Van Morrison – At The Movies: Soundtrack Hits (Manhattan)
A pointless greatest hits collection under the guise of Van’s music featured in films, At The Movies: Soundtrack Hits collects nineteen of Morrison’s best known songs while still managing to screw up the album’s easy intention.
First off: four of the five live versions included on this collection shouldn’t even be here as the studio versions were used in the films. How these versions qualified then, is beyond me, but then the executive producers manage to throw in a live version of “Moondance” which was previously unreleased, making At The Movies: Soundtrack Hits a total rip-off for completists who will be tempted to get this collection on the basis of one song.
Secondly: where the fuck is “Tupelo Honey?” The Peter Fonda film Ulee’s Gold used this classic Van Morrison song prominently and it is glaringly absent here.
Instead, we get a live version of “Comfortably Numb” (taken from the movie The Departed) which really isn’t a Van song, particularly considering that it came from a Rodger Waters album that re-creates a Pink Floyd project to being with.
Finally: the version of “Brown Eyed Girl” isn’t even the original take, let alone the one included in the movie Born On The Fourth Of July.
When you add up all of these blatant deceptions it makes the overall enjoyment of the package diminish substantially. Seriously: throughout the listen I spent more time pointing out (and getting angry over) the errors within At The Movies. And listening to Van Morrison should never make you angry.
I felt that way even when I put myself in the shoes of the average consumer. If I had no real knowledge of Morrison’s history and I took the time to pause, say, Patch Adams during the end credits to see who sang “Into The Mystic” and then found this convenient compilation that’s obviously catered to me, I’d be downright pissed as the song here isn’t even the same one from the movie.
So, “average consumer,” ten of the nineteen tracks from this release can be found on the Best Of Van Morrison collection that Mercury put out in 1990, which is where your money should go first. At The Movies is just another unnecessary expense you should avoid after that over-priced popcorn.
3 thoughts on “Van Morrison – At The Movies: Soundtrack Hits”
There’s more than likely one big reason that this compilation is so woefully inadequate: licensing. A lot of Van’s catalog is in a bunch of different hands (Bang era = Sony, until recently, later era = Universal/Polygram, mid period = WB in the US, Polygram in rest of world). I’m guessing that a) this was a quickie cash-in, b) lazily done, and c) probably not meant to be comprehensive in the slightest. Shame, really. But not surprising.
How did Mercury/Polydor manage it with “Best Of?” They were able to collect material from different sources on that compilation. I’m not disputing the licensing aspect, but if that was this issue, then is it just a case of Manhattan/EMI not forking over enough cash to make a legitimate comp? And what’s the deal with this being on Manhattan Records to begin with? Has he signed with them recently? That was my first impression because, in doing some research for this review, I noticed that a lot of Van’s Polydor material has fallen out of print. One of my favorite Van albums, Poetic Champions Compose is no longer available as a new title via Amazon, but as a high priced sealed item priced around $50. Tupelo Honey was listed as an item through an Amazon seller at $35. I wonder if these kinds of prices will hold when labels stop manufacturing discs in favor of on-line downloads or if cd prices will go the way of vinyl.
I found this on Billboard.com, so the source is pretty reliable. Ultimately, it looks like they know only as much as we do on the doings of the Irishman:
Van Morrison retains ownership of the bulk of his catalog ¬ that’s why you notice that many of his albums are out of print… for example, his 1971-1978 recordings with Warner Bros. (Note that his albums with Warner through 1970 and then from 1979-1983 are still being manufactured and sold by Warner.)
It’s likely that once he gained control of his recordings in 1971, he can pick and choose where he takes his music, when it gets released and who gets to distribute it.
His latest album, “At The Movies,” hit stores on Feb. 13. It’s a compilation of his soundtrack hits such as “Wavelength” (used in “An Officer and a
Gentleman”) or his live duet with Roger Waters on “Comfortably Numb” (from “The Departed”).
The “At The Movies” set was released on the EMI Manhattan label. Perhaps it is the next stop for a chunk of Morrison’s catalog? We’ll have to wait and see.