Poetic Champions Compose

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Poetic Champions Compose
Studio album by Van Morrison
Released September 1987
Recorded Summer 1987
The Wool Hall Studios, Beckington and Townhouse Studios, London
Genre Celtic, Folk-rock
Length 47:45
Label Mercury
Producer Van Morrison
Van Morrison chronology
No Guru, No Method, No Teacher
Poetic Champions Compose
Irish Heartbeat
Singles from Poetic Champions Compose
  1. "Did Ye Get Healed?" b/w "Allow Me"
    Released: August 1987
  2. "Someone Like You" b/w "Celtic Excavation"
    Released: November 1987
  3. "Queen of the Slipstream" b/w "Spanish Steps"
    Released: April 1988

Poetic Champions Compose is the seventeenth studio album by Northern Irish singer-songwriter Van Morrison, released in 1987 on Mercury. As described by Brian Hinton: "It is an album which is more than the sum of its parts, exuding an overall sense of calm and optimism."[1]

Recording and composition[edit]

Poetic Champions Compose was recorded in summer 1987 at Wool Hall Studios in Beckington with Mick Glossop as engineer.[2]

Morrison was quoted during this time period as saying "Psychologists will tell you that artists have to be in a state of despair before they produce great work, but I don't think that... In my case I know it doesn't create better work. I produce better work if I'm content. I can't create that feeling if I'm in a state of conflict." [3] Johnny Rogan felt that it emphasized his "commitments to creating a more contemplative style of music" and that what came across most in the album was "Morrison's heightened sense of ecstasy, purification and renewal."[3]

Morrison originally intended the album to consist wholly of jazz instrumental works, but later said that "when I did three numbers I thought, 'No, I don't wanna do that,' and changed my mind."[4] Nonetheless, each side of the album opens with an instrumental, "Spanish Steps" and "Celtic Excavation", and closes with another, "Allow Me".

According to Brian Hinton, "Spanish Steps" is "a tune as calm as a millpond."[5] Morrison's philosophy reading list is evident in "Alan Watts Blues", and Socrates and Plato are mentioned in "I Forgot That Love Existed", as well as Rudolf Steiner's pronouncement about the importance of "thinking with the heart and feeling with the mind". Fiachra Trench writes the string and woodwind arrangement on "The Mystery", which strikes a spiritual theme. The album features two love songs that have had an enduring popularity, "Queen of the Slipstream" and "Someone Like You".[3] The only song not penned by Morrison is the Negro spiritual "Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child". Writes Hinton, "It is 'Mother Ireland' whom Van is missing and his world weary vocals are like sobs of pain."[6] "Give Me My Rapture" and "Did Ye Get Healed?" are powerful and optimistic statements of the deep spiritual priorities in Morrison's music.


Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4/5 stars[7]
Robert Christgau B+[8]
Rolling Stone (Not Rated)[9]

AllMusic's review referred to it as "another of the art records" that Morrison had been producing since perhaps Common One but called it a "bit shocking" that "Morrison begins to shake off his self-conscious straitjacket here, letting a little more grit into the music, even if the record still is firmly ensconced in mid-tempos and ballads, with only Van's voice (soulful, yet not histrionic) to pull you in."[7] The Rolling Stone reviewer commented that "Unlike other aging pop performers who respond to changing tastes by desperately, aimlessly chasing trends, Morrison has retreated toward his deliberate Celtic muse, refining past achievements and digging deeper at the edges of his inspiration."[9]

Track listing[edit]

All songs by Van Morrison except as noted.

Side one[edit]

  1. "Spanish Steps" – 5:20
  2. "The Mystery" – 5:16
  3. "Queen of the Slipstream" – 4:55
  4. "I Forgot That Love Existed" – 4:17
  5. "Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child" (traditional) – 4:27

Side two[edit]

  1. "Celtic Excavation" – 3:17
  2. "Someone Like You" – 4:06
  3. "Alan Watts Blues" – 4:24
  4. "Give Me My Rapture" – 3:44
  5. "Did Ye Get Healed?" – 4:06
  6. "Allow Me" – 3:53




  • Producer: Van Morrison
  • Engineer: Mick Glossop
  • Photography: Steve Rapport Direct Art Green Ink.
  • Co-ordination: Sian Williams
  • String and Woodwind Arrangements: Fiachra Trench
  • Synthesizer Programming: Paul Ridout



Billboard (North America)

Year Chart Position
1987 The Billboard 200 90

UK Album Chart

Year Chart Position
1987 UK Album Chart 22



Year Single Chart Position
1987 "Someone Like You" Adult Contemporary 28


  1. ^ Hinton, Celtic Crossroads, p. 265
  2. ^ Heylin, Can You Feel the Silence?, p. 525
  3. ^ a b c Rogan, No Surrender, p. 367
  4. ^ Heylin, Can You Feel the Silence?, p.412
  5. ^ Hinton, Celtic Crossroads, p. 263
  6. ^ Hinton, Celtic Crossroads, p. 264
  7. ^ a b Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Poetic Champions Compose". AllMusic. Retrieved 2010-09-12. 
  8. ^ "Van Morrison". robertchristgau.com. Retrieved 2010-09-12. 
  9. ^ a b Guterman, Jimmy (1998-07-14). "Van Morrison:Poetic Champions Compose". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2010-09-12.