What does it sound like?:
There have been various versions of these cds, both official and unofficial, floating around for years, so much of the music on this three cd set has been available before in some shape or form. However, this collection collects everything from the sessions together in an authorised form, presumably with Van Morrison’s approval given that he contributes here and there to the sleeve notes.
The first cd, The Original Masters, presents for the first time on cd the original stereo mixes of thirteen songs together with a trio of mono mixes, including Beside You and Madame George, which would eventually appear on 1973’s TB Sheets. The set closes with a rare demo version of The Smile You Smile.
Disc 2, Bang Sessions & Rarities, has rare edited single mono mixes of Brown Eyed Girl and Ro Ro Rosey, but concentrates on alternate and mainly previously unreleased takes of thirteen songs, most notably TB Sheets, Midnight Special, Beside You and Brown Eyed Girl, which has no less than eleven takes on its own!
While the first and second cds are both interesting historical listens on the whole, I can’t imagine anyone playing the third cd, the much bootlegged Contactual Obligation Session, more than once. Although the sound quality has been improved, the thirty-one songs on offer are a selection of mere snippets, in jokes and half formed musical ideas, allowing Morrison to fulfil his contractual obligations with Bang before signing for Warners.
There are some very in depth sleeve notes to accompany the set, with Van himself even contributing a few thoughts.
What does it all *mean*?
This anthology finally collects together in one set, and in authorised form, Van Morrison’s complete musical output during his brief association with Bang Records.
Goes well with…
A glass of Irish whisky,(and a good tot of patience during Disc 3!)
Might suit people who like…
Van Morrison, and in particular exploring the history and development of his early career.