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Book Review

Mott’s CD review

Book Review: Great Leader, Dear Leader

by Lang Reid

I was honored to receive a very early copy of Bertil Lintner’s latest book, Great Leader, Dear Leader, Demystifying North Korea under the Kim Clan. Published by Silkworm Books (Chiang Mai) this year (ISBN 974-9575-69-5), it is a timely publication, with North Korea being very much in the news these days with its stand on nuclear armament.

This month a defense analyst with the Center for Strategic and International Studies said, “North Korea is quite capable of responding to any kind of military action that we take with a devastating attack, an artillery and missile barrage on the South that would inflict millions of deaths and casualties.” Sobering thoughts.

In his introduction, Lintner writes, “The North Korean regime has always been perceived by Western - and even Asian - politicians, diplomats and scholars as unpredictable and inscrutable.” It is from that stance that the book is written.

The first chapter is enthralling, as author Lintner describes the historic summit meeting between the leaders of North and South Korea in 2000, but then goes on to lay open the financial scandals that followed. Lintner uses the well proven principle called ‘follow the money’ to find the truth. And the truth proves quite capable of leaving some fairly muddied waters on both side of Korea’s DMZ.

He delves into the history of the leader and his son, and again any questioner is presented with legend, folklore, propaganda and fact, all of which requires much deduction. “It is also extremely difficult to separate fact from fantasy and propaganda - both northern and southern - with respect to Kim Il Sung’s past,” writes Lintner. That Kim Il Sung was a guerilla fighter is not doubted at any stage, the differences between his lifestyle and that of his son and current leader of North Korea, Kim Jong Il, is explored, even if just to show the blind faith of his followers.

How North Korea became a nuclear power, and allied with others is also demonstrated by ‘following the money’ and it is a chilling tale.

As befits any resource material, the book also features a chronology of important dates from 1910, a Who’s Who, Notes from the copious annotations throughout the book and a detailed Bibliography. This is not a novel. This is a serious factual publication.

Bertil Lintner said during an interview in Chiang Mai, “There is tremendous satisfaction in holding your own book.” It was with an even greater sense of satisfaction that I put down Bertil Lintner’s book after reading it, and having been educated by it. Lintner takes the reader on a true literary voyage of discovery on a subject that not many of us have had the opportunity to explore, and does it in a very readable fashion.

It is important in the overall scheme of global overviews that we have some reasonably credible, factual building blocks, and not biased propaganda. I believe Bertil Lintner eschews propaganda, and has presented the real facts to my satisfaction.

You can make your own decision after spending B. 625 at any book store that stocks better quality books. A ‘must read’ for any Asiaphile.

Mott's CD Reviews: From Luther Grosvenor to Ariel Bender and Beyond

The Story of a Five Star Rock ‘n’ Roll Star – part four

Widowed by Mott the Dog
Made by Ella Crew

After their hugely successful tour of Britain, Mott the Hoople, with brand-new guitarist Ariel Bender in tow, entered Trident studios to record the follow up to the previous year’s smash hit album ‘Mott’ (1973). At first all was well. Ian Hunter, after having established his position as leader of the band again, was chock-a-block full of songs.

The first song to be put down on tape was ‘The Golden Age Of Rock ‘n’ Roll’, a superb slice of glam rock. All Ariel Bender had to do was slip in a crazed guitar solo in the middle section. When the single was released it went Top Ten on both sides of the Atlantic. Ariel Bender’s contribution was the talk of the town.

Ariel Bender left a huge impression on Mott the Hoople, but due to mounting tensions and Ariel Bender finding it more and more difficult to get to grips with Ian Hunter’s structured songs, he left a year after he arrived. In a splash of publicity Mick Ronson replaced Ariel Bender, but the game was up and Mott the Hoople folded in another six months.

Posthumously a live album from Mott the Hoople was released with the Ariel Bender line-up, featuring on one side songs from the Hammersmith Odeon Christmas gigs, and one side from the Uris Theatre on Broadway. It is pure unadulterated rock ‘n’ roll with the guitar playing of Ariel Bender being the major feature. The Hammersmith Odeon closing medley of classic standards and Mott the Hoople signature songs coming in at over seventeen minutes is spectacular. It contains some of the greatest guitar pyrotechnics ever put down on tape.

This band should have conquered the world. At least those of us who were lucky enough to see the band can refresh their memories by listening to the musical drama unfold on these recordings. Mercifully, the complete recordings from both concerts have been released in their entirety, with a re-release of the Live album (May 2004) on a double CD. Slip the disc into your player, turn the volume up to eleven, and let Ariel Bender blow away your brains.

After a brief recuperation Luther Grosvenor decided to keep the Ariel Bender persona and formed a new band, a rock ‘n’ roll band that would fit the monster that Ariel Bender had become. After several false starts ‘Widowmaker’ made their public debut. What a band!

Ariel Bender still held down lead guitar responsibilities and spotlight in live concert, backed by Hugh Lloyd Langton, ex Hawkwind, on second guitar; Steve Ellis, the voice behind the hit single by Love Affair ‘Ever Lasting Love’; Bob Daisley on bass, who was later with Ozzy Osbourne, Uriah Heep, and Rainbow; plus powerhouse drummer Paul Nicholls, ex Lindisfarne. The band got management through Don Arden, father of Sharon, wife of Ozzy Osbourne.

Widowmaker set out on the road with support slots for the Who, Electric Light Orchestra, Aerosmith, and two headlining tours of Britain. The first album was recorded and released (1976) under the band’s moniker. The musically explosive band on stage was also musically explosive off stage, and before somebody ended up in hospital, Steve Ellis left the band after the first American tour. He was replaced by John Butler and another album was recorded aptly titled ‘Too Late To Cry’ (1977). Tours of Europe and the States were completed before more internal strife and the arrival of punk rock left the band nowhere to go. So they split up. After leaving the stage at Carlisle Winter Gardens, the band members never spoke to each other again.

Ariel Bender then shed his skin and became Luther Grosvenor again. Taking a good long look at the rock ‘n’ roll world, Luther Grosvenor on his thirty second birthday decided enough was enough. Luther Grosvenor gave up the Ariel Bender business and started a painting and decorating business. For the next fifteen years Luther Grosvenor did not even pick up a guitar, a tragic waste of such a stunning talent. But although having contributed to some of the most legendary concerts in rock ‘n’ roll’ history, and having been involved in two of its classic albums with Spooky Two (1969) and ‘The Hoople’ (1974), still being broke and unemployed, who can blame him?

Luther Grosvenor went home to Evesham. It was not until local friend and workmate John Ledson coaxed him into forming an ad hoc blues band called ‘Blues 92’ (after the year) to play the local pubs that Luther got his fingers back. They grabbed the attention of record executive Bob Laul, who then spent three years plotting and scheming to get Luther Grosvenor back into the spotlight. Luther himself was not keen on the idea and resisted all sorts of enticements. But everybody has a chink in their armour; his was found when asked to play on a Peter Green tribute album. At first Grosvenor was reluctant, having been away from the recording studio for such a long time. However, he finally decided to go for it when he found himself surrounded by old friends like Mike Kellie, ex-Spooky Tooth, and record label mate Jess Roden. They recorded two tracks for the ‘Rattlesnake Guitar’ album, ‘Crying Won’t Bring You Back’ and ‘Merry Go Round’.

The results were stunning and Luther Grosvenor was an instant star again. Then Bob Laul asked Luther to record his second solo album. Luther took a year to think about it, but eventually agreed, and the studio was booked.

Would the magic still be there? Would Luther Grosvenor be able to control Ariel Bender back in the studio? All will be revealed next week.

Albums featuring Ariel Bender in this period
The Hoople - Mott the Hoople
Live - Mott the Hoople

Albums with Luther Grosvenor

Rattlesnake Guitar
Peter Green Tribute album

To contact Mott the Dog email: [email protected]