Astral Weeks – Van Morrison (1968)

“Astral Weeks is the second studio album by Northern Irish singer-songwriter Van Morrison. It was recorded at Century Sound Studios in New York City during three sessions in September and October 1968, although most participants and biographers agree that the eight songs were culled from the first and last early evening sessions. Except for John Payne, Morrison and the assembled jazz musicians had not played together before and the recordings commenced without rehearsals or lead sheets handed out. The cover art, music and lyrics of the album portray the symbolism equating earthly love and heaven that would often feature in Morrison’s work. When Astral Weeks was released by Warner Bros. Records in November 1968, it did not receive promotion from the label and was not an immediate success with consumers or critics. Blending folk, blues, jazz, and classical music, the album’s songs signaled a radical departure from the sound of his previous pop hits, such as ‘Brown Eyed Girl‘ (1967). Astral Weeks critical standing eventually improved greatly, however, and it has since been viewed as one of rock music‘s greatest and most important records (a reputation Morrison himself has dismissed). It is sometimes referred to as a song cycle or concept album. Critics laud the album’s arrangements and songwriting. Morrison’s lyrics are often described as impressionistic, hypnotic, and modernist. It was placed on numerous widely circulated lists of the best albums of all time and had an enduring effect on both listeners and musicians. … Producer Lewis Merenstein had a background in jazz, and according to Merenstein, Morrison “was not an aficionado of jazz when I met him. R&B and soul, yes; but jazz, no. For the Astral Weeks recording sessions, Merenstein first contacted veteran bassist Richard Davis. Perhaps best known for his work with Eric Dolphy, Davis essentially served as the session leader, and it was through Davis that Merenstein recruited guitarist Jay Berliner, percussionist Warren Smith, Jr., and drummer Connie Kay. All of these musicians had strong backgrounds in jazz; Berliner had worked closely with Charles Mingus and Kay was part of the Modern Jazz Quartet. Morrison was still working with Kielbania and Payne, but for these sessions, they were essentially replaced. …”
W – Cyprus Avenue, W – Madame George
New Yorker: The Miracle of Van Morrison’s “Astral Weeks”
Astral Weeks by Lester Bangs
amazon: Astral Weeks, Astral Weeks Expanded & Remastered
YouTube: Into The Mystic (Live), Cyprus Avenue – 9/23/1970 – Fillmore East, New York, Ballerina – 2/2/1974 – Winterland, San Francisco, Into The Mystic – 2/2/1974 – Winterland, San Francisco
YouTube: Astral Weeks 7 videos

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