The Healing Game (Remastered) Van Morrison
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- 1Rough God Goes Riding06:18
- 2Fire In the Belly06:34
- 3This Weight04:37
- 4Waiting Game05:56
- 5Piper at the Gates of Dawn03:53
- 6Burning Ground05:38
- 7It Once Was My Life05:11
- 8Sometimes We Cry05:14
- 9If You Love Me05:01
- 10The Healing Game05:16
- 11At the End of the Day04:30
Info for The Healing Game (Remastered)
Originally released in 1997, The Healing Game marked an important transition for Van Morrison. After a period of crafting romantic ballads that found mainstream success, Van felt once more compelled to revisit the jazz and rhythm and blues-inspired style that influenced his earliest work. To achieve this, he assembled a killer new band that included saxophonist Pee Wee Ellis, Georgie Fame and bassist Alec Dankworth.
"Van Morrison never stopped recording during the 1990s, but for a little while it seemed as if he was disconnected from his muse. It wasn't so much his series of jazz cover albums -- he'd return to this vein often in subsequent decades -- but his songwriting that showed signs bitterness, particularly on 1995's Days Like This, where he seemed dismissive of the very notion of being a songwriter. In that light, it's hard not to see 1997's The Healing Game as a rejuvenation. Indeed, the album's very title suggests that Morrison is in the process of mending fences and reconnecting with a sense of joy, a process that began during his deep dive into Mose Allison and other bluesy jazz artists in the mid-'90s. Morrison retains that sense of swing on The Healing Game -- he also retains keyboardist Georgie Fame, who would become a fixture on Morrison's albums over the next two decades -- and it invigorates a set of songs that aren't necessarily all that different from what he's been writing as of late; he's still specializing in ballads, blues, and folk-rock colored by R&B. The subtle differences make a difference, though, whether they lie in the lyrics or, especially, the music, which feels warmer and more relaxed than the album's relatively recent companions. Morrison seems at home within the easy grooves of The Healing Game, and while that alone is enough to make the album worth revisits, it's also true the album boasts a sturdy selection of songs, highlighted by the meditative title track, the searching "Rough God Goes Riding," and the impassioned "Fire in the Belly." (Stephen Thomas Erlewine, AMG)
Van Morrison, vocals, acoustic guitar, harmonica
Haji Ahkba, flugelhorn
Robin Aspland, piano
Phil Coulter, piano on "Piper at the Gates of Dawn" and "At the End of the Day"
Alec Dankworth, double bass
Geoff Dunn, drums, percussion
Pee Wee Ellis, soprano and baritone saxophones, background vocals
Georgie Fame, Hammond organ, background vocals
Leo Green, tenor saxophone, background vocals
Matt Holland, trumpet, background vocals
Ronnie Johnson, electric guitar
Brian Kennedy, background vocals
Katie Kissoon, background vocals
Paddy Moloney, uilleann pipes, whistle on "Piper at the Gates of Dawn"
Peter O'Hanlon, dobro on "Piper at the Gates of Dawn" and "At the End of the Day"
Ralph Salmins, percussion
Nicky Scott, bass
One of music’s true originals Van Morrison’s unique and inspirational musical legacy is rooted in postwar Belfast.
Born in 1945 Van heard his Shipyard worker father’s collection of blues, country and gospel early in life.
Feeding off musical greats such as Hank Williams, Jimmie Rodgers, Muddy Waters, Mahalia Jackson and Leadbelly he was a travelling musician at 13 and singing, playing guitar and sax, in several bands, before forming Them in 1964.
Making their name at Belfast’s Maritime Club Them soon established Van as a major force in the British R&B scene. Morrison’s matchless vocal and songwriting talents produced instant classics such as the much covered ‘Gloria’ and ‘Here Comes The Night’.
Those talents found full astonishing range in Van’s solo career.
After working with Them’s New York producer Bert Berns on beautiful Top 40 pop hit ‘Brown Eyed Girl’ (1967), Morrison moved to another realm.
Recorded over 3 days with legendary jazz musicians Astral Weeks (1968) is a still singular album combining street poetry, jazz improvisation, Celtic invocation and Afro Celtic Blues wailing.
Morrison would weave these and myriad other influences into the albums that followed in quick succession.
Reflecting on new life in America on the joyous Sinatra soul of Moondance (1970) and the country inflected Tupelo Honey (1971) he summoned old spiritual and ancestral life in the epic St Dominic’s Preview (1972) closer track Listen To The Lion.
Double live album Too Late To Stop Now (1973) highlighted Morrison’s superlative performing and bandleader skills. Mapping out a richly varied musical course throughout the 70s he shone among an all-star cast including Bob Dylan and Muddy Waters on The Band’s Last Waltz.
Indeed, borne of his Irish Showband instincts, the magic of the live performance has been a consistent feature of Morrison’s career.
Settling back into life in the UK in 1980 he released Common One an album centring on Summertime In England an extraordinary invocation of literary, sensual and spiritual pleasure the song would often become a thrilling improvised centrepiece to his live shows.
Steering his own course throughout the 80s on albums such as No Guru, No Method, No Teacher he claimed Celtic roots with The Chieftains on Irish Heartbeat. Teaming with Georgie Fame brought new impetus to his live show while Avalon Sunset saw him back in the album and single charts by the decades end.
Van Morrison continued to advance on his status as a game- changing artist through the 90s and into the 21st century.
Awards and accolades - a Brit, an OBE, an Ivor Novello, 6 Grammys, honourary doctorates from Queen’s University Belfast and the University of Ulster, entry into The Rock n Roll Hall of Fame and the French Ordres Des Artes Et Des Lettres - attested to the international reach of Van’s musical art.
Yet there was never any suggestion that Morrison, one of the most prolific recording artists and hardest working live performers of his era, would ever rest on his laurels.
Collaborations with, among others, John Lee Hooker, Ray Charles, Lonnie Donegan, Mose Allison and Tom Jones confirmed the breadth of his musical reach.
Morrison’s visionary songwriting and mastery of many genres continued to shine on albums celebrating and re-exploring his blues, jazz, skiffle and country roots.
The influence of the musical journey that began back in Post War Belfast stretches across the generations, and Morrison’s questing hunger insures that the journey itself continues.
Constantly reshaping his musical history in live performance, Morrison reclaimed Astral Weeks on 2009’s album Live At The Hollywood Bowl.
The subtitle of Van Morrison's latest album, Born to Sing: No Plan B, indicates the power that music still holds for this living legend. "No Plan B means this is not a rehearsal," says Morrison. "That’s the main thing—it’s not a hobby, it’s real, happening now, in real time."
With one of the most revered catalogues in music history and his unparalleled talents as composer, singer and performer Morrison’s past achievements loom large. But, as throughout his extraordinary career, how that past informs his future achievements and still stirs excitement and keen anticipation.
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