The sixth live album of Morrison’s career had to be something special to stand out among its predecessors, and this track-bytrack concert re-creation of perhaps his most acclaimed studio release doesn’t disappoint. Don’t, however, expect a carbon copy of what went before, as its maker has seemingly put greater effort and energy into this project than he has most of his more recent studio albums.
Liberally daubing fresh light and shade onto such familiar material required a steady hand and, with some confidence, Van reveals previously hidden dynamics to Astral Weeks that time and budget constraints may have denied him back in 1968. The original album’s guitarist, Jay Lerner, is on hand to embellish his earlier work, the addition of lush strings elevates some songs to new heights, while Morrison himself has come up with “epilogues” to a handful of song (the title track and Cyprus Avenue in particular), propelling their storylines into unchartered territory.
Naysayers may wince at the very thought of tampering with purity or perfection, but Morrison, an artist so often described as “spiritual”, has been savvy and self-respectful enough to keep the spirit intact.