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Book Review

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Book Review: The World According to Clarkson

by Lang Reid

The figure on the front cover of this book looked very familiar, looking out from
the Bookazine new releases shelves. Ah yes, it’s Jeremy Clarkson, the motoring chap on TV. Flipping open the first page this was confirmed, with the words “Jeremy Clarkson made his name presenting a poky motoring program on BBC2.” It went on to say “He left to forge a career in other directions but made a complete hash of everything and ended up back on Top Gear again.” With that half smile you venture into the book proper.

It appears Mr. Clarkson actually does have more than one string to his bow, and is the author of a weekly column printed in the British Sunday Times. This book is a compilation of around 90 of these articles, so represents almost two years of Sundays.

Modestly entitled The World According to Clarkson (ISBN 0-141-01789-9, Penguin Books 2004) he covers every sacred cow, and some not so sacred pigs each week. The back cover promises “Clarkson hilariously attacks the pompous, the ridiculous, the absurd and the downright idiotic ideas, people and institutions that we all have to put up with at home and abroad, whilst also celebrating the eccentric, the clever and the sheer bloody brilliant.”

Adjectives such as acerbic, sharp, cutting, caustic, acid, and more in that poison chalice can be used to describe Clarkson’s chapters, and all of them, without exception, are treated the same way. In
one chapter Clarkson admits he is a ‘lawn bore’. He has aspirations to be featured by “Homes and Gardens”, but all he can do is cut grass. Everything else fails. He writes “Two years ago the field across the road was planted with saplings and I bought precisely the same stuff for a patch of land next to my paddock. Today, his trees are 12-14 foot tall. Mine have been eaten by hares.”

The French, the Germans and the Basques all cop their (un)fair share of Clarkson’s rapier, in one piece bemoaning the fact that all the world’s sailing records are held by the French, and in another the fact that the Basques insist you pay a ‘revolutionary’ tax, “And if you don’t pay, they blow up your car, your house, your wife, your budgerigar, your bar and everyone in it. That’s why I left the place behind and have come to Menorca.”

In one wonderfully massive hit out at the goddess of PC, he writes, “It might be useful too, if we could find a universal butt for European wit. We have the Irish, the Swedes have the Norwegians, the Dutch have the Belgians and so on. What we need is a universal whipping boy so that jokes translate smoothly.”

At B. 395 it is a very cheap book of laughs, and amazingly, despite its price the paper stock looks as if it would stand several readings. I was disappointed when I came to the end of it. I felt like standing up and shouting “More!” Hopefully he will have heard me and is compiling the next book. In the meantime don’t miss this one.


Mott's CD Reviews:  Uriah Heep

Live in Bangkok Friday 17th February 2006

Enthused by Mott the Dog Tampered down by Meow the Cat
Photos by Rick Bryant

In their thirty five year history Uriah Heep has never played Thailand, but all of that was put to rights at the B.E.C. Tero Stadium on Friday 17th February 2006. In a word, the Heep were superb. Without doubt the finest show put on by a Western rock band ever in Thailand’s fair capital city.

B.E.C. Tero was full to its capacity of 3600, and the audience was ready to rock. They were not let down. To a well timed entrance the Heep arrived, and gave the audience a dazzling display of their skills, demonstrating how tight this lineup of Uriah Heep has become over the last twenty years.

Phil Lanzon is the perfect keyboardist for Uriah Heep, both extrovert and skilful, handling the barrage of keyboards with ease. Bassist Trevor Bolder was a complete revelation, handling his musical weapon of choice like a lead instrument, and the crowd was also treated to several bass solos. On lead vocals was the incomparable Canadian Bernie Shaw. Bernie is now the complete article singer / performer / ringmaster / rabble rouser; call him what you want. From the very first song, the audience was eating out of his hands, especially as Bernie had learnt how to thank the Thai audience in their own language, and waied them after the first song.

Bernie was dressed in an orange top and some tight fitting blue and red strides, both of which had been bought at a Bangkok market the night before. He kept his microphone in a hip holster when not in use so he looked every inch the dandy cowboy. During instrumental breaks Bernie would wander off the stage, arriving back just in time to pick up the vocals again. This was shown to magnificent effect during the introduction to ‘July Morning’. After the band had rampaged into the beginning of the song and the keyboards brought it all down quietly again, it was time for the opening vocal line. You wondered whether the vocalist had got lost, as there was no sign of him, but with split second timing, Bernie saunters onto the stage, acknowledges the cheers, sits himself down on one of the monitors before singing out the opening line, “There I was on a July morning lookin’ for love”, driving the crowd to fever pitch.

The only original member of Uriah Heep left from 1969 is their lead guitarist Mick Box, one of the most unique lead guitarists on this planet (or any other come to that). On Friday 17th February 2006 for Bangkok Mick Box pulled all the stops, his soloing was literally blistering, particularly while using his customary wah-wah peddle. Mick Box stomped and rocked his way through the shows electric numbers only standing still to play the acoustic introductions to songs like ‘Wizard’ or final sing-a-long ‘Lady In Black’. During the rest of the time the guitar was either being slung around his head or his back or with one foot on the monitors he would use it as a mock machine gun to mow the audience down.

You could not find a better front three musicians and showmen than the combined trio of Bernie Shaw, Trevor Bolder, and Mick Box.

At the back, behind a massive drum kit, sat a big man. Lee Kerslake is the finest rock ‘n’ roll drummer on the circuit in this day and age. Lee Kerslake launches himself into every song and it is doubtful whether his drum kit actually needs to be miked up as he hits those drums so hard, they can be heard for miles. Lee Kerslake’s drum solo probably brought the loudest cheers of the night. Not forgetting that Lee also sings all the back up vocals too, so quite a workload during the two and a half hour concert.

When you have been a rock band for thirty five years and released twenty studio albums it is almost impossible to select a set that will balance itself out, and keep everybody happy. The Uriah Heep set played in Bangkok was nearly perfect, spanning their whole career. Two songs each from their first four albums ‘Very’ Eavy ... Very ‘Umble’ (1970): ‘Gypsy’ with an amazing Mick Box solo section and ‘Come Away Melinda’. ‘Salisbury’ (1971) was represented by ‘Bird Of Prey’ and ‘Lady In Black’; ‘Look at Yourself’ (1971) by the title song and of course ‘July Morning’, ‘Demons and Wizards’ by ‘The Wizard’ and ‘Easy Livin’.

We were treated to three from ‘Magicians Birthday’ (1972): ‘Rain’, a beautiful song done purely with Phil Lanzon on piano and Bernie Shaw singing, ‘Sunrise’ and the good old fashioned rock ‘n’ roll of ‘Sweet Lorraine’. They managed to squeeze in two songs from ‘Sweet Freedom’ (1973): the hypnotic ‘Stealin’ and the crowd pleasing ‘If I Had The Time’.

This still left room for opener ‘So Tired’ from Wonderworld (1974). The throwaway sing-along pop of ‘Free Me’ from Innocent Victim (1977), ‘Year And A Day’ from Return To Fantasy (1975), ‘Falling In Love’ from ‘Fallen Angel’ (1978), the magnificent ‘Cry Freedom’ from ‘The Raging Silence’ (1988), ‘Words In The Distance’ from ‘The Sea Of Light’ (1995), and unfortunately only one song from their latest album ‘Sonic Origami’ (1998): ‘Between Two Worlds’.

All this led to a perfect set, plenty of rockers, a couple of ballads, some sing-a-longs, some brilliant musicianship, but most importantly a good time was had by all. (This Dog would have liked a bit more from ‘Sonic Origami’ and ‘The Raging Silence’, something from ‘Abomonimog’ and the songs ‘Mr. Majestic’ and the ‘Magicians Birthday’, but then we would have been somewhere over the four hour mark).

The B.E.C. Tero hall proved an excellent concert hall for a rock show and the sound was crystal clear, due to excellent acoustics and a hard working sound crew including Howard, Charlie, and both Daves. We all hope that the promoters were happy with the concert and bring back Uriah Heep at the earliest opportunity. Bangkok wants them to come back and certainly Uriah Heep want to come back.

Do not worry Mick Box, it was just like the Albert Hall.

Musicians

Mick Box: Guitar and Vocals; Lee Kerslake: Drums and Vocals; Trevor Bolder: Bass and Vocals; Phil Lanzon: Keyboards and Vocals.

Set List

So Tired; Cry Freedom; Falling In Love; Words In The Distance; Stealin’; If I Had The Time; Year And A Day; Between Two Worlds; Rain; Come Away Melinda; The Wizard; Free Me; Sunrise; Sweet Lorraine; Gypsy; Look At Yourself; July Morning; Bird Of Prey; Easy Livin’; Lady In Black.

PHOTO: The only original member of Uriah Heep left from 1969 is their lead guitarist Mick Box, one of the most unique lead guitarists on this planet.

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