Remastered audio, each album also features previously unreleased versions of several album tracks. Astral Weeks failed to make the charts when it was released in the fall of 1968. But 47 years later, the album has achieved a near-mythic status across generations of listeners who have "ventured in the slipstream" and fallen under the music's spell. "Any best-of list is unthinkable - and worthless - without it," writes Cory Frye in the album's liner notes.
While Van Morrison is, to be kind, an erratic and temperamental live performer, he's in stellar form throughout the double album It's Too Late to Stop Now, a superb concert set that neatly summarizes his career from his days with Them (represented by scorching renditions of "Gloria" and "Here Comes the Night") through 1973's Hard Nose the Highway ("Warm Love," "Wild Children"). In addition to the hits, including "Caravan," "Domino," and "Into the Mystic" (the final line of which gives the album its title), Morrison even pulls out a handful of R&B chestnuts ("Bring It on Home to Me," "Ain't Nothin' You Can Do") before capping off the collection with a show-stopping rendition of Astral Weeks' "Cyprus Avenue." An engaging, warm portrait of the man at the peak of his powers. [This double-live set was re-released on CD in 2016.]
The final album of Van Morrison's remarkably prolific and innovative 1968-1974 period (followed by three years of silence), Veedon Fleece brings the singer full circle, returning him to the introspection and poignancy of Astral Weeks…
Van Morrison does exactly what he wants, when he wants, and continually mines the past no matter the cost. It's been four years since the Celtic soulman issued a collection of new, original studio material (Born to Sing: No Plan B), but given the music, it could have been yesterday. Morrison has no interest in innovation, he's already done that. The pace here is (mostly) laid-back, the music drenched in jazz, R&B, blues, and classy pop. He revels throughout in an elegant slow burn; his lyric themes are bittersweet, melancholic, filled with emotional and symbolic memory; his longing for the previous prevalent. The first line on album-opener "Let It Rhyme" is: "Throw another coin in the wishing well/Tell everybody to go to hell…" atop skeins of country and R&B as he reveals his recalcitrance…
When Van Morrison's double-length It's Too Late to Stop Now was released in 1974, it was an anomaly. Compiled from eight nights on his 1973 tour with his 11-piece Caledonia Soul Orchestra, it appeared months prior to Hard Nose the Highway. Contrary to standard industry practice of the time, its contents weren't doctored in the studio afterwards: There were no added overdubs or masked flubs. Some critics took issue with its sound – claiming the band, particularly the horns, were too thin – but there was no debate about the performances. It remains revered as one of the greatest concert recordings ever.
At the Movies: Soundtrack Hits (2007) is a 19-track compilation of Van Morrison songs featured in a film at one time or another. Rather than play like an odds-and-ends compilation of soundtrack rarities as one might expect, Soundtrack Hits plays like a best-of collection, including many of Morrison's greatest solo hits along with a couple Them songs ("Gloria," "Baby Please Don't Go"). There are several live versions in place of the studio cuts. The live versions of "Moondance" and "Brown Eyed Girl" are previously unreleased.
BROWN EYED BEGINNINGS is a two-disc set that features material from Van Morrison's first solo sessions for Bang Records initially released as BLOWIN' YOUR MIND, and later as THE BANG MASTERS. The first disc includes the familiar tunes from those recordings, while the second consists of an untitled jam.