Still On Top: Greatest Hits CD (2007)

Artist: Van Morrison

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Performance

Sampling from a long and varied career

by redtunictroll@hotmail.com on 11/24/2007

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 ("Blue Money" and "Come Running," among others) 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 "In 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. 3-1/2 stars, if allowed fractional ratings. [©2007 redtunictroll at hotmail dot com] Read More

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Product Overview

Specifications

Label Universal Music Group
SKU 205843637
UPC 602517477933
UPC 14 00602517477933
Format CD
Release Date 11/6/2007
Links
Author Van Morrison
Compilation Appearance Last Waltz (Live)
Compilation Appearance Dream A Little Dream
Compilation Appearance Best Of 1965-74
Compilation Appearance French Kiss
Compilation Appearance Basquiat
Compilation Appearance Deuces Wild
Compilation Appearance Sopranos
Compilation Appearance Sopranos-Peppers & Eggs (Explicit Version)
Compilation Appearance Reloaded-Greatest Hits
Compilation Appearance Celebration
Compilation Appearance Genius Loves Company
Compilation Appearance 80
Compilation Appearance Musical History
Compilation Appearance Monster Music 123755-00 Monster Music® Ray Charles "Genius Loves Company" Music SuperDisc
Compilation Appearance Essential Chieftains
Compilation Appearance Songwriter Collection
Compilation Appearance Hooker (Box) (Spkg)
Compilation Appearance The Departed
Compilation Appearance Hear It Now The Sound Of The '60s
Compilation Appearance 50 Years:john Lee Hooker Anthology
Compilation Appearance Singers Songwriters
Compilation Appearance 60'S Music Revolution
Compilation Appearance Romancing The 60S
Compilation Appearance Last Waltz
Compilation Appearance Now That's What I Call Movies
Compilation Appearance Essential Van Morrison
Associated Artist/Work Barber, Chris (1~Trombone)
Associated Artist/Work Chieftains (The)
Associated Artist/Work Fame, Georgie
Associated Artist/Work Lewis, Linda G.
Associated Artist/Work Lewis, Linda Gail
Associated Artist/Work Original Soundtrack
Associated Artist/Work Shorty (Georgie Fame)
Associated Artist/Work Vitamin String Quartet
Technical Info
CatalogID B-001007002
Lable Name Polydor
Released 11/06/2007
Original Release 2007
Number of Discs 1
SPARE Code n/a
Length 79m : 26s
Mono/Stereo Stereo
Studio/Live Studio
UPC 00602517477933
Album Notes and Credits
STILL ON TOP: THE GREATEST HITS is a career-spanning anthology of hits by mercurial Irish singer-songwriter Van Morrison. Starting with two key tracks by his Rolling Stones-like 1960s band, Them--"Gloria" and "Here Comes the Night"--the set passes over Morrison's legendary 1968 album, ASTRAL WEEKS, a jazzy mood piece that works best as a whole, but otherwise cherry-picks a ton of FM radio classics. "Wild Nights," "Domino," "Moondance," and "Have I Told You Lately That I Love You" are among the many highlights, presented in remastered sound.
Professional Reviews
Dirty Linen (p.82) - "Tracing the Celtic soul rocker from his beginnings as top dog among the Jagger/Davies shouters of the time with the seminal group Them to his place as top headman to bong smokers and onto becoming the best blue-eyed soul singer to ever come out of Ireland is quite a journey in and of itself."
Disc 1
1 Gloria
2 Here Comes the Night
3 Brown Eyed Girl
4 Moondance
5 Crazy Love
6 Domino
7 Wild Night
8 Jackie Wilson Said (I'm In Heaven When You Smile)
9 Warm Love
10 Wavelength
11 Bright Side Of The Road
12 Dweller on The Threshold - (live)
13 Tore Down ? la Rimbaud
14 In The Garden
15 Someone Like You
16 Have I Told You Lately
17 Real Real Gone
18 Days Like This
19 Healing Game, The - (alternate take)
20 Precious Time
21 Stranded
Product Attributes
Artist Morrison,Van
Label Universal Music Group
Music Format Compact Disc
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Sampling from a long and varied career by redtunictroll@hotmail.com on Nov 24, 2007

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