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Astral Weeks Live At the Hollywood Bowl
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Astral Weeks Live At the Hollywood Bowl [Live]

Van MorrisonAudio CD
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (137 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (February 24, 2009)
  • Original Release Date: February 24, 2009
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Live
  • Label: Listen To The Lion Records
  • ASIN: B001O0EHXG
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (137 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #74,299 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Astral Weeks - I Believe I've Transcended (6:32-3:24)
  2. Beside You (5:59)
  3. Slim Slow Slider - I Start Breaking Down (4:08-3:37)
  4. Sweet Thing (5:38)
  5. The Way Young Lovers Do (3:18)
  6. Cyprus Avenue - You Came Walking Down (4:40-1:19)
  7. Ballerina - Move On Up (6:36-3:09)
  8. Madame George (8:43)
  9. Listen To The Lion - The Lion Speaks (5:15-2:29)
  10. Common One (6:39)

Editorial Reviews

On November 7 and 8, 2008, four decades after the release of the classic Astral Weeks, Van Morrison revisited the album live in its entirety at the Hollywood Bowl, and delivered a jaw-dropping, awe-inspiring performance. Van did not simply re-create what he did 40 years ago in a NY studio, but instead took the songs to a dramatically higher contemporary level. The Jazz-rooted compositions of Astral Weeks are poetic stories of young love and the quest to find one's place in life. They were, and remain, ideal source material for musical improvisation that gives way to the sense of wonder for which Morrison has always striven. 10 tracks.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews
190 of 202 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What a wonderful world, with two astral weeks in it February 25, 2009
Format:Audio CD
Many who profess to love the music of Van Morrison have no idea that he made a CD called 'Astral Weeks'.

I can understand that. 'Astral Weeks' was released in 1968, to zero fanfare and indifferent sales. Over the years, those who heard it became evangelists for it: Elvis Costello called it "the most adventurous record made in the rock medium," and Steven Van Zandt, of Bruce Springsteen's band, said that "'Astral Weeks' was like a religion to us." Soon enough, it achieved cult status --- one of the most inventive and satisfying CDs ever recorded, known only to the in-crowd.

I'm not a music critic --- I don't even pretend to play one on the Internet --- but it bothers me that junk sells in the zillions while quality sits alone in the corner. In 2004, it seemed to me that a web site about The Best could bring overlooked gems like 'Astral Weeks' to a larger audience. So when I launched, 'Astral Weeks' was one of my first reviews --- and, soon enough, the CD became the site's poster child, its 25-words-or-less creation myth.

And now it's back.
'Astral Weeks Live At the Hollywood Bowl' was recorded in November of 2008 before a predictably rabid audience. Morrison did not attempt to replicate the CD. That would have been impossible, for in concert he makes Dylan seem predictable. He will suddenly change words and tempo, abandon himself to a groove, call an abrupt halt --- and expect the band to read his mind.

I have seen Morrison several times over the years, and each time I walk away blinking at the mystery. He looks like a squat, stout, Irish postman and acts like an ill-tempered dictator. He may not hate the audience; maybe he just likes to show us his back. But when he opens his mouth, none of that matters.
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47 of 52 people found the following review helpful
Format:Audio CD
As a life long Beatles fan (born the year they disbanded), I thought that Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band was the greatest album of all time, until I heard Astral Weeks, which I immediately thought was TWICE as good. This revelation spawned a purchasing of the entire Van collection THEM through the present and still going. I was a little skeptical about a re-doing the greatest, most intimate album ever recorded, but then the early critic reviews started to come in and I couldn't wait to pick this up. The record is different to say the least, but somehow, amazingly, nearly as good. Perhaps something changes about a person, for me 20 years after hearing the original, and Van 40 years after recording it, but I'm able to follow him through the changes. I thought Weeks was something Van knew he could never achieve again and something he had put out of his mind for good. What is most shocking for me with the Live record is that Van is still intimately familiar with these songs, like he's been listening to the disk himself for the last 40 years like we have. He even improvs some lyrics on Cyprus Avenue changing "Leaf on a Tree" to a more playful "Jelly on a Plate", but you can tell he is in complete control of his 40 year old possession. All Van's records are 3 stars or up for me, but he's only hit the 5 star mark about 4 times in 40 years, usually content to just put one or two brilliant moments on a record. At the age of 62, at least for me, Van has returned to 5 star form by being gutsy enough to try to tackle his best effort, again. If Weeks is a 100 out of 100, Weeks Live is 97 out of 100.
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46 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Blown Away. February 24, 2009
Format:Audio CD
Everyone should have a copy of Astral Weeks. It ranks as one of the best rock albums of all time, beautiful arrangements, lyrical depth abound and great vocal delivery by Morrison. But in remaking Astral Weeks decades later (forty), it's Morrison's voice that gives Astral Weeks its transcendence. Astral Weeks Live at the Hollywood Bowl now has this melancholy ying-yang brought on by Morrison's aged and weathered voice fighting above killer arrangements. Simply put: It's an excellent live disc.

On tracks such as "Beside You," Morrison's bluesy tone is more pronounced and the live band gives it a great push with its nuance playing. "Sweet Thing" (amazing string section) is another killer, like the rest of the album, it seems as if it were written just a few hours ago. And even though the album isn't played in sequence, the new arrangement gives songs like "Slim Slow Slider" a chance to be stretched and toyed with in a way that Morrison has been known to do in his live shows. "The Way Young Lovers Do" doesn't get the same treatment and I truly wish it did. The track carries such a simplistic jazzy tone that I wanted to hear it opened up and expanded, but Morrison's voice is upfront and strong and it works here.

An excellent live disc that stands on equal footing with the original.
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23 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A DIFFERENT KIND OF MAGIC February 24, 2009
Format:Audio CD
Re-visiting 'Astral Weeks' some 40 years after it was first released could have been tempting providence, especially so close on the heels of 'Keep It Simple'. On 'Live', VM partly re-creates and partly re-interprets the songs from 'Astral Weeks' (plus 'Listen to the Lion' from 'Saint Dominic's Preview').

As might be expected, much of the youthful vibrancy of VM's singing has gone - to be replaced with vocals which have a more 'lived in' feel. Nevertheless, he still sings with a lot of edge, and his unique phrasing and improvisations still remain very much in evidence; however, he is also more inclined to slur some of his words. VM always manages to surround himself with top class musicians, and 'Live' is no exception. Compared with the original album, a wider range of instruments is played - it might be this, together with VM's mellower vocals, which gives the music a somewhat 'warmer glow'. Also, the crisp percussion and solid acoustic bass playing imbue many tracks with a sort of 'bluesy-jazz' quality and an easy groove. There is much fine playing to savour - I particularly enjoyed the sweet violin and cello playing which can be heard on most tracks. Many songs have been slightly re-structured by omitting a verse (or part of a verse); on the other hand, the music compensates by allowing more time for vocal improvisation and extended playing from the band.

I usually listen to 'Astral Weeks' on headphones to enhance its intimacy (it takes me somewhere else); instead, I would suggest that 'Live' is best listened to through speakers so that the sound can fill the room. Whilst comparisons are inevitable, 'Live' should be judged on it's own merits.
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