David Gray talks about Van Morrison's "Astral Weeks" and Bob Dylan.
"If there was one album which has profoundly affected me over a long period of time, it would be "Astral Weeks" by Van Morrison. Once you've immersed yourself in that record and it's blown you away, you're never able to look at music again in the same way again. It's not a record you go back to and say "this is crap, I used to like this record", it's an acquired taste. The first time I heard it, I didn't get it, and somewhere along the line the penny dropped. I went through my "Into The Mystic" phase and "Astral Weeks" just opened up for me. I can think of no greater moment of inspiration in popular music history. It's got the daftest ideas, like an out of time drummer, it's all in the charm of it. I don't think Van Morrison was in charge of it, it just all exploded around him. From start to finish, there's no other record like it.
"My Dad had a Bob Dylan greatest hits album on in the car as we drove through France when we were kids. Since then, I've head just about all his albums. My favourite album is "Blonde On Blonde". It's not such an easy album to listen to, there's a really harsh harmonica sound on it, it can blow your eardrums at times. "Visions Of Joanna" and "Sad Eyed Lady Of The Laylands" are fantastic. "Blood On The Tracks" is another favourite of mine. Then there's "Oh Mercy" from his recent past and the beginning of "Infidels" from the Eighties. He has consistently done it over the decades - how did he pull "Oh Mercy" out of the bag when he seemed to be writing such pap? On that album, Lanois must have created a great vibe in the studio for someone like Dylan, who is very performance-based. He gets the performances out of him and then embellishes them in a very Lanois way. Dylan is so dry and sand-like in the middle of this lovely-sounding mixture. You get this great texture...oops, now I'm beginning to sound like one of those TV chefs!"
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