Vol. V No. 24 - Saturday June 10, - June 16, 2006
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Book Review

Mott’s CD review

Book Review: Thai Jinks

by Lang Reid

The tone of this book, Thai Jinks (Asia Books, 2006, ISBN 974-8303-92-6) is set in the introduction, where author James Eckardt writes, “Pushing sixty now, I rejoice in the fact that while children are the punishment that God gives you for having sex, grandchildren are the reward He gives you for not killing your children.” Oh how I wish I could claim authorship to words of wisdom like those, but then, I am but a poor scribbler in the provinces, while James has worked not only for the Bangkok Post, but The Nation as well. However, I shall refrain from maudlin self pity.
This is Eckardt’s fourth book, and I have enjoyed the previous efforts, and before going much further with this review, I liked this one too, so you can skip to the price if you don’t want to read all my waffle.
The book is in two parts, with vignettes on his life on land and the other on sea. I am very well experienced on land, but have to admit that other than falling off an ocean-going yacht in the Straits of Gibraltar, my life before the mast has been sadly lacking. That Eckardt could interest me in his aquatic exploits is the mark of a good writer, and I enjoyed every one.
The items on land go back for many years (34 years to his Peace Corps ‘acid’ trip, and an even more amazing 54 years to his schooling at St. Boniface), and are not in chronological order, but this does not matter. Each is a stand-alone story, written in a conversational style through which you can almost hear Eckardt expounding, whilst he attacks another beer. During these rantings he introduces his daughter Erika the Beast (a person that all fathers will relate to) and then inveigles you to buy him another beer.
In fact, after reading this book I came to the conclusion that Eckardt’s life has been one of disaster management, going from one last four beers to the next. Even if not all of the vignettes revolve around beer, the pages are certainly bespattered with the amber fluid. Journalists have been known to indulge in the odd beer-fuelled binge (especially if someone else is picking up the Check Bin) and Eckardt certainly follows this almost mandatory scribbler’s dictum. Add ‘yachting’ to journalism and you can see immediately (and read in this case) just why the listing on the Stock Exchange for Chang Beer became such a hot issue. Forget the anti-swillers, the chaps on the yacht tillers could have been down to their last four beers!
James Eckardt is a good writer, even though he attempts at self deprecation. I found this was a great book for a pick up and put down chuckle. Well worth the B. 450 at my local Bookazine. As Eckardt writes, “The measure of your life is not the dollars you’ve earned but the laughs you’ve had. And by that measure I am John Paul Effing Getty.” However, I must say that the aforesaid Getty has never given me anything, whilst James Eckardt has. Thanks for the laughs.

Mott's CD Reviews:  B.B.M. (Baker, Bruce, and Moore)

Around The Next Dream

5 Stars *****

Mott the Dog

If this column was still called ‘Forgotten Classics’, then ‘Around The Next Dream’ would certainly come into that category.
After the original supergroup power trio Cream broke up in 1968, it seemed that every decade Jack Bruce had a go at recreating the formula with other famous musicians. In the Seventies we were presented with West, Bruce, and Laing, a combination of Leslie West, lead guitar and vocals, and Corky Laing, on the drums, both ex-Mountain, playing with Jack Bruce. They produced two of the worst two albums ever to escape the recording studio in Why Dontcha (1972) and then even worse Whatever Turns you On (1973). How such three talented musicians could come up with such dross is beyond me. Columbia Records should hang their collective heads in shame for allowing the release of this stuff. Even the album covers were amongst the worst ever.
In the Eighties Jack Bruce tried again, this time with ex-Procol Harum, and axe hero in his own right, guitarist Robin Trower, and drummer Bill Lordan. Two more albums were produced, the excellent BLT (1981) (one cannot help but wonder if Bill Lordan was not chosen just so he could be the lettuce in the BLT), followed by the slightly lacklustre Truce (1982). To be fair to this ensemble they never stood a chance in the apathy faced by real rock musicians in the early Eighties, so this combination rather fell by the wayside due to neglect. Each artist returned to their solo careers.
Then in the Nineties, after an impromptu jam at Jack Bruce’s 50th Birthday celebrations, the seeds for a new power trio were planted. One of the major factors in Cream breaking up was that Ginger Baker and Jack Bruce could not stand the sight of each other; musically the perfect combination as a driving rhythm section, but personality wise, oh dear. As far back as 1963 Ginger Baker had gone for Jack Bruce with a large knife when the two were together in The Graham Band Organization.
But, with great tact and diplomacy, old wounds were healed and it was decided to join forces once more to provide two thirds of BBM with mercurial young guitarist Gary Moore (ex Colosseum 2, Skid Row, Thin Lizzy and a successful solo career). When this trio was announced to the press, most of the comments from knowledgeable journalists at the time were that Baker and Bruce would only last minutes before fists would start to fly. It was like lighting the blue touchpaper and waiting for the fireworks.
Producing themselves, with help from Ian Young, the band secluded themselves in Outside and Samm studios, reappearing six weeks later with a massive fifty two minutes worth of hard rock inlayed with the blues. There is not a filler track in sight; every song stood its own ground. At the time there were many comparisons made with some songs bearing resemblances to Cream classics, but then what did people expect? There were two thirds of Cream playing together for the first time in over twenty five years.
The album mixes great rockers, such as opener Waiting In The Wings and the incendiary I Wonder Why (Are You So Mean To Me), to classic ballads, like Wrong Side Of Town and Naked Flame, which give Jack Bruce a chance to show off his vocal talents.
The album also includes some rock solid mid tempo numbers allowing the band to showcase their individual skills; for example, Why Does Love (Have To Go Wrong) where for the last three minutes of its allotted eight and a half minute duration, Gary Moore is allowed to totally wig out on guitar, bringing the song to an epic climax. Without a shadow of a doubt the best guitar solo Moore has ever laid down in the studio, and yes I have heard Still Got The Blues For You, Black Rose, etc.
Can’t Fool The Blues is probably the choice cut on the platter, combining great lyrics, Ginger Baker’s driving drums, dexterous bass work, and Gary Moore again enjoying himself immensely on guitar.
The guys had cheated a little bit by straying ever so slightly from the power trio formula, by employing the talents of Tommy Eyre on keyboards, who plays some beautifully refined keyboards, filling out each song admirably.
In between Cream’s, Baker and Bruce were never on such a fine album, and this was certainly the pinnacle of Gary Moore’s guitar playing. A bold statement I know, but remember this is a ‘Forgotten Classic’.
Album sales at first were good, and the band headed out on the road to play some warm up dates in Continental Europe, receiving glowing reviews all the way. Once back on British soil they were booked into London’s prestigious Marquee club for a four night residency. On the first night Gary Moore was all over the place, soloing where he should have been riffing, then fluffing his big moments when they came, cursing the other two on stage: Spinal Tap on stage. When they managed to get off stage and back to the dressing room, a quick and violent row occurred with Gary Moore leaving the premises never to speak to the other two again. Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker went back on stage for a perfunctory encore without a lead guitar. Wryly commenting afterwards that it was not the Baker / Bruce combination that had not worked, but the young guitarist that had imploded the band. Such is life in the rock ‘n’ roll circus. But at least this trio did leave behind a true masterpiece in Around The Next Dream.

BBM were
Ginger Baker: Drums
Gary Moore: Guitar, Vocals
Jack Bruce: Bass, Vocals
(Tommy Eyre: Keyboards)

Waiting In The Wings
City Of Gold
Where In The World
Can’t Fool The Blues
High Cost Of Loving
Glory Days
Why Does Love (Have To Go Wrong)?
Naked Flame
I Wonder Why (Are You So Mean To Me)?
Wrong Side Of Town

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

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