Being a Folk fan, it's hard not to like this album, it's a classic. Astral Weeks is the second album by Van Morrison, during a shift in music and record labels, he managed to create an album from a low production cost and in a very short time. Many Folk albums of this time followed this, the songs were recorded over a few days, such as Nick Drake's Pink Moon, which was recorded over two nights.
Astral Weeks has different instrumentation, by this I mean it isn't basic Folk, some could call it Jazz-Folk, but that's more applicable to albums with Jazz like drumming and structures, such as Tim Buckley's Happy Sad. This album has different instrumentation in the way that, it creates a separate genre. It's a huge mix of Folk, Jazz, Soul, Blues and Classical like strings.
The first song, 'Astral Weeks' has a strong riff, following a simple scale, going up then down, this is repeated during the song, with instruments such as recorders and violins being put to great use. His voice is strong, the lyrics are very delicate and the song changes drastically at different points, the Cello playing is fabulous in place of a Bass, it then comes to a gradual end.
'Beside You' is such a sad song, it's light instrumentation and Avant-Garde Folk out look put the song and vocals into the foreground, with the high notes of guitars being used where applicable. His vocal use of the word's 'You breathe in, you breathe out' is repeated and works like a charm.
'Sweet Thing' is one of my favourite tracks, not just from this album, but all time. It has such a strong emphasis on instrumentation, the Cello acting as the bass trickles along, whilst the fast paced acoustic guitar works perfectly with the light percussion. It's hard to imagine this track not being on the album, to me, this track makes the album. The violin work is absolutely incredible, you can hear minimal mistakes on the violins at certain points, this just adds to the brilliant, raw recording power.
Many of the songs follow the same nature, brilliant percussion and Classical based instruments working in time with the Folk based acoustic guitar. it's hard to imagine that this album is in fact 43 years old, that's a massive shock to some, that's because it sounds so raw and fresh.
It's one of those albums that you can keep listening to over time, without getting bored, finding new aspect and hearing different things whilst you listen. I rate it as one of the best albums of all time, i know many others do as well. I can only imagine this being up at the top with The Velvet Underground & Nico, What's Going On and Stand!