Wavelength (album)

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For other uses, see Wavelength (disambiguation).
Wavelength
Studio album by Van Morrison
Released September, 1978
Reissued January 2008 (remastered+2 tracks)
Recorded Spring 1978
Genre Pop rock, R&B
Length 49:32
Label Mercury
Producer Van Morrison, Mick Glossop
Van Morrison chronology
A Period of Transition
(1977)
Wavelength
(1978)
Into the Music
(1979)
Singles from Wavelength
  1. "Wavelength" b/w "Checkin' it Out"
    Released: September 1978
  2. "Natalia" b/w "Lifetimes"
    Released: February 1979
  3. "Kingdom Hall" b/w "Checkin' it Out"
    Released: April 1979
  4. ""
    Released:

Wavelength, the tenth studio album by Northern Irish singer-songwriter Van Morrison was released in the spring of 1978. The album has a different musical sound than his previous albums, leaning towards a pop sound with prominent electric guitars and synthesizers. Wavelength was Morrison's best selling album at the time of the original release.[1] Mick Glossop, Bobby Tench and Peter Bardens were given credit for special assistance in production.[2]

On 29 January 2008 a remastered version of the album was released. It contained two bonus tracks "Wavelength" and "Kingdom Hall", taken from the promotional album Van Morrison Live at the Roxy (1979), recorded 26 November 1978.[3]

Recording[edit]

Wavelength was recorded at the Manor in Oxfordshire, England over several months and completed later, at Shangri-la studios in America. Morrison had brought together musicians that represented almost all phases of his musical history to date: Herbie Armstrong from his showband days in Belfast, Peter Bardens from Them, Garth Hudson from The Band and Peter Van Hooke who had worked with Morrison a few years previously.[2] He also added guitarist Bobby Tench from Streetwalkers.[4]

Composition[edit]

The songs on this album recall various stages of Morrison's life. "Kingdom Hall" reflected back to his childhood in Belfast when he attended services with his mother, a practicing Jehovah's Witness at one time.[1] "Checking It Out" is about a relationship going wrong and being rescued by "guides and spirits along the way".[1] "Natalia", "Venice USA" and "Lifetimes" are love songs. "Wavelength" recalled fond memories of his adolescence, listening to the Voice of America.[1] The next track incorporates two songs Morrison had written in the early 1970s, "Santa Fe" written with Jackie DeShannon in 1973, Morrison's first ever collaboration to appear on an album and "Beautiful Obsession", which was first played during one of his concerts in 1971.[5] However, a studio version of the song is not known to have been recorded during that period.[6] "Hungry For Your Love" appeared in the hit movie An Officer and a Gentleman (1982) and has become one of the more enduringly popular songs on the album along with "Wavelength". Morrison plays electric piano on "Hungry For Your Love" accompanied by Herbie Armstrong's acoustic guitar.[1] Morrison included "Hungry For Your Love" on his compilation album Van Morrison at the Movies - Soundtrack Hits (2007). "Take it Where You Find It" ends the album and according to Scott Floman is a "quietly epic love letter to America that gets better and better as it goes along (the song is nearly 9 minutes long). Simply put this song, which I'd rank among Van's all-time best, makes me want to lock arms with someone, anyone, and commence in a slowly swaying sing along..."[7]

Reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
adriandenning.co.uk 6.5/10 stars[8]
Allmusic 4/5 stars[9]
Robert Christgau B+[10]
Scott Floman B+[7]
Rolling Stone (not rated)[11]

Lester Bangs reviewed the album for Rolling Stone in 1978 and commented: "Wavelength is a very nice record. I'm sure all the people at Warner Bros. are pleased with it. Ditto the DJs... Still, though, it do confound how such a monumental talent can mire himself in such twaddle, fine as some of it may be."[11]

Melody Maker reviewed the album as evidence of Morrison's "drift into the American Dream."[12]

Stephen Thomas Erlewine with Allmusic rated the album four stars and wrote that "Wavelength essentially picks up where A Period of Transition left off, offering a focused, full-bodied alternative to that record's warmly fuzzy lack of direction."[9]

Robert Christgau referred to it as a "good album" and called attention to side two, which he felt was "an evocative reinterpretation of Van's America fixation, but side one is nothing more (and nothing less) than class programming."[10]

Time magazine critics wrote: "During a career that has lasted well over a decade, Van Morrison has made two, maybe three albums that rank high among the finest of all rock 'n' roll. Wavelength is good enough to stand close by Morrison's best work, a record of sinuous, sensuous magic. The man just can't be beat."[13]

Aftermath[edit]

Morrison denied that the songs were anything but about personal experience, and were not about the United States.[12] It quickly became the fastest selling album that Morrison had recorded at that time and went gold within three months.[1] Relocating to Europe within a few years, his work during the 1980s would not be so "radio friendly" and easily accessible to the casual listener. With the success of Wavelength Morrison assembled a band to promote it, which was similar in many ways to the abandoned The Caledonia Soul Orchestra of It's Too Late to Stop Now fame. During the Wavelength tour, Morrison performed in his native Belfast for the first time since leaving for the US to record "Brown Eyed Girl" for Bang Records. Morrison's first video, Van Morrison in Ireland, released in 1981, resulted from these performances and featured two songs from the album: "Wavelength" and "Checkin' It Out".

Album's cover[edit]

The cover on the album was by photographer Norman Seeff (associated with Joni Mitchell's album sleeves) and shows Morrison almost smiling and dressed in tight white trousers smoking a cigarette down to the butt.

Track listing[edit]

All songs written by Van Morrison except as noted.

Side one[edit]

  1. "Kingdom Hall" - 5:59
  2. "Checkin' It Out" - 3:29
  3. "Natalia" - 4:04
  4. "Venice U.S.A." - 6:32
  5. "Lifetimes" - 4:15

Side two[edit]

  1. "Wavelength" - 5:44
  2. "Santa Fe/Beautiful Obsession" (Jackie De Shannon/Morrison) - 7:04
  3. "Hungry for Your Love" - 3:45
  4. "Take It Where You Find It" - 8:40

Remastered CD reissue (2008)[edit]

Includes the same tracks as on the original, with two additional bonus tracks:

  1. "Wavelength" - 6:07 (Live at the Roxy Theatre, LA. 26 November 1978)
  2. "Kingdom Hall" - 6:05 (Live at the Roxy Theatre, LA, 26 November 1978)

Personnel[edit]

Musicians*
Additional musicians on 2008 reissue (re-mastered)
Production
  • Producer - Van Morrison
  • Special assistance with production - Mick Glossop, Bobby Tench and Peter Bardens
  • Production Assistant - Paul Wexler
  • Second engineers - Alan Douglas, Richard Ash
  • Remixed - Brooke Arthur
  • Engineer: Mick Glossop
  • Additional remix engineer - Peter Granet
  • Assisting engineer - David Latman
Album Cover
  • Coordination - Danny Lipsius
  • Art Direction - John Cabalka
  • Design - Brad Kanawyer
  • Photography - Norman Seeff

Samples[edit]

Van Morrison, Wavelength (1978)

Van Morrison, Wavelength (1978)

Van Morrison, Wavelength (1978)

Problems playing these files? See media help.

Charts[edit]

Album[edit]

Billboard

Year Chart Position
1979 Pop Albums 28

UK Album Chart

Year Chart Position
1979 UK Album Chart 27

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f Hinton. Celtic Crossroads. pp. 210–212. 
  2. ^ a b Rogan, No Surrender, p. 315
  3. ^ "Van Morrison Live at the Roxy". discogs.com. Retrieved 2010-02-13. 
  4. ^ Rogan, Johnny. No Surrender. p. 315,316, 325. 
  5. ^ "Concerts". van.vanomatic.de. Retrieved 2008-08-31. 
  6. ^ Heylin, Clinton. Can you feel the silence?: Van Morrison, a new biography. Chicago Review Press. p. 526. 
  7. ^ a b "Wavelength review". sfloman.com. Retrieved 2010-09-18. 
  8. ^ Denning, Adrian. "adriandenning.co.uk album reviews". adriandenning.com. Retrieved 2010-01-10. 
  9. ^ a b Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Allmusic review". allmusic.com. Retrieved 2010-01-10. 
  10. ^ a b Christgau, Robert. "Robert Christgau review". robertchristgau.com. Retrieved 2010-01-10. 
  11. ^ a b Bangs, Lester (1978-11-16). "Rolling Stone review". rollingstone.com. Retrieved 2010-01-10. 
  12. ^ a b Rogan, No Surrender, p. 316
  13. ^ Cocks, Jay, Swann, Annalyn (1978-12-18). "Music: The Pick of the Holiday Season". time.com. Retrieved 2010-02-22. 

References[edit]