VAN MORRISON Album by Album Discussion: Part 2 (Wavelength 1978 - Enlightenment 1990)

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Clarkophile, Nov 26, 2007.

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  1. Clarkophile

    Clarkophile Through the Morning, Through the Night Thread Starter

    Some live versions of Beautiful Vision material:

    "Cleaning Windows" (1984) (Van puffing on a cig!):tsk:

    "Dweller on the Threshold"

    "She Gives Me Religion"

    "Beautiful Vision"

    "Vanlose Stairway"

    Hey, this is a well shot/recorded gig. Was this ever officially released? Anyone know?:help:
  2. seriousfun

    seriousfun Forum Resident

    (from a first-hand source)

    Knopfler and his engineer Chuck Ainlay showed up at Van's Wool Hall Studios to record Van's Vocal for The Last Laugh with the 2" multitrack tapes of that song's backing tracks. Wool Hall did not have the same machine Knopfler and Ainlay used in the US, so they rented one in the UK, with an assistant engineer assigned to operate the machine. They had been told that Van had rehearsed the song, and would give one take.

    Wool Hall has a control room upstairs and tracking room downstairs, linked by video. Van showed up late. He appeared on the video monitor at the mic downstairs, said "roll it" and sang a reportedly great take. The assistant, unfamiliar with the tape machine, hadn't armed the track for recording. Van heard this and left.

    Hours of phone calls ensued. Van agreed to give one more, returned to the microphone, sang the performance you hear on the album, and left without a word.

    We now return to 1982 and Beautiful Vision, which I plan to listen to from my original LP tonight.
  3. onlyconnect

    onlyconnect The prose and the passion

    Winchester, UK
    I have an un-remastered WG CD as well as the remaster. I like the older CD quite a lot better. The hi-hat is less prominent although it is the same mix, there is more depth and space to my ears. Further, the remaster has a hard, slightly harsh quality that I dislike. Sorry about my imprecise language.

    I also prefer the un-remastered Common One.


    DJ WILBUR The Cappuccino Kid

    green with envy! :uhhuh:
  5. seriousfun

    seriousfun Forum Resident

    Only on

    You can't come over and listen. My girlfriend will be there!

    BV is the earliest VM LP I still have. I owned LPs back to TB Sheets, Astral Weeks, and I can't remember where the went...but my copy of BV sure sounds great.
  6. Clarkophile

    Clarkophile Through the Morning, Through the Night Thread Starter

    Now that's a cool story.

    I imagine Van gave said engineer a stare like this...:laugh:

    Attached Files:

  7. Clarkophile

    Clarkophile Through the Morning, Through the Night Thread Starter

    I don't quite know how to say this:D, but we'll be carrying on with Inarticulate Speech of the Heart either tomorrow or Monday, depending on how quickly I can get my act together.
  8. Sneaky Pete

    Sneaky Pete Senior Member

    Is this a great forum, or what? Thanks for the scoop.:)

    I still have all my old Van vinyl, but I got rid of some other stuff. I wish I had those Mink Deville records back. BV sounds best on the big black waffle enjoy.
  9. Clarkophile

    Clarkophile Through the Morning, Through the Night Thread Starter

    Okay, we're definitely going to have to wait until Monday for Inarticulate Speech of the Heart, so maybe pull it off the shelf and give it a play too.

    DJ WILBUR The Cappuccino Kid

    oh tay panky :righton:

    DJ WILBUR The Cappuccino Kid

    any more thoughts on this one? we're changing it up tomorrow....
  12. Clarkophile

    Clarkophile Through the Morning, Through the Night Thread Starter

    We'll be zooming over the earth's atmosphere in our flying sheet music around 1:00 this afternoon, but in the meantime, anyone want to help me compile a list of Van's instrumental tunes? (I've been reading that at one point Van wanted to release an album of instrumentals.)
    "Caledonia Soul Music"
    *the ones off Inarticulate Speech
    "Boffyflow and Spike" from A Sense of Wonder
    *three from Poetic Champions.

    Any other submissions?
  13. curbach

    curbach Some guy on the internet

    The ATX
    I believe there is one on Philosopher's Stone, but the name is escaping me.
  14. Clarkophile

    Clarkophile Through the Morning, Through the Night Thread Starter

    Oh, "High Spirits" isn't it? The one with the Chieftains?
  15. Clarkophile

    Clarkophile Through the Morning, Through the Night Thread Starter

    Inarticulate Speech of the Heart

    Polydor 839 604-2
    (Released March, 1983)

    1. Higher than the World (3:42)
    2. Connswater (instrumental - see Glossary entry) (4:09)
    3. River of Time (3:02)
    4. Celtic Swing (instrumental) (5:03)
    5. Rave On, John Donne (5:12)
    6. Inarticulate Speech of the Heart No. 1 (instrumental) (4:53)
    7. Irish Heartbeat (4:40)
    8. The Street Only Knew Your Name (3:36)
    9. Cry for Home (3:44)
    10. Inarticulate Speech of the Heart No. 2 (3:53)
    11. September Night (5:16)
    Total time: (47:01)

    David Hayes: Bass
    Mark Isham: Synthesizer/Trumpet
    John Allair: Keyboards
    Pee Wee Ellis: Saxophone
    Tom Donlinger: Percussion/Drums
    Mihr Un Nisa Douglass: Vocal
    Stephanie Douglass: Vocal
    Pauline Lozana: Vocal
    Arty McGlynn: Guitar
    Chris Michie: Guitar
    Van Morrison: Guitar/Keyboards/Saxophone/Vocal
    Davy Spillane: Wind
    Annie Stocking: Vocal
    Bianca Thornton: Vocal
    Peter VanHooke: Drums

    Swami Tom predicts there's going to be a communal evisceration of Van for this sometimes hilarious relic of the 1980's, from its ridiculously tacky cover to the flaccid Wyndam Hill-y/New Agey contributions of Mark Isham.
    But when discussing an album that takes me out of my comfort zone, I always try to remind myself of Pope's wise and timeless counsel to temper my comments accordingly. I have tried to understand what Van was going for and approached my review that way, instead of unfairly foisting my own expectations upon him. It is whether the work moves us which is the ultimate test; that is always the bottom line.

    As I indicated a couple of posts ago, Van considered releasing an album of instrumental music but never quite got around to it. "Connswater," "Celtic Swing" "Inarticulate Speech of the Heart #1", and "September Night" provide the most number of instrumentals to grace a Van Morrison record. The sheer number of them, coupled with the knowledge that there are always things Van could have put on the album in their place, tells us they must be seen as serious works and not merely filler. So, taken as such, these melodies are certainly pleasant enough--somewhere between movie soundtrack music and background music one might hear in a spa--but they are heavily compromised by their instrumentation. The Celtic songs sound like Celtic Muzak, to my ears anyway. The keyboards and synths ensure that there's no need for anything resembling a bona fide, played-by-a-human-being pennywhistle, or any such similar instrument. "Connswater" sounds like Yanni playing a jig; "September Night" sounds like background music from the old Star Trek series---and not in a good way.
    The music, like I said, is certainly pleasant enough, but I don't know that I can say it truly moves me to any degree. So, beyond the wash of synths, there just isn't enough here to think of this as anything more than background music. My guess is that Van was going for something like Celtic music for purposes of contemplation---an interesting idea when put that way. But somewhere between thought and expression (I put that line in for JKruppa:) ) this just became an excursion into music to get massaged by.

    The songs in which Van sings are noticeably better, but suffer many of the same liabilities as the instrumentals: the music is terribly cold and impersonal. It sounds sanitized for your protection.
    "The Street Only Knew Your Name", "Cry for Home", "Irish Heartbeat" and especially the album's best track (as is), "River of Time, are all top-drawer Van songs; instant additions to Van's list of truly fine songs. It is interesting to note, however, that three of these songs are available in superior versions elsewhere.
    "The Street Only Knew Your Name" on The Philospoher's Stone slays the limp version here; same goes for:
    "Cry for Home" (with Tom Jones, from the recent Best-Of)
    "Irish Heartbeat" (from the album with the Chieftains).

    I actually like this album much more than I seem to; it is relaxing enough and Van is in fine voice throughout (as usual), but in the end I'm troubled by something. Throughout this thread, DJ WILBUR and I have taken great pains to characterize Van as a visionary artist who stubbornly follows his own muse in spite of the demands and expectations of the music biz. Van himself has gone to great pains to leave record execs and interviewers and fans with this impression. Yet, for all of that, this album sounds like it was specifically designed to sound contemporary (read: like everyone else in the MOR). Very few of Van's albums sound like they care one whit about the then-current musical fashion. Van, to his credit, usually does not sound ahead of, part of, or behind his time, but above it, beyond it. Astral Weeks, Veedon Fleece, No Guru No Method No Teacher---all of these albums sound like they could have been recorded yesterday, and as such, they are timeless. Looked at in this way, Inarticulate Speech of the Heart is merely a moment in time.

    Attached Files:

  16. Randy W

    Randy W Original Member

    "Higher than the World" is simply sublime - again, David Hayes plays melodious Bass throughout this fine album.
  17. Clarkophile

    Clarkophile Through the Morning, Through the Night Thread Starter

    D'oh, I forgot to mention that one. You're absolutely right, I like that song very much. That's one of the few places--along with "River of Time"--where the sound and song go together really well.
  18. curbach

    curbach Some guy on the internet

    The ATX
    Well, Tom, you may not be exactly wrong in any of the particulars (I believe one on the Rolling Stone Record Guides called this album "synthesized new-age blather"), but I love this album nevertheless. It's like a warm bubble bath. "Higher Than The World" and "Rave On John Donne" (at least) belong in any serious list of Van's best songs. I find the instrumentals quite pleasing, too (as with "Scandinavia" previously).

    My only gripe with the album is that "The Street Only Knew Your Name" and "Cry For Home" are not well served by the synth-based arrangements. I much prefer the rough-and-tumble take of "Street" on Philosopher's Stone. I've never heard the other version of "Cry For Home" you mentioned. Still, in the context of the rest of the album they work well enough I suppose.

    This is the only original WB Van cd I was actively dissapointed in to the point that I picked up the remaster on an overseas trip. (Actually I meant to try the remaster of BV, too, but never got around to it.) That was many years ago and with different equipment. At the time I was satisfied that the remaster was an improvement over what I thought was an overly muddy sounding original.

    Given my reactions to the remasters I've heard in critical listening for this thread I am guessing I would not feel the same way today. Fortunately, the unremastered U.S. disc is still in print and available cheap so I can rectify the error if need be. I'll try to give the remaster a good listen this week and report back. . .
  19. elborak

    elborak Forum Resident

    An odd thing about the admittedly wretched covers for both Beautiful Vision and Inarticulate Speech Of The Heart is that they really didn't bother me the time of their release. Yeah, they didn't strike me as particularly good, but they certainly didn't immediately stand out as truly poor.

    I guess it was just the time.
  20. Solaris

    Solaris a bullet in flight

    New Orleans, LA
  21. Clarkophile

    Clarkophile Through the Morning, Through the Night Thread Starter

    Just a quick note: I purposely didn't discuss "Rave On John Donne" because I figured I'd wait until the Belfast live album. I do like that song, with the same caveats I expressed earlier.
    Had to throw that review together over my lunch and couldn't possibly include everything I wanted to say. Nice to see people digging this one though. I must say, I thought Van was gonna be raked over the coals.:laugh:
  22. Clarkophile

    Clarkophile Through the Morning, Through the Night Thread Starter

    Just to relate the above comment to what curbach said, just hearing the opening seconds of this song creates that "bubble bath" feeling as he described it. Very relaxing indeed.
  23. JohnB

    JohnB Senior Member

    There's a very nice instrumental version of "All Saints Day" which was released as a B-Side (Can't remember to what, but it was an import 12" vinyl sometime back in the mid 80's I believe) years before it showed up again, this time speeded up and with lyrics, on the Hymns to the Silence album. I much prefer the instrumental version.
  24. Clarkophile

    Clarkophile Through the Morning, Through the Night Thread Starter

    Thanks!:righton: Something to hunt down; I'm on it.

    I wonder if DJWilbur knows about this?

    Okay, so far I've got:
    Caledonia Soul Music
    Celtic Swing
    Inarticulate Speech of the Heart 1
    September Night
    Spanish Steps
    Celtic Excavation
    Allow Me
    Boffyflow and Spike

    Gotta Find:
    All Saints Day
  25. JohnB

    JohnB Senior Member

    You're welcome Tom. I used to have this single but it was lost in a fire years ago. Anyways, here's a bit more info I dug up, hope it helps.

    The instrumental of All Saints Day was released in 1983 on a 12" vinyl single with Cry For Home and an excellent live version of Summertime in England (recorded at Ulstar Hall, Belfast, June of '82).
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