It’s Too Late To Stop Now
Everyone who was anyone in the mid-1970s made a double live album, and It’s Too Late To Stop Now is Van Morrison’s, recorded on the tour for Hard Nose The Highway and compiled from recordings made in Los Angeles, Santa Monica, and London. One definite point in its favour is that only half of these songs are drawn from Van Morrison’s solo albums; the remainder are R&B covers from the likes of Ray Charles, Willie Dixon, and Sam Cooke, plus ‘Here Comes The Night’ and ‘Gloria’, the signature songs from his years fronting Them. As much as he integrates influences from folk and rock into his musical palette on his studio albums, Van Morrison’s love for R&B music has been well documented, and it’s at the forefront on this live album.
On the other hand, I don’t enjoy the backing band; too sedate and piano-centric, while the backing vocals and strings also drag proceedings into Vegas territory. But this is primarily Van Morrison’s show and a showcase for his vocal abilities, and his voice is in fine fettle, blasting his way through ‘Warm Love’ and taking centre stage on the lengthy ‘Listen To The Lion’. The band sounds great on songs like ‘Domino’ and ‘I’ve Been Working’, where the guitar and bass are audible, while ‘Saint Dominic’s Preview’ is punchier than its studio counterpart. The most interesting interpretation is ‘Cyprus Avenue’ and it would have been fascinating to hear more of the loose, exploratory tracks from Astral Weeks translated into a live setting.
It’s Too Late To Stop Now often gets cited as a landmark live album, and if you like to hear Van Morrison take on R&B standards interlaced with some originals and accompanied by a whole lot of piano, it’s great; I’ll take the concise pop-smith of Moondance or the mystical troubadour of Veedon Fleece instead.