Personnel: Van Morrison (vocals, guitar, harmonica); Herbie Armstrong (guitar, background vocals); Ry Cooder (slide guitar); Toni Marcus (mandolin violin, viola); Robin Williamson (pennywhistle); Pee Wee Ellis (saxophone); Mark Isham (trumpet, piccolo trumpet); Mark Jordan (keyboards); David Hayes (bass); Peter Van Hooke, Kurt Wortman (drums); Zakir Hussain (tablas); Katie Kissoon (background vocals).
Recorded at Record Plant, Sausalito, California.
After his '70s excursions into funk, soul and R&B, Morrison closed out the decade by getting back in touch with his Celtic roots, an idea he would eventually explore further on CELTIC HEARBEAT, with the Chieftains. On INTO THE MUSIC, Morrison keys in on the upbeat, celebratory aspects of traditional Irish music, incorporating them into his own tunes. Consequently, this is one of the most joyous-sounding Morrison records since HIS BAND & THE STREET CHOIR.
He had already begun his association with Mark Isham (a key player on Morrison's mellower '80s records) and former James Brown saxophonist Pee Wee Ellis, but Morrison is also assisted here by Ry Cooder (who contributes slide to the aptly named "Full Force Gale") and Robin Williamson of the Incredible String Band, who enhances the aura of Celtic mysticism with his pennywhistle work. This is not to say that INTO THE MUSIC is some Celtic trad workout, just that the folk element is mixed in along with Morrison's usual grab bag of rock, pop, blues and undeniable soul.