Picks and Pans Review: Enlightenment

updated 11/12/1990 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/12/1990 AT 01:00 AM EST

Van Morrison

Well, well. Somebody's certainly in a frisky mood. After a series of deeply felt, often intensely spiritual albums, the Belfast boy returns with a real corker.

Let's start at the beginning. Hot horns, organ, a host of plucked string things and a trip-hammer beat usher in "Real Real Gone," the most cooking cut Morrison has put together since His Band and the Street Choir days. Other vibrant moments include the slick soul ramble of "Start All Over Again" and the rousing gospel refrain of "Youth of 1,000 Summers."

This isn't all party, party, party. That would be too simple to suit Van. There's the poetry reading-cum-musical history of "In the Days Before Rock 'n' Roll" and other more contemplative moments, such as the title track. But even these kick a little harder than his recent musical meditations.

What sets Enlightenment apart arc the powerful, lavish production values (listen to the killer arrangement on "See Me Through") and the fact that Morrison is in particularly fine vocal fettle. On such songs as "Avalon of the Heart" and "So Quiet in Here," he sounds stronger and more fearless than he has in years.

Who knew Morrison still had this type of record in him? Irish eyes are beaming. (Polydor)

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