Van Morrison

Brown Eyed Girl [Delta]

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This ten-song compilation from the Delta imprint, by way of Sony Music's European division, is very much reminiscent of the old Best of Van Morrison on the U.K. President label -- it didn't look like much, with cheesy-looking packaging, but it was a handy way into Morrison's Bang Records sides, assembling his most accessible sides in one place, and in their best versions. Brown Eyed Girl does more or less the same thing on CD, putting the uncensored "Brown Eyed Girl" on with the album versions on nine additional songs, mastered in state-of-the-art digital audio so you can almost hear the action on the guitars and the percussion on "Midnight Special," "Spanish Rose," "The Back Room," and "Ro Ro Rosey," and all in good, loud volume as well. In fact, this is some of the best sounding '60s-era music to emerge on CD from the Sony Music orbit, and the low mid-price cost only makes it that much more attractive -- the ebullient "Chick-A-Boom," in audio this up close and personal, is worth the price of admission for those who don't already have this repertory represented in their libraries; despite the absence of "T.B. Sheets," incidentally, this isn't all light AM pop, several of the tracks clocking in at well over five minutes and constituting some of the more ambitious pop/rock material of its period. There are more complete representations of Morrison's Bang sides out, to be sure, but not with sound quality like this, nor are most quite as accessible as this one. And it all sort of makes one long to hear other Bang artists, including the Strangeloves, the McCoys, Neil Diamond, and others, done with sound this good.

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