Back in 1966 Dan Penn and Chips Moman took a break during a card school to write a classic record. A few minutes in a Memphis hotel and they fetched up 'The Dark End Of The Street', a fearsome story of a man and a woman, having an affair in the darkest shadows, nervous that the truth will ultimately out. James Carr sang the classic version and a recent Elvis Costello rendition (on the bonus edition of 'The Delivery Man') was also harrowing.
I've seen Dan Penn playing it in a pub in Camden and it broke the place up. It was bludgeoned by The Commitments and caressed by Gram Parsons. I also believe that the lyric made a deep impression on Van Morrison, because two of his own songs seem to refer back to it.
The first is 'Bright Side Of The Road', which takes the song back to its gospel roots and makes it sanctified once again. The second is a peculiar little tune called 'Cul de Sac', which appears on the 'Veedon Fleece' album. He's singing about a long journey and the stresses of the highway, but importantly adds: "you can double back / to a cul de sac". It's not a familiar image to rock and roll, but he sings it with such compassion and soul (hinting at the famous James Carr recording) that you're entirely sold on the option.
'Veedon Fleece' is part of the current selection of Van Morrison remasters, and it contains two extra tracks, a more succinct 'Cul de Sac', minus the scatting and extemporising and a alternate take of 'Twilight Zone', previously collected on the 'Philosopher's Stone' set. A hugely important album is now mandatory.
BBC Radio Ulster, 92-95 FM
Fridays, ten - midnight
The Treniers- Rocking is Our Bizness (Poppy Disc)
Mason Jennings - Fighter Girl (Bushfire)
Jimmy Cliff - Struggling Man (Island)
Ava - Mad About The Boy (Virgin)
Inner Circle - I've Got The Handle (Island)
Delays - Keep It Simple (Fiction)
Nick Drake, Gabrielle Drake - All My Trials (Island)
Prison Love - Parlez Nous A Boire (Crow Valley)
She & Him - Why Do You Let Me Stay Here ( Domino)
David Bowie - Life On Mars (EMI)
Flight Of The Conchords - Bowie (Sub Pop)
6 day Riot - Go! Canada (Tantrum)
Van Morrison - Twilight Zone (alternate take) (Polydor)
Gary McFarland and GaborSzabo - Sympatico (El)
Little Richard - She's Got It (Poppy Disc)
The Go! Team - Mike Crisis (mi)
She & Him - You Really Got A Hold On Me ( Domino)
Tedd y Thompson - a Piece Of What You Need (Verve)
Richard And Linda Thompson - Has He Got A Friend For Me (Island)
Ladyhawke - Paris S'Enflamme (Island)
Van Morrison - Cul de Sac (alternate take) (Polydor)
Jon Redfern - Play Of Fear (Reveal)
Patti Smith - Changing Of The Guards (Columbia)
Grinderman - When My Love Comes Down (Mute)
Mr Scruff - Kalimba (Ninjatune)
Philip Glass - Runaway Horses (Nonesuch)