Wavelength (album)

Last updated

Studio album by
ReleasedSeptember 1978
January 2008 (reissue) (remastered+2 tracks)
RecordedSpring 1978
Genre Pop rock, R&B
Label Warner Bros. (original release)
Polydor (1988 reissue + all subsequent reissues)
Producer Van Morrison
Van Morrison chronology
A Period of Transition
Into the Music
Singles from Wavelength
  1. "Wavelength" b/w "Checkin' it Out"
    Released: September 1978
  2. "Natalia" b/w "Lifetimes"
    Released: February 1979
  3. "Kingdom Hall" b/w "Checkin' it Out"
    Released: April 1979

Wavelength is the tenth studio album by Northern Irish singer-songwriter Van Morrison, and was released in the autumn of 1978. The album has a different musical sound from his previous albums, leaning towards a pop rock sound with prominent electric guitars and synthesizers. Wavelength was Morrison's best selling album at the time of the original release. [1] Mick Glossop, Bobby Tench and Peter Bardens were given credit for special assistance in production. [2]

Singer-songwriter musician who writes, composes and sings

Singer-songwriters are musicians who write, compose, and perform their own musical material, including lyrics and melodies.

Van Morrison Northern Irish singer-songwriter and musician

Sir George Ivan "Van" MorrisonOBE is a Northern Irish singer-songwriter, instrumentalist and record producer. His professional career began as a teenager in the late 1950s playing a variety of instruments including guitar, harmonica, keyboards and saxophone for various Irish showbands, covering the popular hits of that time. Van Morrison rose to prominence in the mid-1960s as the lead singer of the Northern Irish R&B band Them, with whom he recorded the garage band classic "Gloria". His solo career began under the pop-hit oriented guidance of Bert Berns with the release of the hit single "Brown Eyed Girl" in 1967. After Berns's death, Warner Bros. Records bought out his contract and allowed him three sessions to record Astral Weeks (1968). Though this album gradually garnered high praise, it was initially a poor seller.

Pop rock is rock music with a greater emphasis on professional songwriting and recording craft, and less emphasis on attitude. Originating in the late 1950s as an alternative to normal rock and roll, early pop rock was influenced by the beat, arrangements, and original style of rock and roll. It may be viewed as a distinct genre field, rather than music that overlaps with pop and rock. The detractors of pop rock often deride it as a slick, commercial product, less authentic than rock music.


A remastered version of the album was released on 29 January 2008. It contains two bonus tracks, "Wavelength" and "Kingdom Hall", taken from the promotional album Van Morrison Live at the Roxy (1979), recorded on 26 November 1978. [3]

Wavelength (song) 1978 single by Van Morrison

"Wavelength" is the title song from the 1978 album by Northern Irish singer-songwriter Van Morrison. Released as a single in 1978, it climbed to number forty two in the US charts, and stayed in the Hot 100 for eleven weeks. According to Howard A. Dewitt, this "was the song which re-established Morrison's hit making abilities".

Roxy Theatre (West Hollywood) nightclub and music venue on the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood, California, USA

The Roxy Theatre is a nightclub on the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood, California, owned by Lou Adler and his son, Nic, who operates it.


Wavelength was recorded over several months at the Manor in Oxfordshire, England, and completed later at Shangri-la studios in the United States. Morrison had brought together musicians that represented almost all phases of his musical history to date: Herbie Armstrong from his showband days in Belfast, Peter Bardens from Them, Garth Hudson from the Band and Peter Van Hooke who had worked with Morrison a few years earlier. [2] He also added guitarist Bobby Tench from Streetwalkers. [4]

Oxfordshire County of England

Oxfordshire is a county in South East England. The ceremonial county borders Warwickshire to the north-west, Northamptonshire to the north-east, Buckinghamshire to the east, Berkshire to the south, Wiltshire to the south-west and Gloucestershire to the west.

England Country in north-west Europe, part of the United Kingdom

England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to the west and Scotland to the north. The Irish Sea lies west of England and the Celtic Sea to the southwest. England is separated from continental Europe by the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south. The country covers five-eighths of the island of Great Britain, which lies in the North Atlantic, and includes over 100 smaller islands, such as the Isles of Scilly and the Isle of Wight.

Belfast City in the United Kingdom, capital of Northern Ireland

Belfast is the capital and largest city of Northern Ireland, standing on the banks of the River Lagan on the east coast of Northern Ireland. It is the 12th-largest city in the United Kingdom. It had a population of 333,871 as of 2015. Belfast suffered greatly in the Troubles: in the 1970s and 1980s it was reported to be one of the world's most dangerous cities, with a homicide rate around 31 per 100,000.


The songs on this album recall various stages of Morrison's life. "Kingdom Hall" harked back to his childhood in Belfast when he attended services with his mother, who at one time was a practicing Jehovah's Witness. [1] "Checking It Out" is about a relationship going wrong and being rescued by "guides and spirits along the way". [1] "Natalia", "Venice USA" and "Lifetimes" are love songs. "Wavelength" recalled fond memories of his adolescence listening to the Voice of America. [1] The next track incorporates two songs Morrison had written in the early 1970s: "Santa Fe" written with Jackie DeShannon in 1973, Morrison's first ever collaboration to appear on an album, and "Beautiful Obsession", which was first played during one of his concerts in 1971. [5] However, a studio version of the song is not known to have been recorded during that period. [6] "Hungry For Your Love" appeared in the hit movie An Officer and a Gentleman (1982); on it, Morrison plays electric piano accompanied by Herbie Armstrong's acoustic guitar. [1] It has become, along with "Wavelength", one of the more enduringly popular songs on the album. Morrison included "Hungry For Your Love" on his compilation album Van Morrison at the Movies – Soundtrack Hits (2007).

Voice of America Official external broadcast institution of the United States federal government

Voice of America (VOA) is a U.S. government-funded state owned multimedia agency which serves as the United States federal government's official institution for non-military, external broadcasting. It is the largest U.S. international broadcaster. VOA produces digital, TV, and radio content in more than 40 languages which it distributes to affiliate stations around the globe. It is primarily viewed by foreign audiences, so VOA programming has an influence on public opinion abroad regarding the United States and its leaders.

Jackie DeShannon American singer-songwriter

Jackie DeShannon is an American singer-songwriter with a string of hit song credits from the 1960s onwards, as both singer and composer. She was one of the first female singer-songwriters of the rock 'n' roll period. She is best known as the singer of "What the World Needs Now Is Love" and "Put a Little Love in Your Heart" and, as the composer of "When You Walk in the Room" and "Bette Davis Eyes," which were hits for The Searchers and Kim Carnes, respectively. Since 2009, DeShannon has been an entertainment broadcast correspondent reporting Beatles band members' news for the radio program Breakfast with the Beatles.

<i>An Officer and a Gentleman</i> 1982 film by Taylor Hackford

An Officer and a Gentleman is a 1982 American romantic drama film starring Richard Gere, Debra Winger, and Louis Gossett Jr., who won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for the film, making him the first African American male to do so. It tells the story of Zack Mayo (Gere), a United States Navy Aviation Officer Candidate who is beginning his training at Aviation Officer Candidate School. While Zack meets his first true girlfriend during his training, a young "townie" named Paula (Winger), he also comes into conflict with the hard-driving Marine Corps Gunnery Sergeant Emil Foley training his class.

"Take it Where You Find It" ends the album and, according to Scott Floman, is a "quietly epic love letter to America that gets better and better as it goes along (the song is nearly 9 minutes long). Simply put this song, which I'd rank among Van's all-time best, makes me want to lock arms with someone, anyone, and commence in a slowly swaying sing along..." [7]

Critical reception

Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar empty.svg [8]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide Star full.svgStar full.svgStar half.svgStar empty.svgStar empty.svg [9]
The Village Voice B+ [10]

In a contemporary review for Rolling Stone , Lester Bangs gave a lukewarm assessment and called Wavelength "a very nice record. I'm sure all the people at Warner Bros. are pleased with it. Ditto the DJs... Still, though, it do confound how such a monumental talent can mire himself in such twaddle, fine as some of it may be." [11] Melody Maker reviewed the album as evidence of Morrison's "drift into the American Dream." [12] In The Village Voice , Robert Christgau referred to it as a good but not great album and called attention to side two, which he felt was "an evocative reinterpretation of Van's America fixation, but side one is nothing more (and nothing less) than class programming." [10] Time magazine was more enthusiastic: "Morrison has made two, maybe three albums that rank high among the finest of all rock 'n' roll. Wavelength is good enough to stand close by Morrison's best work, a record of sinuous, sensuous magic. The man just can't be beat." [13]

<i>Rolling Stone</i> American magazine focusing on popular culture, based in New York City

Rolling Stone is an American monthly magazine that focuses on popular culture. It was founded in San Francisco, California, in 1967 by Jann Wenner, who is still the magazine's publisher, and the music critic Ralph J. Gleason. It was first known for its musical coverage of rock music and for political reporting by Hunter S. Thompson. In the 1990s, the magazine broadened and shifted its focus to a younger readership interested in youth-oriented television shows, film actors, and popular music. It has returned to its traditional mix of content, including music, entertainment, and politics.

Lester Bangs American music critic and journalist

Leslie Conway "Lester" Bangs was an American music journalist, critic, author, and musician. He wrote for Creem and Rolling Stone magazines, and was known for his leading influence in rock music criticism. The music critic Jim DeRogatis called him "America's greatest rock critic".

<i>Melody Maker</i> historical British weekly pop/rock music newspaper  (1926-2000)

Melody Maker was a British weekly music magazine, one of the world's earliest music weeklies, and—according to its publisher IPC Media—the earliest. It was founded in 1926, largely as a magazine for dance band musicians, by Leicester-born composer, publisher Lawrence Wright; the first editor was Edgar Jackson. In 2000 it was merged into "long-standing rival" New Musical Express.

In a retrospective review for AllMusic, Stephen Thomas Erlewine said "Wavelength essentially picks up where A Period of Transition left off, offering a focused, full-bodied alternative to that record's warmly fuzzy lack of direction." [8] Rob Sheffield wrote in The Rolling Stone Album Guide (2004) that the record was a "failed pop move" redeemed by its "worthy hit" title track, "which like many of his best songs expresses the profound spiritual yearning to listen to the radio". [9]


Morrison denied that the songs were anything but about personal experience, and were not about the United States. [12] It quickly became the fastest-selling album that Morrison had recorded at that time, and went gold within three months. [1] He relocated to Europe within a few years; his work during the 1980s would not be so "radio friendly" and easily accessible to the casual listener. With the success of Wavelength, Morrison assembled a band to promote it, similar in many ways to the abandoned Caledonia Soul Orchestra of It's Too Late to Stop Now fame. During the Wavelength tour, Morrison performed in his native Belfast for the first time since leaving for the US to record "Brown Eyed Girl" for Bang Records. Morrison's first video, Van Morrison in Ireland , released in 1981, resulted from these performances, and featured two songs from the album: "Wavelength" and "Checkin' It Out".


The cover on the album was by photographer Norman Seeff (associated with Joni Mitchell's album sleeves), and shows Morrison almost smiling and dressed in tight white trousers smoking a cigarette down to the butt.

Track listing

All songs written by Van Morrison except where noted.

Side one

  1. "Kingdom Hall" - 5:59
  2. "Checkin' It Out" - 3:29
  3. "Natalia" - 4:04
  4. "Venice U.S.A." - 6:32
  5. "Lifetimes" - 4:15

Side two

  1. "Wavelength" - 5:44
  2. "Santa Fe/Beautiful Obsession" (Jackie De Shannon/Morrison) - 7:04
  3. "Hungry for Your Love" - 3:45
  4. "Take It Where You Find It" - 8:40

Remastered CD reissue (2008)

Includes the same tracks as on the original, with two additional bonus tracks:

  1. "Kingdom Hall" - 6:05 (Live at the Roxy Theatre, LA, 26 November 1978)
  2. "Wavelength" - 6:07 (Live at the Roxy Theatre, LA. 26 November 1978)



Additional musicians on 2008 reissue (re-mastered)





1979Pop Albums28

UK Album Chart

1979UK Album Chart27


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Hinton. Celtic Crossroads. pp. 210–212.
  2. 1 2 Rogan, No Surrender, p. 315
  3. "Van Morrison Live at the Roxy". discogs.com. Retrieved 13 February 2010.
  4. Rogan, Johnny. No Surrender. p. 315,316, 325.
  5. "Concerts". van.vanomatic.de. Retrieved 31 August 2008.
  6. Heylin, Clinton. Can you feel the silence?: Van Morrison, a new biography. Chicago Review Press. p. 526.
  7. "Wavelength review". sfloman.com. Retrieved 18 September 2010.
  8. 1 2 Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Allmusic review". allmusic.com. Retrieved 10 January 2010.
  9. 1 2 Sheffield, Rob (2004). "Van Morrison". In Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian (eds.). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th ed.). New York: Simon & Schuster. pp. 559–561. ISBN   0-7432-0169-8.
  10. 1 2 Christgau, Robert (1978). "Christgau's Consumer Guide". The Village Voice (30 October). New York. Retrieved 31 July 2015.
  11. Bangs, Lester (16 November 1978). "Rolling Stone review". rollingstone.com. Retrieved 10 January 2010.
  12. 1 2 Rogan, No Surrender, p. 316
  13. Cocks, Jay, Swann, Annalyn (18 December 1978). "Music: The Pick of the Holiday Season". time.com. Retrieved 22 February 2010.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)

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