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Astral Weeks

4.7 out of 5 stars 430 customer reviews

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Frequently Bought Together

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Possibly the most profound "rock" album ever, with Van sounding like some Celtic bard over the jazzy accompaniment of bassist Richard Davis and MJQ drummer Connie Kay. Utterly unique.

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Never mind that Van Morrison is one of the most indelible songwriters of the 20th century--take each album on its own terms. On 1968's seminal Astral Weeks, a twentysomething Van Morrison can be found belting his gospelly, bluesy vocals in just as fine a form as he would be 20 years hence. In the sociopolitical context of the times, the album cried out about such ubiquitous '60s themes as cultural oppression and social upheaval. But it is Morrison's vocal dexterity and passion that maintains such timeless appeal. Take tracks like "Madame George" or "Cyprus Avenue" and you'll find such beautiful mourning, it'll be clear why modern songwriter Sinéad O'Connor once publicly exclaimed: "Van Morrison should be friggin' canonized." --Nick Heil
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (October 25, 1990)
  • Original Release Date: 1968
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Warner Off Roster
  • ASIN: B000002KAT
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (430 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #55,447 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
This is probably my favorite album of all time. I've listened to it countless times, and it never gets old. Those other reviewers who don't "get it" make a few valid points:
1) It isn't perfectly played.
2) The songs aren't polished.
3) It isn't Van's strongest collection of songs.
First of all, it isn't necessary for great music to be note-perfect. ASTRAL WEEKS is about the magic of improvisation-- the suspended thrill of playing (and listening) on the cusp of discovery. In that way, the album is a perfect marriage of music and lyrics, as Van bends and twists the language in an effort to TRANSCEND the earthly significance of his words, to conjure a piece of heaven out of the frustration and pain that wracks his existence. Like Ray Charles did 15 years prior, Van fuses gospel and blues, the sacred and the profane.
For those of you hear only hippy-dippy (...), you're obviously missing the unbearable heartache that haunts these songs. Cypress Avenue deals with unrequited, perhaps forbidden love. Madame George captures the mixture of joy and sadness that comes with lost innocence, getting on "the train" that takes one away from a place of safety and comfort. Ballerina is a burst of effusive passion, but the object of the singer's affection is separate from him, a spectral fantasy that he can only gaze on with paralyzed amazement. Thank god these rough gems weren't polished for radio consumption-- their unique, spontaneous quality would have been ruined.
I concede that this isn't Van's strongest collection of songs, but it's hard to think of these tracks as "songs" in the conventional sense-- impressionistic sketches, maybe, but they hardly lose any artistic merit because of that.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
As with many remasters, I didn't know how good it could sound until I heard how good it sounded. The first thing I noticed was how much clearer the famous
bass playing was. The bass/guitars/vocal give a you-are-there space and presence, as opposed to the murkier mix of the previous release. I have no idea how Van and the band achieved the mind meld playing on these songs but as everyone knows, the results are poetic, magical, majestic, transcendent and sui generis in this or any past release.

Should you buy the import or hold out for a US release? I've waited 20 years for this and I am not holding my breath, but perhaps you can fathom record company logic and scheduling more than I. Next week it could be on the shelves and you could get it for $10. Or it could appear in 5 years. Or never. But if you think this is one of the greatest albums ever and have the coin, this is well worth it.
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Format: Audio CD
This album has repeatedly turned up in the top ten of lists of the greatest albums ever recorded, and deservedly so. It can be listened to on so many levels. Sometimes I will listen to it while concentrating on the lyrics. Another time, I will focus on Van's phrasing. Another time on Richard Davis's inconceivably great bass playing (this is arguably the greatest performance on bass on any album ever recorded for a rock audience, even if the bass player was a jazz musician). This is an album that simply reeks of genius. Simply put: a masterpiece.
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Format: Audio CD
This album is absolutely phenomenal. This is one of the most personal, beautiful artistic statements I can think of. It is like a diary, but better, because the music adds color and depth that no words can describe. It is rare when the music compliments the singer so well... it is as if the musicians are from the same vein, the same heart. This cd is perfect, beginning to end; musically and lyrically. Van Morrison will show you his lowest low and ever so sweetly, he will take you away to a place that is timeless, a place so wonderful it will make you want to weep... because you know that at some point it will have to end. And what a sad ending it is to this miraculous cd. But you can always press repeat. :)
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Format: Audio CD
Van the man fans don't have to be told this is a fabulous album.Somehow he reached a level of transcendence with this album rare to find with any artist.He was able to capture those magic moments we sometimes have which illuminate the everyday with timeless wonder.I can't be sure as to what he means in some of the songs, but this doesn't matter, it's the overall mood he creates that is the essence of this album.In the "Astral Weeks" album above others, and in songs like "Autumn Song" from Hard Nose the Highway, he creates what poet Robert Bly has called the Van Morrison mood (in "The Sibling Society").Those are the mellow, magical moods which linger in the recesses of memory and remind us of our days of glory and the "visionary gleam"(Wordsworth).Van has never sung better than he does here.Some top jazz musicians help make the music very special.Words and music blend so well together into one seamless whole. This is not only my favourite Van album,but my all-time favourite album.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This Japanese import is the REMASTERED Astral Weeks; FAR SUPERIOR to the domestic Warner Bros. version available to consumers in the U.S. Why Warner Bros. has failed to remaster Astral Weeks for the U.S. market can only be wondered at; aren't we U.S. consumers just as deserving as our Japanese counterparts of superior quality product? It is shameful and a blatant attempt at parting you of your hard-earned cash for a shoddily-produced product because the record companies know they can get away with it. It sucks that I have to buy this CD at import prices to get a decent digital transfer of a genuine masterpiece. My recommendation; suck it up and buy this import if you TRULY LOVE this record, and are tired of waiting for Warner Bros. (U.S.) to get of their asses and do the right thing; after all, they remastered virtually all of Van's other albums--even the crappy ones. Sounds amazing!
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