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Book Review

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Book Review: The Go Go Dancer Who Stole My Viagra

by Lang Reid

That Bangkok wordsmith Dean Barrett has done it again! Yet another book crafted around his knowledge of the chrome pole paradise scene in Bangkok. The Go Go Dancer Who Stole My Viagra (and other poetic tragedies of Thailand) is printed in Bangkok and was published by Village East Books (ISBN 0-9661899-9-X). However, this time Barrett has gone poetic on us! (Even though much of it has escaped the confines of iambic tetrameters and its ilk, to take refuge in blank verse.) Some poems have been printed in other publications, so consider this book something of an anthology.

If you are into poetry, then Barrett is supplying a feast, with 34 in the section Poems on Thailand and another 22 in the Poems Beyond Thailand grouping.

The numerically larger section on Thailand has enough titles to let you see the drift of the book. “Buffalo Him Die Send Money” really needs no explanation, and the item “The farang who fell to his death from his apartment balcony in Pattaya” shows that author Barrett does indeed read the Pattaya Mail’s death and destruction pages as well as the Book Review. A few (telling) stanzas here:

“For the sun is soon arisin’
And I’m fallin’ by the sea
But there ain’t no Moulmein pagoda
Just my slippery balcony.”
“The police say you fell
but their experts can’t quite tell
why your hands were tied behind your back
and your head covered with a transparent sack.”
“You were only 38
So was the caliber of the bullet they found
But the case is closed
No more to say.”

My favourite was the one entitled Flight to Bangkok, and encapsulates air travel, which I personally believe is part of the Jai Yen Yen 101 course, that I fail miserably every time. (I now refuse to fly on budget airlines until they buy the captain a watch.) Here are a few stanzas from “Flight to Bangkok”:

“My flight is
See agent”
And the final verse
“My Life is
Due to
Late arrival of incoming aircraft
Innate survival of outbound clich้s
See agent”

Just in case you imagine that writers have great lives, he has a chilling few pages of prose dealing with the final chapters of many author’s lives. Called “Writers Lead Stable Lives” he details the deaths of the famous writers such as Christopher Marlowe (murdered), Chatterton (suicide), Federico Garcia Lorca (executed), Hemingway (suicide) or John Berryman who jumped off a bridge, waving to bystanders.

This latest of Barrett’s publications is priced at 475 baht and should be available from all popular bookshops. It is a brave piece of work, and like much of Barrett’s writing there are plenty of insightful items, unfortunately interspersed with what I call ‘cheap thrills’. This book is probably not my cup of tea, but I still love “Flight to Bangkok”. Definitely worth a browse if you are into poetry.

Mott's CD Reviews: John Mayall - The Bluesbreakers and Friends - 70th Birthday Concert

Bluesed by Mott the Dog
Slid past by Ella Crew

5 Stars *****

On the occasion of John Mayall’s 70th Birthday, the father of the British blues boom held a special concert at Liverpool docks on July 19th, 2003. Thankfully the concert was recorded for posterity, as it is - without doubt - the finest British blues album in decades.

The music kicks off with a couple of numbers from the Bluesbreakers minus their illustrious leader. Although this sets the standards for the rest of the night already very high, things really start to cook when the great man arrives and whips out his harmonica for their third song. After a few more numbers the festivities truly begin with the introduction of Mick Taylor on lead guitar. Now remember, Mick Taylor originally made his name with the Bluesbreakers before he was poached away by the glimmer twins for a five year stint as a Rolling Stone. Mick Taylor has certainly lost none of his chops and leads the ensemble through a riotous collection of blues and boogie.

Then Mick Taylor leaves the stage to give space to John Mayall’s most famous prot้g้, a certain Mr. Eric ‘Slowhand’ Clapton. The selection of songs from the seminal John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers album featuring Eric Clapton let’s one step back and wonder with awe.

Next up is the inspired inclusion of Chris Barber on trombone, who sets up some wonderful duels with Clapton. In the late fifties Chris Barber was responsible for bringing over to the British shores such artists as ‘Big Bill Broonzy’, Sister Rossetta Tharpe, Sonny Terry, and the great Muddy Waters. So, who knows what state British music would be in without the introduction of these American greats to further inspire the likes of ‘The Beatles’, ‘The Kinks’, and ‘The Pretty Things’?

Although all these great musicians are on stage, the actual Bluesbreakers are never overawed. To the contrary, they leave the featured artist space to excel, none more than to the man himself - John Mayall. Mayall, entering his eighth decade, shows no sign of slowing down or losing his amazing abilities.

The concert is brought to a climax with twenty-five minutes of encores with the entire cast on stage. Everybody fights for space to solo, but usually politely await their turn. The whole thing really rocks.

At just over two and a half hours there is not a moment on this two disc set that is not covered in magic. The concert was recorded for DVD, which is also available.

It is quite fun to have a look at all the artists who could have been invited to this show, who have at one time or another passed through the ranks of John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers. There’s Jack Bruce, Eric Clapton’s old running buddy in Cream. The third part of that particular trio, Ginger Baker, also played with the Bluesbreakers once, but only sitting in for a jam on the drums. Peter Green; John McVie; Mick Fleetwood, who left Mayall to form Fleetwood Mac; Aynsley Dunbar; a fifteen year old Andy Fraser of Free fame, and Micky Waller. John Hiseman, Tony Reeves, and Dick Heckstall-Smith who all sneaked off together to form Colosseum. Keef Hartley; Hughie Flint… Oh! The list is endless, but it does go to show how important John Mayall and his Bluesbreakers are to British blues.

After a particularly brilliant interchange between Clapton and Barber, which brings ‘Have You Heard’ to a dramatic finish, John Mayall shouts from the stage “The blues does not get better than that”. The man is correct.

Disc One
1. Grits Ain’t Groceries – Bluesbreakers
2. Jacksboro Highway – Bluesbreakers
3. Southside Story – Mayall/Bluesbreakers
4. Kids Got The Blues – Mayall/Bluesbreakers
5. Dirty Water – Mayall/Bluesbreakers
6. Somebody’s Acting Like A Child – Mayall/Bluesbreakers/Taylor
7. Blues For The Lost Days – Mayall/Bluesbreakers/Taylor
8. Walking On Sunset – Mayall/Bluesbreakers/Taylor
9. Oh, Pretty Woman – Mayall/Bluesbreakers/Taylor
10. No Big Hurry – Mayall/Clapton
Disc Two
1. Please Mr. Lofton – Mayall/Clapton/Barber
2. Hideaway – Mayall/Bluesbreakers/Clapton/Barber
3. All Your Love – Mayall/Bluesbreakers/Clapton
4. Have You Heard – Mayall/Bluesbreakers/Clapton/Barber
5. Hoochie Coochie Man – Mayall/Bluesbreakers/Clapton/Barber
6. I’m Tore Down – Mayall/Bluesbreakers/Clapton/Barber
7. It Ain’t Right – Mayall/Bluesbreakers
8. California – Mayall/Bluesbreakers/Taylor/Barber/Lowther
9. Talk To Your Daughter – Mayall/Bluesbreakers/Clapton/Taylor/Barber
John Mayall – Piano, Guitar, Harmonica, Vocals
Buddy Whitington – Guitar & Vocals
Joe Yuele – Drums
Hank Van Sickle – Bass Guitar
Tom Canning – Organ & Piano
Special thanks to guest artists:
Eric Clapton – Guitar & Vocals (appears courtesy of Reprise Records)
Chris Barber – Trombone
Mick Taylor – Guitar
Henry Lowther – Trumpet & Arrangements
Dave Lewis – Tenor Sax
Julian Arguelles – Baritone Sax
To contact Mott the Dog email: [email protected]