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Book Review

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Book Review: Bangkok Dick

by Lang Reid

It was almost another first for the Chiangmai Mail. Getting on the front cover of David Young’s latest book, Bangkok Dick, with the quote “This author can write, which can sometimes be novel for those writing books in this country!” It was something I had written a couple of years ago, so I was a little worried that if I didn’t like this book, I might lose face. (I didn’t.)

Bangkok Dick (Hostage Press International ISBN 974-93710-9-7, 2006) is a work of fiction starring Dick Reilly, a Bangkok-based Private Investigator. The format of the book is straightforward. An introductory section putting hero Reilly in time and space and introducing his clients, a middle section containing the expected action, and a final slice of the book tying up all the lose ends and letting some surprises out of the bag. In this, author Young does not disappoint. His hero, Dick Reilly is modeled after many generations of PI’ s doing the job, but yet having a conscience, despite it all.

If you wanted a PI thriller, you get one, complete with all the fast turn of phrase that PI’s are supposed to have. Describing a group of people who have come to Bangkok for a sex tour, he writes, “They were the kind of people you wanted to feel sorry for, but would rather chase off with a stick. The kind of humanity that made a bad name for the rest of us.”

Dick Reilly, like the archetypal PI relies on his instincts, “Only my instincts were right. My instincts were always right. Whether this was a gift or a curse, I’ve yet to decide.”

Based in Bangkok, the author gives enough of the local color to lend some credibility to the tale, no matter how tall at times. In a hurry, he takes a taxi motorcy, “I took a motorcycle taxi all the way from Makasaan to Chatuchak. It was a long terrifying ride that reminded me why I don’t take motorcycle taxis any more. My driver was a real cowboy who darted in and out of traffic like he was playing a video game. Still he got me there.”

The plot, like the taxi, takes many twists and turns, and author Young introduces characters who all have a definitive part to play in the action, even though initially the connection is kept well hidden. The denouement is fast paced and does not let up for many pages, during which time you will swear at anyone or thing that diverts your attention. It was certainly a good read.

At B. 395 this Hostage Press publication dies not cost a ransom. Author David Young has crafted an interesting enough story to make you want to continue reading about the exploits of his Bangkok Dick (PI in polite circles) Dick Reilly. There are at least two more books that should come from this one. Dick Reilly, PI, is one of those characters with more tricks than a magician at a five year old’s party. He’ll be back. Just remember to put me on the front cover next time, David Young, not the newspaper!

Mott's CD Reviews:  Ozzy Osbourne

Under Cover

Suffered by Mott the Dog
Brow mopped by
Meow the Cat

No Stars

Ozzy Osbourne has secured his place in rock ‘n’ roll history by living the life to the full. Almost anybody who has anything to do with rock music has a story to tell about Ozzy’s wild and crazy antics.

Ozzy Osbourne is also responsible for co-writing some of hard rock’s most memorable tunes. With his Black Sabbath band mates, there has been ‘Paranoid’, ‘Iron Man’, Snowblind’, and many more. In his solo career Ozzy has combined with many artists to come up with more classics such as ‘Crazy Train’, ‘Mr Crawley’, ‘Bark at the Moon’, etc.

Ozzy Osbourne has always been very lucky in picking the right musicians to collaborate with to develop his sound and help him write the songs. Down the way their has been the late great Randy Rhoads, followed by Bob Daisley, Jake E Lee, Zakk Wilde, and many more, but actual songs that Ozzy has written on his own are very few and far between.

He is far from a great vocalist too; in fact even calling him a vocalist is taking it a bit to close to the edge. Showman? Yes. Ringmaster? Yes. Is his wife / manager good at getting him the right publicity? Yes. Nowadays the Osbournes are actually more famous for their reality TV show on MTV, and appearances on chat shows, than for the music. But you cannot deny he has been one of the leading players in his field over the last thirty five years or more.

So why then this new album of covers, wittily titled ‘Undercover’? He certainly cannot need the money with Wifey earning millions on chat shows, and the back package of Black Sabbath and Ozzy Osbourne solo stuff is selling better than ever.

Last year Ozzy Osbourne released the requisite ‘Boxed Set’ titled ‘The Prince Of Darkness’. It was a four CD affair with two CDs of songs tracing his solo career, one CD of duets and one of newly recorded cover versions. So this year we get the release of the cover versions album, released as a single album with a few extra tracks that were not on the boxed set added on, so if you’re a real fan and wish to have every utterance the Oz ever made then you’ve got to hand over more of your hard earned cash to get the complete collection.

Not all cover albums are bad though, and if you are going to do a covers album the rules seem to be pretty clear: only do a song if you have something to add to it, or a different slant, and most definitely stay away from the classics. But Ozzy Osbourne’s ‘Under Cover’ leaves you feeling musically violated after one listen.

The album staggers in with a version of Joe Walsh’s ‘Rocky Mountain Way’, a fabulous song when performed by Joe Walsh. When Ozzy does it, you just want to cringe, but this is the least offensive song on the album. It is all down hill after this.

Nobody should try and cover Beatles songs or John Lennon songs, unless they really know what they are doing. On this album one Beatles song ‘In My Life’ and two John Lennon solo songs are taken into the studio and murdered. If Ozzy Osbourne admired John Lennon so much why is he doing this to his songs? It is quite obvious that Ozzy has missed the point of ‘Woman’ and how he can sing ‘Working Class Hero’ when he has mansions all over the world, and servants at his beck and call 24 hours a day is beyond me.

All the strings are pulled to try and give the album credibility. Leslie West is dragged in to put the guitar solo on ‘Mississippi Queen’. I hope he got well paid for sullying his reputation on this cardboard imitation of a great heavy rock song. Ian Hunter sent in a new rap to put at the end of ‘All The Young Dudes’; Mr. Hunter should hang his head in shame.

Ozzy Osbourne trying to sing The Moody Blues ‘Go Now’, Buffalo Springfield’s ‘For What It’s Worth’, and most criminally attempting the great Eric Burdon’s ‘Good Times’ just goes to prove that Ozzy is not a singer of any class. On other more heavy rock songs such as King Crimson’s ’21st Century Schizoid Man’ (now there is a song that is begging to be taken apart by some talented musicians and given a heavy metal face lift), Arthur Brown’s ‘Fire’ and the rather pathetic attempt at Cream’s ‘Sunshine of Your Life’, it is the band that let things down. There is no ‘oommph’ in the playing at all, and this is not helped by a very muddy mix. Certainly Jerry Cantrell on lead guitar is found wanting on most songs. Letting him attempt a Clapton solo is bordering on the criminal music act, the poor lad just does not have the chops for the job. Chris Wyse does not seem to have plugged in properly the bass sound is so tinny, whilst Mike Bordin on drums was possibly just plain bored with the whole proceedings.

The penultimate song is the Rolling Stones ‘Sympathy for the Devil’ when it could have been possibly re-titled ‘Sympathy to the Listener’. How can somebody who has been called ‘The Prince Of Darkness’ take all the menace out of this wonderful Stones song? I actually sighed with relief when this abomination finally came to an end. But worse was to follow, chucked on as a bonus track was Ozzy covering one of his old songs from Black Sabbath: the ballad from the album Volume Four ‘Changes’. In the context of that album ‘Changes’ gave the album great shade and texture. But this is just excruciating. ‘Changes’ is done as a duet with Ozzy singing with his daughter Kelly. I am sorry but someone will have to tell Kelly she just cannot sing. If she got on your local karaoke machine, you would pay good money to get her off, whilst for Ozzy’s half he sounds as if he is singing from the bath tub. I would rather listen to Ozzy singing his duet of ‘Born To Be Wild’ with Miss Piggy from the Muppet show; at least she can hold a tune, and it would have been funny. It is a shame if this is what Ozzy Osbourne has been reduced too.

Ozzy Osbourne: Throat
Mike Bordin: Drums
Jerry Cantrell: Guitar
Chris Wyse: Bass
Ian Hunter: Sung a bit
Leslie West: Played the guitar solo in Mississippi Queen
And Robert Randolph seems to have been pulled in to play the guitar parts that Jerry Cantrell just could not manage

Song Titles

Rocky Mountain Way
In My Life
Mississippi Queen
Go Now
21st Century Schizoid Man
All The Young Dudes
For What It’s Worth
Good Times
Sunshine of Your Love
Sympathy For The Devil

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