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Magic Time

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Barnes & Noble - David Sprague
Van Morrison has always had a tendency to alternate personae from album to album, waxing spiritual for a spell, then returning to the lusty thickets planted by the bluesmen of yore. Magic Time, however, isn't quite so cut-and-dried in its approach. Morrison the mystic makes his presence felt on a number of cuts, most palpably the anthemic "Keep Mediocrity at Bay," a raw-but-right affirmation that finds the singer repeating the titular advisory like a mantra between fiery harmonica blasts. That tenor, which recalls the searching quality of discs like No Guru, No Method, No Teacher, also manifests itself on the comparatively subdued but emotionally unrestrained "Gypsy in...
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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - David Sprague
Van Morrison has always had a tendency to alternate personae from album to album, waxing spiritual for a spell, then returning to the lusty thickets planted by the bluesmen of yore. Magic Time, however, isn't quite so cut-and-dried in its approach. Morrison the mystic makes his presence felt on a number of cuts, most palpably the anthemic "Keep Mediocrity at Bay," a raw-but-right affirmation that finds the singer repeating the titular advisory like a mantra between fiery harmonica blasts. That tenor, which recalls the searching quality of discs like No Guru, No Method, No Teacher, also manifests itself on the comparatively subdued but emotionally unrestrained "Gypsy in My Soul." As on many of his best albums, Morrison swims into an undercurrent of bitterness, sometimes bemoaning his own fate -- as on the string-saturated ode to isolation "Just like Greta" -- and sometimes venturing into far deeper waters, as he does with the fervent "They Sold Me Out," a visitation of Jesus Christ's betrayal. While that may sound like -- and is -- pretty heavy going, Morrison punctuates the disc with songs that resonate with old-fashioned romance a relatively straightforward, swinging take on the Sinatra-popularized "This Love of Mine" and rich musical history the Depression-era standard "I'm Confessin' ". The sonic backdrops shift every bit as often as do the moods, with warming washes of organ and plaintive brass wails taking turns at the fore, but through it all, Morrison remains in control -- a musical guru and a teacher for the ages.
All Music Guide - Thom Jurek
Magic Time is one of those rare, intermittent Van Morrison records that consciously offers a bird's eye view of everywhere he's been musically and weaves it all together into a heady brew. The last one was The Healing Game in 1997. He's made fine records since Down the Road, Back on Top, but they've been focused on whatever Muse was pulling his coattails at the time. Magic Time is restless and freewheeling. Lyrically, it's alternately bittersweet, celebratory, and ornery. Like all of his records, notions of the past haunt these songs like familiar specters making sure they are not forgotten. Here, Celtic soul, gritty blues, fingerpopping swing, R&B, and classic pop all jockey for dominance over ten originals and three covers. Morrison's sequencing keeps them balanced and the proceedings sharp. "Stranded" has a gorgeous faux doo wop lilt, and an elegant, timeless piano that cascades from the ether as a nocturnal alto saxophone Morrison announces a stolid yet world-weary vocal that unhurriedly moves along to a backing chorus. One can hear traces of the Platters' "Twilight Time" and the Penguins' "Earth Angel" in its grain. "Celtic New Year" is trademark Morrison; the long, loping, repetitive line that is his trademark fuels this one. It's carried by the interplay between Morrison's acoustic and the late Foggy Lyttle's electric guitar fills, and aided by Chieftain Paddy Moloney's whistle. A moving yet unobtrusive string arrangement by Fiachra Trench lifts this tale of separation and longing into the large space inhabited by Morrison's voice. Through his lyrical frame, he reaches that place in the heart that whispers of longings so deep they lie beyond the reach of language. The scene changes on track three as the blues make their entrance on "Keep Mediocrity at Bay" with some fine harp work by Morrison, and the wondrously gritty "Evening Train." On the latter, it's Lyttle's guitar the album is dedicated to him and David Hayes' whomping bass that drive the engine, with Morrison and horns punching up into the maelstrom. Lyttle's knotty razored fills push Morrison's roaring vocal on to the ledge. The covers all come from the American jazz canon: Fats Waller's "Lonely and Blue," and two tunes associated with Frank Sinatra -- "I'm Confessin'" and "This Love of Mine" with lyrics by him!. These tunes are beautifully placed in the album's mix and Morrison's readings are serious, very credible. While "Just Like Greta" is yet another Morrison litany to be left alone, its seductive melody draws the listener deep in with its shimmering organ, pronounced hypnotic line, mournful strings, and a chorus of female voices that add a softer dimension to its edgy intent. "Gypsy in My Soul" is pure, nocturnal velvet funk with great piano work by Brian Connor. The acoustic "The Lion This Time" is one of the finest ballads Morrison has cut in decades. Period. "Carry On Regardless," is a stinging, jagged reggae-touched blues that sends the proceeding out in near riotous joy. Magic Time may look back over decades, but it's far from nostalgic. It connects the musical past to Morrison's present and points to a future in the timelessness of great musical tradition. And it displays in spades that its creator never stops looking for new ways to go deeper into the heart of song.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 5/17/2005
  • Label: Geffen Records
  • UPC: 602498709450
  • Catalog Number: 000466202

Tracks

Disc 1
  1. 1 Stranded (5:38)
  2. 2 Celtic New Year (6:12)
  3. 3 Keep Mediocrity at Bay (3:44)
  4. 4 Evening Train (2:51)
  5. 5 This Love of Mine (2:44)
  6. 6 I'm Confessin' (4:29)
  7. 7 Just Like Greta (6:27)
  8. 8 Gypsy in My Soul (4:04)
  9. 9 Lonely and Blue (3:44)
  10. 10 This Lion This Time (4:58)
  11. 11 Magic Time (5:08)
  12. 12 They Sold Me Out (3:13)
  13. 13 Carry on Regardless (5:54)
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Album Credits

Performance Credits
Van Morrison Primary Artist, Acoustic Guitar, Guitar, Harmonica, Alto Saxophone, Vocals
David Hayes Bass
John Allair Organ
Liam Bradley Drums, Background Vocals
Noel Bridgeman Drums
Mick Green Guitar
Bobby Irwin Drums
Jerome Rimson Bass, Background Vocals
Foggy Lyttle Guitar
Rosie Wetters Strings, Leader
Martin Winning Baritone Saxophone, Tenor Saxophone
Brian Connor Piano, Electric Piano
Aine Whelan Background Vocals
Paddy Maloney Human Whistle
Matt Holland Trumpet
Myles Drennan Piano, Hammond B3
Karen Hamill Background Vocals
Dave Lewis Organ, Piano
Crawford Bell Background Vocals
The Wired Strings Strings
Olwin Bell Background Vocals
Johnathan Mele Drums
Siobhan Pettit Background Vocals
Dave Lewis Piano
Michael Fields Lute, spanish guitar
Johnny Scott Background Vocals
Technical Credits
Frank Sinatra Composer
Richard Evans Art Direction
Mick Glossop Engineer
Brian Masterson Engineer
Van Morrison Composer, Producer, Audio Production
Al J. Neiburg Composer
Ellis Reynolds Composer
Walter Samuel Engineer
Henry W. Sanicola Jr. Composer
Fiachra Trench String Arrangements
Alastair McMillan Engineer
Edna Walsh Engineer
Sol Parker Composer
Solly Lipsitz Liner Notes
Tim Young Mastering
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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    I love this CD!

    Magic Time has been in my car CD player for the last 6 weeks. I cannot get enough of it. The only songs I do not care for are the "standards" but I am not a fan of that genre of music in general. The sax & piano on Stranded are just gorgeous. Celtic New Year is simply lovely. Keep Mediocrity At Bay, Evening Train & Carry on Regardless get my toes tapping and Van sounds like he is having big time fun. I don't think I can even choose a favorite song. The whole cd is beautifully played and produced.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    not very magic to me

    this is the last van morrison album i ever buy. he has been phoning it in the past 4 or 5 albums. just collecting paychecks if you ask me. there is not one song on here that i ever want to hear again. it's a shame too, since his earlier albums have some great music. if you want to check out van morrison buy his greatest hits, or an album like moonglow. i left this one at the health club. maybe someone else will like it. this is van morrison as a vegas lounge act.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Sublime

    Magic Time is pure Morrison magic. The 13 tracks are a splendid survey of the vast musical landscape he has covered in his soulful, inspired career. Every song here is beautifully crafted; the performances are superb. His vocal instrument is burnished to perfection. I consider MT a masterpiece and an earthly testament of Van's unworldly genius.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Tired of this VM

    I have kept hoping that Van at some point would cheer up and stop complaining but it seems this is the rut that he is destined to stay in. Unfortunately the themes that have run through Van's music are getting stale to say the least. By the way Van, you are using certain phrases way too often for those of us who have listened to your music over the past 40 years.(Indian summer, hustle time, etc.) While there are some honestly good songs on this CD, it is once again a huge dissapointment. Hey Van, lighten up. You have "won" the war against the big music business exec's,you have not been misunderstood by your fans, you have not been beaten into submission by what others expect of you and if you are sad and melancholy.....man just get over it and start making good music again!

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