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Back on Top


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Audio CD, March 9, 1999
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Biography

VAN MORRISON

The subtitle of Van Morrison's new album, Born to Sing: No Plan B, indicates the power that music still holds for this living legend. "No Plan B means this is not a rehearsal," says Morrison. "That’s the main thing—it’s not a hobby, it’s real, happening now, in real time."

This sense of absolute conviction, which has ... Read more in Amazon's Van Morrison Store

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (March 9, 1999)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Virgin Records Us
  • ASIN: B00000I7JD
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (139 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #12,158 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Goin' Down Geneva
2. Philosophers Stone
3. In The Midnight
4. Back On Top
5. When The Leaves Come Falling Down
6. High Summer
7. Reminds Me Of You
8. New Biography
9. Precious Time
10. Golden Autumn Day

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com

Back on Top kicks off on an unpromising note with a generic blues shuffle, "Goin' Down Geneva," that belies the album's cocky title. Van Morrison quickly redeems himself, however, with a set otherwise closer in its balance of rave-up and reverie to his beloved early-'70s classics than much of his '90s output. "Philosophers Stone" is yet another position paper on the Belfast bard's art ("My job is turning lead into gold"), but it's welcome for its relative absence of complaint. Elsewhere, he revisits familiar themes of survival ("Back on Top"), celebrity's price ("New Biography"), and mortality ("Precious Time") in midtempo anthems laudable for deceptively buoyant tempos and crisp ensemble work. Vocally, his signature mix of rasp and croon proves as ripe as ever. --Sam Sutherland

Review

An eloquent balance of earthy musicality and spiritual restlessness. -- Entertainment Weekly

Customer Reviews

A must have for all Van Morrison fans.
Jewell
Like great artists, Van the Man is able to express sincere sadness in his music and lyrics that leaves the listener not sad but full hope and joy.
maubuchon@gray-ritter.com
It kicks off with a great feel-good blues shuffle in "Goin' Down Geneva", followed up by the beautiful ballad "Philosophers Stone".
jekyllnhyde

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

51 of 52 people found the following review helpful By Bruce Cotter on November 23, 1999
Format: Audio CD
It's been some time since Van Morrison released an album that was as approachable, as spirited, and as fun as his classic works from the early 70's, Moondance and Tupelo Honey. In the past decade or so, his music has become increasingly complex, and has felt more remote. But with Back on Top, he has produced an album that has a feel that is similar to that of his earlier work, but with the additional maturity and bittersweet sadness that almost 30 years brings.
Back on Top is an example of the best that Van Morrison can offer, his ability to combine insightful lyrics with a soulful beat. The more internal ballads like Philosopher's Stone and When the Leaves Come Falling Down are softer, with the focus on the poetic lyrics that he has always been capable of, while rockers like Precious Time, Back on Top, and New Biography give us that combination of gravelly voice with a tight backup band consisting of guitar, bass, hammond organ, and horns that made his early work so outstanding.
Yes, it's familiar ground, and it's a pleasure to walk it again. This is a terrific album. Thanks Van, you're doing great work.
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34 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Mark Barry TOP 500 REVIEWER on March 6, 2008
Format: Audio CD
Typical. The CD you least want to buy - turns out being the one you need the most!

Here's why. Back in 1999 when "Back On Top" was issued, it was touted in the music press as something of a return to form (how many times have we heard that) and on tracks like "Reminds Me Of You" and "When The Leaves Come Falling Down" it actually was. It also boasted truly superlative production values - sound so warm, so clear, and at times so loud, that you had to rush over to the stereo to turn the volume down. So this January 2008 reissue in remastered form of an album that's only a few years old, an album that already boasts truly beautiful sound quality - is a bit superfluous to requirements to say the least. And worse - it's a reissue that forces fans to repurchase what they already own without any discernable bonus in the purchase. Until of course you hear the two previously unreleased bonus tracks they've added on here - and lo and behold - they're absolutely brilliant and must owns!

First up is an Alternate Version of one of the album's strongest songs "Philosopher's Stone" which is done in a jaunty almost sauntering blues fashion with MIKE SANCHEZ providing fantastic Piano and Guitar work. The subtle and smooth Double Bass is played by IAN JENNINGS. It's not as good as the finished more soulful version for sure, but it is excellent - and genuinely deserves the moniker "bonus". But best is kept to last. "Valley Of Tears" is a new song and a truly lovely ballad. JOOLS HOLLAND plays subtle and beautiful piano work on it with a trio of superbly emotive brass fills from PEE WEE ELLIS, LEO GREEN and MATT HOLLAND on Trumpet, Tenor and Baritone Sax. Fans will absolutely have to own these.
Read more ›
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By scherf.com on November 25, 1999
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Van Morrison packs interesting ballads into this CD. The sound patterns are simple, underlined at times by a Hammond organ. We've listened to this CD well over a hundred times, and it continues to be a pleasure to hear songs like "When the Leaves come falling down" and "Philosophers Stone." Out of the 10 songs, we pretty much like 8 of them, and that alone justifies five stars. Folks not familiar with Van Morrison, may have to listen through the album a few times to fine-tune their ears. But once you're into it, the lyrics tell stories about life and at times they really work on your soul. The music is uncomplicated and the rhythm is easy going in typical blues mode. We think you'll enjoy this CD.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By mokarl on December 14, 1999
Format: Audio CD
Each of Van Morrison's CDs in the 90s has been of quality. His prolific music writing is impressive. Before I listened to "Back on Top", I thought that Morrison might have run out of creative music. After listening to the CD, I quickly put that thought away! Morrison's music today is fresh and alive. His reflections on career, spirituality, and home is refreshing. It is dissapointing to hear music fans regard Van Morrison as a 70s artist, it truely shows that they have not listened to Van Morrison lately.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful By "Ginger Peach" on January 21, 2000
Format: Audio CD
I've been a fan of Van since an old boyfriend used to sing "Brown-eyed Girl" to me in the 60's. He's been through lots of changes, from the ebullient "Tupelo Honey" through the reflective "Period of Transition" to his present philosophical view of his life.
It was pure serendipity that I bought this album now; so much of it perfectly expresses where I am in my own life. And Van still has his incredible ability to capture life's ups and downs in simple poetry. Most importantly, the man is still growing, changing and opening up his soul to us, and his overall message is one of hope.
As always, he has chosen a great back-up band; listen to the sax on Reminds Me of You and New Biography. The choice of Brian Kennedy to sing backup vocals was also inspired. His plaintive, aching tenor provides a stark contrast to Van's gruffer, bluesier voice. I first heard Brian on "A Night in San Francisco" and liked him then. I hope he continues to work with Van.
This is Van's best collection of original music in several years; I can't recommend it highly enough.
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