Your Hand Out of My Pocket"   Sonny Boy Williamson II 4:04
4. "Listen to the Lion"   Van Morrison 8:43

Side four[edit]

No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Here Comes the Night"   Bert Berns 3:14
2. "Gloria"   Van Morrison 4:16
3. "Caravan"   Van Morrison 9:20
4. "Cyprus Avenue"   Van Morrison 10:20

2008 bonus track[edit]

No. Title Writer(s) Length
9. "Brown Eyed Girl"   Van Morrison 3:24

Personnel[edit]

Production personnel[edit]

Recording locations[edit]

Charts[edit]

Album[edit]

Billboard (North America)

Year Chart Position
1974 Pop Albums 53

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Rogan, No Surrender, p. 282
  2. ^ "MOJO Best live albums of all time". Muziek. Retrieved 2007-09-04. 
  3. ^ "Top 50 Live Albums". Stylus. Retrieved 2007-03-31. 
  4. ^ "VOX The Greatest live albums ever". rocklistmusic.co.uk. Archived from the original on 2007-10-14. Retrieved 2007-11-04. 
  5. ^ a b c Jones, Chris (2008-01-24). "It's Too Late to Stop Now: BBC Review". bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 2009-11-22. 
  6. ^ "Acclaimed Music - It's Too Late to Stop Now". acclaimedmusic.net. Retrieved 2009-11-22. 
  7. ^ a b c Hage, The Words and Music of Van Morrison, p. 71
  8. ^ Collis, Inarticulate Speech of the Heart, p.137
  9. ^ Rogan, No Surrender, p.283
  10. ^ a b c Yorke, Into the Music, p. 116
  11. ^ "Chronomedia 1974". terramedia. Retrieved 2010-05-20. 
  12. ^ a b "Van Morrison: 1973". ivan.vanomatic. Retrieved 2010-05-20. 
  13. ^ Hinton, Celtic Crossroads, p.160
  14. ^ Hage, The Words and Music of Van Morrison, p.71
  15. ^ Yorke, Into the Music, p.115
  16. ^ Rogan, No Surrender, p.292
  17. ^ a b Ankenny, Jason. "Van Morrison: It's Too Late to Stop Now". allmusic.com. Retrieved 2010-01-16. 
  18. ^ a b Christgau, Robert. "It's Too Late to Stop Now review". robertchristgau.com. Retrieved 2010-02-08. 
  19. ^ a b Emerson, Ken (25 April 1974). "Van Morrison: It's Too Late to Stop Now: Music Review". Rolling Stone. 
  20. ^ Collis, Inarticulate Speech of the Heart, p.136
  21. ^ Horowitz, Hal (2008-05-01). "Van Morrison> It's Too Late to Stop Now...Avalon Sunset". americansongwriter.com. Retrieved 2009-11-22. 
  22. ^ Tortelli, Joseph (5 June 2008). "Album Reviews—Van Morrison: Tupelo Honey and It’s Too Late to Stop Now". Goldmine. Retrieved 2010-05-20. 
  23. ^ "MOJO Top 50 Live Albums". Muziek. Retrieved 2007-03-31. 
  24. ^ "VOX The Greatest live albums ever". rocklistmusic.co.uk. Retrieved 2010-05-21. 
  25. ^ "Top 50 Live Albums". Stylus. Retrieved 2007-03-31. 
  26. ^ Jones, Chris (2008-01-24). "BBC Review of the remastered CD reissue". BBC. Retrieved 2010-05-21. 
  27. ^ Rogan, No Surrender, p. 282

References[edit]