on February 22, 2000
This was my first Van Morrison CD, and it turned me into a fan. As an introduction to his work, it's unbeatable, and one of the best "best of" out there. Now that I have other Van CDs, it's obvious that Into The Mystic and Tupelo Honey (two of the best songs ever from any artist) should have been included here. However, if you want to get to know the music of Van The Man, Brown Eyed Girl, Moondance, Gloria, Have I Told You Lately, Sweet Thing, Whenever God Shines His Light and Wild Night, to name a few, will give you a good idea. One last note: regarding the "censored" Brown Eyed Girl debate... I have the American version of this CD, and though the lyrics in the liner notes do not include the "making love on the green grass" line, the song on the CD does.
Van Morrison is an absolutely amazing individual who has performed in a huge array of styles in his decades as a musician and singer. That array of mixed styles is probably the largest flaw in this collection. A much better Van Morrison collection would need to be a boxed set dividing his music into styles: soul, R&B, pop, funk, and rock, though even those styles are perhaps less than inclusive and in some cases it may be difficult to determine where a particular song fits, rather than aiming for a retrospective on a single disk.
Another problem with this CD is the flow of the music. There seems to be no pattern to how the music is laid out, either in terms of era or style. Essentially the CD seems disorganized, as though someone had put the songs they wanted to include on the CD into a hat and started choosing them one at a time. I have read that Van Morrison wanted nothing to do with this CD, and I think the end result explains why.
Possibly the remaining concern is that the music selected is the most popular of Van Morrison's work. I understand the need to have some measure of commercial value in the release of a greatest hits or best of collection, but such a collection tends to pass over some of the better music of many artists. Once again, a boxed set could present some of Van Morrison's artistically excellent music that was less commercially successful. Of course, the fans most interested in that kind of music likely already have it on the albums, but why not represent the true scope of an artist?
Getting past my issues with the organization of the music, this CD is perhaps the best single CD collection of Van Morrison available, explaining the four star rating. Some of the songs I had forgotten, or perhaps never knew, were Van Morrison's.
Included on this CD are soul songs like "Bright Side of the Road" and "Queen of the Slipstream." "Queen of the Slipstream" is also heavily spiritual. In a completely different vein are songs in a style I call crooner, suitable for night clubs, like "Moondance," "And It Stoned Me," and "Have I Told You Lately." "Moondance" immediately calls to mind "Mac the Knife."
There are songs that were once called funk or funky, like "Warm Love" and "Cleaning Windows." There is the funk-tinged spiritual song "Whenever God Shines His Light," sung in a style highly reminiscent of Billy Joel on "River of Dreams."
Then there is the pop and rock Van Morrison, represented by hits "Gloria," with its Stones-like sound, "Brown Eyed Girl," which is perhaps Van Morrison's most recognized song, "Full Force Gale," and "Domino," among others. In another twist of styles is "Wonderful Remark," which has a very Springsteen-styled sound.
Van Morrison is no copycat. He chooses styles to fit the music, and his own very unique sound is represented on songs like the previously mentioned "Brown Eyed Girl," "Jackie Wilson Said," "Domino," "Wild Night," and "Dweller on the Threshold."
Van Morrison's career has entered its fifth decade, experimenting with styles and sounds throughout. Van Morrison's sound has not so much evolved as just been the sound appropriate for his intent at the time. He seems equally at home with singing in whatever style he feels like singing at the moment. Some singers have said they have sung styles that they would not revisit as they age. Van Morrison will continue to sing the style appropriate to his mood, regardless of his age.
With all its flaws, this CD is probably the best available single collection of Van Morrison's work. It is also one of his biggest sellers, if not THE biggest. His musical ability overwhelms all flaws and makes this a highly enjoyable and valuable CD for a discerning musicologist's collection. Choose "The Best of Van Morrison, Vol. 2" to expand your best of Van Morrison collection further.
on April 10, 2000
This is a very nice compilation of songs from a musical genius who really can not have his career summed up in one compact disc. But, if you must have only one in your collection, this should be it. It cantains some of Morrison's popular songs from his very early days with "Them" and many fo his later hits when he went solo. This was one of the first compact discs I purchased many years ago (in a collection of 350+ now) and it is still one of my favorites. It should be in any music fan's collection.
Note: The early edition I have DOES have the edited version of Brown Eyed Girl (my favorite song) and this caused me to purchase another collection which has the original version (Van Morrison - Band Masters on Sony's Epic label). The people that say that there is an edited earlier version of this cd are in fact correct, and it is true in the case of the music and printed lyrics.
on February 3, 2000
This release, which provides an overview of Van's career from 1964-1990, was probably compiled with a minimal amount of effort. There are no rare tracks or compelling liner notes included with this selection as there are on many greatest hits CD's. The selection of songs is a bit erratic and misses a couple of obvious choices, among them "Tupelo Honey". There are probably reasons for this. When this disc was released the rights to several of the songs were controlled by different record companies. Becuase of this Van fans could not obtain any sort of comprehensive offering of his songs. So while this CD solved that problem, it created others. First issue, which isn't huge, is that the collection does not flow well. We get 4 key tracks from the 1960's ("Baby Please Don't Go"; "Gloria"; "Here Comes The Night"; and "Brown Eyed Girl") but they are randomly mixed in with his material from the 1970's and 1980's. Also, it would have been a nice touch to include a couple more songs from the early Warner Brothers period (1968-74), including some of the B-sides or out-takes that have yet to make it on CD (some examples of the songs were contained on the "Philospoher's Stone" double-CD, but others continue to be unavailable). Van has had such a productive and multi-faceted career that it is hard to gather the highlights in some kind of logical order, but it can be done with care (as it was on the double-CD anthology "The Story Of Them Featuring Van Morrison"). Some record labels have released several greatest hits packages for one artist, but for Van this is only compilation to be had, and for all of its flaws it will have to do until something better comes along.
on April 25, 2000
This represents a wonderful single CD introduction to Van Morrison's work through the years. As a huge Van fan (I own 8 albums), there are tracks that I had never heard before that are great (ex. "Whenever God Shines His Light"), as well as some old staples for which I didn't really want the original albums("Brown Eyed Girl", "Gloria").
Having said this, I don't know how they could have left off "Into The Mystic", one of his truly finest pieces, nor "Tupelo Honey". (Neither made it onto Vol. 2 either.) Also, the song order seems haphazard, which can detract from the quality of the songs themselves. (ex. "Have I Told You Lately" following "Baby Please Don't Go" just doesn't work.)
Trying to summarize Van's work in a single CD is near impossible, but this CD is a great intro and should have you wanting more.
on March 1, 2000
First, I must say that the last couple of reviewers must have a newer edition of the CD than I do, because 'Brown-eyed Girl' definitely IS censored on both the printed lyrics AND the CD itself, which was the only disappointment I had with this album. I admit I really wasn't familiar with many of Van's tunes before purchasing this album, but my interested is definitely peaked now. This album contains songs good for all moods, and it probably one of my most prized albums.
on August 24, 1999
I've been a nut over Van "the man" Morrison since his THEM days. His lyrics have always zeroed in on what makes this man's heart beat. His battles with the Parrot record company are legendary. An Irish rebel. This CD has many of his great ones. It has a few of his sucky ones also. Greatest Hits? I think not. But what really burns me about this CD is the song Brown Eyed Girl. A true classic. A masterpiece. But on this CD, Mona Lisa's smile has been altered. No longer are we making love in the green grass behind the stadium but now we're running and laughing. The record company has decided that makin' love in the green grass is too paganistic for modern society. By modifying the lyrics the song has lost its heart. And in my opinion has tainted the entire CD. If they are allowed to change the lyrics maybe next time they can change the players or the singer. Hell, put Tony Burrows on vocals. That guy sang nearly every song in the late 60's anyways.
on June 15, 2003
This is such a good cd, as are most of his. It's quite possible that if you're someone looking for your first "Van Morrison" cd, you're stuck between this, and "Moondance". Here's why you should get "Moondance" instead. It ALSO has "And it stoned me" and "Moondance", but more importantly has "Crazy Love", "Into the Mystic", and "Glad tidings", among others that are essential, which the "best of" does NOT have. Plus, it doesn't have "Brown eyed girl" and "Wild Night" which are over-played anyway. The advantage to the "best of", is twice as many songs. Now, not to say that they're no good, but what are you looking for, quantity.....or quality? It's actually a full moon tonight.
on June 14, 2004
The new remaster has the unedited Brown Eyed Girl with the "Making Love in the green grass...." line intact.
Now for the review, this is a great compilation for the Van Morrision newbie. It contains his most famous songs, Brown Eyed Girl, Moondance, Gloria (with Them), Domino, Jackie Wilson Said..., Wild Night, Have I Told You Lately..., And It Stoned Me, among others.
The only song that should have been on here that wasn't is Caravan. Other than that a perfect 10.
Once again, if you are irritated about the original taking out that infamous line in Brown Eyed Girl, get the remaster. It shouldn't be hard to find since the unremastered is out of print.
on February 19, 2004
Van Morrison has as many compilation albums as just about anyone, save The Beach Boys, and while there are omissions on this particular collection, such as 'Blue Money', 'Saint Dominic's Preview', and 'Tupelo Honey', there are probably more hits offered here than on any other single Morrison disc. Since Morrison has one of the most distinctive vocal sounds in rock and roll, and generally writes such bouyant numbers, choosing to glorify requited over unrequited love, a collection of his best seems essential to any comprehensive contemporary music library.
While there may have been a method to the madness that characterizes the sequencing of this set, it eludes me. Initially we seem to be alternating between early and later samples of Van's 'greatest hits', but that pattern breaks down around tracks 6, 7 and 8. Whatever point was trying to be proven by the unnamed producer, it's certainly lost on me. At the very least, the early work of Morrison should be offered together first, beginning with Them's recordings of 'Gloria' (more primitive and simply better than The Shadows of Knight's version, which rose to number 10 on the pop charts in 1966), 'Here Comes the Night' (a number 24 hit in 1965), and Big Joe Williams' 'Baby Please Don't Go'. Stylistically, Morrison's #6 hit from 1972, 'Jackie Wilson Said' could follow.
That impressive and rollicking opening would be followed by the slew of pop singles Morrison strung together in the 1960's and 1970's, beginning with his #6 hit from 1967, 'Brown-Eyed Girl', and rolling through 'Domino' (#9 in 1970), 'Wild Night' (#26 in 1971), and 'Moondance' (#4 in 1977). 'Bright Side of the Road' from 1979, a tantalizing opener on this disc, would fit in this group nicely, as would 'And It Stoned Me' from Morrison's 'Moondance' LP.
There are a series of wonderful spritual numbers that would form an impressive quartet as well, including 'Full Force Gale', 'Did Ye Get Healed', 'Whenever God Shines His Light' (a sweet duet with Cliff Richard), and 'Dweller On the Threshold'. While some downplay the spiritual depth of these songs as generic Christianity, I find the songs deeply reflective of a genuine born-again spirituality. The remainder of the songs on the disc were chosen from a variety of Morrison LP's released from the early 1970's to the late 1980's. While most are unique, thoughtful, and moving, it seems a 'Best Of...' collection deserves the best, which begs the question why some of Morrison's other single releases weren't included. I especially miss 'Blue Money'.
Nonetheless, this is a throroughly enjoyable CD, and until something more comprehensive comes along on a single disc, this compilation will do. Lyrics are included, which is appreciated since Morrison can slur his delivery at times, but there are curious omissions in the print as well... individual lines lost here and there, even rewrites ("making love in the green grass behind the stadium with you" from 'Brown-Eyed Girl' becomes 'Laughing and running, heh, heh, behind the stadium with you") and those that go completely unprinted ('Here Comes the Night' and 'Baby Please Don't Go'). It's a good thing Morrison is such a great talent, or some of this would have to go unforgiven.