“I believe I’ve transcended,” Van Morrison sings in an extended, in-the-moment riff towards the end of the title track from his recent live album, Astral Weeks Live at the Hollywood Bowl. Few would beg to differ, for over the course of this historic concert, Morrison seems to transcend age, time and whatever other affects turn some veteran performers into wan caricatures of their former selves better suited to halls of fame than halls of music. Now, for those who couldn’t be there to go “into the music” under that star-filled Los Angeles sky, Morrison has released a concert film—his first since 1990’s Van Morrison: The Concert—that documents the soulful evening measure for remarkable measure.
“It was an alchemical kind of situation,” Morrison has said of the 1968 New York recording sessions that yielded the original Astral Weeks, which, although poorly promoted by Warner Brothers upon its release, now regularly places at the top of critic and reader surveys of the greatest albums of all time. Forty years later, a similar alchemy prevails as Morrison and another group of musicians—some old, some new—come together for Astral Weeks:The Concert Film. Never one to repeat himself or rest on his laurels, Morrison doesn’t merely perform his classic album from cover to cover. He re-imagines it from the ground up, from a reshuffled track list and new orchestrations to a dramatically expanded “Slim Slow Slider,” transformed from a plaintive, three-minute album closer into a wailing, heart-wrenching eight-minute centerpiece. Throughout, from the first pluckings of “Astral Weeks’”s pizzicato bass line to “Madame George’”s stirring invocation to “get on the train,” Morrison stands center stage, singing, grunting, speaking in tongues, strumming his guitar and blowing his harmonica with such passion and vigor that it really is as though he is playing these songs for the very first time. To be born again, indeed.
“For me, it’s about going back to the source,” Morrison has said, and thanks to Astral Weeks: The Concert Film audiences can take that journey with him—back to the beginnings of an extraordinary five-decade solo career that has produced more than 30 albums, hundreds of songs and a worldwide popularity that continues to grow with each passing year. Thirty-five years after setting the gold standard for live recordings with the seminal It’s Too Late To Stop Now, with Astral Weeks: The Concert Film Van Morrison once again surpasses himself. --Scott Foundas
Hugo I may start emailing you the concert links directly. That would protect other posters from the inconvenience of clicking on one of my posts by accident.
Established at the outset of the punk rock boom, Stiff Records signed various punk and New Wave acts such as Nick Lowe, The Damned, Lene Lovich, Wreckless Eric, Plummet Airlines, Elvis Costello, and Ian Dury. The label's marketing and advertising was often provocative and witty billing itself as "The World's Most Flexible Record Label". Other slogans were "We came. We saw. We left", "If It Ain't Stiff, It Ain't Worth a frick", and "When You Kill Time, You Murder Success" (printed on promotional wall clocks). On the label of Stiff's sampler compilation Heroes & Cowards was printed: "In '78 everyone born in '45 will be 33-1/3". A very early Stiff sampler album, A Bunch of Stiff Records, introduced the slogan, "If they're dead, we'll sign them" and "Undertakers to the Industry".
In the early '70s Nilsson heard a track at a party (which he assumed was by The Beatles) and liked it, later recording it himself. That record would go on to hit #1 around the world and become a standard:
"Without You" (demo)
Badfinger - "Without You" (original version)