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Being a recent convert to the musical mastery (or should that be mystery?)of Van the Man I have to say that this is one of the best Van albums I have purchased so far.Opening with the well known duet with Cliff Richard "Whenever god shines his light" right through to "These are the days" there is'nt one bad song on the album.The pure quality of the songs such as "Have I told you lately" and "Daring night" make this one of those albums in your collection that definitely won't lie there gathering dust!If you haven't heard any VM other than the usual juke box favourites then this album is a great place to start.
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on 11 April 2008
In some ways "Avalon Sunset" is an odd album.This might have to something to do with the thread of religiosity which runs through it. There is also the variety of styles - New Age sound washes, Irish whimsy, the soppy and sentimental, and straight down-to-earth blues and soul.
The first song "Whenever God Shines His Light" is a duet with Cliff Richard. An out-and-out pop song, OK but slightly out of place. From this to "Contacting My Angel". I'm not so keen on this. It seems to have strayed in from "Inarticulate Speech of the Heart", without doubt the direst album Van Morrison ever made. "I'd Like to Write Another Song" is a spirited blues number, sung against blustering saxes and Georgie Fame's Hammond organ. Van sings like Joe Turner. No higher praise. The words were clearly barrel scraped - but it shows how to write a song when there is nothing to write about.
"Have I Told You Lately" is a very effective soppy number - much loved by, and played for, newlyweds at their wedding dance. "Coney Island" is spoken. In simple language he describes his experience and feelings on a day out in Ireland. It works. "I'm Tired Joey Boy" is out of the same mould. Simple, Irish folk song feel.
It's the last four songs that, for me, bring this album to near classic status. They all have their faults. Van was clearly metaphysical at the time he wrote the lyrics. But he is back into soul mood, and with the grain of his talent.
"When Will I Ever Learn to Live in God" opens up on bass and primitive acoustic guitar over piano chords. It's simple straight declamation from Van Morrison, but, in the same way as you hear the gospel choir in Aretha Franklin, you can hear the Irish preacher in him. In "Orangefield" we are still in Ireland. The lyric here is simpler - an expression of delight in his lover. The music's heaviness and bombast overwhelm the words. But we are properly in the world of soul here, sound separating from meaning. The female backing group seem out of the Staple Singers.
In "Daring Night" we are lovers looking at the stars and dreaming of infinity. The words don't matter much. Van's vocalising becomes increasingly improvisatory in rapid repetitions of "baby, baby", "lord of the dance", "squeeze me" towards a climax, diminishing to pianissimo, alongside vocal ejaculations "don't let go". Van's confident, in-your-face vocal and evident relish of the music sweeps all before it.
The final song, "These Are The Days", opens on a two-note rocking figure on piano, then guitar over accordion and cellos. Laid back vocal for a slow and heavily nostalgic song, looking back to the summers when he was young. God comes is as "the love of one magician turned the water into wine". Some of the best is towards the end, after the song is sung when he and the female backing group vocalise wordlessly - "na, na, na, na" - female wailing above him gospel fashion. Climax then out.
Why isn't it a classic?
All criticisms fall away before the Man. One of the great vocalists of the past fifty years
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TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 28 December 2010
Van Morrison's long and somewhat uneven musical career is punctuated by changes in direction and musical emphasis: the best is sublime, and the worst - well, isn't. True to form, "Avalon Sunset" falls short of the all-time great status of its immediate predecessor "Poetic Champions Compose" and lacks the earlier album's complex musical arrangements. It's very different.

Often regarded as one of Van's more "spiritual" offerings, the album's name comes from being in part recorded near the "Avalon" country of Glastonbury Tor and Avebury Circle. At least three of the songs have undisguised religious/spiritual themes, including the album's opener - a catchy duet with Britain's own vintage Christian rocker Cliff Richard. The songs are mostly mellow in style and supported by classy production, the competent backing vocals of Katie Kissoon and Carol Kenyan and fulsome string arrangements. Highlights include "Have I told you lately..." (forget the appalling massacre of this song by Rod Stewart); the poetic spoken-not-sung "Coney Island" (an experimental stylistic device perfected in the later "Hyndford Street" on "Hymns to the Silence"); "I'm Tired, Joey Boy" with its simplistic but memorable melody line and, most especially "Daring Night" with its lyrical theme of covert sexual passion woven into a cosmic star-crossed tapestry and radically different in tone to almost everything else on the album.

A lot of people really like this album but overall, "Avalon Sunset" has a populist, accessible feel and is not usually considered to be a career-milestone like "Astral Weeks", "Moondance" or the sublime "Hymns to the Silence." Bookended by the excellent "Poetic Champions Compose" (possibly one of the best repeat-playable albums ever, from any artist) and by the very good "Enlightenment" AS slips through the cracks and - dare one even suggest such a thing for a Van Morrison album - in places slides towards the mediocre. It's not actually bad, and one or two of the individual songs are quite good, but overall it's not great either and, for Van, falls short of his best work.
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on 24 January 2008
This album is one of the greatest popular music albums of all time,and it includes a track that would certainly be on my list of Desert Island Discs,that's Coney Island.A trip on the coastline of Belfast,so well written you feel your being personally escorted by Van himself around his hometown.
Then theres the beautiful songs that have become Van classics,Have I Told You Lately That I Love You (still by far the best ever recording of this song)and These Are The Days (remember it in the Hugh Grant movie Nine Months,when he's walking around the room with his baby).This album still gets better everytime I put it on and should be in every collection.I'm still amazed by the structure and majasty of songs like When Will I Ever Learn To Live In God,just listen to the power of his lyrics here.Then theres the big hit he had with Cliff Richard, Wherever God Shines His Light.Oh I could go on and on but it really comes down to one thing this is an absolutely fabulous release and should not be missed by anyone this time around.
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VINE VOICEon 11 September 2003
If we ignore the fact that Cliff Richard-CLIFF RICHARD !!!- duets with Van on the opening track...and ignoring the religiosity of the album's content,then....it has to be said...this is a damn fine album !
Melodic and richly hued with Van's smoky vocals,'Avalon Sunset' simmers in its intensity.The spoken track 'Coney Island' has to be the highpoint.The final line,'Wouldn't it be great if it could be like this forever !' pitching into shimmering strings is a real spine tingling moment.
Almost perfect....but not quite .
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on 12 November 2000
This is a brilliant album by van morrison. I first listened to it years ago on holiday and I fell in love with it immediately. Every time I hear it now it reminds me of those holidays. All the songs on the album are superb. I don't really have a favourite, because I like all the songs so much. It just brings back memories for me and I can relate to the songs as I am from very near to where Van was brought up and so I know all the places he sings about.
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on 9 August 2012
But it doesn't detract from what is a great album. He is a craftsman of the highest calibre. My copy has a version of "When the Saints Go Marching in" and it is a smoky, bluesy lament with soulful sax. A walking meditation of a song. It also has the hauntingly beautiful "Have I Told you Lately". How come when I sing it, it sounds like I 'hm gargling with steelo wool? No, the man croons and hollers like syrup heating up mixed with iron filings and belts out every tune as heartfelt. Ok syrup-too many strings like late Frank Sinatra is the negative on some tracks. Mabe not Mr Morrison's best serving but still a main course to sup from. Five stars.
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on 22 October 2012
I bought this CD originally back in 1989 and wanted to replace it. Some of Van Morrison's most beautiful songs are on Avalon Sunset, my all time favourite being Coney Island. The product arrived in excellent condition and is being played regularly in my car now :-)
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on 16 March 2017
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on 3 March 2008
Aside from Astral Weeks and Moondance, I never quite 'got' Van until this beauty. I found most of his output after the aforementioned two classics to be a bit samey and lacking any killer tunes. (I know! I know! True Van fans out there will be calling for my head!) But this album - and 'Enlightenment', which followed it, are my favourites post '72. The classic tracks are 'Daring Night' and 'These are the days' - wondrously lush arrangements with great melodies and a gospel feel. This album is extremely accessible and perfect if you found/find Van difficult to get into. I almost wore the vinyl out - especially side 2 - so it's good that this is now available at a decent price on CD. Don't think you'll be disappointed.
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