Van Morrison was working through one of his greatest -- yet least appreciated -- creative periods when he made this album, one that burrows deeply into an introspective jazz-rooted spiritual groove. With Mark Isham's lonely muted trumpet up front, listeners are in the jazz world immediately with "Haunts of Ancient Peace," merging perfectly with Morrison's idiosyncratic vocal style. A low-pressure soul-jazz organ riff lays down the base of the most easily assimilated track, "Satisfied," as Morrison's lyric indicates that he has reached a state of internal peace. "Wild Honey" has R&B horn riffs over Philly-style strings, while "Spirit" mostly pursues a self-fulfillment path similar to that of "Satisfied." Ultimately, the record stands or falls upon two remarkable, gigantic 15-minute pieces, "Summertime in England" and "When Heart Is Open." The propulsive opening of "Summertime" drops names of Morrison's favorite poets and authors; the track teeters upon indulgence but you are drawn in by Morrison's obsessions with lines and phrases like "common one" and "let your red robe go," his voice becoming a twin brother of arranger Pee Wee Ellis' riffing sax. Lonely horns over the hilltops open "When Heart Is Open," and it begins to resemble a sequel to Miles Davis' treatment of "In a Silent Way," setting a peaceful, mesmerizing mood that carries you through its enormous length to the end of the record. No wonder the rock critics of the time didn't get it; this is music outside the pop mainstream, and even Morrison's own earlier musical territory. But it retains its trancelike power to this day.
|Label:||Warner Bros / Wea|
Performance CreditsVan Morrison Primary Artist,Guitar,Harmonica,Keyboards,Saxophone,Vocals
David Hayes Bass
Mark Isham Synthesizer,Trumpet,Flugelhorn
John Allair Keyboards
Herbie Armstrong Acoustic Guitar,Electric Guitar,Rhythm Guitar,Vocals
Pee Wee Ellis Flute,Saxophone
Mick Cox Guitar
Eddie Lee Charlton Drums
Jeff Labes Conductor
Peter Van Hooke Drums
Peter Brewis Vocals,Background Vocals
Technical CreditsPee Wee Ellis Arranger,Musical Director
John Paul Jones Artwork
Dave Burgess Engineer
Jeff Labes String Arrangements
Henry Lewy Producer,Engineer
Van Morrison Producer
Chris Martin Engineer
Alex Kash Engineer
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Common One based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
I have owned this set in both LP and CD. Sometimes I think it is brilliant. The last time I listened, a few days ago, I struggled to pay attention. It is unique but that does not mean you need it, unless you are a diehard Van fan. Long songs are not usually Morrison's strong suite and a couple of these are the longest of his career. .
have only recently got into Van Morrison's music. A friend ordered "Poet's Champion Compose" and it was awesome. I went online and looked at a few CD's and thought this earlier one may be worthwhile. It is mellow and soulful. Van is a very talented individual and I enjoy his music.