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Old 08-12-2008, 09:47 PM   #51 (permalink)
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Default Inarticulate Speech of the Heart (1983)

As the decade progressed Morrison’s music became more and more inaccessible and the apex of that era is 1983’s “Inarticulate Speech of the Heart” Morrison was on a spiritual quest for clarity both in music and in life. He continued to embrace his European roots but still was fond of America. It was around this time that Morrison looked into Scientology and was for a while wrongly presumed a counselor for the organization. The music is moved toward jazz-fusion and went heavy on instrumentals and moved away from narrative or nostalgic lyrics to ethereal chants and transcendent themes.




Inarticulate Speech of the Heart (1983)

As the decade progressed Morrison’s music became more and more inaccessible and the apex of that era is 1983’s “Inarticulate Speech of the Heart” Morrison was on a spiritual quest for clarity both in music and in life. He was making “music for meditation” now. It was around this time that Morrison looked into Scientology and was for a while wrongly presumed a counselor for the organization. He has since consistently denied belonging to any organization, religious or otherwise. The music moves toward jazz-fusion and went heavy on instrumentals and moved away from narrative or nostalgic lyrics to ethereal chants and transcendent themes…

1. Higher Than the World – Jazz is the theme from note one in this light, unadorned opener. Guitar and synthesizer are the stars of the show out of the gate and carry the song into the chorus, which has Morrison sounded as grizzled as he had to date. The song from beginning to end is a bland, boring one that sets the tone for a moderately disappointing album. 5.5\10

2. Connswater – Heavy Celtic influence on this relatively upbeat instrumental that begins in very faint fashion. This is a sort of satisfying look into what Morrison’s instrumentals could, and at some of their best would become. They are musically flawless have a very gratifying way of mixing genres into their overall sound and while not the overwhelming experiences his best lyrical numbers can be, they are their own sort of undeniably enjoyable monster. 7\10

3. River of Time – Chant power lyrics and ominous feeling harmony propel this one which switches to a lighter more free tone intended to inspire. The first notable performance by the backup singers which are very good overall on this Lp. The electronic sound is just a little to heavy for me, even with the attempt to fuse it with celtic rhythms that I obviously relate to. A song on the verge of being real good that just never gets there. 6.5\10

4. Celtic Swing – Second instrumental track and again as the title suggests heavy with homeland influence. Again starting with a faint electronic hum and slowly emerging melodies, it’s the horns that first break the ice, trumpet, saxophone and percussion is next to the party then the full symphony jumps in providing a distinctly Morrison sound with almost a twinge of the orient. The electronic sound overwhelms the rest of the music however leading to a rather dull moment here and there. 6.5\10

5. Rave on John Donne – Synthesized jazz out of the gate. Morrison enters with poetry spoken throughout as a light Mark Isham Synthesizer plays along with a circular guitar rhythm. More then two minutes in Morrison begins to sing the words of the poem, saxophone and flute enter the music. Monotony with the instrumental outro, the synthesizer is the one constant throughout this song and the entire album. 6\10

6. Inarticulate Speech of the Heart No. 1 – Music that feels and sounds like a carriage ride through Ireland. It’s the first of two very individual but thematically identical parts of the title track the album was built around. The piano is brilliant setting a dulcet and appealing tone. An acquired taste to be sure. See No. 2 for total rating

7. Irish Heartbeat – Van makes it clear he intends to find a connection and clarity of this present by relating to his past. He is fully embracing his roots again and feels safe, confident and welcome “I’m going back to my own ones”. The music is melodic and the harmonious vocals as simple and safe as they are fully convey the message and feel of the song. The entire orchestra is a it’s most confident and free of any song on the album. A very pleasing song and a much needed highlight amongst an otherwise mostly bland album. 8\10

8. The Street Only Knew Your Name – The most upbeat number on the album; funky jazz guitar and a bass and drum backbone as Morrison punches out the lyrics. The electric sound carries into the piano and of course synthesizer. Morrison seems extra enthused for the song because of how rare its type is amongst this mystical theme. Confident and decisively delivered it’s a wonderful example of the formula Morrison perfected from “A Period of Transition to Beautiful Vision”. A personal favorite from the album at the time of its release. 7\10

9. Cry for Home – Another clear message and a direct musical nod to Ireland. With pipes and flute’s behind the synthesized sounds laying a bed for the album’s top vocal performance. Morrison’s message is harmoniously reinforced by his back-up choir at all the right moments. Starting with an unsure walk and escalating into a triumphant promenade it’s a new take on Morrison’s traditional build the momentum as you go song writing approach. Shortly after this album’s release Morrison played Belfast for the first time in over a decade and opened with “Cry for Home” 8\10

10. Inarticulate Speech of the Heart No. 2 – This time adding chant vocals to right from the start to the soothing melodic sounds of this two part title track. The humming drone of the music’s maintains as various sections move their musical rhythms around it. An overall well composed but hard to get excited about nucleus for the album. 7\10

11. September Night – The closing track is an eerie instrumental with a relaxing feel built around wavy music and a lot of subtle crescendo. It’s typical of the album to be a little bit light in terms of immediate effect. This one has never really grown on me though either. It just seems like an unnecessary addition at worst and out of place at best. 5.5\10

…This is simple, easy, free music, but it borders on boring throughout and if not relatable is near intolerable. Morrison was now making music for himself, his most ardent fans and those who shared his spiritual quest. The result is what has become an almost forgotten album. The music while still very well orchestrated and performed is so faint and selfish and the production and synthesized backgrounds sound dated and dry. It’s among his worst albums of the decade in my opinion, lyrically it really lacks, most of that is purposely but still, and regardless it’s a worthwhile listen if you’re really digging the music.



Defining Track(s): “Irish Heartbeat” and “Cry for Home” are the best two songs and highlight the central theme of Morrison’s rekindled love for his birth land.
Line in my head: “Stay a while with your own ones”
Christagu’s Take:. In this troubled time, rock-and-rollers have every right to place their faith in the Jehovah's Witnesses or even Scientology when they discover that Jackie Wilson didn't say it all. But to follow one with the other appears weak-minded, like praising Omar Khayyam in tandem with Kahlil Gibran. A hypothesis which the static romanticism of these reels-for-Hollywood-orchestra and other slow songs bears out. B-

Star rating: (1-5) (from my personal catalog) ***
How it made me feel today: (1-10): 6.5
Overall Ranking: TBD


Next up: A Sense of Wonder- 1984
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Old 08-13-2008, 05:44 AM   #52 (permalink)
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Any thoughts on favorites \ least favorites most interesting tracks?
Out of the few i've heard (haven't got round to converting the m4a's) Cyprus Avenue is my fave, a really nice acoustic song that builds up very well. I never thought he was much of a singer either but this surprised me. Astral Weeks is a priority on my 'to listen to' list.
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Old 08-13-2008, 03:00 PM   #53 (permalink)
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Use foobar2000 to play M4a's and your usual player for everything else that's what I do. It is easy on the system, ad free and easy to use.
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Old 08-13-2008, 03:43 PM   #54 (permalink)
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Use foobar2000 to play M4a's and your usual player for everything else that's what I do. It is easy on the system, ad free and easy to use.
Yoiink. Yeah, i'm a bit bored of the hassle now, cheers.
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Old 08-13-2008, 05:33 PM   #55 (permalink)
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Out of the few i've heard (haven't got round to converting the m4a's) Cyprus Avenue is my fave, a really nice acoustic song that builds up very well. I never thought he was much of a singer either but this surprised me. Astral Weeks is a priority on my 'to listen to' list.
sorry about the M4a's as far as Morrison as a singer, he is probably my favorite vocalist ever, so I would hope as you explore the discography you'll get a sense for how talented and unique he is.
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Old 08-18-2008, 11:17 AM   #56 (permalink)
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Default A Sense of Wonder (1984)

Van made the switch to PolyGram records following the Inarticulate Speech of the Heart album. This concluded a 15 year relationship between Morrison and Warner Bros during which time Van released almost all of his most significant works. At this point Morrison has transformed as a stage presence and performer, he is infinitely more comfortable and accepting of his place on stage and around his fans.




A Sense of Wonder (1984)

Fully inundated in the sounds of thoughts of the majestic, “A Sense of Wonder” is Van’s not so bold foray into a potential new genre which I’d describe as Celtic Rock and Soul. The fires of his quest for spiritual enlightenment and the his return home have begun to cool and he is finding new inspiration in poetry, people and the exploration of one’s self. At times Morrison is searching for what it all means, but at others he gets it just right…

1. Tore Down A La Rimbaud – Opening with a sound that reminds you immediately of “Inarticulate Speech…” The Horns freshen up the sound as the attitude livens itself up. As the song advances it starts to really glide along as Morrison continues his delicate ode to the title idol, French poet Arthur Rimbaud relating to his pain in writers block. Morrison derived the song from one he was writing following his reclusion post Veedon Fleece. 7.5\10

2. Ancient of Days – A little lighter and peppier then the it’s predecessors (previous albums) It’s that sort of stock song that Morrison adds to the albums of this period, not bad, just not good. A song with a concept that was never really fully realized and just gets constructed around a safe and simple melody and progression. Punished for it’s lack of originality slightly. 6.5\10

3. Evening Meditation – Instrumental track that would have fit perfectly with th last album, which is not necessarily a good thing. Still it’s calm, relaxing and somewhat enjoyable; there is a nice melding of Celtic and Oriental influence. Morrison’s humming surprisingly becomes a distraction then a part of the overall sound, one of the songs worst features. Really a decent number but not what I’m looking for following the previous album. 6\10

4. The Master’s Eyes – A sort of updated throwback, easy electric rock and roll guitar meets the distant humming of the flute and sincere vocal performance. Horns grown and fade in the background along with the guitar completing the cavalcade of musical mastery. Sometimes it’s good enough to just have good musicians play a song real well. In this case it works for me, very well. There are so many elements of the sound that made me love Morrison mixed with what he’s doing at the time; it helped me understand better his vision. 8\10

5. What Would I Do – Written by Ray Charles, a somewhat overlooked song in fact, it starts with piano and a faint guitar. Morrison keeps true to the spirit of the song but makes it his own, emphasizing the instrumental only when the vocals are absent and utilizing the back-up singers in ways Ray really thought to. It’s good enough to make you forget it’s a cover; it just does enough to stay interesting all the way. [B] 7\10 [\B]

6. A Sense of Wonder – Side two opens with the title track and a fitting somber mood. There is an optimistic air however as the song begins to build and the background fills with synthesizer and back-up vocals. There is a dramatic pause before the harmonizing lock-step vocals and slightly escalated horns of the chorus; a highlight of the song. Its greatest strength is the depth of the music and the atmosphere it creates. As calm and mystical as the rest of the album fulfilling its charge admirably. 7.5\10

7. Boffyflow and Spike – Starting with a strong bass and drum line the second instrumental track on the album is a fun upbeat Irish-rock jam. The most exuberant instrumental by Morrison to date (at that time) is led by a punchy guitar and the uilleann pipes and the outstanding contrast they create. This number was turned in with the help of emerging Irish rock band Moving Hearts providing the instrumental feel Van had imagined. At three minutes and change it’s the perfect length for this type of song and keeps you interested the whole way through. 8.5\10

8. If You Only Knew – Pure vintage jazz on display here as Van makes his first dip into the Mose Allison well with this jazzy jumper. The vocals of Morrison add so much to the song that Allison could not, this version feels like a cabana caper soundtrack. The furious saxophone growl and psychedelic organ grind are the central spice in a bouquet of sound that does its originator proud. 8\10

9. Let the Slave (Incorporating the Price of Experience) – This is uncharted territory for Morrison, its larger-than-life from the start, an obvious epic by Morrison’s vision, by in a style so hauntingly bright it almost confuses the senses. This was Morrison needing to bring the words to life. This one is Morrison’s love of poetry, the recital of William Blake the makes of the second half of the song is the inspiration for it all. A very bold effort 8.5\10

10. A New Kind of Man – Far too simple and safe to follow the works of this surprisingly strong side two; but it finds it’s footing and proves it’s place amongst the album. A short and sweet horn humming promise to improve and love forever gives this one the happy ending it so clearly was headed for. 7\10


…This is not empty music; the concept of music is Van’s muse. There is still an air of the recent style but this one is moving away from the form of “Inarticulate Speech of the Heart” and side two suggests towards something new and bold yet again. Morrison constantly reinvents his music around who and what are in his life at the time and this album is another example of that. Morrison does not sing of his current or past loves, of friends come and gone but instead of poets and writers and in the words of his musical Inspirations taking from Ray Charles and Mose Allison. It’s a new sound and one that is far from refined, but it’s also a needed change of pace for an artist becoming complacent at times previous.

Defining Track(s): “Let the Slave” is how people judge this album. It’s so unique and so inaccessible that it becomes obviously divisive and defining.
Line in my head: “I call my Love Philosophy”
Christagu’s Take: By marrying R&B usages to Celtic mysticism in an art that honors both and then some, Morrison proved there was more to R&B than even Ray Charles had dreamed. But when inspiration fails him, he's left with uninspired art. At his most automatic, Charles still has R&B. C+

Star rating: (1-5) (from my personal catalog) ***1/2
How it made me feel today: (1-10): 7.5
Overall Ranking: TBD


Next up: No Guru, No Method, No Teacher- 1985
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Old 08-18-2008, 12:35 PM   #57 (permalink)
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Took the video out, can't you find it on youtube?

First listen of Astral Weeks by the way, sounding really good. Great voice and some interesting compositions which work really well.
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Old 08-18-2008, 01:51 PM   #58 (permalink)
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Yeah it's not on youtube

It was a video of a 1985 performance of "Tore Down a la Rimbaud" the opening cut from the above reviewed album.

If people want to see it, it's available on vanmorrison.com in the members section.

Membership requires nothing more then an email address and a confirm email.

There are always live performances available there that you can not get on youtube

Thanks for the quick post PMO, Music banter employee of the month?
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If you're posting in the music forums make sure to be thoughtful and expressive, if you're posting in the lounge ask yourself "is this something that adds to the conversation?" It's important to remember that a lot of people use each thread. You're probably not as funny or clever as you think, I know I'm not.

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Old 08-18-2008, 02:37 PM   #59 (permalink)
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I am going to check out the compilations later tonight and give you my thoughts.
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Old 08-18-2008, 02:39 PM   #60 (permalink)
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Thanks for the quick post PMO, Music banter employee of the month?
Maybe the least busy
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