Its standing eventually improved greatly, with praise given to Morrison's arrangements and songwriting, and the album has been viewed as one of rock music 's greatest and most important records a reputation the singer himself has dismissed.
It was placed on numerous widely circulated lists of the best albums of all time and had an enduring effect on both listeners and musicians. Forty years after the album's release, Morrison performed all eight of its songs live for the first time at two Hollywood Bowl concerts in November ; this performance was later released as Astral Weeks Live at the Hollywood Bowl.
At the beginning of , Van Morrison became involved in a contract dispute with Bang Records that kept him away from any recording activity. This occurred after the sudden death of the label's founder Bert Berns. Born with a congenital heart defect, Berns had a fatal heart attack, and was discovered dead in a New York hotel room on 30 December Years later she would downplay this scenario, but Morrison's then girlfriend Janet Planet Rigsbee has since gone on record describing Ilene Berns's subsequent vindictiveness towards Morrison.
Bert Berns was notorious for his connections to organized crime, and those connections still impacted artists trying to leave Bang Records like Morrison and Neil Diamond even after Berns's death. However, Morrison managed to stay in the U. Morrison began performing with a small electric combo doing blues numbers, songs from Blowin' Your Mind! Two of the musicians soon left but Morrison retained the bassist, Tom Kielbania, a student at the Berklee School of Music.
Before this, Morrison had primarily recorded and performed with electric musicians. The acoustic medium would provide him "greater vocal improvisation and a freer, folkier feel". Later, Kielbania heard jazz -trained flautist John Payne for the first time while sitting in on a jam session. He invited Payne to the club where he played with Morrison, hoping Morrison would invite him to join them. After allowing Payne to sit in on one performance, Morrison extended an invitation, which Payne accepted.
In the weeks they played at the Catacombs, they began to develop the template for Astral Weeks. Records approached Morrison, hoping to sign him. Regardless, their interest allowed Morrison to return to the recording studio. At the time, Warner Bros. Merenstein received a call from Warner Bros. It just vibrated in my soul, and I knew that I wanted to work with that sound. Still legally bound to Bang Records, Morrison would yet have more issues with them in the future.
For the time being, Schwaid managed to free him from those obligations, under several conditions. First, Morrison had to write and submit to Web IV Music Bert Berns's publishing company three original compositions per month over the course of one year. Morrison fulfilled that obligation by recording thirty-six nonsense songs in a single session.
Such action risked legal reprisals, but ultimately none transpired. Morrison then had to assign Web IV half of the copyright to any musical composition written and recorded by Morrison and released as a single within one year from 12 September That demand became a moot point when Warner Bros. Finally, Morrison had to include two original compositions controlled by Web IV on his next album.
Morrison fulfilled that demand with two of his own compositions, " Madame George " and " Beside You ", although the versions subsequently released were vastly different musically from the original versions recorded with Bang. There were still demands that weren't given on paper, which Smith tried to deal with through Don Rickles 's manager, Joe Scandore.
Scandore, whom Smith described as " connected ," set up an unusual arrangement where Smith had to arrive one evening at an abandoned warehouse on 9th Avenue in Manhattan at 6 p. Two tall and thin, and two built like buildings.
There was no small talk. With his legal matters resolved, Morrison now had the freedom to proceed with recording his Warner Bros. The live tracks for the sessions were performed by Morrison on vocals and acoustic guitar in a separate vocal booth  with the other musicians playing together on upright bass, lead acoustic guitar, vibes, flute, and drums. The strings and horns constituted the only instruments added subsequently to the initial recording sessions.
They added strings. And they sent it to me, it was all changed. Producer Lewis Merenstein had a background in jazz, and according to Merenstein, Morrison "was not an aficionado of jazz when I met him.
Perhaps best known for his work with Eric Dolphy , Davis essentially served as the session leader, and it was through Davis that Merenstein recruited guitarist Jay Berliner , percussionist Warren Smith, Jr. All of these musicians had strong backgrounds in jazz; Berliner had worked closely with Charles Mingus and Kay was part of the Modern Jazz Quartet.
According to Kielbania, "I got to show all the bass lines to Richard Davis. He embellished a lot of them, but I gave him the feeling.
Davis proved, perhaps, to be the most pivotal instrumentalist during these sessions. Then you get Jay playing those beautiful counter-lines to Van. And that's where he stayed, isolated in a booth. I don't think he ever introduced himself to us, nor we to him And he seemed very shy We more or less sat there and jammed. Some of the tracks were first takes. Those type of guys play what you're gonna do before you do it, that's how good they are.
They were both just basic blues numbers. That's why they didn't fit in with the album. That's it. There's no more. Perhaps it's better that way — better that Astral Weeks remains up for grabs, unburdened by biographical details. It's better that it remains what Greil Marcus calls a common language. We're talking about an album that was recorded well before they were born, and yet it spoke to them. They understood its language as soon as they heard it. Despite the importance Astral Weeks continues to have for listeners, both young and old, its meaning to Morrison is far different.
For him, it's as if it's just another record in a long career. Of course, for the people who love Astral Weeks, none of this really matters. Morrison's relationship to the album has little to do with their own. Your purchase helps support NPR programming. Accessibility links Skip to main content Keyboard shortcuts for audio player. Location: Germany. Not rare IMO Claus , Jul 1, Location: The ATX. Some people think the German pressings sound better than others, but all Astral Weeks cds except the new Japanese remaster appear to contain the same mastering.
Location: New England. PBo , Jul 1, Location: OH. I'm usually not a "vinyl is better" guy, but in this case there is no contest. The CD sounds dead compared to the Rhino vinyl. My WB "trees" label pressing sounds pretty close to the CD. MikeP , Jul 1, Well then you'd better get yourself a turntable and then you'll be allowed to listen.
Otherwise listen to something else. That's how it ought to be with a record like that because you're simply not hearing what it's about on a CD and of course less so, if you're hearing anything at all on an Mp3. The original green Warners-7Arts first pressing issued in November of or green WB Keystone label second pressing were the ones to have, at least until this reissue. Wait until you hear it!
However, even if it was released as is, it obsoletes the original in almost every way. The original has a warm, rich, atmospheric character that draws you into its dank, distant vibe. The shaker on the opener, the insistent 'In The Beginning,' is barely present. The flute has little air, the strings are ghostly, the bass skeletal and almost ineffectual, the acoustic guitars stately, clean yet soft. As for Van, he's caught in the embrace of a warm reverb. I just saw the 7" of Sweet Thing in a record store.
Does anyone have it? Does it sound any different from the album version? Location: PA. Location: New Orleans, LA. Other threads have talked about the US W7 green label pressing of this LP, and every time I stumble across mention of it I get all fired up again to find a copy.
It's one of my favorite albums and I would dearly love to do a needle drop one of these days. I got a slightly crackly green label Moondance last week, which just adds more fuel to the fire. Solaris , May 16, Location: Vermont. The one that comes with a giant exclamation mark sticker "! I think it sounds very good. Evan L , May 16, Location: Northwest Illinois.
John Carsell , May 16, Location: Washington DC Area.Enjoy the videos and music you love, upload original content, and share it all with friends, family, and the world on YouTube.