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Morrison revives 'Astral Weeks'

October 04, 2008|Randy Lewis

Van Morrison's nothing if not a patient man -- at least when it comes to his landmark 1968 album "Astral Weeks."

The collection established him as one of rock's most revered singers and songwriters after his initial bout with fame and commercial success a few years earlier with his band Them. But it wasn't a big hit -- it never cracked Billboard's Top 200 Albums chart -- and took 33 years to reach gold record status, denoting sales of 500,000 copies.

Come November, to mark the 40th anniversary of the album's release, he's doing two shows at the Hollywood Bowl performing the album in its entirety, something he never did originally.

"In the '60s and '70s the record companies did not support the music, so I never got to take these songs on tour, and I certainly did not have the money to do it," the mercurial 63-year-old said in a press release announcing the shows.

He'll be accompanied by a couple of the musicians -- guitarist Jay Berliner and bassist Richard Davis -- who played on the groundbreaking album that blended rock, jazz, folk and Celtic music with lyrics that often evoked William Blake's poetic mysticism. Peter Erskine will take over for "Astral Weeks" drummer Connie Kay, the Modern Jazz Quartet's percussionist who died in 1994.

The plan is to record the concerts for a live album to be released on vinyl by Christmas and on CD in January.

-- Randy Lewis

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