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Book Review: Dude, Where’s my country?

by Lang Reid

This week is one of those books set to polarize another group of readers. Dude, Where’s my country? (ISBN 0-446-69262-X) from Warner Books and just hot off the press, is designed to fire the ire or add weight to the argument, depending upon which side of the George W. Bush line you stand on.

Written by Michael Moore, the man who won an Oscar for the movie Bowling with Columbine and wrote the best seller Stupid White Men (over 4 million copies world-wide), this is a follow on from his scathing attack on the American president which he gave at the Oscar awards.

The book begins with the contentious first chapter called ‘Seven questions for George of Arabia’. If you haven’t got the notion where this book is heading by page one, you obviously have been asleep for the past three decades.

It is worth quoting some of the rhetorical questions posed by Michael Moore - Question 1 - Is it true the bin Ladens have had business relationships with you and your family off and on for the past 25 years?

Question 2 - What is the “special relationship” between the Bushes and the Saudi royal family?

Chapter 2 he calls Home of the Whopper and it’s not fries to go with that, but the ‘Iraq War Combo Meals’ according to author Moore. He then goes on to elaborate, with the first being the ‘Original Whopper’ - Iraq has nuclear weapons. Or perhaps you might like the ‘Whopper with Bacon’ - Iraq has ties to Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda.

Chapter 5 is called ‘How to stop terrorism? Stop being terrorists!’ Here he gives various ideas on how America can stop being considered as the major aggressor in the minds of the rest of the world. Suggestions such as number 11 - When we kill civilians we shouldn’t call it ‘collateral damage’ has more than a faint ring of truth to it. Moore pointing out that when 3,000 people died on 9/11 it was called terrorism, but when 6,000 Iraqi civilians die it is ‘collateral damage’.

The review copy was made available by Bookazine, and will be available in all good bookstores that like to sell books! RRP is a hefty 650 baht, but there’s more than 650 baht worth of contention and argument starters between the covers.

The style of writing is ‘hip’ conversational. Moore has not written a text book, even though he does give almost 50 pages of bibliography at the end of the book, called Notes and Sources, but a very, very readable critique (read character assassination) of American president George W. Bush.

For a non-American, there is possibly too much American party political propaganda, and being someone without much interest in politics, let alone US politics, the final chapters I found tedious. However, the first half of the book was explosive. It reminded me of the notice that used to be on fireworks, which read, “Light the blue touch paper and retire immediately!” Questions 1 and 2 to ‘George of Arabia’ are guaranteed to get the fireworks going in any gathering. This is a book worth getting.


Mott's CD Reviews: Status Quo - Dog of Two Heads

Pawed by Mott the Dog
re-mastered by Ella Crew

5 Stars *****

There must of been somebody at the Pye Record Label in 1973 kicking himself in the seat of the pants; Status Quo, let go by the Pye roster less than two years earlier, was the #1 album, single, and touring band in the U.K. by that time.

The magnificent “Dog of Two Heads” album was released as Status Quo’s swansong album for Pye on Christmas 1971 with little fanfare and no publicity boost. With this in mind it is little wonder that the album sunk without trace. Status Quo then moved to the newly formed Vertigo label and before Christmas 1973 had had three top ten albums (‘Piledriver’ - #5 in February 1973; ‘Hello’ - #1 in September of the same year; ‘Quo’ - #2 in May 1974) and five Top Ten hits in the same period. The worst part for Pye was that perhaps “Dog of Two Heads” released on their label was the pick of the bunch (the title of this album deriving from a feeling within the band that they clung on like a dog with two sets of jaws).

The original album had six slabs of Quo boogie rock split up by one acoustic song, the autobiographical “Nanana”, which was about the difficulties of songwriting and getting them accepted by your peers. At first you only get thirty seconds, half the song you get later, but the entire song is sung to finally complete the album. A very unique and fun way to break up the album.

The album comes roaring out of your speakers with opener “Umleitung” (a strange title, no comment as I have never had a clue what it means, any suggestions?) a classic example of Status Quo boogie, very limited on the vocals over its 80-minute length. However, once Parfitt and Rossi started to work their magic on guitar, their new found confidence in themselves seeps out of every note. Francis Rossi lets rip one of his fine guitar solos that would have many a teenager grabbing for a tennis racquet and blasting out the licks in his mind whilst acting out his adolescent fantasies in front of the mirror.

Next up (after the first bit of “Nanana”) is another Quo classic “Something’s going on in my Head”. Not surprising, if anything, the boogie is even heavier as this song was one of bass player Alan Lancaster’s first contribution to the Quo songbook. Then we get “Mean Girl”, which was not at the time released as a single, but a year later when Quo broke into the singles chart with their first single for Vertigo “Paper Plane” (#5) - it still made it to #20. “Mean Girl” was often used by the band as an encore number and is a simple fast rocker, three cords, with a terrific guitar solo and a chorus that leaves you gasping for air. After a touch more “Nanana” there comes - for Quo - a quaint little ditty called “Gerundula”, almost a fast paced jig with lots of handclapping and tambourines behind Rossi’s guitar. A good way to lead into the album’s two high points.

First we get the Magnificent “Railroad”, arguably one of the finest songs ever to come out of the Quo catalogue. It was written by Francis Rossi and long time band roadie Bob Young, who guests with a totally over the top Harmonica solo (sort of like Quigley, but can actually play) in the song’s mid section. This fits in well with the Pathos that Alan Lancaster manages to put into the vocals about losing in love, before Francis Rossi himself comes in to lay his guitar licks all over the climax. In progressive/rock this would be called a 7-minute epic; in the land of Status Quo it’s the one where you get down the front and bang your head for 7 minutes.

The last slab of Quo boogie we get is the second Lancaster song “Someone’s Learning”. Live it would often bring the set to an orgasmic Rock ‘n’ Roll climax, which it does here on the album with all the guitars and drums in the band driving the rhythms into your head with sledgehammer force.

Finally the band drifts away with the closing version of “Nanana”, giving you a chance to tuck your tennis racquet away before your Mum catches you.

Status Quo are still going today, playing concerts all over Britain and releasing a new album each year to their still loyal fans. Although they have never meant a light in America, the Quo can still pack them in - in Butlins, Skegness, where the teenagers in the mirror are now Mums and Dads themselves, still tucking their thumbs into their belts and boogieing along.

Musicians

Francis Rossi - Guitar and Vocals
Rick Parfitt - Guitar and Vocals
Alan Lancaster - Bass and Vocals
John Coughlan - Drums
A Cast of Thousands on Air Guitar

Songs

Umleitung
Nanana
Something Is Going On In My Head
Mean Girl
Nanana
Gerdundula
Railroad
Someone’s Learning
Nanana
“Bonus Tracks”
Tune to the Music
Good Thinking (Batman)
Time to Fly
Nanana (alternate version)
Mean Girl (alternate version)

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