- HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:
Mott’s CD review
Book Review: Pool and its role
in Asian Communism
I first came across Colin Cotterill’s work
with his first novel, The Night Bastard, which I described as a brilliantly
written and deeply disturbing book. When I saw “Pool and its role in Asian
Communism” (ISBN 974-8303-76-4, Asia Books 2005) on the Bookazine shelves, I
grabbed it with both hands, hoping this would be as good.
It begins in a billiard ball factory, with an aging Waldo, the Negro quality
control officer training his replacement, a young Asian girl named Saifon.
The opening chapters build up the characters into very believable people,
with author Cotterill ‘narrating’ in a “deep south” style which fits the
characterizations, and does not appear forced.
During the first half of the book, you are left wondering just where “pool”
and “Asian communism” comes in, but this very quickly becomes obvious as the
action picks up and Waldo and Saifon come to Thailand and then on to Laos.
Laos, because that was Saifon’s home originally, a country being torn in
every direction politically, as the “phony war” (now conveniently forgotten)
was held on the Laotian soil. When political ideology is replaced by common
sense, the true suffering of the ordinary Laotian can begin to be
appreciated. For the children, displaced and abused, political ideology has
much to answer for.
The crux of the story comes in Saifon’s dealing with her own psyche, damaged
from having been a trafficked child too, when she was eight years old. At
first she thinks she is crusading for the groups of children who had also
suffered, and were still suffering, but finally at one point, she realizes
that getting the traffickers identified was actually her own catharsis.
The identification of one and the resulting Thai trial, marred by corruption
(not unknown in Thailand even today) is pure theatre, but the way the truth
comes out later brings a smile to the reader.
However, with two main characters, Aldo too had his story and his background
that was there to haunt him, and his catharsis come out as he and Saifon
discuss their lives. Aldo may not have been trafficked, but he had no less
of a psychological scar that needed to be healed.
What starts off as a very “simple” book ends up as one of the deepest and
darkest books you can read. Whilst it is a work of fiction, there are real
people on whom the book’s characters are based, including one in particular
mentioned in the author’s note at the end of the book.
In those notes, Colin Cotterill has written, “War is not a natural last
resort of conflict. It is merely the evidence that man is not intelligent
enough to solve problems through dialogue and reason.” That phrase should be
enshrined and sent to the leaders of every country in the world. Never have
truer words been uttered.
For B. 450, this book is worth it, even if just for that last quotation
alone. It is a disturbing book that will move you to tears. An excellent
read from a highly skilled author, who incidentally now lives in Chiang Mai.
Mott's CD Reviews: Robert Plant and
The Strange Sensation
Mott the Dog
At last after twelve studio albums
(including two special collectors editions for fan club members only) since
the break up of the world’s greatest rock ‘n’ roll band, Led Zeppelin, after
the tragic death of drummer John Bonham, Robert Plant has released an album
that stands up to the work of his illustrious previous band. The Mighty
Rearranger is a mighty album which should be included in any record
collection of people that like serious rock.
All twelve songs on the album are originals, with thankfully not a cover
version in sight. The writing, conceiving and creating of each song is
credited equally amongst the band; so is the mixing, recording and
producing. So for the first time since his Zeppelin days Robert Plant finds
himself in more of a band situation, and if this is the result long may it
continue. Not one note is wasted here. The dual guitars of Skin Tyson and
Justin Adams weave in and out of each song providing the necessary textures.
For those of you missing the old rock ‘n’ roll thunder of the Zeppelin days
you will not be disappointed by the bluster of ‘Tin Pan Valley’ or the title
track. In fact any song on this collection could have fit into the Led
Clive Deamer has the impossible job of no matter how much time has past,
John Bonham left huge footprints to follow in when you are drumming for an
ex-Zeppelin man, but instead of avoiding the issue this very talented
skinsman meets the problem head on. If a song requires some percussion that
resembles the style of the great man, then that is what the song gets. There
is no use being coy about it, the job has to be done, and I’m sure the great
man himself would have approved of the job done here by Clive Dreamer.
Although, of course, for most of the time he just sounds like the very good
musician that he is.
John Baggott plays all the keyboards and is the man probably the most
responsible for giving this album it’s cohesion, setting up a wall of
intricate keyboards and allowing the guitars and Robert Plant’s vocals to
sparkle over the top.
The find of the album, though, is the bass playing abilities of a certain
Billy Fuller, who is such a unique bass player that I would go as far as to
say he has created a completely new way of playing the four string. His work
can be heard all the way through the album, but is at it’s most prominent
best during second song, and first single off the album, ‘Shine It All
Around’ where he achieves a bass sound that can only be described as filthy.
He is even allowed enough space for a short solo.
Unfortunately, due to all musicians having such tight schedules these days,
well the good ones anyway, since the recording of this album there have been
two changes to the Strange Sensations line up: Billy Fuller moving on up the
rock ‘n’ roll family tree to be replaced by Robert Plant’s old cohort
Charlie Jones, and Skin Tyson being replaced by Porl Thompson, who had
played with Page and Plant on their reunion tour. It’s a pretty fair swap in
both cases I feel.
This must not of course take the focus of attention away from the main man
himself, Mr Robert Plant, aka Percy to his friends (a reference to his
affection for gardening and Percy Thrower, the man behind the gardening
programmes on the British Broadcasting Television network. Led Zeppelin’s
gardening exploits whilst on the road are nearly as well documented as their
music). Robert Plant is now in his sixth decade, and although he can still
belt out a rocker with the best of them, he uses the new maturity in his
voice, that only comes with the accumulation of years, to full effect. He’s
not kidding when on ‘Shine It All Around’ he sings “These are the best days
of my life/Bright, strong and golden’, or perhaps more tellingly on ‘Tin Pan
Valley,’ showing his new re-found confidence and comfort with the past. “I
come from Tin Pan Valley, and I’m moving right along/I live in a former
glory, so long ago and gone/I’m turning down the talk shows, the humour and
the couch /I’m moving onto higher ground, I’ve found a new way out.”
Mighty Rearranger brings out all the best nuances of the Plant vocal chords
using all his middle eastern phrasing, other worldly voices, soft blues
accents, gorgeous psychedelic swooshes, and the customized heavy rock roar,
plus, as an extra bonus, there is some devilish harmonica playing during the
‘Brother Ray’ was a late addition to the album, giving us a genuine
heartfelt tribute to the great Ray Charles, starting out with some great
barrelhouse piano before leading into the main body of the song. So don’t
click your CD off as there is a ten second gap between sections, where the
band get into something much more modern.
The Mighty Rearranger does not miss a trick. Not only does it have great
impact upon first listening, but it also grows on you more and more after
each new listening. If you have been put off the solo work from Led
Zeppelin’s old singer with his previous dabbling with such diverse musical
styles as doo-wop, synth pop, and even bass and drums, give ‘Mighty
Rearranger’ a try. If you enjoy class you will enjoy this.
Robert Plant: Vocals and Harmonica
John Baggott: Keyboards, Electronica, Moog bass
Clive Deamer: Drums, Bendia
Justin Adams: Electric Guitars, Lap Steel, Bendia, Tehardant, Bass
Skin Tyson: Acoustic and Electric Guitar, Lap Steel, Bass
And Introducing Billy Fuller: Electric and Double Bass
Shine It All Around
Tin Pan Valley
All The Kings Horses
Dancing In Heaven
Let The Four Winds Blow. Mighty Rearranger
To contact Mott the Dog
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