Forty years after its release, Astral Weeks is still a wonder, said Robert Levine in Billboard. Since premiering in 1968, Van Morrison’s poetic, almost impressionistic album has been perceived as a “mystery as well as a masterpiece, with lyrics that reflect on innocence lost, transcendence,” and introspection. Just 23 years old at the time, Morrison recorded the eight “stream-of-consciousness” songs in less than 48 hours. But, regardless of the critical acclaim and cult status accorded the album, the Irish singer-songwriter has always felt the arrangements didn’t live up to his standards.
The insights on Astral Weeks express the “perspective of a much older man,” said Greg Kot in the Chicago Tribune, but Morrison waited until his age caught up with his maturity before revisiting his enigmatic opus. Rehearsed only once and recorded over two nights last November, Astral Weeks: Live at the Hollywood Bowl finds Morrison “more engaged, more passionate” than he has been in years. Guitarist Jay Berliner, who played on the original record, along with the rest of the stellar band help breathe new life into material that proves “timeless.” Astral Weeks: Live at the Hollywood Bowl doesn’t just capture the magic that spawned these songs—it confirms the album’s “almost sanctified place in the history of popular music.”
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