Album Reviews

Van Morrison

The Essential

Artist:     Van Morrison

Album:     The Essential

Label:     Legacy

Release Date:     08/28/2015

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The big news here is not yet another collection of Van Morrison’s best songs. Heck, there are three volumes of these compilations as good as this 37-track two disc set. Treat this as an appetizer.

Legacy Recordings, a division of Sony Music Entertainment, has acquired the rights to the most complete discography of Van Morrison, spanning more than 50 years of music. From the recordings of Them (1964-66) to his solo releases through 2009, Van’s music is now under one roof. Only his two most recent efforts, 2012’s Born to Sing: No Plan B and this year’s Duets: Re-working the Catalogue are yet to be represented.

The real treasure here is that you can now find 33 Van Morrison albums digitally and through streaming services. Some of these have been very difficult to find; some have been out-of-print in any format for 15 years. Most are familiar with the too often played “Moondance,” “Brown Eyed Girl,” “Domino” and others, but Van usually had a concept in mind when he recorded an album, and in the course of his journeys crossed many genres, employed large ensembles and changed personnel frequently. Selecting a track or two from his albums just doesn’t really do justice to this icon’s creativity.  Dig into the full albums. Here are five you should definitely check out if you haven’t already: Veedon Fleece (1974), Into the Music (1979), No Guru, No Method, No Teacher (1984), Poetic Champions Compose (1987) and Astral Weeks “Live at the Hollywood Bowl” (2009).

– Jim Hynes

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