Van the Man's 1967 sessions for the Bang label birthed Brown Eyed Girl; Madame George; T.B. Sheets, and 15 more.
There's a striking tension at work in these 18 tracks, which represent Van Morrison's first solo recordings. Conducted in New York in 1967 when the 21-year-old Morrison was formulating the spectral notions that took shape on the classic Astral Weeks, these sessions were helmed by hit-minded producer Bert Berns. Berns, who'd written and produced a successful single ("Here Comes the Night") for Morrison's old band, Them, came up with another worthy radio-friendly number with "Brown Eyed Girl." That oldies staple is an anomaly here, however. More representative is the diseased nine-minute-plus vamp "T.B. Sheets" and a couple of songs that turned up in more fluid form on Astral Weeks--"Beside You" and "Madame George." The latter two in nascent form are nearer to Morrison's gritty R&B roots than the dreamy, introspective path he'd soon explore. Bang Masters may be the work of a yearning visionary as reluctant pop star, but the friction feels right.