Saturday, 28 July 2018

Van Morrison - Inarticulate Speech Of The Heart (1983)


  

Released March 1983

TRACK LISTING

1. Higher Than The World
2. Connswater
3. River of Time
4. Celtic Swing
5. Rave On John Donne
6. Inarticulate Speech Of The Heart No. 1
7. Irish Heartbeat
8. The Street Only Knew Your Name
9. Cry For Home
10. Inarticulate Speech Of The Heart No. 2
11. September Night

For many, this 1983 album is virtually a forgotten one. Not for me. I bought it back then, actually before I owned other more well-known Van Morrison albums, so it always had resonance with me. Morrison had become very spiritual at the time, getting involved with scientology. He wants to produce a laid-back, almost transcendental album, hence four of its eleven tracks being low-key, peaceful instrumentals, such as the very Irish-influenced "Connswater" and the equally Irish but more lively, bopping saxophone tones of "Celtic Swing". "Higher Than The World" is actually one of Morrison's most reflective and serene songs. "River Of Time" ploughs a similar furrow. The vibe on this album is very relaxing. It is a perfect late night (or even early morning) album. It is not as good as its predecessor, "Beautiful Vision", or "Common One", or "A Sense Of Wonder". However, it is not without its merits.

"Rave On John Donne" is one of those classic Morrison spoken pieces of nostalgia as Morrison speaks to the metaphysical poet of the title as well as Walt Whitman, Omar Khayyam, W.B. Yeats, empiricism, theosophy....you get the picture? Spoken against a sleepy saxophone and percussion backing that finally picks up pace at the end (although the live version does this more) it is, despite its obvious possible pretensions, a delight from beginning to end. "Inarticulate Speech Of The Heart No.1" is a delightful, chilled out instrumental. To think that, in 1983, "New Romanticism" was at its height - preening peacock pop stars dominated music, yet the comparatively faceless, imageless Van Morrison was putting out albums like this, oblivious to any contemporaneous trends. You have to admire him for that. His music was/is timeless.

"Irish Heartbeat", with its wistful lyrics and flute-dominated Celtic air again showed a desire to be more Irish on his albums, as indeed "Beautiful Vision" had done. In so many ways, this is an intensely spiritual record as well, just as 1980's "Common One" had been. Van is laying his spirit bare - his Celtic soul and his striving for better understanding. The listener is free to join him.

"The Street Only Knew Your Name" is a classic piece of Morrison soul. It wouldn't have sounded out of place on 1970's "Street Choir". Insistent, melodic Celtic Soul. I read somewhere it was about Gene Vincent and indeed "Be Bop A Lula", "Boppin' The Blues" and "Who Slapped John" are name checked in the fade out. "Cry For Home" is another uplifting, almost hymnal song with Van getting quite emotional. It is a beautiful song. These last three have been real classic pieces of Morrison soul. Almost effortlessly intense. "Inarticulate Speech Of The Heart No. 2" adds some vocals, not many, but enough to just about turn it into a song. Not that it really matters, the voice almost becomes an instrument. "I'm a soul in wonder" growls Van over the sweet, gospelly backing vocals as the track fades out. Beautiful.

"September Night" floats its instrumental tones around for five minutes or so to gently ease us out of this fundamentally peaceful and rewarding album. I have read somewhere the usual cliched criticisms of this album as being "elevator music". Yeah right. Do me a favour. That is unfair. I'd love it if I were in a lift and this came on.

B-

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