Van Morrison – Magic Time In Germany (The Swingin’ Pig TSP-CD-3998/3999)

Magic Time In Germany (The Swingin’ Pig TSP-CD-3998/3999)

Parkbühne Schloss, Neuhardenberg, Germany – August 5th, 2005

Disc 1:  Inarticulate Speech Of The Heart No. 2, This Love Of Mine, Whinin’ Boy Moan, Days Like This, Fame, Evening Train, Celtic New Year, Moondance, Philosopher’s Stone, Bright Side Of The Road, Stop Drinking, Magic Time, Talk Is Cheap, Ain’t That Loving You Baby?, Real Real Gone, Muleskinner Blues, Baby Please Don’t Go, Boogie Chillun’, Precious Time

Disc 2:  Help Me, Brown Eyed Girl, Gloria.  Bonus tracks, Belfast, Ireland – 1997:  Days Like This, Rough God Goes Riding, Into The Mystic, Sometimes We Cry, Enlightenment, The Healing Game.  Europe – 1991:  Whenever God Shines His Light, And The Healing Has Begun, Star Of The County Down, It Must Be You, It Fills You Up, See Me Through.  1995:  Cleaning Windows.  Bern – 1998:  Jackie Wilson Said

Magic Time In Germany is the latest Swingin’ Pig release and documents the Radio 1 broadcast of the August 5th, 2005 show in Neuhardenberg, a town to the east of Berlin.  The sound quality is excellent, clear and well balanced with no evidence of being sourced from an FM broadcast tape.  The entire performance, including the band’s instrumental introduction “Inarticulate Speech Of The Heart No. 2”, is included with only a small cut before “Celtic New Yeager” the only imperfection present.  This show is three months after the release of Magic Time and contains five songs from the album:   “Stranded”, “Celtic New Year”,  “Evening Train”, “Magic Time” and “This Love Of Mine”. 

At the end of the “spiritual jazz” opening, Morrison is introduced as the band begins to play “This Love Of Mine”, one of three cover tunes from the latest album.  This breezy number sets the mood which is lighthearted and one of the more fun shows to listen to.  The first half of the show is dominated by songs firmly in jazz with the band sounding like they are playing in a small, smoky nightclub with “Evening Train” receiving an energetic workout. 

The mellow “Celtic New Year” is a respite before a six minute, highly improvisational version of “Moondance” which includes two sax solos by Candy Delfur, a bass solo and drum solo before coming to an end.  The show continues in a bluesy vein with the title track “Magic Time” a nice trip down memory lane in an interesting juxtaposition with “Talk Is Cheap”, the diatribe aimed against the tabloid press.

Things take a turn with the series of covers that come by the end of the set.  “Muleskinner Blues”, a cover of the classic country Jimmy Rodgers  & George Vaughn tune “Yodel #8”, receives a fascinating funk workout in which other members of the band take turns singing.  The set then takes a bluesy turn with the two covers “Baby Please Don’t Go” (which was the A-side to Them’s 1964 single with “Gloria” as the B-side) and “Boogie Chillun'” before the original blues “Precious Time”. 

“Help Me”, another blues cover, closes the show.  The encores begin with a faithful interpretation of “Brown Eyed Girl” and close with a six-minute version of “Gloria”.  The label completes the release with an ample selection of bonus tracks filling out the second disc.  The first six bonus songs come from an excellent quality television broadcast on Irish television. 

Recorded live at the Waterfront Hall in Belfast, Ireland, on February 3rd, 1997, these tracks have been released before on Van Morrison On The Waterfront CDR004-2CD), Van Morrison Live At The Waterfront (Music For The People), Belfast Child on Kiss The Stone (KTS672), Dreams (Sumo 10) and Waterfront (VM 001).  The highlight is a great version of “Rough God Goes Riding” which has Van telling the television audience to “Put your hands on the screen and send me a check”.  The rare CD single follows this from 1993 on Exile, released with “Gloria (with John Lee Hooker)”. 

These six songs are sourced from an excellent DAT audience recording from the Muziekcentrum Vrendenburg, Utrecht, The Netherlands on April 1st, 1991 and in excellent quality on this release.  The whole show appears on one of the more famous Van Morrison bootleg releases Pagan Streams (BIG 020/21) and is one of the essential recordings to own.  The Swingin’ Pig switched “And The Healing Has Begun” with “It Fills You Up” on the liner notes.  Since this is out of print it is good to have it available again and the show itself is stellar with a version of “And The Healing Has Begun” reaching almost nine minutes.

As one reviewer writes:  “When Van returns things really heat up.  Gone are the rushed almost shouted soul standards and Van very quickly finds his groove.  He kicks of the main show with a blistering ‘And The Healing Has Begun’.  Candy Dulfer on sax is mind blowing.  This song blasts it way through over 8 mins of the funkiest version of this song you will ever hear.  I first heard this track on the ‘Gloria’ single and thought it must be one of the great show finishes ever.  To find out it actually starts the show rather than finishing it is amazing.  A great performance.”  (Russell Parkinson on the Van Morrison website).

The final two bonus tracks, “Cleaning Windows” from an unattributed show in 1995 and “Jackie Wilson Said” from Switzerland, come from excellent sounding soundboard recordings.  Magic Time In Germany is packaged in a double slimline jewel case with a four-fold insert with several live shots and is a great release worth having. 

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