Astral Weeks Live [no label, 1CD]
(Click on the covers for High Quality Scans)
Fans lapped up the album when Astral Weeks was released in 1968 but it wasn't a commercial success. It only went gold in 2001.
This is what Lester Bangs wrote of Van Morrison's Astral Weeks: "I don't really know how significant it might be that many others have reported variants on my initial encounter with Astral Weeks. I don't think there's anything guiding it to people enduring dark periods. It did come out at a time when a lot of things that a lot of people cared about passionately were beginning to disintegrate, and when the self-destructive undertow that always accompanied the great '60s party had an awful lot of ankles firmly in its maw and was pulling straight down. So, as timeless as it finally is, perhaps Astral Weeks was also the product of an era. Better think that than ask just what sort of Irish churchwebbed haints Van Morrison might be product of."
Bangs added: "Madame George is the album's whirlpool. Possibly one of the most compassionate pieces of music ever made, it asks us, no, arranges that we see the plight of what I'll be brutal and call a lovelorn drag queen with such intense empathy that when the singer hurts him, we do too. (Morrison has said in at least one interview that the song has nothing to do with any kind of transvestite - at least as far as he knows, he is quick to add - but that's bullshit.) The beauty, sensitivity, holiness of the song is that there's nothing at all sensationalistic, exploitative, or tawdry about it; in a way Van is right when he insists it's not about a drag queen, as my friends were right and I was wrong about the 'pedophelia' - it's about a person, like all the best songs, all the greatest literature."
Here is a fan compilation of all the songs from Van's classic album taken from live tracks performed from 1967 to 1990. Includes some acoustic studio demos.
01 Astral Weeks (Boston, May 19, 1972)
02 Beside You (Studio, 1967)
03 Sweet Thing (Los Angeles, May 26, 1973)
04 Cyprus Avenue (Belfast, February 20, 1979)
05 The Way Young Lovers Do (Los Angeles, May 26,1973)
06 Madame George / Ballerina (Belfast, October 23, ?)
07 Slim Slow Slider (San Francisco, November 8, 1982)
08 Sweet Thing / Astral Weeks (November 7, Montreux 1990)
09 Slim Slow Slider (Dublin, December 17, 1995)
10 The Way Young Lovers Do / A Town Called Paradise (Croydon, November 17, ?)
11 Ballerina (Acoustic Demo)
12 The Way Young Lovers Do (Acoustic Demo)