Thursday, 2 July 2015

"Wavelength" by VAN MORRISON (2008 Polydor/Exile Expanded CD - Tim Young Remaster) - A Review by Mark Barry…

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"…All Inhibitions…Throw Them Away…"

Can it really be nearly 40 years since I played this 1978 record to death in a Dublin bedsit? Van Morrison’s wonderful “Wavelength” has seen three or maybe even four CD variants - but this 2008 upgrade is absolutely the best version to date. Here are the Kingdom Halls and Lifetimes…

UK released 28 January 2008 - "Wavelength" by VAN MORRISON on Polydor 5305447 (Barcode 600753054475) is an 'Expanded Edition' CD Remaster with Two Bonus Tracks and breaks down as follows:

1. Kingdom Hall
2. Checkin’ It Out
3. Natalia
4. Venice U.S.A.
5. Lifetimes
6. Wavelength [Side 2]
7. Santa Fe/Beautiful Obsession
8. Hungry For Your Love
9. Take It Where You Find It
Tracks 1 to 9 are the vinyl album "Wavelength" - released October 1978 in the USA on Warner Brothers BS 3212 and in the UK on Warner Brothers K 56526

10. Kingdom Hall
11. Wavelength
Tracks 10 and 11 were recorded on the 26 November 1978 at the Roxy Theatre in L.A. and are Previously Unreleased. Both tracks feature the same band as the album sessions with KATIE KISSOON adding backing vocals to a speeded up “Kingdom Hall”. My heart always sinks when I see live tracks as bonus material on CDs – they’re usually poorly recorded, not any better than the original and act as a cheap way of suckering fans to purchase more of the same. But these live choices are not just apt - they’re actually quite good – especially when the band let’s rip on “Wavelength”.  The recordings aren’t exactly audiophile quality, but they are as spirited as the audience’s response.

The upgraded booklet contains all the lyrics, and the inner sleeve of the original album with all of its detailed session lists, but disappointingly there’s no history of where the album fits in, no new liner notes, nor any photographs.  Really could have done better here boys.

But the best bit is the SOUND. The original analogue master tapes have been 96K/24 Bit digitally remastered by Tim Young at Metropolis Mastering in London for this 28 January 2008 release – and the sound is warm, full and enlivened. Every instrument seems to be leaping out of the speakers and the effect is to make you almost double take on every single track. Stuff appears on each track that you haven’t heard before. Great!

And this is not a misery-guts Van album either. From the jaunty opener “Kingdom Hall”, the whole album is “up”. Speaking of “Kingdom Hall”, it features a wonderful Synth Solo from GARTH HUDSON of THE BAND (he’s also on the LP finisher “Take It Where You Find It”) and every one of the nine tracks features the keyboard work of PETER BARDENS from CAMEL. The punch out of the tender and lovely “Hungry For Your Love” is fantastic, the Remaster bringing out the rhythm section of PETER VAN HOOKE on Drums and MICKEY FEAT on Bass – it’s Steely Dan tight, but without ever swamping the loveliness of the song. And the issue is mid-price too - I picked up my copy for £6 in Central London.

All in all, a great sounding re-issue and one I urge fans and the uninitiated to get stuck into pronto.

PS: VAN MORRISON Remasters - Released and CANCELLED
Like “Tupelo Honey” - 28 other Van Morrison albums were to be re-issued in remastered form throughout 2008 and into early 2009. Each was to contain upgraded booklets, previously unreleased material and all were to be at mid-price. They were to be released in 4 batches as listed below (29 in total) - but famously batch 3 and 4 were cancelled indefinitely. These lists are for info purposes...

January 2008 (7 titles)
Tupelo Honey (1971), It’s Too Late To Stop Now (2 CD Live Set) (1974),
Wavelength (1978), Into The Music (1979), A Sense Of Wonder (1985),
Avalon Sunset (1989) and Back On Top (1999)

June 2008 (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)

September 2008 (7 titles) - CANCELLED
Saint Dominic’s Preview (1972), A Period Of Transition (1977), Beautiful Vision (1982), Poetic Champions Compose (1987), Hymns To The Silence (2CD Studio Set), 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) - CANCELLED
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)

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