Saturday, November 11, 2017
01. I Was Born To Sing The Blues [aka That's All I Know]
02. All Night Long
03. Wild Mountain Thyme
04. Gloria [aka You're The One]
05. Spanish Rose
06. Walking In The Queen's Garden
07. Harmonica Breakdown [instrumental]
08. T.B. Sheets
LINEAGE: unknown generation cassette tape > CD-R > EAC wav > Trader's Little Helper flac level 8
This was treed via the Van Morrison trading groups in 2000. I wrote the original liner notes (below) and the artwork was created by Robert Glenn Plotner. The cover photo comes from a photocopy of an original photo loaned to me by Janet "Planet" Minto, which was taken @early 1967.
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 rumored) by Violet Morrison (Van's mother) to a fanclub 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 is, frankly, terrible. But, their historical significance is priceless. The audio generation/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. What can be heard at points throughout, aside from "you're the one", are 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 1/68). 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 practicing 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.