Review by Kevin Cooper

In 1965 Van Morrison was persuaded by Bert Berns to join his new record label, Bang Records, which saw him release Brown Eyed Girl. Shortly after that success, Berns passed away leaving Morrison in contractual disputes with his wife, Ilene Berns. Honouring his contract to her, he recorded thirty six songs in one session, but they never came to be used as she described them as ‘nonsense music’.

These throwaway compositions came to be known as his ‘revenge songs’ and have now been officially released as part of a deluxe three disc library set, aptly named The Authorised Bang Collection. There are sixty three songs to get through and as you would expect with such an extensive collection, there are some duds but there are also some real classics.

Disc one is all about the Original Masters and sees original stereo mixes of such classics as Brown Eyed Girl, Midnight Special, The Smile You Smile, Ro Ro Rosey and It’s All Right; some of those available for the very first time on CD.

Disc two contains the whole previously unreleased out takes and alternate versions of the same songs, complete with studio chatter. It comprehensively covers the Bang Sessions and Rarities, including the sought after mono version of Brown Eyed Girl together with the previously unreleased studio takes of T.B. Sheets, Midnight Special, Beside You, together with a few interesting outtakes of Brown Eyed Girl.

Disc Three is dedicated entirely to the ‘contractual obligation sessions’ which acts as a reference to just how frustrated Morrison was with the label. The thirty one songs included are simply enclosed here in the spirit of completeness though and in reality only add historical perspective to this essential recap of the formative years of Morrison.

For the many Van Morrison fans around the world this collection could very well be a must have addition to their no doubt already extended collections of both Morrison’s solo work together with his early years with Them. To many, Van Morrison will always be one of rock, blues and pop music’s most iconic figures, but this album does nothing to illustrate this and in reality just comes across as a self indulgent piece of work.

Our Rating: (1 / 5)