So, which Van Morrison Album is the Greatest?

I have decided that I’m going to finally run out and buy a Van Morrison CD. I’ve always liked his music, but I have no idea where to start. If it helps any, I tend to like his happier tunes - Brown Eyed Girl, Wild Nights, etc… I was just looking for your opinions. Maybe throw out some of your favorite Van Morrison songs, too. Thanks!

Don’t know the best album, but finally saw him perform last summer. Great! :cool:

I consider Astral Weeks to be absolutely inspired. Though neither of those tunes is on it, it has “The Way Young Lovers Do,” which is pretty happy. Overall, I wouldn’t say that it is his happiest LP, but I do think it’s his best. Possibly the best LP ever made, certainly in the top 5 for me. Moondance is my second favorite.

Yes, I’m gonna have to go for Astral weeks as well.

“My main man” (as Seger called him) has a “Best of” album from Polygram in 1990. While we could debate all day whether the selections are really his best, it includes Gloria, Moondance, Brown Eyed Girl, Domino, Wild Night, Bright Side of the Road, and Jackie Wilson Said.

I’m no music snob and I have many, many “Bests” and “Greatest” CDs, but there are cases where you almost need to listen to the whole album to really get what it is about. That’s the case with “Astral Weeks” and to a slightly lesser degree “Moondance.”

The first 5 songs on Astral Weeks flow together almost to the point of being one long song. A “Best of” CD may pull out “Sweet Thing” and “Young Lovers . . .” but it would be missing something. I think I read somewhere that he recorded the whole album in one session overnight, and it really has that feel. As a matter of fact, I can only listen to the CD at night, it doesn’t feel right during the day.

While the music critic-experts consider “Astral Weeks” his best work, I would recommend starting with “Moondance” first and foremost. There’s a little bit of everything on there and you can easily listen to each and every song without skipping around. I bought it first, then “Astral Weeks” then about 8-10 others over the years, but none of them quite got back to the same level as the first two.

While we’re on VM, does anyone else think the Ryan Adams song “Answering Bell” sounds like a Van Morrison song and VM’s voice (early 70’s voice, that is)?

I enjoy Astral Weeks, but I wouldn’t suggest it for your first Van Morrison album. The most immediately accessible album would probably be Moondance. Listen to it on a Saturday afternoon, and relax.

My personal favorite is Into the Music. It’s very intensely romantic and spiritual. The music is tremendous. Listen to it late at night with a lover.

Tupelo Honey has “Wild Night,” the title track and “Old, Old Woodstock,” some of Van’s finest songs. I would recommend getting this one as your first or second (after Moondance), since you like the happier, lighter songs. Honey is full of them!

Wavelength is a warm, thoughtful, romantic and spritual album. I love it, especially on a late afternoon.

Of his “recent” works, I’d recommend The Healing Game, which is, yes, intense and soulful. For live Van Morrison, I prefer * A night in San Francisco*, along with It’s Too Late to Stop Now.

The Best of sets aren’t too great. I agree with H8_2_W8 in that most of the Van Morrison albums work best as a whole, rather than as a collection of cute singles.

Happy listening!

Astral Weeks is waaaaay overrated. Self-indulgent crap.

Go with Moondance and you won’t regret it. Every song is a gem. As a bonus, this is one of the all-time best mood-setting albums, if you know what I mean.

The song “Astral Weeks” is magnificent, but I rarely to never listen to the rest of the album. It’s interesting because it was made with a jazz band (and I believe that the song “Astral Weeks” is one of the few rock classics that doesn’t have a drum part – how’s that for a thread some time?) but I agree that it’s reputation is way overblown.

Side one of Moondance (remember when albums had sides?) is as brilliant and coherent a suite of songs as you will find in rock music. Side two never quite lived up to that splendor for me.

So my nomination for the best complete album is the less well known Saint Dominick’s Preview. The short songs like “Jackie Wilson Said” and “Redwood Tree” are as snappy tunes as anything he wrote and the long songs are incantatory and hypnotic. I love the mood they put me in.

I’m laughing now, because I checked out, and the reviewers were also divided between Moondance and Astral Weeks. I just know that I don’t want to start out with a greatest hits CD, because those are notorious for leaving out the one song you really want.

Violet mentioned that she saw him live and was impressed. Has anyone else seen Van Morrison in concert?

A number of years ago, around the time of Saint Dominic’s Preview, I went to one of his concerts and it was horrible. Not so much the music (although it wasn’t as good as I hoped) but his on-stage persona. The man positively radiated a sense of nervousness and of being pressured. His anxiety was so prominent that I had trouble even paying attention to the music.

I should point out that I am a huge Van Morrison fan and really wanted to enjoy his performance. But it wasn’t to be.

Has anyone else seen him perform?

(And, by the way, Astral Weeks is his best. No contest.)

I agree that Astral Weeks is his best, but I don’t necessarily think it is the best for someone new to his music. Moondance is more accessible and gives you a sense of his abilities - I 'd hate for someone to listen to Astral Weeks and be put off by it and then not listen to anything else by him.

A co-worker saw him in New Orleans about 6 months ago in two different venues - a big pavillion-type situation and a more intimate theater. The first show was horrendous (according to her), the second set was much better. He’s sort of notorious for having a bit of a love/hate relationship with performing live and, like Dylan, has been known to throw BIG curves at the audience (singing songs with his back to the audience, changing arrangements so that songs sound little or nothing like the cuts most people are familiar with, and changing the phrasing of songs so that, again, they’re nearly unrecognizable). Margie went to see him because she didn’t know when she get another chance.

I like No Guru, No Method, No Teacher when considering his later works.

Well skeeee-yoooze me for suggesting an album containing the two songs you said you wanted. You won’t find either on Astral Weeks or Moondance. :slight_smile:

I guess he’s mellowed with age, he used to act like a spoiled, pompous brat on stage. The type of performer that would walk off stage after on song if he didn’t like the acoustics, audience etc. Refunds were always out of the question.

I’d vote for “His Band the St. Choir”
I second the idea of a compilation if you only have $15.

We saw him in Louis Armstrong park one night during last year’s Jazzfest. We had excellent seats down on the floor, and were also pretty disappointed by Van Morrison’s act. JohnBckWLD’s description pretty much fit. He looked somewhere between petulant and nervous, acting very angry with someone off stage while fidgeting with his hands and fingers. Given the venue, I was kind of hoping that I’d hear something more like the live album he recorded in 1996 with Georgie Fame.

B. B. King was the opening act, though, and he more than made up for the rest of the show. :smiley:

Well skeeee-yoooze me for suggesting an album containing the two songs you said you wanted. You won’t find either on Astral Weeks or Moondance. :slight_smile:

Aargh! My first double-post, and separated by an hour. I feel like I just dropped a glass in a busy restaurant. Hep me, mods!

Yes, but it’s missing Crazy Love, Caravan, and [insert big, mooney, girlie sigh] Into the Mystic.. How can you have Van Morrison without Into the Mystic.?

I say buy one, xanadu, and make someone (someone here, maybe?) burn you another…

I personally vote for Tupelo Honey. It is very solid, and has a nice countrified feel. Also the bass line on “Wild Night” rocks.

Holy cats, it’s a pile-on! And my idol auntie em’s joining in! What, did I run over a cat and not know it? Whence cometh all this bad karma in such a mundane thread?