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Book Review

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Book Review: Tokyo Joe

by Lang Reid

This week’s review book is from prolific writer Christopher G. Moore. Tokyo Joe (ISBN 974-91152-8-7) is a re-written, revised and re-released version of his 1991 published book Enemies of Memory. In the press release that came from Heaven Lake Press, the publishers, they state that although the original version received critical acclaim, they felt the book did not receive the international recognition that it deserves. I have not read Enemies of Memory, so cannot comment. However, I have now read Tokyo Joe, so can comment on this one.

It is slower than Moore’s Vinnie Calvino books which are ‘no-holds barred’ thrillers and is fiction that delves into the concepts of good and evil, as applied to international politics as well as an individual’s ethics. Vinnie’s shallow cynicism is replaced by a much deeper, thought provoking narrative, dissecting one man, a Major Julian Bonner, an American with General MacArthur, who was involved in the rebuilding of post WWII Japan. Was he a hero, or was he an opportunist? Was he a visionary hell-bent on exposing the truth, or a mobster hell-bent on obscuring it? You, the reader get all the differing views on this enigmatic man. And incidentally, you gain some insight into the underbellies of Japan and the USA.

Initially the book felt a little slow as author Moore describes the exceptionally diverse characters and sets the scene, but it is all worth it when you see the workings of Bonner’s son and daughter, one American and the other Japanese, attempting to unravel the conundrum that is their father. Now known as Tokyo Joe, he is displaced from Japan and repatriated to his native land - and not fitting in after 40 years away. Throw in a Japanese princess and an American mother, a 50% black American chauffeur who turns out to be the actual father of the son’s wife (shades of Fanny Hill) and you have all the ingredients of a totally dysfunctional family!

The book reminds me of John Irving’s “The World According to Garp”, with its minute introspection, but instead of a dancing bear, Tokyo Joe features a stuffed giraffe and an iguana called Orwell. Author Moore, in the book, expounds that “Darwin taught that the common denominator of all species is extinction.” Orwell meets his, half way through the book, an unsuspecting victim of the effects of Kirin Beer and the expertise of a Japanese sushi chef.

By the time you start to really get involved with this family, you are eagerly turning the pages to see just how the next character perceives the next in line. It is incredibly intriguing, and there appears to be no characters in the book just there to fill up pages. Everyone has a place and there is a place for everyone, if I could be so bold as to paraphrase a paraphrase.

The review copy came directly from the publishers and copies should be available at major booksellers, with an RRP of 475 baht. Not a book for passing the time on a plane flight, but rather one to savour, like a good port, after dinner. Most enjoyable.

Music CD Reviews: Kinks - Low Budget

by Mott the Dog
re-mastered by Ella Crew

5 Stars *****

In 1979 The Kinks came back ... again.

After finding success in 1964 with their chart topping hit single “You Really Got Me”, which gave them the template for a stream of hit singles from the mighty pen of Ray Davies, elder brother of Dave Davies, who’s guitar style changed the whole face of Rock ‘n’ Roll music with his what were to become known as Heavy Metal riffs.

From 1964 - 1967, The Kinks had twelve consecutive top ten hits in the U.K. with three number one’s including “Tired of Waiting” and the immortal “Sunny Afternoon”. Amazingly, “Waterloo Sunset” only got to number two, a travesty of justice. During this period The Kinks were considered one of the top contenders, and were always this Dog’s favorite. The Beatles always seemed a little too managed to be the real thing, and The Stones sounded like they wanted to come from Detroit not Dartford, where they did come from. The Kinks loved coming from England, acted like it, and sung about it.

But somehow in 1967 the hits just dried up and the British press kicked over the bones, pronouncing The Kinks dead.

In 1970 out of nowhere they came up with “Lola”, a top ten hit all over Europe and the States. Probably only one of two songs to be about transsexuals to slip through the tough censorship rules of the British Broadcasting Company to reach the top ten on the back of massive radio exposure. (The other one being Lou Reed’s “Walk on the Wild side”.) Maybe the man in charge of censorship just thought Lola was a nice girl with a deep brown voice, and those nice Kink chaps were perfectly normal. Nice one, Hubert.

Following this up with more hit singles, a hit album, and lots of goodwill through doing popular soundtrack work for trendy movies such as the eye-wateringly topical “Percy”, about a very delicate transplant.

With their newly re-found fame the Davies Brothers packed their band up and moved lock, stock, and barrel across to the United States of America, where they were welcomed with open arms, and proceeded to pump up the coffers with the Yankee dollar. But slowly the hits dried up and it was time for a bit of a re-think. An attack on American Stadium Rock was the way the Davies Brothers decided upon and went back into the studios with original drummer Mick Avory and Jim Redford, bassist.

Redford, formerly with progressive rock band Argent, added a lot of bottom end into the Kinks as well as a much-needed injection of fun and enthusiasm. Keyboard player Gordon Edwards (ex Pretty Things) had just been fired from the band for indulging too much in the Rock ‘n’ Roll lifestyle. So for the purpose of these sessions Ray Davies doubled up on keyboards, but by the time the band went back on the road a young man by the name of Ian Gibbons (later a long time member of the Ian Hunter Band and top session player) had taken over keyboard duties.

By that time “Low Budget” had given them their first top ten single in nine years and a top ten album to boot.

The music was perfect, capturing the mood of the times with Ray’s musing over his observations on life. In “A Gallon of Gas” the singer rues over the irony now that he has fame, fortune, the requisite life style, and most importantly a shiny new Cadillac. There is not a drop of gasoline to power his latest acquisition. (For those of you too young to remember, there was an oil crisis in 1979.) Even though times have changed the music is still very relevant today as it was then.

Slip this newly re-mastered version of “Low Budget” into your CD player and cast yourself back to a time when musicians actually had to play their instruments and song writing was a real art. Every song is a gem with elder brother singing with emotion in his own unique whimsical style. Dave lays down some typically gritty Kinks Rock ‘n’ Roll guitar, whilst the rhythm section locks tightly into the jumpin’ grooves. Filling out the sound further is Nick Newell on saxophone on a couple of tracks.

It’s all gone a bit quiet on the Kinks front recently again, so expect a dramatic comeback at a time zone somewhere in your region any day now. However, in the mean time...

... go on - treat yourself - get a “Low Budget”.


Ray Davies - Guitar, Keyboards, and Lead Vocals
Dave Davies - Lead Guitar, Vocals
Mick Avery - Drums
Jim Redford - Bass, Vocals

Track Listing

Catch me now I’m falling
National Health
(Wish I could fly like) Superman
Low Budget
In a Space
little Bit of Emotion
A Gallon of Gas
Moving Pictures

Bonus tracks

A Gallon of Gas, extended version
Catch me now I’m falling, extended version
(Wish I could fly like) Superman, disco version (another sign of the times)

To contact Mott the Dog email: [email protected]