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Mott’s CD review
Book Review: Bangkok Then and Now
I believe that if we live in this country,
and want to be accepted in this country, we should learn something of its
Bangkok Then and Now was compiled by long term Bangkok resident Steve Van
Beek, and attempts to show the differences in Bangkok since 1900, and some
At the outset, Van Beek introduces the stereoscope – an optical device that
was once used to produce 3D effects with two almost similar photographs side
by side. He has also printed photographs of places in Bangkok side by side,
but with 100 years between them, the similarity being only in location.
Van Beek’s research was not only in identifying the locations of faded old
prints, but he also read through century old newspapers to show that in some
areas, nothing has changed at all. The optimistic news item in March 1900
where four women and one male streetwalker were arrested finished by stating,
“There should be no difficulty in putting a stop to this practice in
Bangkok.” A little way off the mark, history has shown!
Or another clipping five months later, in August 1900, describes a police and
customs raid seizing opium in a plantation in Suriwongse Road. It finishes
with, “We understand the owner was arrested.” So nothing really changes,
even though the look of the place might. However, I doubt if there is any land
left around the Suriwongse region that could support any sort of plantation,
let alone an opium one.
The sections on the newspapers of the day is very interesting to anyone for
whom history has even the slightest appeal. It was salutary to read that
“Entertainment pure and simple was the newspaper’s mainstay (in 1900) with
oddities featured prominently. Many items masquerading as the absolute truth
could only have been written tongue in cheek.” Now that would never happen
today, would it? The wine buffs will also read that a Mr. Berli married a Miss
Jucker in January 1900 – the same Berli-Jucker that exists today.
To highlight the fact that everything changes, but really everything is just
the same, there is an advertisement for “Vital Power” in 1900 that would
cure Lost Manhood, Exhausted Vitality and the Errors of Youth for one penny.
So Viagra’s not new either. Or the need for it! But it was cheaper.
He has also skilfully interpreted social commentary with the differences in
the photographs. In 1900 there were no iron bars on windows, or high walls
around houses. The photographs suggest friendlier age. Unfortunately that is
While the book does divide Bangkok into geographical sections, it also
compares such diverse items as municipal services, street life, recreation and
even “getting away”. There is also an interesting section at the back of
the book with 99 year difference comparative maps.
I found this copy at Bookazine at 795 baht, and the publication is already in
its fourth print run. It is an excellent publication and a wonderful
discussion provoking coffee table book. For anyone interested in old Siam,
this book is a must. There were only two copies left when I reviewed the book,
Mott's CD Reviews: Bill Bruford’s Earthworks, featuring Tim Garland
Random Acts Of Happiness
5 Stars *****
Written by Mott the Dog
Looked after by Meow the Cat
Bill Bruford’s Earthworks are presently celebrating their twentieth
anniversary, and if their last album is anything to go on, long may they
Earthworks (Edition Two) were originally formed after Bill Bruford’s two year
collaboration with Patrick Moraz (who first rose to fame as replacement for
Keith Emerson in a band called ‘Refugee’ after ‘Nice’ broke up) and an
aborted attempt to get that old cart horse of a band ‘Yes’ back on the
road, which was not one of Bill Bruford’s better moves.
Earthworks (Edition One) 1986, was a hugely successful jazz orientated band
with Bill Bruford experimenting using electronic drums to supplement the jazz
sound. Four highly original and musically exciting albums were released
featuring various musicians including multi-instrumentalist Django Bates and
saxophonist Iain Bellamy.
Then once again the call went out for Bill Bruford to re-join his old cohort
Robert Fripp in ‘King Crimson’ in King Crimson’s double trio which lasted
for three years from 1994 - 1997, sharing drum responsibilities with Pat
Mastelotto. A highly successful touring unit that released several live CD’s
and a cracking live DVD called ‘Eyes Wide Open’, not actually released
You have to remember at this stage of his career Bill Bruford had been playing
drums professionally for thirty years. He had already built up the reputation
as the drummer’s drummer, and it was often said that at any concert that Bill
Bruford was playing in, the first five rows were taken up by drummers trying to
work out his technique.
Bill Bruford’s jazz style had always been evident as his childhood heroes
were such drummers as Art Blakey. In 1969 Buddy Rich watched the young Bill
Bruford through his entire set from the side of the stage, and afterwards,
walking off, simply said, “He is a great drummer ... good hands”. From
Buddy Rich, that’s the ultimate compliment. He had also been a founder member
of ‘Yes’, ‘UK’ with John Wetton, Allan Holdsworth, and Eddie Jobson,
been a member of ‘King Crimson’ three times, The Bruford / Moraz Band,
‘Bruford’, ‘The Roy Harper Band’, and been a member of ‘Genesis’ at
the height of their success, as well as countless solo albums, collaborations,
and session work. So his credentials were not exactly in question.
But then it was back to Earthworks (Edition Two).
The second edition went back to basics, revisiting the broadly acoustic
sax-piano-bass-drums line up. Although the line-up of Bill Bruford’s
Earthworks was relatively stable in jazz terms, inevitably in jazz quartets
people move on, and others move in. For the recording of this album the
excellent Tim Garland, who made his name with Chick Corea, had replaced Patrick
Clahar. More recently Steve Hamilton has been replaced on the ivories by Gwilym
Simcock, who last year won the prestigious BBC radio’s rising young musician
of the year award. This year Laurence Cottie took over the bass position in the
‘Random Acts of Happiness’, released in 2004, is a wonderful live album,
although you do not notice this until the audience burst into applause at the
end of the first song ‘My Heart Declares A Holiday’, a number that allows
all the musicians to stretch out musically preparing themselves for what is to
This album is also the first recording to show off the talents of Tim Garland
within the band, and the results are astonishing, quite simply a joy to the
ear. Do not let the jazz tag put you off either if you are a newcomer to this
form of music and think it is only listened to by men with pipes, scarves,
beards, and deer stalker hats. Jazz / Fusion would be a good category to put
this under as this reviewer has no idea what that exactly means! If it means
music played with a basis of jazz and then taken out of it’s box and allowed
to enjoy itself then this is what we have.
Describing the music is not easy: joyous at times, imaginative, thoughtful,
intense, and certainly unpredictable, but certainly never boring. Tim Garland
seems to have taken over the lion’s share of the new compositions, and his
penchant for not curtailing a song too quickly works well here.
‘White Knuckle Wedding’ with it’s long and winding melody also features
Tim Garland on flute, which adds another string to the Earthworks bow. (Great
title for a song by the way.) While Earthworks is still essentially an acoustic
jazz quartet, they do not let themselves be shackled to this format. Tim
Garland still dabbles with electronics using a pitch-shifter to add an oriental
flavour to the end of ‘White Knuckle Wedding’ (just had to say that title
one more time). He also does the same thing with his saxophone on ‘Speaking
With Wooden Tongues’.
‘Tarmontana’ and ‘Bajo Del Sol’ with their Latin-leanings demonstrate
some of the influence that Chick Corea had on Tim Garland whilst he was with
the great man. Throughout the recording Bill Bruford lives up to his
reputation, if not surpassing it. In the hands of Bill Bruford, all the songs
become more than the whole. Bruford’s mathematical precision on the tighter
pieces like ‘Modern Folk’ compare favourably with the loose feel he is able
to impart to his approach to songs like ‘Bajo Del Sol’, shows an artist
who, while already at the top of his particular tree continues to look for new
inspiration and further develop his sound and approach.
Whilst some of the songs are brand new the band is not afraid to look back at
work from previous line ups of Bill Bruford’s earlier bands, and re-invent
songs like ‘Seems Like A Lifetime Ago (part one)’ and ‘One Of A Kind
(parts one and two)’, which come from Bill Bruford’s early Seventies work
and bring a fair helping of progressive rock to the proceedings, whilst proving
the old saying: a good tune is always a good tune. Songs that seemed
unimaginable twenty years ago without Allan Holdsworth’s guitar woven into
them seem quite exhilarating in their new home.
For more information please look up the websites www.silverlakethai.com or
Musicians on Random Acts of
Bill Bruford: Drums Assorted
Tim Garland: Tenor and Soprano saxophones, flute, bass clarinet
Steve Hamilton: Piano
Mark Hodgson: Bass
My Heart Declares A Holiday
White Knuckle Wedding
Turn And Return
Bajo Del Sol
Seems Like A Lifetime Ago (Part One)
With Friends Like These...
Speaking With Wooden Tongues
One Of A Kind (Part One)
One Of A Kind (Part Two)
To contact Mott the Dog
email: [email protected]
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