Hymns To the Silence Disc One Discussion only 1. Professional Jealousy 2. I’m Not Feeling It Anymore 3. Ordinary Life 4. Some Peace of Mind 5. So Complicated 6. I Can’t Stop Loving You 7. Why Must I always Explain 8. Village Idiot 9. See Me Through, Pt. II 10. Take Me Back So Tom and I are carving this album up. I decided to be the forums Village Idiot for this one and take the lesser of the two discs in both our estimations. Realize Hymns was NEVER intended or created to be a double album a la The Wall, or Exile on Main Street, etc. This release comprises two finished Van albums. So we’ll talk about Disc One for a few days and then move on to Disc Two next week and then if you feel like it we’re going to ask all of you to create the definitive “Hymns To The Silence” single disc, if you care to. I think this could have been a very good single release and follow-up to Enlightenment myself…. The reason Van started stock piling albums was because the “Best Of Van Morrison” CD just kept selling and selling and the record label did not want to stop minting money from that briskly selling title to thrust out yet another new Van album into the mix, besides Avalon Sunset and Enlightenment were still selling well based on a good amount of radio airplay. The Music Biz was in the stage known as the CD cash cow days. Lots of cd players in cars and homes by 1990 and everyone wanted Van hits in their collection. The Best Of sold and sold and sold, who needed anything else in the market place at this time was the business line? But this decision must have made Mr. Grumpy a little cranky. Van at this time in his career, would record an album with zero label involvement and just deliver it finished with artwork and he’d then want his paycheck, thank you very much. Still having his latest artistic creation put on hold to sell “Moondance” and “Brown Eyed Girl” etc., so he goes and records the follow up to the one not out yet, etc. so it was decided to release them both as a double album, and in a “deluxe” edition as well. How many of you have the long shaped book version of this title? Its at the bottom of this post. That was the first regular album I remember coming out in a fancy package as well as regular jewel cases. Maybe to appease Mr. not happy with the music business? Now disc one…for me, well, Van is pretty cranky on this disc, after several releases of joy and wonder….well I’M NOT FEELING DISC ONE NO MORE. This is such a marginal disc for me. The biggest offence though is the Smooth Jazz noodling at the beginning of “Some Peace Of Mind” which does not give me peace of mind, it makes my skin crawl, I mean makes me run to the next button of the remote…but silly me, as “I’m just a man but I can’t suffer through this” “faux jazz noodling”. I guess in the 90’s this sounded cool? These are “hymns" to the silence...and I wonder, if he means the silencing of his muse which led to this batch of material? …still, let me start at the beginning with “Professional Jealousy”…. Professional jealousy, can bring down a nation And personal invasion, can ruin a man Not even his family, will understand what's happening The price that he's paying, or even the pain Some could take this to mean, with our “personal invasions” in this thread, our musing about his works, could we “ruin” him? Is this why that Van Morrison fansite was ordered shut down? I mean it could be taken that way in a literal fashion, though I can’t believe he’d really be torn down a la rimbaud about this sort of thing, but really such a lame lyric this song has. I nominate it for the worst opener to a Van album in a long time. It’s easily one of my least favorite Van opening tracks of all time. And this is the beginning of a two disc set. “I’m Not Feeling It Anymore” up next…clearly, he’s not, but this track has a strolling piano line and its tres cool, so is “Ordinary Life”, another funky soulful bluesy groove, but this opening triumvirate are all Van by numbers (not a bad thing normally, but after the last four it is), nothing in the opening punches are even remotely on par with the last four releases! It’s like he’d had this great patch of serenity and higher power on the last four albums, but the “program” or whatever path he was on, maybe it wasn’t working anymore, or some demons take over, cause now we’re getting this very unhappy and complaining and none too “enlightened” material. “So Complicated” is a real highlight on this one for me. I love the jazz funk of this one, great mod organ sound…the “I Just Want To Blow My Horn” line captures the vibe on this album doesn’t it? No more thoughts about the cosmos, he just wants to blow his horn, collect his paycheck, Van by numbers, its right there in the words for me…..This song “So Complicated” must have come to fruition on the recent tours he’d been doing with Georgie Fame, it sounds like a Georgie Fame jaunt to me, so great this one….If the rest of this disc was only this fun… “I Can’t Start Loving This Album” with this cover version of “I Cant Stop Loving You”, now for me, this is an off key dirge, just horrible IMO. Could be the single worst track in his entire catalog for me…it sounds like Van walked in the studio, in a bad mood and barked out the title to the band and figured everyone just knew the song by heart and there it is forever on magnetic tape, man, those backing vocals, they suk. Did they spend all 3 minutes and 58 seconds on this one to get it just right? ….hard to believe this is the Chieftains on this. Real real gone to the dogs or the whiskey bottle this one. “Why Must I Always Explain”, maybe the lyrical highpoint to this first disc. Its followed by “Village Idiot”, “Just a Closer Walk With Thee”…they feel again like Van by numbers, the latter two songs do not sound very inspired to me, he wanted a Celtic number, a gospel number, a blues number, a jazz number, its like that for me all through this disc. The irony is when this album came out I LOVED LOVED LOVED IT, I probably would have said it was my favorite at one time. I remember being glued to this one for months and months… but disc one has not held up at all for. It did not take me back to the time when I loved it. And then we close with “Take Me Back”…opening line I’ve been walking by the river, I’ve been walking down by the river, I’ve been walking down by the river. So at least he’s back by the water, maybe looking for the muse he seems to have misplaced for a minute, as he’s now in “silence”. I do enjoy this song a great deal though but not much is really going on here, it "sounds" like a great Van Morrison song, but lyrically its a tad short shrift, isn’t it? So, I could say again, Van by numbers is closing out disc one…. Take me back, take me back, take me back Take me way, way, way, way, way, way, way Back when I, when I understood, when I understood, yeah Oh, ah, take me way back, when, when, when, when, when, when When, when, when, when, when, when, when I was walking down the Walking down the street and It didn't matter `Cause everything felt, everything felt, everything felt Everything felt, everything felt, everything felt, everything felt Everything felt, everything felt, everything felt so right, ha And so good Everything felt, so right, and so good Everything felt, so right, and so good Everything felt, so right, and so good, ah Everything felt, so right, and so good Everything felt, so right, and so good, so good In the eternal now, in the eternal moment In the eternal now, in the eternal moment In the eternal now Everything felt so good, so good, so good, so good, so good And so right, so right, so right, just So good, so right, so right, in the eternal In the eternal moment, in the eternal moment In the eternal moment, in the eternal moment When you lived, when you lived When you lived, in the light When you lived in the grace In the grace, in grace When you lived in the light In the light, in the grace And the blessing. Ok then. I’ll leave you with this Van Morrison quote…. “Music is spiritual. The music business is not.” (Please hold comments about disc two until Tom begins it next Tuesday. He works so hard on these and I’d hate if we stole his thunder….I promise it’ll read like the counterpoint to my disc one rant).