van morrison's best sounding album?

a friend is a van idiot and insists i need to listen to more morrison. but when i ask her where to start she can't pick between any of his gazillion recordings. any ideas?
I would start first with "Moondance" and "Astral Weeks."
"Astral Weeks" will be in my coffin, in the hopes that I will be granted access to in the afterlife.
That is one album that I cannot do without. Hope you enjoy it!
Van has gone thru many phases. The early works showed his distain of the music business and sometimes his love life. They were at times a bit dark one might say.
Then the mystic or somewhat "religious " period.
I would start with his latest offerings. They seem to be based on just plain great music. The live recording of his San Fran.concert is very good.
The newer recordings have much better sound of course. An added bonus.
"Whats wrong with this picture",a recent piece, will show his incredable versatility.
Whatever you try you may become a fan.
I hate to differ, but I think some of his earlier issues are a bit roughly mixed (e.g., Moondance).

Personally, I think Poetic Champions Compose is very well done, and is a great album (or CD) from a songwriting standpoint as well. Enlightenment is also very good. I can get lost is the tune "In the Days before Rock and Roll" WOW. Try these two out at your local CD store, and whatever you do - enjoy!!!

Well, it is a tough choice. My personal favorite is "Tupelo Honey" but my wife votes for "Too Long in Exile" But your friend is right - listen to Van!
The best sounding Van Morrison albums are the best available versions of Moondance, Astral Weeks, St. Dominics Preview, Into The Music, & His Band & The Street Choir. Give these a try and you may turn out to be a Van idiot also.
Astral Weeks on CD is a classic that badly needs remastered.
You might try two of the later releases, The HEALING GAME AND BACK ON TOP, both of these are great cds and the recording is much better than any of the early records. I own everything he has ever done and these are two of my personal favorites.
Sorry to confuse you more, but I'll go on record for "Hymns to the Silence" and "How long has this been going on?"
Just recently bought the lp version of the skiffle sessions live in belfast with lonnie donnegan and chris barber,have most of vans albums and for musical performance and sound quality its up with the best.
thanks for the options, it sounds like i've got my work cut out for me.
Another great album--though not entirely Van--is Van Morrison and the Chieftains.

It's true that his earlier work was not produced as well as some of the later recordings, which I might even call SLICK in their production. However, I think that to skip over songs like Into the Mystic (Moondance), Ballerina (Astral Weeks), or Crazy Face (His Band & the Street Choir) because of their production value would have any interested listener miss out on the absolute genius of Van the Man.

A friend once said that if you like one Steely Dan album, buy them all. I've always felt that way about Van Morrison. Heck, if Van did an album of Ricky Martin covers, I'd buy it. Few people have ever written music so perfectly matched for their own voice. He does!

Just listen to him sing 'Caravan' on The Band's "The Last Waltz". Most heavy metal bands would kill for that kind of tension and energy.

Just my 2 cents.
"It's too late to stop now." - a great live recording.
If you intend best sounding to be best produced, Van's latest Down the Road is very well done. I also think its the best release he's had in a few years. Of course I am a Van idiot as well.
Just try one that has some music of his you're familiar with. Once you play it you'll want more! You cannot own just "one" Van. Yes, I'm a fan. One of the enduring talents of our time. Enjoy.
Any recommendation above is perfect.
And it's great to find out all this other Van's inconditional fans around Audiogon.

Van, keep those records coming!!
Start with his greatest hit vol I and II.
You can't go wrong with them all! I can only get into three male singer/songwriters and the first one on my list is Van the Man. The other two are Bruce Cockburn and Mark Knopfler (BTW, his new cd "Shangri-La" is great)
I've got a Blind Pig release CD, 'Live in Montreaux' that's not to be missed, great performance & sound quality, if you can find it. I'm a stone cold Van fan, & own 'em all. Don't forget about 'Sense of Wonder' or 'No Guru, no method, no teacher' either.

Not to be missed is Ray Charles & Van doing 'Crazy love' on "genius loves company" (2004), god rest his soul.
regarding the above post (if anyone is interested) the 'live in montreaux' was on Swingin Pig Records not Blind Pig records.
so far i've listened to "toO long in exile". love lonely avenue. what album is "caravan" on? that totally smokes on the last waltz dvd. it sure is funny to watch that lovable gnome kick up his stubby legs towards the end of that song. what's up his his outfit? thankfully his musical taste far exceeds his fashion sense.
'Caravan' is on Moondance. Coincidentally, I was going to suggest Moondance as perhaps the most accessible album for a Van newbie; I love too many of them to suggest one as the best sounding. Although, I do think the recent 'What's Wrong With This Picture' is up there amongst the best recorded, best's the one I take to audition new equipment...
veedon fleece is a sleeper, very underappreciated, possibly his best
First Them album. His heart's in the right place, but I can't tolerate his voice at all anymore.
my van-idiot just loaned me a bootleg from a 97 or 98 show in germany. there's a song, "vanlose stairway" where van seems to go off into a groove/trance. where can i find more of that?
The answer is 'Beautiful Vision'
p.s. If 'Vanlose Stairway' appeals to you, you will likely enjoy not only the rest of the 'Beautiful Vision' album; but check out the 'No Master, No Guru, No Method' album for material of similar appeal. Also the long cut 'When the Heart is Open' from the 'Common Ground' album.
thanks for all your responses. this is better than gooogle!
i listened to the san francisco live album last night. it seems van and john lee had a special bond. i'm not sure you can call it scat but they seem to love to lock onto one syllable and ride that far all it's worth. i love that!
Correction. The album name in my post above should read
'Common One', not Common Ground.
I just rediscovered "No Guru, No Method, No Teacher" Track #2 "Oh The Warm Feeling" is my favorite song right now. I highly recommend it.
i'll try to borrow that album from my friend. thanks for the directions on this path.
I like Moondance and St Dominick's Preview the best. I agree with Panderso - Moondance is the most accessible. I also like Avalon Sunset (except for the first track) . . . and I think it's the best produced of the albums I'm familiar with. I'm personally not that fond of the Chieftan's album.

I just bought "What's Wrong with this Picture" based upon your rave. Man, what a great album! Thanks for mentioning it.

All the best,

Try John Lee Hooker's 'Mr. Lucky' cd; the duet with Van on the 'I Cover the Waterfront' track. Another tasty collaboration on BB King's 'Dueces Wild' CD from 1997. BB's guitar, Van's vocals on the 'If You Love Me' track. Other terrific guest appearances on that BB album; Tracy Chapman, Eric Clapton,...(Tda44 these suggestions 'cause you liked Van and John Lee on the 'frisco live album) (Most welcome Boa2)
Philosophers Stone is a great double album.
bignerd 1oo, you're right i love madame joy nad that joyous sound. also thanks to panderso for his personalized recommendations. i do love that blues scene.
Hard Nose the Highway
A year late on this post but this album should be mentioned!