977 - Van Morrison 'No Guru, No Method, No Teacher' (1986)

My Rating: 2.40 out of 5
1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die: X
Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums: X
The Mojo Collection: X

Chart Peak (UK/US): 27/70

Favourite Tracks: Got To Go Back, Tir Na Nog
Least-Favourite Track: Oh The Warm Feeling

You know, I only found out today that 'Van' is actually short for 'Ivan' which demonstrates how little I know about him... Van Morrison commands loyal devotion from his fans & since I only know his Moondance LP & the obvious hits I was looking forward to seeing what all the fuss is about. And while nobody could claim that this is one of his masterworks, there's still plenty on this album to admire. I liked the sense of nostalgia, the warm & evocative arrangements, Van's gravelly & souful vocals, some of the swirling, mantra-like song structures. Equally there's things that I disliked - rather too much soprano sax (I still get terrifying visions of Kenny G whenever I hear one), the overt religious content (not for me, I'm afraid), the rather samey tempo & style. Perhaps the most frustrating thing was that while the music is often melodic & poignant, the lyrics can be a little vague & obtuse. I felt the songs would have had a great deal more emotional power if the music had been allied to lyrics that really said something, rather than lots of oblique references to gardens, rain & Christ. So another middling album really, neither terrible nor fantastic, but then we are at the tail end of the Top 1000 after all so perhaps that's to be expected.


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