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Music CD Reviews
Book Review: Defacto Meditation and Relaxation
by Lang Reid
This book, written by an Australian, Merv Howse, proclaims
on the front cover that it is a serious look at the lighter side of meditation.
The idea for the book came after a friend of his was diagnosed with a terminal
illness, and the book has taken four years to appear on the shelves. It is
author Howse’s first foray into writing/publishing, but his background
includes stints in advertising and sales and a love of the mystic East,
culminating in his introduction to Thailand and the study of Buddhism and
meditation through Buddhist practices.
I was particularly taken with his description of those who
were burdened with alcoholism, and when it was suggested to them that they
might try some type of meditation for help, they would say that meditation was
just a form of escapism. What was their alcohol, if not just that, says Howse?
Point very correctly taken, author Howse!
He describes human frailty with an excellent understanding
and while reading this book, one gets the impression that much of this has been
written from self experience. Perhaps the book is a form of catharsis for the
author himself? He does not say.
He divides the book into an initial group of chapters
looking at the cause of problems, and then follows this with 13 exercises which
include confronting one’s fears, stimulating your imagination, getting
positive thought processes going, settling yourself with meditative practices
and even relaxation and music. The final third of the book reverts to chapter
format, and covers health and well-being, verbal etiquette, eating habits,
fitness and even making vanity good for you!
Thailand does get many mentions in the book, since this
country appears to have stimulated the author’s interest in the subject and
supplied some of the answers, and even the Pattaya blind massage establishment
gets its own mention as being one place where the author goes to unwind.
The review copy was supplied by the author, but it is
available around town in major bookshops, he assures me. It is a simple book,
and as the title suggests, author Howse is not pretending that this is the
definitive seminal work on meditation and relaxation, but is an alternative
(and easy) way to get the same results, hence the ‘de facto’ allusion. It
is not an in-depth work, nor is it one allied to Eastern mysticism either,
though it does use the mantra of “I did it. It is done. I cannot change it. I
must forget it” throughout the pages.
I liked the ‘no frills’ approach to the subject, and I do believe that
author Howse has managed to get directly to the centre of the subject. In the
author’s words, “The whole purpose of (the book) was not to solve all your
problems in one simple course of action, but to lift your spirits and
confidence, and gain more control over the way your life is now and how you
handle every situation.” For those who are looking for some guidance or feel
in need of relaxation therapy, this is an inexpensive primer that just might
work. Worth perusing.
Music CD Reviews: Little Feat - Waiting
by Mott the Dog
***** 5 stars
Having been a long time fan of this wonderful multi-talented
band. When their double live vinyl album was released in 1978, it was with great
excitement that it was whisked home to my rustic record player. The volume was
turned up to ‘unbearable’ and the Dog spent his day listening to one of
America’s finest, laying down a live set that would curry a favorable
impression with any band on the planet. I happily state that ‘Waiting for
Columbus’ should be up there with all the other great live albums of the
seventies. But then what constitutes a great live album? It’s clearly not the
mere replication of a band’s studio performances. That approach may satisfy
the attending audience whilst proving how clever a band can be, although not
showing any imagination or creativity. But what’s the point of making a record
of one that already exists? It’s far more rewarding to experience a live album
on which the boys really get stuck in and show what they can do when released
from the confines of the studio, and all the record company ‘suits’ in
attendance. Other examples include the Who’s scorching 1970 document ‘Live
at Leeds’, where “The Who” were able to show off what an inspiring and
exhilarating rock ‘n’ roll band they were outside the confines of hit
singles and rock operas, or “The Allman Brothers Band” at the Filmore East,
when a band can expand the length of a song searching out every aspect of its
What makes ‘Waiting for Columbus’ so memorable is that it
seamlessly puts all the qualities of a great live album into one neat little
package. Upon its first release there was perhaps a feeling of some regret that
not the whole of a ‘Little Feat’s’ set could be squeezed onto four sides
of vinyl and a three album set would have been welcome, but then we should be
happy with what we got. But when it was originally released on the CD format,
fans of the Feat really did have cause for grousing, as to fit into the
requisite CD formula three further songs were cut from the running list,
considered by all to be very unsatisfactory. However, it has finally now been
released in a two CD set in its full glory with original tracks replaced, plus
the addition of ten wonderful new songs added on with some extra in-between
banter from the band.
From the warm up cappella that the band ritually used to sing
on their way to the stage, to the Country Joe Woodstock style intro, right the
way through to the closing jam of final encore ‘Feats Don’t Fail Me Now’,
you get it all. As soon as the band hit the stage they lock into the opening
groove of ‘Fat Man in the Bathtub’ and you are whisked away to the feeling
of belonging that normally only happens on very special Rock ‘n’ Roll
occasions, like being in TQ corner on a great night!
There are too many highlights to mention them all, but
accolades must be given to the ‘Tower of Power’ Horn section that joins the
band from the fourth song ‘Oh Atlanta’, where the whole ensemble really
begins to cook. An extended version of perhaps the Feat’s most well known
number, ‘Dixie Chicken’, when all the members of the band had room to show
Of course, spread like a thick layer of choice caviar every
song has its fair share of brilliance from Lowell George, whose sumptuous slide
guitar and unique vocals dominate this set. George’s ‘Mercenary Territory’
is probably one of the best live moments of music ever recorded. After a break
from the ‘Tower of Power’ Horn section, Lowell George comes charging in
right after them, leaving nobody in doubt as to who the Boss is.
That is not to say it is just the Lowell George show - far
from it. Kenny Gradney lays down perfect bass rhythms adding just the right
amount of funk to the proceedings. Sam Clayton’s percussion give the Feat
their unique sound. Richie Haywood is one of the busiest drummers in the
business. Bill Payne lays down some of the finest all round keyboard work to be
heard on any live album, whilst Paul Barrere’s lead guitar work was the
perfect foil for the music to hang onto, giving added depth to the band’s
forays into the land of jazz/rock fusion like on the nearly fourteen minute long
impromptu jam of ‘Day at the Dog Races’.
If you like your music live played by slick musicians who
like to live on the edge and are not afraid to let go and give it their all,
then this could be exactly what you are looking for. Brilliant!
It is quite extraordinarily sad that within a year ‘Little
Feat’ were no more and Lowell George had left this planet, as many feared he
would. But the legacy of music left behind is a fine one with this perhaps being
the jewel in the crown. Several years later the remainder of the band reformed
under the ‘Little Feat’ banner, but, although they were a popular live
attraction, without George the magic had gone.
1. Join the Band 2. Fatman in the bathtub 3. All that you
dream 4. Oh Atlanta 5. Old folk’s boogie 6. Dixie chicken 7. Tripe faced
boogie 8. Rocket in my pocket 9. Time loves a hero 10. Day or night 11.
Mercenary territory 12. Spanish moon 13. Willin 14. Don’t Bogart 15. A
Apolitical blues 16. Sailin shoes 17. Feat’s don’t fail me now 18. One love
stand 19. Rock n roll doctor 20. Skin it back 21. On your way down 22. Walkin
all night 23. Cold cold cold 24. Day at the dog races 25. Skin it back 26. Red
steam hammer 27. Teenage nervous breakdown
Kenny Gradney / Bass and Vocals
Lowell George / Slide guitar and Vocals
Bill Payne / Keyboards and Vocals
Sam Clayton / Percussion and Vocals
Ritchie Hayward / Drums and Vocals
Paul Barrere / Lead guitar and Vocals
To contact Mott the Dog email: [email protected]