Welcome back, my friends, to the "Battle" that never ends.
We're so glad you could attend. Come inside! Come inside!
This is 'BATTLE OF THE BANDS' ('BOTB') where you listen to different recordings and vote for the one you like best. A new Battle gets posted on the 1st of each month and on the 7th, I place my own vote, tally 'em all up and announce the winner.
Friend? Foe? Stranger? No matter, ALL are welcome. So pull up a chair, pour yourself 24 oz. of DOG BITE High Gravity Lager (or the poison of your choice) and turn it up to Eleven!
[NOTE: Links to the first year of 'BOTB' (#1 - #24) can be found at the very bottom of this page.]

Monday, March 21, 2016


STMcC’s Vote On '2016, March 15th: Battle Of The Bands'
(Or, 'Bobby "Blue" Bland Vs. Van Morrison')
 And The Final Tally:

First of all, I want to thank each and every single one of you (and, yes, YOU too!) for taking the time to listen and vote here. All y'all made this a really super Battle Of The Bands (BOTB) contest.

I'll tell you the truth: In creating this Battle (which was almost just an excuse for me to yak about my love of Mexican food), even though BOBBY "BLUE" BLAND is justifiably a legend in the annals of R&B / Soul music, I figured the greater name recognition was going to give VAN "THE MAN" MORRISON a huge advantage. But it seems everyone voted with their ears rather than by "reputation" and y'all turned this into one helluva BOTB installment. So, I thank you for that.

How close was this thang? After 10 votes were in, the Battle was tied 5 to 5. After 20 votes were in, the Battle was tied 10 to 10. At the dawn of the final day for voting, 23 votes were in and Van Morrison was holding on to a tenuous 1-vote lead. I was genuinely concerned about having another tie.

But then 3 more votes came in, Gem Julie's, Doc Cherdo's, and my own...

How did I vote? The same way Gem Julie and Doc Cherdo did. I think both recordings are top-notch. (As a side note, I'm not really absolutely crazy about the song. I like it but would grade it a "B" which for me equates to "Basically Good". There are songs I like better that I could have used for this Battle but I saw the potential here for a classic contest, an exciting dogfight between two legends.)

Truthfully, on this song I prefer Van's band and Bland's tan voice. Had this been Van's more mature, deeper, richer voice, I perhaps would have given him the nod in the "Voice" department as well. But as it was, I had divided feelings on this one. But since in most cases, for me, music trumps vocals, I ultimately sided with VAN "The Man".

Bobby "Blue" Bland = 11 votes
Van "The Man" Morrison = 15 votes

Van Morrison's voice deepened and got a great deal richer over the decades, and although I've always loved the material, I prefer the more mature voice. 'AIN'T NOTHIN' YOU CAN DO' (recorded in 1974) found his voice in that "period of transition"

You can compare the change in his vocal tone by listening to 'ASTRAL WEEKS' and 'IN THE GARDEN' back-to-back. 'Astral Weeks' is the title track of Van's incredible 1968 solo debut (one of the greatest "Solitarily-Drinking-Myself-Into-A-Mystical-Mess" albums of all time), and 'In The Garden' was released in 1986.


'AIN'T NOTHIN' YOU CAN DO' was the first track on Van Morrison's 1974 live album 'IT'S TOO LATE TO STOP NOW'

The following comes from 'The Complete Guide To The Music Of Van Morrison' by Patrick Humphries:

As far as Van live on disc is concerned, his first live set, 'It's Too Late To Stop Now', is unquestionably one of the best-ever live rock 'n' roll recordings. Van was cooking when he came to record these 18 songs. 

'It's Too Late To Stop Now' had Van fronting The Caledonia Soul Orchestra, arguably his finest ever ensemble. ... the orchestra also boasted a five person string section and a two man horn duo ... On it's original release, 'It's Too Late To Stop Now' was soon cemented as one of the great rock 'n' roll double albums ... every note you hear was recorded live - there was not one overdub.

Looking back on the album, guitarist John Platania told 'Mojo': "I would say that tour represented the height of his confidence as a performer", while bassist David Hayes recalled: "When I speak to Van about that album he still talks about it as having marked the peak of his career. He really feels he was on to something very special."

Recorded in Los Angeles at the intimate Troubadour club and the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, as well as at North London's Rainbow. [Side note: I saw my first Rock concert at the Santa Monica Civic, and I spent many nights of my youth watching bands play on the Troubadour's stage.]

In my opinion, every single song on the live album is better'n its studio counterpart, with the sole exception of 'Listen To The Lion'. My favorite track is 'I'VE BEEN WORKING'. Pretty dang funky for a White bloke from Ireland. Listen to the amazing interplay between the musicians on this, the way they come in and then drop out for another musician to take the spotlight. It's like a trade-off of white-hot funky licks... [Play it LOUD!]

'I've Been Working' - Van Morrison

Yeah, that's some ass-kicking Funk! But the whole album is loaded with great Rock, Blues, Jazzy R&B and lovely ballads. In my opinion, one of the truly essential Van "The Man" albums.

Thanks again, All, for making this such a good Battle, and I hope to see you here again on April 1st. I've got something a wee bit o' surprising lined up for ya. 

~ Stephen T. McCarthy


  1. YAY! My man, Van, won the BOTB!! There's no other voice like his....I'm doing the happy dance to Van's....can't choose a song at the moment...so, it'll be Van's Greatest Hits! :)

  2. Close battles are the most fun. Nice to be on the winning side here. Van Morrison has an impressive body of work. Thanks for the musical interlude. That was some cool funk!

  3. A great outcome, though it was hard come by. I especially appreciate your notes on Van.

    Thanks for letting my in BOTB!


  4. It was a tough choice for me and made for a good Battle in general. Nice job of choosing. I've got a Van song or two in my future line-ups, but now you've inspired me to use a Bobby Bland song as well and I found an excellent one.

    Never thought about Van's voice in the earlier years since I didn't really "discover" how much I liked him until his 1985-87 releases and then I started going back to some of his earlier stuff. I always liked his work with Them, but I was never enthralled enough to buy any of those records. Maybe it was his voice later on that captivated me, but I think it was also the songs and the music.

    Arlee Bird
    A to Z Challenge Co-host
    Tossing It Out

  5. Wait, Van Morrison is a white boy from Ireland? I always thought he was black!

    "Do you not get it, lads? The Irish are the blacks of Europe. And Dubliners are the blacks of Ireland. And the Northside Dubliners are the blacks of Dublin. So say it once, say it loud: I'm black and I'm proud!"

    I guess it only makes sense that Van's got so much of that Irish soul. You may have already known this, but I saw this fun fact after we watched that flick:

    Alan Parker originally wanted Van Morrison for the role of Joey "The Lips" Fagan


    1. Ha, ha, ha! Can you imagine Van in THAT movie? I would pay real money to see THAT!

  6. This was a good battle. i remember there was one album of Van Morrison's where it is his face and he has long hair-he reminded me of my brother back then who also had wavy long hair and gentle eyes...I wanted to genuflect everytime I saw my brother

  7. -------- BECKY --------
    Did Van Morrison even have enough hits for a 'Greatest Hits' album? (I just jest.)

    -------- DEBBIE --------
    Glad you liked that Honky Funk. That one gets me goin' ever' time! Yeah, I love the close Battles, so long as they aren't so close they end in a tie.

    -------- POP GOES THE EVIL TART --------
    Glad to have you aboard. I was once a major Van fan, so I knows some stuffs about 'im.

    -------- LEE --------
    I got into Van early at the beginning of my record buying, starting with 'ASTRAL WEEKS'. Wish I had a brain cell for every one I killed listening to that album alone in my darkened bedroom and drinking myself into a mysterious state.

    'It's Too Late To Stop Now' has several other R&B / Blues covers that would make good BOTB material for anyone needing a song.

    -------- 6-B --------
    I did NOT know that FUN FACT. I like how you often dig up interesting trivia after we've watched something. It may be a movie I love and have seen many times, but you add some interesting info to my reservoir.

    As far as I know, Van has never done any acting, and for some reason I can't imagine him being good at it. Still, it's an amusing thought. That guy who played Joey "The Lips" though was very "right" for that part. Hate to say it, but I think I'm glad they didn't get Van "The Man" for the role.

    -------- FAE --------
    Actually, no, I can't really imagine it.

    -------- BIRGIT --------
    That's funny that I can't even picture the album cover you're referring to, and at one time I owned every Van Morrison album there was (up through about the mid-'90s).

    ~ D-FensDogG
    'Loyal American Underground'

  8. I hate hearing live music when I'm listening to my favourite Pandora station. BUT, I do love live CD's. When I'm listening to them in their entirety.
    Glad to see you had such a great battle here. My battle was just as intense. I literally had no idea who was going to win, and for the person who is care-taker to all the comments, that means a lot.

    1. Those are the most fun Battles, when it's very late in the contest, you know that there are only a few votes still outstanding and the Battle could still be won by either contestant.

      I don't think I'll ever have a Battle more exciting than BRASIL '66 Versus CHRIS BOTTI was.

      ~ D-FensDogG

  9. Wow! This is some outcome! Good deal.
    I'm not blue, even though i voted for Bobby.
    I,too wanted Van's band & Bobby's voice.

    Looking forward to April's agenda (?)

    1. PIGTAILS ~
      This Battle was a bit different. How? Well, I think most of us start out with BOTB match-ups that we expect to be pretty close, and sometimes they turn into blowouts instead, leaving us mystified how that could happen.

      In this case though, I kind of thought - based on "name brand" - that Van would probably win by a 2 to 1 vote margin. And instead, this turned into a neck-and-neck race that went right down to the wire.

      I don't think ANYONE will ever come to fully understand BOTB. I feel I do pretty well at figuring out what will be good match-ups, but I'm still wrong almost as often as I'm right.

      See ya at the April Fool's Day Battles. Mine isn't anything outrageous but I think it's going to "fool" a few people, in that they'll come in believing it will be an easy vote and they'll find it far more difficult than they ever could have imagined. ...Then again, I could be wrong... again.

      ~ D-FensDogG

    2. Oops, I meant, again-duh, not agenda. Ha!

  10. Replies
    1. Winner! Winner! Chicken dinner!
      (I guess that makes the chicken the loser, eh?:-)

      ~ D-FensDogG

  11. Van Morrison is a real live legend. He's a tough one to beat and I'm not going to help anyone try to do it, ha ha. So, we are in agreement!

    Happy Easter, bro!

    1. But he had his hands full with Bobby, DOC. For awhile there I really wasn't sure Van was going to get the win.

      And a Happy Easter to you, too! I'm stocking up on stuffs now, because I refuse to buy anything on Easter Sunday. That's a commerce-free day to me. (Christmas also.)

      ~ D-FensDogG

  12. Almost missed this. Didn't want you to think I didn't appreciate the tribute Van. I really like his stuff ;-)


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