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Book Review

Mott’s CD review

Book Review: The Review of the Reviews!

Fifty-odd books read and reviewed in the year is sometimes a daunting task. However, some stuck in the memory, for all kinds of reasons. The following are the more memorable, in my opinion.

Shadowed Country (ISBN 974-91823-0-8) was the latest offering from the champion of Isaan, Pira Canning Sudham. This latest book is more of an ‘expanded’ anthology, which author Pira says is the result of 50 years experience, writing and re-writing.

There has been a never-ending supply of books about the life of the poor people in Isaan, written by foreigners, and usually of the “why Lek joined the sex trade” genre. Pira Canning Sudham scores because his accounts are by a Thai, from the inside. Having been born in Napo, a small village in Buriram province, he tells it as it really is. The mind numbing education system and the dirt poor farmers. Everyone should read this book.

Another book was Bertil Lintner’s Great Leader, Dear Leader, Demystifying North Korea under the Kim Clan. Published by Silkworm Books (Chiang Mai) (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. A ‘must read’ for any Asiaphile.

Thailand, A Short History, was another stand-out. Published by Silkworm Books (ISBN 974-9575-44-X) in 2004, it was printed in Bangkok. Author David K. Wyatt shows no fear and honestly describes the self indulgences, cronyism and corruption that have been a blot on Thai politics for many, many decades. At B. 595 it is a wonderful book. My only criticism is that I would have preferred it to be in hardcover edition.

The year’s worst book was a toss-up between The Bush Survival Bible and Bad Karma. With George W Bush having been re-elected, the anti-Bush lobby looked as if it was going to run out of ammunition. However, rather than wait until three years into the presidential term before reloading their WMD’s (weapons of mass derision) and reloading the shelves, they managed to produce (in very quick time) The Bush Survival Bible, edited by Gene Stone, ISBN 0-8129-7476-X, published by Random House at the end of 2004. It was total rubbish. I was so underwhelmed by the slim volume that I could not be bothered to find out how much it sells for. Even given away free, it is not worth keeping. It is also too light to hold the door open in anything past Force 1 on the Zephyr scale of breezes. Perforate the pages and hang in the toilet.

Bad Karma. Yes, the full title being “Bad Karma, Confessions of a reckless traveler in South-East Asia” probably says it all. If looking for it (but I could not imagine why), ISBN 1-84024-058-X, Summer-sdale Publishers 2005. I found this a really tiresome book. Sheward is a good writer, with a self-deprecating wit that does engender the occasional titter, but anyone on the wrong side of 21 will quickly tire of the relentless descriptions of hangovers and the two women’s inability to meet any form of culture shock without gulping down Valium. Miss this one too.

Mott's CD Reviews:  Mambo Sons - Racket of Three

Mott the Dog

5 Stars *****

Happy New Year everybody. There have been many new albums released in 2005, amongst them some excellent albums by major artists including The Rolling Stones, Bon Jovi, Bruce Spring-
steen, Coldplay, etc. But for pure rock ‘n’ roll Mott the Dog’s album of the year still has to go to Mambo Sons and their terrific album Racket Of Three.

Under the banner of ‘Mambo Sons’ Tom Guerra and Scott Lawson have issued three fabulous CDs. Firstly, there was the self titled debut ‘Mambo Sons’ (1999), a good rock ‘n’ roll album laying down the gauntlet of proper music, none of those tape loops for these boys. By the time of the second album ‘Play Some Rock & Roll’ the boys had really hit their stride, and for their pains ‘Play Some Rock & Roll’ was voted best independent release of the year by the prestigious NY Rock Magazine. (I can tell you without a doubt it will definitely be Mott the Dog’s album of the year this year.)

Now in 2005 we are given ‘Racket of Three’ which sees the boys now all out at
a full speed musical gallop. This album simply wipes the floor with any of its contemporaries over the last few years.

Since the last album, the line up of ‘Mambo Sons’ has changed a little. Mike Hayden has slipped off the drum stool to make way for the very impressive Joe (The Cat) Lemieux, whilst with the departure of Jeff Keithline on bass, Scott Lawson has simply strapped on the bass himself and taken over the four string, allowing the Mambo’s a very timeless sound, giving you the impression that Scott may have admired the odd bass line from Ronnie Lane of the ‘Faces’ or Andy Fraser of ‘Free’. Which now gives you ‘The Racket Of Three’.

As soon as opening song ‘Play Some Rock & Roll (She’s Comin’ Over)’ starts up with some bristling guitar riffs from Tom Guerra, your attention is grabbed, your foot starts to tap, and most embarrassingly of all you start to try and sing-a-long to the words on the first time you hear it. By the time Scott Lawson sings at exactly one minute forty eight seconds into the first song, ‘’Yeah; And I just gotta say WAAAAAAHHH” before Tom Guerra comes in with the first of his guitar solo’s that will peel the wallpaper from your room, you just know that you are listening to something very special.

This is not music for little boys and girls, this is the stuff of men and their ladies; here is music that Keith Richards and Johnny Depp would put on if they were having a party.

After the opening blast of ‘Play Some Rock & Roll (She’s Comin’ Over)’ you get ‘Valentine’ which starts off with a little acoustic guitar introduction, but don’t be fooled by this and the title - the band soon swaggers into the chorus. There are no thoughts of taking their audience to school from the Mambo’s, they just sing songs from their big old Connecticut hearts. There is nothing wrong with knowing what a song is about by just looking at the title, that’s allowed these boys to let the music do the talking for them. Each song on the album has it’s own identity, some with a lighter feel, some as heavy as an anvil, the one thing they have in common is that
the Mambo groove flows through it’s veins.

‘Mr Rebound’ is quite delightful, whilst ‘Sidewinder Walk’ is a great song in itself which has a false ending which then allows the guitars to really kick up their heels. ‘You Broke My Mind’ shows off that oft forgotten musical skill of smashing bottles, and includes the immortal
line “Now I’ve got whisky breathe, but you’ve got half a mind.”

You could put this CD on from start to finish at any party, and the only thing you would have to do at the end is push play again. It’s that good.

As well as holding down the bass playing responsibilities, Scott Lawson gives a vocal tour de force throughout the entire collection, showing off a wide range of throats, mostly very buoyant, with a nuance of audacity, getting down and dirty with the guitar work of his partner on ‘Been Out Of Touch’, but often as well very tongue in cheek. Then this is a rock ‘n’ roll album, and it is supposed to be fun.

Joe (“The Cat”) Lemieux was an excellent choice of drummer: he is very unselfish, leaving each song with plenty of space, playing
in the same way as Charlie Watts does for the Rolling Stones. Tom Guerra is one of America’s most respected guitarists, but for ‘Racket of Three’ he really pulls out all of the stops, playing like an axe hero when required, although by no means dominating any song, adding some great slide guitar to ‘Be On Time’. But his greatest asset to the Mambo’s is his ability to switch styles to suit each individual song. Of course his whistle playing on ‘Rummy Hop’ should not be overlooked.

Mambo Sons are definitely a guitar orientated rock ‘n’ roll band, but when they do call for a little tinkling of the ivories, only the best will do, and a special bow should taken by Andre Balas whose barrel house piano on ‘Play Some Rock & Roll (She’s Comin’ Over)’ is nothing short of superb, whilst elsewhere Matt Zeiner does an excellent job fitting in beautifully with the Mambo’s.

It is impossible to listen to The Mambo Sons without a great big cheese eating grin spreading across your face, which is what rock ‘n’ roll is supposed to be all about. They maybe a racket of
three, but a very fine racket it is to.

This is all about rockin’ guitar, bass, drums, throat, and songs; who can possibly want more than that? For more information on the
wonderful Mambo’s please look up their website at www. This is music to enjoy.

The thing I don’t understand is - why is their second album called ‘Play Some Rock & Roll’ but this record has a song on it with that same title? Odd really...

Tom Guerra: Guitars, Vocals, Bottle Smashing, Whistles, and when he was very quiet some keyboards
Scott Lawson: Bass and Lead Throat
Joe (“The Cat”) Lemieux: Drums and Shaking Things
Matt Zeiner: Keyboards including Piano, and Goff Professional Hammond B-3
Andre Balazs: Piano on “Play Some Rock & Roll


Play Some Rock & Roll (She’s Comin’ Over)
Man Of Steel
Brandy On The Shelf
Be On Time
Sidewinder Walk
You Broke My Mind
Delta Slide
Mr. Rebound
Rummy Hop
Been out of Touch
Safe With Me

To contact Mott the Dog email: [email protected]