Received notice today of what has to be the most shameless cash-grab in some time, this collection called Van Morrison At The Movies. You can practically imagine the music execs sitting in an office, concluding to one another: Gee, we’re not making quite enough money on our film royalties. Let’s repackage the stuff we’ve got and see if some dunderheads will throw even more money our way!
The guys and gals with long careers, especially the dead guys, tend to get plundered in this way quite a lot, especially when execs discover they have ratty old recordings of Howlin’ Wolf doing a substandard set from an off night in 1956. How many more times will we have to endure the gormless stitching-together of "new" compilations from Elvis and The Beatles, so they can terrorize the countryside like little Shelleyean monstrousities? Such releases depend upon ignorance. Ignorance, of course, of what’s already out there, and more importantly the belief that something old can be fashionably remarketed as new, new, new. It’s pseudo-Orphic balderdash ("look! John Lennon is singing from beyond the grave!") and it’s despicably cynical. Besides, Lennon always sounded deathly.
So, to this album. It features only one unreleased track-- yet another of the seventeen billion versions of "Moondance" currently out there-- and several of the tracks are live recordings which were not used in the films with which they’re associated ("Domino," "Into the Mystic"). Of the nineteen tracks provided, eleven appeared on The Best of Van Morrison almost twenty years ago. And here’s the really cynical thing: most people likely to buy this album will do so for "Brown-Eyed Girl," nostalgic wonder-tune it now is, even though it has already been released on close to twenty different albums, half of which are soundtracks, and half of which are countless reissues of the sessions Morrison did for Bert Berns. (I’m not including bootleg concert versions.) I won’t even bother to wonder if it’s the censored or the uncensored version included here.
Stuff like this, rampant these days, puts the capitalise into capitalism. But at least, I guess, it’s not a Greatest Hits package for a tinny teeny-bopper with two whole albums beneath her increasingly low-riding belt. Now go brace yourselves. We’re going to be getting a "new" Tupac album every other year until our great-grandchildren slip gingerly into their graves. I hear the next one will feature him singing "Unforgettable" with Nat King Cole.