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Van Morrison At The Movies: Soundtrack Hits
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Van Morrison's music plays a role in many of modern cinema's most cherished films. 19 of these tracks are collected here for the first time. Includes the Pink Floyd cover "Comfortably Numb" currently featured in Martin Scorcese's The Departed. Van Morrison has sold over 15 million records in the U.S. alone. Furthermore, there are currently no other Van Morrison hits packages in the consumer marketplace.
If Hollywood's marriage with pop music is too often a marketing-driven shotgun affair, there remain musicians whose artistry can't help but elevate whatever film project they're associated with. This 19-track compendium underscores that notion, gathering a career-spanning collection of the Irish rock-R&B legend's contributions to an eclectic body of films that stretches from Pope of Greenwich Village's effusive early solo hit "Jackie Wilson Said" to the unlikely live collaboration with Roger Waters on "Comfortably Numb" that seasons Martin Scorsese's Oscar-nominated The Departed. The collection serves as a concise primer to the high points of Van Morrison's mercurial career, from the gritty career-breakout hits ("Gloria," "Baby Please Don't Go") of his British Invasion band Them through such early solo touchstones as "Wild Night," "Brown Eyed Girl," "Domino," and the collection's fine, previously unreleased live version of "Moondance" from An American Werewolf in London. But, as tracks like "Wonderful Remark," "Bright Side of the Road," "Someone Like You," and his Chieftains collaboration "Irish Heartbeat" ably argue, it's also an invitation to explore less heralded, if equally seductive, corners of the singer's rich oeuvre. --Jerry McCulley
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But why this collection over other anthologies or "best of" packages? Well, as others have stressed, this one's worth it (and for some fans will be absolutely essential) if only for the live versions of "Brown Eyed Girl" and "Moondance," which don't necessarily eclipse the well known originals, but do add new dimensions to them. Also among the live tracks are the riveting take on "Caravan" from THE LAST WALTZ) AND the closer, "Comfortably Numb" from the 1991 Berlin production of THE WALL. The former is just sheer magic. I remember seeing that movie and just gaping at what I was witnessing on that screen. I've never seen anybody that ON before.
As for "Comfortably Numb," that track is officially a duet with Roger Waters, of course--and it is Waters' song--but Van's impassioned vocal breathes new life into what was rapidly becoming a countercultural warhorse. We'd had the original album, the movie and a decade and a half of hearing it on Classic Rock Radio. Waters probably couldn't pass up to perform THE WALL in post-Cold War Berlin, but bringing in the guest artists was probably a must by that point. And including Van the Man was an inspired choice. When the song opens, Roger's doing his standard remote ironic thing. The exciting new element is Van's (relatively)quiet fire vocal. I know guitar enthusiasts also get excieted about the contributions of guest guitarists Snowy White and Rick DiFonzo, and yeah, they provide some exciting moments.
But it's Van's presence that (re)defines the song.
The classic Morrison R&B numbers are almost exactly what you'd expect: "Gloria," and "Baby Please Don't Go" from the the Them era. "Domino," "Jackie Wilson Said," "Real Real Gone," (the song which proved Van knew what EVERYBODY said, and not just Jackie Wilson). They're great, but so are the ballads: I just read, while googling about the other day, that "Queen of the Slipstream" was a favorite song of the late Farrah Fawcett and was featured in a documentary about her facing cancer. I don't know why, but for some reason I found that touching. I hope it brought her real comfort. In fact, I'm sure it did. The guy's got the touch.
I could go on about the individual tracks. But mainly, I love this record just for the sequencing, one where flow is much more important that mere chronology (just like in concert, yeah). If you're old fashioned enough to listen to CD's straight through, you'll find it holds together beautifully.
'Course it's not so bad on random select either. And I don't imagine you downloaders will be too unhappy with just the occasional individual track. But it appears Van and crew put real thought into this collection. You'll see some of these songs in a new light--even if you didn't see the movie.
I don't think that the song selection could be improved. All of the usual suspects are here, Gloria, Brown-Eyed Girl, Moondance, Domino, Jackie Wilson Said, Wild Night, Into the Mystic. However, there are also a few lesser known gems. Of the nineteen songs five are live or re-recorded. Particularly notable is the terrific Comfortably Numb with Roger Waters. Accordingly, although not usually a fan of "greatest hits" packages, I heartily recommend this release to both long-standing fans and those who are only slightly acquainted with the artist. You will not be disappointed.
All in all its a very enjoyable and thankfully different compilation for those of us who already own the best of Van. As for new people looking to get a brief, initial overview of Van's music, I think it works well as a single CD compilation. It will most likely make you want to explore other areas of his vast catalog. And that is a good thing!