|Studio album by Van Morrison|
|Recorded||June 1989 at The Woolhall, Eden, Olympic, Westside and The Townhouse Studios, England|
|Van Morrison chronology|
|Singles from Avalon Sunset|
The album has been described as "a powerful statement that the often turbulent muse had stabilized and was now a sublime force flowing through Van Morrison".
The 9 January 2008 reissued and remastered version of the album contains an alternative take of "Whenever God Shines His Light" and a version of "When the Saints Go Marching In" with additional lyrics by Morrison.
It marked the first appearance with Morrison of Georgie Fame, who played the Hammond organ and also provided backup vocals and helped direct the band. Morrison and Fame would work together for most of the nineties.
The all new songs were rehearsed in two days and then recorded in another two days. Arty McGlynn (the guitarist) remarked about the band's feelings when the sessions ended "we still don't know if it's an album, or maybe a demo for an album." Morrison's reliance on spontaneity was evident on "Daring Night" where he can be heard calling out chord changes "one-four, one-four" (Gmaj to Cmaj) to Roy Jones near the song's ending. The album was previewed at a private concert at Ronnie Scott's club on 24 May 1989.
"Contacting my Angel" is actually about a woman's presence not the more heavenly kind.
On "I'd Like to Write Another Song" the singer conveys a feeling that writer's block seems to make living not worthwhile and makes a subtle joke by saying if he could only write another song: "In poetry I'd carve it well / I'd even make it rhyme/" but then doesn't by pairing it with "mind".
The album contains the religious ballad "Have I Told You Lately", which became a hit single for Morrison, reaching #12 on the Adult Contemporary Charts and was a bigger hit for Rod Stewart (who was born in the same year as Van Morrison, 1945) in 1993. Often thought to be a romantic ballad, a close listen to the lyrics confirms that this song, in common with many on this album, is actually a love song to God. This song was again released on Morrison's 2007 album, Van Morrison at the Movies - Soundtrack Hits.
The song "Coney Island" is set in a resort area in Northern Ireland and tells of a perfect day with a loved one and talk of "potted herring" and ending with the spoken words, "Wouldn't it be great if it was like this all the time?"
On a later song "When Will I Ever Learn to Live in God" the certainties of faith are questioned.
It has often been said to be Morrison's most spiritual album, but contains songs exploring more earthy pleasures such as "Coney Island" and "Daring Night". "Daring Night" is explicitly sensual with words of "And the bodies move and we sweat/And have our being/" and was originally recorded as an instrumental for the album Beautiful Vision.
The album closes with "These Are the Days" which finds the singer lost in the moment with words of "There is no past, there's only future; There's only here, there's only now".
Allmusic calls it a "deeply spiritual album" noting that although it is "not a consistently strong LP, Avalon Sunset is nevertheless the work of a master craftsman, its lush orchestration and atmospheric production casting an irresistibly elegant spell."
Robert Christgau gave it an A-, finding that: "Like it or not, Morrison's genre exercises are kind of boring. Having long since sold his soul to his Muse, he's her slave for life, and though he keeps importuning various gods to loose his chains, the best they can offer is extra inspiration once in a while—now, for instance."
In September 1989, a Time Magazine writer commented that "Van Morrison, a favorite since the early '60s, released yet another album, Avalon Sunset, a lyrical, ruminative shard of spirituality that he refused to push or publicize."
In the media and acclaim
All songs by Van Morrison
- "Whenever God Shines His Light" – 4:58
- "Contacting My Angel" – 4:57
- "I'd Love to Write Another Song" – 2:52
- "Have I Told You Lately" – 4:20
- "Coney Island" – 2:00
- "I'm Tired Joey Boy" – 2:29
- "When Will I Ever Learn to Live in God" – 5:38
- "Orangefield" – 3:50
- "Daring Night" – 6:10
- "These Are the Days" – 5:08
Bonus tracks (2008 CD reissue)
- "Whenever God Shines His Light" – 3:51 (alternative take)
- "When the Saints Go Marching In" – 6:01 (traditional, arranged Morrison)
- Van Morrison - vocal, guitar
- Alan Barnes - baritone saxophone
- Clive Culbertson - bass
- Neil Drinkwater - accordion, piano, synthesizer
- Dave Early - drums, percussion
- Cliff Hardie - trombone
- Roy Jones - drums, percussion
- Carol Kenyon - backing vocals
- Katie Kissoon - backing vocals
- Henry Lowther - trumpet
- Arty McGlynn - guitar
- Stan Sulzmann - alto saxophone
- Steve Pearce - bass guitar
|UK Albums Chart||13|
|US Billboard 200||91|
|Norwegian Albums Chart||11|
|Swedish Albums Chart||10|
|Australian Albums Chart||30|
|New Zealand Albums Chart||18|
|1989||"Have I Told You Lately"||74||14||12||12|
|"Whenever God Shines His Light"||20||—||3||—|
|"—" denotes releases that did not chart.|
- Hage, The Words and Music of Van Morrison, p. 110
- Heylin, Can You Feel the Silence?, p. 429
- Hinton, Celtic Crossroads, p. 256
- Hinton. Celtic Crossroads. p. 275-280
- Ankenny, Jason. "Review: Avalon Sunset". allmusic.com. Retrieved 22 January 2010.
- Christgau, Robert. "Van Morrison reviews". robertchristgau.com. Archived from the original on 11 February 2010. Retrieved 22 January 2010.
- "The Rolling Stones: Roll them bones". time.com. 4 September 1989. Retrieved 22 February 2010.
- "Rocklist.net...The Times All Time Top 100 Albums - 1993". Rocklistmusic.co.uk. Retrieved 25 January 2014.
- Hage, Erik (2009). The Words and Music of Van Morrison, Praeger Publishers, ISBN 978-0-313-35862-3
- Heylin, Clinton (2003). Can You Feel the Silence? Van Morrison: A New Biography, Chicago Review Press ISBN 1-55652-542-7
- Hinton, Brian (1997). Celtic Crossroads: The Art of Van Morrison, Sanctuary, ISBN 1-86074-169-X