Van Morrison

Super Hits

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Compilations called Super Hits have been around since the record industry discovered repackaging, but Sony really took it to new levels in the '90s. At first, it was just a convenient way to throw together a handful of hits with re-recordings for the country market, but after a while, they moved the concept to the pop market, and with time, the Super Hits discs became pretty good distillations of an artist's career. Every once and a while there was an exception to the rule, when a label compiled a Super Hits without enough material to make it truly effective. Such is the case with Sony's Van Morrison volume of Super Hits. Anyone who's followed Morrison's career knows that Sony has the rights to the recordings he made for Bang -- in other words, one album plus outtakes. Since part of the reason Super Hits are such a success for the label is that they stick to what's in the vaults -- it cuts their costs considerably to rely on what they already own -- Sony's options are pretty limited here. So, it isn't much of a surprise that what they come up with is essentially Morrison's debut Blowin' Your Mind! minus two songs (the notorious "T.B. Sheets" and "Who Drove the Red Sports Car"), plus a selection of four highlights from the session outtakes ("The Back Room," "It's All Right," "Chick-A-Boom," "Madame George"). In other words, there are no hits here outside of "Brown Eyed Girl." Granted, that's his biggest hit, but casual listeners who buy a collection called Super Hits will likely expect a little more than one hit. However, Sony didn't want to license material from Reprise or Mercury, so this particular Super Hits contains nothing but Bang material. Although this is very good music, it's largely of interest to collectors, who will prefer to own either the official debut or the exhaustive single-disc compilation Bang Masters. Super Hits, however, will likely dissatisfy the casual fans it targets -- they'll be better off with Mercury's The Best of Van Morrison. It may cost a bit more, but it has more of what they're looking for.

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