Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Van on ebay

A ton of Van Morrison stuff exists on ebay.  After a few years of using "Van Morrison" as a search term I've learned a few things.  In Australia the term "Van Morrison" nets about 500 to 1000 hits, while the Worldwide search nets around 5000 to 10, 000 items.  I've also noticed the huge difference in prices for the same items.  Of course, some items are collectable and attract higher prices.  There seems a particular fascination with any Van CD produced in Japan.  (Japan is known for its high quality productions and the generous inclusion of bonus tracks.)

A warning for any Van collector must be issued concerning the notorious Bang material.  When Van first left Them to embark on a solo career, he hooked up with producer Bert Berns at Bang Records in the U.S.. Van had worked with Berns in Britain when he was in Them and the partnership had been good for Van.  Berns gave Them the hit single Here Comes the Night.  In 1967 Van joined Bang as a solo performer.  Van soon had a big hit with the infectious Brown Eyed Girl (supposedly called "Brown Skinned Girl"at first.).  Anyway, the Berns/Morrison partnership soured overartistic differences. It reached rock bottom when Berns released some tracks Van had been working on as a completed album.  Van was furious and moved to quit Bang.  Bert Berns died suddenly and Van left the label.  Bert Berns' widow reminded him that he owed an album of songs.  Van then recorded what must be the worst contractural album of all time.  It consisted of 20 or so tracks of Van strumming a few chords and muttering inane lyrics.  (Although the 'song' (I can Tell By the Look on Your Face) You Have Ringworm" has some merit!)

Van thought he got the better of Bang but maybe the opposite is true.  Bang has produced various collections of the inferior material for more than 40 years.  They've also on-sold the songs to dozens of labels and to numerous 'collection' albums.  Every year at least a dozen or so collections of the Bang material released throughout the world.  Every time I log onto ebay I see new titles.  They are the cheapest of the Van CDs and a frustration for any collector.  If you're a completist the frustration is magnified.  Do you really want to buy 200 Bang material Van CDs each with similar songs but with different pictures on the cover?

Anyway, ebay remains the best way to complete your collection of Van CDs, get Van vinyl, get clippings for scrapbooks or purchase Van T-shirts.  Once you complete your collection of official albums it's time to go after the bootleg stuff. 

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