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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. MikeP5877

    MikeP5877 Non-essential

    Location:
    OH
    Daring Night is easily in my top 5 favorite Van songs.
     
  2. Craig

    Craig (unspecified) Staff

    Location:
    North of Seattle
    I remember seeing a 12" single of Orangefield a couple of times in the store, but didn't buy it because I was mostly getting CDs by then. I don't remember what was on the other side.

    This is another favorite of mine. It's right is the middle of a great streak of winners by Van.
     
  3. Clarkophile

    Clarkophile Too Long in Exile Thread Starter

    Location:
    St. Thomas, ON
    I remember you made this comment earlier in the thread. That's one that has really grown on me over the years. Where I used to see it as workmanlike and tuneless, I now see it as gently insistent; the album's sleeper track.:righton:
     
  4. Clarkophile

    Clarkophile Too Long in Exile Thread Starter

    Location:
    St. Thomas, ON
    Great photo for your avatar, Craig.:righton:
    Looks like an outtake from Seeff's shoot for Wavelength.
     

    Attached Files:

  5. tfarney

    tfarney Active Member

    Location:
    Charlotte,NC
    +1 on that, Magge. I think the reason why the sequencing - and the transitiions - on this album don't get their due is because they are so subtle, so artfully executed, so right that they go unnoticed. Most deliberate transitions between songs on record are heavy-handed. "Look at me!" they cry. "See how clever I am!" Not these. They just occur; perfectly, seamlessly. And the best of the batch, as you've noted, is so subtle as to not exist in the material realm at all. This transition from wanting to write another love song to delivering one of the best ever written only exists as a concept. It's not there, on tape or disc to be heard. It only comes into existsence in the moment that you get it.

    Jeez...how clever is that?

    Tim
     
  6. Clarkophile

    Clarkophile Too Long in Exile Thread Starter

    Location:
    St. Thomas, ON
    Yeah, I agree. Along with "Memories" from Enlightenment and "One Irish Rover" from No Guru (which is the real album-ender for me;) ), "These Are the Days" ends things on a wistful, reflective note. Very effective.
     
  7. DJ WILBUR

    DJ WILBUR The Cappuccino Kid

    Orangefield 12" b/w And The Healing Has Begun, These Are The Days
     
  8. tfarney

    tfarney Active Member

    Location:
    Charlotte,NC
    PS: Oh, by the way, those of you who have given even slight praise to the last few album covers are too kind. With the possible exception of Opera House - you know, if you like that sort of busy as a bank lobby sort of thing - this is the first acceptable cover design since Common One.

    Full review, or as full as my ADHD will allow, this evening.

    Tim
     
  9. seriousfun

    seriousfun Forum Resident

    I can't (yet) find the citation, but Van has been quoted (breaking policy, so it stuck with me) as saying that Have I Told You... should be read as prayer, not a love song.
     
  10. Craig

    Craig (unspecified) Staff

    Location:
    North of Seattle
    It's in the Steve Turner book and yes it seems to be from the Wavelength shoot.

    I've been using it for my St. Patrick's Day avatar for a few years here, and thought I'd start a little early this year.
     
  11. tfarney

    tfarney Active Member

    Location:
    Charlotte,NC
    I don't doubt that a bit. But intentional or not, it's one of the best love songs ever written.

    Tim
     
  12. gohill

    gohill Forum Resident

    Location:
    Glasgow, UK
    It's a great little album. Was one of only 3 van albums i didn't have on cd (my vinyl copy is a bit crackly) so i bought this as the only one of the new cd remasters that i am likely to get. Sounds pretty good as well, similar to the original cd from what i remember. There's 3 or 4 brilliant ones here, Orangefield being the pick of the bunch. Contacting my Angel still sounds sublime especially with no clicks.

    Have to say the 2 bonus tracks on the new remaster did not look promising at all but the alternative take of Whenever God Shines His Light is really really excellent. Just Van on his own putting down a loose relaxed vocal and the arrangement is less polished. Have to say i prefer this to the album version by some distance. The other bonus track When The Saints Go Marching In is again a really pleasant surprise. Van takes a normally jaunty tune and slows it right down delivering a measured vocal that really hits the spot. A nice surprise and i am glad i got the remaster now even for the 2 added tracks which i did not think i would be saying. Hmm.. Enlightenment next, another fine album from his mid period, goes well with this one.
     
  13. Clarkophile

    Clarkophile Too Long in Exile Thread Starter

    Location:
    St. Thomas, ON
    Thanks for the descriptions of the bonus material!:righton:
     
  14. MikeP5877

    MikeP5877 Non-essential

    Location:
    OH
    It's also in the first Johnny Rogan book.
     
  15. benjaminhuf

    benjaminhuf Forum Resident

    Avalon Sunset

    AVALON SUNSET

    "Whenever God Shines His Light" – 4:58
    "Contacting My Angel" – 4:57
    "I'd Love to Write Another Song" – 2:52
    "Have I Told You Lately" – 4:20
    "Coney Island" – 2:00
    "I'm Tired Joey Boy" – 2:29
    "When Will I Ever Learn to Live in God" – 5:38
    "Orangefield" – 3:50"Daring Night" – 6:10
    "These Are the Days" – 5:08

    I've only read the last couple of pages, but this seems like a great thread. Mr. Tombourine's introductory essay was an excellent intro to this album, and it inspired me to buy it on cd at the best music store in Louisville, Ear-Xstacy on Bardstown Road. I've been listening to it in my car and at home, and so far I really like it. Just for the heck of it, I'll give a brief desciption of my experiences (limited though they are) with VM.

    I heard Moondance often on the radio in the 70s when I was growing up, but the song really sank in for me when I saw the movie American Werewolf in London in 1981. I think that's one of the best horror movies I've ever seen. And the use of Moondance in that movie is great. Is it during the love scene? Anyway, I'm not ever sure I even knew that it was VM back when I was a teenager.

    After I graduated from college in 1988 I went big from heartbreak into exploring new music. One of my guides was the Rolling Stone record guide, which introduced me in that year to Nick Drake, Van Morrison, Laura Nyro, and many others. My two VM albums were Astral Weeks and Moondance.

    Astral Weeks was a revelation to me. That's still one of my favorite albums of all time because of the trueness and originality of the vision. I remember listening to AW on my walkman as I rode my bike that summer of 88. I practically memorized it. That was the same summer I also listened a lot to Graham Parson's Mona Lisa's Sister, which I think is another great album. I liked Moondance too, but it seemed a bit tame to me compared to AW.

    And so Avalon Sunset is the first VM album I've bought since 1988. I like the first track a lot, even though I'm not religious in a traditional sense. The rest of it sounds good too, but I haven't had a chance to pay attention to the lyrics because I've been doing dishes. Anyway, thanks to the people running this thread for getting me into the record store for the first time this year.

    Benjamin
     
  16. Clarkophile

    Clarkophile Too Long in Exile Thread Starter

    Location:
    St. Thomas, ON
    Welcome to the thread, Benjamin. Post here often. We look forward to more thoughts from you as you acquire more titles.:righton:
     
  17. DJ WILBUR

    DJ WILBUR The Cappuccino Kid

    yo Ben...nice post on the Sunset...glad you got it. did u get the new one with the bonus cuts?
     
  18. tfarney

    tfarney Active Member

    Location:
    Charlotte,NC
    There's nothing really new here. We've had more than 20 years of Van's songs of agape and amour by the time this collection of them came along. We've had bouncing, infectious pop tunes like Whenever God Shines His Light and deep, meditative musical mantras like Contacting My Angel. We've had near-perfect, if predictable, blues tunes like I'd Love To Write Another Song, and love songs like the one that follows. But even though Avalon Sunset brings nothing new to the table, it has a few surprises.

    One is those wonderful, subtle transitions Maggie mentioned earlier today. The rest are even subtler, because they are measured in degrees. It seems to me - and I know this is odd - that after nearly 30 years of recording, Van reached an unprecedented level of maturity on Avalon Sunset. That lush, romantic production that almost sounded like new age when it first showed up on Inarticulate Speech Of The Heart? He owns it by the time he gets to this point. He wears it like a fine, custom-tailored suit. It's no longer new age or too smooth, it's just Van. And he seems to have put on that baritone he grew in the last decade just as comfortably. It rolls out with even greater ease than the lighter thinner voice of his youth once did.

    In fact, ease is a good word for Avalon Sunset. Everything about it feels easy, effortless. Which is pretty remarkable for something this good. And that's the other thing about Avalon Sunset. It's just really, really good. The quality of everything about it is so high - the songs, the arrangements, the performances. So while there may be nothing new here, it is some of the best of something so comfortable, familiar and easy, that I slip it on like my own suit of clothes. It's a perfect fit. And while this has never been one of the dramatic Van albums that broke ground and demanded attention, like Astral Weeks, It's Too Late Too Stop Now, Into The Music, Common One... when we were coming up on Avalon Sunset in this thread, I ripped it into my hard drive, put on my headphones and listened. I listened to it all weekend. I'm listening to it again now, and Van is asking himself when he will ever learn to live in God, and I'm wondering: How on earth can that sound come from someone who does not?

    And, of course, it doesn't.

    Tim
     
  19. curbach

    curbach Some guy on the internet

    Location:
    The ATX
    As we discuss Avalon Sunset, I suddently feel compelled to mention that I a not a religious or spiritual person at all. So it may come as some surprise that the masterpiece designation that I have been hesitant to use on most of his 80's records to this point, I will freely use now. Tim summed up my feelings well, although the analogy I had in mind is a bit different. I feel like Van had been hitting all around the bullseye without actually nailing it for the last several albums and he finally hits it here.

    I count no less than 6 classics on Avalon Sunset that would fit comfortably on a best of comp and that does not even include "Have I Told You Lately" which I dislike. (While I find it overly treacly and schmaltzy I can still appreciate that it is finely crafted and performed, and I can certainly understand others loving it. So it doesn't really detract from my positive feelings towards this album.) Even the "lesser" tracks are strong stuff. My favorites are "Whenever God Shines His Light" (Cliff Richard??? :wtf: But it works :thumbsup: ) and "These Are The Days", but I am in Van bliss with "Contacting My Angel", "When Will I Ever Learn To Live In God", "Daring Night" and "Orangefield", as well. And unless revisiting his later albums as we go through this thread changes my mind, I think this is the last truly great record he released.

    Two other things worth mentioning: there's a lot of interesting percussion going on on this album, and Georgie Fame's contributions are really nice (I'm a sucker for a good hammond organ).

    The original U.S. Mercury cd of this one sounds pretty good. Common tracks on the remastered Best Of cd are unbearably bright, so I fear any other remastered versions. . .
     
  20. jostber

    jostber Forum Resident

    Location:
    Skien, Norway
    This is one of my most-played records of Van, and actually the song "Coney Island" is my favourite on the album. A short, spiritual masterpice.

    Avalon is one of his more accessible and commercial efforts, but it is full of great music, so it works the whole way through for me.

    Is this Van's most successful record regarding record sales?
     
  21. tfarney

    tfarney Active Member

    Location:
    Charlotte,NC
    Ahh...we'll have to work on that.

    Is your profile filled out so we can see if you are qualified to make that comment :)?

    Tim
     
  22. DJ WILBUR

    DJ WILBUR The Cappuccino Kid

    ahhh, greatness. such a tricky thing to define. There are a some amazing things to follow, one of the ways the 90s catalog crept into my system was to make a "later years" comp. mining a few great songs off of each "marginal" release. over the years, that comp got longer and longer and the "marginal" got smaller and smaller but none of the 90s albums blew me away at first, but much is quite strong within them.

    I think its great you're open minded enough to stick with us and his latter work and re-evaluate it as we go. Avalon certainly is a high high peak, maybe we dont quite go any higher, but some go mighty high....

    you are right on about the percussive elements within this record, so many great moments of detail along the way. this was a great lineup of musicians....
     
  23. jostber

    jostber Forum Resident

    Location:
    Skien, Norway
  24. tfarney

    tfarney Active Member

    Location:
    Charlotte,NC
    The next one up gets there IMO. More on that later.

    Tim
     
  25. DJ WILBUR

    DJ WILBUR The Cappuccino Kid

    that link was not bringing me to the description, anyway found it and here it is. nice find Tim!

    Coney Island" is a spoken-word song written by Northern Irish singer-songwriter Van Morrison and included on his 1989 album, Avalon Sunset. The narrative is accompanied by lush instrumentation which successfully contrasts with Morrison's thick Ulster brogue. The singer revisits his youthful trips with his mother to the seaside at Coney Island, in County Down, Northern Ireland. The trip from Belfast in the song names the localities of Downpatrick, St. John's Point, Strangford Lough, Shrigley, Killyleagh, Lecale District and Ardglass. The narrative vividly pictures a bright Autumn day of birdwatching, stopping for Sunday papers, and for "a couple of jars of mussels and some potted herrings in case we get famished before dinner." A reviewer noted: "You get a great rush of satisfaction here; in knowing that Van Morrison, despite his long, painful progress towards spiritual election, is still a ravenous foodie at heart."[1]The song ends with the spoken words, "Wouldn't it be great if it could be like this all the time."

    The village of Shrigley dating back to 1824 was replaced with modern homes and shops after 1968 but a restored village as seen by Morrison and his mother is being planned. [2]
     
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