Friday, 23 November 2012

Van's Bedroom Tape

Who says Van doesn't have a 'bedroom tape'?  All "celebs" do it seems these days.  Paris Hilton made it fashionable and so many others who inhabit that vacuous, empty-headed planet called 'Celebrity' have been caught out.  Van's bedroom tape is of a different variety.  It's a rather unusual bootleg called Van Morrison: The Bedroom Tape.   It's meant to suggest the Paris Hilton variety but really it more accurately suggests a young Van Morrison working up these tracks in his parents' house.  

01.  I Was Born To Sing The Blues   (4:45)

02.  All Night Long   (2:45)
03.  Wild Mountain Thyme   (3:29)
04.  Gloria   (6:44)
05.  Spanish Rose   (4:08)
06.  Walking In The Queen's Garden   (6:20)
07.  Harmonica Breakdown   (1:58)
08.  T.B. Sheets   (15:59)
These songs seem to have been, by the scant bit of fact & fiction surrounding them, recorded sometime between 1964 and 1967. The original source tape may have been sent (so rumoured) by Violet Morrison (Van's mother) to a fan club in Holland (called "His Mysterious Strength", at Van's suggestion) sometime during 1967 (along with notes referring to recording with The Sweet Inspirations in NYC). The overall sound quality of these recordings isn't great. But, their historical significance is priceless. The history of these recordings is unknown, as is pretty much everything else about them.
I Was Born To Sing The Blues (aka That's All I Know) is in the style of early John Lee Hooker.

All Night Long (so titled on the the source tapes) includes backup singers, possibly The Sweet Inspirations, and may be from the first Bang studio sessions (March 28-29, 1967). The standout chorus though sounds more like "Call my name". Whatever the correct title, it does have a "Twist and Shout" style to it, a song that was penned by Bert Berns, thus this is likely also a Berns composition recorded by Van at his suggestion.
Gloria (aka You're the One) may be an early take of that song (which would place it possibly as early as 1964?), but it is difficult to say, let alone to distinguish the lyrics. Lyrics include "you're the one", mentions of "Bo Diddley" (whom Van met in Los Angeles in the first week of August 1966), "do you remember?", "I'm the one", and what sounds like Van spelling out "G-A-M" (though, due to the muddy sound, it could be "G-I-M", as in George Ivan Morrison)..."I'm the one". On the promo interview for The Healing Game Van states that Gloria was conceived as "a Muddy Waters / Bo Diddley sort of thing".
Spanish Rose is likely a pre-Bang demo (before March 28, 1967), possibly as early as late-1966 when Van was trying to figure out what to do next while cagily stuck in Belfast performing with a hand-picked band dubbed THEM AGAIN.
Walking In The Queen's Garden is probably an early version of a song by the same name later recorded in late-1967 by Them (after Van left) on their Now And Them album (released January 1968). Jim Armstrong (guitarist with Them from late-1965 through their US tour with Van, and afterwards) explained, Walking In The Queen's Garden is one we used to do with Van. It's based on an old Howlin' Wolf lick." Armstrong has also mentioned that this was a song that Them were practising during their West Coast US tour during the summer of 1966.
Harmonica Breakdown (correct title, if there is a title, unknown) is probably an emulation of Little Walter's style, whom Van had met, and run errands for (to pick up Chinese food), while rooming at a hotel in London during Them's first visit in mid/late-1964. In return, Little Walter showed him some techniques with the harp.
T.B. Sheets is, again, likely a pre-Bang demo. 16 minutes of improvisational blues, extremely raw, but from which emerged a notable early studio recording, an early rock genre "death blues" which generated a point of conjecture as to its "inspiration". Some books & articles have zeroed in on this song as stemming from a real-life tragic relationship...there are stories of Van emerging from the BANG studio recordings for this spent & sobbing, all of which Van Morrison denies as fiction.
Van Morrison - The Bedroom Tape

Total time: 46:08
Number of CDs: 1
No. of Tracks: 8
Year: 2000
No label (2000)

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