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January 17, 2012 / rocksandgravel

You Will Cry To Astral Weeks.

You know when you’re told about an album that everyone (well all the music geek types) seem to gush about, as if its the most harrowing, yet beautiful piece of music of all time? Ever find it puzzling once you hear the record, or perhaps feel that you might be dead inside because it didn’t have the same effect?

I grew up listening to a fair few ‘Greatest Hits’ albums rather than individual album releases, partly due to my mum drafting in a spanking new ‘Hi Fi’ (ha!) when the turntable went in the late 80s, and turning her back on vinyl in favour of CDs. Fact is, before I heard Roxy Music’s eponymous release, or Neil Young’s ‘Rust Never Sleeps’, I knew all the hits without much other perspective on the seminal albums that made them. Another artist in this case would be Van Morrison, who’s double greatest hits bumper CD sat in the cabinet and on hearing his alarmingly gritty and at times indecipherable howl, I remember reading the inside cover and feeling slightly baffled by his slobbish, grumpy appearance.

I have a nigh on sacrilegious confession to make. It wasn’t until new years day 2012, whilst on the latter stage of a reluctant (but actually quite good) night out, that I first listened to Astral Weeks from start to finish. Needless to say, I wept. Christ alive, Van, I remember the bluesy, anger ridden (and at times) indecipherable howl, but I wasn’t prepared for the way this seemed to flick a switch inside me. I went from being bouncily carefree to sobbing thick and heavy tears, the kind that made my throat swell up and my bottom lip wobble, all down to an achingly raw and cutting set of songs that tug on your heart strings so hard you need to actively take a moment to concentrate on breathing.

Raw.

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