This is the second installment of Van Morrison's Best of collection. While it lacks the consistency of Vol. 1, it's still a great listen. This time the songs chosen are his jazzier and more complex songs. The choice of songs gives the album a very relaxed, calm feel, as opposed to the upbeat folk rock of Vol. 1. It also feels more soulful. The use of backup singers on songs like A Sense Of Wonder
really add to the soul effect. Some of the songs almost sound like Celtic music. One song is a traditional Irish song (I'll Tell Me Ma
). There is also a greater use of the saxophone and keyboards. The keyboard and saxophone solos are excellent on Rave On John Donne/Rave On
and the piano is gorgeous on In The Garden
Though one problem is some of the songs are just garbage. Coney Island
is a short syrupy ramble about Coney Island. It doesn't even feel like a song. Van is just talking through the whole thing. One Irish Rover
has a xylophone that carries the song along, and it sounds like something you would find on a children's lullaby CD. A lot of the songs are just too slow and the constant use of strings is just annoying, but it does provide good background music. The music sometimes can be an almost ambient experience.
These songs also come from some of his weaker albums. The high points of this album don't compare to the high points of Vol. 1. The cuts from Avalon Sunset are the best, but the others come from sub-par albums. They fail to meet Van's usually high standards, but they're a few really exceptional tracks.
When Will I Ever Learn To Live In God
A very beautiful slow song. The lyrics are also great too. The chorus is excellent and very uplifting. Not to mention some good accordion work.
A Sense Of Wonder
Very soulful. The verses are slow, but the choruses are loud and enthusiastic. The backup singers are really great.
Rave On John Donne/Rave On
9 minutes of greatness. This one has a very jazzy feel to it. The keyboards are great on this one. Halfway through the song it starts getting upbeat and an amazing saxophone solo is played. Near the end a flute is added and gives it a Celtic feel.
This one isn't as good as Vol. 1, but it still has listening value. Its great background music and sometimes an ambient experience. I would recommend Vol. 1 if you’re starting to get into Van Morrison, but if you like jazz, than you should consider getting this first.