Van Morrison‘s landmark second LP, Astral Weeks, receives the deluxe reissue treatment on October 30th via Warner Bros. Along with 1970’s His Band and Street Choir, the 1968 album will come out in expanded, remastered form both digitally and on CD. In advance of the release, we’re premiering one of four bonus tracks included on the new edition of Astral Weeks: the previously unissued first take of “Beside You.”
Astral Weeks diverges considerably from the albums that precede and follow it in Morrison’s discography. Moondance, from 1970, found the singer-songwriter returning to the pop-friendly format heard on 1967’s Blowin’ Your Mind! But while those albums featured some of Morrison’s most durable singles, Astral Weeks is one of his richest full-LP statements.
Instead of teaming the singer-songwriter with rock-oriented session players, the album’s producer, Lewis Merenstein, assembled a group of first-rate jazz improvisers: bassist Richard Davis, guitarist Jay Berliner, percussionist Warren Smith Jr. and drummer Connie Kay. The resulting sound was gorgeously colorful and often surprisingly abstract. These qualities come through on the first take of “Beside You,” as Davis, Berliner, Smith (on vibraphone) and flute player John Payne swirl around Morrison’s poignant, searching lead vocal.
It’s been a busy year for Morrison, who released a new album of duets in March and spent the summer touring internationally. In late August, he celebrated his 70th birthday with two Belfast shows on Cyprus Avenue, the street named in an Astral Weeks song title. He’ll close out the year with more European shows and begins 2016 with two California dates.
Astral Weeks Expanded Edition Track List
1. “Astral Weeks”
2. “Beside You”
3. “Sweet Thing”
4. “Cyprus Avenue”
5. “The Way Young Lovers Do”
6. “Madame George”
8. “Slim Slow Slider”
9. “Beside You” (Take 1)
10. “Madame George” (Take 4)
11. “Ballerina” (Long Version)
12. “Slim Slow Slider” (Long Version)