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Book Review: Popular History of Thailand

This is the 6th Edition of this book, Popular History of Thailand (ISBN 974-7390-24-8), written by M.L. Manich Jumsai and revised by Chamsai Jotisalikorn, and published by Chalermnit in Bangkok.

The author, who studied overseas, noted that Thai history as learned in Thailand, and as recorded in the West did not quite parallel each other, so took it upon himself to research the early years. He found that despite the sacking of Ayutthaya and the burning of Thai historical records, there were other records kept by Foreign Missions which were still in existence and available in European libraries. Consequently it was the author’s wish to present Thailand’s history from both viewpoints, and hopefully add to the small body of knowledge that existed on this nation’s past.

The book begins with the history of the T’ai speaking peoples, generally accepted as a major part of the forerunners of present day Thailand. There was much in these early pages that I had not read before, and his description of the migration of these peoples, starting in 5000 BC, seems very plausible. The T’ai speakers in Yunnan are also explained with reference to Kublai Khan in 1253.

The chapter referring to the Lannathai Kingdom is interesting with Lamphun (spelled as Lampoon in the book) and the clever subterfuge that was used by King Mengrai to get the citizens to rise to insurrection against the Mon King Phya Yeeba, allowing Mengrai’s easy takeover. In those days and the successive takeovers, being related to the ruling king was no right of passage, with many executions of brothers and sons being common.

The Ayutthaya period was indeed the commencement of the internationality of Thailand with King Ekatotsarot in the early 1600’s having diplomatic relations with the Portuguese, the Dutch and even the Japanese, who acted as his bodyguards. Unlike today, foreigners were employed in many positions of authority, with a Japanese and an Englishman made governors, another Englishman made the harbour master and the famous Greek, Phaulcon, became prime minister.

The Burmese conflicts are so bewildering, with attacks, counter attacks, espionage and plain old dirty dealings, that you are left reeling a little by the end of that chapter. Mind you, the defence forces at Ayutthaya were also reeling a little by then too.

The book goes right through to the present day (August 2000), though the events post-war (WWII) are not dealt with in as much detail as the days of absolute Monarchy in this country.

The review copy was made available by Bookazine, and the book should be available at all major booksellers. The RRP was 290 baht, which makes it a relatively inexpensive reference book. Type setting is somewhat erratic and obviously someone had used the “Find and Replace” function to ensure all lower case “kings” began with an upper case K. This results in the word “making” for example, becoming “ma King”! Despite this, the subject matter is fascinating, and the intrigues between the pages are better than any thriller or TV soap, believe me. Worthwhile getting to try and understand this country’s history just a little more.


Music CD Reviews: Spinal Tap - Smell The Glove

by Mott the Dog

*********** 11 Stars Rating

“Smell The Glove” is Spinal Tap’s seventeenth album, and probably their finest to date, but don’t bother buying this newly digitally remastered, ultimate, gold edition, strictly numbered, black edged CD unless you have a suitable player which will go to 11 on the volume control, or you will miss the point of this masterpiece of Big Hair music.

What first attracted me to this music was the fantastic artwork that had gone into the cover, I mean you cannot get more black than this (forget parody band Metallica’s Black album, the cover was actually just dark grey). Mott is the proud owner of an original Vinyl copy of this 1982 release, signed by the members of the band, although you do have to hold it at a forty-five degree angle to catch a glimpse of them as the band signed in black marker pen. Well at least I think it was the band; it was a bit dark at the time.

But what of the music? Well it’s good, in fact “Very Good”. But I will not leave you with a two-word review as my competition from Rolling Stone did when reviewing “Tap’s” tenth album “Shark Sandwich” which, whilst very succinct, was completely misunderstood by the general public.

What you get from “The Tap” here is full throttle Rock & Roll, firing on all seven cylinder’s, (not six... seven!) where all five Taps play as loud as they can, except for the quiet bits.

Co-founder David St. Hubbins (who looks nothing like actor Michael McKeen) plays the best air guitar ever recorded, and you can hear the Dandruff fly on Rockers like “America”. Nigel Tufnel (who does actually look very much like actor Christopher Guest) the band’s lead guitarist excels on all the solos here, especially whilst playing with his feet, or the breathtaking solo spot playing his Stradivarius electric guitar with a Renoir violin. Bassist Derek Smalls (who doesn’t care if he looks like actor Harry Sheoer) made famous the Gibson flying triple bass, the instrument designed to give real “Bottom” end to some of Tap’s better known songs. The other two musicians on the album were Vic Savage, who joined the band on the condition he had so many keyboards that neither the band nor the audience could actually see him, so he may still be a member of the band or not, nobody knows.

Drummer I.C.N.O. Evil unfortunately is not with us anymore, due to a nasty moment involving a horse, a game of water polo, a rubber ring and an old World War One Torpedo; no suspicious circumstances were found.

These days you can hear “Tap’s” influence on many of Hard Rock’s top bands, including Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, The Wombles, and Fat Boy Slim. But none can live up to the true glory of Tap at their best, losing their way to the stage, the echoes of a dwarf trampling all over Stonehenge, Derek Smalls caught in a cocoon, or Nigel throwing his back out on stage.

For the purist, a wee hit of trivia for you: the album cover is not just black but actually a very, very close picture of a ladies black leather glove.

For those of you that haven’t seen the movie I apologize (but get out and see it).

Musicians

Michael St. Hubbins - Air Guitar, & Vocals

Nigel Tufnel - Brother of England Spin Bowler, Lead Guitar, Pump & Vocals

Derek Smalls - Metal Cucumber, Bass Guitar, Double Bass & Flying V Treble Bass

Viv Savage - Every Keyboard Imaginable plus assorted explosive Drummers

Track Listing

1. Hell Hole

2. Tonight I’m Gonna Rock You Tonight

3. Heavy Duty

4. Rock And Roll Creation

5. America

6. Cups And Cakes

7. Big Bottom

8. Sex Farm

9. Stonehenge

10. Gimme Some Money

11. (Listen To The) Flower People

To contact Mott the Dog email: [email protected]