Van Morrison - The Best of Volume 3

The release of this collection just months after Morrison's last release "Van Morrison At The Movies", which was a selection of Vans popular tracks used in films prompts the idea that maybe Van's back catalogue is being used to release him from his contract.

Where this release differs from the two previous "Best Ofs" is that a considerable portion of the tracks feature Van sharing the spotlight with other artists on tracks from their albums and of course as we have come to expect, this collection features two previously unreleased tracks to snare those Van fanatics who might avoid this release thinking they own everything featured on it.

CD1 starts with a previously unreleased version of "Cry For Home", a song Van originally cut on his "Beautiful Vision" album in 1982, this version from 1998, Van sharing vocal duties with his contemporary Tom Jones. It must be difficult recording what is virtually a cover version of your own song, but Van pulls it off by having veteran sax man Pee Wee Ellis simulating bagpipes on his horn. Strange but true.

Over the last few years Van has undertook tours with both Ray Charles and blues-soul singer Bobby Bland, both huge influences on him in his young days in his native Belfast. Bland shares vocal duties on the collections second previously unreleased track, an unfussy, sparsely backed version of Morrison's 1971 classic "Tupela Honey". Another standard from the Morrison songbook is "Crazy Love", this version with Ray Charles, recorded live from Charles last album "Genius Loves Company"

Van also shares the spotlight with Irish traditional musicians, The Chieftains on "Shenondoah" recorded in the film "The Irish In America": Long Journey Home", although a better selection might have been taken from the album he recorded with the Chieftains as this track is marred by the overblown orchestral backing. Collaborative efforts with rockabilly legend Carl Perkins and veteran bluesman BB King do live up to expectations though.

Three more bluesmen in the shape of John Lee Hooker, Junior Wells and Jonny Witherspoon also put in appearances from various projects. Van's last album, his country covers project from last year "Pay The Devil" is not represented, which is a pity as it his most vital album for some time.

Derek McCann

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