Van Morrison - The Authorized Bang Collection album review

The Man’s first solo efforts, plus bonus frivolity

Cover art for Van Morrison - The Authorized Bang Collection album

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After Them split in 1966, Van Morrison was in vulnerable limbo when the band’s former producer, New York legend Bert Berns, offered a deal with his Bang Records. Morrison signed without reading the small print and believed he was recording four singles when he laid down eight songs in two days in March 1967. After Brown Eyed Girl became an unexpected US hit that June, he was alarmed to find it opening a whole album called Blowin’ Your Mind, complete with a tacky psychedelic cover.

Finding himself back in New York with no work permit, Morrison’s contract called for more tracks, but he was thrust into legal turmoil after Berns died that December.

After success and his true path came with 1968’s Astral Weeks, Morrison disowned his Bang forays, despite the legend surrounding classic single and harrowing epic TB Sheets.

Ever unpredictable, Van himself supplies affectionate liner notes to Sony’s lavishly repackaged expansion of his brief but seminal Bang experience which, over three CDs, presents the original album, insightful outtakes, rarities and a ‘Contract Obligation Session’, consisting of 31 mischievous acoustic doodles. Maybe that one’s only for completists, but the rest’s an invaluably fascinating document heralding Van Morrison’s flights to come.

Kris Needs is a British journalist and author, known for writings on music from the 1970s onwards. Previously secretary of the Mott The Hoople fan club, he became editor of ZigZag in 1977 and has written biographies of stars including Primal Scream, Joe Strummer and Keith Richards. He's also written for MOJO, Record Collector, Classic Rock, Prog, Electronic Sound, Vive Le Rock and Shindig!