If you’re looking for tips on how to improve upon a masterpiece, ask Van Morrison, said Kevin Convey in the Boston Herald. Somehow, the 62-year-old progenitor of Irish soul has done it on this live version of “his most storied and beloved album.” The original Astral Weeks, released in 1968, was a spontaneous and soulful blend of jazz and folk, blues and mysticism. Though widely regarded as a classic, the album has often been belittled by Morrison himself, who claims it fell short of the orchestral work he’d aimed for. Forty years later, Morrison has remade it “the way he always imagined it,” said Neil McCormick in the London Telegraph. He’s tinkered with the running order, brought in a 14-piece band, and given the thing a “looser, jazzier, fuller” feel. The original’s “undercurrent of melancholy” may be gone, but he’s replaced it with a sense of wisdom and authority. When Morrison sings “I believe I’ve transcended” on the title track, I believe him.
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