Van Morrison - Wavelength - Album Review


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This album was greatly influenced by what was popular at the time. The use of synthesizers and guitars is ever present, though this album still has his signature brass, backup singers, and soul. The album's opener Kingdom Hall sounds fairly similar to a lot of the classic rock bands of the time. The guitars are turned up and there is greater focus on the keyboard. Checkin' It Out sounds like his earlier signer-songwriter stuff, but has a synthesizer solo. Wavelength even has a guitar solo (which is quite rare for Van Morrison). Point is this album is a lot more rock oriented than his earlier stuff, and I love it.

With singer-songwriters you really don't think about musicianship but the keyboards and guitars are excellent. The guitar plays lots bluesy licks that accompany the music well, and the keyboards are familiar to those in 70's progressive rock bands. The whole album sounds a lot bigger and more epic than his last couple releases. The songs sometimes stretch pretty long. Three of the nine go over 6 minutes. Take It Where You Find It is an almost 9 minute ballad and Santa Fe/Beautiful Obsession is 7 minutes of good Van.

One complaint I have with this album is how some songs drag on. Venice U.S.A is six minutes of pain. Accordion solos and polka-esque verses make it unlistenable for 2 minutes, even more six minutes. Take It Where You Find It, while a great song, could lose a minute or two. Also the lack of his Jazzier/R&B songs is noticeable. If only one or two jazzy songs were added this album could be deserving of four stars.

This is one of the better albums of 1978 and one of Morrison's best of the late 70's early 80's. This album is a lot more accessible and rawer and has lots of classic rock influences. The absence of his jazzier work is missed, but the good songs make up for it. And whatever you do, stay away from Venice U.S.A..

Tracklist for Wavelength:

1. Kingdom Hall

2. Checkin' It Out

3. Natalia

4. Venice U.S.A.

5. Lifetimes

6. Wavelength

7. Santa Fe/Beautiful Obsession

8. Hungry For Your Love

9. Take It Where You Find It

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