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Music CD Reviews
Book Review: Bangkok A-Go-Go
by Lang Reid
long-time expat has been published in Bangkok by Heaven Lake Press. John Hail,
an American journalist who has been in SE Asia for 30 plus years, has taken 10
years to write his novel Bangkok A-Go-Go (ISBN 974-91588-3-0), which covers the
turbulent 70’s and 80’s. It is fiction, but set in the factual
circumstances of the political struggles that were common in Thailand in those
The coups were aplenty then, with one of the characters,
Floyd, describing them, “So they have a coup. So what? Nothin’ changes man.
Just some brass hats playing musical chairs. Hey, last year the prime minister
had a coup against himself!” (Certain words used by armed forces, starting
with f and referring to procreation have been omitted!)
The skepticism that is always apparent in male banter just
keeps rolling through the book, such as Floyd discussing the Communist threat,
saying, “See how you like it when the commie tanks come rolling down
Sukhumvit.” “Yeah, right,” was the retort. “Like to see them try it at
The story begins in an American owned bar in Patpong, post
Vietnam, with flash-back reminiscences even recalling Lam Morrison (one of my
favourite guitarists and still (re)living in that era). That era also had the
infamous ‘revolution’ at Thammasat University, and the main character, US
Army deserter Jerry Norpark, is part of that action. This leads to his being
forced to assume the position of being on the ‘other side’ having been
tarred with the brush of Communism, as were all the students or anyone who
dared criticize the current administration, no matter which one it was that
Our man Jerry describes the disintegration of the
‘Leftist’ movement, not being beaten but everyone, other than the
hardliners, just becoming slowly disenchanted. However, Jerry Norpark has the
misfortune to get on the wrong side of an ambitious mafia warlord and much of
the book relates to his continuing battle with the bloodthirsty Satahn, who
wants to see Jerry die from lead poisoning, preferably administered by a .38.
Intertwined with this are various other characters,
including international newshounds, Kung Fu comrades, various Thai girls,
assorted bars, American congressmen, the Cambodian refugees, Vietnamese
guerrillas, Bangkok bordellos, flop houses and mansions, tuk-tuks and the
This was one helluva book. It held my interest right the way
through to the last page. It keeps the reader enthralled because despite the
apparent outlandishness on the surface, this novel was a Thailand that anyone
who has lived here for some time knows and understands. This is not the
‘exposing the dark underbelly’ type of literature, this was telling life
like it really was, or should I say, ‘really is’? An excellent book that
deserves its place in Thailand’s expat writing community.
The review copy was sent directly from Heaven Lake Press,
and full scale distribution of the book will start early next year, but advance
publication copies should become available in major bookstores, with an RRP of
495 baht. Go looking for it. A first class read. I just hope his next one
won’t be 10 years in the gestation.
Mott's CD Reviews: Tracie Hunter - Maybe
Pawed by Mott the Dog
re-mastered by Ella Crew
5 Stars *****
Now this is Rock ‘n’ Roll. Tracie Hunter has put together
a band so fresh and potent, the sound fair crackles with excitement. As only a
three-track disc, it probably will not come near the top of Mott’s albums of
the year. I guess you can think of it as what we used to call an E.P. before,
and it faces some overwhelming competition from Led Zeppelin with their three
disc “How the West Was Won”.
Nonetheless, Tracie Hunter has let the world know that Rock
‘n’ Roll is back with the release of this taster to the album (Race) that
will follow hopefully in the early stages of next year, and with Hard Rock music
making a big comeback through the likes of ‘The Darkness’ and a rekindled
‘Iron Maiden’, Tracie should ascend to be the new lady of Rock ‘n’ Roll.
Rock ‘n’ Roll obviously runs in the genes and black jeans
of the Hunter family, as Tracie Hunter is the daughter of the excellent Ian
Hunter. Like her father, Tracie not only sings the songs but writes them, too.
Another similarity that has been handed down is the ability to pick gifted
sidemen to play in the band on this record (Ian Hunter has played with the
impeccable Mick Ralphs, the loveable rogue Ariel Bender, and the late lamented
The band playing with Tracie is as tight as the England Rugby
team’s front three. On lead guitar you have Neil Gabbitas, who also shares
writing credits with Tracie on all three songs. He has a very unique guitar
sound, very gritty and Rock ‘n’ Roll, which gives the rockers a real edge,
whilst his strong playing does not allow the one ballad to become slushy. In the
rhythm section there is Neil’s brother Mel on bass, who also takes on
production responsibilities, and gives his brother full support with some
melodic bass work. Then behind the bins is Steve Washington, who comes from the
Keith Moon school of drummers (pun intended), driving each song along, filling
out every inch of sound. Steve is obviously the sort of drummer who wants to be
heard. Since these songs were recorded, the very talented Matt Pearce, on guitar
and BV’s, has been added to the lineup.
But then in front of this lot is singing star Tracie Hunter.
Pure Rock ‘n’ Roll is soaked all the way through her voice. Listening to any
of these three songs, by the halfway point you cannot help but sing along, such
is their catchiness. This girl is a serious talent. The nearest I can come in
comparison is a young Elkie Brooks from her Vinegar Joe days or Harpic Bryant.
These are not twee bits of music for pre-teens, this is the business end of Rock
‘n’ Roll. This band must be scorching live. The reviews on the band’s
website at www.traciehunter.com give every indication I’m right.
Opening up with title track Maybe, Neil Gabbitas’ guitar
peels off a few licks before Tracie Hunter’s voice comes in over the top. The
sheer emotion and energy that comes with her voice grabs you by the ears and
drags you along. This is hard rock music that should be played full blast in
your car. To add to the songs riches, Neil Gabbitas nails two screaming guitar
solos to add to the excitement. The rest of the band keeps the Rock ‘n’ Roll
Mercury is another rocker, a little heavier, but taken at a
slightly slower pace, with a vocal - guitar refrain to bring the song to a
climax, which is to die for. Music made for heaven.
Finally we get Lost Inside You. The band switches over to
their acoustic gear and allows Tracie to show off her softer side. It’s the
sort of song that will have them cuddling in the aisles when the band step up to
the spotlight and start playing stadiums.
If you have never heard of Tracie Hunter before, remember you
heard it first in Mott’s column. A big thank you to Colin Powell for bringing
it to my attention. 2004 will be the year of Tracie Hunter. I personally cannot
wait for a full album’s worth of songs. My only complaint about the album is -
no picture of Tracie on the cover, as she is one very hot lady. I bet Dad’s
Tracie Hunter - Vocals
Neil Gabbitas - Guitar
Mel Gabbitas - Bass
Steve Washington - Drums
Darren Oldale - Bv’s
Maybe, Mercury, Lost Inside You
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