Still on Top — The Greatest Hits
First Appeared in The Music Box, November 2007, Volume 14, #11
Written by John Metzger
Sat November 17, 2007, 08:20 AM CST
For those who happen to be keeping score, Still on Top — The Greatest Hits is the third compilation of Van Morrison’s work to be issued in 2007. Nevertheless, it’s the outing toward which casual fans and newcomers alike ought to gravitate. Not only does it completely avoid the nooks and crannies that The Best of Van Morrison, Volume 3 explored so thoroughly, but it also demonstrates a greater level of focus than At the Movies did in how it pulls together the Irish bard’s best-known songs There’s no doubt that Still on Top — The Greatest Hits merely skims the surface of Morrison’s canon, but presented chronologically, it manages to capture the essence of his output by highlighting how his distinctive fusion of rock, blues, soul, folk, and jazz has evolved over the course of 41 years.
Alas, Still on Top — The Greatest Hits is not without its problems. Perhaps the biggest criticism that one could level toward the outing is the fact that cuts such as Into the Mystic and Tupelo Honey were passed over in favor of a live interpretation of Dweller on the Threshold and an alternate rendition of The Healing Game. Equally dubious, however, is its overarching flow. The collection is designed specifically to present a series of well-known selections. Although it touches upon many of the correct bases — Moondance, Domino, Brown Eyed Girl, Wild Night, and Them’s Gloria are the most recognizable among them — and although Morrison’s voice is always soulful and the music consistently is sublime, the sum total of the contents of Still on Top — The Greatest Hits never quite coalesces.
There’s no question that later tracks such as In the Garden, Real Real Gone, and Days Like This are all wonderful songs. Taken out of context, however, and replicated without some of the unusual and more challenging twists and turns that have marked Morrison’s endeavors, the tunes all sound strangely disconnected from each other. This isn’t something about which Morrison’s casual fans necessarily are going to care, but for anyone who is intimately familiar with his work, the results are less than satisfying. ½
Still on Top — The Greatest Hits is available from
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2007 The Music Box