Back in the late 1960s, Van Morrison was an independent artist making majestic music. This is his second album. It’s also his best by far, and set the scene for his future very well. Let’s take a listen to it, see how it fares over 50 years later.
Astral Weeks, the title track, kicks off this album, with beautiful acoustic guitars, a fluttering string section and introspective lyrics. It’s also has a flute in the background. Although some may classify this music as simply easy listening music, it’s much better than any label can describe it. It is very 1960s, with beautiful melodies and romanticism here. Van Morrison really knew his craft. There is a beautiful sense of suspense here, too. Towards the end, it sounds like a great combination of music and art, set to sound. Brilliant.
Beside You comes next. It has more 1960s romanticism about it. It has a really well delivered vocal by Van Morrison and a nice sentiment about it. There is no percussion here, but really, it’s not needed. It’s not dissimilar to Spanish Flamenco music. The vocal melody here is brilliant, and very memorable. The acoustic guitars add a nice touch as well, floating in and out of the mix. A very good piece, and worth listening to, once again. It leads into a great climax at the end.
Next is Sweet Thing which has a very Jazzy feel to it. With uptempo acoustic instruments, including a double bass (by the sounds of it) and a delicious string section, this is fantastic quality and timeless music. It is a great listening experience, and this music never gets old. A beautiful and yes, touching performance here, Van Morrison does a great job here. Ear candy for those who like a mixture of Pop and Jazz, great music.
Following is Cyprus Avenue which has beautiful subtle instrumentation, including a harpsichord sounding keyboard, beautiful flute, strings and Van Morrison’s soothing voice. It’s a slice of pop genius, even in this format. Van Morrison sings about being tongue tied, with some of the most beautiful music you will hear in the background. It builds up to an emotional climax throughout, but such a good climax that you will smile rather than frown. Towards the end, the string section comes to the fore. A nice piece of music here.
The Way Young Lovers Do is next. It’s a more upbeat piece with trumpets and other similar instruments in it which is more Pop oriented. Like all the tracks here, it is very high quality and timeless. There are no wild electric guitar solos here, just a trumpet solo that sounds awesome. It’s likely intended to be a dance piece, but sounds great all the same.
Madame George begins with more double bass notes and acoustic guitars, creating an awesome backdrop for Van Morrison’s music here. The lyrics create the suspenseful musical backdrop here, being a wonderful and lovely musical piece. It’s an interesting listen, being a tale of said Madame George. Great musical and lyrical effort. There is a slight air of melancholy to it, but without being overly depressing. The ending in particular is epic and good to hear, even for a song nearly 10 minutes long. Great effort.
Next is Ballerina which has xylophone, more double bass, well played acoustic guitar, brushed percussion, simple string parts and a great song structure about it. It’s another refreshing and interesting listen to close your eyes to. Van Morrison certainly is in a class of his own musically, showing the world that he made unforgettable music. It compares love to ballerinas, an interesting lyrical concept. The whole piece has many beautiful sections to it, but being a whole song of musical greatness. Brilliant.
Lastly, we have Slim Slow Slider which is a great way to finish off the recording with a three minute piece with acoustic guitar and flute. It’s a nice listen, and proves that Van Morrison certainly had talent, especially as a songwriter. Great music all around, worth hearing. It is pulsating with emotion and energy, and has an odd ending.
Van Morrison delivers here, and that is exactly what is needed. There is very little to be said negatively about this music here on this album. It is seen as a classic album for some very good reasons. Check this one out if you can, it’s a thrilling listen.