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Mott’s CD review
Book Review: A Short History of Nearly Everything
How do you make a great book even better? If
it is Bill Bryson’s A Short History of Nearly Everything, (ISBN
0-385-60961-2, Doubleday Books), you publish it in hard cover!
I reviewed the paperback version two years ago, and make no apologies for
reviewing it a second time. I described it as the most readable ‘science’
textbook, and now in hard cover it will stand the test of time, so that you
and your children can read it.
Bryson divides the illustrated contents into six broad areas, the solar
system, measurement parameters, the new age, atomic concepts, life itself and
finally the evolution of mankind.
He mentions an engineer called Thomas Midgely Jnr who was the one to introduce
tetraethyl lead (TEL) into gasoline, in the early pre-NIOSH or OSHA days, with
catastrophic results to worker health. Bryson goes on to write, “With an
instinct for the regrettable, that was almost uncanny, he (Midgely) invented
chlorofluorocarbons, or CFC’s.” One of the prime reasons the world is
battling to patch up the hole in the ozone layer.
Bryson has a wonderfully irreverent way of looking at things (“nearly
everything”), even pontificating as to the spread of syphilis in a monastery
in Hull or telling the reader about the Geology professor who had to run a
curio shop to keep bread on the family table, while he continued, unfunded, to
work out a method to date rocks. Pick up the book and open anywhere and you
will be amused, entertained and edified. You will read about Clair Patterson
(a man) who proved that atmospheric lead dated back to Midgely and his TEL,
but whose work was ignored and suppressed by the powerful petroleum lobby.
Industrial intrigue at its best.
Bryson will introduce you to the neutrino, a tiny, almost devoid of mass,
particle, of which ten thousand trillion trillion pass through the earth every
second. They pass through you and me as if we do not exist, and indeed if
there were a body made up of neutrinos, it and us could co-exist without being
aware of each other’s presence.
Life as we know it, or as we presume it, is looked at, with more than a
passing reference to the (now superseded) Genome Project, which has spawned
the Proteome Project. This is the short history of the essentials of life
brought right to the minute, in all its complexity, yet described with
ultimate clarity. This is in many ways the beauty of this book. Bryson
explains the unfathomable in terms that the layman uses and understands.
If you have the smallest spark of interest in how we (homo sapiens) got here,
or how ‘here’ evolved into what it is today, then this book is for you.
Bryson makes even the driest subjects enthralling. He devoted three years of
his life to do this. It is worth a few days of yours to read it.
The review copy was made available by Bookazine and had an RRP of 1550 baht.
Expensive I know, but worth every baht for a lifetime of information. Buy it
for your children.
Mott's CD Reviews: Jonathan Kelly
The Charity Concert DVD
5 Stars *****
Written by Mott the Dog
Edited by Meow the Cat
Without any shadow of a doubt this is the best concert DVD I have ever seen.
This from a person who loves music on DVD as you can watch the bits you want
and listen to the bits when your attention wanders. This DVD though will not
allow your attention to wander, in fact I have had to turn it off so I can
concentrate on writing this homage.
After reaching great success in the early 1970s, followed by some rather dodgy
efforts in the mid 1970s, Jonathan Kelly could see what the world of Rock
‘n’ Roll was doing to his life and simply turned away from it - no great
retirement speeches or farewell tours, Jonathan Kelly simply pulled his new
family together and went and created a new life for himself in Wales.
It became one of the great unsolved mysteries of rock music: ‘What happened
to Jonathan Kelly’. Those first two RCA records and the various concert
appearances had left a strong impression in many music lovers’ minds. So much
so in fact that Gerald Sables and the intrepid Rosy made it their quest to go
out and find the elusive musician. Not only did they find him in the year 2000,
but like in all good stories they became friends with Jonathan Kelly, his wife
and family. But still Jonathan Kelly was very loathe to make any return to the
In 2001 BGO Records bought the rights to the Jonathan Kelly back catalogue.
They released ‘Twice Around The Houses’ and ‘Wait Till They Change The
Back Drop’ as a double album on a two for the price of one double album. I
cannot recommend these albums enough, as they are full of joy and enthusiasm
with some of the most catchy rhythms since Lennon and McCartney got together.
In 2004 BGO also made available ‘Waiting For You’ and ‘Two Days In
Winter’ - this is nice to complete your Jonathan Kelly back catalogue. These
are easily available through www.amazon.com
But now for the present and future. Gerald Stables’ mother had a frightening
clash with the dreaded cancer. Fortunately she fought it and won, recovering
full health. Gerald decided to give something back, organizing a concert in a
local Darlington folk club to raise money for the ‘Fight The Cancer Fund’.
Gerald asked his new friend Jonathan Kelly if he would possibly sing a song or
two, and to Gerald’s amazement Jonathan Kelly agreed to headline the show. As
soon as it was announced that Jonathan Kelly would be playing his first show in
nearly thirty years the club sold out in hours with people coming from all over
Britain and some even taking the journey over from Europe.
The audience experienced the concert of a lifetime. Even though Jonathan Kelly
had not played a public concert in thirty years, he was there ready with guitar
in hand on April 20th 2005, and was naturally a little rusty, and obviously
nervous. As Bob Chiswick, the announcer, walks on stage and says two words,
‘Jonathan Kelly’ the crowd is on their feet, making more noise at the
beginning of a show than many star returns get when they have finished.
Needless to say the concert was great success, and a sizeable donation of cash
was given to charity.
A CD of the concert was released and was available through the website run by
Gerald Sable (ably assisted by Rosy), so that those people who were not able to
attend the concert were able to get a slice of the excitement and joy that went
with the concert. Now at last there is a full length DVD of the event. All sign
of any nerves drop away after one bar of the opening song ‘We Are The
People’; a wonderful choice to open with as it is a great anthem to bring
everybody together. ‘We Are The People’ is one of eight songs from ‘Twice
Around The Houses’ including a storming version of ‘The Ballad Of Cursed
There are two songs from ‘Wait Till They Change the Backdrop’, a couple of
old singles and B-Sides, with ‘Mrs. Gilbert’, an anti-war song that is as
relevant now as it was over thirty years ago when it was written. It also has
two new songs that are not on the CD release: ‘The Best Of Times’ and Peels
Of Thunder’, which go to prove that Jonathan Kelly has lost none of his song
writing talent or bite. Then a blast through Howlin’ Wolf’s ‘Sittin’ On
Top Of The World’, which segues into the rockin’ ‘Train Song’ that
brings things to a glorious conclusion.
The crowd also plays their part by singing along to all the songs and providing
the rhythm section by clapping in time to each song, even the new ones. Three
of the crowd are pulled out of the audience to perform the backing vocals to
During the intro to the DVD you also get the chance to hear a new Jonathan
Kelly song, ‘It’s What I Am’, and as the credits roll they are played
over another new song, ‘Eileen’, which you can download free from the
Noticeably, there are no songs from Jonathan Kelly’s latter two albums with
RCA. But for my money the best parts are the in-between song banter from the
man. Jonathan Kelly has the audience in the palm of his hands as he tells of
road stories from days of yore, including little snippets from Eric Clapton,
and The Grease Band amongst others. I won’t ruin it by telling any of them.
Buy the DVD and find out for yourself.
For those interested in knowing more about this spectacular artist please look
up the Gerald Sable run website at www.jonathankelly.com
We Are The People
The Best Of Times
Don’t Be Too Long
I Used To Know You
Peels Of Thunder
Alright Till Then
Down On Me
Ballad Of Cursed Anna
Leave Them Go
Sittin’ On Top Of The World / The Train Song
To contact Mott the Dog
email: [email protected]