This Is Where I Came In
Bang (Released 9/77)
Notes from Van list member dcat:
Original liner notes:
Today, Van is celebrated in rock music as a singer whose subtly evocative vocals know few peers. In his hands even quite mundane material can be moulded into hauntingly moody listening. Intense and brooding in performance, he lives out his songs, eyes closed, wrapped in the feel of the lyrics to create an atmosphere which soon has his audience equally committed.
Though he has taken 15 years and more to refine his creativity to its present superlative state, Van revealed his potential very early on when, as lead singer of Them, he spearheaded one of Britain's most exciting R&B groups. His style then was harsher, more attacking, but that vital though undefinable element soulfulness was already apparent.
Born on August 31, 1945, Van began singing with a skiffle group at a local dance hall when barely 11 years old. Leaving school at 15, he went straight into a career in music, going off to Germany to tour US bases there for four months in 1960. [note: date is 1963 with The Monarchs]
In 1963, Van formed Them in Belfast with Billy Harrison on guitar, Jackie McAuley on keyboards, Ronnie Milling on drums and Alan Henderson on bass and the group soon became something of a legend locally thanks to their residency at the Maritime Hotel, a gig which was as talked about in Belfast as were the Animals' stint at the Club A Go-Go in Liverpool and the Rolling Stones' residency at Eel Pie Island in London. Like any British group aiming for the big time, Them gravitated naturally to London where they signed to a recording contract by Decca.
Their first record came out in September 1964 and was snapped up by the growing coterie of British R&B fans while their second record, the raucous "Gloria", made the charts. The third release, a moody blues ballad titled "Here Comes The Night" was an even bigger success, leading to American chart success and a US tour. Significantly, "Here Comes The Night" had been produced by veteran New York songwriter/arranger/producer Bert Berns (aka Bert Russell) famous for his work with the Drifters and other black artists.
When Van Morrison split from Them, Berns sent him an air ticket for New York and offered him a recording contract with his own then emergent Bang label and gave him the chance to record a song Van had himself penned. That was "Brown Eyed Girl" and it was an immediate smash, skating into the American top ten in 1967 and eventually earning a gold disc for sales of more than a million copies.
This album dates from that era and features "Brown Eyed Girl" along with 14 other Bang recordings which chronicle the beginning of Van's evolution from a talented but derivative R&B singer to very much his own man. The influence of black American music is apparent here but so too is Van's emergent ability to forge a style all his own, which was to reach full flower with his landmark "Astral Weeks" album for Warner Brothers in 1968.
Subsequent albums like Tupelo Honey, St. Dominic's Preview, Veedon Fleece and particularly, the brilliant live double album It's Too Late To Stop Now, which appeared in 1974, have underlined the just claim that Van Morrison is one of the truly great singers of the rock era.