Monday, February 13, 2012

New Oldie - Chick-A-Boom by Van Morrison

Yesterday I promised a story about Brown Eyed Girl by Van Morrison, a song that features backing vocals by Whitney Houston's mother, Cissy Houston and The Sweet Inspirations. Before we get into that, here's another cool record Van Morrison cut on the Bang label as a follow-up to Brown Eyed Girl. This is a fun hook-based song with great rhythm and a VERY cool ending!

Here's Chick-A-Boom by Van Morrison on Bang 552 from 1967:



The flip side of that record topped out at #107 on Billboard Magazine's Bubbling Under The Hot 100 chart. Here's Ro Ro Rosie:



Brown Eyed Girl was actually considered offensive to some radio station programmers. They felt there was too much sexual innuendo in the lyric, "Making love in the green grass." So, an edited version was pieced together that copied an earlier section of the song over the offending lyric, replacing the "offensive" words with "Laughin' and a-runnin', hey hey." The edit is fairly obvious, but you will find that version on some compilation albums that include this song. Can you imagine this line being considered too risque to play today?


If you'd like to compare the two, let's start with the original single version of Brown Eyed Girl by Van Morrison on Bang 545 from 1967:



And here's the edited version of the song that was deemed more appropriate for teeny bopper radio listeners back in 1967:



While you have Brown Eyed Girl fresh in your mind, compare the "Sha-la-la-la-la's" and, frankly, the vocal sound and style of Van Morrison to Adam Duritz in Mr Jones by Counting Crows from 1993. Is it just me, or are these really similar?



Mr Jones was written about lead singer Adam Duritz's childhood friend, Marty Jones, who played bass in Adam's previous group from San Francisco, The Himalayans, and also Kenney Dale Johnson, the drummer of Chris Issak's band, Silvertone. The lyrics talk about working musicians who dream of making the big time and fantasize about the pleasures that stardom will bring. Adam sang the song just for fun, never really expecting it to make him a big star - but it did. MTV started playing a video version of the song in December 1993 and it became an unexpected hit. That prompted radio stations to play it, launching the Counting Crows into the very stardom the song speaks about.

Van Morrison had been the leader of Them from Belfast, Northern Ireland. When he went solo, he hooked up with Bang records and really made a big bang with Brown Eyed Girl. Unfortunately, very soon afterward, some legal issues arose concerning his royalty payments from the record company. It seems he signed his contract with Bang Records without consulting an attorney, which is never a good idea. Van Morrison has claimed for years that he never received a single dime for writing and performing Brown Eyed Girl! A studio outtake from a 1967 recording session that was released by Recall Records in 1997 contained a rare track that features Van Morrison with just an acoustic guitar singing a short song about those missing royalties for Brown Eyed Girl. The session is often referred to as the Contractual Obligation Session where Van recorded thirty-one completely nonsensical songs in order to fulfuill his contract with Bang Records.

Here's The Big Royalty Check by Van Morrison from a 1967 Bang Records studio recording:



I want to leave you with one very special and rare recording. This is Van Morrison recorded live at Pacific High Studios in 1971 doing a cover of Bob Dylan's Just Like A Woman. As far as I know this was only released on a bootleg album called Buonasera.


This is one of my favorite recordings and I hope you like it too:



You'll hear all kinds of crazy stuff like this on MusicMaster Oldies, including every known version of the hit songs from the 1950's and 1960's, including those that were censored, cut short, redone, or edited. I'll find some more like this and post them for you!

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