Van Morrison’s classic 1974 live album It’s Too Late To Stop Now is generally considered to be one of the greatest concert recordings of all time. For it, he was backed by probably the best band he had ever, or would ever, assemble, the eleven-piece Caledonia Soul Orchestra, which included strings and a horn section. The group was a finely tuned rhythm and blues machine, able to stop and start on a dime.
It’s Too Late To Stop Now was recorded during concerts at The Troubadour in Los Angeles, California (May 24–27, 1973), the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium (June 29, 1973) and at The Rainbow Theatre (July 23–24, 1973) in London. If ever there was a tour to see Van Morrison, it would have been this one. He’s got an almost James Brown-like swagger and confidence as a performer here. It’s positively joyful, beatific even. The album contains epic workouts of “Saint Dominic’s Preview,” “Caravan,” “Listen To The Lion” and “Cyprus Avenue” along with covers of songs made famous by Ray Charles, Sam Cooke, Sonny Boy Williamson and Muddy Waters. The entire set seems heavily influenced by Bobby “Blue” Bland.
The Rainbow show was taped by the BBC. The following year, after the album came out in February—lavishly packaged in a triptych fold-out cover—the concert was simulcast on BBC 2 television and on Radio 2 in FM stereo for “stereo TV” on May 27th, 1974.
And here it is. If you are a Van Morrison fan and you haven’t seen this before, well, prepare to be astonished…