VAN MORRISON - Inarticulate Speech of the Heart (1983) & A Sense Of Wonder (1984)
Almost a forgotten album, Inarticulate Speech of the Heart takes listeners to the deepest, most inward areas of Van Morrison's renegade Irish soul, the culmination of his spiritual jazz period and also perhaps not coincidentally the last record he made for Warner Bros. Four of the 11 tracks are moody instrumentals, which might partly explain the indifference of many rock critics toward the album, although the album's very title gives a clue to their presence. The mood is predominantly mellow but never flaccid or complacent; there is a radiance that glows throughout. "Higher Than the World" is simply one of the most beautiful recordings Morrison ever made, with Mark Isham's choir-like synthesizer laying down the lovely backdrop. The instrumental "Connswater" is the most Irish-flavored piece that Morrison had made up to that point, and would continue to be until he recorded with the Chieftains in 1988. "Rave on, John Donne" in part a recitation invoking a roster of writers over a supple two-chord vamp seems to have had the longest afterlife, reappearing in Morrison's live shows and greatest-hits compilations. "The Street Only Knew Your Name" is the only piece that could be classified as a rocker, tempered even here by the synthesizer overlays. The record sold poorly, but many of those who bought it consider it one of the most cherished items in their Van Morrison collections.
Van Morrison's U.S. label debut with Polygram (which had issued his Live at the Grand Opera House Belfast album in England earlier) A Sense Of Wonder is a strong effort, mixing some of his familiar influences R&B, poetry, mysticism on such characteristic tracks as "Tore Down a la Rimbaud." It might be fair to say that, by now, Morrison's fans had heard what he had to say and the rest was just repetition, but he continued to write and perform at a high level at this mature stage in his career. The 29 January 2008 reissued and remastered version of the album contains an alternative take of "Crazy Jane on God" and "A Sense of Wonder".
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