Friday, July 11, 2014

Van Morrison 24: Best Of Volume Two

Only three years and two albums since the first, hugely successful collection, here came another compilation from the man’s mostly recent catalog. Fans expecting more hits they knew and/or loved may have been baffled by the choices, supposedly made by Van himself. The Best Of Van Morrison Volume Two sticks pretty much to the stuff PolyGram owned worldwide, so that meant nothing from the ‘70s. Instead we get two songs from each of his ‘80s albums, two from Them, and one each from the live album, the Chieftains album and Hymns To The Silence, then his latest release.
From a strictly musical point of view, it’s a nice set. After starting with the bang of “Real Real Gone”, the program stays predominantly mellow, which isn’t surprising given the period sampled. Some of the transitions will keep the listener on his or her toes, with “A Sense Of Wonder” giving way to “I’ll Tell Me Ma”, which precedes “Coney Island”, and the live “Rave On John Donne” setting up the two Them tracks. (“Don’t Look Back”, a John Lee Hooker song, is a decent slow blues with tasty piano, while their unique rearrangement of Dylan’s “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue” was one of the better contemporary covers. Most likely its inclusion here spurred Beck to sample it a few years later.)
If Van really did compile this set, we give him points for including some of our favorite deep cuts. The Best Of Van Morrison Volume Two is not as immediately accessible as its older brother, but it’s not a waste of plastic. Still, we strongly encourage people to dive into the albums themselves for even more gold.

Van Morrison The Best Of Van Morrison Volume Two (1993)—4

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