No Guru, No Method, No Teacher

No Guru, No Method, No Teacher

by Van Morrison
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No Guru, No Method, No Teacher

No Guru, No Method, No Teacher was Van Morrison's second studio album for Mercury, following A Sense of Wonder and Live at the Grand Opera House Belfast. It was recorded at the height of his spiritual period and is among the most laid-back records of his career. Morrison's notion of seeking, and being all but drowned by his obsession with "reclaiming the previous," is everywhere here, beginning with the set's opener, "Got to Go Back." With a striking wide-open acoustic piano, accompanied by a solo on oboe (by Kate St. John no less) twinned by Richie Buckley's soprano saxophone and an acoustic guitar, Morrison offers in waltz tempo these reflections: "When I was a young boy back in Orangefield/I used to look out my classroom window and dream/And then go home and listen to Ray sing/'I Believe to My Soul' after school/Oh that love that was within me/You know it carried me through/Well it lifted me up and it filled me/Got to go back/Got to go back/To the feeling." And if anything, this album is, like so many other statements made by Morrison in the years before this, a consumptive obsession with innocence, with the puzzling notion of God, of liberation from earthly constraints, while being immersed in them by the sheer physicality in his music -- despite every attempt at ethereality. This is followed by "Oh the Warm Feeling," which only underscores the notion of memory and lost innocence amid lovely oboe, acoustic guitar, organs, and vibes as Morrison sings in the past tense, juxtaposing it against the present. The Celtic soul that comes elegiacally forth from "Foreign Window" is among the album's finest tracks. This is one of the most nakedly spiritual cuts Morrison has ever recorded, looking at a person or Muse, coming once more out of his past that is at once part of his eternal present, where he weaves some of his finest lyrics with one of his more dynamic and texturally varied compositions; it's a love song, and an entreaty with a gorgeous arrangement. If anything, these three cracks usher in the notion that this album is an extended meditation that reflects a willingness to stay present in the tension and mantra-like melody of his concerns and not escape them -- very often. "A Town Called Paradise," however, is the exception. It is a classic midtempo rocker that seems to come from as far back as Astral Weeks, with its woven, pulsing layers of acoustic guitars, though punctuated by female backing vocals, tenor saxophone, and an electric solo guitar. Interestingly, there is a play on words here, called "Here Comes the Knight," which doesn't reference the earlier version he recorded with Them, and is elliptical in terms of its lyrics. There are a couple of longer selections here as well, in the Celtic R&B of "Tir Na Nog" and the frustration in "Thanks for the Information," detailing the pitfalls of the spiritual path. Combined, these tunes make for an album that will be deeply satisfying and even provocative for seasoned Morrison fans, but make it a slog for newer or less dedicated listeners.

Product Details

Release Date: 07/14/1998
Label: Polydor / Umgd
UPC: 0731453754621
catalogNumber: 537546

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Van Morrison   Primary Artist,Guitar,Keyboards,Saxophone,Vocals
David Hayes   Bass
Jeanie Tracy   Vocals,Background Vocals
June Boyce   Vocals,Background Vocals
Richie Buckley   Saxophone,Soprano Saxophone,Tenor Saxophone
Nadine Cox   Harp
Martin Drover   Trumpet
Rosie Hunter   Vocals,Background Vocals
Jeff Labes   Synthesizer,Piano,Keyboards
Chris Michie   Guitar
John Platania   Guitar
Kate St. John   Oboe,Wind,Cor anglais
Bianca Thornton   Vocals,Background Vocals
Baba Trunde   Drums
Bianca Thronton   Background Vocals
Terry Adams   Strings

Technical Credits

Bert Berns   Composer
Mick Glossop   Engineer
Van Morrison   Songwriter,Composer,Producer
Jim Stern   Engineer

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No Guru, No Method, No Teacher 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Few albums come close to perfection. This one hits it on the mark. Granted, Van Morrison could sing the TV Guide and I'd buy it, but this is something special. Who else could name Lord Byron and Rimbaud in one song (Foreign Window) and make them connect? The music is top notch, the poetry splendid, and the mysticism in abundance. No radio hits here, but that's perfectly all right. This album is a true overlooked gem! If you don't own this Van Morrison album, you don't own any.