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on November 24, 2007
The aggregation of record labels into media conglomerates like Universal is turning out to be both a blessing and a curse. For an artist of Morrison's longevity, it means that a career-spanning retrospective can be assembled without the difficulties of cross-licensing. But doing so in only 21-tracks invariably short-changes important aspects of an artist's career, leaving off some hits (e.g., "Blue Money" and "Come Running") and benchmark album tracks in favor of covering beginning-to-end. On yet another hand, this anthology's producer has done a nice job of selecting tracks that demonstrate the evolution of Morrison's career, and sequencing them in a very palatable flow.

The collection spans Morrison's mid-60s rock with Them, an iconic string of turn-of-the-70s pop-soul hits, '80s ballads, and through to 2005's soulful "Stranded." But in the end, the limited space of a single disc, stretched across 40 years of recording, ends up serving neither Morrison the hit singles artist, nor Morrison the album artiste. In addition to the missing hits named above, key radio tracks ("Mystic Eyes," "Tupelo Honey," and "Into the Mystic") were also omitted, and the holistic sense of landmark albums "Astral Weeks," "Moondance," "Tupelo Honey" and "Wavelength" is left as additional purchase.

That said, what's here is magnificent, starting with the garage staple "Gloria" (a U.S. hit for Chicago's Shadows of Knight, but not for Them) and the impossibly blissful "Brown Eyed Girl." Morrison's voice transforms to a jazz instrument for "Moondance," and the trio of "Domino," "Wild Night," and "Jackie Wilson Said" are among the greatest blue-eyed soul ever committed to record. Morrison dialed it back for 1973's "Warm Love," but re-discovered his faith and backbeat for the joyous gospel-soul of 1978's "Wavelength." He continued to explore soul and jazz in the '80s, adding rootsy sounds on songs like "Tore Down ala Ribaud."

The mid-80s selections show Morrison mellowed but still soulful, his husky voice providing counterpoint to smoother backings on "In the Garden" and "Someone Like You." The latter is probably best known for its appearance in 2001's "Bridget Jones's Diary, Part 2," though it was originally recorded fourteen years earlier. The string-lined 1989 love song "Have I Told You Lately" became a new Morrison signature, turning up on the soundtrack of "One Fine Day" and spawning dozens of cover versions. More blue-eyed soul followed, including the sumptuous "Days Like This," the autobiographical "The Healing Game," and the '50s R&B of "Precious Time."

It's a terrific and surprisingly organic journey from Morrison's garage rock roots through his authoritative, pop, soul, jazz and R&B sides. This is a well selected anthology that could easily turn Morrison's more recent fans onto his classics, or clue early fans into his terrific body of later work. But in both cases, listeners will need to supplement the overview with deeper helpings from the original albums. Alternatively you could pick up a greatest hits collection for Them, and purpose-built anthologies of his early Bang-era material, seminal '70s work for Warner Brothers and Mercury, and the Morrison-curated anthologies of his later work "Best of Van Morrison" Vols. 2 and 3. Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be a truly satisfying one-stop shop - and with a catalog this sprawling and deep, there may never be. [©2007 hyperbolium dot com]
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on April 22, 2008
Still on Top:Greatest Hits was originally released back in 2007 as a single disc 21 track set. For the more casual fan, it is still IMO the best option to get.

Now in 2008, Van Morrison has seen fit to re-release this set as an expanded 3 disc set with the same title. All of the 21 tracks from the single disc version are here but with the addition of 30 more tremendous tracks. While most die hard Van Morrison fans scoff at the idea of trying to distill his artistry to a compliation of sorts, this new 3 disc set represents the best option for people wanting to dig a lot deeper than the single disc version without having to buy individual albums.

The good part here is that all of the tracks are brilliantly remastered and each CD is almost maxed out close to 80 minutes. Disc One is just shy of 78 minutes, disc two is about 78 1/2 minutes and Disc Three is just shy of 79 minutes. One of my huge gripes when buying greatest hits CD's or anthologies is when they fail to max out the CD (or CD's) as much as they can to 80 minutes. Thankfully they didn't do that here and gave the buyer the absolute most music possible on 3 CD's.

The one thing I thought I would have a problem with is that the CD's aren't sequenced in chronological order. But upon listening to the set it's clear that Van Morrison sequenced each CD with a particular feel/mood in mind. This is most evident on Disc 3 which is very laid back and chilled out in a most relaxing and enjoyable way.

While there have been way too many compilation sets of Van Morrison's stuff over the years, I feel that this is the best one to get for people wanting a really thorough anthology of this legendary artist's long, long career.

For the more casual fan, the 2007 single disc set is still the best option for those seeking more of a lighter sampling of his work.
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VINE VOICEon March 22, 2008
What, yet another Van Morrison Greatest Hits assortment? Why do we need this continual barrage? Well, maybe one reason is that everything is remastered but the reason I bought it is that a review in an English music magazine promised some never before released outtakes on disc three. OK, turns out there is just one and that is on disc two. I'd already heard everything else before as I imagine most hardcore Van Morrison fans have, so what this package really amounts to is an excellent compendium for casual fans who think that he faded away in the 1970s.
This three-CD set is filled with undoubtedly great music and the price is very reasonable but like the first reviewer, I can think of many songs that could have been included and some that could easily be omitted. But that brings to mind the point that but for the quality of the remaster, any fan with a fairly comprehensive collection of Van's albums could have slapped this together himself.
Still On Top offers a broad overview of forty years of music, stretching from Morrison's days with Them to albums issued just in the last couple years. Nearly four hours long, it certainly covers a lot of musical territory yet somehow I was left feeling a lack of any real excitement about it.
Despite my slight disappointment, Still On Top: The Greatest Hits will often serve as my Van Morrison fix when I am taking a road trip and can't decide which of his many varied CDs to bring along. And here's an additional thought: Several songs from Moondance are featured here yet the album has never been remastered due reputedly to a dispute between Warner Brothers and Van Morrison. Can this mean a remaster of that classic is imminent? It was not listed in the remastering program included with this set.
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on January 25, 2008
Now, isn't it a bit unfair that everyone else in the world got a two-CD, 37-track version of this album and we only got a one-CD, 21-track version?
So anyway, I'm looking at the tracklist and thinking, okay, it's a bit rudimentary and there are way too many mediocre late-period songs ("Real Real Gone"? "Someone Like You"? "In the Garden"? I ask you...), but overall it... hey, wait a minute! There is NOTHING from Astral Weeks on this edition, or on the European edition! brxjzsdpbmnowe. That was me getting angry, if you were wondering. And there's no "Tupelo Honey", either! Or "Caravan"! Or "Whenever God Shines His Light"! Or "Cleaning Windows"! Or ANYTHING from Veedon Fleece, unless you were one of the four people who got the three-disc special edition (which none of us Yanks are worthy of). vlamdnsklt. Yes, I'm still angry. Because this is a blown opportunity! I mean, rather than loading us down with those '80s songs that nobody knows about, they could've gone for some of the classics! AND they could've graced us Americans (and Canadians) with the double-album version, too. I don't like that.
Yeeeaaah, if you want "Gloria", "Brown Eyed Girl", "Wild Night", "Domino", "Moondance", "Jackie Wilson Said (I'm in Heaven When You Smile)", "Warm Love", "Bright Side of the Road" and so forth (and I would not blame you for wanting any of those), get the first "best-of" album. This is a decent look at Van Morrison's career, but at the same point it's a sham. I mean, what is so hard about picking one edition of an album and releasing it worldwide?
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on March 19, 2008
This is like the 4th Van compilation in recent times and is a greatly expanded version of the single disc greatest hits collection of the same name. The compiler did a wonderful job of stringing together 3 great sounding discs that flow in a wonderful manner. Most of the absolute "musts" are here on this set and the remaining choices sound so good together that it's hard to quibble. HOWEVER, we Van fans MUST quibble, mustn't we? What, no Caravan? Blue Money? ANYTHING from 'A Period of Transition'? Kingdom Hall? Haunts of Ancient Peace? Satisfied? Thanks For The Information? Got To Go Back? I'm Not Feeling It Anymore? Etc. , etc., etc. Any long-time van fan can make their own list of "musts" (and probably will) that were missed. BUT, despite my title's disclaimer, this is THE definitive collection (so far) and it sounds SO wonderful as a whole. This will get a LOT of play on my dansette. At least until they make a 4 disc box set and let me be the compiler!!
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on November 6, 2007
I'm a longtime fan and finally, this the perfect collection of Van's best songs. All my favorites are on this one CD, especially "Days Like This" and "Moondance" and they sound amazing. I'll be putting my other compilations into storage and will keep this around me at all times. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who is also a longtime fan or espcially to someone who needs to discover this unique and incredible voice.
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on August 12, 2008
This a great single cd collection of Van's great hits but it lacks linear notes, musician information, photos, and other credits. Most cds contain these things in a little booklet inside a four sided cover. I am sure that being a serious collector as I am, I would assume other collectors would miss these things.Instead of this there is a note in the inside cover that says to get this information you must go to a internet site. Whats up with this? Is this the future of cds--to save money and not include this information? I hope not, This is why I do not download any cds--I want to have this information right on the cover or inside. I am sure other collectors would agree.
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on February 6, 2009
I bought this 3 cd set for my husband for Christmas after he mentioned that as much as he enjoys Van Morrison, he hardly had any of his music. This cd set is PERFECT!! We both love the way that songs from different eras are sprinkled around making it a very interesting musical experience. This is a must have for anyone's musical collection!
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on July 29, 2008
A misnomer of a title if ever there was one. Van Morrison is one of those peculiar figures in that while he's undoubtedly a major artist he has actually had very few hits, and the majority of music lovers would probably be hard pressed to name more than half a dozen of his songs. Even Brown Eyed Girl, perhaps his best known - certainly most frequently played - song wasn't a hit in Britain. Van is also unusual in that he's perhaps the only major artist, or certainly long standing musician, who hasn't had either a box set or at least a multi disc best of collection. Of course this 3 disc release now remedies that. For the less committed there is also a 2 disc version. Of course Van's output has been that prolific it could easily run to another disc, or even 2 more! There have been the Best of and Best of Volume 2 and the only recenly released Best of Vol 3, which itself was a double disc, but this collection, whether you buy the 2 or 3 disc version will now supplant them as the premier Van Morrison compilation.
Having said this it is still far from perfect. Firstly,the annotation is extremely skimpy, nor do we get photos. Detailed notes and decent photos are what we have come to expect from proper box sets, and both are totally lacking here. The presentation is very similar to the 3 disc Elton John set that came out a few years ago, however that had much better annotation and more photos. Still On Top - The Greatest Hits (they have to add that, as Morrison already has an album called Back On Top, a similar title) isn't arranged chronologically either,jumping about all over the place without any obvious theme. This may not bother some people, but I find it irritating. I feel that a definitive compilation should trace an artist's career sensibly.
Now we come to the music, and I must be honest here, although I have quite a few Morrison albums I don't like all he's done and I actively dislike some of his output. His first 'proper' album Astral Weeks is not only regarded as his greatest, but one of the greatest rock albums period. I can see why, in that it's full of what were for the time original soundscapes, but it's not an easy listen; and the compilers seem to recognise that here as they haven't included one single track from that album - a 3 disc set and nothing from what is regarded as the artist's greatest release! This in itself is bizarre and shows how hard it is to compile Van Morrison. Astral Weeks is not the only album to have nothing from it here, quite a few others are similarly neglected, whilst other have up to 4 tracks taken from them, which means that the compilation isn't really a definitive overview. One of the most heavily represented with 4 tracks is his next album, Moondance, and I would suggest this is because it was the nearest Morrison came to making a truly great album. Despite the inclusion of the title track, Crazy Love, And It Stoned Me and the brilliant Into the Mystic (perhaps my favourite Morrison song) the compilers have still had to omit classics such as Caravan and These Dreams Of You.
I generally prefer Van's up temp r n b influenced songs rather than his long drawn out excursions into celtic mysticism or whatever it's called, consequently I lost interest in him after Hard Nose The Highway although I did reagain it more recently and bought his 3 relatively recent albums: Back On Top, Down The Road and Magic Time. Personally I think these are as good as anything he's done in his long career,as do the compilers here, taking 2 tracks each from Back On top and Magic Time and 3 from Down The Road. Another album heavily represented is Avalon Sunset with 4 tracks; this was a Morrison album I used to own, but sold.
Ultimately, despite the eccentricities of some of the selections here, this is as definitive complilation of Van Morrison as you're going to get. Because of the length of his career and vast output it would be difficult to like all he's done. Van also has the tendency sometimes to ruin a song with endless repetition or simply silly noises. See for example Georgia On My Mind, on the otherwise excellent Down The Road, thankfully not included here. He tends to do this on the longer songs, which in Morrison's ouvre are usually long, not because of any instrumental virtuosity but because of vocal self indulgence; consequently the 11 minute Listen to the Lion from St Dominic's Preview actually ceases to be a song after about 5 minutes and turns into a repetitive dirge - this happens to much of Astral Weeks, presumably this is why nothing has been included here. Instead of Listen To The Lion or one or two of the other long dirges, such as the irritating Rave On John Donne, I would have liked to have had more of the shorter r n b type tracks, such as Call Me Up In Dreamland from His Band and the Street Choir or the aforementioned These Dreams Of You from Moondance.
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on January 29, 2013
Van Morrison's arc is so extensive and his phases don't please all the people all the time - this really is an artist where you should just burn your own compilation. But caveat Van's got some great albums so after you purchase a core group of albums - then download some mp3s - you'll have fun arranging them. I'm actually on my second compilation. For instance Moondance has a stellar side one but side two is weaker (albums remember we had to flip them - well no one flipped Moondance that's how good side one was so that album is perfect for ripping mp3's off of)

Here's my suggested albums to own followed by my latest 80 minute mp3 collection:
Tupelo Honey - Hard Nose the Highway - It's Too Late to Stop Now (Live) - Veedon Fleece - Common One - Hymns to the Silence - Down The Road - At The Movies. Some people are more into the early years (gloria) but I'm more into the mystic/secular vs the overtly religious (thats just me) I wouldn't argue taste - Van's like a 100 flavored ice cream store - so pick your favorite albums and burn the rest - some people are ga, ga over Avalon Sunset - I say rock on with your bad self but not for me.

Here's my suggestion compilation and order (keep in my mind this is my second burn - trust me I have Moondance covered)
Across the Bridge Where Angels Dwell
Precious time
I've Been Working
Blue Monday
The Healing Game
I'll Be Your Lover Too
Sweet thing
Crazy Face
Someone like You
The Way Young Lovers Do
Saint Dominics Preview
Stranded
Close enough For Jazz
In the Garden
Inarticulate Speech of the Heart (part 1)
Celtic Swing
Scandinavia

The albums these cuts came from are Astral Weeks - Beautiful Vision - Born to Sing - His Band and Street Choir- Inarticulate Speech of the Heart - Still on Top. Good luck out there hope that gives you some ideas to explore - Vans catalog is a bear to navigate.
____________________________________________
Update :
Tracked Down my first compilation 80 minute disc - here are the cuts and sequence:
Dweller on the threshold
And it Stoned Me
Moondance
Crazy
Caravan
Into the Mystic
Domino
Here Comes the night
Brown eyed Girl
Gloria
Green Mansions
Pagan Streams
The Way Young Lovers Do - apparently I like this one :)
Have I Told You Lately
Wavelength
Troubadours
Bright side of the Road
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