The notion of Van Morrison releasing a song-by-song live update of his classic Astral Weeks album recorded over two nights recently at the Hollywood Bowl seems like a wrong-headed venture, if not entirely pointless. It would be difficult enough for an artist improving with age to summon the spirit and creative spark that originally resulted in a great work 40 years after the fact, and Morrison’s well past his prime.
He rushes through the tunes, slurring syllables as if enunciating the lyrics would be too much work even if he could remember all of them. And clearly, one day wasn’t enough rehearsal time for his hired band, who are so often in vamp mode while trying to figure out where Morrison’s going that they lose track of the tunes. Yet in return for pissing all over one of the finest artistic achievements of his career, Morrison can potentially earn a higher royalty rate from the new versions of the songs issued on his own boutique label. Hey, groundskeeping ain’t cheap for mansions on hills.
Top track: Common One