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Book Review

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Book Review: The Prostitute

This is a book with a great literary history in this country. Written by award winning Kanha Surangkhanang, The Prostitute (ISBN 967-65-3079-4) was first self-published in 1937 after local publishers refused to accept it, being considered a scandalous topic to be penned by a young lady of breeding. The fact that it is still being reprinted (now as a paper-back Oxford University Press) over 50 years later, says much for the inherent substance of the book itself.

This is not a salacious tale, but more a reflection of a time long past. Early in the book, two of the characters discuss what should be done with a son who falls in love with a prostitute, and come to the conclusion that he should be left alone, “Can you keep a man penned in the same way as a girl?” This was long before women’s rights as we know them today were even in the western world.

Being the story of love affair between a prostitute and a man of ‘higher station’, it brings out all the bias that still exists today. Not much has changed in that regard. Like all love stories of this genre, it lifts and lets you down, and not gently. You follow the seduction of a young country girl, tricked into prostitution, her hopes and her abandonment while pregnant. It is more than a love story, it becomes a story of courage against insurmountable odds.

There is a sensitivity in the writing, showing Kanha Surangkhanang’s innate ability to see and describe not just a time and place, but the emotions that went with it. There is one particularly poignant scene in the pauper’s maternity unit of the hospital, that shows the depth of the author’s abilities.

It is not a Mills and Boon tale where the heroine ends up happy ever after with the man of her choice, but rather a tale of how in all societies those who are unlucky (in love as well as in other ways) can become down-trodden, and mistreated and there is very little hope of changing that, without changing the whole of society as we know it - or as we knew it 50 years ago.

David Smyth’s translation is exceptional in that he has managed to maintain an excellent flow of English, despite having taken it from the Thai and following it as closely as he could. This is no small feat. With an RRP of 395 baht in Bookazine (and it should be available in other good bookstores) it is an inexpensive look back in time. The world’s oldest “profession” pre-dates America’s involvement in Vietnam and the subsequent R&R exploits of its troops in Thailand, and it is interesting to view the Thai attitude to this problem (if indeed it is a “problem”) 50 years ago.

The book is a sensitive look at how one should not judge people by their occupations, but rather on their individual characters. There is good and bad everywhere, not necessarily related to one’s station in life. Kanha Surangkhanang’s book says it all. A classic that has been reborn via the Oxford University Press.


Music CD Reviews: The Deviants Dr Crow

by Mott the Dog

***** 5 Stars

The Deviants have been going in one form or another since 1966. Over the years a multitude of Rock ‘n’ Roll drifters have gone through their ranks. Most have gone on to form the basis of the English Underground Rock Scene like “The Pretty Things”, “Hawkwind’’, “The Pink Fairies” and “Warsaw Pakt”. Although often thought of as a British band, leading from the front has always been misplaced American, lead vocalist and muse, Mick Farren, making him the John Mayall of his own genre.

Since 1978, standing beside him on stage, playing Wyatt Earp to Farren’s Doc Holiday, has been guitarist extraordinaire Andy Colquhoun. In 1978 he had just come out of the punk era, after leaving “Tanz Der Youth” with Brian James ex-Damned, playing music that they themselves had labelled “Transmagical”. So, he needed no further recommendation to Mr. Farren. Since then they have blazed a cosmic trail across the fluctuating skies of Rock ‘n’ Roll, often dropping down onto the surface of the Planet to lend a hand to like-minded musical compadres such as the magnificent “Pink Fairies” re-union in 1987. (“The Kill ‘em and Eat ‘em” Tour and Album).

But six years after their last album, “The Deviants” are back with their new album ‘Dr. Crow’. And let me tell you, this is not a bird to be taken lightly. Mick Farren keeps his role as the voice of the Deviants, writing some of the most weird but powerful lyrics that have come out of Rock ‘n’ Roll in many a moon. To keep those vocal chords in order Mick must still be using sulphuric acid to gargle with rather than Listerine.

Musical director and lead guitarist Andy Colquhoun is still his perfect foil, laying down some Sonic psychedelic Hendrix influenced licks to accompany his old buddy. On ‘Dr. Crow’ the Dynamic Duo has been joined by the Amazing Doug Lunn, who has been the big noise behind too many bands and sessions to mention. But to quote him from the album sleeve (which also includes excellent art work from the late great Edward Barker, nobody draws Crows like that anymore):

“I started with nothing and I still have most of it. Music has always been my favorite revolutionary sport. I have friends in few places.’’

Sadly he sounds like a lot of people this Dog knows. Filling the drum stool (you won’t find any drum machines on a Deviants album) is one Ric Parnell, the son of famous British bandleader Jack. Ric has had an interesting career to say the least. Firstly with British Prog-Rockers “Atomic Rooster” in the seventies and then with various other bands and sessions including the dubious honour of twice having filled the tricky job of Skinsman with “Spinal Tap”. I jest not.

The music starts out strongly (and then gets stronger) with “When Dr. Crow turns on the Radio”. It begins with the spoken words, “Appears to be a suicide mission”, which has all the Deviants trademarks, like gruff vocals, a catchy verse, a strong backbeat, an opening riff that would shed skin, and a guitar solo that kicks in an extra gear. All of it builds up to an orgasmic finale with the talents of Jack Lancaster (ex “Blodwyn Pig’’) on saxophone being brought in to swap solos with Andy Colquhoun. Sounds good? It gets better. Next up is over seven minutes of the Beefheart/Blues “You’re Gonna need somebody on your Bond’’ with its rock solid structure, featuring a never bettered duet between Mick Farren and Johnette Hapolitane. Over the middle songs the music remains at an impossibly high standard with Mick Farren letting everybody know in no uncertain terms his views of the stupidity of warmongers and the general absurdity of the world.

But not all of the songs have a totally serious subject matter, as in “Diabolo’s Cadillac” Mick Farren’s ode to his favorite cocktail, the “El Diabolo”, a drink only second in depravity to the “Pan-Galactic Gargleblaster”. (An “El Diablo” is basically a “Long Island Iced Tea” with no vodka but replacing it with a double shot of tequila. This should be approached with extreme caution.) Mick Farren leaves you in no doubt as to how you will feel the next day if you wake up.

“Bela Lugosi 2002” is another warning to beware of the Darkside of the Force. “A Long Dry Season” sees Ric Parnell vacate the drum seat to let old pal Phil (Filthy Animal) Taylor, ex Motorhead, have a bash and very well he does, too, giving this spoken word song some interesting twists and turns. The band then all return for a final romp through “What do you Want?”, a great way to leave everybody to go home happy. Nothing like a bit of straight ahead Rock ‘n’ Roll to raise the spirits at the end of the day.

A truly great album from Mick and the boys. It would easily get Mott the Dogs album of the year if it had not been released in the same year as Larry Wallis’ “Death in the Guitarfternoon”. But it certainly runs it a close second.

Real Rock music made by real people, for real people, and should be bursting out of the Tahitian Queen’s speakers this weekend.

Musicians

Mick Farren - Vocals

Andy Colquhoun - Guitars

Doug Lunn - Bass

Ric Parnell - Drums

Songs

When Dr. Crow Turns on the Radio

You’re Gonna Need Somebody on Your Bond

The Murdering Officer

Sold to Babylon

Taste the Blue

Song of the Hired Guns

Diabolo’s Cadillac

Bela Lugosi 2002

A Long Dry Season

What do you want?

To contact Mott the Dog email: [email protected]