Van Morrison Astral Weeks Live LP Due

 

Hot off the press
release pile comes this official announcement…

 

By Blurt Staff

 

 

Multi-award winning soul singer and musical legend Van
Morrison is set to release “Astral Weeks: Live at the Hollywood
Bowl,” an in-concert reworking of his historic 1968 gold-certified solo
album. Recorded live over two nights at the Hollywood Bowl this past Nov. 7 and
8, the album marks the premiere release on Mr. Morrison’s new EMI-distributed
label, Listen to the Lion Records. “Astral Weeks: Live at the Hollywood
Bowl” arrives in stores Feb. 10, 2009. A double-vinyl edition with three
bonus tracks (including a live version of “Gloria”) arrives in stores the same
day.

 

 

The concerts marked the first time Mr. Morrison ever
performed “Astral Weeks” in one complete concert set. Joining him was
an orchestral string section and a band composed of world-class musicians, some
of whom played with Van on the original “Astral Weeks” sessions 40
years ago. Tracks on the CD include: “Astral Weeks/I Believe I’ve
Transcended,” “Beside You,” “Slim Slow Slider/ I Start
Breaking Down,” “Sweet Thing,” “The Way Young Lovers
Do,” “Cyprus Avenue / You Came Walking Down,”
“Ballerina,” “Madame George” and two bonus tracks,
“Listen to the Lion / The Lion Speaks” and “Common One.”

 

 

“The Hollywood Bowl concerts gave me a welcome opportunity
to perform these songs the way I originally intended them to be,” says Mr.
Morrison, who amazingly held only one rehearsal prior to the concerts.
“There are certain dynamics you can get in live recordings that you just
cannot get in a studio recording.  I love
listening to live recordings. You get the whole thing right there, unabridged,
raw and in the moment. There was a distinct alchemy happening on that stage in Hollywood. I felt
it.”

 

 

To rework “Astral Weeks,” Mr. Morrison added his
signature stretching of songs in a manner unlike any before by creating new
sections of songs live on stage. As producer of the record, Morrison insisted
there be no post-production engineering. It is straight up raw from the
Hollywood Bowl stage – pure resonant sound.

 

 

“These songs are timeless and as fresh today as the day
they were written, actually even more so,” Mr. Morrison added . “I
was happy to perform them at the Hollywood Bowl and delighted to release a live
album which really captures the essence of the original for today’s audiences
with every taste in music. It’s got it all, jazz, blues, folk, classic. You
name it.”

 

 

Fans and critics present at the Hollywood Bowl those two
nights grasped the momentous nature of the concerts. Rolling Stone Magazine
noted that Mr. Morrison “took charge of the music with the authority that
comes with four decades of performing. It seemed that once he breathed in the
perfume of these eight songs, he didn’t want them to end – and looking at the
enraptured crowd, he wasn’t the only one.” Added the Los Angeles Times,
“Transcendence is what Morrison has been after with his music from the
beginning… the wondrous youthful timbre of his voice… has evolved over the
years into a richer, fuller instrument, with every bit of its remarkable
elasticity very much intact.”

 

 

Unbeknownst to Mr. Morrison at the time he planned the
Hollywood Bowl shows, the concerts coincided exactly with the 40th anniversary
of the release of “Astral Weeks.” He took it as a sign this project
was destined to be. Universally regarded as one of the most important albums in
pop music history, “Astral Weeks” broke new ground with its
experimental free-flowing arrangements and deeply reflective songs. Mr.
Morrison’s motivation to rework the music was to get back to his original
signature sound: a blend of jazz, blues, classical and folk unique to Van
Morrison.

 

 

Both Bowl shows were filmed in high-definition, and will
later be available as a commercial DVD concert film. Due to overwhelming
demand, Mr. Morrison will perform “Astral Weeks” again, in show at
the Theater at New York’s Madison Square
Garden, on Friday and
Saturday, Feb. 27 & 28. Accompanied by two different bands, Mr. Morrison
will play two sets per show: one of “Astral Weeks” cover to cover, the other of
rarely played Van Morrison classics. He may even pull out rare gems “TB
Sheets,” “Mystic Eyes,” “Who Drove the Red Sports Car” and “Baby
Please Don’t Go.”

 

 

A Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, Mr. Morrison is
responsible for some of the greatest recordings of the last fifty years. A
Belfast native of proud Scottish heritage, he grew up listening to American
music with his parents, his favorites artists being greats like Ledbelly,
Mahalia Jackson, Lightnin’ Hopkins and other legends of blues and soul. With
more than 200 of his compositions featured in major motion pictures over the
years, Mr. Morrison was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame by the late
Ray Charles in June 2003.

 

 

As Mr. Morrison said, “I’m not just a singer. I am a soul
singer.” His “Astral Weeks Live at the Hollywood Bowl” proves exactly that,
over and over again.

 

 

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