Vol. IV No. 17 - Saturday April 23 - April 29. 2005
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Book-Movies-Music
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Book Review

Mott’s CD review

Book Review: Hilltribes of Thailand

by Lang Reid

The so-called ‘developed’ nations do not have a good record when it comes to their handling of indigenous peoples. These are the ‘natives’ of the country who have been, in many cases, usurped by the now incumbent civilized interlopers. In Thailand, this is a little different, as the indigenous peoples were itinerant peoples, and for many now resident in Thailand, their nationality is still under review, despite being third and fourth generation tribesmen and women, living in this country.

To record the true nature of these peoples needs a first class photographer and a skilled writer. Fortunately Michael Freeman is one of these rare people with multiple, portable skills. His book Hilltribes of Thailand (Asia Books, ISBN 962-7987-09-2) was first printed in 1992 and has been reprinted twice since then.

He mentions in the first few pages that no matter how picturesque, the hills of the Golden Triangle region are quite inhospitable and illustrates this beautifully with some full-bleed shots across two pages. He also informs that of the six major hilltribes in Thailand, only one has written records and all the past history is passed on by oral tradition. Akha men, for example, are required to remember their family tree for 60 generations, which is about 56 more than the average westerner can go.

The differences and origins of the six tribes (Akha, Lisu, Karen, Hmong, Mien and Lahu) are well presented, both pictorially and in words in the introduction. After the lead-in, the rest of the book consists of colour plates with extended captions that are as interesting as the photographs themselves. Were you aware that in the Lisu tradition it is considered improper for a baby to be allowed to crawl, and the babies are carried on the women’s backs until they are big enough to walk!

The glorious colour plates are what takes the reader from page to page, and this is neither just a picture book or an illustrated journal, but one that has a lot of both. Without the captions one would be lost, but they are so informative that the photographs take an even greater significance.

Despite the fact that this book was first published in 1992, it is still ‘current’. Life for hilltribe people does not change at the speed of life in the ‘civilized’ culture. This may or may not be a good thing! However, Michael Freeman has shown a very true vignette of the life for the hilltribe peoples.

For B. 395 this is an excellent book which should be kept and shown to our children to remind all of us that no matter how difficult we may think our life is, this is not the case for the indigenous. Theirs is much, much harder. As Michael Freeman writes, “Hilltribe culture is as it is because of adversity, and there is a quality of resilience in the character of these peoples that has helped them adjust to difficult circumstances in the past. This coupled with a feeling of tribal identity that is remarkably strong in some groups, may be sufficient to help them adapt to life in modern Thailand.”


Mott's CD Reviews: Yes - Yes. 1st Album

Buried by Mott the Dog
Dug up by Ella Crew

5 Stars *****

Rhino Records have released the first Yes album, re-mastered from the original tapes (which improved the overall sound of these recordings one hundred percent compared to the very inferior transfer done on the original CD released in 1995 by Atlantic records), re-created the artwork, added some extra pictures from that period, included a very informative essay by Yes expert Mike Tiano, a complete lyric sheet, and six bonus tracks tacked onto the end. Unlike most bonus tracks that are just chucked onto the end of a recording to try and fatten it out, these are all worthy and appropriate inclusions. All-round an excellent job has been done here.

Yes’ debut album was released in mid 1969, and to be fair, at first the band did not make much headway commercially. But that should not detract from the quality of the music on this album. In 1969 Yes was an ambitious group of young musicians who were not afraid of experimentation. The late sixties and early seventies were a heady time in the world of rock music as the kaftans and beads of psychedelic were thrown off for the more down to earth jeans and t-shirts of progressive rock. This album catches these young musicians at exactly this time with remarkable results.

Yes was made up of vocalist Jon Anderson, whose high trebly vocals gave Yes their distinctive sound. Chris Squire, whose driving bass lines had been influenced by the likes of John Entwhistle and whose harmony vocals were the perfect compliment to Jon’s aural assaults. On lead guitar was one of the best, aggressive, technically adapt guitarists on the circuit, a certain Peter Banks esq. All of whom had been with the marvellously monikered ‘Mabel Greer’s Toy Shop’, but Mabel had run her course and it was time to explore further. Keyboard player Tony Kaye was easily coerced away from the soft rocking Bitter Sweet, and drummer’s drummer Bill Bruford found himself at a loose end having set his sights a little low after joining Savoy Brown. Not that there is anything wrong with being the drummer in Savoy Brown, just not the job for Bill Bruford. Bruford was recruited through a Melody Maker small ad.

With the line-up in place the band started playing anywhere, anytime, anyplace, eventually coming to the notice of the American based Atlantic Records. They put them into Trident Studios in London with house producer Paul Clay. Although the band was not at first totally happy with the situation, feeling that Clay was a little old to appreciate fully what their young heads were about, they soon settled into the groove. They basically laid down the contents of what they were playing live onto tape. Most people do not know that in the early days Yes was something of a covers band, not the monstrous overblown monster they were to become with the likes of ‘Close to the Edge’ and ‘Topographic Oceans’. However, by then the line-up had changed dramatically.

Now back in 1969 Yes was a hard edged rock band with a penchant for turning other people’s great songs, tearing them apart and re-arranging them in startling new style. (This is also the way the Rolling Stones and the Beatles started out.) The first song ‘Beyond and Before’ is actually a tune that was a staple Mabel Greer’s Toy Shop song, written by Chris Squire and his old guitarist Clive Bailey. It is everything an opening song should be, immediately grabbing your attention and showing off all the assets of the band.

Next is one of Yes’ famous cover songs ‘I See You’, the old Byrds chestnut, which the band turned into a heavy keyboard laden workout. ‘Yesterday and Today’ is a beautiful Jon Anderson ballad with sympathetic piano and vocal backing. ‘Looking Around’ sees the band striding out in fine style. Harold Land begins with a jubilant major-key intro that leads into the main song, a sombre minor-key affair about a man torn by the ravages of war. One of the most thought provoking songs to ever come out under the Yes banner. Though the track eventually culminates with what appears to be a dynamic conclusion, the intro section resurfaces to close the piece.

‘Every Little Thing’ is used to allow the band to really put their heads down and rock with Peter Banks given full reign to show off his talents, dropping in the riff from Daytripper to add further drama to the song, whilst bringing the band crashing all back in together. As the title ‘Sweetness’ suggests, it shows off the softer side of the band and Clive Bailey gets another writing credit. ‘Survival’ is a fine Yes epic to bring the album to a fitting conclusion.

There are six bonus tracks, a collection of b-sides and singles plus two versions of the Yes cover of a medley of songs from West Side Story under the banner of ‘Something’s Coming’.

It was sad to see what Yes would later become, but in their early days, “what a band”!

Musicians
Bill Bruford - Drums
Tony Kaye - Organ, Piano
Peter Banks - Guitar, Vocals
Jon Anderson - Vocals
Chris Squire - Bass, Vocals

Songs

Beyond And Before
I Saw You
Yesterday And Today
Looking Around
Harold Land
Every Little Thing
Sweetness
Survival

Bonus Tracks

Everydays (single version)
Dear Father
Something’s Coming
Everydays (long version)
Dear Father (early version)
Something’s Coming (different version)

To contact Mott the Dog email: [email protected]
Website: http://www.mott-the-dog.com



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