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Mott’s CD review
Book Review: Thailand - A Traveller’s Companion
by Lang Reid
Books have brought out their third edition of Thailand - A Traveller’s
Companion (ISBN 981-4155-39-X). The original was published in 1994, and the
current large format being introduced in 2000, and the successive years have
seen new editions with annual reprints.
The hardcover book opens with some wonderfully evocative
black and white prints of Bangkok in the late 1890’s and then into a very
comprehensive page of contents, including Nature, History, Arts and Traditions,
Architecture and Thailand as seen by painters and writers. The sections then go
into geographical regions covering Bangkok, the South, the North-east, the
Central Plains, and the North. At the back of the book there is an extensive
directory, list of illustrations and an index.
Within the first 15 pages you are within a treasure trove of
information, presented both in words and pictures, and sparking an interest
even in people who profess none at all about some of the subjects. Even I found
that the section on orchids quite compelling, and being given the origin of the
Cattleya produced some new historical facts to digest.
In the following section covering the people of Siam, it was
a trifle sad to read, “Thailand is a mosaic of peoples and cultures, and yet
it has never suffered any serious racial conflict. This may be due to the fact
that the central Thai have ruled more by consensus than by force.” This
obviously does not relate to the present day situation in the South, or to
Central regional powers! Thumbnail sketches are given of the races that make up
today’s polyglot Thailand, including the Tai, the Chinese, the Laos, the
Khmers, the Shans, the Muslims, the Mons and the separate hill tribes which are
the newcomers. There is obviously no such person as a “pure” Thai!
The following section on History has a running world
calendar beside the Thai items, to put everything into perspective, and ranges
from pre-history right up to 2004 and the populist policies of the Thaksin
government and the New Social Order.
With the burgeoning popularity of the Tom Yum Goong movie
about stolen elephants, there is a page devoted to the pachyderms, with even
more snippets of information.
The geographical sections are also packed with information,
photographs and illustrations, both old and new, and it would be impossible for
anyone to read this book and not learn something new about this country, its
traditions and its history. With the comprehensive index, it is an ideal
At B. 895, this publication really is a bargain, but of
course the costs have been offset by the incorporation of advertisers. However,
these are all high class establishments and the advertising is not intrusive.
A beautiful book to present to someone who has just arrived, or to have as a
coffee table item for visitors to browse. The list of those involved is
extensive, with the heavyweights in the literary business, such as William
Warren and Luca Invernizzi Tettoni at the top of the listing. This latest
edition has additional material from Philip Cornwel-Smith, another long term
expatriate writer in Thailand.
Mott's CD Reviews: Jethro Tull Aqualung
by Mott the Dog
Re-chewed by Ella Crew
5 Stars *****
Three facts about Jethro Tull: One, Jethro Tull is not the
name of a member of the band, it is the name of the band. The chap that is
always pictured leading the band is actually called Ian Anderson, who is still
leading the band today in 2005 (in-between his main occupation now as a salmon
farmer!). He is the rather odd looking chap usually pictured standing on one
leg, wearing a rather shabby, ill fitting rain coat whilst playing the flute.
Number Two fact is that although Jethro Tull’s line up has
been extremely mercurial, they have only ever had three lead guitarists. The
first was the brilliant blues guitarist Mick Abrahams, who left after the first
album, “This Was” (1968), to form his own band Blodwyn Pig, who were to
have their moment in the spotlight in the early seventies. The next guitarist
lasted only for a month before deciding that Jethro Tull’s take on the blues
was not quite him and moving back to his old mates, and forming Black Sabbath -
a certain Toni Iommi. He was then replaced by Martin Barre, who is still with
the band today, 37 years later.
Fact Number three is that their fourth album, written
completely by Ian Anderson, who by now was definitely the leader of the band,
is a five star classic that can easily be said to have changed the face of Rock
music as we now know it.
Jethro Tull was formed in Birmingham, England in 1967, to
cash in on the burgeoning British Blues Boom. They were an instant success with
their first album going into the British Top Twenty.
In early 1971 Jethro Tull went into the newly opened Island
recording studios for three weeks to record their new album (the other band in
residence at Island at the same time was Led Zeppelin, who were laying down
tracks for their fourth album). When they came out again they had recorded one
of Rock’s great moments. “Aqualung” was released to its adoring public,
and in reality gave Ian Anderson and his bunch the right to lifetime
Never mind how much the line up changed, and boy, did it; by
the time of this release there was only one remaining original member of the
band apart from Anderson, Clive Bunker the drummer, and he was to leave before
the release of Tull’s next album “Thick As A Brick” (1972). But no matter
how many bass players, keyboards and drummers they had, as long as Ian Anderson
wrote, arranged and sang the songs, with his flute giving Tull their
distinctive sound, and his right hand man Martin Barre sticking with him to
give the band genuine rock credibility, the band over the next thirty years
turned out a constant stream of quality albums and live concerts. But Aqualung
was certainly a defining moment, and is crammed full of classic tracks, many of
which are still in Tull’s live set today.
The album is split into two parts, in the days of vinyl,
side one and side two, throughout which Anderson and Barre’s playing is
inspirational, whilst the supporting musicians turn in fine performances.
Track one is the album’s title track, starting off with a
typical Tull guitar riff before the band breaks in, and Anderson starts his
Aqualung is the album’s lead character, and is so named
for his hacking cough and dishevelled appearance. Side one deals with his life
story, full of seedy vignettes drawn from modern secular English life. The
title track actually has three sections, and as the mood of the narrator
unfolds the music changes accordingly. The first melodic statement sung in a
harsh surly voice is ugly and jarring on the senses, it then turns into a
completely different beast far gentler and easy on the ear before rising to a
rockin’ finale featuring the first of the musical duels between Anderson’s
flute and Barre’s mighty axe.
Side two, subtitled My God, deals explicitly with religion.
There are more questions asked than answers given, which leaves the album
topical and soul searching today. Again the structure of the songs is
constantly shifting. There are stately hymnal changes, a jazzy flute break, and
many pomp-and-circumstantial motifs which, when inverted, assume more chromatic
and modern queasiness. Altogether a very satisfying and complete package.
With this new 30th Anniversary edition, not only do you get
the entire original eleven tracks clearly re-mastered, all of the artwork
reprinted (the front cover alone puts shivers up and down your spine) but also
a bonus of five extra tracks including the glorious ‘Bouree’, delightfully
credited to Ian Anderson/Johan Sebastian Bach, plus an excerpt of an interview
with Ian Anderson on his recollections of recording Aqualung. All in all,
it’s a grand package.
Jethro Tull (1971)
Ian Anderson: Flute, Acoustic Guitar, and the Voice
Clive Bunker: A Thousand Drums
Martin Barre: Electric Guitars, and Descant Recorder (one of those silly things
most of us at some point at school were forced to play with disastrous results)
John Evan: Piano, Organ, and Mellotron
Jeffery Hammond: Bass Guitar, Alto recorder and all of the odd voices on the
Aqualung, Cross Eyed Mary, Cheap Pay return, Mother Goose,
Wondr’ing Aloud, Up To Me, My God, Hymn 43 Slipstream, Locomotive Breath,
Lick your Fingers Clean
Wind Up (Quad Version, which sure makes your speakers rock)
Excerpts from and Ian Anderson Interview
Song For Jeffrey (Live)
To contact Mott the Dog
email: [email protected]
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