Van Morrison

Midnight Special [Pazzazz]

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In 1994, Charly Records issued Payin' Dues, an album containing Van Morrison's earliest solo recordings, originally made for Bang Records. The tracks included not only previously issued material such as the hit "Brown Eyed Girl" and the other songs originally featured on the 1967 LP Blowin' Your Mind!, but also, for the first time, a series of short, improvised songs, none lasting more than a minute and a half, that it seemed Morrison had cut to get out of his contract. Strumming a guitar, he sang or spoke whatever came into his head, whether that meant musing about "Ring Worm" or making fun of Bang by calling his album "Blow in Your Nose." Since the release of the Charly album, the same tracks have been licensed and reissued on an endless series of compilations, and Pazzazz's Midnight Special is just another one. It contains 30 of the 49 available tracks on two CDs, both of which Pazzazz also has issued separately. The first one (Madame George) runs over 57 minutes and features Morrison's more substantial Bang recordings, including most of Blowin' Your Mind! and early versions of "Beside You" and "Madame George," which later turned up on his second solo album, Astral Weeks. The second one (Here Comes) runs less than 20 minutes and contains 17 of the improvised songlets. (Note that the two discs could have fit onto one CD.) There are more complete versions of this material. Morrison fans probably will want to have one set of the recordings, for curiosity value, if nothing else.

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