HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Book Review

Mott’s CD review

Book Review: The Magick Papers

by Lang Reid

The Magick Papers by Antonio Pineda (ISBN 974-92409-7-9, published by IQ Inc this year) almost says it all on the front cover, where it proclaims it is never predictable. This is certainly one book that will have you wondering if you took the wrong turn somewhere.

I have to admit that I read books for the enjoyment factor it provides, even though one of my readers questioned this approach, feeling that a book critic has to analyze and dissect and offer the entrails for discussion - more of an academic undergraduate exercise. Au contraire, I believe that people read book reviews to see if the reviewer enjoyed it, or otherwise. And why.

But back to The Magick Papers, which on the back cover suggests that “anyone with an IQ above ‘gifted’ will appreciate this novel and be entertained, absorbed and challenged by it.” The advice continues that a more than passing knowledge of ‘blotter art’ is advantageous, plus a good understanding of the music and theatre of the late 20th century is needed to fully appreciate the novel. “Brilliant” it calls itself, “but only for those who are not intellectually challenged.” All good confrontational stuff! But will it make people buy to show their intellectual superiority, I wonder?

The book has several ‘plots’ which seem to run in large interconnecting circles similar to the Olympic logo. Each seems to be complete in itself, but impinges upon the others. The central thread (to my mind) seems to be the drug/LSD subculture which holds the rings together.

There is enough action and information to keep any blood and thunder reader engrossed. By page 13 Antonia Pineda has taken you to Sofia and given the reader a thumbnail of Byzantine history, smoked a cannabis spliff with two Bulgarian prostitutes, and quickly transported you to San Francisco on a black Harley Davidson to slit the throat of a small-time drug runner.

There is also a couple of American drug enforcement officers, one of whom defects during the novel, deciding there is more fun and rewards on the other side; a motorcycle gang that divides its time between masterminding international drug courier systems and internecine wars with neighboring gangs and a law firm that gets fat on the resultant pickings. All very complex, but keeps the mind exercised.

The Magick Papers carries an RRP of 390 baht, which makes it an inexpensive (albeit confusing at times), entertaining, absorbing and challenging read. Even at the end, I am still not sure of where I stand on this novel, so the jury is probably still out on my IQ level as well. The back cover indeed suggests, “It probably needs to be read twice.” This is probably correct, and the good news is that after the initial 390 baht purchase, the second reading is free!

(Footnote: In the mythical Puma Diamante, in which much of the novel is set, there is reference to a Hellfirecat Club, an upstairs bar reminding me much of a similar establishment in Thailand (but more up-market), and author Pineda does acknowledge an influence from Thailand, and the novel was written here.)

Mott's CD Reviews: Peter Banks - Can I Play You Something?

Pawed by Mott the Dog
Re-chewed by Ella Crew

4 Stars ****

What a marvelous idea. You take one seasoned musical genius, put him in a room with a tape deck with all his archive material, and ask him to play a selection of his hidden treasures from the dark and murky past. This is exactly what happened here.

Peter Banks, the original and best guitarist from the band Yes, has trawled his back catalogue for some juicy rare and often unreleased back catalogue material. He was first asked to concentrate on his pre-Yes days from the sixties, when we were all reeling and a-rocking, quaking, and a-shaking, making and breaking, faking and mistaking, joking and smoking - everybody was loco from those years. This collection of songs is basically collected from Peter’s early years 1964-1968, and gives a fascinating insight into a musician’s formative years.

From his first tentative steps as a young seventeen year old guitarist with Devil’s Disciples (after which the guitarist admits in the wonderful booklet that comes with this collection, that he found the whole experience so terrifying, he doubted he would ever pluck up the courage again to enter a recording studio. During that 2-hour session, both the tracks here from the Devil’s Disciples were recorded) to Peter’s solo spot with Yes on one of their first gigs, Peter Banks musical birth is laid bare. It certainly isn’t all pretty, and to keep the listener’s attention, neither is it in chronological order.

As well as the two Devil’s Disciples tracks (quite honestly, their take on ‘For Your Love’ does not hold a light to the Yardbirds’ version), you also get five cuts from Syn, where Peter Banks first teamed up with bassist Chris Squire. You get to hear ‘Flowerman’, the single from Syn’s own Rock Opera, in which the band used to dress up as flowers for the stage production, and then finish the set with a huge fight featuring gardening implements. The Flowerman also sounds like very early ‘Spinal Tap’, and is made all the more galling as you get two versions of it back to back. Obviously, Peter Banks is proud of it all.

The bulk of the material here, though, comes from the second band that Banks and Squire formed after ‘Syn’ and were turned into compost. The magically monikered ‘Mabel Greer’s Toyshop’ the music takes a cosmic leap forward with versions of ‘Beyond and Before’ written by Mabel Greer’s Toyshop vocalist Clive Bailey with Chris Squire, which in a slightly amended version was to go on to be track one on side one of the debut vinyl recording of Yes.

The almost telepathic understanding between Squire and Banks is a wonder to listen to as you can hear them establishing the sound that was to become Yes’ trademark, and still is today even though Peter Banks has not been in the ranks for over 34 years (mind you, just about every other jobbing musician has been through Yes ranks with each guitarist having to copy Banks’ original guitar template).

To kick start the proceedings, Peter Banks has included a version of Peter Gunn from his jamming band in 1980. Perhaps breaking the rules a little, but it is well worth the effort as it literally knocks heads together. A wonderful place to start.

Then to finish off this collection, there are nearly nine minutes of Peter’s solo section of the Yes set, which used to come during Yes’ cover of the Byrds ‘I See You’, where the other musicians would depart the stage (at that time Yes had Chris Squire on bass, Jon Anderson on vocals, and Tony Kaye on keyboards), leaving our intrepid guitarist backed only by Bill Bruford on drums, to, in the vernacular of the day, completely freak out on the guitar. You will either love it or find it totally boring and pretentious. (This Dog loves it.)

All the songs are linked together by more sound bites from Peter Banks’ musical library. The 12-page booklet of this collection is crammed full of informative facts and funny anecdotes written in the guitarist’s own hand, with a wonderful Peter Banks Rock family tree from the era and the necessary embarrassing era photos.

Although this collection does have its weak moments, they are made up for by the highs that are contained here. For another insight into this very underrated musician, read his autobiography “Beyond and Before’’ or, to hear Peter Banks at the peak of his powers, try the debut album from Flash (1972), the band Peter formed after he was unceremoniously dumped from Yes, or Peter’s second solo album Instinct (1993).

Peter Banks
And a cast of thousands - some remembered, some not.

Track Listing

Can I Play you Something?
Hippie Loop 14 Hour Technicolor Dream
You Better Move On
Beyond And Before (demo)
Beyond And Before.
Lima Loop
For Your Love
Flowerman (demo)
Electric Funeral (demo)
Electric Funeral
Cinnamon Touch
Get Yourself Together (demo)
Created By Clive
Images Of You And Me
I Saw You
No Time

To contact Mott the Dog email: [email protected]