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Book Review

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Book Review: Minor Wife

by Lang Reid

This book is another from Christopher G. Moore and another in the Vincent Calvino Private Detective series written by this Bangkok based author. Published by Heaven Lake Press, I was more than pleased to review this book, as I admit to being a fan of Moore’s work.

He does not spend time setting the scene. By page 17 there is the body of 8K, a high class painter cum prostitute, whose throat has been cut from ear to ear. Not too many pages further on there are four suspects, all of whom are in love with the deceased, and all of whom may have a motive.

The thriller moves in those convoluted circles within which Thai life and society takes place. Moore’s knowledge of these gives insights into many aspects of the cultural mores. Many of these are unknown to the ex-pat population, most of whom spend their time living in blissful ignorance of the Thai dark underbelly. The definition of the mia noi may come as a surprise for some, “The first thing about the mia noi (minor wife) of farang is she looks out for herself first. She is used to making deals with the devil. She will do whatever she needs to survive. And if you are in the way, what choice will she make?”

Money may apparently buy you happiness, but it will not buy you a 100 percent guarantee of trustworthiness. This Calvino knows, and in his search for the killer, he discovers the truth behind the phrase, no matter which society, or level, is being looked at.

One of the reasons I enjoy Moore’s work is his ability to take the everyday and dissect out each subtle (and sometimes none too subtle) nuance, showing an acuity verging on the extreme. Take the following example, which male readers will recognize instantly. “Calvino unzipped and an arc of early morning Mekhong made its exit onto a mountain of ice cubes, the kind that were hollowed out. Wedges of lime were buried like the bony tail of a fetal mammoth frozen in a glacier at the moment of birth.” He continues, “Some of the ice was smooth, melted and fractured. That usually meant that someone at the bar had come back and was using one of the thinly cut wedges for target practice, raking the ice with hot yellow napalm. Take that you bastards. Die, die.” We are guilty as charged!

Available from Bookazine with an RRP of 475 baht, this is another compulsive thriller from Christopher Moore. That TV rights have been purchased does not surprise me, because Vinee Calvino as portrayed by Moore is a most believable character set against the unfathomable backdrop of Bangkok. Unfathomable to all who have not lived there, but totally believable for those of us who have. With real-time settings, such as the Landmark Hotel, for example, this would be a movie-maker’s dream assignment. I shall sit in front of the idiot box and wait. In the meantime, go and read this latest Calvino book. Great writing, great story and a great read. Get it, you will not be disappointed.


Mott's CD Reviews: The J. Geils Band - The Anthology Houseparty

Whammered by Mott the Dog
Jammered by Ella Crew

5 Stars *****

Ella and I do not often review greatest hits albums, but for this amazing collection from the career of the J. Geils Band we are going to make an exception. 5 stars are hard enough to get, but a greatest hits collection with 5 stars only happens once in a blue moon. Ten Years After got a 5 star review for their collection Essential, but that was it.

So what’s the fuss about ‘Houseparty’? Well, let’s just say that if you don’t find yourself jumping up and down to every track that’s on this 38 song, 2 disc set then you have just got no rock ‘n’ roll in your soul. This was the sort of music that is played constantly at the famous Tahitian Queen Rock ‘n’ Roll Happy Hour, and why do people go to Tahitian Queen Happy Hour? It’s to have a good time, and this is music to have a good time to.

History tells us that the year 1967 was all incense, peppermints, kaftans, beads, lots of vegetables, paisley shirts, people finishing sentences with the word man, and being so laid back they fell over themselves. But those lazy, hazy, crazy, daze of way off also produced one of the world’s wildest, finest, all-time great, hard-driven rhythm and blues show bands that were ever put on this planet to entertain.

For the next 15 years and 14 albums and what must have been a million gigs, the J. Geils Band, in the words of their front man Peter Wolf, “Felt obligated to give 100% of ourselves to our audience. We were a bunch of guys who had the passion and wanted to share it”. Where else do you get that commitment from a band? They were together for those 15 years without one change in line-up - unheard of in the unstable world of rock ‘n’ roll. When it came time to go they just left at the top.

This collection, with it’s informative 52-page booklet, has songs from all 14 albums, but is not in chronological order, allowing the compiler to put all the great studio cuts from the debut album in 1970 on the first disc, through to ‘Surrender’ from their 1977 album ‘Monkey Island’. That includes the hit ‘Must Of Got Love’ (no 12, 1974) and all the great covers such as Willie Dixon’s ‘Dead Presidents’.

Then disc two kicks off with 10 tracks from the three live albums that the J. Geils Band released in their career, Live - Full House (1972), Live - Blow Your Face Out (1976), and Showtime (1982). These songs really give you a feel of what it must have been like at a full blown J. Geils Band concert. It’s all there.

‘Whammer Jammer’ gives Magic Dick a chance to live up to his name on his harmonica solo number and most of the songs give J. Geils’ a chance to run his furious guitar solos. All with the rock solid support from the rhythm section of Danny Klein and Stephen Jo Bladd, and the wall of sound that was put out by the keyboards of Seth Justman (he was also producer and arranger for the band in the second half of their career). Peter Wolf’s in-between song raps are left in place, and his vocal performance on ‘First I Look At The Purse’ would leave anybody breathless.

If this was not enough, late in their lifespan the band had a resurgence in popularity, which brought their music to a whole new generation of fans with the release of the album ‘Freeze Frame’. It reached the top of the album charts over Christmas 1981, spending four weeks at number one and a total of 70 weeks in the charts.

The single from the album ‘Centrefold’ also hit the number one spot, and the title track, when released as a single, went top 5.

Don’t you just love a happy ending? When it was time to go the boys packed their bags and exited stage left. I leave you with the words of Peter Kay, always the J. Geils Band’s spokesperson, a band named after the guitarist, not the vocalist with the shades.

“The J. Geils Band was a real American band - six guys with a love of music. Really feeling blessed that we were able to prevail and keep going. We were no frills, no tricks, just hard, sweaty Rock ‘n’ Roll. And when we hit the stage it was Showtime!”

Musicians
Peter Wolf - Vocals
Seth Justman - Keyboards
Magic Dick - Harmonica and Saxophone
J. Geils - Guitars and Mandolin
Danny Klien - Bass
Stephen Jo Bladd - Drums, Percussion, and Vocals

Track listing

Disc One

Cruisin’ For Love
Homework
Looking For A Love
It Ain’t What You Do (It’s How You Do It!)
The Usual Place
Cry One More Time
Dead Presidents
Give It To Me
Southside Shuffle
Make Up Your Mind Gettin’ Out
Detroit Breakdown
Givin’ It All Up
Must Of Got Lost
Believe In Me
Love-it is
Where Did Our Love Go
Peanut Butter
Surrender
Disc Two
Sno-Cone
Wait
Hard Drivin’ Man
First I Look At The Purse
Pack Fair And Square
Whammer Jammer
Musta Got Lost
Start All Over
Houseparty
I Do
Just Can’t Wait
Love Stinks
Night Time
Flamethrower
Centerfold
Freeze-Frame
Sanctuary
One Last Kiss
Teresa

To contact Mott the Dog email: [email protected]