ALBUM: Van Morrison – The Healing Game (Remastered) (1997/2020) [FLAC 24/96]

Van Morrison – The Healing Game (Remastered) (1997/2020)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/96 kHz | Time – 58:17 minutes | 1,18 GB | Genre: Rock
Studio Master, Official Digital Download | Front Cover | © Legacy Recordings

Originally released in 1997, The Healing Game marked an important transition for Van Morrison. After a period of crafting romantic ballads that found mainstream success, Van felt once more compelled to revisit the jazz and rhythm and blues-inspired style that influenced his earliest work. To achieve this, he assembled a killer new band that included saxophonist Pee Wee Ellis, Georgie Fame and bassist Alec Dankworth.

Van Morrison never stopped recording during the 1990s, but for a little while it seemed as if he was disconnected from his muse. It wasn’t so much his series of jazz cover albums — he’d return to this vein often in subsequent decades — but his songwriting that showed signs bitterness, particularly on 1995’s Days Like This, where he seemed dismissive of the very notion of being a songwriter. In that light, it’s hard not to see 1997’s The Healing Game as a rejuvenation. Indeed, the album’s very title suggests that Morrison is in the process of mending fences and reconnecting with a sense of joy, a process that began during his deep dive into Mose Allison and other bluesy jazz artists in the mid-’90s. Morrison retains that sense of swing on The Healing Game — he also retains keyboardist Georgie Fame, who would become a fixture on Morrison’s albums over the next two decades — and it invigorates a set of songs that aren’t necessarily all that different from what he’s been writing as of late; he’s still specializing in ballads, blues, and folk-rock colored by R&B. The subtle differences make a difference, though, whether they lie in the lyrics or, especially, the music, which feels warmer and more relaxed than the album’s relatively recent companions. Morrison seems at home within the easy grooves of The Healing Game, and while that alone is enough to make the album worth revisits, it’s also true the album boasts a sturdy selection of songs, highlighted by the meditative title track, the searching “Rough God Goes Riding,” and the impassioned “Fire in the Belly.” ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

1. Rough God Goes Riding (6:18)
2. Fire In the Belly (6:34)
3. This Weight (4:37)
4. Waiting Game (5:56)
5. Piper at the Gates of Dawn (3:53)
6. Burning Ground (5:38)
7. It Once Was My Life (5:11)
8. Sometimes We Cry (5:14)
9. If You Love Me (5:01)
10. The Healing Game (5:27)
11. At the End of the Day (4:30)

Van Morrison, vocals, acoustic guitar, harmonica
Haji Ahkba, flugelhorn
Robin Aspland, piano
Phil Coulter, piano on “Piper at the Gates of Dawn” and “At the End of the Day”
Alec Dankworth, double bass
Geoff Dunn, drums, percussion
Pee Wee Ellis, soprano and baritone saxophones, background vocals
Georgie Fame, Hammond organ, background vocals
Leo Green, tenor saxophone, background vocals
Matt Holland, trumpet, background vocals
Ronnie Johnson, electric guitar
Brian Kennedy, background vocals
Katie Kissoon, background vocals
Paddy Moloney, uilleann pipes, whistle on “Piper at the Gates of Dawn”
Peter O’Hanlon, dobro on “Piper at the Gates of Dawn” and “At the End of the Day”
Ralph Salmins, percussion
Nicky Scott, bass

Digitally remastered



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