November 27th marks the 50th anniversary of the release of one of rock’s most lauded albums: Astral Weeks. The second studio album by Van Morrison after he left Them to pursue a solo career, it is an album built on impossibilities. The 21 year-old Irish musician, known mainly for Brown-Eyed Girl, recorded the album in the states, after living in Boston and soaking up the burgeoning music scene there. Much of the work was recorded almost ad lib. He was working with musicians he barely knew, many of whom came from a jazz background, such as drummer Connie Kay, from the Modern Jazz Quartet. The songs were all lyrically rich, mystical, and, for the most part, impenetrable. It was released to little acclaim.
Yet over the years it has grown to become iconic: ask any music fan or commentator for their top 20 albums, and Astral Weeks will make a regular appearance, alongside Sgt. Pepper’s, Pet Sounds and Dark Side of the Moon. Songs from the album include Madame George, Slim Slow Slider and The Way Young Lovers Do.
50 years is a long time in rock music. And to celebrate this milestone, Adelaide is being treated to two Morrison tribute gigs.
The first one, actually on the anniversary this Thursday, is our own Max Savage, reprising the Astral Weeks gig he first did a couple of years ago: a gig which is still talked about in reverent tones by anyone who was there (yours truly included!). Playing at Chateau Apollo, the gig will open with Ryan Oliver playing Springsteen’s Nebraska, then Nick Bastiras will give us Cohen’s Songs of Love and Death, before Savage and his outfit The False Idols, pay tribute to the birthday album. This is an ambitious and audacious line-up, and has consequently nearly sold out.
Early next year, on January 31st, the great Vince Jones performs at Festival Theatre, presenting both Astral Weeks, and possibly Morrison’s second most-lauded album, Moondance. Jones has been presenting this show around Australia and popular demand has brought it finally to Adelaide. Jones as both a vocalist and trumpeter, is one Australia’s most renowned interpreters of song.
Australia is unlikely to ever see a tour from the man himself. But when we have artists the calibre of Savage and Jones…who cares?
50 Years of Astral Weeks with Max Savage and False Idols
Chateau Apollo Frome St Thursday November 29th 7pm
For tickets and further information click here.
Van Morrison’s Masterpieces with Vince Jones and the Astral Orchestra
Festival Theatre, January 31st, 6.30 pm
For bookings and further information click here.