29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
on 31 January 2006
Well I certainly wouldn't be elaborating upon my feelings for this album by saying that I think it is quite simply one of the best musical creations of our generation. This album transcends its successors in both its musical atmosphere, which in itself captures a lost idealism of the late sixties, and in its lyricism. Morrison has never been questioned with regards to his ability to infuse a song with the most beautiful and poetic lyrics, but what is sometimes in question is his ability to contain such powerful lyrics within his music - in Astral Weeks I believe he succeeds in both to such an extent that we never again here the vocal, lyrical, and musical intensity achieved in Astral Weeks, apart from a brief retrospection in 'Veedon Fleece'.
This album provides the greatest insight into what I deem to be the frustrated genius of Van Morrison, in my opinion the greatest singer-songwriter of our time, and I urge anyone remotely interested in experiencing a rare musical treat to get it.
27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on 14 September 2010
I've been listening to this record (my favourite of all time) for 40 years. It's always sounded this good in my head, but now with this Japanese-made re-master it sounds superb coming out of the speakers.
I even realise I've been mis-hearing a few of the lyrics.
If you love this record and have a good audio set-up, this could let you hear it properly for the first time.
89 of 95 people found the following review helpful
on 14 November 2005
Ah Astral Weeks. I remember being young and living with my dad, just the two of us, and my dad used to have his own architect office and he used to work late at night. He would work in the afternoon, stop working when I got home from school until I went to bed and then work until those lonely quiet hours of the early morning listening to his music. My bedroom used be open plan, so I could hear the music he played and every night I would lose the battle with sleep while listening to the likes of Highway 61 Revisited, John Coltrane's Soultrane, Blood On The Tracks, The Band and also Van Morrison's Astral Weeks and Moondance…. Drifting between those shadowlands of being awake and dreamland while the music floated through the air into my bedroom trying to hold on because I didn’t want to miss any off the mystical glorious sounds I was hearing. Astral Weeks was always one of those records I found incredibly intriguing but that I never quite got, it seemed this guy was singing about things, and in a way that I could never quite fully understand, there was something manic and dark in his voice and the music, so much so that the album actually kind of scared me when I was young. I was far more at ease with Moondance, a slightly more straight forward album and a little less dark. I found the album hypnotising but I would always come away feeling slightly off balance after listening to it.
Years later, when I started buying all the albums my dad used to listen to when I was growing up on CD, I rediscovered Astral Weeks…. I got both Astral Weeks and Moondance on CD and although Moondance still remains one of my all time favourite albums, I really fell head over heels in love with Astral Weeks. There's pure brilliance in the ramshackle yet amazingly beautiful performances of a man fresh out of a mental institution… the album sounds like nothing else before or since including Van's own albums. The band brilliantly flesh out Van's acoustic epical songs of heartache, longing and despair… at times heavenly beautiful at times ramshackle madness a beautiful blend between Irish folk and jazz and something altogether unique.
19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
More than 40 years on, "Astral Weeks" sounds as fresh as the night it was recorded. Many reviewers have pointed out that this is one of the greatest musical statements of all time: a true musician's album, impossible to categorise, standing out distinctively even from the rest of Van's voluminous and consistently excellent body of work over 40 years. All played in one inspired spontaneous burst, in a 12-hour studio session by musicians who had little or no experience of playing together: in the can, done and dusted, a timeless classic created in one night in NYC.
Bursting with youthful energy, musical originality and jazz-improvisation, featuring some of the most inspired poetic lyrics ever committed to song, the whole beautiful, timeless marvel is carried along by strings, brass, flute, acoustic guitar and the most delicious driving bass playing you'll ever hear. And then there's Van's youthful and right-on-the-edge voice, articulating those poetic stream-of-consciousness lines with such power and conviction you feel he's baring his very soul.
This 2010 Japanese re-master restores the sound to a crispness and depth not heard since the original 1968 vinyl release when played on a top-class sound system. It really is so much better than any previous CD release. And an additional bonus: an 18-page insert with all the song lyrics in both English (thankfully) and Japanese, missing form all previous CD releases. If you love this album as so many of us do, and want to hear it as it should be heard, this is the one to buy. Why WB has not so far released this near-perfect re-master in the USA or Europe is incomprehensible: it's definitely worth the extra money.
Someone said of Astral Weeks many years ago: "You can't really say why it's so great. You have to listen to it to understand that. It just is."
Words like "seminal" seem somehow inadequate to describe "Astral Weeks." There's nothing else like it, nor ever likely to be. It's gorgeous, rich, delightful, transformative, inspired, a one-off. If you've never heard it, then it's time you did and this is the version to buy.
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on 16 February 2012
This is the remastered version of Astral Weeks I have been waiting a long, long time for, and it was certainly worth the wait! This Japanese remastered version of Morrison's 1968 debut solo album has the best recorded sound I've heard since I last played my old vinyl version (bought, for the information of cognoscenti out there, in Douggie Knight's record library in Belfast's Botanic Avenue circa 1974). The sound of the 'standard' CD issue is harsh and not that pleasant to listen to. In this remastered version the sound is much improved and the level of instrumental detail is really striking. Quite why Warner Bros haven't seen fit to issue a remastered version of this classic recording in Europe and the USA is beyond me. This version also contains a useful booklet with song lyrics - although there are a few mistakes, viz in Madame George Van sings of Ford and Fitzroy (two streets in the University area of South Belfast) and not, as the booklet suggests, "Froid and Fitzroy". Similarly, in Cyprus Avenue Van sings "All the little girls rhyme something on their way back home from school" whereas the booklet miquotes this line as "I heard the little girl dropped something"! These minor quibbles aside, I cannot really recommend this CD highly enough - if you love this album you really owe it to yourself to buy this version, it may be around four times the price of the 'regular' version, but it is at least four times as good!
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 11 December 2009
I was into Thin Lizzy at the time around the early 80s and was reading a Phil Lynott interview he commented ''People talk about classic albums and to me there is only one classic album and that is Astral Weeks '' I bought it the next day. I was then and still am Hooked by this album . Buy it have a couple of drinks and listen to it . I do mean listen sit down shut your eyes and drift off . Get back to me. you know .
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 14 May 2009
I just needed to add my 5 stars to the collection. My first hearing of this was at uni with a crashing hangover. Staying over at a friend's flat. "What's that amazing music?" I thought. Must borrow it. Which I did. And that was it. A 40 year love affair with the best album of all time. I have played it thousands of times and I look forward to playing it thousands more. It is still as fresh and appealing to me with every playing. I still can't believe it was recorded in a couple of days by a group of people that hardly knew each other. It sounds like every note and phrasing has been hand picked and balanced a thousand times before being allowed to take its place. And I mean every note. Don't ask me what the words are all about though; I don't know. I am not sure that I even know what the words are. Maybe I should care - but I don't really. They just work - and make the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end - as does the music - every time you listen.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on 29 June 2006
Perhaps it was because of musical tastes too similar to my peers or maybe just sheer bloody-mindedness. But it was with this album and artist that I chose to stand apart.
At 14 it was easy dismiss Van Morrison's uncompromising voice and Folk/Jazz backing as un-melodic and boring.
I resisted it's pull for nigh on ten years. But we all grow up and the first time I listened to it with an open mind I found myself captivated.
To describe Astral Weeks (as I sit here listening to it) is a task beyond my humble abilities except to say that it is as involving and rewarding a piece of music as anything else I have heard.
If you derive anything more than a beat and a dance groove from your music then you really should try it.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 28 August 2012
Van Morrison with his second solo effort, 'Astral Weeks'. I had been interested in picking up this record for some time, but had put it off for even longer. Then (at the time of writing), just last week, I finally bought the album along with 'Moondance'. I then listened to this one last night.
Here's what I think...
First of all, one simply has to respect the manner in which this album was recorded. Van and the band were only granted two sessions in a New York City studio for this project. Ultimately, it meant that both Van and the band had little to no time to get to know one another, however, from listening to this, you really would not believe this to have been the case. Secondly, the fact that a 23 year old man from Belfast can write such amazing poetic bliss and then transform them into the songs on this record is just simply incredible!!
The album itself can well be described as a Concept Album, in my view. That's because all of the songs are 'one' - they act as one, continuous song... and that's an important factor in terms of understanding this album's genius.
Personally, my favourite track on the album was the title track, 'Astral Weeks'. Last night, when I put this on and listened to the song for the first time, I was in heaven - it really put a smile on my face, simply bliss! I also admire the tracks, 'Madame George' (genius), 'Ballerina' (poetic power!) and 'Slim Slow Slider', which I thought was the perfect song to end the album as a whole.
So, to conclude, I would say that this album is not for everybody. You have to be in the right mood for it to strike and, for some, this simply won't happen. However, I would say further that this record is most definitely an essential listen and well worthy of a good, fair, open-minded listen at that.
Thanks for reading this review. I hope it helps.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 30 March 2003
This album really is amazing. When I first listened to it (having only listened to The Best of Van Morrison before) I didn't like it; I didn't listen to it again for some time, but now I love it. I can understand though how I was fazed by it, it has a sound completely different to anything else.
I disagree with those who say it can only be listened to as an album and you can't only listen to certain songs. Madame George is my favourite on the album (and one of my favourites of all songs) but I went through a phase of only listening to Young Lovers. Sometimes I listen to the whole album, sometimes I mode it to my favorites. The other week I listened to just Madame George on repeat for hours. What I love about some of the songs is that they can kind of merge into your consciousness, you can do other things at the same time and they don't intrude.
As for the way it was cut in two days, and the way that sometimes the percussion loses its beat (noticeably towards the end end of Madame George) - I don't think it detracts from the music at all, more it reflects the spontaneity that that song in particular epitomises. It isn't meant to sound rehearsed and perfect.
Astral Weeks shows Van Morrison's true talent (dare I say genius?); the fact that he was only in his (very) early twenties when this was written and recorded makes it even more astounding. If you like Van Morrison and you haven't got this album, buy it. Now.