No Guru, No Method, No Teacher

No Guru, No Method, No Teacher

by Van Morrison

Overview

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. Recorded at the height of his spiritual period, it is among the most empathic records in his career. Morrison's seeking of and obsession with "reclaiming the previous" is everywhere, beginning with the set's opener, "Got to Go Back." With a striking wide-open acoustic piano, accompanied by an oboe solo (by Kate St. John) 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." The album is consumptive in its focus on spiritual innocence as it struggles with notions of God and liberation from earthly constraints. That said, the struggle is visceral; he is immersed in the latter by the sheer physicality of his music even at its most ethereal. "Oh the Warm Feeling" underscores the notion of memory and lost innocence amid lovely oboe, acoustic guitar, organ, 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. Nakedly spiritual, Morrison's poetic lyrics addressed to an Other come out of a past that is simultaneously part of his eternal present in a love song; its multivalent textural and dynamic arrangement is gorgeous. This album is an extended meditation that reflects a willingness to stay inside the cloud of the soul's tensions as it seeks; the melodies are often mantra-like. "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 some longer selections here as well, in the Celtic R&B of "Tir Na Nog"; the glorious "In the Garden" (a concert staple); and the righteous frustration in "Thanks for the Information," detailing the pitfalls of the spiritual path. Combined, these tunes make for a deeply satisfying album in the least and a major -- if provocative for casual fans -- Morrison work that hones a fine point on the songwriter's search for transformation and transcendence as part and parcel of the spiritual process, while making music in real time.

Product Details

Release Date: 06/14/1994
Label: Polygram Records
UPC: 0042283007727
catalogNumber: 830077

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.