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Hymns to the Silence

4.4 out of 5 stars 79 customer reviews

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Audio CD, September 24, 1991
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Two CD.

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Described aptly in the liner notes as a "panoramic view of where he's been and where he's going," this weighty double-disc captures Van in all of the guises he adopted in the 1980s and early '90s. There are several devotional pieces, a couple of splendid rants ("Professional Jealousy" and "Why Must I Always Explain"), two collaborations with the Chieftains, and jazzy swingers driven by Georgie Fame's organ. The real heart of the album is Van's evocation of his childhood in lyrics and arrangements that capture the joys of discovering rock & roll while growing up in Belfast amid that city's conflicting passions. There are several high points for connoisseurs of his stream-of-consciousness lyrical rambles, notably "On Hyndford Street" and "Take Me Back." As an album, the mood swings too dramatically to be coherent, but in its individual parts there is evidence of true genius. --Rob Stewart
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (September 24, 1991)
  • Original Release Date: September 24, 1991
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: Polydor
  • ASIN: B000001G1B
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (79 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #9,130 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
What a wonderful album to have. All of Morrison's eclectic tastes can be found here, delivered with a sparkling production clarity befitting this grand tenor.
"Take me back", "Need your kind of loving" and "Ordinary Life" are solid rock standards of guitar and barrel house piano. "Be Thou My Vision" and "See me Through" are beautifully rendered gospel hymns with an Irish twist. "I'm carrying a torch" is an aching love ballad. "Hyndford Street" and "Pagan Streams" are autobiographic spoken verse sonnets delivered in Morrison's delightful Ulster brougue. "Quality Street" and "All Saints Day" are such charming pop hooks that they seem to be derived from a by-gone era of Gershwin. All throughout, the set is accompanied ably on Hammond organ by the fluid Georgie Fame and the sensuous saxophone of Candy Dulpher.
Van Morrison has a wealth of recorded material to choose from, with varying degrees of consistency, but this album spans the radiance of his talents of songwriting and arrangement in such a concise manner that his elusive muse could ever allow. His voice has grown fuller with age. This is a mature work that I would endorse to anyone seeking a primer on this great man's career.
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Format: Audio CD
Hymns To The Silence is an opus magnum where Morrison's talent reaches awesome new heights. The album impresses on many levels: the lyrical ingenuity, melodic beauty, intelligent arrangements and above all the expert mastery of many different musical styles, including country, folk, soul, rock and gospel.
Although every track is memorable and tuneful, my favourites include I'm Not Feeling It Anymore with its galloping rhythms and flowing melody, the rocking Ordinary Life, a wry observation on life, the jaunty, jazzy So Complicated and the beautiful authentic country song I Can't Stop Loving You.
Very personal observations like Professional Jealousy and Why Must I Always Explain have more of the folky feel about them, especially the second one with its hypnotic melody line. Perhaps the greatest moment is Be Thou My Vision, an extraordinarily powerful hymn that is one of this artist's best descriptions of spiritual ecstasy.
In this regard, the title track is gripping too, but more subdued and restrained, creating a feeling of awe. See Me Through (Just A Closer Walk With Thee) is also very moving but a more traditional slice of gospel and it reminds me of Astral Weeks. The soulful song Take Me Back with its wistful harmonica likewise has a touch of that great album.
Hymns To The Silence is an uplifting work of genius on a par with Astral Weeks, Moondance and Tupelo Honey but provides greater variety than any of them. Every track here has some special quality and the alternating musical styles make it a wonderful and inspiring listening experience.
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Format: Audio CD
Oddly enough, I didn't pay Van Morrison too much attention while I was growing up in the late 60's and early 70's. I knew his many hits well, enjoyed them, but never really delved into him. I was mainly into the rambling progressive rock of that era. As I entered my early 30's, I found myself with a copy of "Avalon Sunset" and realized what I'd been missing all those years. This double disc set came out in the Fall of 91. Public radio was playing it often and I just had to hear more. Though it swings too wildly between moods to have a sustained flow to it, it contains what I feel are some of the best songs he'd written since "Moondance". Every style he had ever done up to this point is covered, not rehashed. His reading of "I Can't Stop Loving You" with The Chieftains is priceless. It ranks right up there with Ray Charles splendid version. The first disc is the stronger of the two, but the second one isn't a slouch either. "On Hyndford Street" is an incredible spoken word reverie set to ambient electronic sounds. The mood he evokes there is incredible. The second disc also has "Carrying A Torch" which is one of the most heartfelt ballads he's ever penned.
There's another spoken word piece called "Pagan Streams", but it falls a bit short as does his version of the hymn, "Be Thou My Vision". In spite of a few short commings, this disc holds a special place in my heart as it's overall spiritual tone hepled get me through a very difficult few months in my life, after the sudden death of my partner of eight years at the hands of two car theives in Detroit.
If you're not too familiar with Morrison's work, I'd recomend this beacuse it covers so much musical territory.
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Format: Audio CD
This is my Friday night after work music, my
Saturday night party music, and my quiet Sunday
morning music rolled into one. Yes, I too,
never get tired of the second cd. Hymns to the
Silence and Carrying a Torch are beautiful. I even
like Village Idiot alot. The clips they chose
are so questionable. Get this Van and open
a nice red wine. It's his best.
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Format: Audio CD
To name just a few descriptive words . . .
When I first bought this album, "Brown Eyed Girl" was about the extent of my VM knowledge. Boy did I learn a lesson: Van the Man has so much more depth than Brown Eyed Girl displays . . .
Van takes us through an incredible journey of soul, gospel, blues, jazz, Celtic, and meditative music. The only element that remains constant throughout is that beautiful voice in the foreground . . .
Listen to this CD as you are trying to fall asleep. Gems like "Take me Back" will surely transport you to a time or place in your life where there are no such things as "problems." The title track is soothingly angelic, followed immediately by "Hynford Street," which is more a poetry reading than a song, but incredibly moody. It must be an autobiographical piece about his childhood, and his fond memories will certainly transpire to your own fond memories.
"Carrying a Torch" "It Must be You" "I Need Your Kind of Loving" are heart-wrenchingly romantic pieces . . ."Some Peace of Mind" and "So Complicated" a little on the jazzy side. . all other songs have some merit to them, but I won't go through all 22 of them. Get the album and find out for yourself!
Okay, enough raving . . .I think I'd like to go listen to the album!
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