I had been planning to give a review of Van Morrison’s new compilation, The Movie Hits, when my good friend, NOLAGirl suggested that I give a listen to Elliott Yamin’s new self-titled CD. So, I’ve decided to do both. The Elliott Yamin review is first, followed by Van the Man. Likely the ONLY time that’ll ever happen.
Elliott Yamin – Elliott Yamin
First, let me say that Elliott’s style has never been something I liked or gravitated to, however I did like a few of his performances on American Idol, particularly A Song for You (included on this CD, as well). However, like many R&B singers he “over runs” the song with vibratos and whatever you call the running up and down the scale. I know folks will say that that’s the way R&B is supposed to be and maybe so, but it’s just not my cup o’ tea. I prefer to just hear the voice without all the gyrations of notes up and down. It’s not that hard to listen to, just not something that compels me to “power listen”, i.e., obcessively play in the house, car, and at work until I know the CD forward and backward.
There’s something about Elliott that’s bothering me. While I’m all about “making the most of what you’ve got”, his transformation from a year ago is a little eerie. A bit plastic. And these don’t even show the “Extreme Makeover” of his teeth. While he looks great, he just doesn’t look like Elliott anymore….at least to me.
The CD, however, does sound like Elliott. I like a few of the tracks alot, a few ok, and a few — not so much. Here are the ones that I like:
Movin’ On is the first release and I like the beat.
Find A Way Good beat with a “Stevie Wonder feel” and a bit of a protest.
Free Great “groove” song…message here?
A Song for You The Donny Hathaway anthem that Elliott, so richly did on “the show”. I love this song, in general. Elliott’s phrasing is a little rigid but, all in all, it’s good.
The other songs are similiar sounding to these and are “just aw-ite” for me. The Bonus Track of Whiter Shade of Pale is really unnecessary and awkward on this CD. A few of the songs are self-described, like Train Wreck and Alright, except that it’s not. (Think Theme from Shaft.)
Lastly, here’s Elliott’s first video and new single release, Wait for You. OK.
I think this the CD, overall, is a quality release. After all of the hand-wringing by his fans, his patience and taking time with this release pays off. I’ve not purchased an “idol” release outside of Taylor Hicks and if it not for this review, I likely wouldn’t have purchased the CD, but may have bought one or two tracks. However, he should do very well in his “genre”.
OVERALL RATING: B-
Van Morrison – The Movie Hits
In February, Van released 19 tracks from “The Movies”….his songs used in movies. I have to admit, seems as though I hear Van’s music everywhere, but especially in the movies. In the following track listing, you can see the numerous movies that has included a Van song. I’m sure that not all are mentioned, as the first I ever heard of Van Morrison was from the song Into the Mystic in a movie called “Immediate Family” starring James Woods, Glenn Close, Mary Stuart Masterson, and Kevin Dillon. The story is about a childless couple trying to adopt a baby from a teenage couple, but I digress. In the middle of the movie, I heard Into the Mystic and watched until the end and the credits so that I could see who it was. Then, I went out (yes, to the Mall) and purchased Moondance and my music life hasn’t been the same since.
On this CD, Into the Mystic is listed as part of the “Patch Adams” Soundtrack, but I know better (as usual). Here is the entire Track Listing and the corresponding movie that it was a part of:
- “Gloria” (performed by Them) (from The Outsiders)
- “Baby, Please Don’t Go” (performed by Them) (from Wild at Heart)
- “Jackie Wilson Said” (from Pope of Greenwich Village)
- “Domino (Live) (from Clean & Sober)
- “Moondance (Live) (from An American Werewolf in London) (previously unreleased version)
- “Queen of the Slipstream” (from Extreme Close-Up)
- “Wild Night” (from Thelma & Louise)
- “Caravan” (Live with The Band – from The Last Waltz, 1976)
- “Wonderful Remark” (from The King of Comedy)
- “Brown Eyed Girl” (from Born on the 4th of July) (previously unreleased version)
- “Days Like This” (from As Good as It Gets)
- “Into the Mystic” (Live) (from Patch Adams)
- “Hungry for Your Love” (from An Officer and a Gentleman)
- “Someone Like You” (from French Kiss)
- “Bright Side of the Road” (from Fever Pitch)
- “Have I Told You Lately” (from One Fine Day)
- “Real, Real Gone” (from Donovan Quick)
- “Irish Heartbeat” (with the Chieftains) (from The Matchmaker)
- “Comfortably Numb” (Live with Roger Waters, The Band & The Rundfunk Orchestra & Choir – from The Wall Concert in Berlin, 1990) (from The Departed)
Here is Caravan with The Band from “The Last Waltz”. Superb.
Probably my most favorite song on this CD is Jackie Wilson Said…
Here’s a live performance, for good measure….
Fun, musical and ALL Van.
Of course, included are some of the Van “staples” that we’ve come to know and love. In addition to Gloria (G-L-O-R-I-A):
These songs spark the memories of summer bar-b-ques, the beach, and cold “hot” nights dancing one song after another at the local watering hole when I was a younger. These are all still part of my life….so much so that one of my “babies” is named Domino. (He digs Van, as well.)
In the movie, “The Matchmaker”, with Janenne Garafolo, Van’s Irish Heartbeat is featured. Great acoustical tune with Irish flutes. LURVE this tune.
A few other favorites…..
Days Like This
Brightside of the Road Whimisical, wonderful tune from the Jimmy Fallon/Drew Barrymore flick, “Fever Pitch”…..nice. Great little bit of harp.
A personal favorite from “One Fine Day” with George Clooney (mmmmm…..) and Michelle Pfeiffer. I love this movie and the ending with Have I Told You Lately is perfect.
Have I Told You Lately
Lastly, to bring it full circle, here’s the YouTube and the CD live recording of Into the Mystic.
Into the Mystic
In case you haven’t guessed, I am a HUGE Van Fan. I’m biased, so sue me…..
OVERALL RATING: A+
Note: Temporary Music Files deleted.