Arts and Entertainment

You have to applaud the restlessness and drive of a talent such as JTE's. At its best (see Harlem River Blues), the results are a beguiling blend of demon-driven countryfied rock-gospel and Earle could easily have stuck in that groove/rut.

Dialling 1996

A poem for the New Year by William Scammell

TALK: Van Morrison in Conversation

Well, more of a sort of inarticulate speech of the heart, really. By Phil Johnson

You are invited to the Mercury Music Prize. Dress: tux. Behaviour: rock and roll. Nick Coleman is thrilled to bits

This year's identity branding of choice is the luminescent hospital wrist-tag you can't get off. It has supplanted the dangly laminate as the ligger/consumer's badge of honour. If you went to the Rolling Stones's "secret" Brixton gig you got a yellow hospital wrist-tag, which the committed ligger/consumer could then accidentally forget to remove for days afterwards, letting it slip casually from under his cuffs on tube trains as a token of social prestige.


Reflecting the diverse range of British music, the 1995 Mercury Music Prize "Ten Albums of the Year" sampler features tracks from all of this year's short-listed albums. On sale for just two months, the limited edition includes "Live Forever" by Oasis (right), "C'mon Billy" by PJ Harvey, "Blue" by Elastica and "Days Like This" by Van Morrison. The shortlist was chosen from more than 140 entries and the winner will be announced on 12 September.

Image makers set the ceasefire to music for television

Alan Murdoch reports on the Government's advert campaign

Radio VIVA! 963AM The launch

Few men, if they're honest about it, understand women. So one of the great services that can be performed by Viva!, London's new station run by women for women, is to give men some idea of what's going on in women's minds. And the first day and a half of transmission has been an eye-opener.

Memorable performances from Costello and the Brodsky Quartet

The Brodsky Quartet QEH, London

ALBUMS: A Van for all seasons

Van Morrison

Musical connection means Celtic calls the tune

Divisions are growing inside Celtic Swing's training camp. Everyone agrees the colt is brilliant, but they are split over how to pronounce his name.

So is British journalism really bent?

The broadsheets still set high standards, but there has been a dramatic shift in what the tabloids dare to print, says Roy Greenslade

Edinburgh Festival: Felix Dexter

Performing here to predominantly white audiences, Felix Dexter claims he has to go to the jazz section of Our Price just to see another black face. It doesn't deter him, though. His set proceeds at breakneck pace and covers a wild range of material - there's an unexpected (and beautiful) rendition of Van Morrison's 'Moondance'. Dexter by name, dextrous by nature. Gilded Balloon (venue 38), 223 Cowgate (031-226 2151). 10.15pm. To 27 Aug

RECORDS / New Release: Van Morrison - A Night in San Francisco (Mercury, CD/ tape)

Live albums are always tricky. Somehow the artist has to find a fourth dimension that makes the recording more than the re-creation of a show, and more than a stage version of a studio record. There are a few notable successes - by James Brown, Marvin Gaye, Solomon Burke, the Band, the Flying Burrito Bros, Talking Heads - but Van Morrison is probably the first artist to issue two classic live albums. In 1972, It's Too Late to Stop Now captured him at the top of his game with a band that featured a string quartet and encouraged experiment. A Night in San Francisco, by contrast, goes for the heart of the stuff that first inspired Morrison: rhythm and blues. He is in electrifyingly authoritative form, bringing all his experience to some of his finest songs. Morrison and guests - Georgie Fame, Candy Dulfer, Jimmy Witherspoon, Junior Wells, John Lee Hooker and two fine younger singers, Brian Kennedy and Shana Morrison - burn through medleys that blend things like 'Gloria' and 'Tupelo Honey' with snatches of 'All Along the Watchtower', 'Family Affair' and 'You Send Me'. These workouts are loose in terms of spontaneity, but there's not an inch of slack in their execution - and the climactic sequence of 'Moondance', 'My Funny Valentine' and 'No Guru, No Method, No Teacher' is as close to catharsis as anyone in this field has ever come. A perfect record, thrilling and inspiring on every level.

Arts: Do it, puke and get out: 'The Last Waltz' made music and cinema history. The final concert by The Band, starring their famous friends, it became a Martin Scorsese film, rated the best rock movie of all. But behind the scenes, there was mayhem. Levon Helm of The Band tells the inside story

IN 1976 The Band was 'perhaps America's most respected rock group' ('New York Times'). It had gone from backing rock'n'roller Ronnie Hawkins, to backing Bob Dylan, to standing on its own as a folk-rock group which, despite being four-fifths Canadian, made a string of albums that showed a perfect grasp of the musical traditions of the Deep South. The odd man out was Levon Helm, from Arkansas, one of The Band's three singers and two drummers. He takes up the story:

ROCK / All white on the night

THE COOL album of 1993 was Bjork Gudmundsdottir's prosaically titled Debut. Despite this, her entrance at the Royalty Theatre displayed uncoolness of equatorial proportions. With a young, hip, 1,200-strong audience already seated, and a six- piece band already commencing to jive and look funky, all that remained was the arrival of the Icelandic elf herself.

Profile: Still that sense of wonder: David Lister on the reclusive singer-songwriter whose non-stop touring is a spiritual quest - Van Morrison

IN HIS three decades as a popular music star, Van Morrison has given only a few interviews. One of them, on television, was with Mick Brown, the rock writer. He answered all the questions happily enough in a run-through. But when the cameras were turned on, Morrison grunted, called his interviewer mad and complained: 'Nobody asks a bricklayer about laying bricks. Why ask me about writing songs? There's no difference.'
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