Blowin' Your Mind (Gold Mastersound) cover
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Blowin' Your Mind
(CD re-release and Gold Mastersound edition)

Sony Music (Epic) ZK 66220
(Released February, 1994)

  1. Brown Eyed Girl (3:03)
  2. He Ain't Give You None (5:13)
  3. T.B. Sheets (9:44)
  4. Spanish Rose (3:06)
  5. Goodbye Baby (Baby Goodbye) (2:57)
  6. Ro Ro Rosey (3:03)
  7. Who Drove the Red Sports Car (5:35)
  8. Midnight Special (2:51)
  9. Spanish Rose* (3:38) (extra verse)
  10. Ro Ro Rosey* (3:09)
  11. Goodbye Baby (Baby Goodbye)* (2:39)
  12. Who Drove the Red Sports Car* (3:49)
  13. Midnight Special* (2:46)
    Total time: (50:47)

* = Alternate unissued take.

Review by Scott Thomas:
After producing and writing "Here Comes the Night" for Them, Bert Berns returned to America and formed Bang Records, a label which quickly established itself as a purveyor of pop hits like Neil Diamond's "Cherry Cherry" and The McCoy's "Hang on Sloopy." It was Berns who signed Van Morrison to a solo contract after Them folded in 1966 and brought him to America.

It's hard to think of an artist and a label more ill-suited to each other than Van Morrison and Bang in 1967. Van's new songs were anything but Top Forty radio fodder. Most went far beyond the 2:50 stricture of AM radio, the lyrics were self-consciously poetic, and the melodies were just about indiscernible. Bang, in a move of sheer perversity, did allow Morrison to record these uncommercial numbers and even let him borrow the house musicians. Unfortunately, the studio hacks simply treat the soul-oriented "It's Alright" and the elongated blues of "He Ain't Give You None" like longer, more droning versions of "Cherry Cherry." With a rhythm section that has all the sensitivity of a carpenter hammering nails, crude electric guitar sounds, and no compensatory melodic qualities, the results teeter near calamity. Meanwhile, blissfully unaware of the decimation, Morrison chants his heart out, lost in his spontaneous visions of rainy afternoons and Belfast street life. (Conversely, someone at Bang forced Van to write and sing the egregious "Chick-a-Boom," an attempt at a hit single which is sabotaged by both its idiotic lyrics and Morrison's "this song sucks but they have a gun to my head" vocal performance.)

As poor as many of Morrison's Bang recordings are, they represent the missing link between "Mystic Eyes" and the longer, impressionistic tracks on Astral Weeks. Here, on the more extended Bang cuts, Van seems to be striving for a pop music equivalent to The Sound and the Fury and introduces disconnected scenes and images, conversational rhythms, random logic, and personal and geographic references. On lesser tracks like "It's Alright" and "He Ain't Give You None" the result is diffusion, but when harnessed to a scene of personal drama, we get "T.B. Sheets," one of the most remarkable pieces of music in Morrison's canon. In "T.B. Sheets" the singer is visiting a friend, a sufferer of tuberculosis. The stream of consciousness technique gives the piece a sense of temporal cohesion so that the listener experiences every second of the harrowing visit from the stuttered and ineffectual words of consolation to the vain attempt at idle chit chat ("I'll turn the radio on for you") to the final, panicked escape. The agony is prolonged for nine minutes, half of which finds the singer caught between his desire to flee from the "cool room" and his fear of hurting the girl's feelings. In the end the subject of the song is not the T.B. sufferer, but the young visitor who suddenly finds himself face to face with the fragility of human life. Even the numbskull backing musicians seem to know what they are dealing with here and give the piece an appropriate Them-like blues backing.

Another place where Morrison, his producer, and the players find some common ground is in the ever-popular "Brown Eyed Girl." Its breezy melody, catchy guitar lead, and irresistible "sha-la-da" chorus make it a high point of Van's career and an indication as to where it might have gone had he chosen to become a pop star. The lyrics, like those of Astral Weeks, focus on a love affair that is no more. Unlike that latter work, however, in which reminiscences of the affair inevitably dredge up sad memories of the final parting, "Brown Eyed Girl" is jubilant as though remembering were as much fun as experiencing.

  • An overview of Van's Bang material is available here. The Gold Mastersound rerelease was remastered from the original using a 20 Bit Digital transfer.

    See also the Discography entry for the original LP release, which includes the original liner notes from that album.

    Part of the van-the-man.info unofficial website

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