Polydor 847 100-2
Review by Scott Thomas:
In "Enlightenment" Van once again ruminates on spiritual matters, but this is probably the most sober and matter-of-fact expression of his personal struggle toward understanding that he has ever offered. "I'm in the here and now and I'm meditating / But still I'm suffering," Morrison admits, "But that's my problem."
The agile organ/horn-based "Youth of a Thousand Summers" clues the listener in to the artist's obsession with his own adolescence, an obsession which propels Enlightenment's most important cut, "The Days before Rock n Roll." "The Days before Rock n Roll" is framed around another of Morrison's poems, but his masterstroke was to call on Paul Durcan to deliver the recitation in a bizarre, halting rhythm which echoes the foreignness of shortwave broadcasts beamed to Ireland from cities like Athlone and Budapest, broadcasts that, during the 1950's, carried the rhythms of "Sonny, Muddy, and John Lee" to American servicemen stationed in Europe. The eavesdropping Belfast lad, his ears glued to the "wireless," is deeply affected by these exciting new sounds. Morrison took a chance with this piece and came out a winner. Its immense influence would be felt very strongly on 1991's Hymns to the Silence.
"The Days before Rock n Roll" is like a powerful windstorm that precedes a radical change in the weather. The warm, sanguine, vibe-driven "Starting All Over Again" and the Temptations-like soul ballad "She's My Baby" reach all the way back to the albums Van made in 1970 and 1971. Compare "She's My Baby" to the splendid "See Me Through" from earlier in Enlightenment. Whereas "See Me Through," in keeping with almost all of Morrison's "love" songs from the 1980's, could be addressed to a either a woman or a supernatural being, "She's My Baby" is a love song purely and simply.