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Album Review

Moondance (Deluxe Edition)

October 18, 2013

"Here we go to the main course!" ad-libs Van Morrison on an extended "Caravan," one of the shaggy outtakes on this fi ve-disc unpacking of the Belfast bard's 1970 jazzy-pop masterpiece. That LP is nearly all main course, and if the numerous alternate...

Album Review

Born to Sing: No Plan B

October 2, 2012

"Sartre said hell is other people/I believe that most of them are," Van Morrison sings in "Goin' Down to Monte Carlo," one of the 10 tracks on this vividly irritated, vocally compelling record. Later in the song, he rails against "phony pseudo-jazz" and...

Album Review

Veedon Fleece

July 14, 2008

By 1974, Van Morrison was probably exhausted. During the past ten years, the Irish troubadour had morphed from a garage rock king (as the leader of Them) to a pop hit machine to the craftsman of such landmark albums as Astral Weeks and Tupelo Honey. His...

Album Review

Pay The Devil

March 28, 2006

"How polished is Van Morrison's brand of musical mysticism? On last year's Magic Time, he sang a list of smutty British films and made it sound like cosmic wisdom. After forty years of astral moods, Morrison seems to have realized that his talent for...

Album Review

What's Wrong With This Picture?

October 21, 2003

On the title track of What's Wrong With This Picture?, an ode to his ever-changing self, Van Morrison proclaims with uncharacteristic giggle, "It don't mean a thing/if it ain't got that swing.And a ring-a-ding-ding." True to his word, on his first album...

Album Review

You Win Again

October 18, 2000

For years now, Van Morrison has been resolutely chipping away at his own myth: The sublime Celtic poet, the transcendental visionary of Moondance and Astral Weeks — nothing would please him more than to see those images crumble and fall away. Morrison's...

Album Review

The Philosopher's Stone

May 18, 1998

Van Morrison's music has always had a timeless quality, and on The Philosopher's Stone — a generally stellar collection of previously unreleased material, alternate versions and rarities — we discover one reason why. It turns out that Van...

Album Review

The Healing Game

February 11, 1997
Not Rated

Van Morrison is the living embodiment of an old cliché: His voice is so good, you could listen to him singing the phone book. During the course of a 30-year solo career, he has crafted classic albums like Astral Weeks, Moondance and Into the Music....

Album Review

A Night in San Francisco

July 14, 1994

Overlaid on the song titles on the back of this live double CD are the words ballads, blues, soul and funk & jazz. Conspicuously absent are rock & roll. That's probably a deliberate omission of a style that, in Van Morrison's eyes, has become...

Album Review

The Best of Van Morrison

August 5, 1993
Not Rated

Though he forever pines for his lost youth, drops the heaviest names in the arts-and-letters biz (this time out it's Oscar Wilde, Samuel Beckett and the perennial James Joyce) and loses himself in obscure mystic reveries, Van Morrison has had trouble...

Album Review

Hymns To The Silence

October 17, 1991

Like Bob Dylan, perhaps the only living rock songwriter who has matched the breadth of his vision and his impact, Van Morrison set an early standard that led followers to anticipate each new project with intense expectations. Like Dylan, too, Morrison...

Album Review

Astral Weeks: Live at the Hollywood Bowl

February 4, 2009

When Van Morrison sings, "I believe I've transcended," at the end of "Astral Weeks" — the first song in this full 2008 recital of his historic album of the same name — it is in a warm, grateful growl remarkably like that of the younger man...

Album Review

Keep It Simple

April 3, 2008

At this point in his career, Van Morrison is less interested in surprises than in further exploring his long-standing obsessions: surviving the shocks of this life and rising gracefully toward the next one. Keep It Simple finds him looking back on his...

Album Review

Magic Time

May 19, 2005

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...

Album Review

Down The Road

May 9, 2002

Van Morrison poses the question in song, midway through this fine new album: "Whatever Happened to P.J. Proby?" The answer: Proby has a Web site. A U.S.-born singer who enjoyed a flash of British fame in the mid-Sixties, Proby now tells his tale and sells...

Album Review

Back on Top

April 1, 1999

The great Irish rocker offers ten new songs here. "When the Leaves Come Falling Down" is a masterpiece, a memory of weather and Paris wherein Morrison's voice lightly colors a melody as his band conjures a background of symphonic impressionism. The other...

Album Review

Days Like This

February 2, 1998
Not Rated

Just past the halfway point of his 25th album as a solo artist, Van Morrison offers a Vegas-like soft shoe called "Songwriter." It's his statement of purpose, codified in cringe-ola couplets: "I'm a songwriter, I can put it in words/I'm a songwriter,...

Album Review

How Long Has This Been Going On

February 8, 1996
Not Rated

Aretha Franklin and Van Morrison are the best vocal improvisers of their generation, but neither can be accurately described as a jazz singer. When authentic jazz singers such as Jon Hendricks or Betty Carter improvise, they construct new harmonic lines...

Album Review

Best of Van Morrison Vol. 2

August 5, 1993

Though he forever pines for his lost youth, drops the heaviest names in the arts-and-letters biz (this time out it's Oscar Wilde, Samuel Beckett and the perennial James Joyce) and loses himself in obscure mystic reveries, Van Morrison has had trouble...

Album Review

Too Long In Exile

August 5, 1993

Though he forever pines for his lost youth, drops the heaviest names in the arts-and-letters biz (this time out it's Oscar Wilde, Samuel Beckett and the perennial James Joyce) and loses himself in obscure mystic reveries, Van Morrison has had trouble...

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