Van Morrison :: The Authorized Bang Collection

Rather than introduce a bevy of unearthed material or special-features, The Authorized Bang Collection retells a chapter of Van Morrison’s career in a reframed light using existing material. Famously, Morrison did not approve of 1967’s Blowin’ Your Mind, nor the collection of outtakes and half-serious sessions that followed it. The time preceding 1968’s groundbreaking Astral Weeks has come to be seen as a false start in Morrison’s solo career, and the artistic shift post-Bang as a kind of unshackling.

Perhaps the most surprising aspect of the 3-CD collection comes in the form of Morrison’s own essay, which starts off the collection’s booklet. In it, Bang founder Bert Berns decision to release Blowin’ Your Mind is recalled of thusly:

“I thought the recordings were going to be issued as four singles, at least that’s what I was told. But after the first single, ‘Brown Eyed Girl', hit Top 10 that summer, Bang issued the eight songs as an album… At the time, the whole ‘concept album’ was coming in and singles were going out. The whole concept of an album completely changed then… If I had thought it was an album, I would have approached it a whole different way.”

Berns is painted after that as a man consumed with his work, too busy for Van but also serving as an early kindred spirit, with Morrison complimenting Berns’ songwriting throughout the essay.   Morrison later states that the second set of sessions with Bang were limp because of the Berns-picked musicians inability to “gel” with what Van was bringing to the table.

The third disc of the set, the aptly titled “Contractual Obligation Session,” is wholly uninspired, and showcases an angry, cheeky and hurried Morrison. But where there are more than a dozen tracks that feel like salvos, a ditty like “You Say France And I Whistle” shows that Morrison was at least pulling from some creative place while he clanged away on an acoustic guitar, desperate to get out of the room.

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