Vol. II No. 6 Saturday 8 February - 14 February 2003
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HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Book Review

Music CD Reviews

Book Review: The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order

by Lang Reid

This book, with the impossibly long title “The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order” (ISBN 0-684-84441-9) was written by Samuel P. Huntington, and was first published in 1996 and then reprinted in paperback form in 1997.

If you are browsing at the bookshop, then turn to page 20 where author Huntington expounds on the five parts of the book, with a deliberate pr้cis of each that makes this book so fascinating. Part 1 differentiates between Modernization as distinct from Westernization, for example. A concept that many westerners think as mutually interdependent. Part 2 deals with the balance of power and he mentions the Asian civilizations that are expanding and (prophetically) “Islam is exploding demographically with destabilizing consequences for Muslim countries and their neighbors.” Do I see the nodding heads of agreement? Part 3 deals with a civilization based world order that is emerging. Part 4 he describes as, “The West’s universalist pretensions increasingly bring it into conflict with other civilizations, most seriously with Islam and China.” Anyone who has watched TV news recently would be aware of how true this is. Part 5 deals with the survival of the west and requires, asserts Huntington, westerners accepting their civilization as unique and not universal. He also states, “Avoidance of a global war of civilizations depends on world leaders accepting and cooperating to maintain the multicivilizational character of global politics.” Will someone show this to the American president as soon as possible!

This is a very plausible book, with the only ‘weak’ area being the economic models discussed still having the “Asian Tiger” economy growth rate as being 8-10% while reality (post 1996 when the book was published) is the crash of 1997, the IMF bail-out and the new resurgence with much smaller economic growth rates.

At the end of the book are 30 pages of explanatory notes as befits any good reference book, as well as a 14 page index. It is not a light-hearted read, but a fascinating book for anyone of an enquiring mind and for anyone who likes to look forward and postulate where we will all be in 40 years time. The global civilization as proposed by the contemporary popular thought of today does not appear to hold up when looked at in minute detail as this book does. The western war/aggression concept, as being paraded before the world by George W Bush, also looks to be rather futile on Huntington’s scrutiny and adds to the downfall of ‘Westernization’ as a civilization model, rather than boosting it.

It is described by Zbigniew Brezezinski, an academic, as “An intellectual tour de force: bold, imaginative and provocative. A seminal work that will revolutionize our understanding of international affairs.” I can but only agree. The model of international universality appears to me to be untenable after reading this book. My understanding has undoubtedly been revolutionized.

The review copy was made available by Bookazine and should be available at all major booksellers. The RRP of 595 baht is not excessive for a momentous body of work such as this.


Music CD Reviews: Mott the Hoople - Mad Shadows

by Mott the Dog

***** 5 Stars Rating

After Mott the Hoople’s first album had been recorded, before the band had even played a live concert, this diamond of a rock collection was recorded in 1970 after some nearly 200 concerts including their first tour of America. (Putting this into perspective is the fact that it was released eleven months after their debut. Can you imagine any of today’s so called bands equalling this work rate?)

By now Mott the Hoople were one of the most popular working bands on the British Circuit (playing such diverse gigs as Friday - Hartlepool Grammer School, Saturday - Kirklevington Country Club... where is Kirklevington? Know where it is? I can’t even spell it! Sunday - Oswald Hotel Scunthorpe) causing riots wherever they went with their outrageous brand of rough tough Rock ‘n’ Roll. A year later when the band played London’s prestigious Albert Hall, the crowd reaction was so great that in fear the hall’s management cancelled all rock concerts for the next sixteen years.

By now Mott the Hoople were a great Rock ‘n’ Roll band, capable of taking on anybody; on their night the best Rock ‘n’ Roll band in the world.

“Mad Shadows” captures a lot of what Mott were about live on stage. (“Mad Shadows” was originally going to be called “Sticky Fingers”. However, the story goes that Mott the Hoople’s producer and mentor Guy Stevens gave it to the Rolling Stones, who were using the same studio. Hence the coda of “Jumpin Jack Flash” at the end of “Walkin With A Mountain” as Mick Jagger was in the studio when Mott laid this one down.)

The album opens with Mick Ralphs’ stunning “Thunderbuck Ram”, a song that was going to become the cornerstone of the middle of Mott the Hoople’s live set for the next couple of years. Although stamped like a stick of rock with Mott the Hoople all the way through it, this song showed the way that Ralphs was leaning and would later be showed to its full effect in “Bad Company”.

Second song, “No Wheels To Ride”, the first of three Ian Hunter songs that filled up the original first side of the vinyl edition of “Mad Shadows”, shows off all the facets of Mott the Hoople as it builds from its gently piano led opening until its dramatic closing section with Verden Allen putting up a wall of sound that became Mott the Hoople’s trademark.

Track three is the jaunty “You Are One Of Us”, followed by the ultimate Rock ‘n’ Roll track “Walkin With A Mountain”, recorded in one take in a crowded studio. This little rocker breathes fire. During it’s nearly four minute duration, Overend Watts breaks two of his bass strings, but carries on regardless, and Buffin drops a drumstick. But producer Guy Stevens was so excited by the end result, he refused to allow any re-takes or overdubs, insisting it stay as it is, capturing the genuine excitement of Rock ‘n’ Roll. Until Mott the Hoople’s demise four years later, “Walkin With A Mountain” was to be the final encore, driving the fans into a frenzy. Ariel Bender joined the band in 1973 and took “Walkin With A Mountain” to new heights making it his own despite Ian Hunter writing it.

Side two of the L.P. contained potent and powerful material. The gospel tinged “I Can Feel”, written by Ian Hunter, was dramatic and majestic with fine bass, tasteful Ralphs lead guitar with Hunter laying the black side of his soul bare singing:

“So Buy Me Alone

You Can Take Your Flowers Home

For There Ain’t No Peace In This World That I Know

But I Can Feel”

Mick Ralphs manic riffing on “Threads Of Iron”, with lead vocals shared between Mick and Ian, is possibly the closest Mott the Hoople ever got to playing heavy metal. Starting out at a jaunty rate as the song builds towards its climax, the band play harder and harder, the rhythm section playing with hammers, Verden Allen using his keyboards to put up that solid wall of Mott the Hoople sound, Mick Ralphs playing lead guitar as if the devil himself is chasing his fingers, Ian Hunter’s vocals scream at the end to be heard above it all. Frantic music that leaves you exhausted at its conclusion as it gently leads into the album’s final song “When My Mind’s Gone”. This was supposed to be a spontaneous composition and stream of consciousness song, credited to Ian Hunter, according to legend recorded by Hunter, under a spell put on him by Guy Stevens. Whatever, it’s a disturbing piece of music with Verden Allen laying down some eerie keyboards to fill out the sound behind Hunter’s vocals and piano. Every time this dog hears “When My Mind’s Gone” the hair on the back of his shoulders stick up.

“Mad Shadows” was Mott the Hoople’s white album. A bleak and sometimes chilling document enhanced by its cover (which received an award at the Art Directors Club of New York 50th Annual Exhibition) and an extract from Charles Bowdelaivies Flowers of Evil on the back sleeve, which I leave you with.

Descend the way that leads to hell, infernal plunge in a deep gulf, where crime’s inevitable flagellated by a wind driven from skies eternal. Where all your torments, and for all the ages, Mad Shadows never at the end of your desires shall never satisfy your furious rages, and your chastisement be born of loveless fires.

Musicians

Ian Hunter - Piano, Lead
Vocals

Mick Ralphs - Guitar, Lead Vocals

Overend Watts - Bass Guitar

Verden Allen - Organ

Buffin - Drums

Guy Stevens - Spiritual Percussion, Psychic Piano

Track Listing

1. Thunderbuck Ram

2. No Wheels To Ride

3. You Are One Of Us

4. Walkin’ With A Mountain

5. I Can Feel

6. Threads Of Iron

7. When My Mind’s Gone

To contact Mott the Dog email: [email protected]



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