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Van Morrison

Van Morrison Album Reviews

Van Morrison began his career as the vocalist for the garage band Them, scoring hits with ‘Gloria’ and ‘Here Comes The Night’. After Them disbanded, his career stalled with a stint on Bang records, where artistic frustration caused him to produce his infamous contractual obligation sessions, featuring tossed off songs like ‘Ring Worm’. His proper solo career began with 1968’s singular Astral Weeks, a unique statement which combined stream-of-consciousness lyrics with a fluid and spontaneous musical framework provided by the accompanying jazz musicians. Van Morrison streamlined his sound for the 1970 hit Moondance, combining his backgrounds in folk and R&B into an accessible package. He stretched out artistically with 1972’s excellent St Dominic’s Preview and 1974’s atmospheric Veedon Fleece. Veedon Fleece was followed by a three year silence, which marked the end of the first phase of his career.

While his subsequent solo work is arguably less consistent than his 1968-74 albums, Van Morrison’s post-1977 career has plenty of highlights and is worth exploring. While he generally moved towards a slicker and less organic sound, he remained an interesting figure, veering from commercially oriented efforts like 1979’s excellent Into The Music to 1980’s esoteric Common One – his continued creativity is arguably linked to his continued wrestling with his faith throughout the 1980s. Since the early 1990s, his solo career has arguably been only for die-hard fans, but he enjoyed a long fertile period – Rod Stewart turned 1989’s love song to God, ‘Have I Told You Lately’ into something on a modern standard.

Van Morrison’s most distinct feature is his voice – an expressive instrument which synthesises his Irish roots with the R&B and jazz that he grew up hearing in Belfast. Even though his vocal prowess diminished after the mid-1970s, his voice remains distinctive. His exploration of Celtic Soul has effectively fuelled his entire career, as he veered between commercial pop and more uncompromising efforts. Even if his solo career can sometimes feel obstinate and inconsistent, his body of work is uniquely his own, and he should be remembered as a giant of his era; U2 are perhaps his only competition as Ireland’s greatest musical export.

Ten Favourite Van Morrison Songs

Tupelo Honey
Saint Dominic’s Preview
Madame George
Astral Weeks
And It Stoned Me
Into The Mystic
You Don’t Pull No Punches, But You Don’t Push The River
It’s All In The Game
Full Force Gale
Snow In San Anselmo

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Blowin’ Your Mind! – Van Morrison

Blowin’ Your Mind! (1967), not rated After Them split up, Van Morrison’s solo career started under the control of manager … Continue Reading Blowin’ Your Mind! – Van Morrison

Astral Weeks – Van Morrison

Astral Weeks (1968), 9/10 Aged 23, and with the experiences of Them and Bang Records behind him, Van Morrison launched … Continue Reading Astral Weeks – Van Morrison

Moondance – Van Morrison

Moondance (1970), 9/10 Astral Weeks showcased the stream-of-consciousness, improvisational side of Van Morrison’s music, Moondance is based around punchy R&B … Continue Reading Moondance – Van Morrison

His Band and the Street Choir – Van Morrison

His Band And The Street Choir (1970), not yet rated I only picked this up recently, so far it’s essentially … Continue Reading His Band and the Street Choir – Van Morrison

Tupelo Honey – Van Morrison

Tupelo Honey (1971), 7/10 Like many of his compatriots before him, Van Morrison relocated to America, although in his case … Continue Reading Tupelo Honey – Van Morrison

Saint Dominic’s Preview – Van Morrison

Saint Dominic’s Preview (1972), 9.5/10 In yet another case of a turbulent personal life acting as the breeding ground for … Continue Reading Saint Dominic’s Preview – Van Morrison

Hard Nose The Highway – Van Morrison

Hard Nose The Highway (1973), 6.5/10 You can’t go too far wrong with Van Morrison’s 1968-1974 period; Hard Nose The … Continue Reading Hard Nose The Highway – Van Morrison

It’s Too Late To Stop Now – Van Morrison

It’s Too Late To Stop Now (1974), 7/10 Everyone who was anyone in the mid-1970s made a double live album, … Continue Reading It’s Too Late To Stop Now – Van Morrison

Veedon Fleece – Van Morrison

Veedon Fleece (1974), 8.5/10 Veedon Fleece was the last album from Van Morrison’s initial run of solo records; subsequently he … Continue Reading Veedon Fleece – Van Morrison

A Period of Transition – Van Morrison

A Period of Transition (1977), not yet rated After a three year hiatus, a very long break in the 1970s … Continue Reading A Period of Transition – Van Morrison

Wavelength – Van Morrison

Wavelength (1978), 7.5/10 After spending most of the 1970s exploring jazz and folk sounds, Van Morrison changed his approach for … Continue Reading Wavelength – Van Morrison

Into The Music – Van Morrison

Into The Music (1979), 10/10 Into The Music is a blue-print of the adult contemporary direction than Van Morrison would … Continue Reading Into The Music – Van Morrison

Common One – Van Morrison

Common One (1980), 7.5/10 Into The Music was among Van Morrison’s most accessible efforts; its followup is among the least. … Continue Reading Common One – Van Morrison

Beautiful Vision – Van Morrison

Beautiful Vision (1982), 8/10 Beautiful Vision is one of Van Morrison’s most settled, comfortable albums, like a calmer take on … Continue Reading Beautiful Vision – Van Morrison

Inarticulate Speech of the Heart – Van Morrison

Inarticulate Speech of the Heart (1982), not yet rated Have this one, but haven’t even listened to it yet. Four … Continue Reading Inarticulate Speech of the Heart – Van Morrison

A Sense of Wonder – Van Morrison

A Sense of Wonder (1985), not yet rated Haven’t heard this, should probably pick it up for completeness.

No Guru, No Method, No Teacher – Van Morrison

No Guru, No Method, No Teacher (1986), not yet rated Another discography gap, will come back and cover this.

Poetic Champions Compose – Van Morrison

Poetic Champions Compose (1987), not yet rated Have it, haven’t formed an opinion yet.

Irish Heartbeat – Van Morrison with The Chieftains

Irish Heartbeat (1988), 6/10 Van Morrison connected with Irish traditional folk perennials The Chieftains for Irish Heartbeat; its ten tracks … Continue Reading Irish Heartbeat – Van Morrison with The Chieftains

Avalon Sunset – Van Morrison

Avalon Sunset (1989), 6.5/10 Avalon Sunset, Van Morrison’s 19th studio album, was a commercial success, and his fastest album to reach … Continue Reading Avalon Sunset – Van Morrison

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