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Book Review: The Bubble of American Supremacy

by Lang Reid

This week’s review is of a book written by the (reviled in some quarters) economist and author George Soros. Called The Bubble of American Supremacy (ISBN 1-74114-330-6, publisher Public Affairs, Allen and Unwin, 2004), on page two of the preface Soros comes right out and states his purpose in writing the book. “I have made it my primary objective to persuade the American public to reject President Bush in the forthcoming elections. We have been deceived.” Fighting words and you have not even reached the book proper!

Soros examines the Bush doctrine, and his analysis of this makes chilling reading, showing what happens when a ‘democracy’ is hijacked. The following chapters show just how that manipulation can manage to remove the democratic power of the people, by utilizing the fear factor in the electorate to allow draconian decrees to be accepted. Soros avows that the World Trade Centre terrorist attack on September 11 was just what Bush needed to be able to put his doctrine into effect.

He delves deep into the psyche of the world where “victims can become perpetrators”. I must say I was surprised to see him bring Israel forward as an example, Soros’ origins being a Hungarian Jew. However, he does not stop there, he then accuses George W. Bush of doing exactly this with America. “Under the Bush administration, the United States has also become a victim turned perpetrator, although the American public would be loath to recognize it.” He goes on to show that the American war against terrorism has now “claimed more innocent civilians in Afghanistan and Iraq than have the attacks on the World Trade Centre.” Soros’ authority quoted putting the Iraq numbers at over 7,000 and Afghanistan around 3,500.

It was interesting to hearken back to the review three months ago of Michael Moore’s book, “Dude, where’s my Country?” Moore and Soros may look strange bedfellows on the surface, but they certainly see the same situation in the same way. Chapter 5 in Moore’s book is called “How to stop terrorism? Stop being terrorists!” Here he gave 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 called ‘collateral damage’. This is exactly Soros’ sentiment of victims turned perpetrators.

The review copy was made available by Bookazine and had an RRP of B. 595, fairly hefty for a paperback, especially one that has a political message. In Soros’ own words, “It is not enough to defeat President Bush at the polls, we must repudiate the Bush doctrine and adopt a more enlightened vision of America’s role in the world.”

Personally I think Soros would reach a greater readership and have more persuasive power if the book were cheaper - but then, market forces must not be denied, correct George?

Mott's CD Reviews: Humble Pie - Performance - Rockin’ the Fillmore

Pawed by Mott the Dog
re-mastered by Ella Crew

5 Stars *****

Humble Pie, without doubt, was one of the best live acts on the scene in the early seventies. They built up one of the largest ever traveling group of supporters following them from gig to gig on their 22 tours of the U.S.A. Yes, that’s right. 22 nationwide tours of the United States of America during their six year career - not counting the European tours. It was live when they were at their best.

On ‘Performance’ you can hear a band at the absolute pinnacle of their powers. It was recorded at Bill Graham’s Fillmore East on their last appearance there in June of 1971, just two years after they had formed, and only a month before Peter Frampton left the band. He was a physical and mental wreck after trying to keep up with the rest of the band in their rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle off stage. However, this had no effect on his playing at this concert, which is truly remarkable considering the young Frampton was only 21 at the time.

Humble Pie was formed in 1969 mainly due to four young musicians feeling frustrated in their present bands. Steve Marriott had had enough of ‘The Small Faces’ (he was eventually replaced by Messrs. Ronnie Wood and Rodney Stewart and the band renamed “The Faces”), Peter Frampton (voted ‘The Face of 68’ by Teen Magazine) was having similar problems with his band ‘The Herd’, Greg Ridley was in ‘Spooky Tooth’, and Jerry Shirley was discovered by Peter Frampton and described as an up and coming John Bonham. Praise indeed, and very well merited.

At first ‘The Pie’ got off on the wrong foot, falling into old traps - releasing two albums of soft/pop/rock and having a hit single in ‘Natural Born Bugie’. But, after being dumped by record company IMSP, manager Dee Anthony called a band meeting, Steve Marriott was made official band leader, all acoustic and soft rock aspirations were put on hold and their rock and rolling feelings were nailed to the mast.

A&M Records immediately snapped them up. They released two rock ‘n’ roll style Pie albums, the self-titled ‘Humble Pie’ in July 1970 which was followed by the aptly titled ‘Rock On’ in 1971.

The sales of their first two albums had been good, but not exactly earth shattering. So band management and record company decided to go for broke and release what had become the early seventies stock in trade for all major acts ‘The Double Live Album’. (This premise also worked remarkably well for Peter Frampton later in his solo career, when after years of obscurity he rocketed to superstardom on the back of his double live album ‘Frampton Comes Alive’. It is still the biggest selling live double album ever.)

While Eddie Kramer set up his recording equipment at the Fillmore West he caught ‘The Pie’ on what is popularly known as ‘on night’. The Pies’ set for the Fillmore was made up of seven numbers. However, only one of which could actually be called a ‘Pie’ original, such was the band penchant for re-adapting the work of those from which they took influence.

After a brief announcement the band led straight into their perennial opener Ida Cox’s ‘Four Day Creep’. Both the guitars of Frampton and Marriott belt out the riff before Ridley and Shirley come rattling in proving the rhythm section has become as tight and heavy as a Geoffrey Boycott forward defensive shot.

This sets the standard for a hard rocking night. Before the Willie Dixon number ‘I’m Ready’ (if you are going to cover somebody at least cover the best) you get some marvelous interaction between the voice of Steve Marriott, the guitar of Peter Frampton, and the audience.

From here on out it’s full on rock ‘n’ roll with ‘The Pie’ proving why they are without doubt one of the most fulfilling bands of their era.

‘Stone Cold Fever’ is performed with such fervor and relish that it proves the point that ‘The Pie’ was a live band. They leave the version from the studio album ‘Rock On’ for cold.

The album’s centerpiece is ‘I Walk on Gilded Splinters’, originally by Dr. John, but ‘The Pie’ stretch it out to a full 23 minutes and 30 seconds, along the way proving that not only could ‘The Pie’ rock, but without doubt they were musicians of a caliber of any of their contemporaries.

Closing the set at the Fillmore is ‘The Pie’s’ version of Muddy Water’s ‘Rolling Stone’. At the beginning of this 16-minute opus Steve Marriott sings, “I’m going to sing you a song in two parts” and, after the intro, goes into a highly amusing rap about life on the rock ‘n’ roll road of America. This is purely Steve Marriott, very seventies, very funny, and listening to it in this day and age wonderfully politically incorrect. ‘The Pie’ brings the set to a rocking climax as they go into the second part of the song on eleven and bring the house down. The conclusion of ‘Rolling Stone’ is amongst the most exciting 5 minutes of rock ‘n’ roll ever recorded on tape. It is simply a matter of going for the throat. Musicians cannot learn to be this exciting, it’s either in their blood or it’s not.

The final two numbers we are given here are the encores. (Remembering ‘The Pie’ had to follow themselves here.) First we get ‘Hallelujah (I love Her So)’, where Peter Frampton turns in a blistering solo and Steve Marriott enjoys himself immensely imitating Ray Charles.

Then the number which ‘The Pie’ turned into their own and would never be allowed to leave the stage without playing, Ashford/Simpson/Armstead’s ‘I Don’t Need No Doctor’. This song’s title alone tells you everything about the band. The way the audience roars as the whole band pile into the song confirms its own story, 10 minutes of rock ‘n’ roll heaven with the band bringing the levels of excitement to those of the final 5 minutes of ‘Rolling Stone’.

Steve Marriott - Vocals, Guitar
Peter Frampton - Vocals, Guitar
Greg Ridley - Bass Guitar, Vocals
Jerry Shirley - Drums
Four Day Creep
I’m Ready
Stone Cold Fever
Walk on Gilded Splinter
Rolling Stone
Hallelujah (I Just Love Her So)
I Don’t Need No Doctor

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