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Van Morrison's back catalogue to be streamed on Spotify and restored to iTunes

Published 25/08/2015

Van Morrison: 33 albums will be available to be streamed on various platforms from Friday
Van Morrison: 33 albums will be available to be streamed on various platforms from Friday
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A road sign which is to be presented to Sir Van Morrison to mark his 70th birthday ( Belfast City Council/PA)
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One of music’s most influential catalogues will finally arrive on streaming platforms after Van Morrison agreed a digital deal which will also restore his albums to iTunes.

The R&B pioneer, who celebrates his 70th birthday with two sell-out concerts in Belfast next week, will make 33 classic albums, spanning his ground-breaking 60s work with the group Them to seminal solo albums including Veedon Fleece from 1974, available on Spotify and other platforms, from Friday.

The uncompromising Northern Irish singer, who pulled a series of albums from iTunes in 2009, saying “I’m not a download artist…I don’t need them,” has agreed to restore his songs to music download services.

Legacy Recordings, the catalogue division of Sony Music Entertainment, said it had “acquired the rights to the most complete discography of contemporary music legend Van Morrison ever assembled under one label imprint.”

The acquisition “spans more than 50 years of music, encompassing some 50 album, video and compilation titles from 1964 to the present.”

Legacy said: “Most of the titles in the Van Morrison catalogue have never been available for streaming and the catalogue has been long unavailable online through iTunes or other DSPs. The Morrison catalogue has been long out-of-print, with some titles being unavailable for as long as 15 years. 33 Van Morrison album titles will be made available as digital releases and through all streaming services beginning Friday.”

A handful of Morrison’s solo albums recorded before 1971, including Astral Weeks and Moondance, are currently available on streaming, under licence from Warner Brothers.

Now fans can digitally track an entire career which has encompassed garage rock, jazz, blues, gospel, folk and soul, beginning with Them’s debut album in 1975, featuring the much-covered Gloria to Morrison’s present day recordings.

The deal leaves The Beatles as the most significant streaming holdouts along with Taylor Swift, who removed her catalogue in a dispute with Spotify over the service’s free listening tier.

AC/DC uploaded their catalogue to digital platforms last month meanwhile Prince, who will release his new album exclusively via Jay-Z’s Tidal subscription service, placed a new single on Spotify, months after withdrawing his albums from streaming platforms.

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Adam Block, President, Legacy Recordings, said: “Van Morrison is one of the great singers, performers and musical artists in the history of recorded music. Legacy Recordings is proud to partner with Van to help him protect and curate his astounding catalogue and to be given the opportunity to bring his music to whole new generations of fans around the world.” Legacy promised “new compilations, deluxe Legacy Editions of classic album titles and a digital rollout of the full Van Morrison catalogue.”

The normally taciturn Morrison appears to be mellowing a little as he turns 70. He accepted a knighthood in June for “services to the music industry and to tourism in Northern Ireland”, saying “Throughout my career I have always preferred to let my music speak for me, and it is a huge honour to now have that body of work recognized in this way.”

There is huge anticipation in Belfast ahead of the birthday shows, which will take place on Cypress Avenue, the inspiration for a song on Astral Weeks. Fans are flying in from around the world, with tickets changing hands for £400 for the shows, which are being marked by a week of celebratory Morrison programming on BBC Radio Ulster.

Morrison has never dwelled on his back catalogue, preferring to follow his muse to fresh musical paths. He dismissed one of his most popular songs, Brown Eyed Girl, saying: “I’ve got about 300 other songs that I think are better than that.”

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