Astral Weeks

Sound Opinions on Astral Weeks, James Murphy & Lou Reed

Jim and Greg conduct a Classic Album Dissection of Van Morrison's Astral Weeks. The landmark release celebrates its 45th anniversary this month. Plus, a review of the chart-topping debut by New Zealand's Lorde, and Jim remembers Lou Reed in the Desert Island Jukebox.

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James Murphy

In LCD Soundsystem's 2005 debut album, singer/producer James Murphy says he's "Losing His Edge." Well, 2 years after the project disbanded, we wondered if this is the case? Murphy has gone from punk and dance clubs…to Broadway? He's composed original music for the Broadway revival of the Harold Pinter play Betrayal. But if you're going to lose your edge, this isn't a bad way to do it…the play stars Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz, is produced by Scott Rudin and is directed by Mike Nichols. James talks about working with such luminaries and shares a tidbit on the forthcoming Arcade Fire release.

classic album dissection

Van Morrison Astral Weeks

Van Morrison recorded and released his masterpiece Astral Weeks 45 years ago, and to celebrate, Jim and Greg conduct a Sound Opinions Classic Album 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, in 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. But, 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.

reviewPure HeroinePure Heroine available on iTunes

Lorde Pure Heroine

The newest wunderkind topping the charts is 16-year old New Zealand singer/songwriter, Ella Maria Lani Yelich-O'Connor; better known as Lorde. Her debut album, Pure Heroine, is out now, and Jim is a major fan. He likens her lyrics to existentialists like J.D. Salinger and her husky voice and minimal, electronic sound to Bats for Lashes crossed with Lily Allen. The combination of all those elements wins the album a Buy It from Jim. Greg, on the other hand, thinks Jim is smitten by the Kiwi teenager and is being overly generous with those comparisons. He also admires the record's minimal rhythms and drones, but he doesn‘t believe Lorde is quite yet the poet she’s setting out to be. It's a promising start, though, and Greg thinks the album is worth a Burn It.

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Jim

“Candy Says”Velvet Underground

It's safe to say that few artists did more to establish rock and roll than Lou Reed. In fact, both Jim and Greg said as much in their obituaries of the music legend, who died last week at age 71. He deserves more than just a track in the Desert Island Jukebox, but for this episode, one will have to do. It's "Candy Says," a song by the Velvet Underground writen by Reed that, Jim explains, highlights the songwriter's contributions to Slowcore and his amazing sense of compassion.

Featured Songs

  1. Pure Sunray, Caramel, Pure Sunray, self-released, 2013
  2. LCD Soundsystem, Losing My Edge, LCD Soundsystem, DFA, 2005
  3. Arcade Fire, Reflektor, Reflektor, Merge, 2013
  4. LCD Soundsystem, I Can Change, This Is Happening, DFA/Virgin, 2010
  5. Van Morrison, Astral Weeks, Astral Weeks, Warner Bros., 1968
  6. Them, Gloria, The Angry Young Them, Decca, 1965
  7. Charles Mingus, Track C—Group Dancers, The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady, Impulse!, 1963
  8. Van Morrison, Brown Eyed Girl, Blowin' Your Mind!, Bang Records, 1967
  9. Modern Jazz Quartet, Willow Weep for Me, Fontessa, Atlantic, 1956
  10. Van Morrison, Ballerina, Astral Weeks, Warner Bros., 1968
  11. Van Morrison, Beside You, Astral Weeks, Warner Bros., 1968
  12. Van Morrison, Sweet Thing, Astral Weeks, Warner Bros., 1968
  13. Van Morrison, Cyprus Avenue, Astral Weeks, Warner Bros., 1968
  14. Van Morrison, Madame George, Astral Weeks, Warner Bros., 1968
  15. Van Morrison, Slim Slow Slider, Astral Weeks, Warner Bros., 1968
  16. The Secret Machines, Astral Weeks, The Road Leads Where It's Led, Reprise, 2005
  17. Lorde, Tennis Court, Pure Heroine, Universal, 2013
  18. Lorde, Royals, Pure Heroine, Universal, 2013
  19. The Velvet Underground, Candy Says, The Velvet Underground, MGM, 1969
  20. Yoko Ono, Mindweaver, Season of Glass, Geffen, 1981
  21. The Clash, Wrong 'Em Boyo, London Calling, CBS/Epic/Legacy, 1979
  22. Chad Mitchell Trio, Lizzie Borden, Mighty Day on Campus, Kapp, 1961
  23. Neko Case, Night Still Comes, The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The 1. Harder I Fight, The More I Love You, Anti, 2013
  24. The Velvet Underground, I Heard Her Call My Name, White Light/White Heat, Verve, 1968

Footnotes

betrayalbroadway.com Betrayal's website vanmorrison.com Van Morrison's website chicagotribune.com Greg's review of Astral Weeks live lorde.co.nz Lorde's website wbez.org Jim's Lorde review wbez.org Jim's Lou Reed obituary chicagotribune.com Greg's Lou Reed obituary chicagotribune.com Greg's essential Lou Reed youtube.com“Candy Says”