In the lazy days of the eighties when all I had to do was study(?) and hang out I heard something coming from the neighbor’s doorway. Being a mostly friendly person I knocked and asked what that noise was. He looked confused and offered me a cassette of the Icicle Works album Seven Singles Deep. I managed to not return this to my neighbor, I was and still am very forgetful, I do not however have too much remorse as he borrowed and kept Neil Young’s Live Rust.
I am sure I have seen a CD as well but that may be a false memory as I cannot verify a CD release.
Somewhere in a box in the attic as we moved I found the case to the cassette but no cassette inside. This has made me quite sad, although I have nothing to play it on if I found the cassette anymore, there is a sadness that somewhere out there is a cassette without it’s case.
The point of all that was that there was a version of Van’s Into The Mystic on the cassette version which is sadly missing from the LP I just found, that caused the search for the cassette. This was the first time I consciously remember ever hearing anything by Van Morrison. Even though it was a cover version I was fascinated by that track which led me to buying Astral Weeks the next week.
You can find it on the remastered version of If You Want To Defeat Your Enemy though.
Then the confusion set in. This sounded nothing like Into The Mystic as performed by the Icicle Works. I know the song is not on Astral Weeks but it was the only Van Morrison album I could find in WH Smith. The melodies were challenging and the bass seemed to be leading all the music with this powerhouse voice intoning strange hypnotic illusory lyrics.
At the time it may have been the most challenging album I had. I wanted to sell it and recoup what expense I could. I did however keep playing it and trying to understand it rather than sell it. I had a similar experience with John Martyn’s Solid Air later in life that was ultimately as rewarding.
Friends would ask me to take it off the turntable and girls would leave after the first song. It caused me uncounted troubles. To this day it is still a challenging listen. Nothing about it seems particularly normal, the instrumentation is slightly off at times, although it does make sense.
The outcomes of listening to Astral Weeks have been fun though. It is my wife’s favorite Van album, it was the only album that would settle my eldest son down when he had colic and my middle son now plays stand up bass because of this album.