Jim Farber

A moving Van Morrison delivers fine work with 'Astral Weeks'

Friday, February 13th 2009, 4:00 AM

Courtesy EMI

Van Morrison's giving "Astral Weeks" another go.

Van Morrison started his solo career at a point many artists never reach, even at their peak.

In 1968, fresh out of his band Them, Morrison recorded his first fully realized solo album, "Astral Weeks." The disk found him uninhibited by commercial concerns and unmoored from the constraints of conventional song form.

Few songs followed a strict verse-chorus-verse manner, or honored tight time frames. Instead they rambled and raged, whispered and sputtered, roaming freely enough for Morrison to follow his feelings as far as they would go.

Not everyone got it, and it didn't make him a star. That didn't happen until the followup, the far more accessible "Moondance," in 1970. But "Astral Weeks" is what made Morrison a legend.

Four decades later, the Celtic-soul icon has rerecorded the album as a live disk, cut at the Hollywood Bowl last fall and now released on CD. The material sounds as daring as it did in '68, even if the instrumentation and arrangements take new liberties.

In the title track, Morrison's voice creates a fresh incantation, using repetition to create momentum and stoke emotion. In "Beside You," he shows how a song can keep coalescing, never quite arriving, yet still prove satisfying.

"Astral Weeks" has a few more conventional pieces, like the poetic ode to a Dublin drag queen, "Madame George." But its most transcendent moments showcase the pleasure of letting a singer take his voice to the limit.

jfarber@nydailynews.com

Hide

Today's Top Picks

Bernie's wife: Paws off my $62M!

Ruth Madoff says $62 million she squirreled away is not part of the Ponzi scheme run by her husband, Bernie.

Who's really running the GOP?

It's an elephant-on-elephant slapfest - and the White House is likely loving every minute of it.

Survivor found, but NFL players still lost at sea

A rescued ex-football player said he managed to survive more than 36 hours lost at sea by thinking about his mother.

McCain's girl: Dad ruined my love life

From the date who called her dinner order a "maverick choice" to the guy who said she'd look hot in her mom's pearls ...

As Britney Spears gears up for yet another 'comeback,' the News takes a look back at her career's ups-and-down.

Best Of NYDN.com

7 dead in attack on cricket team

At least a dozen men ambushed Sri Lanka's cricket team with rifles, grenades and rocket launchers in Pakistan on Tuesday.

Snow storm closes city public schools, cancels hundreds of flights and delays commuters.

Doc lets you choose baby's eye, hair color

A fertility clinic's promise to let parents choose eye, hair and even skin color is sparking an uproar.

These sci-fi beauties prove there is intelligent life in the universe ... or at least at the casting agency.

Taking a break from the bailout, President Obama takes in an NBA gamein Washington.

Search by Artist of Event

TOP EVENTS

Newsletter Signup

Get the latest Updates.

sign up NOW