The Authorized Bang Collection

Van Morrison

The Authorized Bang Collection, a sprawling three CD set, presents a library of Van Morrison’s early songs when he was recording for Bang Records, founded by American producer and songwriter Bert Berns. Berns wrote classics like "Everybody Needs Somebody to Love," "Twist & Shout," “Here Comes The Night” and “Baby Please Don’t Go.” Of course, these last two were recorded by Them, the band Morrison fronted from 1964 to 1966. Morrison and Berns enjoyed a rocky relationship, but there is no mistaking the amazing body of work that the singer recorded for Bang Records.

The first disc, entitled “The Original Masters,” presents a bulk of original stereo mixes with a sprinkling of mono takes and a demo of “The Smile You Smile.” Highlights include the classic “Brown Eyed Girl,” one of Morrison’s most popular songs. The pulsating rock gospel of “He Ain’t Give You None,” and “Midnight Special.” All of the songs groove and reveal Morrison in fine voice. The mono recording of “Chick-A-Boom” is one such simple and snappy gem.

The second disc has three versions of “Brown Eyed Girl.” An edited mono version opens the disc and two alternate versions, with studio starts and stops, plus the band conversing with Morrison, working out the song’s arrangement. What a delicious peek into how this classic song was made! A rich tapestry of alternate takes fills the rest of the disc

The third disc, entitled “Contractual Obligation Session,” is pretty much Morrison goofing around on an acoustic guitar and improvising lyrics for songs with working titles like "Twist and Shake," "Shake and Roll," "Stomp and Scream," "Scream and Holler" and "Jump and Thump." Others like “The Big Royalty” and “Ring Worm” hone in on the Irish crooner’s caustic wit. Not intended for the casual fan, The Authorized Bang Collection is really something for hardcore Morrison fans to sink their teeth into.

~ Ralph Greco, Jr.

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