Irish Heartbeat (1988)
purchase this album (Amazon)

The Background: Two years removed from the critically well-received Poetic Champions Compose, Morrison took an unexpected detour, stripping back all the layers of mysticism (and production) that had grown up over his recent output and teaming up with The Chieftains for an album of (mostly) traditional Irish songs. Though not a huge seller, Irish Heartbeat raised both acts’ profiles, and segued nicely into what Morrison would do in the coming decade. More importantly, it’s a fun, lovely listen — even for an artist not particularly given to self-editing or restraint, the album finds Morrison in a delightfully unrestrained space. Joyous, and beautifully performed.

The Standards: All of them, really — seven of the ten tracks are traditional.

What You Didn’t Hear: Try the title track (download), rescued here from 1983’s Inarticulate Speech of the Heart, and “I’ll Tell Me Ma” (download).

Billboard Chart Peak: #102