Sunday, February 07, 2010

Astral Weeks (1968)

To recap: Van Morrison, at 21 a retired principal of rock 'n' roll pioneers Them intent on leaving the music business, lets Them manager/producer Bert Berns talk him into coming to New York to record demos. Berns advances him a one-way airfare. The results of their sessions included "Brown-Eyed Girl" and tracks that appeared variously on Blowin' Your Mind, T.B. Sheets, and elsewhere. Then Bert Berns dies suddenly; his widow and her lawyers effectively prevent Morrison from recording or performing in the New York area (and no airfare home, remember). Morrison travels on to Boston, where he works out the song cycle that would become this album. Many Van Morrison fans put this on their short list of his best, and I think it's pretty good too. But his recent traumas vibrate from this music like a dentist riding a jackhammer, which in the end amounts far more to anxiety than serenity. I mean, I never listen to this music to relax. It's not a bit relaxing.

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