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Music CD Reviews
Book Review: Last Light
latest thriller from Andy McNab is Last Light (ISBN 0-552-14798-2), another
delve into the murky goings on of government secret services. McNab has the
letters DCM and MM after his name - Distinguished Conduct Medal and Military
Medal, which goes a long way towards giving his writings credibility. He is not
surmising or dramatizing - he is recounting fact! He was Britain’s most
highly decorated soldier when he left the SAS in 1993, having joined the
infantry as a ‘boy soldier’ and being later inducted into the SAS in 1984.
The chilling words on page 182 come from that experience, “It’s easy enough
to kill someone, the hard bit is getting away with it.”
The book revolves around Nick Stone, a secret service
operative, who deliberately bungles an assassination in London when he sees the
age of the target. Scruples have no place in the grab bag of an assassin.
Unfortunately, his superiors still want the killing to take place and Stone is
told to complete his mission by the end of the week, or otherwise his
11-year-old ward will be exterminated. He is left with no option, it seems,
other than to acquiesce.
The mission takes him to the Central American jungle where
you walk and crawl through the jungle with Nick Stone, enduring the mosquitoes
and the mud. McNab does not allow you to skip over the pages, you have to
digest them - fully! You lie on the jungle floor with Nick Stone as he tries to
convert an out of date family heirloom rifle into a sniper’s killing weapon.
Stone works in a business where nothing can be left to chance. A business you
and I could never do, but fascinates you with its horror.
This is a most unsociable book. After the third page you
resent anyone or anything that takes you away from it, be that children,
spouses or the neighbourhood dog. If you’ve heard the phrase “You can’t
put this book down” you will find it was written about this particular
publication. Totally riveting narrative, so it is no wonder that the author
receives the attention of the literary publishing hounds.
Much of his skill is in his detailed descriptions, but at
the same time doing this with a new twist. Describing the condensation dripping
from the air conditioning system of a car as a poodle sized piss puddle for me
says it all. You know how big instantly. In another passage he describes a
tropical rainstorm with the rain bouncing up off the road and wetting his
shoulder as he sits in a vehicle with the window down. Anyone who has watched
our rains in the wet season will know exactly what he is recounting.
The review copy was made available by Bookazine with an RRP of 350 baht, and
should be available at all major book outlets. If you are fan of Andy McNab
then do not miss this one. If you have never read his work, here’s your
opportunity, but be warned, as well as being unsociable, the book is addictive!
A great read, but not for the squeamish!
Music CD Reviews: Stackridge - The Man In The Bowler Hat
by Mott the Dog
***** 5 Stars Rating
Stackridge was a collection of like-minded English West
Country eccentrics comprising a former timber yard labourer, a bookshop
assistant, a cleaner in a birdseed factory, a bricklayer, a bus conductor and a
professional inventor, whose musical influences encompass everything from
“Mozart to Road Drills”. They had built up a very solid dedicated live
following and released two albums, the second of which, “Friendliness”, had
delighted the critics and hardcore fans, but had continued to bemuse the
listening public at large, leaving the band’s quest for world musical
dominance rather hanging out in the wind.
But in mid 1973 the band’s record label, MCA Record
ensconced them in London’s Air Studios with ex-Beatles producer George Martin
(Stackridge was the first band that Martin worked with after “The Beatles”,
whose influence can be heard here on all the songs on this fine album “Man In
The Bowler Hat”).
On the stage Stackridge split into two definite factions, the
serious minded of the band, shall we say the working musicians Warren, Walter
and Sparkle, whilst the other three - let’s just call them the Nutters - down
the front. Stage shows included lots of ludicrously easy repetitive dance steps
(“Do The Stanley”), the bashing together of giant dustbin lids (“Let There
Be Lids”), general chaos and mayhem, mass audience participation singing,
clapping, stomping, with some loony like Sandilands down the front leaping about
with a giant leek. Great fun. No wonder they were probably the most popular band
on the college circuit in the early seventies.
But “The Man In The Bowler Hat” was definitely “make or
break” time. In the studio the two factions of the live show would join forces
and each member made an equal contribution, and with Martin as producer the band
was definitely concentrating on making their “Magnum Opus”. Working on the
melodic and rhythmic patterns and in particular the harmonies, the resultant
album, which was released in February 1974, whilst full of recognizable
Stackridge trademarks (strong beat, massive use of instrument not normally
associated with Rock ‘n’ Roll, and plenty of extravagant titles) had strong
echoes of the Fab Four and marked the artistic and creative peak of the band on
record, including “The Galloping Gaucho” and the ambitious “God Speed The
Unfortunately, after this it all went dramatically
pear-shaped with Mutter Slater being the first to leave, hating the idea of
trying to create this album on stage amid the chaos of their live show. Within
six months only Andy Davis was left from this line up. Today their music still
exudes and evokes warmth, joy, happiness, and a welter of memories, real and
imagined, and therein lays their lasting success, the ability to stand out from
the crowd and create clever songs with witty lyrics and highly original
Goodbye Stackridge, it was a blast. And all together now
“C’mon and Stanley
Lets all do the Stanley now”.
Andy Davis - guitars, keyboards, percussion, singing
Mutter Slater - flute, keyboards, percussion, singing
Mike Evans - violin, singing
Billy Sparkle - drums
James Warren - guitars, singing
Crun Walter - bass guitar
1. Fundamentally Yours
2. Pinafore Days
3. The Last Plimsoll
4. To The Sun And The Moon
5. The Road To Venezuela
6. The Galloping Gaucho
8. Dangerous Bacon
9. The Indifferent Hedgehog
10. God Speed The Plough
11. Do The Stanley
12. C’est La Vie
13. Let There Be Lids
To contact Mott the Dog email: [email protected]
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