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Book Review

Music CD Reviews

Book Review: The Wonder of Bangkok

by Lang Reid

The full title of this book is The Wonder of Bangkok, Ayutthaya and Kanchanaburi and Other Surrounding Attractions (ISBN 974-253-008-4) and was brought out by Mark Standen Publishing last year. It is basically a picture book with captions, although it has an introduction of several pages by John Hoskin, a writer of note and long standing in Bangkok, who does not need an introduction. The photography is provided in the main by an English photographer, Leon Schadeberg, though several others are acknowledged at the end of the book.

Now while we may all be very happy living in our own little dung-hills, we should not forget that Bangkok is the nation’s capital and has a plethora of incredible visual stimuli. It is also the city that the vast majority of travellers meet on their first time in this country, so as such, Bangkok is an important icon for Thailand itself.

The introductory words are preceded by some inspirational words by Juthamas Siriwan, the governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, and does give the publication some veracity and clout.

Hoskin’s introduction mentions Thai style, Buddhism and the monarchy, all of which go to make up much of Bangkok, in fact it is difficult to get away from any of these items while in the capital. He covers Thailand’s history from the Ayutthaya days and the successive monarchs and a little about their impact on Thai societal values. He goes on to describe a little of Ayutthaya and surrounding areas and devotes only one paragraph to Kanchanaburi, despite what the title might lead you to believe.

The photographic pages cover the Grand Palaces and various ceremonial events which the average tourist would be lucky to have coincide with his or her own schedule, such as the Royal Ploughing and the Royal Barges and HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great’s birthday on the 5th of December each year.

The book does show Bangkok today, with the Sky Train, shopping centres and the newer buildings, though some of the shots are somewhat “dated” and taken from other sources.

The last few pages are taken up with glossy advertisements for those companies that helped sponsor this book. Whilst I can understand the financial requirements for this to be necessary, fortunately the adverts are done with some taste, other than the car rental one.

The review copy was made available by Bookazine and the distribution in Thailand is carried out by Distri-Thai. The RRP is 395 baht. I believe the title is a little misleading, as there is precious little about Ayutthaya and Kanchanaburi and the other vaunted attractions, so if you think you are killing several birds with one stone, let me assure you that you are not. Ayutthaya in particular deserves a photo book all to itself. Kanchanaburi I have always found rather dreary, and not being a war buff have found little to excite me towards thinking about a book on the place. Having said that, it is an excellent book to send to friends overseas. The quality of reproduction is excellent and some of the photographs are stunning.

Music CD Reviews: King Crimson - Deja VROOOM

by Mott the Dog

**** 5 Stars Rating

This D.V.D. released by the omnipresent Robert Fripp, leader of those pioneers of Progressive Rock (in this case perhaps a more apt title would be Adventurous Rock) King Crimson have at last brought out a recording that does justice to the band’s musical ability and visual presence.

From a musical point of view you get over two and a half hours of Crimson music from the amazing Double Trio King Crimson, a title made up as ever by Fripp where, although all six members were on stage at the same time, they were able to break off in mid-song to play as two separate units, and then all come crashing back together with the power of Thor’s double sided hammer.

This is used to dramatic effect on such old Crimson standards such as “Lark’s Tongue In Aspic Part II” from 1973 (come on if you haven’t heard it, aren’t you just a little bit curious to find out what a song sounds like with a title like that?), originally recorded when only Robert Fripp & Bill Bruford were in the band. From this lineup the others in that period being Jamie Muir on percussion, David Cross on violin, flute & keyboards, plus the mega-talented John Wetton on bass & vocals, but when this 1998 version of the band come in altogether on that most famous of Crimson riffs, the wallpaper shreds from its glue. Most of the well-known songs in the life and times of King Crimson from 1973 onwards are here, with a definitive version of most songs laid down.

Visually, the band line up as a back row and a front row. In the back row the two drummers sit on either side of the stage as if castles on a chess board, Bill Bruford in a dapper yellow double breasted suit, whilst Pat Mastelotto effects traditional Rock ‘n’ Roll garb in jeans and t-shirt. Sitting on his stool in the middle, dressed in black, is Mr. Robert Fripp, no emotion showing but firmly in command of his guitar and those all around him. The front line consists of the mercurial Trey Gunn on stick guitar, on your left, to the right is without doubt the best bass guitarist in the world of rock, Mr. Tony Levin. And slap bang in the middle is Adrian Belew, the band’s lyricist for more than twenty years, lead guitarist, and focal point of the live show, with his pleasant bouncy personality. The fact that he resembles Rick Bryant more and more as time passes is neither here nor there.

This version of King Crimson is a joy to behold. These days Bill Bruford and Trey Gunn have gone on to pastures new, but the nucleus of the band are still going and are in fine form as last year’s offering “The ConstrucKtion Of Light” showed (Robert Fripp always chucks on extra capital K into the title if he can).

But the joy of this D.V.D does not stop with the concert alone.

There are so many extras with this set it is hard to know where to start. Firstly, there are seven different camera angles on which you can view this concert, zooming in on just one player, or taking an overall view. After watching the concert you can switch over and watch Tony Levin’s road movies from this tour including clips of travel, hassles, rehearsals, and even some very honest ‘warts ‘n’ all’ arguments between band members. A section on the history of King Crimson called, “In The Court Of The Crimson Kings” which chronicles the life and times of King Crimson and all its different line-ups, with plenty of photographs to match. Great fun is the 21st Century Schizoid band where, with an interactive menu, you can select a choice of singers, soloists, and rhythm sections from 1969, 1971, 1974 or 1996 to perform one of King Crimson’s most famous songs.

There are also some surprise items slipped into the proceedings, but then if I told you about them, they wouldn’t be a surprise would they. Also included are many extra D.V.D. Rom features if you want to slip the discs into your computer and become a complete King Crimson Anorak.

So whether you’re a fan of King Crimson or not, but you own a D.V.D. player and want to use it to its maximum effect, then this is the disc for you.

Well done Mr. Fripp and cohorts, leading the field in innovation, as always.

If you prefer to just get yourself an audio document of this fantastic King Crimson line-up, they also released a double CD version of a concert from this tour with a near identical set list called “B’Boom The Official Bootleg”, and well worth seeking out.


Robert Fripp - Guitar & Mellotron

Adrian Belew - Guitar & Vocals

Trey Gunn - Stick Guitar

Tony Levin - Upright & Electric Basses

Pat Mastelotto and Bill Bruford - Acoustic & Electronic Percussions

Track Listing.

1. Circular Improv


3. Frame By Frame

4. Dinosaur

5. One Time

6. Red

7. B’Boom


9. Matte Kudasai

10 Three Of A Perfect Pair


12. Coda: Marine 475

13. Sex Sleep Eat Drink Dream

14. Elephant Talk

15. Indiscipline

16. Talking Drum

17. Lark’s Tongues In Aspic

Part II

18. People

19. Walking On Air

To contact Mott the Dog email: [email protected]