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. dee

    dee Senior Member

    ft. lauderdale, fl
    Yes, on all points.
  2. Clarkophile

    Clarkophile Through the Morning, Through the Night Thread Starter

    I hear you, and I wasn't taking issue with your take on it; I guess I was trying to work out my own thoughts on the song. Your thoughts kind of spurred me on into really thinking about it, getting a better sense of my own opinions, so I'm grateful.
  3. dee

    dee Senior Member

    ft. lauderdale, fl
    Van with a profound sense of humor. :righton:
  4. Sneaky Pete

    Sneaky Pete Senior Member

    When I saw him in concert at the Pier and the song opened with "Copy cats have ripped off my songs, Copy cats have ripped off my melodies" I had never heard the album. I thought he just threw those lines in, I was surprised to actually find them on the album (on vinyl when I first bought it).

    Ultimately, I think the message of the song is "I'm not going to be bitter." I don't think the tune is bitter, I'm not so sure about Mr. Morrison.
  5. curbach

    curbach Some guy on the internet

    The ATX
    That's what so great about this thread--and this forum. So many interested fans expressing so many viewpoints. In many cases (as with most Van's catalog) I'm generally alone in my fandom in the "real world", so I haven't really had the opportunity to fully flesh out my thoughts on an album. Or be challenged by other's opinions. How many people do you actually know who own Van's entire catalog? (I myself have a few holes in my collection in the later years, but we'll get to that. . .) Thanks again to you and DJ Wilbur for doing the heavy lifting here, and providing much of the food for thought :thumbsup:
  6. dee

    dee Senior Member

    ft. lauderdale, fl
    Sounds like a good plan. Maybe a Sunday evening 'meditation' listening to NG one more time. PCC await.
  7. tfarney

    tfarney Active Member

    No need to hide under that chair. By the way, I was listening to your avatar this morning - Mona Lisa's Sister - and while I know he was influenced by Van, I was really hearing more Elvis Costello. Pity, that's the only thing I have on CD. Had a few more on vinyl in the day.

  8. laughingboy

    laughingboy Forum Resident

    Bucks, UK
    Yes, as usual you are spot on about this. The only occasion on this album where I think that sticks should have been used is 'Ivory Tower'. I'd love to hear that song with the kind of propulsive backbeat and arrangement it deserves.

    Something along the lines of 'Wild Night', perhaps...

    DJ WILBUR The Cappuccino Kid


    Poetic Champions Compose

    1. Spanish Steps
    2. The Mystery
    3. Queen of the Slipstream
    4. I Forgot Love Existed
    5. Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child
    6. Celtic Excavation
    7. Someone Like You
    8. Alan Watts Blues
    9. Give Me My Rapture
    10. Did Ye Get Healed?
    11. Allow Me

    My first attempt was to write a poem about this album and not critique it, but I wasn’t clever enough to come up with anything worthy. This was the record that in 1987 made me a Van Morrison fan, again, as an adult this time and this was a mighty “adult listen” for me at the time. I remember hearing "Spanish Steps" on CD101.9, a “new jazz station”…a “cool station”, that today, as I write this, recently switched formats after 20 years…but in 1987, with the Pat Metheny and Swing Out Sister and Matt Bianco music, well I listened to it often and the mournful jazz strains of “Spanish Steps” snake charmed me onto some magic carpet that I’ve been on ever since, inhaling every note the man’s ever done since this release.

    Certainly a much lighter listen than the cover would have anyone think it would be. Man, what a sour puss on that blue cover. Blue and grey….This album has several instrumentals and on this one release, I love them all, this is not muzak lite, they work really well for me on this album, whereas some of his instrumentals on earlier albums make me wince.

    The Mystery” drifting out of the speakers after the sexy sultry “Spanish Steps” is just perfection in a musical segue…with his “trust what I say and do what you’re told baby, and all your dirt with turn into gold” with harmonica strained blues backing… “Queen of the Slipstream” a decent song with the song title within these lyrics, probably the least fave on here.

    I Forgot That Love Existed”, man, this is such a great song lyrically….

    I forgot that love existed troubled in my mind.
    Heartache after heartache, worried all the time.
    I forgot that love existed
    then I saw the light
    Everyone around me make everything alright.

    Oh, oh Socrates and Plato they
    Praised it to the skies.
    Anyone who's ever loved
    Everyone who's ever tried.

    If my heart could do my thinking
    And my head begin to feel
    I would look upon the world anew

    Another great sax performance by van and man, 4 songs in and this is one heckova job Vannie….

    Now comes the oh my gosh wow, “Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child” and right here has Van ever been more naked and exposed to all of us, his humanness? Man, he takes this spiritual and just soars with it and I don’t know that any of his contemporaries could top this gritty soulful exposed performance. The only misstep on this record for me is the placing of “Celtic Excavation” after Motherless Child. It’s just a beautiful instrumental, but it somehow robs me of the emotion I get from Motherless Child. I think I would have followed it with “Alan Watts Blues”, it feels like the antidote to the message of Motherless Child…and one of this albums many highlights.

    Give Me My Rapture” and “Did Ye Get Healed” both are, terrific songs on every level and this record is certainly in my Top Ten of all time Van favorite albums…

    Poetic Champions and No Guru are the 80s essential twins to have if you can only have two.

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  10. Craig

    Craig (unspecified) Staff

    North of Seattle
    Queen of the Slipstream is my favorite song on the album. A beautiful love song. :)
  11. Randy W

    Randy W Original Member

    Great album, one of my faves.

    Sonically, also good for dialing in VTA. ;)
  12. curbach

    curbach Some guy on the internet

    The ATX
    Finally an album cover I can say I really like. Van looks cool here, and the color scheme and graphic elements are pleasing as well.

    This is definitely another solid 80's effort. I think this album gets off to rough start with "Spanish Steps" (a fine instrumental--I admit to having a wow moment the first time I heard it, but questionable as an album opener) and "The Mystery" (recycled melody as we've previously discussed and I just don't like it very much). Then comes the 3 song run of "Slipstream", "I Forgot", and "Motherless Child" and all is forgiven. 3 stone cold Van classics in a row. I'm surprised by your low regard for "Queen Of The Slipstream", Mr. DJ.

    The rest of the album is good, but it doesn't live up to those 3. "Someone Like You" sounds like the schmaltzy movie soundtrack material it was destined to become, but as such things go it is still very good (unlike some of Van's later efforts in this vein). "Did Ye Get Healed?" is the only Van song I can think of that I once thought to be great, but got tired of and eventually lowered my estimation. Still a nice song.

    The other two instrumentals are nice, but I don't feel like any of them particularly fit. On Inarticulate Speech Of The Heart the instrumentals just seemed to match the feel and mood of the vocal material much better. I agree with DJ Wilbur's assessment of "Celtic Excavation" being missequenced. And "Allow Me" is a lousy closer just as "Spanish Steps" was a suspect opener. "Give Me My Rapture" sounds like the natural closer to me.

    And this may be one instance where the remaster sounds better than the original cd, although that may say more about the inadequacies of the original Mercury than the quality of the Polydor remaster. Anyway, they do sound similar and I'm still comparing so I'll have a little more to say on this later. . .
  13. Clarkophile

    Clarkophile Through the Morning, Through the Night Thread Starter

    Same here.
  14. Craig

    Craig (unspecified) Staff

    North of Seattle
    Steve Rapport, the photographer used to have a story about the photo session for the cover on his website but it doesn't seem to be there anymore.
  15. adriatikfan

    adriatikfan Senior Member

    Youre the queen of the slipstream
    With eyes that shine
    You have crossed many waters to be here
    You have drank of the fountain of innocence
    And experienced the long cold wintry years.

    Theres a dream where the contents are visible
    Where the poetic champions compose
    Will you breathe not a word of this secrecy, and
    Will you still be my special rose?

    My first daughter was born in December just over 17 years ago. The weather was pretty bad and we had to call an ambulance to get us all to the hospital; I eventually left in the early hours of the morning, had no money with me as we had left in such a hurry and had to walk home. Driving to the hospital the following morning to see my wife and daughter 'Queen of the Slipstream' came on the radio. I was already a great Van fan and knew the song but this time it just resonated in a deeper way. I had to pull over, tears streaming down my face. To this day, this is the one, this is the song that continues to pull me back into a lifetime's work.

    Oh by the way - I love the rest of the album too!

    Best Wishes

    DJ WILBUR The Cappuccino Kid

    that is such a great story. It's wonderful to hear a story like that which connects a listener with a song in such a deep way.

    Yes, I like Queen of Slipstream very much, maybe I'd badly worded my opinion of it...Its just my least favorite of all my favorites on one of my I do like it, i like this whole album very much. is my current avatar after all....

    Some of you will/may be surprised in finding out in the next few albums how much I love some of the treacly numbers he's churned out.....sometimes i'm such a sucker for Schmaltz....

    DJ WILBUR The Cappuccino Kid

    maybe the Van police had it removed :confused:
  18. Clarkophile

    Clarkophile Through the Morning, Through the Night Thread Starter

    William referred to Poetic Champions Compose and No Guru as "twins"; similarly, I see them as twin albums conjoined in excellence, but these are children with differing temperaments: For me, No Guru, has always been an album synonymous with melancholic autumnal reflection; PCC, with its lush and langourous instrumentals and unabashedly schmaltzy love songs, feels like an album best enjoyed on a breezy summer morning.

    It's nice to Van finally getting it right with the instrumentals. The sequencing issues notwithstanding, I think this is evidence enough Van could have probably pulled off an album consisting entirely of instrumental music, though it looks doubtful at this late stage. These pieces are far better than the likes of "Scandinavia" or "Spike and Boffyflow."

    The farther we get from the 1980's, the less I'm bothered by things like the so-cheesy keyboard in "I Forgot That Love Existed." I remember hearing the album at the time of its release and shuddering at those keyboards. Now, somehow, 21 years later, they actually seem warm and inviting to me. Funny how opinions change and evolve.

    "Someone Like You", if not acknowledged as a standard by anyone else, is at least acknowledged as such by me, much in the same way as I championed "Warm Love" from Hard Nose the Highway. Sure, it's got "chick flick" written all over it, but if anyone is gonna pull off something like this, it's someone like you, George Ivan.:laugh:
    Piano, strings and Van: What's not to like here?

    So is Van telling the truth when he sings "The best is yet to come"?

    You bet he is: "Alan Watts Blues", "Give Me My Rapture" and "Did Ye Get Healed?" are all fine, top-shelf songs. A gentle spirit of positivity seems to inhabit these songs--Van has yet to succumb to the kind of bitterness which would hog tie much of his later work. Apart from "Motherless Child"--a song whose brooding nature feels somewhat out of place here--the album feels entirely hopeful and energetic.

    I don't like those three pictures of Van with the guitar, sax and piano. He looks like a scowling chubby turtle busting out of his shell.

    DJ WILBUR The Cappuccino Kid

    Its a beautiful song agreed and I'm a sucker for these songs but almost afraid to admit it in here...:hide: . for instance, I love "Have I Told You Lately That I Love You"...:hide: ....there, now its out there.....some of you are :laughup: and thinking :crazy: ...

    Now Phyllis (thats what Elton calls Rod Stewart by the way and if its good enough for Elton to call him that then its good enough for me to call him that)...Phyllis might have destroyed that song to wedding song oblivia, but i was secretly in love with it from the moment I heard Vans version. I know, I know...:tsk: I just lost a lot of respect in here.....:winkgrin:
  20. adriatikfan

    adriatikfan Senior Member

    When I took the daughter mentioned in a previous post, along with her younger sister and my wife to see Van in December, 'Have I told You' was one of the songs she enjoyed most (along with a particularly spirited performance of Moondance).

    Best Wishes
  21. Clarkophile

    Clarkophile Through the Morning, Through the Night Thread Starter

    "Song of Being a Child", which later surfaced on The Philospoher's Stone, was from the PCC sessions.
    Heylin lists one other outtake, a song called "Jerusalem."
  22. adriatikfan

    adriatikfan Senior Member

    Was this an original composition or the setting by Parry of Blake's famous poem?

    Best Wishes
  23. Clarkophile

    Clarkophile Through the Morning, Through the Night Thread Starter

    Good question. I bet it is. I'll have to look into that after work. Only had time for that quick post...well, and this one.;) :laugh:
  24. adriatikfan

    adriatikfan Senior Member

    Thanks Tom - I'll look out for your post.

    Best Wishes

    DJ WILBUR The Cappuccino Kid

    The Rolling Stone Review

    Although it doesn't soar as unexpectedly high as last year's No Guru, No Method, No Teacher, Van Morrison's Poetic Champions Compose is another worthy installment in his series of soulful, meditative explorations. Unlike other aging pop performers who respond to changing tastes by desperately, aimlessly chasing trends, Morrison has retreated toward his deliberate Celtic muse, refining past achievements and digging deeper at the edges of his inspiration.

    Still, the R&B elements – and almost all the uptempo leanings – in Morrison's diverse mix of influences are barely implied on Poetic Champions Compose. And it doesn't help that some of the song titles ("Queen of the Slipstream," "Alan Watts Blues," "Give Me My Rapture") sound ripe for Morrison parodists. Some arrangements veer dangerously close to the insipidness of fusion, and the lyrics often establish situations or moods without resolving them (even if Morrison can still render the most banal lyric listenable). Two lyrics rise above this complacency: "I Forgot That Love Existed" is gorgeous devotion, and the traditional "Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child" is trenchant despair. For once, Morrison is more successful on the instrumentals, especially "Spanish Steps," which features his broad, sly alto sax; the three wordless tracks are beautiful listening but not easy listening.

    Just because there's no breakthrough on Poetic Champions Compose is no reason to dismiss it. As far back as Moondance, Morrison has traveled in small increments across albums, sketching in more details each time. Like Neil Young – another restless veteran who has been prematurely blackballed, only to persevere – Morrison follows his muse wherever he likes. And every time, those who have committed themselves to the journey have been rewarded. (RS 514)

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