Van Morrison will release a deluxe edition of The Healing Game, his acclaimed 1997 LP, generously expanded with outtakes, rare tracks and a complete live concert recording. Out March 22nd via Legacy and Morrison’s Exile Productions, Ltd., The Healing Game (Deluxe Edition) will be available in three-CD and digital formats, with a single-LP reissue of the original album coming out simultaneously.
As a preview of the set’s deluxe version, you can now hear one of the bonus tracks: a live version of the album’s title song, recorded at the Montreaux Jazz Festival in July 1997.
As on the record, the song — an ode to the doo-wop era — starts off as a mellow ballad and builds to a bold, brassy sing-along climax. The performance features backing vocals from organist Georgie Fame, who also played on the studio version. Near the end, you can hear another back-up singer, Brian Kennedy, who shadows Morrison on much of the album, introducing members of the band, which includes core Morrison collaborators like saxophonist Pee Wee Ellis.
“The song is about when people used to sing on the streets: It came from America, where they had all the doo-wop groups,” Morrison told Q magazine of “The Healing Game.” “That’s the general idea of the song: you’ve never really moved from this position. You took a lot of detours but you’re still back on the corner.”
In addition to the original album, which contains 10 Morrison originals and has not been remastered for the new edition, The Healing Game (Deluxe Edition) features more than 30 extras. All recorded between 1995 and 1997, and many of them previously unissued, these include alternate versions of songs that appeared on the final album (among them are several different takes on the title track), a live version of the 1972 Morrison classic “St. Dominic’s Preview,” duets with John Lee Hooker and Carl Perkins, and Morrison’s full 1997 Montreaux Jazz Festival set, at which he performed songs from the then-new Healing Game along with older material, and covers of songs by Ray Charles and Sly Stone.
Released in March 1997, The Healing Game followed two Morrison releases heavily focused on covers: 1995’s How Long Has This Been Going On, where the singer teamed with vocalist-organist Georgie Fame, and 1996’s Tell Me Something: The Songs of Mose Allison, which also featured Fame, as well as Allison and singer-pianist Ben Sidran. Some viewed The Healing Game as a return to form.
“Though The Healing Game won’t erase the years of dashed expectations, it should salve the wounds of frustrated fans,” Mark Coleman wrote in his Rolling Stone review. “Morrison hasn’t retreated from his spiritual quest or retracted his loathing of Information Age phonies. Maybe he has just remembered something: Graspable tunes and reasonable, cogent lyrics are a more efficient means of communicating than endless vamps and lofty sermonizing.”
Greil Marcus used a line from “Rough God Goes Riding,” The Healing Game’s opening track, as the title of his 2010 book of essays on Morrison’s work. In the book, after panning a lengthy string of Morrison’s albums, stretching from 1980’s Common One through Tell Me Something, Marcus writes of The Healing Game: “Morrison’s records of the previous seventeen years fade into irrelevance against what he has to offer here. They don’t even make sense.”
Part of an ongoing series of Morrison reissues through Legacy, The Healing Game (Deluxe) follows 2015’s career-spanning Essential Van Morrison compilation and a box set devoted to the complete works of Morrison’s early band Them; a 2016 collection of previously unreleased live material from the same string of 1973 shows that produced legendary live LP ..It’s Too Late to Stop Now…; and 2017’s The Authorized Bang Collection, focusing on Morrison’s legendary 1967 studio recordings. This set of reissues is separate from the new Warner Bros. editions of Morrison’s Astral Weeks and His Band and Street Choir that came out in 2015.
The Healing Game (Deluxe) comes on the heels of a busy period for Morrison, who released two new studio albums per year in 2017 and 2018. The singer is currently on tour, performing this week at both L.A.’s Wiltern and Las Vegas’ Colosseum at Caesar’s Palace. Later in the spring, he’ll appear in London, Chicago and at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.
Van Morrison, The Healing Game (Deluxe Edition) track list
Disc 1 – (The Original Album…Plus)
1. “Rough God Goes Riding”
2. “Fire in the Belly”
3. “This Weight”
4. “Waiting Game”
5. “Piper at the Gates of Dawn”
6. “Burning Ground”
7. “It Once Was My Life”
8. “Sometimes We Cry”
9. “If You Love Me”
10. “The Healing Game”
11. “Look What the Good People Done”
12. “At the End of the Day”
13. “The Healing Game (single version)”
14. “Full Force Gale ’96 (single version)”
15. “St. Dominic’s Preview”
Disc 2 – Sessions & Collaborations
1. “The Healing Game (alternate version)” (previously unissued)
2. “Fire in the Belly (alternate version)” (previously unissued)
3. “Didn’t He Ramble” (previously unissued)
4. “The Healing Game (jazz version)” (previously unissued)
5. “Sometimes We Cry (full length version)” (previously unissued)
6. “Mule Skinner Blues”
7. “A Kiss to Build a Dream On (previously unissued)”
8. “Don’t Look Back – John Lee Hooker”
9. “The Healing Game – John Lee Hooker”
10. “Boppin’ the Blues – Carl Perkins & Van Morrison” (previously unissued)
11. “Matchbox – Carl Perkins & Van Morrison” (previously unissued)
12. “Sittin’ on Top of the World – Carl Perkins & Van Morrison” (arranged by Van Morrison)
13. “My Angel – Carl Perkins & Van Morrison” (previously unissued)
14. “All By Myself – Carl Perkins & Van Morrison” (previously unissued)
15. “Mule Skinner Blues – Lonnie Donegan & Van Morrison”
Disc 3 – Live at Montreux 17 July 1997 (all tracks previously unreleased)
1. “Rough God Goes Riding”
2. “Foreign Window”
3. “Tore Down A La Rimbaud”
4. “Vanlose Stairway/Trans-Euro Train”
5. “Fool For You”
6. “Sometimes We Cry”
7. “It Once Was My Life”
8. “I’m Not Feeling It Anymore”
9. “This Weight”
10. “Who Can I Turn To (When Nobody Needs Me)”
11. “Fire in the Belly”
12. “Tupelo Honey/Why Must I Always Explain”
13. “The Healing Game”
14. “See Me Through/Soldier of Fortune/Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)/Burning Ground”