Van Morrison - Enlightenment
incredibly prolific since the 1960's we here look at Van Morrison's 1990 release, Enlightenment. He tends to return to a fe different styles over and over again, but these are never less than pleasurable. Dreamy nature loving poet, upbeat troubador in love, lover of primitive rock and roll and sometimes curmudgeonly veteran of the music industry. Enlightenment is a mixture of the dreamy and the upbeat.
The record bears some classics but does not maintain the same standard throughout. Nevertheless it does start off with one of his very best. real real gone is joy in a four minute nutshell. Van sings of love and happiness and that splendidness of being alive is augmented and reinforced by the horn section. He even brings in the old nostalgic trick of reminding us of past soulful greats. Sam Cooke is on the radio here. No doubt that's the same radio Luxembourg Van used to listen to on the AM wireless. Interestingly Sam Cooke iis still being quoted, recently by the likes of the rap star Kanye West.
next up we have the title track, Enlightenment. Light guitar and brushed cymbals. Its Van Morrison singing about the perfect life. Has he ever found it. Perhaps its best for us that he's still looking. Its a dreamy song. you can imagine waltzing with your beloved to this one. A bit of hazy harmonica adds to the whole atmosphere.
This next song is called So quiet in here. Van employs the lines 'so quiet in here', so peaceful in here' to create the feeling of bliss over gorgeous instrumentation and soaring piano by Michael O'Suilleabhain. And it goes on for over 6 minutes. It lulls you into a peaceful, blissful sleep.
Next song, in a way, namechecks his previous album. Its called Avalon of the heart. and is a slow one. Its not the most memorable track. Piano very slowly provides the accompaniment to a Van singing his heart out. Soaring strings and harmonica also make an entrance while Van sings of his lady in Camelot. And just to complete things the Ambrosian singer's choir even appears. 'See me through' completes side one in similar laidback fashion and with more of a whimper than a bang.
Side two and you're wanting to join in with him as he sings about sweet bird of youth in his soul on 'Youth of 1000 summers. Again its a fun upbeat number without particular depth but certainly good for listening to and dancing to.
'In the days before rock 'n roll' is all about the wireless and Radio Luxembourg. It is, as usual, for Van on this subject full of nostalgia and a love for bygone times. It is spoken rather than sung in an unusual stilted manner by an Irish poet called Paul Durcan. (That's just the way he speaks). Van does sing on the choruses.
The next two songs pass pleasantly enough without being hugely memorable. 'Start all over again' is made more interesting by the appearance of a vibraphone. 'She's a baby' has a chorus sung by a few guys sounding like an early R&R band.
The album ends with 'memories'. This track has another heartfelt lyric sung in a heartfelt manner. It also contains some beautiful spanish guitar and fiddle. I really like this one. It is a gorgeous end to the album and leaves one with a very pleasant aftertaste.
The band are always incredibly tight and play to perfect as on all VM records. His voice used to irritate me slightly but no longer and now I can enjoy the brilliant wealth of music and albums he has given us so far. I look forward with delight for each of his new releases. And soundwise, the recors are always of the highest quality. Excellent recording, mastering and pressing even on this record which is pressed on typically thin vinyl of the time but does not present any problems here. There is an inner paper sleeve wqith all the lyrics printed.