Astral Weeks

Astral Weeks

4.7 14
by Van Morrison
     
 

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Astral Weeks is generally considered one of the best albums in pop music history, but for all that renown, it is anything but an archetypal rock and roll album. It it isn't a rock and roll album at all. Van Morrison plays acoustic guitar and sings in his elastic, bluesy, soulful voice, accompanied by crack group of jazz studio players: guitarist See more details below

Overview

Astral Weeks is generally considered one of the best albums in pop music history, but for all that renown, it is anything but an archetypal rock and roll album. It it isn't a rock and roll album at all. Van Morrison plays acoustic guitar and sings in his elastic, bluesy, soulful voice, accompanied by crack group of jazz studio players: guitarist Jay Berliner, upright bassist Richard Davis, Modern Jazz Quartet drummer Connie Kay, vibraphonist Warren Smith and soprano saxophonist John Payne (also credited on flute, though that's debatable--some claim an anonymous flautist provided those parts). Producer Lewis Merenstein added chamber orchestrations later and divided the album into halves: "In The Beginning" and "Afterwards" with four tunes under each heading. Morrison's songs are an instinctive, organic mixture of Celtic folk, blues and jazz. He fully enters the mystic here, more in the moment than he ever would be again in a recording studio. If his pop hit "Brown-Eyed Girl" was the first place he explored the "previous"--i.e. the depths of his memory--for inspiration and direction, he immerses himself in it here. The freewheeling, loose feel adds to the intimacy and immediacy in the songs. They are for the most part, extended, incantory, loosely narrative and poetic ruminations on his Belfast upbringing: its characters, shops, streets, alleys, and sidewalks, all framed by the innocence and passage of that era. Morrison seems hypnotized by his subjects; they comfort and haunt a present filled with inexhaustible longing and loneliness. He confesses as much in the title track: "If I ventured in the slipstream/Between the viaducts of your dream/Where immobile steel rims crack/And the ditch in the back roads stop/ Could you find me?/ Would you kiss-a my eyes/... To be born again...." Morrison doesn't reach out to the listener, but goes deep inside himself to excavate and explore. The album's centerpiece is "Madame George" a stream-of-consciousness narrative of personal psychological and spiritual archetypes deeply influenced by the road novels of Jack Kerouac. The climactic epiphany experienced on "Cyprus Avenue" paints a portrait of place and time so vividly, it fools listeners into the experience of shared---but mythical--memory. "The Way Young Lovers Do" is the most fully-formed tune here. Its swinging jazz verses and tight rhythmic choruses underscore a simmering, passionate eroticism in Morrison's lyric and delivery. Astral Weeks is a justified entry in pop music's pantheon. It is unlike any record before or since; it mixes together the very best of postwar popular music in an emotional outpouring cast in delicate, subtle, musical structures.

Product Details

Release Date:
10/25/1990
Label:
Warner Bros / Wea
UPC:
0075992717625
catalogNumber:
1768

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Astral Weeks 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 14 reviews.
glauver More than 1 year ago
This is one of those albums that turns up on most veteran rock critics' all time lists. Does it deserve the hype? I'm not sure. It is original and very, very good, but I think there are better Van Morrison recordings. St. Dominic's Preview, Moondance, Veedon Fleece, and It's Too Late to Stop Now are better entry points for Morrison newcomers. I think Astral Weeks was more about mood than songs although The Way Young Lovers Do and Slim Slow Slider are standouts. The bonus tracks on the new edition give a glimpse into the improvisation that went on during the sessions. I think the long Slim Slow Slider is superior to the edited take on the original release.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Like all great works, Astral Weeks has a sound all its own, and a sound even distinct from other Van albums. It took me several times thru, but once I caught on I've been listening to it for years. The second half of the song 'Astral Weeks' captures the idea of Heaven better than any music I have ever heard, including the classics.
Guest More than 1 year ago
this album is a remarkably smooth effort by van. he is at his most poignant, and the remarkably well written ballads are a testament to this legendary singer. it is hard to believe that this piece of work was written in only 2 days. buy this album and there will be no regrets on your part.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Listening to this CD confirms what a brilliant musician this man really is. There is no other like him. The songs on this CD are deeply rooted in the soul. His lyrics are miraculous. He will always be my favourite singer of all times.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Seriously, words can't express how amazing this album is. Sweet thing is probably the ''stand out'' song on the album but the rest of the album makes that song so much better. The whole album has its flow but also also at the same time each cut is different. I'm telling pure musical bliss.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I first heard this CD some 15 years ago and it has been one of my favorites since that time. The musicians on the album are brilliant and the bass playing of Richard Davis gives me a natural high. Morrison has always had the knack of blending jazz and soul into a his own sound, and knowing what musicans will get the right sound he's searching for. This is a musical treasure. Bravo to the man from Belfast.
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