19. Van Morrison, 'Astral Weeks'
Warner Bros., 1968
Van Morrison never sounded more warm and ecstatic, more sensual and vulnerable, than on his enigmatically beautiful solo debut. Fresh off the success of "Brown Eyed Girl" and newly signed to artistfriendly Warner Bros., he explored the physical and dramatic range of his voice during extended poetic-scat singing, and set hallucinatory reveries on his native Belfast to wandering Celtic-R&B melodies. The crowning touch was the superior jazz quintet convened by producer Lewis Merenstein to color the mists and shadows. Bassist Richard Davis later said that Morrison never told the musicians what he wanted from them or what the lyrics meant. Maybe he didn't know how to. He was going deep inside himself, without a net or fear.