Van Morrison

Vanthology: A Tribute to Van Morrison

  • AllMusic Rating
  • User Ratings (0)
  • Your Rating

AllMusic Review by

The first tribute to Van Morrison performed entirely by blues, R&B, and soul veterans provides a logical slant on the Irishman's catalog. Sticking mostly with Morrison's early, most soulful work, this classy Jon Tiven-produced project isn't as revelatory as it is pleasant and only occasionally stimulating. The songs stick close to the original arrangements, with the vocalists adding their interpretations, which honestly don't stray that far from Morrison's. But no matter how enthusiastic Freddie Scott ("Brown Eyed Girl") or Sir Mack Rice ("Gloria") are, it's impossible to improve on these classics. Additionally, even though the bandmembers -- pros Tiven on guitar and wife Sally on bass along with New Orleans keyboardist Henry Butler and Bad Company/Free drummer Simon Kirke -- are solid, they seem too reserved and reverential. This results in perfectly adequate versions of Morrison songs that generally lack spark. Many of the choices are obvious ("Moondance," "Into the Mystic," "Tupelo Honey"), but some are inspired. Newcomer Ellis Hooks' "Bulbs," Son Seals' "Queen of the Slipstream," and a few relative obscurities from the Them years (Butler's raucous "I Like It Like That" and Bobby Patterson's sweet "My Lonely Sad Eyes") show that someone was digging deeper than re-creating Morrison's greatest-hits packages when choosing these selections. Recently reactivated soul singer Bettye Lavette charges through "Real Real Gone" with a searing intensity uncommon to this respectful but ultimately average tribute to one of rock's true visionaries. With luminaries like Little Milton, Otis Clay, and Syl Johnson on board, the potential existed for a thrilling outing. But that is too seldom realized on an album filled with good intentions yet safe performances that just don't take enough chances.

blue highlight denotes track pick