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April 14, 2009
Astral Weeks was Irish Singer-Songwriter Van Morrison's debut album as a solo artist, and none of his albums released after this ever topped it. Recorded over a span of few days in 1968, the music is unlike any that has ever been recorded for a rock album. Using many musicians rooted in Jazz, Morrison created an eclectic sound that no other rock artist could ever match.
The album has said to have been a song cycle about life and death. It is cut into two
sections called "In the Beginning" and "Afterwards." Many of the
lyrics have been analyzed over the years but still have some discrepancies. Many of the
lyrics use weird and unexplainable imagery. It almost invites the listener to create their
own story as they listen.
The album opens with the title track "Astral Weeks" (10.0). Running over seven minutes long, it is one of my personal favorites on the album. This song also has lyrics that can be hard to understand but they are brilliant. "Beside You" (7.0) follows as a ballad consisting mostly of Morrison on acoustic guitar with flute playing in the background. "Sweet Thing" (7.0) comes next and is the only song that comes close to a standard pop tune and is a good listen. "Cypress Avenue" closes the "In the beginning" section of the album and has a running time of seven minutes long. This song can also be found on Morrison's Too Late to Stop Now live album released in 1974.
"Afterwards" begins with one of my favorites on the album "The Way that Young Lovers Do" (10.0). This song almost flows as a standard jazz tune. The violins in the chorus add to the crying vocals Morrison provides. The disturbing "Madame George" (10.0) follows next. This song is one of my favorites for the lyrics alone. Once again Morrison uses words that could be interpreted in anyway. Many critics rumor that this song is about a cross dresser or transvestite but Morrison still denies this. Ballerina (6.0) follows next and is probably the weakest song on the album. The last song leaves the album on a disturbing note. It is called "Slim Slow Slider" (10.0). The final lyrics of the album are "I Know you are dying baby, and I know you know it too, I just don't know what to do." The song then ends abruptly maybe suggesting that life is fragile and no one knows when their time will be.
Morrison has created one of the greatest albums ever recorded. The musicianship of this record has never been matched by anyone. Recorded only with acoustic guitar, string bass, sax, flute, and drums, Morrison creates a borderline Jazz record. This album shows that not only is Morrison a brilliant musician, but a fantastic lyricist that invites his listeners to take a closer look at what he's trying to say.
To listen to some sound clips from Astral Weeks or to buy it. click on: Astral Weeks
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