Van Morrison

Astral Weeks'

Nov 1968

Recorded live with session musicians left to improvise as best they could

Sixties Rock and Jazz Rock

Morrison’s second album is a pop milestone, rarely has emotional and musical communication been more eruditely combined than by this unlikely soul man.

Astral Weeks launched Van Morrison’s career with a soul-jazz masterpiece some have called the greatest LP ever made. From the moment the title track opens you can feel a magic that few have managed to capture on tape. The sound on Chris Bellman’s 2015 remaster is so sweet, the ensemble of players in complete simpatico as their leader reaches for Nirvana.

With inspired playing on double bass, acoustic guitars, flute and soprano saxophone the side then slips into the beautiful Beside You, with Van’s heart singing of six bell’s chiming in the evening. Sweet Thing feels like John Martyn, not afraid, just feeling it.

The Harpsichord of Cypress Avenue comes across so clearly and the nine minute plus Madam George is Van Morrison at his improvisational and soulful best. The Way Young Lovers Do is all brass jabs, caressed double-bass notes and cries of passion while Slim Slow Slider ends proceedings on a mellow, bluesy vibe.

The sound is surprisingly natural and relaxed, with sparkle in the highs and depth in the voice, Young Lovers Do can challenge digital systems with its complex rhythms and mass of instruments, but overall the sound is good enough to reveal the genius of its creation. The sheer originality of Astral Weeks takes some beating - Inarticulate Speech Of The Heart indeed.