Peasants, Pigs And Astronauts

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Thirty years after [B]'Astral Weeks'[/B] staked its claim to the all-time Top Three of most polls on the planet, [a]Van Morrison[/a]'s madness seems to have deserted him...

Sometimes it’s awful to see somebody so content. Thirty years after ‘Astral Weeks’ staked its claim to the all-time Top Three of most polls on the planet, [a]Van Morrison[/a]’s madness seems to have deserted him.

Is he still belligerent? Hmmm, maybe. Curmudgeonly and cantankerous? Not in a nasty way, he just says what he has to say without regard for convention or fashion, save for the certainties of rockabilly on the opening ‘Goin’ Down Geneva’, and what musos probably call the 12-bar blues elsewhere. Anyone expecting anything off-kilter will be disappointed at how – vaguely – reasonable he seems.

Whatever demons are chasing Van around, he ain’t gonna put his pain on show, preferring to reflect on other lives in an elegiac style (or maybe his own in an oblique way). The title track, sparked by his cracked holler, is a meditation on being trapped by fame, yet five songs later on ‘Reminds Me Of You’ he seems to relish the gap between himself and other people.

While wistful songs like ‘When The Leaves Come Falling Down’ nail down time and place with some accuracy, he’s best – tinderbox production aside – on ‘High Summer’, where a politician’s fall from grace is compared to Lucifer falling from heaven. Guess some wisdom comes with age.