Magic Time

When Van Morrison visits a recording studio, you can bet your worn-out vinyl copy of Hard Nose the Highway he will not leave until he has recorded some seriously astral Irish blues poetry ("Celtic New Year"), tributes to his pop-culture heroes ("Just Like Greta") and a lot of mellow, easy-rolling folk-jazz numbers about the evils of the modern world and the struggle of the poet. On Magic Time, Morrison vows to "Keep Mediocrity at Bay," even though "They Sold Me Out," because they couldn't kill the "Gypsy in My Soul." "The Lion This Time" is a lilting lullaby, hearkening back to the 1970s Morrison classic "Listen to the Lion," with gentle violins and vocals, and "Lonely and Blue" is a gorgeous R&B torch ballad worthy of Little Willie John.