Three Outlandish Tracks from Van Morrison’s 1968 “Revenge Album”: “Ring Worm,” “Want a Danish?” & “The Big Royalty Check”

In 1968, Van Mor­ri­son cut tracks for what’s been called his “revenge” or “con­trac­tu­al oblig­a­tion album.” The back­sto­ry, pro­vid­ed by Top Tenz, goes like this:

After a pret­ty unhap­py cou­ple of years with his label Bang Records in the mid-60s, Van Mor­ri­son want­ed out. They demand­ed he deliv­er some more short and pop­py stuff like Brown Eyed Girl, while he want­ed to release 11-minute ren­di­tions of lion imper­son­ations (which he did on the album Saint Dominic’s Pre­view.) The singer became so dis­traught with his label sit­u­a­tion, that he slipped into finan­cial trou­ble and had prob­lems find­ing gigs.

Just when it seemed Mor­ri­son might nev­er deliv­er on his musi­cal poten­tial, Warn­er Music stepped in and bought out his deal with Bang Records. There was still one small con­trac­tu­al detail though. Mor­ri­son was oblig­ed to record exact­ly 36 songs for his old label, who would also con­tin­ue to earn roy­al­ties off any­thing he released for the first year after leav­ing Bang. Not a patient man at the best of times, Van did the only thing he could think of: he record­ed more than 30 songs in a sin­gle record­ing ses­sion, on an out-of-tune gui­tar, about sub­jects as diverse as ring­worm, blow­ing your nose, a dumb guy named George, and whether he want­ed to eat a dan­ish or a sand­wich.

You can hear “Ring Worm” above, and both “Want a Dan­ish?” and “The Big Roy­al­ty Check below.

Deemed unwor­thy, the songs Mor­ri­son banged out (cheap pun, I know!) weren’t released in the 1960s. They even­tu­al­ly saw the light of day, how­ev­er, on the 1994 album Payin Dues, which hap­pens to be avail­able on Spo­ti­fy for free. Accord­ing to rock crit­ic Richie Unter­berg­er, the album ranks as “the least com­mer­cial music ever record­ed by a major rock artist, and the nas­ti­est spit in the eye of com­mer­cial expec­ta­tions and con­trac­tu­al oblig­a­tions.” But, there’s cer­tain­ly an enter­tain­ment fac­tor to the col­lec­tion, and it should be not­ed that Payin Dues also includes some worth­while tracks, includ­ing all of Van Mor­rison’s stu­dio mas­ters from the Bang years, plus the demo of “The Smile You Smile” and an alter­nate take of “Brown Eyed Girl”.

via UBUweb/WFMU

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Bob Dylan and Van Mor­ri­son Sing Togeth­er in Athens, on His­toric Hill Over­look­ing the Acrop­o­lis

The Won­drous Night When Glen Hansard Met Van Mor­ri­son

Bob Dylan and Van Mor­ri­son Sing ‘Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door,’ 1998

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