Picks and Pans Review: No Guru, No Method, No Teacher

UPDATED 09/01/1986 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 09/01/1986 at 01:00 AM EDT

Van Morrison

If you're listening to, say, Quiet Riot, hearing the lyrics is not all that important. In Morrison's case, however, his songs are so introspective and metaphysical that every word counts. That makes it all the more frustrating to have to deal with his often slurry diction. It sometimes seems he must have taken bites of oatmeal between phrases. There's also a torpid sameness to most of the tracks on this LP. Morrison blurts out a short phrase and his band plays a few measures. The pattern repeats too many times, especially given the limited melodic range of Morrison's song-writing. This is unfortunate because his attempts to explore his own spirituality through pop music can still be fascinating, and it's certainly refreshing to hear someone sing about Rimbaud rather than Rambo. In comparison with Morrison, his band is bright and imaginative. Saxophonist Richie Buckley, guitarist Chris Michie and pianist Jeff Labes in particular make their presence appreciated. One up-tempo song, Ivory Tower, unites the band's musical energy and Morrison's intellectual drive. That track's coherence stands out in an otherwise muddled album. (Mercury)

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