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Book Review

Mott’s CD review

Book Review: The gangster we are looking for

by Lang Reid

Unfortunately this book arrived too late to be included in my review of books from 2004, with this review being the first of 2005. If it had come across my desk earlier I would have given it the nod as the best ‘first book’ of 2004.

‘The gangster we are all looking for’ (ISBN 0-330-43473-X, Picador publishing 2004) was written by a Vietnamese immigrant to America, Le thi diem thuy. It details the life of boat people who escaped from Vietnam, and in this case, reaching America, the supposed land of milk and honey.

Le thi diem thuy was six years old when her family fled from Vietnam. On the beach they were split up in the melee of refugees trying to get on one of the boats. Her mother was left behind on the beach, while her elder brother drowned trying to reach the boat that had Le and her father on board.

After a refugee camp in Singapore, the pair were teamed up with another four males (‘uncles’) and they were accepted by America as immigrants.

She describes going around a supermarket at one in the morning with her father. They did not have money to buy anything, but just went there to look, touch and wonder at the kind of goods they had never seen before - their domestic shopping in war-torn Vietnam being local market fare only.

Her father resorts to alcohol, the strain of living with the death of his son almost too much to bear. When her mother finally makes it to America and they are reunited, her parents find that the mores and customs of the Vietnamese people do not fit in with their new society, and vice-versa.

This is a most powerful and moving book. Le thi diem thuy manages to paint word pictures that are far more graphic than mere photographs. The oft quoted “A picture is worth a thousand words” is quite inappropriate here. Her words are worth a thousand pictures. Not only does she describe her new surroundings in America as a six year old, but she describes her family, comprising her parents, her elder brother who drowned trying to flee Vietnam and her grandparents who remained there.

The traumas undergone by these people are far more than physical hardship, locked away between decks in fishing boats for weeks, but the psychological traumas of dislocation from ‘home’, no matter where; the separation of family members and the culture shocks which span years, are poignantly inscribed with a scalpel-like sharpness.

The writing is beautiful, even though the subject matter can at times be heart rending. By the time you get to the last page of this slim volume, you will have a much greater understanding of the real plight of refugees. This book is a seminal work that deserves to be incorporated into the syllabus of schools in this region. English expression wonderfully applied to become thought provoking images and concepts.

As a first book it is superb. As a literary work in any part of an author’s life, it is similarly superb. Get this book.

Mott's CD Reviews: Molly Hatchet - Double Trouble, Live /font>

Razzed by Mott The Dog
Snazzed by Ella Crew

3 Stars **

Ahh... Southern Rock. Breathe deeply and you can smell it. Well, not the music, but you can sure fill your nostrils with the heavy aroma of Jack Daniels. Southern Rock comes in many different packages, like Little Feat, very funky; the Outlaws, country influence; Blackfoot, who veered heavily towards hard rock; the Allman Brothers, carrying the flag for the blues; and of course Lynyrd Skynyrd, the ultimate Southern rock band. Molly Hatchet are the Stones and rhythm and blues influenced Southern rock band. What all the bands have in common is gruff vocals, a penchant for guitar solos, and no regard to dress sense as long as it’s blue jeans and cowboy boots, topped off by a Stetson hat. Also scant notice is taken of expanding waistlines and certainly no regard is wasted in keeping a stable line-up. Molly Hatchet are true to form in all these elements.

This album catches Molly Hatchet in fine form with the great Danny Joe Brown out in front with his hard living attitude and great diction. He sang and lived the Southern attitude to the maximum, a great focal point, charisma just oozed from this man, his vocals completely dominate these recordings, which is no mean feat considering what is behind him.

Danny Joe Brown can be heard at his absolute best on Hatchet’s tribute to Lynyrd Skynyrd, when they break into an eleven minute version of ‘Freebird’ in the middle of this set. The song is given an emotional introduction before the band came crashing in. What a band, too. By now and after six years on the road, when this concert was recorded on a home coming gig in Dallas, Texas, and a sultry night in Jacksonville, Florida, the Hatchet had been reduced to a twin lead guitar attack (there had originally been three) comprising of Dave Hlubek, who turns in a fine display of slide playing, and another original Hatchet man Duane Roland.

Backing them up are Bruce Crump on drums and the marvelously monikered Riff West on bass. Sitting quietly at the side of the stage was the recently acquired John Galvin on keyboards, but there really isn’t much room in Southern Rock for tinkling of the ivories with all the guitar and vocal action going on.

All the classic Hatchet songs are featured here in all their glory. (One glance at the song titles will tell you what they are about.) The band takes most songs on the gallop and only occasionally swaggers into a canter. Certainly do not bother looking for any ballads here; not an album to sit down to. Instead, turn up the volume to eleven and do some grotesque gurning down at the front of the stage. Every song here would go down well at the front in Tahitian Queen’s famous rock ’n’ roll Happy hour on Friday evening.

Molly Hatchet is now embarking on their 25-year anniversary tour. But, is it really Molly Hatchet you may ask? After this long lifespan, all of the original members of the band have left. Even this line-up, which played together six years after the band’s conception, only contained three originals, and none of these guys are presently with the band. Over the years new guys arrived to fill the shoes of those who left and Southern Rock is an attitude, not a line-up. So what the heck, if it sounds good and feels good, love it. Deep Purple have only got the drummer left from the original quintet, and they make Spinal Tap look like a stable animal.

So then, why only three Stars? Well, two songs have been left off from the original release to make it possible to fit onto one CD. When it comes to releases, this dog wants it all. Then the transfer over onto CD from the tapes is appalling, losing an awful lot of the bottom end. If ever a collection of songs needed the double CD re-mastered, made over with additional tracks, etc., this is it. Warner Brothers have already done a marvelous job of re-vamping Little Feat’s live album “Waiting for Columbus”. Com’on, Epic Records, the Hatchet job’s awaiting.

Hatchet members credited with this album

Danny Joe Baker - Vocals
Dave Hlubek - Lead Guitar, Slide Guitar, and Backing Vocals
Duane Roland - Lead and Rhythm Guitar
Bruce Crump - Drums
Riff Wes - Bass Guitar and Backing Vocals
John Galvin - Piano, Synthesizer, and Backing Vocals

The Songs
Whiskey Man
Bounty Hunter
Gator Country
Flirtin’ With Disaster
Stone In Your Heart
Satisfied Man
Bloody Reunion
Boogie No More
Dreams I’ll Never See
Edge Of Sundown
Fall Of The Peacemakers
Beatin’ The Odds

To contact Mott the Dog email: [email protected]