Back On Top is the 27th album released by one of rocks more prolific artists, Van Morrison. This is not the Van from the mid 1960’s singing “Gloria” with the band Them, nor is it the Van from the 1970’s offering free form soul music and jazzy “Moondance” songs. It is a more mature, often reflective and very much introspective Morrison that delivered this record in 1999. What he delivers is a reminder of just how good he is at crafting his brand Celtic soul. Most artists that reach this stage of their careers, and let’s be honest few do, become irrelevant and are forced to lean heavily on their past glory. This is most definitely not the case with Van Morrison. While the whole album is an extremely listenable and well done offering, especially “Back On Top” & “When The Leaves Come Falling Down”, it is in the final 3 songs on the disc where his musical genius shines and is undeniable. The trilogy of tunes kicks off with the scathing “New Biography” where Morrison voices loudly his displeasure about an unauthorized biography Celtic Crossroads, written in 1996 by Brian Hinton. He calls out about people he barely knew and how they have such crystal clear recollections of past events “when I can’t remember last week”. The next song is my favorite offering on this album “Precious Time”. It is a reminder that every day we are closer to passing and need to take advantage of the time we have, ‘It doesn’t matter to which God you pray/Precious time is slipping away.” He then closes out the record with the beautiful “Golden Autumn Day” which is actually a song about being mugged in an unnamed British city, but the music and singing is so transcending that you can be easily tricked about the songs story. Back On Top is less a proclamation than it is a reaffirmation of Van Morrison’s greatness.
Other Van Morrison on this blog;