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Book Review

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Book Review: My Mother is a Rhino

by Lang Reid

Every so often a reviewer can be presented with a book that just takes his or her fancy. This is one of those. Written by a Danish lady, Marianne Willemse, who has lived in SE Asia for 30 years, My Mother is a Rhino (ISBN 974-85421-0-6) is a true story about an orphaned elephant “adopted” by an Indian rhinoceros.

Marianne Willemse these days is involved in many animal welfare programs and has a private sanctuary called Love Animal House. It very quickly becomes obvious on reading this book that she does indeed love animals.

It is published in a format to appeal to children, with large print and illustrations on most pages, most of which are drawings, though a few are photographic. This is the style of book that you can sit down and read with children.

The storyline is that of an orphaned baby elephant, but narrated as if by the elephant itself. Being an elephant, it refers to human beings as “two legs” and the nights as “the darkness”, all simplistic concepts (but ones that a baby elephant could imagine, and ones to which small children could relate).

The baby’s mother is killed by poachers, but the baby escapes. Fortunately, the small elephant is rescued by some rangers, fed and taken to an animal shelter. Despite the kindness being shown to the baby animal, it should not be forgotten that this is a baby elephant. This baby cried every night, as she missed her mother. Her keepers had to play music at night to try and soothe her, but she was inconsolable. This was until she met the six year old Indian rhino, and the two unlikely animals bonded. As written in the book, by the baby elephant, “We are both big. We are both grey. We both eat vegetables, and we are both lonely.”

In the conclusion, author Marianne Willemse writes, “A baby elephant needs a mother’s milk and guidance for four years. The mother teaches it everything there is to know about being an elephant. No one else can ever do that.”

A few years ago I read an internet item called The Rainbow Bridge, which was a real tear-jerker about animals waiting for their masters at the Rainbow Bridge, a metaphorical bridge over the River Styx. My Mother is a Rhino has similar abilities in getting deep into the emotional levels of caring human beings. Animals can do that, and baby animals, such as elephants can do this even more. So large, and yet so needy.

My Mother is a Rhino is one that can be read to young children, in language that they can understand, and at the same time as having the requisite happy ending, it imparts a moral as well. Marianne Willemse is to be congratulated over this book. If you have children up to the age of five years, this is an excellent present. It is even better as one that you read to them yourself. As well as understanding and bonding to the world at large, the children can bond even more with you.

Mott's CD Reviews: Jimmy Page and The Black Crowes

Live at The Greek

by Mott The Dog

5 Stars *****

Rock ‘n’ Roll is all about fantasy, mostly about sexual fantasy (e.g. AC/DC’s “Whole Lotta Rosie”), but sometimes it is just about Rock ‘n’ Roll fantasy. Such as, what if Jimmy Page found himself at a lose end and wanted to go out on tour? So who could he pick as a backing band? Perhaps his long time admirers and possibly America’s tightest jamming band The Black Crowes? And what could they pick as a set list? A selection of Led Zeppelin’s finest and just for good measure some of the finest standards laid down?

Well, for once it was not fantasy, but reality. Rehearsals took place and dates were set and this amazing combination hit the road, playing to packed arenas the length and breadth of America, with astounding results. Fortunately, plans were made to record the event for all time and here are the results. At first only released on the Internet, but sense was seen and the whole Shishkerbang was let loose on the eagerly awaiting Rock Public.

For those amongst you who may feel that it is sacrilegious for anyone else to perform these songs, especially for old Robert (Percy) Plant not to be singing, hollering, and cajoling every nuance out of these classic’s: Fear not. Chris Robinson, the Crowes’ vocalist, does not even attempt to imitate the great man, singing everything in his own style, giving each song a new slant.

The rest of the Crowes play with such abandon, I have never heard them play with such verve and panache, and this is somebody who has been a huge fan of the band for over ten years. The rhythm section of Pipien and Gorman keep a rock solid groove going whilst losing nothing of the looseness that keeps the music spontaneous and alive.

Probably the biggest sound difference on the Zeppelin classics is that although John Paul Jones used to double up on bass and keyboards (an exemplary job he did, too) in that band his use of piano was very sparing, whereas Ed Harsch is not frightened to push the piano right to the front of the sounds cape, soloing when any opportunity arises.

But it is the three pronged guitar attack that floors you, combining to give the raunchiest guitar sound that has ever been heard on this little planet. (Lynyrd Skynyrd are stunning, make no mistake, this is just one step beyond.) Obviously it’s Jimmy Page that steals the show. I doubt he has ever played better. However, the playing of Chris’s brother Rich Robinson, and new at the time Crowes guitarist, is of outstanding class, pushing their guest player to the outer limits of his ability.

The song selection is spot on. The guitar duel in “You Shook Me” is nothing short of jaw dropping, especially as it follows a version of that old Elmore James classic “Shake Your Money Maker”, which rattles the rooftops and would bring a smile to even the most stern of anorak Rock ‘n’ Roll connoisseurs. Chris Robinson turns in a truly saucy version of “The Lemon Song”, and the choice of Jimmy Page’s contemporary guitarist/songwriter Peter Green’s finest song written whilst in Fleetwood Mac, “Oh Well” is a pure delight.

There has never been a better version of “Heartbreaker” with Jimmy Page really stepping out on this one. So topped and tailed with “Celebration day” and “Whole Lotta Love” across two hours of music spread over two CDs. You get six cover versions and fourteen classic Zeppelin tracks (all with credit due to Willie Dixon and C. Burnett), played by a bunch of guys who are having the time of their lives. This is certainly one of the top three Rock ‘n’ Roll Live albums of all time.

As an extra - if you have a computer you can watch the band performing snippets of the songs live from your disc drive plus some very good stills taken from the Greek, where it becomes even more apparent how well they all gelled as a unit and what a good time they were having.

After this tour the Black Crowes went back into the studios to record their next album, the very heavily Zeppelin influenced “Lions”, since when, it’s been rumored, they have disbanded, probably feeling it would be hard to top the Jimmy Page tour. One is also left to reflect what a shame it was that Led Zeppelin never recorded a decent live album. “The Song Remains The Same” is not a bad album, but hardly a killer. “Live at the Greek” leaves it for dead.

Jimmy Page/Guitar
Rich Robinson/Guitar
Audley Freed/Guitar
Chris Robinson/Vocals
Steve Gorman/Drums
Ed Harsch/Keyboards
Sven Pipien/Bass


Celebration Day
Custard Pie
Sick Again
What is and What Should Never Be
Woke up this Morning
Shape of things to come
Sloppy Drunk
Ten years gone
In my time of dying
Your time is gonna come
The lemon song
Nobody’s fault but mine
Hey hey what can I do
Mellow Down easy
Oh Well
Shake your money maker
You Shook me
Out on the tiles
Whole lotta Love

To contact Mott the Dog email: [email protected]