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Van Morrison - Another Glorious Decade
You may not be familiar with the Irish singer Van Morrison, but you're certainly familiar with his music with songs like "Into the Mystic," "Glad Tidings" and "Wild Night," the latter of which John Cougar Mellencamp covered and saw some minor success with. Morrison, now into his sixth decade of recording and/or performing, released albums in each of his first eight years as a musician. He then took a three-year hiatus before releasing ten albums over the decade starting from 1977. And in Another Glorious Decade, this era is examined.
Using interviews of (mostly) music writers and former musicians in Morrison's band, they talk about Morrison as a singer and as a personality in the studio. This is another of these unauthorized bio-mentaries that examine an artist's work without getting participation from the artist, but in the case of Morrison, a singer who not a lot is known about for me, there was certainly some illumination to the performer.
In the first eight albums, Morrison released hit albums like "Astral Weeks," "Moondance" and "Tupelo Honey," but when he came back from his sabbatical, things were more experimental and seemed to reflect some soul-searching on his part. 1983's "Inarticulate Speech of the Heart" not only included a dedication to scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard but included an album largely based around instrumentals, which ignored his talented vocals. Other albums ventured into Jazz or New Age and fell on deaf ears, but ones like 1986's "No Guru, No Method, No Teacher" explored spirituality in ways his fans may not have appreciated before, and 1979's "Into the Music" is one of Morrison's best albums, period.
Some of the interviews with the former Morrison musicians are nice, in that they get some of Morrison's personality when he worked in the studio. But they don't really give much of a connection to his dealings with his record label or with others in the studio, and those who were effected that do speak about it, don't offer much of any substance. They shrug their shoulders, say Van was a musician, and leave things at that. And the writers' insight, while appreciated and informative, did not have much in the way of deep cuts. I learned a bit, but wasn't blown away.
That said, within the unauthorized biography genre, there is a bit of a ceiling to account for when it comes to the material. Another Glorious Decade looks at Van Morrison adequately, with the subject already reclusive this look helps, even if it's far from complete.The Disc:
16:9 formatted, with some other full frame video from archived performances and television/films. It's not the prettiest a presentation, in fact it looks like someone's pushed the brightness up on the interviews. The older concert stuff looks fine and hasn't been touched up or enhanced.The Sound:
Dolby stereo, not really much a shock considering the inspiration for the material. Which is to say it's mostly interviews with some older footage thrown in. Interviews sound good and include subtitling where necessary, there is no chirping or mosquito noise to be concerned with, everything is in front of the theater and sounds fine.Extras:
The only thing is "Van Morrison and the Music Press" (16:43), which looks at Morrison's often contentious relationship with music journalists, with thoughts on said relationship by some of those same journalists. Text biographies for the documentary contributors are here as well.Final Thoughts:
Another Glorious Decade puts together some good information and almost as good insight from people who are familiar, but not intimate with Van Morrison. Technically, the disc did not handle the more contemporary things right visually, but the audio is fine, and the extra is straightforward. It uncovers some things about a generally mysterious and talented guy, which may inspire you to hunt more on your own.