The music gods were smiling this morning as they gave me Astral Weeks for album of the day on the morning my daughter was born and this album is perfect for holding your newborn baby...
Astral Weeks is the second studio album by Northern Irish singer-songwriter Van Morrison. It was recorded at Century Sound Studios in New York during September and October 1968, and released in November of the same year by Warner Bros. Records. The album's music blends folk, blues, jazz, and classical styles, signalling a radical departure from the sound of Morrison's previous pop hits, such as "Brown Eyed Girl" (1967). The lyrics and cover art portray the symbolism equating earthly love and heaven that would often feature in the singer's subsequent records. His lyrics have been described as impressionistic, hypnotic, and modernist, while the record has been categorized as a song cycle or concept album. Astral Weeks did not originally receive promotion from Morrison's record label and was not an immediate success with consumers or critics. Its standing eventually improved greatly, with praise given to Morrison's arrangements and songwriting, and the album has been viewed as one of rock music's greatest and most important records (a reputation the singer himself has dismissed). 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. Forty years after the album's release, Morrison performed all eight of its songs live for the first time at two Hollywood Bowl concerts in November 2008; this performance was later released as Astral Weeks Live at the Hollywood Bowl.
The music gods were smiling this morning as they gave me Astral Weeks for album of the day on the morning my daughter was born and this album is perfect for holding your newborn baby...
They always say to try and separate the art from the artist but as someone from Northern Ireland who has had to listen to the drivel coming out of "Van the man" in the last year and a half and having friends who have had the misfortune of trying to serve him in the various cafes and restaurants he frequents it is hard to appreciate the music when the man behind it is just such a massive ballbag.
A man chats over boring music. Occasionally he sings and it's somehow worse. Boring shite and too long
A list of vans in my order of preference: 5. Van Halen 4. Van Morrison 3. Van Gogh 2. The A Team van 1. The van in which SHACK picks up the kids.
My fav Van Morrison album, it flits and dances around like a butterfly on a sunny spring day. Although he sings like he's got a mouthful of cotton balls, it works with the soulful music and it still holds up really well considering its over 50 years old. The only miss is Slim Slow Slider which sounds like an afterthought to the 7 brilliant songs that preceded it, so I give it a 4.5 and round it up to a 5 because its a sunny Spring day.
An almost perfect folk rock album with jazz and blues influence. Each song flows into the next, forming into one continuous musical experience rather than a conceptual album. The instrumentals backing Van Morrison's stream-of-conscious vocals and varying tone paint an image with each lyric. From start to finish, the album takes you through an emotional journey and the depth of it gets greater with each subsequent listen. Favorite tracks: Astral Weeks, Beside You, Madame George, Ballerina.
these don't seem like songs, more like drafts of songs. I can't see how this in an important album. Every song felt like a draft or through away.
I like this much better than his more recent anti-lockdown stuff. Rolling Stone listed this as one of the top 20 albums of all time, and while that may be too generous, it's still a flawless album in my opinion. Classic.
If memory serves me correctly, this is one of those albums, like Starsailor by Tim Buckley, where a folk artist pays hommage to improvised jazz and the critics love it. In some songs Van's voice seems like a long, free-form saxophone solo. For me, his voice, in the absence of song structure or melody doesn't stand that well on its own. The instrumentation is great, especially the violin & bass. I liked The Way That Young Lovers Do, and wish it wasn't the shortest song on the album.
I always confuse Jim Morrison and Van Morrison and Morrissey. Van Morrison is the Brown Eyed Girl guy... and the guy who did this. Astral Weeks - Sort of light fluffy folksy stuff here. Inoffensive. If not for the length, I could hear this being played at a diner. Beside You - A bit more jazzy. A bit more dissonant. A bit better! Sweet Thing - I feel like all three of these tracks so far are kind of like the folksy acoustic songs that Zeppelin did, but that Zeppelin did them better. Cyprus Avenue - Okay this album is just the music that all the boomers lost their virginity to, isn't it? The Way Young Lovers Do - I feel like Quentin Tarantino likes this one. Jazzy and brassy. So far this is the best song to me. Madame George - Okay this is the best song on the album. Indelibly sad. Possibly about a transvestite. This was worth the price of admission. Ballerina - Fine. Slim Slow Slider - The only track that's not really over produced. Sad, slow. Great! I don't think I liked this one very much. Sorry, Ivan.
Van Morrison is best when Brown Eyed Girl is not involved. Very much enjoyed this album and a full listening gave me a new appreciation for the group. 10/10.
I've never sat down and listened to this in full before. I'm aware its bang up there on most all time great list, so am looking forward to this.... This doesn't sound like an album from 1968. Clean, crisp production held together by a soaring soulful voice. Each song take you to a different place but fit together perfectly. There is no standout song as such, but the whole thing (its a proper album) is magnificent as a whole piece of work. This is going to get played to death by me from now on. Comfortably the best album we've heard so far in JLAC. 5/5
This album is a classic and it is evident why. Everything about it is gorgeous. Van's soulful vocals and heartwrenching lyrics. Rich strings and brass sections. Fantastic production. Just a completely beautiful album.
i love this album. Can't tell me shit about it.
Ethereal and improvisational; this is the work that world forecast Morrison's depth and innovation as an artist as he headed into the 1970s. Fans looking for "Brown Eyed Girl" on repeat will be disappointed but this is a pinnacle of the blossoming singer-songwriter movement and it's the other side of the cultural coin.
One of my favorite folk albums. Previously only known for pop hits "Brown-eyed girl" and "Moondance," I was pleasantly surprised by how perfect these tracks are. The music is often described as impressionistic, which means emotions are conveyed through characteristics of the music rather than the melody or lyrics themselves: The dissonance in "Beside You," the raunchy vocals in "Ballerina," or the dreamlike imagery of "Madame George." Often I hate long tracks, but there is so much variation in each track that it keeps you engaged, especially as the tracks become increasingly emotional as they go on. The opening title track is the best example of what this album is about. Masterful crafty lyrics with a higher spiritual sound, often using experimental instruments or techniques, and a highly emotional voice to reflect on the deep lyrical content. Looking at "Beside You," I notice the instruments purposely clash to create a pleasant experience. I'm no art analyst so I can't explain how it works, but I believe the lighter instruments create a busy atmosphere for the vocals to break through gasping for a platform to let out his troubles, hopes, or frustration. Segments like "you breath in, you breath out..." demonstrate the latter. Then we have the most popular song, "Sweet Thing." Unlike the others, this one is optimistic, full of aspirations of the future. My favorite instrumentation, and I love that heavy string arrangement sound bit that interrupts the lyrics. I also really like the trend of the instruments and vocals getting increasingly intense as the song goes on, only to often get a avant near the end. "Cyprus Avenue" also has pretty instrumentation work between the double bass, harpsichord, and flute. How often do you see these guys working as team players? It's like a classical arrangement but also jazzy and also blues-like. Next song is an out-of-place but still excellent short jazz arrangement. Sure it doesn't fit, but I think it's inclusion helps break up two deeply emotional and pretty tracks that reminds me of Sufjan Stevens. The next track, "Madame George," is another favorite of mine due to its nostalgic yet often distracted lyrical content. The next song "Ballerina" has my favorite vocals, changing emotions so much in those 7 minutes. Last track doesn't do anything special the others haven't already, but I do love the solemn, abrupt ending. Those last few seconds almost sounded like Velvet Underground, which indicates to me drug addiction, but then again I'm not sure VU was influential at that time. Anyway, love this album from start to finish, with something interesting about each of them. Mostly coherent (that heavy jazz track). This is something I'd only play to pay attention to, as a pleasant way to pass the time or take inspiration from.
Mix of jazz, folk, soul, rhythm and blues to create something unique and beautiful. With delightful poetry. Top marks
Makes me want to live at that time and in that place.
Great album. I switched to headphones about halfway through and it really makes the listening experience better (at least with high quality ones). My favorite song is ‘The Way Young Lovers Do’; I really like the horns on that one. Acoustic instrumentation is high quality all around as well.
Perfect for car rides and night vibes.
It took 4 listens to figure out my thoughts on this album… First, I love Van Morrison’s voice. I feel genuine emotion throughout. I can feel it in my gut when he lets loose. One minor complaint is that he mumbles at times. I have no idea what most of the lyrics mean on a comprehensive level. They are “conceptual.” Whatever, it doesn’t bother me. The musicians were damn good given that Van gave them no direction on what to play. They essentially jammed to figure out the music. Considering that, Van’s lyrical delivery has a bit of an improvisational feel at times that fits. The blown out brass section on The Way That Young Lovers Do is another minor complaint. 🙏🏼 1001 albums list. Thanks, never would have listened to this and I’m happy to continue listen.
What a pleasant album! Astral Weeks is a great track to start this off. Very easy to listen to.
I love this album. It’s so soulful and reflective. Perfect for a summers morning!
Speaks for itself
so rich and shaped folk acoustic music forever
Owned on vinyl.
Poetry. Up there with Dylan's best.
Don't need any. This is one of my favorite albums of all time.
Loves the sound.
Masterpiece. One of the most peaceful albums ever. 9-10/10
Stone cold classic. 9/10
springtime oldie nostalgia with a cinematic orchestral backing
Love this. Van Morrison is the best
I really loved this whole album. It's such an interesting mix of folk, blues, jazz, and other styles. I think Brown Eyed Girl is probably my only real exposure to Van Morrison, but this album really got me.
Continues to make me cry. Main building at Vassar College, 3rd floor Nicks room heard from my 2nd floor corner. Kelly Nick and I sharing that. Special as heck.
I'm a fan of old grumpy-boots and I know this is generally accepted amongst the cognoscenti to be his magnum opus, but frankly I don't get it. I was hooked after 3 seconds of the opening bars but after that there was a long wait to hear anything approaching coherence. The influence reaches down the decades though - just try playing David Gray's version of Say Hello Wave Goodbye then Madame George (that's only one example from that album, there are loads). At least half of this album is effectively just a two-chord backing track with The Man wailing nonsense over the top. What a beautiful noise he makes, though. At 2:30am after a couple of spliffs it can't be beaten; at 5:30pm over fish fingers and beans, it just doesn't have the same effect, but still, what a voice. There are better albums in his catalogue, though. Checkout 'Dweller on the threshold' from the opera house live in Belfast rather than this. Of course I could be wrong; I'll just play it again to be sure. Oh wow, that opening track is fantastic..
Van is the man, amazing record
It feels like the album name - astral. Love it. Hard to describe what it is as it's just different.
A near perfect album of melody, instrumentals, lyrics, and harmony. Van Morrison has a great ability to captivate with his music. This is his most well crafted album. 9.8/10
My favourite Van Morrison albums and one of my favourite albums full stop. A thing of beauty. A masterpiece
5/5 - Excellent
Очень понравился альбом
I listened to this a lot 30 years ago and expected to like it again instantly. I was put off a bit by not remembering how waily beside you becomes, but the rest of the album holds up extremely well. Layered/complex, even the long songs (Madame George) still hold their way through 9.5 minutes. It's passionate and soulful. Amazing album.
Amazingly chill album. One of my favorite albums to listen to on a Friday evening while chilling.
This is a classic album. For me no other VM album comes close. I love the jazzy arrangements especially the opening title track which I can listen to over and over again. Other hilights; Sweet Thing, (which some younger listeners might recognize from The Waterboys brilliant cover), Cypress Avenue, Madame George, damn I could probably name every song. The arrangements are always tasteful and interesting. The guitar playing also very impressive as is all the playing on this excellent album. 5 🌟
An all time classic
I find something new in every listen. A brilliant and truly timeless album. Easily top-10 of the entire list.
One of my all time favorites!
Growing up in the 70's and 80's, this album was always put as a top ten album of all time. For some reason in recent years, you don't see it quite as high; I'm not sure why? It still sounds great and original. I don't feel this has aged any. His second album and a big change from his first more-pop oriented ("Brown-Eyed Girl" one). A fusion of Van's "Blue-Eyed Soul" and jazz musicians. Van would roughly play each song on an acoustic guitar to the musicians and they would construct the songs from that. Van stayed in a separate room from the musicians and would improvise the lyrics from the music played. Additional instruments were added after. Yeah, lots of history on the recording. Although not an overarching connection between songs, each song is almost its own separate story, the flow of the album has a distinct feel to it. Each song seems to be about romantic fantasies and/or past romantic occurrences. His lyrics tend to use imagery of nature and surroundings and improvised thoughts to progress the story: a definite poetic approach. Additional strings appear to have been added to accentuate certain parts of the songs and adds to the jazzy feel. Song highlights include "Sweet Thing", its majestic feel, "Cypress Avenue", fantasies about a girl from school, and "Madame George", don't know what it's exactly about but Van's most paasionate and emotional singing. This albums stills sounds like a masterpiece to me.
Hard to describe in words, but the serenity and melancholic charm is undeniable. Love it.
I give it 9/5 but I’m extremely biased..Van has been my favorite artist since 1970( have all his music plus bootlegs). This is a very good album but in my humble opinion not his best.His songwriting/ poetry is inspiring, love his horn playing.I’ve seen him 3 times in concert( 2nd row in Toronto)…love him…..
A goto sunday morning album. The way the songs hold together is spectacular. There are places where it feels that it could unravel but beautifully manages keeps it together.
Astral Weeks is one of my favorite albums, one I can listen to endlessly on repeat. It's such a pleasure to hear. This is an album very much of its era, but somehow also out of time. I love the intermingling of jazz and folk, the delicate little baroque touches, the use of flute and vibes and that marvelous double bass. The style of the album is distinctive, improvisational, loose and dreamy. Morrison's lyrics are an eloquent stream of consciousness, best enjoyed as impressions of memory and feeling rather than analyzed for their content. The album was a deeply personal expression for Morrison, and it feels intimate to listen to, like we're privy to his deepest memories. I can't think of another album like it. Fave Songs (All songs, from most to least favorite): Astral Weeks, Madame George, Ballerina, The Way Young Lovers Do, Sweet Thing, Cyprus Avenue, Beside You, Slim Slow Slider
Probably one of the greatest albums of all time. Constantly in my Top Three
I don't always love his singing, but I love his song writing.
One of my all-time favorites, an album my parents played a lot in my house growing up and one I continue to listen to on a regular basis. The music is magical to me. The arrangements are rich and layered but they feel so natural and organic. The songs flow like water. Van Morrison’s vocals are stunning. He bends and stretches his voice in ways I’ve never heard before or since. Sometimes I just have to laugh at the way he delivers a line. He’ll slur through his words and I’ll have no idea what he’s saying but I feel the emotion! It’s an amazing performance. Loose and jazzy and full of life! I definitely have favorite songs and favorite moments but I tend to think of the album as one piece of music. When I think about it, I remember the big, sweeping emotions and the sound of all these instruments (the strings, the flutes, the piano, the guitar) and how they blend together for one unique sound. Just beautiful. (So funny to get this album right after the Nick Drake album after I compared him to Van Morrison.)
I think this is Morrison’s best. Tremendous musical range, a cinematic expansiveness in the sound, masterful composition and performance and yet with a genuine feeling of spontaneity and looseness.
There’s not much between this and Moondance in the classic stakes. While a slightly preferred the latter, this is a complete one off.
Guitars and auxiliary instruments sound perfect. Almost a little too sprawling, but really enjoyable.
Van the Man's all time greatest statement, the back story of which is one of the wildest and most batshit insane in all of music. That shouldn't detract from the beauty that still emanates from this album almost fifty-five years on. From the first verse uttered to the last verse sung, Van's voice flows with such grace and effortlessness that one can only wonder... and listen in awe. I still do.
Music at its most mystical.
Great work. Another classic.
Sehr entspanntes nices Album!
Just an unbelievable album and one of the best "vibe" albums of all time. Van Morrison and his band take you on a musical journey which at times feels both timeless and otherworldly. While clearly influential on Bruce's The wild, the Innocent I can't think of anything else that sounds like it. The fusion of folk, jazz, soul, rock, and pop is simply remarkable and his voice is not bad either. Easy 5.
At first I was going to give this a 4, but after a second listen, I think it deserves a 5. Morrison covers a variety of ground from folk rock to Soul/R&B to almost Jazz and it all flows together seamlessly. There are a couple of really great songs like Astral Weeks and Cypress Avenue and everything else is really good. Too bad he's turned into a curmudgeon.
An album that seems to spring out of a place and a time. An organic music cycle. I would consider this a continuous suite more than a series of songs. Much of it seems improvised and most of it is excellent. Cleary Van's muse took him many places over his career. Here, the focus is inward, but not in a spiritual way. It is more inner observations set to a combination of folk, jazz, rock and soul. The songs themselves always seemed to me built on simple structures that progress as a series of layers. It is haunting and meditative at the same time.
What more can you say about this. Beautiful, devastating, a masterpiece. I’ve listened to this record hundreds of times yet I’m overjoyed to have it pop up here so I can listen again.
I just love Van's voice so much
9/10 super fun I just think Van Morrison’s voice gets a little annoying after a while but yeah the music was great!
Van the Man has been Van the Crank for about as long as he was great at this point, but his first Warner Bros. album is one of his all time best. It is etherial and hypnotic and hazy and clear all at the same time. "Sweet Thing" is probably the best Van Morrison song and that is with some tough competition. For better or worse (and I think most likely for better), this album was of the "calm down in case of panic" albums in constant rotation on my ipod during my first year of college.
haunting and lyrical
This is such a brilliant album. A revelation when I first heard it. I'm not even a Van Morrison "fan", but every song on this album moves me. Beautifully arranged and produced with flourishes of folk and jazz and classical each listen yields something new and fresh to enjoy. The title track and Sweet Thing (try the Waterboys cover of Sweet Thing too, it's excellent) are obvious standouts but to single out any particular song does the album a disservice. It really should be taken as a whole piece. The definition of a timeless album. 5 stars
Just an amazing and my favorite Van Morrison album. It's just a great album to listen to start to finish but it hits the peak with Madame George and Ballerina. The recording and production is outstanding, plus all the various instruments used, strings, harpsicords, flutes, vibraphones, they just create this wonderful tapestry that perfectly accompanies but never steps on Vans vocals. This is the perfect album to set back and let spin on vinyl. Easy 5+++ stars.
mixing is kinda weird i think but idk the instrumental is nice voice a little jarring
Beautiful! I am a starting to become a Morrison fan
Van Morrison himself may be a bit of a c u next tuesday, but this is a perfect album, and one of the best of all time.
Being a music-first, lyrics-later kind of guy, I've always had troucle understanding the impact this iconic album made on people over time. It's not that the music is not good, it *is*. But the tracks on this album are more like *exquisite* extended jams than songs proper. *Exquisite* because the performances are amazing, and they manage to draw from *very* different genres (soul, traditional folk music, jazz, rock...), gathering them into a cohesive, quite personal whole. But as hard as I tried getting the nuances in those performances, the lack of chord variations has always been an impediment on my appreciation of what Van Morrison attempted to do here.I've just realized that if I follow the (partly improvised?) lyrics while listening to those tracks, *Astral Weeks* takes on a whole different dimension. It's probably the 'stream-of-consciousness' feel of those lyrics, mirroring a vocal performance where Van Morrisson literally uses his voice the way a jazz sax player would use his instrument. This record is one-of-a-kind, there's no doubt about that. In spite of my previous problems with it, I'll give it a 4/5 or 4,5/ grade, rounded up to 5/5 here because of its originality and cultural impact. I might not *fully* get *Astral Weeks* yet. But for once, I'm pretty sure it's because of my own mindset whenever I listen to it, and not because of any intrinsic artistic *flaws*. Sometimes mystery makes you return to LPs you still cannot fully grasp. This is rare, but when it happens, you just *know* they're actually "essential" albums... Number of albums left to review or just listen to: less than 700, I've temporarily lost count here Number of albums from the list I find relevant enough to be mandatory listens: approximately a half so far (including this one) Albums from the list I *might* include in mine later on: a quarter Albums from the list I will certainly *not* include in mine (many others are more important): the last quarter
Beautiful, heartfelt and soulful
I bloody love this album. Instantly takes me back to when I got into Van Morrison when I was about 17/18 and I love it.
One of the greatest masterpieces in the history of contemporary music. Breathtaking and groundbreaking record.
Stuuningly beautiful album. From start to finish.
This is a beautiful album. You really gotta dive into this one to appreciate it, it’s complex with well crafted instrumental arrangements to accompany Morrison’s steady stream of lyrics. The lyrics sound nonsensical and mythical for sure but it’s awesome nonetheless. Not one track on here I don’t enjoy, 5 stars
The man is an absolute asshole but this is his best work
Wow, vraiment un chef d'oeuvre. Quoi dire de plus... la production, chant, musique. Il y a tout là-dedans. 5*
Beautiful voice. Cool ethereal chamber folk. Foul guy these days.
Outstanding music by Van the Man
I have to give this a 5, because it was life-changing. It’s an album which the spirit of it, the underlying story, and the experience of listening to it is more impactful than any one song, other than the two which carry the album, “Astral Weeks” and “Madame George.” Yes, much is repetitive, much is jammed out, a bit same-y, the box of melodies that Van Morrison draws from is a bit limited. The album feels rough around the edges. But it’s more about the album’s free, conscious-less, yet urgent feeling.It's like the ultimate "id" album. It feels like pure gut, pure expression of something beyond the artist. The jazz/folk palette is just the setting, the context with which the album unfolds. What really astounds me about this album, after reading some history about it, is how little personal chemistry there was between the musicians and the artist, and how workaday the recording sessions sound for the session players. They took a couple days, walked in to Van Morrison's world, and came out with a masterpiece, all with such little report, little interaction between them. Just instincts, jamming, and improvisation. No talking, just music. Van Morrison thought the sessions were okay, the musicians were mildly pissed off. But they made some of the most emotional and free-wheeling pieces of music from this period, because the elements were in just the right place for it to happen. That's why this album is so amazing... it's a prototype. Many musicians say they're eternally indebted to this album, and I can understand why. It asks you to walk through the door to this other way of making music, that's much more about the raw, the outbursts of emotion, the jam, the stuff that's rough around the edges. Accessing the spiritual, in the ordinary act of playing together. And that's why I love this album so much. 5/5
I love this album so much, and I don’t really know why. It is definitely very authentic.
Albums like these make me feel inadequate as a reviewer. So much I want to say, but no idea how to say it. This album makes me feel everything there is to feel. It takes me everywhere from joy, to love, to despair. From all the van Morrison I’ve listened to, this seems to be his most ambitious project. Every song there seems to be a new sound that catches my interest, so much beautiful instrumentation and such a variety of instruments packed into eight songs. Every time I hear strings or a flute(?) I ascend. Morrison’s vocals are soulful as always. Great songwriting. The whole album has a mystique around it that i can’t quite describe. It gives me peace. It’s interesting how different this sound is from his other albums. Moondance has always been my favorite van Morrison album, but there’s no doubt it’s the more easily consumable of the two. The more times I listen to this, the smaller the gap becomes. To lay this “Ed Sheeran of the 60’s” SLANDER to rest: Morrison and Sheeran both sing and play the guitar. They both belong, at least somewhat to the singer/songwriter genre. That’s where the comparisons end. Ed Sheeran has made the most basic, mainstream radio pop of possibly anyone in the last decade. Astral weeks was and is considered one of the more original, ambitious, and influential albums of the 60’s. Certainly within the sphere of folk/rock. This music wasn’t made for radio plays. Despite its acclaim, it’s never been an overly popular album. I would venture to say that nothing in Sheeran’s and ENTIRE career been as ambitious or impressive as the composition of ANY single one of the tracks on this album. There was nothing that sounded like this at the time, and truthfully, there hasn’t been since. Best: Sweet thing, Cyprus avenue, astral weeks, madam George Albums haven’t been good for MMMs recently and this one is more of the same. There is nothing particularly catchy about this album, considering considering it’s lack of conventional verses/hooks. It’s almost like poetry put to music in some ways. But I digress: no MMM today.
Own on Vinyl