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Book Review: Lali’s Passage

by Lang Reid

This week’s review is of Lali’s Passage (ISBN 1-55369-007-X), purporting to be a tale of the life of a young Burmese woman who experiences both SE Asian society and the Western world’s culture. Written by Chiang Rai resident, Ken Albertsen, the book is now on its second print run.

One of the central characters is Lali, a Burmese girl sold into the flesh trade in Thailand, a story heard so often it hardly raises a ripple these days, other than for those who have not experienced life here. Taken away from the trade by Lee Jensen, a besotted American, she is flown to the land of his birth where she meets a flotsam and jetsam array of people, covering everyone from small-time hoodlums, doting moms and new-age travellers.

On the way, the reader is presented with a returning American’s view of America as well as a potted idea of a Burmese girl’s view of the same country. For a couple of the reviewers, whose words are posted on the back cover, Lali represents just what American women would like to imagine SE Asian women are like - all unspoiled and “natural” - “refreshingly innocent” was one description. For someone who has lived here for some time and has more experience of such ladies, Lali represents the usual shallow and avaricious female of the SE Asian bar species. “Depressingly guilty” would be a more accurate description, a lady who could walk out on her ‘saviour’ from the sex trade on their first night, but come back the next day and make the male feel that somehow he should shoulder all of the blame. At the front of the book, author Albertsen mentions ‘face’ and opines that the book might ruffle a few feathers in that department. I think he shows quite well that ‘face’ can be a false Asian concept to hide guilt.

The book ends with the two central characters seeming to find out something about themselves, though to call the book an epic of ‘self discovery’ would be putting too grand a face on it all.

Albertsen has a keen eye for reportage, and Albert E. Neuman, mentioned early in the book, rang all the necessary bells for me. However, the very detailed (and very male) seemingly endless dialogues throughout the book eventually began to annoy, much as lengthy bar room diatribes lose their amusing nature if the audience is not at the same degree of inebriation.

While the book is entitled Lali’s Passage, by half way through it was looking more like “Lee’s passage” (or perhaps even Ken’s?) as the parallel tale of Lee’s problems were given equal billing to those of Lali!

While it had a great concept for the plot, I felt that author Albertsen allowed himself to be diverted from what should have been the main thrust. It was a book that holds much promise, and his next one will be more cohesive.

The review copy was made available directly from the author himself. It is distributed by Asia Books, so should be available in most good book stores and carries an RRP of B. 395.


Music CD Reviews: Deep Purple - Abandon

by Mott the Dog
re-mastered by Ella Crew

5 Stars *****

When legendary guitarist Ritchie Blackmore left Deep Purple for the second time on the eve of the Japanese leg of ‘The Battle Rages on Tour’ in 1993, most thought it was the end of this historic band. Because they were contractually obligated to do the Japanese shows, the band considered doing the shows without a banjo player, but feeling this would cheat their loyal Japanese following, a replacement had to be considered at short notice. Not easy to find someone who was capable of filling such big shoes, let alone that was available, and most importantly was brave enough to take it on.

Ian Gillan said as a joke: “How about Joe Satriani?” Bruce Payne, longtime manager of the band, saw the funny side but also thought, “Why Not?” Phone calls were made, contracts written down on scraps of paper and Purple played six of their most unique concerts ever in Japan. No rehearsals with the new guitarist (they did send Joe some tapes of Blackmore’s last couple of concerts with Purple to give him a clue, which he listened to on the flight over to Japan), just straight out onto the stage and play. The results were spectacular as can be borne out by the very high quality of the bootlegs from the shows. Even though Joe does at one stage forget the opening riff to “Smoke on the water” and has to be reminded.

But Joe Satriani could not stay on a permanent basis with Deep Purple, so it was back to audition tapes for the other remaining four of the Classic Mark 2 lineup of the band. The name of American Steve Morse (ex Dixie Dregs and Kansas, he had also been voted best overall guitarist by Guitar Magazine three consecutive years running) was brought up. But the band was not keen, as another talented American (Tommy Bolin) had been drafted into the band the last time that Blackmore left with disastrous results. Steve Morse himself was not keen either seeing it as a step backwards, as he had already been drafted into one dinosaur rock band in it’s death throes and although the financial rewards were great, artistically these things left a lot to be desired. A rehearsal was set up anyway, and as they say the rest is history. Musically as well as socially the band and their new guitarist got along famously, to check all was well. After furious rehearsals a short but by no means small tour was set up to check whether the chemistry would last. Early 1995 saw the new Purple playing five concerts in India to a combined audience of over one million people, to mass critical and public acclaim.

So instead of it being the end of Deep Purple, Blackmore’s departure signaled a completely new - and most would say better - Purple. Certainly the fun was back and now the band was writing together again. Both the concerts and the recording showed the band scaling new heights. A new album was recorded “Pupundicular”, released in 1996. It showed a fresh new band with their creative juices flowing. A massive world tour followed with plenty of songs from the new album aired, plus, mainly through Steve Morse’s brand new fire, was injected into the old classics. At the end of this tour the band went back into the studio with renewed confidence, coming up with the results of which were laid down on this fine CD of over an hour’s worth of Hard Rock as only Purple know how.

Songs such as “Watching the Sky” and “Almost Human” rock along in classic style. Ian Paice once again proving he is the world’s leading Rock ‘n’ Roll drummer. Roger Glover, the ultimate Hard Rock bass guitarist, driving the band along using his guitar as a lead instrument, forcing the groove of each song down the listener’s throat so that they cannot help but take notice. Jon Lord was and still is the original rock keyboard player often imitated, but never equaled. There has really only ever been one vocalist for Deep Purple, and it is Ian Gillan. Nobody has the range to cover all of Purple’s different sound scapes. Many have tried, but none have ever come close. And Steve Morse has found himself a permanent home for his incredible guitar pyrotechnics, capable of turning a song on its head with a flurry of his fingers.

“Abandon” is a classic Rock album that should be an automatic in any decent collection of rock music.

In 2002, Jon Lord, the master of the Hammond organ, decided it’s time to hang up his Deep Purple keyboards and concentrate on his solo projects. Purple has drafted in longtime friend and keyboard wizard Don Airey. They are presently out on the road breaking in the new band before returning to the studio again. Rest assured, whatever they come up with it will be top notch Deep Purple.

Musicians

Ian Gillan - Vocals

Steve Morse - Guitars

Jon Lord - Keyboards

Roger Glover - Bass

Ian Paice - Drums

Songs

Any fule kno that

Almost human

Don’t make me happy

Seventh heaven

Watching the sky

Fingers to the bone

Jack Ruby

She was

Whatsername

’69

Evil Louie

Bludsucker

(All spelling mistakes in the titles on purpose by the band, must of got a bit of Sladitice.)

To contact Mott the Dog email: [email protected]