1768-2 Astral Weeks
Produced by Lewis Merenstein
Released on November 1968
no chart information
Find it at GEMM
1768-2 cover
[high resolution scan]

K ronomyth 2.0: THE VAN YOU LOVE TO LOVE. After the success of “Brown-Eyed Girl,” Van ditched that horse and strolled off the beaten path for the poetic, powerful Astral Weeks. It was the first of many unpredictable moves and cultivated the image of Morrison as a jazz spiritualist. From the beginning, it was an unconventional venture: Morrison and his guitar locked away in their ivory tower while a group of hired jazz minstrels followed behind him in due deference, nibbling at the notes he dropped. It’s the magnetism of Morrison that holds it all together on the first side, subtitled “In The Beginning.” Honestly, the backing band adds little that the singer himself doesn’t achieve with acoustic guitar in hand; some strings ebb and flow, an acoustic bass comes loping in on occasion, but mostly you’re held mesmerized by that voice and the words behind it. I haven’t met a Van Morrison album that’s more poetic than Astral Weeks, and it’s here that the Bob Dylan comparisons come easy. Of the four tracks, the opening “Astral Weeks” and the enchanted “Sweet Thing” stand out. On the second side, subtitled “Afterwards,” Morrison and the band work better as a unit for some reason, especially on the overtly jazzy “The Way Young Lovers Do.” The highlight, however, is a nine-minute version of “Madame George” where the sounds and visions move like a slow parade of ghosts and Morrison drops such hidden mysteries as “the love that loves to love.” On first sitting, Astral Weeks is an underwhelming album that seems like so much standing in place. On subsequent sittings, however, it becomes a big pointillist painting with a larger-than-life man in the middle. That enigmatic ending, Van shaking his guitar to wring out the last drop of color from it, suggests an artist who’s emptied everything he has for his art. But with Moondance came replenishment, and again, and the story ever since has been of a man replenished by that magic trilogy of God, Nature and Music.

TRACK LISTING

  1. ASTRAL WEEKS    7:00
  2. BESIDE YOU    5:10
  3. SWEET THING    4:10
  4. CYPRUS AVENUE    6:50
  5. THE WAY YOUNG LOVERS DO    3:10
  6. MADAME GEORGE    9:25
  7. BALLERINA    7:00
  8. SLIM SLOW RIDER    3:20

    All selections written by Van Morrison

CREDITS

VAN MORRISON -- vocals, guitar
JAY BERLINER -- guitar
RICHARD DAVIS -- bass
CONNIE KAY -- drums
JOHN PAYNE -- flute, soprano saxophone
WARREN SMITH, JR. -- percussion, vibraphone
Larry Fallon -- arranger, conductor

REGION RELEASE DATE LABEL MEDIA ID NUMBER FEATURES
UK/US November 1968 Warner Bros. LP WS-1768 flipback cover
US 1970 Warner Bros. LP WS-1768 green label
UK 1973 Warner Bros. LP K-46024  
AUSL   Warner Bros. CS M5-1768  
JPN 1979 Warner Bros. LP P-4704W  
GER 1980s Warner Bros. LP K-46024 w. barcode
US   Warner Bros. CD 1768-2  
UK 1998 Simply Vinyl LP SVLP-20 180g vinyl
AUSL/EUR 2005 Warner Bros. 3CD 73243 repackaged w. MOONDANCE +
HIS BAND AND THE STREET CHOIR
US December 30, 2008 Warner Bros. LP R1-1768 digital remaster, 180g vinyl
UK 2008 Rhino 3CD 5144287115 repackaged w. MOONDANCE +
HIS BAND AND THE STREET CHOIR
UK June 29, 2009 Rhino LP 79907-1 digital remaster, 180g vinyl

 

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