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Mott’s CD review
Book Review: 600 Thai Words taken from English
The title, 600 Thai Words taken from
English, of this latest book from Ken Albertson (author of Lali’s Passage)
was enough to make me pick it up. A chance to add 600 words to my appalling
Thai vocabulary was too good a chance to pass up.
In the literature that came with the review copy, it suggested that the
target group was primarily beginners or intermediates who want to quickly
learn to converse in Thai, but goes on to suggest that even fluent speakers
will find there are new bits of information.
At the back of the book, author Albertson admits that he is not a fluent
Thai speaker, in fact putting together the book was an aide memoire for him
too. One complaint I have with most ‘learn to speak Thai’ books is that they
use the phonetic alphabet to allow the reader to attempt to grasp the
pronunciation. So as well as learning spoken Thai and written Thai, you have
to learn a third language, Phonetics, full of almost as strange diphthongs
and squiggles than Thai script.
Other books claim that it is impossible to teach the pronunciation using a
Romanized alphabet, but I would have to say that getting close enough,
reading something you can already understand, beats learning phonetic
hieroglyphics any time. So one plus mark to Albertson.
This book does, however, have a rather strange page size, author Albertson
going for a vertical 10 x 26.5 mm format. This I found somewhat annoying, to
be honest. It is too tall to sit in a coat pocket, and does not assist for
easy reading or perusal. So one minus for format.
The 600 words are easy enough to understand, such as “lipstick”, pronounced
in Thai as “Lip sah-dtik” or the well known alcoholic drink “wisagee”.
However, I was surprised to see “cable” left as such, when I always hear it
pronounced as “kaybun”. Another plus point, however.
These magic 600 are only a small part of the book, however, as Part 2 covers
word associations, a learning method being used by Albertson to help imprint
the words into an unwilling brain. Many of these I found very contrived
(such as “Viet-nam” for “nam” meaning water), but association is a well
documented learning method, so it may work for those who did not know that
“nam” was water (I did). Plus a half.
Part 3 covers simple phrases and opportunities to use them, such as taxis,
hotels, markets etc. This section is certainly helpful, but the format of
the book makes it such that it cannot be toted. Plus one, minus a half.
Part 4 covers addendum and opinions, Thai classifiers, couplets and other
dribs and drabs.
Finally, there are several cartoons dotted throughout the book, which author
Albertson says were “thrown in to further spice up the text and to fill
blank page spaces.” For me, these were needlessly inappropriate in a book
such as this. Minus one more I’m afraid.
The book is available in soft cover at B. 350, or as an e-book at B. 200. If
you have difficulty you can order at www.wonderfull.com
Mott's CD Reviews: Charles Brown
Written by Mott the Dog
Meow the Cat
Charles Brown has been around on the American music scene for over thirty
years now. Although he has never exactly grabbed the limelight his work has
always been held in the highest esteem by his peers. It is the variety of
his work, and the combined influences that have at times been the reason for
holding him back from being held in the same regard as other musicians of
his calibre such as Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, or even Robert Fripp.
As I have often said there is nothing wrong with an artist showing his
influences, as everybody has them. There is not a guitarist alive that does
not have to give a nod to Robert Johnson, Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page or some
other worthy that has gone before. All the previous three can be heard
somewhere along the line on this album, plus quite definitely some Ritchie
Blackmore, and I believe that Charles Brown may have listened to a Peter
Banks album or two.
As well as guitar influences, there are also elements of jazz with perhaps
Pat Metheney coming to mind, whilst in general French Baroque styles are
incorporated, Renaissance music, and the Classics have not been overlooked
either with ‘Allemande’ from the great composer Bach being suffused into the
closing piece of music.
This may at first sound a little harsh, and intimate that Charles Brown’s
music is not original and inspiring, far from it. Only his name could have
been changed not to have conjured up images of a little boy falling flat on
his back every time he tried to kick a football.
Charles Brown has welded all these elements together and come up with a
really fine musical experience, the equivalent of a finely painted landscape
of the musical spectrum from full out kick in the stomach heavy metal riffs
to highly polished classical acoustic guitar picking.
The album is broken into two parts: firstly, there is the title track
‘Atmospheric Journey: The Suite’. This comes at you in seven different
segments, and clocks in at twenty five minutes long, holding your attention
every minute of the way. This is followed by fourteen minutes of ‘Encore’
which is broken into four sections.
To grab your attention from the get go is opener ‘Prelude and Allegro: The
Awakening Sky’. In true rock ‘n’ roll style, the amps are tuned over eleven
and Charles Brown lets rip on some Heavy Rock style guitar making sure you
are paying attention. It is the musical comparison to putting someone in a
neck hold. The guitars are double layered one over another to give the sound
of a whole guitar orchestra thrashing away, leaving plenty of room for
gritty rhythm guitars, plus all of the widdly diddly guitar overdubs that we
all so love here in Thailand. With the Charles Brown style of guitar playing
if you have got it flaunt it. Why play one note when a hundred can be played
at supersonic speed in the same time period? Awe inspiring stuff.
The first two sections are not so much brought to your attention but
battered into your subconscious, good solid rock that the likes of Satriani,
and Vai would be as well to put back into their recorded work before people
start losing interest.
Once Charles Brown has got your attention and has you sitting up in your
seat, he is able to take the foot off the pedal and show off the other
products he has available on his counter.
For the third section of the Suite, we are for the first time introduced to
the Brown acoustic guitar (unless there is some multi-layered acoustic
guitar underneath the carnage of the first two sections). This drifts into a
short introduction piece aptly titled ‘Journey to The Clouds’, for the first
time featuring some subtle keyboards played by the talented Steve Espinosa.
These ideas are further expanded on the following part of the suite ‘Storm
Passage’ (the name of each part of the Suite is more or less self
explanatory) where the lead electric guitar is brought back to the fore, but
not before a Purple style instrumental battle between the six strings and
the keyboard. The solo that brings this part to its conclusion can only be
described as blistering.
As in a fulfilling walk, if ‘Storm Passage’ brings you to the top of the
hill then the next piece ‘Atmospheric Change’ leads you gently down the
other side and back to safety. It’s a charming acoustic guitar number with
some atmospheric keyboard work layered on top.
A brief interlude between guitar and keyboards leads us to the climax to the
Suite. As is appropriate all of the aspects of the suite are shown off to
fine effect in the finale, but one’s ears cannot help but be impressed and
drawn to the dazzling six string work, which again ignores the torpedoes and
heads in for the kill, a truly masterful and complete instrumental workout,
which I have not heard topped by any of the other contemporary musicians of
The ‘Encore’ section of the album is certainly no filler material, but
rather four separate instrumentals. Featuring different aspects of Charles
Brown’s skills, the jazzy feel to ‘Maroon Sunrise’ is perfectly placed to
relax you after some of the more frantic sections of the Suite, showing off
Charles Brown’s ability to slow things down and make every note count, if
the need so requires.
‘Emerald Wind’ sees the acoustic guitar given a complete workout in almost a
hoedown style, just when you felt you could categorize Charles Brown he goes
and pulls another rabbit from the hat, fitting in perfectly with the taste
of the album.
‘Slow Burn’ is exactly that, the guitarist lights the blue touch paper, and
then it is stand back in amazement as he lets loose with some stunning
guitar pyrotechnics interspersed with some gasps for air with keyboard or
acoustic guitar fills.
The set is brought to a shimmering conclusion with the final piece to the
jig-saw, ‘Windsong’, which lovingly drifts you back home after the
atmospheric journey. A hugely rewarding musical adventure.
Music of this quality should not be allowed to go unnoticed, particularly
when you look and see what a load of old rubbish often fills up the
commercial charts. For those of you wishing to know more about this amazing
musician please look up his record company’s website at
Charles Brown: Roland GR30 Guitar Synth, Fender Stratocaster, Les
Paul Standard, Marshall Amps, Acoustic and Classical Guitars
Ken Lark: Drums
Steve Espinosa: Keyboards.
Matt Bassano: Keyboard Solo, ‘On The Wings Of The Sun’
Bill Boerder: Outro Solo, The Gathering Storm, The Atmospheric Journey
Prelude and Allegro: The Awakening Sky
Allegro Con Brio: The Gathering Storm
Courante: Journey To The Clouds
Moderato: Storm Passage
Andante: Cloud Dance
Finale-Presto: On The Wings Of The Sun
Windsong (Featuring ‘Allemande’ J.S. Bach)
To contact Mott the Dog
email: [email protected]