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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. Baron Von Talbot

    Baron Von Talbot Well-Known Member

    One thing you can be sure of in Van's carreer, just when you thought 'man i really dig that guy and his albums' he comes up with something completely different. Into The Music and esp. Wavelength were chock full of really great music, fantastic songs, good lyrics and beautiful melodies; now he bores you to death with 30 minutes improvistion, that sound like Miles Davis Martha. Wasn't it after that album that he got kicked out by his record company ? i wouldn't be astonished. L'art Pour L'art. sure it's great, but where are the songs ?
    Okay i admitt one superfiicial listen was all i attention i gave to that "Not For Everyone" album. Enough to really turn me off completely. It might click on another occasion; but in general i have problems when the form is lost in music. That's so seventies...In Live Situaations that's a whole different srorie, i remember some Burning Spear adventures into the deep, that completely had me burning on fire too...
     
  2. MikeP5877

    MikeP5877 Non-essential

    Location:
    OH
    No.

    Van left WB after Wavelength and signed to Polydor starting with "Into The Music", except for the US, where his albums came out on WB up through and including "Inarticulate Speech of the Heart".
     
  3. tfarney

    tfarney Active Member

    Location:
    Charlotte,NC
    Well, different strokes and all that. Like I said in my first post:

    THE ONE THING: This record is an act of defiance. It probably wasn’t meant to be, but it just is. Like Springsteen’s Nebraska, it is a blatantly un-commercial, inaccessible work hot on the heels of a period of public success. Common One says, intentionally or not, “I’ll be damned if you’ll make a pop star out of me. Here’s one so far over your heads that you’ll still be playing catch-up in the next century.”


    Tim
     
  4. Sneaky Pete

    Sneaky Pete Senior Member

    Location:
    NYC USA
    At risk of sounding like a broken record, I love this album. It has a great sense of spontaneity and everyone playing in the same room. I think there is a great deal of improvisation in the the lyrics as well. Van uses his voice as an instrument with daring use of repetition and jazz phrasing.

    I do not mind the "name checks" of poets. That is a soul music R&B tradition. I have an old James Brown record where he name checks favorite foods. The lyric sheet would substitute for a menu at Sylvia's Soul food restaurant in Harlem... "Cornbead, butter beans, ham hocks, grits and gravy, cracklin' bread, swuss steak." Songs like Sweet Soul Music, are in that "name check" tradition. I agree Common One has been transformed and is much better in concert, however I think that is because it was always improvisational in intent, and composition.

    The silliness of lines like "Holy magnet give you attraction, I was attracted to you" is tempered by the sheer joy and exuberance of the performance. Van is full of some ecstatic energy and it is bursting out in the song. "It's not why, why, why, It just is..." pure zen. In the moment.

    Yes, the meditative songs Haunts of Ancient Peace, and When Heart is Open can take you into another zone if you allow yourself to be transported. The whole thing is leavened by riotous, righteous, blowing from Ellis, Isham and company.

    The players are part of what redeems this record and make it work. Satisfied is the R&B touchstone of the album, with a call and response that perfectly builds in tension then explodes in release. I love the song, but in this context it is almost hubris, tempting the fates to claim one has achieved satisfaction.

    Van took a critical beating on this one and it is consistently pointed to as the proof of his self-indulgence. In fact he was brave and honest enough to give us unvarnished music, free of ego. He put some "stink" on it as Ray Charles used to say; and like some aged cheeses it is not for everyone. I think this album overjoys as many people as it offends, because it is a strong statement. To quote another Van tune, "In order to win you must be prepared to lose sometimes, and leave one or two cards showing...." This is a win.
     
  5. Sneaky Pete

    Sneaky Pete Senior Member

    Location:
    NYC USA
    Oops, this should read... (I agree Summertime in England has been transformed and is much better in concert, however I think that is because it was always improvisational in intent, and composition.):eek:

    But you guys all knew that anyway. That is what happens when you are in a hurry.:agree: :agree:
     
  6. DJ WILBUR

    DJ WILBUR The Cappuccino Kid

    we did, we did...:edthumbs:
     
  7. Clarkophile

    Clarkophile Too Long in Exile Thread Starter

    Location:
    St. Thomas, ON
    Good to be back. I've been reading all of the great posts for Common One and I look forward to getting back into the music after I've unpacked and things have settled down.
     
  8. DJ WILBUR

    DJ WILBUR The Cappuccino Kid

    oh take your time...all great writers do....:D ...we can wait...we on our van morrison holiday break now anyway....

    so here's a question for all of you. What would you give Van Morrison for Christmas if you had the chance or the obligation to do so....
     
  9. Buzzcat

    Buzzcat New Member

    Location:
    Madison, WI
    Well, being I've never heard it in any other format, I think it sounds great. When I dropped it onto cd, I was quite surprised to see how long an album it is and then thought, well, it sure doesn't suffer due to it. Sounds full and rich to me.
     
  10. Sneaky Pete

    Sneaky Pete Senior Member

    Location:
    NYC USA
    How about a fruit basket, hold the banana and kiwi? (See the link below) Or we could all pitch in and get him an S Class Mercedes, he does deserve it. (see page 5):laugh:

    Welcome back missing Byrd.

    http://www.thesmokinggun.com/backstagetour/vanmorrison/vanmorrison1.html
     
  11. laughingboy

    laughingboy Forum Resident

    Location:
    Bucks, UK
    Common One

    It is almost impossible to explain how great Common One is; it is also near impossible to explain why. Suffice to say that in all the best writers' output there is a moment when they produce something so singular, so rich and strange, that it couldn't have come from anyone else but them. Miraculously, Van Morrison managed to reach this happy place more than once in his career, but in my opinion, Common One - the last of these moments - is perhaps the most singular.

    It is the moment that Sly Stone reached in "There's a Riot" and "Fresh". It is Arthur Lee and "Forever Changes"; Prince and "Sign Of The Times"; Joni Mitchell and "Hegira"; Kevin Shields and "Loveless". It is something that, once you hear it, won't leave you alone.

    But here's the funny thing. At the same time as being something wonderful, when you approach it with a different cast of mind and from another point of view, it is simply weird. I don't know if this makes sense to anyone who hasn't heard this album or, say, "Slim Slow Slider" from Astral Weeks, or "Listen To the Lion", or "Streets Of Arklow". Van takes you to the brink of your willingness to indulge him, and then, just as you think he might have lost you, he pays you back with ecstatic wonder. On every rational level, he is talking nonsense plain and simple; on another level he is conducting spirits, channelling multitudes, he is speaking in tongues.

    There is a school of thought that says you only want to listen to a song until you get the hang of it, and fully understand what it is about. You can then move on. That might be nonsense, but if it's true, I don't think I'll ever stop wanting to hear this record.
     
  12. albert_m

    albert_m Forum Resident

    Location:
    Atl., Ga, USA
    Regarding the album being inaccessible, I think that ye part of it is and it doesn't have many songs, but Satisfied, Wild Honey, and even Spirit are very accessible and very good. They along with album really highlight some of the different sides/sounds of Van too.

    Of course an album isn't typically accessible when it begins as this one does and this one is no exception with the first track, but Summetime's over indulgent length aside, it helps transition to familiar ground. I really like Common One, well the first 5 songs anyway.
     
  13. Clarkophile

    Clarkophile Too Long in Exile Thread Starter

    Location:
    St. Thomas, ON
    My copy of the Heylin book arrived!
     
  14. conniefrancis

    conniefrancis New Member

    Location:
    Brookfield, OH
    This one gets in the pantheon from the get-go, even if it only included Summertime in England. Even if it only had "my high in the art of suffering one."
     
  15. Clarkophile

    Clarkophile Too Long in Exile Thread Starter

    Location:
    St. Thomas, ON
    Van's right on schedule!:laugh: Does he ever slow down?

    I was just wondering when we'd get a new release from our dear Mr. Crankypants.
    Thanks, Craig.:righton:
     
  16. laughingboy

    laughingboy Forum Resident

    Location:
    Bucks, UK
    Pee Wee Ellis

    Another thing about this album is that you would never guess that the man responsible for, amongst many of the album's highlights, the fantastic horn arrangement on Wild Honey cut his teeth in James Brown's Band. Mind you, it sounds like it was written after Jeff Labes' string arrangement, and so it's difficult to tell where Labes' contribution begins and ends.

    Let's hear it for Alfred "Pee Wee" Ellis!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alfred_"Pee_Wee"_Ellis
     
  17. tfarney

    tfarney Active Member

    Location:
    Charlotte,NC
    Yeah...I once read a review that supposed that Van Morrison was the best white horn arranger the reviewer had ever heard. I got a pretty good giggle out of that one.

    Tim
     
  18. Sneaky Pete

    Sneaky Pete Senior Member

    Location:
    NYC USA

    I think a JB alum in Van's band makes perfect sense. He certainly has been a good fit. Pee Wee has also done a few solo albums and he generally includes a cover of a Van tune. :agree:

    Three cheers for Pee Wee Ellis.:edthumbs:
     
  19. Clarkophile

    Clarkophile Too Long in Exile Thread Starter

    Location:
    St. Thomas, ON
    In Inarticulate Speech of the Heart, author John Collis refers to "When Heart is Open" as "unlistenable". (Not necessarily my view, folks, I'm just the messenger.)
     
  20. JA Fant

    JA Fant Well-Known Member

    really enjoy reading this thread!
     
  21. Clarkophile

    Clarkophile Too Long in Exile Thread Starter

    Location:
    St. Thomas, ON
    I agree. I'm really blown away by the thoughtful, insightful posts that have been generated by this thread. At the risk of sounding elitist, it's such a relief to visit this thread on a daily basis as a respite from the usual "Led Zeppelin sucks!"/"Uhh, no, you suck!"-style of writing that sometimes goes on here at SHtv.
     
  22. DJ WILBUR

    DJ WILBUR The Cappuccino Kid

    John Collis is UnReadable.
     
  23. Clarkophile

    Clarkophile Too Long in Exile Thread Starter

    Location:
    St. Thomas, ON
    :laugh: :thumbsup:

    :biglaugh:
     
  24. Sneaky Pete

    Sneaky Pete Senior Member

    Location:
    NYC USA
    Everyone knows you need an attention span to appreciate that song.:p :D
     
  25. Clarkophile

    Clarkophile Too Long in Exile Thread Starter

    Location:
    St. Thomas, ON
    As I've said many times in this thread, Collis's book leaves one with the feeling that he has nothing but contempt for Van and his music. Not a pleasant read, I'm afraid---clearly he wants to bring him down a peg or two and his style betrays a certain amount of disdain, if not downright mean-spiritedness---but at the time I bought it, it was the only Van book on the shelves at the bookstore, so I grabbed it without question.
    Then I bought the Hinton book, which kind of went too far in the other direction: it's way too flowery, and reveals a writing style that is both precious and pretentious. From everything JasonK has been kind enough to post, I'm counting on the Heylin book to be a more even-handed approach to that loveable little rapscallion, George Ivan.
     
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