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Book Review

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Book Review: Thailand : Bangkok Guide (16th edition)

by Lang Reid

Whether we live in Bangkok, or in the provinces, Bangkok has a decided influence on all our lives. For many of us, the embassies are situated there, and trips to the capital become necessary. There is also more happening as far as the Arts is concerned, there are more restaurants to choose from, and some of us even send our children to international schools in the nation’s capital. For these, and many other reasons, when my local Bookazine suggested I review the Bangkok Guide (Australian-New Zealand Women’s Group, ISBN 974-93095-4-5, typeset, printed and bound in Thailand by the Creative Group in Bangkok) it did not seem an unreasonable request.

Physically this is a heavy publication at over 400 large pages. It would do considerable damage if hurled at predatory puppies, but I would sincerely hope that this is not done, as on page 128 there is very helpful advice on what to do if exposure is a possibility. The section also contains the sobering thought that there are 100,000 people who receive post-exposure treatment in Thailand, and 30 people will die of the disease. The Health section is right up to the minute and covers H5N1 (Bird flu), SARS, Dengue and Japanese Encephalitis, which is becoming more widespread in Thailand.

The book is divided into logical sections, starting with a brief overview of the country and customs, followed by the nuts and bolts of actually moving here and becoming involved in the endless chain of paper which has a work permit at the end of the rainbow.

There are 30 pages of advice on Getting Settled, followed by another large section on education. This gives parents a checklist to make evaluation of schools a little less of a hit and miss exercise. This section is worth the price of the book, just for that alone, in my opinion, having gone through the educational establishment choices many times before.

Being a book written by ladies, for ladies, there is certainly a plethora of places to shop. There are around 60 pages covering everything (including the kitchen sink) and then another 30 pages of Thai items. Shop till you drop, ladies. The sections continue with restaurants, sports, activities, welfare and exploring Bangkok.

One section that is very well done is a 40 page part covering Beyond Bangkok.

There is also a very comprehensive index to assist anyone through the 400 pages. This covers day and weekend trips and further afield. Well done, ladies!

At the end of the book there is a book of emergency telephone numbers, a telephone directory and a map. Perhaps I might be able to traverse Bangkok without getting lost (for once).

The book has an RRP of B. 795, and every English speaking household in Bangkok should have one. Those in the provinces can still gain much from the publication and the Australian-New Zealand Women’s Group is to be congratulated in producing another fine edition of their guide. If I were to make one slight comment, Chiang Mai seems to have been ignored, even though there is a section on Pattaya. Perhaps next time?


Mott's CD Reviews: Lands End - The Lower Depths

mott the dog

5 Stars *****

Lands End’s sixth album release is a double CD affair, also being the one hundred and forty second release on the Cyclops label. Cyclops is a very apt name for this record label as it is completely one eyed about the sort of music it releases. If it is not progressive rock it will not be on the Cyclops label.

‘Lands End’ fit the category of progressive rock perfectly; the music can be best described as mind expanding. The band came together under the ‘Lands End’ banner in 1992 when Fred Hunter joined Mark Lavalle in his band and forged an immediate song writing partnership. By 1993 mercurial guitarist Francisco ‘Kiko’ Neto and vocalist Jeff McFarland had been brought in to the band, and the way was clear for what should have been a startling successful career in rock music.

By 1998, however, although the albums were selling well, with all the band members having young families it was still necessary for all the band members to ply their trade in other fields apart from music to keep roof over head and bread on the table. This meant in some cases relocation, so geographically ‘Lands End’ ceased to exist, although all of the parts remained friends, all four putting parts onto Fred Hunter’s next musical project ‘Transience’ releasing ‘Sliding’ (1999) and ‘Primordial’ (2003). Both were good albums, but again without much live representation, they were not exactly setting the charts alight.

Now, miraculously seven years after all the four members of ‘Lands End’ were in one room together, we get a new ‘Lands End’ album, with Fred Hunter coordinating everything from his home base whilst the others literally phone their parts in. Do not be put off by this as they still sound like a very tight unit, and you would never know when listening to this album that it had taken five years to come to fruition, and had been recorded in such diverse places as Yeovil UK, Las Vegas Nevada USA, and Rio de Janeiro Brazil.

Originally supposed to be a single CD, Malcolm Parker managed to persuade Fred Hunter to add a bonus CD onto the original ‘The Lower Depths’. The second CD is called ‘Plundering The Depths’.

It is without doubt the best ‘Lands End’ album so far. There are a few changes that have occurred over the years, but this has been made an advantage. When certain musicians were not available to do their parts friends were brought in to fill the gaps, and this has only added to the depth and texture of the music.

After a little dabbling with ‘An Accident’ which opens the album up, we get the first epic ‘Digital Signatures’, a Hunter/Lavallee song, which has all the trademarks of ‘Lands End’. The other two musicians on the song are Bruce Soord from ‘Vulgar Unicorn’ and ‘Pineapple Thief’ on lead guitar, and the amazing voice of Cathy Alexander from folk/rock band ‘The Morrigan’ on lead vocals. Cathy Alexander sings on ‘Digital Signatures’ which clocks in at over fourteen minutes long and on ‘The Lower Depths’ major epic ‘A New World Order’ which comes in at over twenty four minutes, so you get nearly forty minutes of Cathy Alexander’s dulcet velvet tones for your buck. That alone is worth the money for this CD.

As Cathy Alexander’s voices drifts off after the opener, next up is more familiar territory with Jeff McFarland taking over vocal duties, whilst Mark Lavalee puts the sticks to the drums. A drummer always has a better time the more pomp and circumstance there is to the music, and let me tell you that Mark Lavalee is really enjoying making these recordings. You can hear his smile coming out of the grooves.

Meanwhile, Fred Hunter plays all the other instruments on this song. ‘Why Should I?’ is the first contribution from Francisco Neto on the album, although he still does not make a musical entrance as he does not play a note. Instead he co-wrote the song with Jeff McFarland, who does not appear on the song either, as it is sung in plaintive terms by Bruce Soord. Certainly no clash of egos between these progressive rockers, what ever sounds best do.

‘Hope Springs’ eternal is a great ‘Lands End’ song sung by Jeff McFarland. Still, no guitar work from Francisco Neto though. To make up for this the epic ‘A New World Order’ features the guitar work of Steve Anderson. Steve Anderson is the axe slinger in ‘Sphere3’ and was also in ‘Grey Lady Down’. To hear more of Steve Anderson’s wall flattening guitar work have a listen to the ‘Grey Lady Down’ live album ‘The Time Of Our Lives’ (1998).

To close the first CD is a nice little Jeff McFarland song, a fitting close.

The second CD, ‘Plundering the Depths’, starts off with one of two songs brought out and dusted off from the Lands End scrap book: ‘Eyes Of Venus’ (1995) and ‘This Addiction’ (1996). In between is a good ‘Lands End’ rocker ‘Indoctrinated’, again featuring Steve Anderson on guitars.

There is also a little bit of nonsense called ‘The Philosophy Of Containers 2’ which takes longer to read than it does to listen too, clocking in at just 23 seconds. Quite the reverse of the last number, ‘Acquiesce To The Martinets Precept’, which thunders in at fifty three minutes. Every facet of ‘Lands End’ and progressive rock are shown off during this time. If people say music cannot be fascinating, have a listen to this, there are so many colours, shades, emotions and depths to this music that it bears repetitive listening.

It also ably demonstrates why the rest of the band were quite happy to wait for Francisco Neto to send his guitar parts. At times here his guitar playing is simply jaw dropping. A fitting climax to a marvellous album.

If you would like to know more about Cyclops and its mail order service GFT, please look up their very extensive website at www.gft-cyclops.co.uk. Their delivery service is the fastest in the west.

Lands End
Fred Hunter: Guitars, Bass guitars, Keyboards, Taurus pedals
Francisco Neto: Guitars
Mark Lavalle: Drums, Percussion
Jeff McFarlane: Vocals, Guitars
Special guests
Cathy Alexander: Vocals
Bruce Soord Vocals, Guitars
Steve Anderson: Guitars

CD One: The Lower Depths

An Accident
Digital Signatures
Behind The Iron Gates
Why Should I?
Hope Springs Eternal
A New World Order
Believe In What

CD Two: Plundering The Depths

Eyes Of Venus
Indoctrinated
The Philosophy Of Containers 2
This Addiction
Acquiesce To The Martinets Precept

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