A Period of Transition
Van Morrison took a two and a half year hiatus from releasing albums in the mid 1970s, a very long break in an era when albums were often released annually. During this time he did appear in The Band’s The Last Waltz, with some memorable high kicks, while his 1974 set at Montreux Jazz Festival includes a group of songs that never appeared on a studio record. Morrison was apparently struggling with writers block, and A Period of Transition was certainly his most underwhelming album to date. Van Morrison collaborated with Dr John, who had also appeared on The Last Waltz, and his piano helps fill out the smooth sound.
As the title implies, A Period of Transition moves away from the often acoustic/folk based sound of Morrison’s early albums, and to the smooth jazz sound that defined his later work. But the issue is that A Period of Transition is a weak collection of under-written songs. At 35 minutes and 7 songs, it’s skimpy to start with. ‘Flamingos Fly’ is a standout song with an upbeat tempo and vibrant horn parts, and ‘Joyous Sound’ is energetic and fun. But many of the songs aren’t memorable beyond a repeated chorus phrase.
It’s a good practice run for the stronger albums like Wavelength and Into The Music that would follow, but A Period of Transition is the weakest album Van Morrison made during the 1970s.