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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 pursue during the 1980s, but the song writing is so sharp that it’s his best album. It’s slickly produced and loaded with backing vocalists, strings, saxophones, and other adult contemporary paraphernalia, but for these joyous songs the sensory overload approach works beautifully, like being swept away by a wave of intertwined sexual and spiritual power. There’s still plenty of R&B in Van Morrison’s vocals, and plenty of folk underpinning in songs like ‘Rolling Hills’ and ‘Troubadours’, enough authenticity in the music to give its poppy facade depth.

The jaunty opener ‘Bright Side Of The Road’ is the best known song here, but most of these first side tracks feel like hit singles. Van Morrison discusses his relationship with his muse on the infectiously arranged ‘You Make Me Feel So Free’, with its irresistible piano riff, while Ry Cooder plays slide guitar on the unambiguous God rock of ‘Full Force Gale’ (“Like a full force gale/I was lifted up again/I was lifted up again by the Lord”). Folkie Robin Williamson plays penny whistle on the explicitly folk derived ‘Troubadours’ and ‘Rolling Hills’.

If the first side was great, the second side is even stronger, devoted to songs that share the joyous pop arrangements of the first side, but are longer and more exploratory. The eight minutes of ‘And The Healing Has Begun’ allows Morrison room for vocal improvisation, but it’s still a catchy pop song at heart, while the cover ‘It’s All In The Game’ provides the most contemplative moments.

I’m sure lots of Morrison purists will insist that moodier albums like Astral Weeks or Veedon Fleece are his best, but Into The Music is a rush of musical euphoria.

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