Tasteful use of uilleann pipes help “Celtic Ray” and “Northern Muse (Solid Ground)” along, both upbeat enough to kick the side into gear. “Dweller On The Threshold” is a whirling dervish of a song, and luckily the horns don’t get in the way. The title track and “She Gives Me Religion” sound a little alike until their choruses.
The chugging rhythm of Mark Knopfler drives “Cleaning Windows”, a look back at his youth, but somebody else is playing those leads. It’s a very catchy song, evoking the music and books that he read in between his day job and gigs. He calls out several numbers in between verses, whether they’re supposed to signify the houses he’s working on or something deeper is not clear. “Vanlose Stairway”, despite the coincidence of the title, gets its name from a place in Copenhagen. He gets back into the growls from the ‘70s, but unfortunately it fades just as it seems to be going somewhere, only to be replaced by the relatively dull “Aryan Mist”, then it’s “Across The Bridge Where Angels Dwell”, where children play and not much else happens. The final moments of the album are given over to “Scandinavia”, an instrumental that somehow got nominated for a Grammy. Heavy on synthesizers and heavy-fisted on piano, it gives a good hint about what was to follow—good and bad.
It still manages to sum up Beautiful Vision—a nice album, with all the pluses and minuses that connotes. It floats along, something equally as nice in the background as it is inoffensive when you pay attention. There’s enough good on it to put it in the “good” column, so that’s where it is.
Van Morrison Beautiful Vision (1982)—3