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Music CD Reviews
Book Review: Bleachers
by Lang Reid
written by John Grisham, was first published in Europe last year, but the
review copy from Arrow Books (ISBN 0-09-946819-0) was released in the current
paperback format only this year.
I have to admit that I know absolutely nothing about
American Football. I have tried many times to watch it on TV and return to the
remote control still baffled. However, it remains an enormously popular game on
the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. Grisham, who is better known for his
legal novels, leaves the wigs and courtrooms behind to spin the yarn that
revolves around the death of a legendary school football coach (Eddie Rake) in
a small town in the USA. While all the characters in the novel have a
connection to Rake, the novel sets out to minutely examine the relationships,
and what has happened to the ex-football players since they were at school.
Despite being ignorant in the bleachers, I found that
inexorably I was being dragged into the small town of Messina where the book
was set. Grisham has the ability to produce exact pen portraits, from the
footballer who came out of the closet, to the ex-professional football player,
the footballer turned town banker and the slightly dodgy footballer who later
became the slightly dodgy car spare parts salesman.
During the beginning of the wake for the dying coach, a tape
recording of a match played many years before is run, and probably for the
aficionados it all makes sense, but for the grid-iron gringo such as me, it was
a little too tedious, and just as inexplicable.
The value of the book is not in the football plays, but in
Grisham’s descriptions of the relationships with the deceased coach. Having
been the coach at the school for many years he had seen many a team member come
and go, but for each the relationship was special in one way or another. Love
or hate, respect or loathing, the ex-players reveal their souls in this book,
and then a little of why they felt that way.
The main character, Neely Crenshaw, was a young football
player who made it all the way to the professional ranks, with all the
adulation that this evidently brings young football players in America. After
being sidelined permanently through injury, he has to adjust to the fact that
only in his home town is he remembered as what he was. As part of his personal
catharsis he has to endure the commiserations of his old football buddies, but
realizes that this does not rid him of his demons. Only by encountering a
previous romantic relationship and facing the fury of one who was spurned, is
the shallowness of his teenage life finally exposed, thereby releasing him from
his personal nightmare. The debt he feels he owes to society is finally
The review copy came directly from Asia Books, but the RRP should be around
B. 295. Well written, but for me lacking the depth Grishom demonstrated in The
Client, or The Firm. But then, if I understood American Football, perhaps I
would have better appreciated the book.
Mott's CD Reviews: The Beatles - Let It Be... Naked
Pawed by Mott the Dog
Re-chewed by Ella Crew
None of “The Beatles” were ever happy with Phil
Spectre’s production of this collection of songs. However, finally Paul
McCartney and Ringo Starr gave permission for the songs to be re-recorded,
using the original tapes, but producing them without all the overdubs and
orchestrations put on by Spectre. Obviously a lot of people thought this was
sacrilege to mess with the Beatles history, but not this dog.
There were 18 months between the recording of these songs
and their release, which was done to tie in with the release of the movie. In
between times the Beatles had gone back into the studio and recorded and
released Abbey Road. So it came as quite a nasty shock to the world’s most
famous band when they heard the songs again, but by then it was too late to do
anything about it. To the despair of a generation “The Beatles” were no
more and were in a bitter feud, which was never going to be properly patched
up. So the album stood as it was for thirty years.
Except now it has been remixed and produced lovingly by Paul
Hicks, Guy Massey, and Allan Rouse, who have done a magnificent job and got
double thumbs up from Paul and Ringo.
‘Let It Be... Naked’ is probably today the most gritty
Rock ‘n’ Roll album that ever came out of the Beatles camp. The running
order has been completely re-arranged which now gives it more of a live feel.
Don’t get me wrong, McCartney’s soapy ballads are still there (‘Across
the Universe’, ‘The Long and Winding Road’, and of course the title track
‘Let It Be’ - the not naked version), but stripped of their lush
embellishments. They come off as giving the album some balance, rather than
something off an easy listening album, and “The Beatles” sound like a
The songs are obviously all classics, but one other thing
that comes through very clearly is how important a role Billy Preston played in
the sessions. Billy Preston was called in to try and sooth the warring factions
within the group, and inspire them into behaving themselves. He not only
fulfilled that role, but his keyboard playing all through the album is nothing
short of inspired. The keyboards have been pushed way up front in the mix while
on the original release they had been suppressed way down.
It’s the rockers that come out of the best. ‘Get Back’
is the perfect opener and, stripped down to basics, it fairly hurtles out of
the speakers, setting the tone for what is to follow. John Lennon’s ‘I’ve
Got A Feeling’ is unrecognizable from the original, which came out as very
subdued. Here it is in its full ragged glory and shines like an uncut diamond.
It is hard to believe that the band had now split forever as there is a great
feeling of comradeship with Paul and John dueling vocally to bring the song to
a frantic climax.
The ‘Naked’ version of ‘I’ve Got A Feeling’ is a
keyboard driven rocker, while it was a bit of a muddled guitar driven dirge
originally. What a tragedy that the band never got to play any of the songs on
this album to a live audience. (Mind you, the same can be said of any of the
music that the Beatles made from Sergeant Peppers onwards.)
‘For You’ and ‘I Me Mine’ prove that there really
was too much talent in the Beatles to be contained in one Rock ‘n’ Roll
band. These two George Harrison compositions prove and show what was about to
happen when he was released from the confines of the band. Left to his own
devices, George came up with the treble album ‘All Things Must Pass’.
George’s guitar playing throughout this collection is nothing short of
stunning, blending beautifully with Preston’s keyboard playing, interplaying
with John’s guitar, while Paul’s bass playing also got more room without
all the unnecessary arrangements. Ringo, too, proves to be a very underrated
Even if you have the original, it is still worth bending
your ear around ‘Naked’. You also get a bonus disc with this set which
includes snippets of conversation and songs from the recording sessions. They
give you a marvelous insight into what it was like in the studio with the
Beatles, although it’s really only worth one listen. (John Lennon obviously
had ‘Jealous Guy’ up his sleeve for a long time before releasing it on
Imagine.) The CD booklet will keep you entertained while you listen to the
A job well done.
Dig A Pony
For You Blue
The Long And Winding Road
Two Of Us
I’ve Got A Feeling
One After 909
Don’t Let Me Down
I Me Mine
Across The Universe
Let It Be
John Lennon - Guitar and Vocals
Paul McCartney - Bass and Vocals
George Harrison - Lead Guitar and Vocals
Ringo Starr - Drums and Vocals
Billy Preston - Keyboards and Backing Vocals
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