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Book Review: Hare of the Dog

This book proclaims itself to be History, Humour, and Hell-raising from the Hash House Harriers. Published this year (ISBN 0-957-83321-0) by Captions of Industry in Australia, Hare of the Dog was written by Stu ‘The Colonel’ Lloyd, author of the “Hardship Posting” series of non-heavyweight books.

Having never been a ‘hasher’ but knowing quite a few who do partake, I was interested enough to pick up the book to see if it would tell me why these people are part of some ‘semi-secret’ society, which on the surface appears to be a cross between the Masons and the Vatican Council. After all, why would seemingly rational people jog through the jungle for some hours and then sit on a block of ice for light relief of their fellow runners? Is this an act of penitence or just misguided faith? Would this book explain why the devotees all suffer from echolalia, that strange affliction where every word gets repeated repeated? On On being a suitable example.

From the outset, the book added more questions than answers. For some reason, the word “run” was spelled as “r*n” and “runner” as “r*nner” - all with no explanation that I could find within its 454 pages. For a group that describes itself as “drinkers with a r*nning problem” there had to be a reason for the “r*n”. I finally think I found the answer and that is simply that the * key is above the “u” key on the keyboard and the typist m*st have had fat fingers. There can be no other explanation, b*t I am s*re some hasher somewhere will p*t me right or forever leave me wondering.

The book does cover some of the history of the movement and its spread throughout the world. There are some attempts at showing regional differences, but no real explanation as to why this is so. The American cells tend to be more into nudity, it seems. Why? This book won’t tell you either. Some of the explanations of the nicknames given to the members of the corps are mildly amusing, but again it seems that most are “in” jokes only.

The review copy was provided by Bookazine and is available at all major booksellers, with an RRP of 495 baht. The back cover has a side bar which says “Special Hasher’s Edition: Short words and lots of pictures.” I can now see why that would appeal. Since the members of the cult seem to spend most of their waking hours dr*nk, or attempting to get that way, or indulging in sex*al *nions, or attempting to get that way, there would be little time or brain cells left for learning big words of more than five letters.

I am sure that the book will be attractive to those already inculcated (sorry, I’ve used a big word with no pictorial explanations) but I must honestly say I found it repetitive and really a bit sad that it seems that for many r*nners, the Hash represents the pinnacle of life’s achievements. B*y it if you’re a hasher, b*t otherwise leave it on the shelf.


Music CD Reviews: Mott the Hoople - Mott the Hoople Part II

by Mott the Dog

***** 5 Stars Rating

With seven days to record their debut album, producer/mentor Guy Stevens deemed a song a day to keep up with his idea of a schedule. The flaw to this, of course, was that the band didn’t have any of their own songs to record, so they just jammed on songs they knew. All five members of the band were huge fans of Ray Davies and the Kinks. Their first number one single was “You Really Got Me” (a song often credited as giving heavy metal its guitar sound). So after a brief run through the tapes were switched on to lay a backing track down. The original take was frenzied nonsense some ten minutes long getting faster and faster until total chaos prevailed. If you think the Van Helen version of this from their debut album was heavy, have a listen to this little baby; it clearly takes the top of your head off. When vocals were attempted Guy Stevens and equally mad studio engineer Andy John’s deemed them totally unnecessary, chopped off the final 6 minutes of the studio jam and used this as a stunning instrumental opening track for Mott the Hoople’s debut opus.

Next day, day two, and they needed track two. After much debate Doug Sahm’s “At The Crossroads” was chosen because it had a cool title, had never been released in England, was a great song, but mostly because the band were afraid of what Guy Stevens would do if they didn’t come up with something by the end of the day. Surprisingly the result was remarkable, very vibrant with the boys leaving the indelible Mott the Hoople stamp on it.

Day three saw track three, a song Ian Hunter sung at his first audition with the band, Sonny Bono’s “Laugh at Me”, done much slower than the original. From the tone of Ian Hunter’s voice you can tell that when he sings “I don’t care if you laugh at me” this is a line he really means.

Day four and track four was needed. By this time, obviously, the boys were full of confidence and Ian Hunter came up with an original song called “If The World Saluted You”. It was really very much in Bob Dylan vein, being a thinly disguised re-write of “The times they are a-changing”. However, with the new title “Back Sliding Fearlessly”, it gave you the sound of the band and Hunter’s lyrical imagery blending beautifully.

That evening Stevens took Mick Ralphs aside and told him that as lead guitarist with the band he should go home and write a guitar driven Rock ‘n’ Roll anthem to record for day 5.

I’m not making this up. The very next day Ralphs walked into the studio and taught the rest his new song “Rock ‘n’ Roll Queen”, which was played at every Mott the Hoople concert over the next five years. (Anybody who has ever heard this song blasted out at Tahitian Queen’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Happy Hour on Friday will verify this is an all time riff laden classic).

Day six and seven were taken up with Mott the Hoople’s first epic, opening with Ralphs lead guitar jam “Rabbit, Foot, and Toby Time” and leading into “Half Moon Bay”, which laid down the template for the Mott the Hoople sound; Hunter’s rasping vocals; Ralphs soaring guitar, Allen’s atmospheric organ; and the rock solid rhythm section of Watts and Buffin.

The album closes with “Wrath and Roll”. The final two minutes of “You Really Got Me” jam, bringing the album to a frantic conclusion.

For a debut album, “Mott the Hoople” ranks amongst the best, extraordinary, considering it was recorded under such circumstances. Sounding as fresh now as it did thirty three years ago.

Musicians

Ian Hunter - piano, lead vocals

Mick Ralphs - lead guitar, vocals

Verden Allen - organ

Overend Watts - bass guitar

Buffin - drums

Track Listing

1. You Really Got Me

2. At The Crossroads

3. Laugh At Me

4. Backsliding Fearlessly

5. Rock And Roll Queen

6. Rabbit Foot And Toby Time

7. Half Moon Bay

8. Wrath And Wroll

To contact Mott the Dog email: [email protected]