It Fills You Up
Thomas K. Emanuel | Deadwood, SD USA | 09/13/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The only other Van Morrison albums I've seen as roundly panned as A PERIOD OF TRANSITION (1977) are TOO LONG IN EXILE and INARTICULATE SPEECH OF THE HEART. I haven't heard either of the latter, so I can't comment on their merits (or lack thereof, as the case may be). But I have heard the former, and once again the critics (and a number of fans as well) seem to have missed the mark.
I've seldom run across a more descriptive album title - A PERIOD OF TRANSITION is just that, an intermediary record bridging the gap between Van Morrison's post-VEEDON FLEECE hiatus and 1979 masterpiece INTO THE MUSIC. Three years between albums may not seem like a long time nowadays, but from one of rock's most prolific songwriters, in the album-a-year-or-else 70s, it was almost unheard of. So when Van returned to the music scene, he did so by returning to the music that inspired him in the first place. There's little alchemical genre-bending to be found here - in fact, A PERIOD OF TRANSITION may well be the purest R&B record the Man has ever cut, a canvas not for spiritual journeys or mystical epiphanies but simmering funk and straight-up soul shoutin'. Van is in fine voice - all his late-70s albums feature amazing vocal performances - and while the backing band is no Caledonia Soul Orchestra, it's more than competent, with a fine horn section as ever and Mac Rebennack aka Dr. John at the keys and control panel. Highlights? "The Eternal Kansas City" is the key track here, a mighty song featuring a great choral introduction and excitingly uneven phrase lengths. Meanwhile "Cold Wind in August" is an arresting torch ballad, and the energetic "Flamingos Fly" and "Joyous Sound" recall the exuberance of HIS BAND & STREET CHOIR.
If you're not already a Morrison fan, A PERIOD OF TRANSITION shouldn't convert you; but if you like the more straightforward, up-tempo side of Van's personality, this disc would be well worth your consideration."