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Hot Blood (A Dan Shepherd Mystery)
Hot Blood (A Dan Shepherd Mystery)
by Stephen Leather
Edition: Paperback
38 used & new from $0.76

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mott's Hot Blood, March 7, 2008
Hot Blood
Hot Blood (ISBN 978-0-340-92169-2 Hodder and Stoughton 2007) is a new release from the prolific writer Stephen Leather and the fourth in his Dan (Spider) Shepherd series. Leather also spends much time in Thailand, and has been seen writing chapters of his books while sitting quietly in the corner of Jameson's Irish Pub. Perhaps this is the reason that Dan Shepherd's favorite drink is Jameson's and soda.
Shepherd is an undercover British policeman who works for a shady section of the constabulary known as SOCA, the Serious Organized Crime Agency, and this book revolves around his attempt to release a hostage taken in Iraq. A hostage who had previously saved Shepherd's life.
This particular captive was being held by a totally bloodthirsty group of Islamic extremists, who had killed their previous captive, graphically described by page 12. By then, you know you are in for a no holds barred and hard hitting thriller.
There are three intermingled plots as Dan Shepherd traces local British terrorists, and at the same time is attempting to rescue his friend who is the hostage in Iraq, while an Iraqi sniper is very systematically killing any white face that he can.
The detail in the book is meticulous, and brought me up to date with various weapons and such terrorist offensives as IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices).
The hero, Dan Shepherd, is portrayed as a very human character and the book delves into the principle of `do the ends justify the means?' This is a concept that Dan Shepherd struggles with throughout the entire book. After physically interrogating a suspect, Shepherd "wasn't proud of what he'd done, but he wasn't ashamed either. The man he'd assaulted was a terrorist." But this then led to questioning the morality of what the undercover operatives really do. It is an intellectual expose, not cops and robbers - it is a psychological thriller. Shepherd saying, "There's no honor in what we're doing, and I think it's time to stop."
Being set in Iraq for the bulk of the book, the war situation is examined, right from the pre-invasion: "What had happened in Iraq was everything to do with money and virtually nothing to do with religion." However, after occupation and the civilian unrest and carnage, author Leather through his characters opines "on the surface the issue in Iraq is religious, but at the end of the day it's about power." This discussion of the political and moral debate over Iraq makes the book very current, and also makes the plot and characters even more believable.
The pace of the book is kept up with the short chapters, but towards the end, as Shepherd gets close to his man, the pace is such that you truly cannot put this book down. An overly used phrase I know, but in this case totally justified. You will not be able to put it down either.
At an RRP of B. 395 this is a veritable bargain thriller, and at 536 pages a damn long read. So much more than a detective yarn, Hot Blood is up to the minute entertainment and thought provoking. Get it!


Nutz
Nutz
7 used & new from $22.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mott's Nutz, February 8, 2008
This review is from: Nutz (Audio CD)
Starting out from the streets of Liverpool (the birth place of some of England's finest bands, most notably of course "The Beatles") talented guitarist/songwriter Mick Devonport sought out the best musicians from the city to form a scouse super group to conquer the world, following in the footsteps of previous Liverpool bands.

First recruit was powerhouse drummer John Mylett. John had his own tight distinctive style of drumming, powering the band along with flexibility using every single space of skin on his mass array of drums whilst adding thunder to the proceedings with his bass drum footwork. The Mylett drum solo mid-set was always a wonder to behold. There weren't many bass players who would not be swamped playing alongside this God of Thunder, but one was found in Mr. Keith Mullholand, who always played his bass as if he was a lead guitarist. He used to wear Doc-Marten boots on stage, as he stomped around so hard on the stage often breaking the wooden planking as his feet added another dimension to the rhythm section. Of course there, leading this trio was the mercurial Mick Devonport, a Jeff Beck admirer, who had practiced so long and hard that he was a match for his mentor, certainly more consistent, with great songwriting skills. A flamboyant showman with a wonderful sense of humour. But a front man still had to be found. Whilst the three of them were sitting in the local pub watching the telly, the Cadbury's crunchy bar advert came on with a raunchy soundtrack and a terrific vocal over dub. "If only we could find him", they thought. A quick phone call later and they found out that the young lad was a local Liverpool boy playing in the Cavern the very next day in his own band. That night lead singer David Lloyd was persuaded to break up his band and front this new quartet, aptly christened "Nutz".

A residency was set up at the Cavern for the night time, and during the day they recorded their debut album. It was released in 1974 and, quite frankly, did not live up to expectations. Apart from two songs "Joke" and "Round & Round" it was not truly representative of their stage show. A re-think was in order. Back to the studios, and this time they put the edge into the songs. Right from the opening guitar break of 1975's "Nutz Too" opener "Natured Intended" you know how hard rock is supposed to be played. Seven hard rockin Mick Devonport rockers including the head bangin "Sinner". A cover of Pete Pizer's "Changes Coming" and three David Lloyd Ballads, including the beautiful "The Love That You Lost", with John "Rabbit" Bundrick (later of Free & The Who) on piano. "Nutz Too" got to the outer regions of the British Charts. Then a couple of bad decisions put a spanner in the works. A tour of America was a disaster as the albums weren't even out in the States due to complications with unions over printing rights. This tour losing them impetuous in the U.K., and sinking the band heavily into debt. But record company A & M Records stepped in and put them onto the Black Sabbath European tour of 1976, which gave the band excellent exposure, but was not a happy tour as by now Black Sabbath had turned into warring factions and were about too implode. Again salvation seemed to be on hand as Nutz were added to the mid-afternoon time slot on Saturday's Reading Festival, at the time the major rock event of the year. They went on for their forty five minutes set at the peak of their powers. When they came off, the crowd of 95,000 were baying for more. However, the contract said forty five minutes, no more, or they would be fined. Management for A & M records were there and told the boys not to go for an encore. In those circumstances who do you listen too? A suit from the record company or 95,000 screaming fans? They went back on playing 2 encores before the plug was pulled on them.

A & M Records were furious. From that moment on tensions between record company and the band where at breaking point. The band went back into the studio to record a new album, recruiting Kenny Newton on keyboards to fill out the sound. "Hard Nutz" was released in 1977 with very little publicity and the band were sent out on the road with Welsh trio "Budgie", label mates on A & M, but combining Budgies decline, Nutz blowing the headlines off stage every night, and the advent of the dreaded Punk Rock, it stood no chance. In 1978 A & M completed their recording contract with Nutz by releasing "Nutz Live Cutz", an amazing album of pure raw hard rock `n' roll including a great version of the Nutz anthem "Wall Banger" clocking in at 12 minutes, plus tracks spanning all three albums. But with no publicity, A & M holding a contract that would run another 2 years, no financial support to tour, the album, which should have been huge, flopped. The moral of the story: don't upset the suits. So Nutz had to sit out their contract, but this was not the end......
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 4, 2011 11:10 PM PST


Nutz Too
Nutz Too
Offered by ProgHeaven
Price: $19.99
8 used & new from $19.22

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mott Too, February 8, 2008
This review is from: Nutz Too (Audio CD)
In 1975 those four wacky lads from Liverpool, England, who make up Nutz, released their second album amusingly titled "Nutz Too". What a leap forward it was from their debut album, running like all good Rock 'n' Roll albums should. Similar to a live show with a positive beginning, it takes you on a journey all along the roundabout of Rock 'n' Roll before exploding in a dramatic climax. Along the way they show off the power of the group as a whole, while allowing each individual member of the band room to reveal his own particular talents. ''Nutz Too" was compiled of eleven songs, each short and sharp (average song length four minutes), and each with its own story to tell. Six of the seven songs by lead guitarist Mick Devonport are belting rockers, while number seven is a rather pleasant Zepplenesque acoustic song. One cover version, included to appease the record company, was released as a single, the poppy rocker 'Change's Coming'. And three songs written by front man David Lloyd one of which is a mid-paced rocker, a clever little number with intricate time changes and one of the most beautiful power ballads ever put down in a recording studio. This really rather summed up the band. Mick Devonport, the driving force and raw rocker of the band; Dave Lloyd, the looks, soul, and voice; John Mylett, left to prove that he was one of the finest and hardest hitting drummers in Rock 'n' Roll (John was constantly being targeted by other bands to join their ranks including ''Iron Maiden". However, he preferred to stay with his mates in the firm believe that one day they would hit the big time. Sadly, as history proved, "Nutz" never become the mega-stars everyone predicted, and John Mylett was tragically killed in a car crash in Greece a year after the band gave up their quest for that elusive big break.); and lastly Keith Mulholland, who, together with John Mylett, formed an earth shattering rhythm section, and at times put his rockin' bass upfront like in 'Knife Edge'.
Opener 'Nature Intended' starts with a flurry of descending chords from the guitar of Mr. Devonport before the rest of the band come crashing in with the main riff. This leaves you in no mind that you are listening to a lean mean Rock 'n' Roll machine. David Lloyd comes in with the vocals leading into the chorus that brings incredible melody to proceedings; then, after two verses and choruses played at breakneck speed, Mick Devonport takes the roof off the place with one of his trade mark solos. It can be said that it is not always necessary to play one hundred notes when ten will do, but I say, "If you've got it, flaunt it". What is the point of being one of the fastest guitarists in Rock 'n' Roll with a flashy technique when you're not going to use it?
The Album opens with a trio of Devonport rockers, before we get the single, which taken in the constraints of the album, does add a little contrast. Next comes `Dear Diary', which takes a leaf out of the Zeppelin/Jeff Beck school of music. It would of made a fabulous anthem if "Nutz" had reached stadium filling capacity. I can see those tens of thousands of flickering lighters swaying now. Sixth song up, which would of been the end of side one in the days of vinyl, is an out and out Nutz rocker with some tantalizing inter-play between the lead guitarist and the rest of the band. Song seven, eight, and nine (one, two, and three on side 2 on the vinyl) are the David Lloyd compositions. `Cool Me Down' is a mid-paced heavy rock number. In these days of politically correct speech we would say that the lyrics promote anger management. R.S.D is perhaps the most clever song in the Nutz barrel. Switching from an acoustic opening with some more of David Lloyd's effect drenched vocals, crooning again about self-restraint, before the full electric band breaks back in with some astonishing slide work by Mick Devonport. This was always one of Nutz's most popular live stage number, where they would always astound the audience by reproducing their studio sound on stage. `The Love That You Lost' is one of the most moving songs of lost love ever recorded in a studio. Famous session player Paul Carrick was brought in to play the piano and an emotional intro he gives. David Lloyd sings his own lyrics with passion and power betraying the fact that the song was written through bitter experience. Mick Devonport lays down a delicate solo to show there is heart to his playing as well as explosive bluster; a song that really tugs at the old heart strings.
Then the worm turns and the album crashes out with two pulsating Devonport rockers rejoicing in the joys of living life to its fullest. First up are three minutes of the break speed `Sinner', where you can only marvel at the speed of both David Lloyd's singing and the band's playing. The final song is `Knife Edge', a song "Nutz" always used to save as their encore in their live set, which brings the album to a storming conclusion with everybody being given the space to stretch out musically. Oh, unfortunately they do not make rockers like this anymore.
The artwork for the cover features all four members of the band with fireball eyes captured by a beautiful model (hey, it was the seventies), and the beautiful model was Linda Halpin. Linda is the sister of the world's most famous Rock 'n' Roll photographer Ross Halpin, who took the pictures and did all the artwork for the boys. After all this, do you need another reason to go out and get yourself a copy of "Nutz Too"?

Pawed by Mott The Dog
Remastered by Ella Crew
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 15, 2009 9:37 AM PDT


Genesis Live [Definitive Edition Remaster]
Genesis Live [Definitive Edition Remaster]
Price: $10.94
44 used & new from $3.17

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mott's own Genesis, February 7, 2008
Genesis were formed in early 1967 out of a couple of bands that met at Public School, Charterhouse. (In England, the posh expensive Schools are called Public Schools, which has always puzzled this dog. They certainly were not public as they all cost a fortune to attend). They recorded their first album "Genesis To Revelation" and released it in 1969. That was before the band had even played before a live audience. That by itself is an amazingly long incubation period. They also had already a change of drummers by that time, Chris Stewart left and John Silver (great name for a drummer) came in. This album hardly caused a ripple in record stores round the country, and is unrecognizable as anything Genesis were to do after this point.
A re-think was in order. It was decided that drummer Silver was unsuitable. Out with him and in came John Mayhew. They all de-camped to a conveniently empty cottage just outside Dorking to work on their sound and a possible stage show. Eventually Tony Stratton Smith signed them to his new Charisma label, which on the strength of watching one dodgy rehearsal, and one badly recorded demo tape, must be one of the most inspired signings in the history of Rock 'n' Roll. The album "Trespass" was recorded and the band began to gig. However, before the album was released disaster stuck.
Anthony Phillips, original lead guitarist with the band and instrumental in defining the guitar sound that stayed with the band all through their career, decided that the Rock 'n' Roll lifestyle within a band was not for him. At the same time the three remaining original members decided that John Mayhew was not the man to be sitting on the drum stool (scratch deep enough all bands have had their Spinal Tap moments). Replacing Anthony Phillips was not going to be easy, but finally Steve Hackett was found. He was a very earnest and intense young man, whose character was in keeping with his guitar playing.
The drum stool was the next problem. After fourteen drummers had a go, a certain young chap by the name of Phil Collins answered a Melody Maker small ad and was drafted into the Genesis ranks straight away. As a child actor Phil Collins had been in several T.V. and stage shows including the part of the artful Dodger in the Londoner West End production of "Oliver". After "Oliver" he drummed in several bands, the last of which had been a group called "Flaming Youth". They were just rapping up in the aftermath of some ill advised and unsuccessful publicity, so Phil Collins was glad to get the gig with Genesis. But I am sure the other four did not realize what a useful little chap their new drummer was going to be in years to come.
So by early 1971 the re-shaped Genesis was finally gathering some real momentum with growing approval from the press and a steadily increasing hard core fan base. Each album they released outstripped the last ("Nursery Cryme" in 1971 and British breakthrough album "Foxtrot", which followed in 1972). By now they were out on the road almost consistently wowing their fans with their unique blend of rock music, dexterous skills, and groundbreaking stage show. A quite remarkable sight on stage they were, too. Steve Hackett would play his blistering solos from a seat on the left hand of the stage, while multi-instrumentalist Mike Rutherfood would wander the stage with his twin necked guitar enabling him to play the bass and twelve string guitar at the same time.
Tony Banks would be on the right hand side of the stage, almost invisible from the audience as he was completely surrounded by his multi collection of keyboards. But the wonderful wall of sound that became the trademark of Genesis left you in no mind that he was there.
Then of course, out the front, was charismatic lead singer Peter Gabriel, who would often go through eight costume changes per concert in an effort to better put across the story of each song. Not for Genesis to play short sharp little songs; most clocked in at over eight minutes. The only single that Genesis had released at this point was "The Knife". To accommodate it into the single formula it had literally been cut in two with side `A' being "The Knife - part one" and Side `B' being ''The Knife - part two". That didn't exactly endear them to radio play. So Gabriel's role was crucial in "Genesis" to keep the audience's attention. His flute playing also gave the band an extra dimension.
While the band was on the tour promoting "Foxtrot", several of the concerts were recorded to give the fans something while they came off the road to record their next album. ("Selling England By The Pound " 1973 became their worldwide breakthrough album for them.)
Five songs were selected for "Genesis Live", which rocketed into the charts in Britain reaching # 9. What you got were five epics all clocking in at over eight minutes, in all forty five minutes. A lot for the days of vinyl. And although not a whole concert, the running order of the songs worked very well.
First we have two songs off the "Foxtrot" album, but no problem there as the band had quickly adapted the songs for the road, beefing them up quite considerably. In the case of opener `Watcher of the Skies' Tony Banks had added an awe inspiring opening played on the Mellotrone and the Moog Syntersizer, By the time Phil Collins comes thundering in showing the chops on the drums that would soon have him rated as one of the best drummers in rock music (this was way before anybody had thought about putting him out front to sing), you are already caught up in the web Genesis set out to catch you. Tony Bank's keyboards rather dominate the opener, using the guitars to keep up a strong but slightly slower beat than on the studio album.
Then Peter Gabriel takes over on `Get'em Out By Friday', a tirade against despicable landlords. Gabriel plays all the roles in different voices. With the amount of energy this must of taken up, it is no real surprise that two years later he stunned the rock world by leaving Genesis when they were on the crest of the wave. `The Return Of The Giant Hogweed' was always a favorite of Genesis fans and was probably as close to actual Rock 'n' Roll that Genesis would ever get to; something to actually bang your head to - heavy metal style. `The Return of the Giant Hogweed' was one of two from "Nursery Crymes", the other one being `The Musical Box'. This is the center piece of this album and shows all the light and dark that the band put into their music. The mid section features a guitar solo from Steve Hackett that would lay the template for all progressive rock guitarists to follow. The final climax to this epic as the band hammer their way home with Gabriel wailing over the top of them all, has often been imitated but never bettered.
After `The Musical Box' has left you exhausted, the band carries on with a track from "Trespass", `The Knife'. You can tell by the audience reaction to Gabriel's announcement of what the band intended to play next that this was another crowd favorite. Expectations were running high. But the band gave an interpretation that exceeded the studio version in astonishing fashion. This must be partly due to the relative new inclusions of Phil Collins and Steve Hackett into the band. Phil Collin's drums gave the song a much crisper definition, while Hackett's guitar work reached new heights. A dramatic conclusion to a fine album.

Pawed by Mott The Dog
Remastered by Ella Crew
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 3, 2014 6:05 PM PST


Private Dancer
Private Dancer
by Stephen Leather
Edition: Paperback
Price: $13.79
58 used & new from $7.98

21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mott's Private Dancer, February 3, 2008
This review is from: Private Dancer (Paperback)
Posted by Admin / 31. January 2008, 03:37
UP UNTIL a couple of weeks ago, I must have been the only foreigner in Thailand who had not read Stephen Leather's novel Private Dancer. I knew about the book; I'd heard great things about the book; but I'm not what you would call a prolific reader, having read perhaps only twenty books during my lifetime. A friend loaned me his copy of Private Dancer and, thanks to two visits to Bangkok in three days, I found the four road trips of two hours each provided the perfect opportunity to finally read it.

I've never done a book review since I finished high school and I don't intend to start now, but I must report on what I discovered was a fabulous book. First of all, Private Dancer is a novel with the usual disclaimer that "All characters in this publication are fictitious ..." I don't believe that for a second; the reason being that I have personally met them all. They may not have been the exact characters Mr. Leather was referring to but they were their cosmic clones. Trust me, these people do exist. In fact, I was once one of them but I'm not going to disclose which one!
In this I found the only negative feature of the book: I suspect it would be far more enjoyable if the reader had prior knowledge of Thailand and, in particular, the foreign bar scene. To someone who has never been to Thailand, a lot of the events, the irony and the dialogue may be wasted. Nevertheless, I could relate to all of it and form a clear picture of every scene in my head, making it chilling reading.
This was another indication that although the novel may be a fictional story in its entirety, it must be based on a series of real events. Nobody could describe episodes so accurately and believably without having either experienced them himself or observed them first hand. Putting it crudely; you can't make this stuff up! For example, there is a scene in which the enraged hero tries to smash a television set. He throws it to the floor repeatedly and kicks it but still the screen doesn't break. Having never attempted this silliness myself and with a negligible knowledge of electronics, I would have thought a television set was a sensitive piece of equipment and the screen would be delicate. Our hero eventually gives up with the words, "God knows what they make the screens from, but take it from me, they're practically indestructible." In my opinion you would not know that unless you had actually tried it yourself or witnessed someone else in the act.
I confess that when I was a quarter way through the book, I had to stop reading. It was making me angry and frustrated. How could any man be so blind and stupid? I found myself shouting at the main character and fighting the urge to rip him from the pages, grab him by the throat and slap some sense into him - one slap for each syllable of my lecture. This was the beauty of Mr. Leather's prose; he made me feel like I was part of the action and, irrationally, that I could actually do something about it.
Thankfully, once my blood pressure went down I picked the book up again and continued reading. I thought the best line was after the hero broke into his girlfriend's apartment to find her alone with a young Thai man. When he'd calmed down some time later, she explained, "Pete, he not my boyfriend. He my drug dealer." Wow! Isn't that a position in which every man in love would like finding himself? Does he accept she is screwing around or does he accept she is a junkie? Talk about having to choose the lesser of two evils!
But the novel is predominantly about the Bangkok bar scene and the inherent deceit and deception - from both sides. There are no chapters to break up the flow and I liked the way every pivotal event is related from the viewpoint of each of the participants. Basically, you get to hear both sides of the story and can make up your own mind which one you believe.
There are also some poignant comments about, and criticisms of, foreign men who flirt with the bar scene. Some commentary is supposedly extracted from an essay `Cross-Cultural Complications of Prostitution in Thailand' by a real or fictitious Prof. Bruno Mayer. A scathing attack comes from one of the characters, a Thai private investigator. I felt the overwhelming desire to disagree with much of what he said but for the life of me I couldn't think up a valid argument to use. Citing one or two exceptions does not invalidate a rule unless the rule or argument uses specific terms like `all', `none', `every' or `never'.
The only statement I could dispute was, "But one thing is for sure - the relationship [between sex tourists and bargirls] won't last. Guaranteed." First you need to define the term `last'. A high percentage of marriages in the West between non-sex tourists and non-bargirls end in divorce. Some last a week; some last for many years. Does a happy 10-year marriage suddenly gone sour constitute a relationship failure? If so, and the only benchmark of success is `till death us do part', then there are a lot of unsuccessful relationships throughout the world, not just those originating in Thailand.
Being branded a `long term sex tourist' didn't thrill me either, having never thought of myself in those terms. But then I asked myself the definitive question: if they closed down all the bars and sent the girls packing back to their families, would I still want to live here? The answer, unfortunately, was `no'. Mr. Leather was correct once again.
Private Dancer contains hard and valuable lessons for us all and, as the cover says, "Should be compulsory reading for all first-timers to Thailand." I agree, with the rider that, once they've read it the first time without fully understanding it, they should wait a few weeks or months then read it again. All will become clear.
From Pattaya Today
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 25, 2012 8:46 AM PST


No Title Available

5.0 out of 5 stars Mott's favorite Carol, January 22, 2008
Gryphon is one of the bands that epitomised the early seventies; the life of a Gryphon was not long, five years to be exact. But as the Gryphon grew up it changed like a chameleon, integrating into its scenery whilst becoming a powerful and influential beast.
Gryphon was always a band impossible to categorize, they were sort of labelled progressive rock, but if anything they could have been called retro rock. (Albeit with a progressive slant!) No instrument was too obscure to be used by one of the Gryphons, although a fancy for crumhorns must be acknowledged.
I personally cannot resist just running a thumb over what instruments were used in the studio and the live stage. Beside various crumhorns (apparently they come in a wide range from high to low and resemble something like an early wooden six iron, can be spelt with a C or a K, and make a very jolly if rather rude noise. Rude as in school playground humour). Other instruments that were turned over in the Gryphon hands that were perhaps not considered run of the mill to your average rock band in the early seventies were recorders, bassoons, glockenspiels and yamaharmoniums, along with ordinary items such as pianos, organs, drums, guitars, and bass guitars.
Whatever the band used in the studio was also taken along for live concerts, often creating great hilarity, as musicians desperately stumbled around looking for the next instrument they were supposed to play, usually finding it just in the nick of time.
Over the course of the Gryphon's life, they started out as a sort of trio, Richard Harvey, Brian Gulland and David Obersle, developed into a bit of a four piece with the addition of a lead guitarist in the shape of Graeme Taylor, and then blossomed into the more traditional five piece rock band with the addition of Philip Nester on bass. This gave them a proper rock trio, whilst the other two could rush around at the front of the stage (Gryphons did not exactly rush, but a bit of mottistic license here). They of course went backwards becoming a four piece then a trio before disbanding in the wash of Punk rock in 1977.
Four albums were cut for the progressive record label Transatlantic, and everyone a little gem, too. Firstly, the self titled `Gryphon' (1973) - now how many rock albums can claim to have a track written by the English King Henry VIII? Well Gryphon can. Then there was `Midnight Mushrumps', with its twenty-two minute instrumental title track, inspired from when Gryphon were asked to play along to a production of William Shakespeare's `The Tempest' at the National Theatre.
Quickly on the heels of Mushrumps came `Red Queen to Gryphon Three' - a concept album based on a game of chess, I kid you not. This was an all instrumental album featuring some of the fastest recorder and crumhorn or even krumhorn playing you are ever likely to hear, perhaps paving the way for thrash metal, but perhaps not.
The following year was the turn of `Raindance' (1975) which was Gryphon's attempt at more contemporary rock, which really kind of ruined the original effect. After this Transatlantic rather gave up on Gryphon and to be fair I think Gryphon was a bit on the tired side too, certainly its feathers had been ruffled when sent out on the road with big name progressive rock band Yes all across America, leaving the American audience very bemused by what they saw as a bunch of medieval wandering minstrels setting up on stage. One more album was released, `Treason' (1977) and to be quite frank the title is pretty apt.
But in their day Gryphon was a joy to behold, always giving off a great vibe of fun, whilst showing off their musical skills. Transatlantic have now put together a double CD `Crossing The Styles' which collects together nearly everything that was released by Gryphon, and at over two and a half hours of wonderfully cheerful music is an absolute joy to listen to. Out of all the bands that came and went during the early and mid seventies `Gryphon' stands out as one of the most unique.
In 2003 Hux records put out one more CD, a collection of two B.B.C. In Concert sets, one from 1972 recorded before anything from Gryphon had actually been released officially, giving us a very interesting insiders listen to the original concept of the band. This first session has five songs on it, four of which are traditional laments rearranged by the band, and one original, not that you notice much listening to the five of them in order. But it is crumhorns both high and low to the fore and a merry jig do they make; it is almost impossible not to tap your foot along to the rhythms, especially when the crumhorns break into snippets from `It's a long way to Tipperary' and `Somewhere over the Rainbow'.
The second set recorded two years later shows the fully developed beast in all its five piece glory. Starting off with a bit of a jam between all the band members they then break into all three movements of `Midnight Mushrumps' written solely by Richard Harvey. There is still the unmistakable sound of the Gryphon there, but certainly a few tricks have been taken on board from other progressive rock bands of the time. At times they could almost be mistaken for early Genesis, not that this is a bad thing, everything has to progress, and when the recorders break back in again it is all refreshingly Gryphon again. `Midnight Mushrumps' must be considered Gryphon's finest piece a quite magical twenty minutes journey.
When I say that Transatlantic collected up nearly everything that was recorded for their label by this wonderfully unique band, there was one track missing - a single called `Glastonbury Carol', a song commissioned by the people who made the Glastonbury film, but as the film was never released the song was obviously not used on the soundtrack and only released as a single. The single received no promotional push from Transatlantic, not really seeing Gryphon as `Top Of The Pop's' material. To make matters worse the little hole that you had to have in the middle of vinyl records, LP's as well as singles, was slightly off centre, so by the time the song came towards the end, it made an awful seasick inducing pitching and tossing, not conducive to massive sales. Fortunately the original tapes were found and the single has been tacked onto the end of these sessions as well as lending its name to the album. A great bonus as it remains one of Gryphon's most atmospheric tunes.
Alas all good things must come to an end and by 1977 Gryphon was no more, but they leave behind a fine legacy of music, all available from the wonderful www.amazon.com
After Gryphon came to its natural conclusion, all the members of the band went onto further success in their own fields: Graeme Taylor, Malcolm Bennett (who replaced Philip Nestor on bass guitar towards the end), and Philip Nestor became successful session musicians. After a varied career David Oberie now owns his own record label, Communique. Whilst both Richard Harvey and Brian Gullard work in the film and television soundtrack industry, with Richard Harvey at present in Hollywood putting the final touches to the soundtrack to this year's blockbuster starring Tom Hanks `The Davinci Code'.
If anyone has any idea what a Gryphon or a Mushrump is please write to Mott at the address listed at the end of this review.
Mott the Dog.


Crossing the Styles / Transatlantic Anthology
Crossing the Styles / Transatlantic Anthology
11 used & new from $26.00

5.0 out of 5 stars Crossing The Motts, January 22, 2008
Before we even start here, what a marvellous name for a group of musicians. Gryphon - it just rolls off the tongue doesn't it, plucking up interest before you have actually heard a note. There is no real translation for the word Gryphon (as there is really no such word as Beatles or Byrds). But there is an entry into the dictionary for the word Griffin, which would lead us to believe that our Gryphon is a mythical animal with the head and wings of an eagle and the body of a lion, a fearsome beast to be sure.
Perhaps therefore it is equalling befitting that it is the name of this truly unique group who rose to have a fair degree of success in the mid-seventies, releasing along the way five albums. The self titled Gryphon (1973), followed by what most fans recognize as their magnum opus "Midnight Mushrumps" (1974) (please do not ask me what a Mushrump is, as I haven't got the foggiest idea), followed by the all instrumental "Red Queen to Gryphon Three" (1974), a concept album based on a game of chess (now try saying that with a straight face), which also has some of the fastest recorder playing ever put down, perhaps the foregoer of Thrash Metal, and finally to complete their four album deal with Transatlantic, "Raindance" (1975). There was one more release, "Treason" (1977), but by this time the band had fragmented with both Taylor and Bennett being replaced and Obersle moving Collinseque from behind the drum kit to front stage, but by then the band seemed to have lost heart, and were an obvious victim of the broad swathe that Punk Rock was cutting across the musical spectrum.
In their day Gryphon was a joy to behold, always keeping a huge sense of fun whilst showing off their musical skills. During the golden years of the mid-seventies there were so many bands pulling in different directions that the whole concept of progressive music seemed to become very confusing. Yet, what held the genre together was a general strand running through all the bands of a respect for music. Each one might have had their own policy and approach, but they all fundamentally understood that what they were attempting to do was bring a sense of artistry to rock'n'roll.
None perhaps was better at achieving this blend of traditional and modern music and gelling it all together then the boys in Gryphon, certainly none were more prepared to go out on a limb. How many other bands can claim to have a song composed by English King Henry VIII recorded on their debut album?
When Gryphon first came together, their's was not the normal route of other bands playing clubs, pubs, and colleges. Gryphon spent most of their time playing at reconstructed medieval eating establishments. But soon after the release of the first album they were invited to play in such diverse atmospheres as St Paul's Cathedral, the Victoria and Albert Museum, and to write some music for a production of Shakespeare's "The Tempest" at the National Theatre (which inspired them to write the twenty minute title track to their second album). They were also the first band to be played on Britain's Radio 1, 2, 3,and 4 all in one week, something quite unheard of in its day for the stuffily run government radio stations.
By 1974 the band had expanded to a five piece, with the traditional power trio axis of lead guitar, bass, and drums, leaving the two founders of the band, Richard Harvey and Brian Gulland, to flit from instrument to instrument at the front of the stage. At this period of their career they were invited for a ground breaking tour of America in support of progressive rock giants "Yes". This then brought them worldwide attention, which saw Gryphon's style reaching its zenith, the combination of 16th Century orchestration and rock musicianship receiving huge acclaim.
The sounds of mandolin, crumhorns, bassoons, recorders, and various timpani, were woven into a rock structure that is simply a joy to behold. It is true to say that the further down the road Gryphon went, the more they reverted to the conventional side of progressive rock, but they never lost their individual sound. Those wonderful people at Transatlantic Records have now put all of Gryphons first four albums on this double CD, very aptly titled "Crossing the Styles". The music does not run in chronological order, which actually adds to your enjoyment, as the styles within styles change from one track to another.
After Gryphon came to its natural conclusion, all the members of the band went onto further success in their own fields. Graeme Taylor, Malcolm Bennett and Philip Nestor became successful session musicians. After a varied career, David Oberle now runs his own record label Communique, whilst both Richard Harvey and Brian Gulland work in the film and television soundtrack industry.
Gryphon produced some timeless music, each track destined to lift your soul.
Mott the Dog.


Whips & Roses
Whips & Roses
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Whips and Roses for Mott's delight, December 8, 2006
This review is from: Whips & Roses (Audio CD)
In the early Seventies Tommy Bolin was the ultimate Rock Star/Guitarist. As an artist his skills were right up there with the greats. His star burned very brightly and was extinguished way to early.

Born in Sioux City, Iowa, U.S.A. Dropping out of school at the age of sixteen (There was far too much talent contained in that body to be trussed up in the education system). He moved to Denver where he at first joined a band called American Standard, before quickly being enticed away to form the freeform jazz/rock band Zephyr, who released two albums of psychedelic tinged music with Tommy Bolin playing some very impressive guitar. Leaving Zephyr behind in 1971 Tommy Bolin joined Energy who although they did not have a record contract as such soon built up a huge reputation on the live circuit. During this time Tommy Bolin did the sessions for the Billy Cobham album Spectrum, as soon as this album was released in 1973 the world of rock music could no longer ignore this precocious talent. Tommy Bolin then left Energy to replace Joe Walsh in the James Gang now although this was a huge rung up the ladder of fame and glory, it was still an unexpected move as the James Gang were really just a straight ahead rock 'n' roll band, a very good rock 'n' roll band, but really Tommy Bolin's talents were a little under used in this situation. Must of been great fun though, as in the James Gang used lots of pyrotechnics, dry ice, and a lot of lighting, with the stage show requiring a lot of running around and throwing shapes. Whilst with the James Gang Tommy Bolin appeared on two albums 'Bang' (1973) and Miami (1974) with Tommy Bolin having a hand in writing most of the songs, and jolly fine albums they are too.

After the James Gang Tommy Bolin did some session work, and then when Ritchie Blackmore left Deep Purple, Tommy Bolin at the tender age of 23 was invited to join as his replacement. Deep Purple at the time were still one of the biggest names in Rock 'n' Roll. At the same time Tommy Bolin had been offered a solo recording contract, and such was the ability and confidence of the man that he decided to accept both offers. So whilst recording his upcoming solo album Teaser which was released in November 1975, Tommy Bolin was also rehearsing with Deep Purple, and recording with them a new album 'Come Taste the Band 'released in October of 1975. Tommy Bolin wrote all the songs on his solo album, and had a hand in writing most of the songs on the Deep Purple album. Teaser is a fantastic album that played today stands the test of time, it is definitely a rock album, but not the same sort of heavy rock played by Deep Purple. The Deep Purple album is also a good album but not the sort of album that you would expect from Deep Purple (Far better though than their terrible previous album the contemptible 'Stormbringer'). The trouble was that the mark four Deep Purple, had divided into warring factions The two original members, drummer Ian Paice, and keyboard player, Jon Lord were still into playing hard rock and dare I say it, were a little older, (This is all irrelevant really as the band were all still all in their twenties). David Coverdale who had been scooped from obscurity two year before, but was essentially a blues singer, Glenn Hughes on bass and vocals had come from funk rock band 'Trapeze' and was determinedly pushing Deep Purple in a funky direction as well as harboring hopes of becoming lead vocalist too. When you drop the young talented Tommy Bolin into this mix, it is time to light the blue touch paper and stand back. With the albums waiting for release Deep Purple embarked on a massive world tour encompassing, Hawaii, New Zealand, Australia, Japan, Hong Kong, America, and finally Europe. The set list comprised of Deep Purple standards with a couple of new songs thrown in, and even for a time some of Tommy Bolin's solo efforts. But everywhere they went all people wanted to talk about was what had happened to the previous guitar player, putting the young Tommy Bolin under enormous pressure. Deep Purple though still had great drawing power and were therefore in a position to take advantage of all the excesses of the rock 'n' roll life style. Tommy Bolin was a party animal and what is a party animal supposed to do under those conditions. Party! By the time the band got to Japan they realized they had a serious problem with their new guitarist. The gigs in Japan were a disaster, and although things were straightened out for the American leg of the tour, the evil ways were back by the time the band came to play Britain, where during Tommy Bolin's solo spot at Wembley the poor guy just froze. As soon as the tour was over the band broke up and for eight years there was no Deep Purple, until the mark 2 line up got back together again.

Meanwhile Tommy Bolin got a new Tommy Bolin Band back together again recorded another fabulous album 'Private Eyes' and went back on the road again. But unfortunately the dye had been cast and on 4th December of that year Tommy Bolin passed away after a gig in Miami Florida. He was only 25.

Thirty year later his music still lives on, in 1989 there was a marvelous double CD box set called 'The Ultimate' released with tracks from all over his career. Such was the brilliance of the man that there have been regular releases from the archives over the years all of them worthy of your attention.

In 2005 we were given this collection 'Whips and Roses'. The music is stunning. Tommy Bolin's singing and guitar playing is simply jaw droppingly good. The album opens with a rockin' version of 'Teaser' which fairly rocks out of your speakers whilst retaining that trademark Bolin funky backbeat. A lot of the other songs are works in progress for the Teaser album, this does not mean that they are inferior versions in fact I think every song on this album is absolutely at it's zenith, and the title of the songs is irrelevant. Second track on the album is 'Fandango' which was called 'Crazed Fandango' when the studio version was released. 'Cookoo' is a jam based on the Tommy Bolin classic 'Homeward Strut', but boy what a jam. The version of 'Wild Dogs on this album is the best I have ever heard, and is worth the price of the album alone. Starting with it's downbeat vocals of a drifter on the road, before Tommy makes the six strings howl as the song builds to a shattering climax. Why this song has not been covered by other bands I do not know, but somebody like Bon Jovi could do a cracking version. There is also Jeff Cooks beautiful ballad Dreamer here. Tommy Bolin must have burnt his fingers his playing is so fast on 'Marching Powder'. You can almost hear the sweat running down the fret board. The fifteen minutes of Flyin' Fingers speaks for itself. The album finishes with two jam work out's with Tommy Bolin letting the music carry him away. 'Just Don't Fall Down' clocks in at nearly eleven exciting minutes, the aptly titled 'Blowin' Your Cookies' was recorded the night before Tommy Bolin passed away, when Tommy got up and played with the house band at his hotel in Miami. It is a twelve minute drop into what was obviously a longer jam, but the guitar work is staggeringly good. There is no information on who played what on what track as most of these recordings have been taken from unmarked boxes, but whoever they were they were very good. The album comes with a fine booklet with some informed liner notes by Simon Robinson. The production was handled by Greg Hampton in association with Tommy Bolin's brother John. The work they have done should be applauded, a second volume of 'Whips and Roses' is promised for early 2007, I personally will look forward to that.

Mott the Dog.
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Live in Japan
Live in Japan
12 used & new from $7.84

20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 21st Century Mott Live., November 29, 2006
This review is from: Live in Japan (Audio CD)
What a marvellous idea. What a marvellous band. King Crimson started life as one of rock's most innovative bands in 1969, but no sooner had the band started than members of King Crimson came and went on a revolving door type basis, with Robert Fripp making it very plain that King Crimson was all but in name `The Robert Fripp Band'. After the first eighteen months all of the original members of King Crimson had either voluntarily jumped ship or had been made to walk the gang plank by Captain Fripp.

King Crimson is still an on going concern as a rock band today, although they do have pretty lengthy holidays, and bear no resemblance to the creature that first walked onto the stage at The Speakeasy club in London on 9th April 1969. That is not to say that each incantation of King Crimson does not have its merits; they do. In fact anorak Crimson fans argue long and hard into the night as to which was the best line-up, and what would be their favourite fantasy line up. The only constant of course has to be Mr. Fripp himself.

If you were going to take all the ex-members of King Crimson on a weekend break to the seaside you would have to rent a medium size hotel of some three hundred rooms or more. Many have gone onto fame and fortune after leaving the ranks of King Crimson; Boz Burrell made his own mint playing bass for Bad Company, Greg Lake owned the mint when he started `Emerson, Lake, and Palmer', Ian MacDonald did very nicely out of being a founder member of `Foreigner', Mel Collins found a home on the Camel as well as thousands of sessions, John Wetton went onto form `Asia', (to at one point be replaced in `Asia' by Greg Lake!), Bill Bruford became known as the drummer's drummer and spends his time drifting in and out of `King Crimson', `Yes', `U.K.' and his own solo projects. Others naturally fell by the wayside never to be heard of again.

Today in concert the band that goes by the name of `King Crimson' and has Robert Fripp in it, never plays any of the songs from the first seven studio albums. Seeing a huge gap in the market some of the personnel from ex King Crimson decided for fun to get together and perform the music off basically the first four albums, all recorded for Island records, plus some of the solo stuff that each member of the band had done since leaving the band, feeling that the material that was not being played was too good to be just left lying around collecting dust in some old musical closet. Of course there was one very obvious problem: they did not have Robert Fripp! So a worldwide search was put out for a man willing to do the job, would get along with everybody, had the chops to do it and most importantly had the time on his hands to lend himself to the idea, as remember this was only started as a bit of fun.

Well not only was the man found, but in looks he was a bit of a doppelganger for the younger Fripp (from a distance anyway), had the feel for the music, and could play the guitar in the traditional style. His name was Jakko. M. Jakszyk. Michael Giles on drums, his Brother Peter on bass, and multi instrumentalist Ian MacDonald all from the original King Crimson, were all keen for a gig, add in Mel Collins, and you have one of those dream line ups.

At the start it was decided that the only material they would play was material that any one of them had at least been involved in recording or writing, plus a good excuse to pull out some of the band's solo work. This still left them a multitude of songs to choose from, in fact more than almost any other band on the planet. This album `Live in Japan' was recorded in 2002, not long after the band had got together, but already they were so tight as to be almost telepathic.

The selection of songs for the band's concert at the Shinjuku Koueseinenkin Hall in Tokyo, Japan is, like the playing, nothing short of inspired. They open with the only original song, a simple introduction aptly titled `Schizoid Intro' penned by Jakko. M. Jakszyk, which allows the band to stretch their collective musical legs before getting down to matters in hand. All the members of the band play magnificently, leaving you slightly wondering what happened to Michael and Peter Giles in the intervening thirty five years as although they have not exactly been idle, they have only rarely stepped out into the spotlight, which their undoubted talents seem to demand more of. Whereas the exploits of Collins and McDonald are well documented.

With so much material to gather from they have chosen well. As soon as the intro dies away the whole band thrust themselves raucously into `A Man A City' which was always one of King Crimson's early classic heavy numbers. Originally recorded on `In The Wake Of Poseidon' (1970) titled `Pictures Of A City' it was a firm fan favourite in King Crimson's early days and exactly why `The 21st Century Schizoid Band' was formed - so that this wonderful music does not go to waste and disappear into time.

There is then a fun rendition of King Crimson's almost hit single `Cat Food' from the same album. You cannot help but chuckle at the lyrics. We are then taken into a little bit of solo territory with the title track from Mike Giles solo album `Progress' (1978) and `Let There Be Light' from Ian McDonald's solo album `Drivers Eyes', which was released as recently as 1999. Both of these songs fit in perfectly with the mood being musically set up.

This leads us nicely to the meat of the concert, a perfect rendition of `In The Court Of The Crimson King', the music for which was written by Ian McDonald whilst the lyrics were from the pen of long time Crimson lyrist Peter Sinfield for King Crimson's debut album `In The Court Of The Crimson King' (1969). The best thing about all the music presented here is that there is none of that wretched owl stretching music that Robert Fripp used to insist was put in the middle of everything. At the end of the day all those bleeps, hoot's and jips that Fripp put in used to get in the way of the actual playing and the structure of the tunes. No such problems here.

The next two songs come from the second coming of King Crimson with a line-up of, naturally Robert Fripp on guitar, Ian Wallace on drums, Boz Burrell on bass and vocals and the talents of Mel Collins on saxophone. They only released one studio album, `Islands' (1971), but the band was held in high regard musically. We get two songs from this album `Fomentara Lady' and `Ladies Of The Road', where Mel Collins is given full reign to showcase his talents without a worried looking owl in sight.

Ian McDonald then rather steals the show for the next three songs; two more from Crimson's debut `I Talk To The Wind' with some of the finest flute playing from Ian McDonald ever heard in the rock format. Next we are treated to the beauty of `Epitaph', also from Crimson's debut album. Then what could be more natural for this band than to finish off the set proper with a snippet from `Birdman', a sympathetic piano laden instrumental from the McDonald / Giles solo album of the same name from 1970. My only complaint being that it is just not long enough.

For an encore what else but '21st Century Schizoid Man', the first track off King Crimson's debut album. I have heard this song in many of its different incantations, but it has to be said that this is by way, heads, hands, and feet, above any other that I have heard. Jakko. M. Jaksyk fills Robert Fripp's boots to bursting point whilst the others have a glorious time around his riffing, playing their hearts out, having the time of their collective lives, whilst the Japanese fans go mad for it.

Five years after it was thought a good idea to put a few friends together for a few ad-hoc concerts, `The 21st Century Schizoid Band' is still going strong with only one line up change - Ian Wallace replacing Mike Giles behind the drum kit. Which, in a funny roundabout way, squares things up nicely with two members from King Crimson's debut album line up, and two from their fourth album line up with the new boy stuck in the middle.

Music for the rock connoisseur. Given the choice between seeing or listening to the present `King Crimson' or `The 21st Century Schizoid Band', take this lot every time.

Mott the Dog.
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June 1, 1974
June 1, 1974
Price: $7.66
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57 of 61 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mott 1 1974, October 26, 2006
This review is from: June 1, 1974 (Audio CD)
Kevin Ayers after recording the fantastic concept album 'The Confessions Of Dr Dream' with a bunch of session musicians in 1974, decided to form a new band called 'The Soporifics' ( Soporific means having a tendency to sleep!). Instead of doing the natural thing of taking the band into a rehearsal studio,Kevin Ayers being the free spirit that he is took the whole band off to the Rhone Valley for a nice little summer holiday ,using the advance on Dr Dream to finance the jaunt. This was a great idea until the money ran out, and Island record label got in touch to say that the album sales were going well ,and that they had booked the band into the prestigious Rainbow Theatre in Finsbury Park ,London ,in three weeks time 1st June 1974 to be exact ,and the gig had already sold out! This is the moment that panic set in .

The band gathered up all belongings , family members ,girlfriends ,hangers on etc, and got themselves back to London immediately and decamped to the Walpole Picture Theatre in Ealing to set about rehearsals . After a week Kevin Ayers realized that this was just not enough time to get ready, especially with the band's not exactly regimental time keeping for the rehearsals. Drastic measures were needed. Kevin Ayers decided to get on the phone to a few friends.

First up was Nico ,the intoxicating Diva from 'Velvet Underground's' first album, and through her Kevin Ayers contacted one of his own heroes John Cale also of the 'Velvet Underground' , who happened to be in town recording his own album ,but was only to pleased to help out as it turns out he had been a long time fan of Kevin Ayers himself . When John Cale arrived he brought with him his buddy Eno, perfect. Having heard on the grapevine that Kevin Ayers was in a bit of a jam, two of his old allies rang up to offer their services , which were also gladly excepted. They were Robert Wyatt who had been an original member of both 'The Wilde Flowers' and 'Soft Machine' with Kevin Ayers. Robert Wyatt had a terrible accident in 1972 falling off a balcony, and was hence forth confined to a wheelchair, but it says a lot for his character that he was still an excellent percussionist and vocalist. The other friend was none other than Mike Oldfield now at the height of his commercial success after the release of his 'Tubular Bells' record, after starting of his recording career in one of Kevin Ayers earlier bands 'Kevin Ayers and the Whole Wide World'.To round things off the delectable services of Lisa Strike, Doreen and Iris Chanter were added as backing singers.

Now if this is not enough you have to remember the quality of the Soporifics themselves, on lead guitar you had Ollie Halsall one of the most respected guitarists on the circuit, who later went onto a very successful solo career ,as well as stints with 'Boxer' ,'Tempest' and 'The John Otway Band'. Eddie Sparrow on Drums ,one of the greatest session drummers ever ,in fact after this concert he handed in his notice to the 'Soporifics', as he just could not turn down all the money he was being offered outside the band , and he could not do both. Archie Legget on bass who has been on so many Canterbury sounds albums before and after the Soporifics, that they are to many to mention.Then on Keyboards was Rabbit Bundrick who went on to join 'Free' and since then has been 'The Who's ' keyboard player since 1979. With this amount of talent you had the ultimate Avant Garde Supergroup.

Fortunately Island records to the eternal gratitude of all music lovers had the sense to record the event . Unfortunately all that has ever been released is the highlights ,but what highlights they are. We can only hope that somewhere in Islands vaults are the complete tapes ,which will someday see the light of day. But that is a minor quibble considering what we get.

First up are a couple of numbers from Eno ( with Kevin Ayers merely playing bass.) which prove that had he wished to go down that path he could of been one of Glam Rock's greatest stars, the two songs are very Roxy Musicish but then what do you expect as Eno had been a founder member of the band and had only left less than twelve months before, after appearing on their first two albums . Next John Cale slithers on stage to crawl his way through Elvis Presley's 'Heartbreak Hotel'. John Cale growls his way through the song slowing the tempo down almost to a stop, as well as giving completely new meaning to the words ,with his emphasis going as far away from Elvis's as is possibly, if you think that the treble speakers have gone out of your equipment fear not, it's just that Cale only uses the bottom end. Such is John Cale's mastery of his craft that by the time the song finishes you feel so dirty you need a wash.

Then Nico takes centre stage to drag out Jim Morrison's 'The End' accompanied only by some spine-chilling keyboards , it is one of the best choices Nico could of made, as you can hear that she has the audience in the palm of her mind as she recites the words . Big Jim would of nodded his approval.

Finally Kevin Ayers breezes onto the stage to give us a collection of songs from his back catalogue. Opening with 'May I?' from 'Shooting at the Moon'(1970) followed by ' Stranger In Blue Suede Shoes' from 'Whatevershebringswesing' (1972) then 'Shouting In A Bucket Blues ( Wrongly titled 'Standing In A Bucket Blues 'on the slip sleeve of this album) from 'Bannamour' (1973) wrapping things up with a couple from 'The Confessions Of Dr Dream'( 1974) the bluesy 'Everybody's Sometime And Some Peoples All The Times Blues',encoring with the totally irreverent 'Two Goes Into Four'. The Mike Oldfield guitar solo on the former song is mesmerising ,as it was on the studio version. Kevin Ayers free spirit roams through out his songs ,and all leave you feeling cheerful and carefree. The band are still a little under rehearsed, but in a funny way it just adds to the charm of it all.

Today Kevin Ayers has not changed, still arriving back in his native England, getting some cash together ,which he never seems to have a problem doing considering his enormous talents ,and then flits off again on his world travels. I just would like to think it is as idyllic as it sounds , one would hope so ,as the joy that Kevin Ayers has brought to the world through his music, he deserves to live life with a permanent smile on his face. A very classy British eccentric.

Mott The Dog.
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