The final album of Van Morrison
's remarkably prolific and innovative 1968-1974 period (followed by three years of silence), Veedon Fleece
brings the singer full circle, returning him to the introspection and poignancy of Astral Weeks
. Composed following his sudden divorce from wife Janet Planet
and subsequent retreat from the U.S., the songs are subtle and Spartan, the performances deeply felt; though less tortured and cathartic than Astral Weeks
, it's a record fraught with emotional upheaval, as evidenced by such superior moments as "Linden Arden Stole the Highlights," "Who Was That Masked Man," and "You Don't Pull No Punches, But You Don't Push the River." That said, this is one of those -- and there are several -- forgotten classics in the Morrison
catalog. Because it followed hot on the heels of his universally acclaimed double live album It's Too Late to Stop Now...
, released only a month previous, this effort, like its likewise unheralded -- but equally wonderful -- studio effort Hard Nose the Highway
, which was issued only six months before, the album suffered from a lack of exposure because of saturation in the marketplace rather than any lack in quality. Veedon Fleece
is every bit the creative equal of its more famous predecessors. With its elegiac tone and deeply autobiographical lyrics, this was a Morrison
who didn't so readily associate himself with the feel-good, peace, love, and rhythm & blues sound American audiences were used to. If any album reflects a real period of transition for an artist, it's this one. It's brilliant.