Astral Weeks (Classic Album Dissection) & Opinions on Kelly Clarkson and K’Naan

Jim and Greg conduct a Classic Album Dissection of Van Morrison's Astral Weeks. The 1968 recording combines rock, jazz, blues and folk—making it one of the most unique and significant albums in rock history.

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Prince has always been on the cutting edge when it comes to distribution, but now he is joining the ranks of musicians who have made deals with big box merchandisers. His new three-disc collection will be sold exclusively at Target later this month for just $11.98. Previously he tried to deliver an album through The Daily Mail and also bundled wtih concert tickets. No Doubt is following suit. They are offering the band's entire catalog for free along with the purchase of a concert ticket. Seems like a pretty good deal for consumers, but may not be as good of a deal to independent retailers.

Astral Weeks

Astral Weeks (Expanded Edition)

Van Morrison recorded and released his masterpiece Astral Weeks 41 years ago, and to celebrate he released a live version of the album. This gave Jim and Greg a perfect opportunity to look back at Astral Weeks with a Sound Opinions Classic Dissection. Astral Weeks didn't produce huge hits, but as Jim and Greg explain, this record is unique from any other in Van Morrison's collection, and in fact, rock history. It melds rock, blues, folk and jazz in such a way that makes it hard to define. The jazz musicians who contributed to this sound were guitarist Jay Berliner, drummer Connie Kay and bassist Richard Davis. In addition to the music, Jim and Greg both marvel at the emotions conveyed by the songs on Astral Weeks. You hear Van Morrison struggle with the search for home and the impermanence of life. It's as much a poem as it is an album, making it a classic in the Sound Opinions' book.

All I Ever Wanted Kelly Clarkson

All I Ever Wanted

America's first "Idol" Kelly Clarkson has a new album out called All I Ever Wanted. Clarkson's last release was a stinker even by label head Clive Davis' standards, so this was her chance at redemption. Did she succeed? Jim likes a lot of feminist pop punk, but he's mystified by Kelly Clarkson's appeal. That said, half of this album is undeniably catchy pop rock. He has no use for the other half, however, which is full of soggy ballads. Jim gives the album a Try It. Greg can see why fans are taken with the singer. She has an endearing personality and a great voice. But her conservative production choices overshadow any good ideas Clarkson might be trying to get across. All I Ever Wanted is far from what Greg wants; he gives it a Trash It rating.

00:45:03 Review: K’Naan


Next up Jim and Greg review the second album from rapper K’Naan. In his songs K'Naan describes the tough streets he grew up on. And we believe him. Before settling in Ontario, K'Naan lived in Mogadishu. You can hear his African roots in the music, along with reggae and hip hop beats. Greg finds this hybrid really fresh. But, the record falls down when he tries to be too diverse. Greg gives Troubadour a Try It. Jim wonders if he's just in a better mood today. He agrees that some of the diverse cameos like Adam Levine and Kirk Hammett are totally unnecessary. But K'Naan has a strong voice and his songs have a strong sense of melody. The record gets a Buy It rating from Jim.


Recently Greg's been thinking about whatever happened to soul singer D’Angelo. He made what Greg would consider a masterful album in 2000. Voodoo put D'Angelo at the heart of the neo-soul movement, but that's the last we've heard from him. Greg can't explain the disappearance, but he can relive the singer's glory days with this week's Desert Island Jukebox song "Devil’s Pie."

Dear Listeners,

For more than 15 years, Sound Opinions was a production of WBEZ, Chicago's public radio station. Now that the show is independent, we're inviting you to join the band and lend a hand! We need your support more than ever because now we have to do all the behind-the-scenes work that WBEZ handled before (like buying insurance and paying for podcast hosting, ugh). Plus, we have some exciting ideas we'd like to try now that there's no one to tell us no!