Review: Van Morrison - Still on Top - The Greatest Hits
Label: Exile Productions Ltd.
Released: November 6, 2007
In over 40 years of performing, Van Morrison has released records on a variety of labels. Until now, there has apparently not been a best of culled from his entire catalog. Still on Top is a single volume anthology of Van the Man's hits ranging from his time in the mid-60s with Them up to 2005's Magic Time. As such, it is a bit inconsistent as were the times.
The album is organized chronologically and while that isn't terribly creative, it avoids the trap of using some indecipherable organization into which so many anthologies fall. Without a doubt, the best material on the album comes early. There are no surprises in the track selection other than the absence of a few favorites like "Into the Mystic." The first batch of songs ends in 1973 and the next picks up in 1978. A lot changed in those intervening years, for Morrison and music in general. He still sounds great, but the songs, both the writing and arranging, date themselves, making that period, which runs up into the late 80s, his weakest. Morrison did return to form in the 90s and 00s and happily some of that is reflected on this collection, providing a strong finish.
Because it's only a single disc, there are plenty of great songs left out and because it tries to be career-spanning, there are some weaker ones included. However, this isn't some hack stumbling his way through the material, the is Van Morrison. So while there is a lull in the middle, it's largely only because he's reached deep into his soul for so many of the songs on either side.