Thursday, 24 July 2008

"Inarticulate Speech Of The Heart" by VAN MORRISON. A Review Of His 1983 Album Now Reissued And Remastered Onto CD In 2008 With Bonus Tracks.

VAN MORRISON is part of my Series "SOUNDS GOOD: Exceptional CD Remasters 1970s Rock And Pop" Download Book available to buy on Amazon to either your PC or Mac (it will download the Kindle software to read the book for free to your toolbar). Click on the link below to go my Author's Page for this and other related publications:


"Rave On…Down Through The Weeks Of Ages…"

"Inarticulate Speech Of the Heart" is part of the 2nd wave of Van Morrison remastered reissues to hit the shops in 2008 (see full list below). Released Monday 30 June 2008 in the UK and 8 July 2008 in the USA, it boasts an upgraded booklet, a supposedly new 96k/24 bit remaster and 2 bonus tracks for the first time.

Here's the layout (56:31 minutes):
Tracks 1 to 10 make the album originally released in March 1983 on Mercury Records
Tracks 11 and 12 are Previously Unreleased Alternate Takes of "Cry For Home" and "Inarticulate Speech Of The Heart No.2" exclusive to this disc

The band consisted of:
MARK ISHAM on Synthesisers and Trumpet
PEE WEE ELLIS on Sax, Flute and Backing Vocals
JOHN ALLAIR on Organ and Fender Rhodes
ARTY McGLYNN on Acoustic Guitar
DAVY SPILLANE on Irish Uileann Pipes and Low Flute
PETER VAN HOOKE and TOM DONLINGER on Drums and Percussion

I played this album and its Celtic mysticism to absolute death in a Dublin bedsit in 1983 - often finding that it moved me to tears. "I'm a soul in wonder..." he sang on version No. 2 of "Inarticulate..." and I often felt that on hearing this criminally underrated 80's masterpiece. I only have to hear the lyrical workout of the extraordinary and wonderful "Rave On, John Dunne" and I'm off to Vanland...

The inlay beneath the see-through CD tray has the same artwork as the album, the booklet reproduces the lyrics for the first time and of course session details, but the booklet is only functionary if not a little sloppy. Unlike the other CDs in this series, the liner notes do NOT reproduce the lyrics to the bonus tracks. Also while the sound is hugely improved over the initial CD releases, when I A/B this with the 1998 remaster, the differences are slight if non-existent - and on most tracks it sounds precisely the same? Which makes you wonder why the booklet doesn't say WHO remastered this or WHEN and why the gold label on the outside jewel case seems to indicate that it's a "new" remaster. Again it should be noted that the sound is clear and warm and beautiful and makes you reassess just how good so many of these tracks were - and still are. But you can't help feel that this smacks of repackaging an old cow with new bells - conning fans into thinking this is a new version - and to my ears - it isn't, which is very disappointing.

The two supposed bonus tracks are hardly worth forking out for - I can barely detect the difference between the Alternate Take of "Cry For Home" with the finished take - if anything the Alternate is a little under-produced. The Alternate Take of "Inarticulate Speech...No.2" is far better - this version has the guitars very much to the fore and it's nearly as good as the beautiful finished version - not as good, but nearly.

Apart from the niggling packaging details and the question mark over the supposed `new' remaster - I would say that those who don't know the album should dig in with confidence. Those who already own the 1998 version, will have to make up their own minds as to a re-purchase, but unfortunately like most fans, I only have to hear "Rave On, John Dunne" and I'm gone, baby, gone - nose down in wet grass....

30 Van Morrison albums are re-issued in remastered form throughout 2008 and into early 2009. Each title contains an upgraded booklet; previously unreleased bonus tracks and all will be at mid-price. The releases are in 4 batches as follows:

28 January 2008 (7 titles)
Tupelo Honey (1971), It's Too Late To Stop Now (2 CD Live Set) (1974),
Wavelenght (1979), Into The Music (1979), A Sense Of Wonder (1985),
Avalon Sunset (1989) and Back On Top (1999)
(see SEPARATE REVIEWS for all 7)

30 June 2008 UK/1 & 8 July 2008 USA (8 titles)
Veedon Fleece (1974), Common One (1980), Inarticulate Speech Of The Heart (1983), Live At The Grand Opera House, Belfast (1984), No Guru, No Method, No Teacher (1986), Enlightenment (1990), A Night In San Francisco (2CD Live Set) (1994) and The Healing Game (1997)
(see SEPARATE reviews for "Veedon Fleece", "Common One", "No Guru, No Method, No Teacher", "Enlightenment" and the 2CD live set "A Night In San Francisco")

September 2008 (7 titles)
Saint Dominic's Preview (1972), A Period Of Transition (1977), Beautiful Vision (1982), Poetic Champions Compose (1987), Hymns To The Silence (2CD Studio Set) (1991), How Long Has This Been Going On (Live At Ronnie Scott's) (1995), Tell Me Something - The Songs Of Mose Allison (1996)

January 2009 (8 titles)
Hard Nose The Highway (1973), Irish Heartbeat (with The Chieftains) (1988),
Too Long In Exile (1993), Days Like This (1995), The Story Of Them (2CD Set) (1999), The Skiffle Sessions - Live In Belfast (with Lonnie Donegan & Chris Barber) (2000), Down The Road (2002) and What's Wrong With This Picture? (2003)

Those hoping to see desperately needed sonic upgrades of his 1st and 2nd album masterpieces on Warner Bothers "Astral Weeks" (1968) and "Moondance" (1970) or even "His Band & The Street Choir" (late 1970) will be disappointed to hear that they're NOT in this re-issue campaign - on either side of the pond. "Astral Weeks" and "Moondance" in particular have both been languishing around on crappy-sounding non-remastered CDs for over 20 years now and they're glaringly obvious omissions in this supposedly 'extensive' re-issue campaign. These universally recognized masterpieces have long deserved 2CD DELUXE EDITION treatment (some tracks in remastered form are available across the 3 volumes of "Best Of"). However, I've recently been informed by a good source that all 3 are NOW AVAILABLE since June 2008 in JAPAN in RHINO REMASTERED form. See the excellent Japanese site CDJAPAN.CO.JP for details (worded in English).

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