Van Morrison Astral Weeks (Expanded and Remastered) His Band and the Street Choir (Expanded and Remastered) (Warner Brothers/Rhino) Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Even with the luxury 45 years’ worth of hindsight brings, it’s difficult to find another artist who released such a steady stream of innovative, artistically challenging and ultimately classic albums as Van Morrison did in the late '60s/early '70s. Just the trifecta of 1968’s Astral Weeks, followed by Moondance and His Band and the Street Choir (both in 1970!) would guarantee him a place in any serious list of music’s most influential acts. Add his next four studio sets (Tupelo Honey, Saint Dominic’s Preview, Hard Nose the Highway and Veedon Fleece) and you have as mind blowing and consistently inventive a body of work as any solo musician short of Stevie Wonder or Paul Simon. That run ended in 1974 but, as we now know, Morrison was just getting started.
It has taken too long but Warner Brothers, who owns the U.S. rights to the three earliest classics, finally got around to remastering and expanding them; first with Moondance in 2013, now Astral Weeks and … Street Choir. While neither benefit from the impressive vault excavation work done on Moondance (the super deluxe version of that ran 5 discs), these overdue reissues that include a smattering of bonus tracks and enhanced booklets, at least bring them up to date with substantially improved sonics, excellent historical liner notes and appropriately classy presentation.
Despite its 1968 recording, nothing sounds quite like Astral Weeks; not then, not now. Morrison’s chamber... Sign In to Keep Reading