Astral Weeks – Revisited

Couldn’t let this go by without a quick mention:  2008 marks the 40th anniversay of Astral Weeks by Van Morrison.  I tend to believe that art is intrinsically linked to the place of it’s creation, or at least the place of birth of the author, so this has particular significance for me and Penny Distribution.

It’s interesting that both of my favorite Van Morrison albums were written or were strongly influenced by the two geographical locations which hold the most sway in my own life:  “St. Dominic’s Preview” was written in Marin County and San Francisco, CA (my current location) and “Astral Weeks” is heavily influenced by Van’s hometown and my former residence – Belfast, Northern Ireland.

I’ll be dealing with “St. Dominic’s Preview” shortly over at Ulster, but for now I wanted to highlight an event happening tomorrow night in Belfast – A collection of the city’s musical luminaries will congregate and play the album “Astral Weeks” track-by-track in sequence as an homage.  As organisers Oh Yeah explain,

“It’s a landmark recording, a mixture of jazz and soul and Celtic lyricism. Tracks such as ‘Cyprus Avenue’, ‘Madame George’ and ‘Beside You’ are deeply rooted in Belfast life, just before the outbreak of the Troubles.

The album is fascinating and inspiring on so many levels. It often features in the “all-time classic” lists of journalists and music fans. With this in mind, a series of Irish performers will play the album in sequence.

Music journalist and Oh Yeah Chairman Stuart Bailie will open the event with a talk about the record’s inception and will introduce each track with notes about the lyrics and the musical context. Some of the confirmed names are: Duke Special, Foy Vance, Bap Kennedy, The Four Of Us, The Winding Stair and Tom McShane. Some other special names will be announced shortly.”

Oh, and that’s right – Penny Distribution’s own Tom McShane will be performing on this illustrious night.  I’ll post video here and at Penny as soon as it’s available.

And if this evening is half as impressive as Oh Yeah‘s last album tribute night, “Oh Yeah Computer” (celebrating Radiohead’s seminal album), we’re in for something special.  (Seriously, check out Amy McGarrigle’s spine-tingling version of Climbing Up The Walls – WOW)


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