Say, it might have been a fiddle,
Or it could have been the wind.
But there seems to be a beat, now.
I can feel it in my feet, now.
Listen, here it comes again!
Grateful Dead's 'The Music Never Stopped'
30th of June 2002
Jack here. Cat's down in the Great Hall with members of the local Roadies Guild who are attempting to untangle and remove the various musical systems that our fey and human bands used there last week. The seelie boxes are easy to deal with, but how do you move a small, but drunk on Avalon Applejack, Welsh dragon that was used as a living set of pipes? (I know -- very, very carefully.) And who gets the thousand-year old carnyx used in the closing ceremony for the changing of the Courts? ( Anwir ap Evnessyen , honoured court attache from the Winter Court, just walked in and reminded me that His Court now sets protocol for all fey-related matters, not the other Court. So be it -- he can deal with the bloomin' dragon since his Court insisted on it!) While Anwir convinces the dragon to go home without making any more of a mess, I'll be off in The Green Man office writing the continuity notes this outing... Now where are those scribblings that our sometimes forgetful Editor was supposed to leave for me... Ah, I found 'em... Excalibur Rising played Simon Jeffe's 'Music for a Found Harmonium'? Interesting! And Liath danced with him?!? My, the Courts will be gossiping 'bout that for some time to come...
It won't surprise you, dear readers, that we get a fair amount of our review material without asking for it. Some of it is bloody awful, but much of it is very good. At any given time, the Green Man 'slush pile' has dozens of compact discs and more than an overflow stack of books awaitin' review. Some of the reviewers here have been heard to darkly mutter that there must be some other less choosy folks we can foist some of this shite off on, but then they spot something good and ramble off like greedy dragons to their private offices to hoard the goodies they just found... Wolf's hiding out right now with the copy of Clive Barker's Ararat we just got, and Mia's in our video theatre watching the Douglas Adams biopic, which has not yet been released. Me suspicion is that 'bout the only thing that'll get them out of their offices after they've found something really fascinating is a piece of Wolf's fresh-baked spice cake and a cup of St. Helena coffee with clotted cream! (Anwir has yet to say what are his favourite edibles.) So you can look forward to some interesting reviews over the coming months. Now, onto this edition...
Our featured review this week was written by Michelle Green. She looks at Marion Zimmer Bradley's groundbreaking series of Avalon books: The Mists of Avalon ; The Forest House ; Lady of Avalon ; and Priestess of Avalon. As well as giving us a plot synopsis of each book, Michelle describes the impact Mists of Avalon had on women of her generation. Be sure to read this informative and interesting review.
Michael 'I'm still worried by the hedgehog' Jones gives us a colossal review of 17 (!) books by Paradox Press , including The Big Book of Vice, The Big Book of Scandal , and The Big Book of Conspiracies. All these books prove one point, according to Michael: ' ... we've done a lot with free will, most of it strange.'
Maria Nutick turns in two more of her excellent reviews this week. One studies the work of the late Douglas Adams , including his Hitchhiker series and his Dirk Gently series, as well as Adams' final book, compiled posthumously from pieces of writing he left behind. These books are more science fiction than we usually review, but there are definitely fantasy elements here, and Adams is hugely entertaining. Maria wins an Excellence in Writing Award for her other review, an overview of Ellis Peters' popular Brother Cadfael medieval mystery series . Maria confesses, 'I fell in love with a monk many years ago, and my loyalty continues to this day.' You just never know what you'll learn about our reviewers. Look, also, for an omnibus review of the Cadfael videos in a future edition.
Rebecca Swain reviews two Joan Wolf books (a mini-omni): No Dark Place and The Poisoned Serpent. Like the Ellis Peters series mentioned above, these medieval mysteries are set in 12-century England. However, Rebecca is much less satisfied with them than Maria was with Peters' work.
John Benninghouse is not singing the blues over the self-titled released album from 1971 of Hound Dog Taylor and the Houserockers. His Excellence in Writing Award winning review is as good as cold beer on a hot afternoon, ham hocks and turnip greens, and smoky blues wailing away late at night: 'The first word that comes to mind when I think of Hound Dog Taylor's music is 'fun'. His boogies and shuffles make you want to shake your ass, make you want to move any way you can. When he hit a groove, it was infectious. But he also played slow blues, songs that lilt along while his aching slide guitar seems to cry out to be heard. Everything about his music has a down-to-earth feeling. There is nothing very complicated about it from a technical point of view, but the performances are raw and honest without a hint of pretension. He played an inexpensive Japanese guitar with a slide made from the leg of a chair.'
Eric Eller finds Brobdingnagian Bards' A Faire to Remember to be a worthy CD indeed: 'Bottling the spirit of a live performance within the confines of a studio album is a delicate matter. Too much energy leaves a harsh taste, while an over-produced CD is too smooth and bland. One has to capture the correct accents and highlights from a live performance for the CD to preserve the flavor, keeping the enthusiasm and fun of a live show intact.'
Judith Gennett is, not surprisingly, happy with Blue Murder's No One Stands Alone . So, let's ask her: 'What do you get when you combine the two big English a capella groups, The Watersons and Coope, Boyes and Simpson? Waterson, Carthy, Coope, Boyes and Simpson. Back in the early nineties, the two groups got together for a charity concert, did some more concerts, and voila, the millennium passed, they got together again at Sidmouth and decided to make an album.' Read her review for all all the juicy details. And the Klez ofYid Vicious on his two CDs, Klez, Klez, Goy Mit Fez and Forverts were fun to listen to as 'Yid Vicious is from Madison, Wisconsin, and, despite the name, doesn't play punk-klezmer fusion. But it does play klezmer.'
Stephen Hunt is a truly devoted Waterboys fan. And he proves it in his Excellence in Writing Award winning look at the newer releases from that group. (Do read first his look at the older releases! ) He notes that 'The three CD's reviewed here are all albums of previously unavailable material, released retrospectively. It's not an unusual practice for record labels to dredge up a collection of out takes and b-sides to keep the punters happy in between proper releases, or for bands to knock out live albums as an easy way to fulfill contractual obligations... Away with all cynics and skeptics, Mike Scott is not a man to lightly dismiss his own legacy, or to insult the intelligence of his audience with sub-standard Waterboys music. Consequently, these albums are much more than mere 'fillers.' Read his review of Fisherman's Blues Part Two , The Live Adventures of The Waterboys , and The Secret Life of The Waterboys .
Lars Nilsson really likes most of the Celtic music that he hears and the three Celtic CDs he reviews for us (Valerie Rose's Petals of Stone , Fine Friday's Gone Dancing , and Stairheid Gossip's Stirrin' It Up ) are no expection. He says these are 'three new names to me and all quite pleasing.' Read his review to see why he liked 'em all.
Patrick O'Donnell is bleedin' happy, or at least he appears to be, with another Patrick, Patrick Bouffard to be precise. Why so? It's because of his album, Roots 'n' Roll ! As he says, this CD 'is the kind of CD you put on at a party when nobody's looking, just to see the reaction you get from the revelers. The first track, 'El rey del sallo con pertiga,' opens with a fade-in to a psychedelic-sounding hurdy gurdy that explodes into a heavy acoustic-rock guitar riff. The hurdy gurdy reappears and disappears throughout, like a small child jumping up and down to get your attention. It all adds up to a bizarre, yet likable, mix.' Oh, did I forget to mention that the bugger gets an Excellence in Writing Award for his work here? And Patrick also found Brother's EP, I You You Me quite tasty too: 'With the release of I You You Me , Brother continues to make exciting, energetic and meaningful music, no small task in an age of sellouts and pop posturing. This four-man Celtic/Australian/rock band has been touring as Brother for about 10 years, and has self-produced a number of their albums on their Rhubarb label. Their unorthodox fusion of rock with their Celtic/Australian roots has produced an easily identifiable, if not unique, sound -- bagpipes share the stage with electric guitar, didgeridoo and drums. It's music you won't easily forget.'
Steve Power, is new to our Green Man staff, and he starts off with a glowing review of Breda Smyth's Basil and Thyme ; 'This is remarkable first album, by any feller's standards. Mayo born Smyth -- currently playing fiddle in the Los Angeles production of Lord of the dance -- has given the world a musical wake-up call with her refreshing blend of Celtic, African, Aboriginal, new-age and even heavy-rock styles and rhythms.'
Stephen Hunt writes lively reviews, even when he thinks the stuff he's reviewing is dead in the water. Show of Hands can relax, though, because our Stephen liked their June 21 performance very, very, very much. Usually it's easy to pull a quote from Stephen's reviews to entice you, dear readers, but I'm afraid that this time you're just going to have to read the whole thing. It's thorough, it's laudatory -- heck, it could be one big quote. So go read it, already! You'll be unsurprised to know that Stephen gets an Excellence in Writing Award for this one.
Gary Whitehouse liked Gillian Welch very much,
too -- but that was even before he went to see her on June 24. In fact, he
liked her so much that he says, 'Even though the timing was less than ideal
-- it was a Monday night, three nights after a knockout Lyle Lovett gig,
a 90-minute drive from home, and I was suffering the kind of frazzled fatigue
that besieges anyone with a new 10-week-old puppy -- I went to worship at
the shrine of Gillian.... She did not disappoint.' Read Gary's
to let him convince you to go see Welch, to... Lyle Lovett, puppies, or
anything else notwithstanding.
With this edition we've exceeded one hundred film and video reviews at
Green Man Review. Hearty thanks go this week to Sarah fortaking us
over that mark. So fire up that Jiffy Pop and dig into your stockpile of
Goobers or Raisinettes or, if you're like our Video Editor Asher Black when
watching a film, pack a deep-bowled briar with a suitably spicy English
blend and settle into your most comfortable chair for our staffers' latest
Sarah Meador treats us to a 'mystery movie', a film she first found without a box at the video store. It's Wizards . If that title is as much a mystery to you as it was to her, or if you haven't watched it again recently, you'll want to check out her stunned review of this stunning film.
Now I'm off to see how the clean-up's going in the Great Hall. Not to mention that hopefully the dragon didn't consume all of the rest of the Avalon Applejack! Say, do I hear the sound of a fiddle or two playing down there? Sounds like the Breton tune, 'La Rides St. Chartier'... Must grab me fiddle and see if there's a session going on again... Maybe, just maybe, the music never really stops...
Midsummer's Eve, 2002
Welcome to this Alban Heruin (Light of the Shore) issue of Green Man Review. The rest of our staff are already with the Summer Court, celebrating their final day in ascendancy for this year, and I shall be joining them as soon as I'm finished here.
I have opened the archives for you this lovely summer's day to offer some timely treasures from among our reviews. For those of you who are interested in keeping the Summer Solstice or any of the other ancient festivals, may I suggest reading John Matthew's The Summer Solstice and Leslie and Gerace's very fine Ancient Celtic Festivals and How We Celebrate Them Today . Another good source might be Elizabeth Lloyd Mayer's About Revels , which is a fascinating study of the rise of the 'revel' in the United States of America.
Many writers have been inspired by Midsummer's Eve, and first among them must always be the Bard himself. Green Man has a review of an oral version of Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream , and also of Terri Windling and Wendy Froud's beautiful A Midsummer Night's Faery Tale , which pays homage to Oberon, Titania and even the very least of their court. Jennifer Stevenson's 'Solstice' is a rollicking and evocative short story that bears re-reading at every solstice.
Finally, if circumstances prevent you from attending any revel today, you could not do better than listen to music composed by my much-mourned friend, Turlough Carolan. You might even want to read one of two tributes to him: Edelstein's Fair Melodies: Turlough Carolan, an Irish Harper and O'Sullivan's Carolan: The Live Times and Music of an Irish Harper .
We here at Green Man stand in a meeting place between the fey and mortal worlds. We thought it fitting to choose for ourselves on Midsummer's Eve a Holly King from among our most beloved authors and musicians. The Holly King, for those who have not read any of the books mentioned above, replaces the Oak King on Midsummer's Eve at midnight, and rules the waning half of the year. We have chosen Neil Gaiman as the creative genius most fitted for this role. (Mind you, Mr. Gaiman serves in symbolic capacity only! None of the ancient practices of sacrifice will be carried out.) In answer to our choice, I regret that I must tell you that the Winter Court -- which also replaces the Summer Court at midnight tonight -- has seen fit to assign us a court liaison to protect their interests among us until Midwinter's Eve. It is with deep respect that I introduce to you Anwir ap Evnessyen, honored court attache to the Green Man staff. Be welcome among us, sir.
A million stars shine on you tonight, dear readers, and a blessed Midsummer to you. --Liath o' Laighan
16th of June 2002
'I too like old jokes; I like all sorts of old things -- old friends, old books, old poems, old plays. An old favorite had started our evening: Midsummer Night's Dream presented by Halifax Ballet Theater with Luanna Pauline as Titania. Low gravity ballet, live actors, and magical holograms had created a fairyland Will Shakespeare would have loved. Newness is no virtue.' -- Richard Colin Ames Campbell in Robert Heinlein's The Cat Who Walks Through Walls
Greetings! Be careful that you don't get tangled up in the tech equipment in the Great Hall as we're getting ready for our annual Midsummer's Celebration! (Even the sidhe whose seelie boxes don't need any external powering have developed a lust for the latest and most costly sound tech. Go figure...) Liath's in charge of the Summer Court end of things, so she's making sure that Excalibur Rising, the hot new sidhe-only band that features two left-handed lutenists and an electric mandolin player, is ready for their first concert in honor of the Queen. And Jack's band, Danse Macabre, has the choice midnight spot for the all night dance. Meanwhile, the whole pig'll be roasting on the spit, and the casks of the kickin' centuries-old Apple Jack from Avalon will be rolled up from the cellar and tapped. So come over, grab a plate and pile it high, have a mug of the cider, and get ready for a great party! But do put on your soft-soled shoes before dancing in the Great Hall, as it takes the brownies days to refinish that immense floor if it gets banged up, and their Guild Representative grumbles the whole time!
We've got the second half of David Kidney's unConventional review for you this week -- linked as is the first part to our friends at Musikfolk for your purchasing convenience -- which would have convinced me to purchase it if Free Reed hadn't sent me a complimentary copy! In addition, we've got two seasonal new releases from Quest Books, The Quest for the Green Man, which I review, and The Summer Solstice, which Kim Bates reviews for us. And the first review anywhere of the new Charles de Lint collection, Waifs & Strays, is presented here by Michael Jones!
David Kidney wins a well-deserved Excellence in Writing Award for the second half of his look at Fairport Convention's 4-Cd Boxed Set, Fairport unConventional . He simply notes: 'Last week we featured the inserts that accompanied this extraordinary package. Today we will review the music, four CDs, that are to be found within the box. Fairport Convention are celebrating their 35th anniversary this year, and Free Reed pays them tribute with a sometimes arcane, never obvious, always interesting selection of tunes all digitally remastered, over 95% unavailable elsewhere.
Cat Eldridge recommends John Matthews' The Quest for the Green Man , although he warns, 'Matthews is definitely interested in pressing an eco-political agenda that may offend those seeking a more 'historical' look at the green man and how he came to be.' Cat also enjoyed a collection of alternate history stories edited by Harry Turtledove, called Worlds That Weren't. The anthology features works by Turtledove himself, as well as S. M. Stirling, Mary Gentle, and Walter Jon Williams.
Eric Eller found Snow Mountain Passage , by James D. Houston, to be a moving historical novel about the Donner party's tragic attempt to cross the mountains on their way west in the 19th century. Although this book does contain the true story of cannibalism, Eric assures us, 'The cannibalism is significant, but it is not crucial to Houstons storytelling.' He concentrates much more on the emotions of his main characters.
Michelle Green looks at two books by young adult writer Kathryn Reiss: PaperQuake and Paint by Magic . Michelle says, 'Reiss... moves her characters seamlessly between historical eras, demonstrating the way ethical choices can have ramifications in eras long after they're made. As Violet and Connor piece together the patterns in their pasts and presents, they develop the realization that life is richer and stranger than they ever dreamed. Readers who follow them across quaking floors and painted landscapes are sure to share in the excitement of their discoveries.'
Stephen Hunt knows a thing or two about Cornwall, so we asked him to review two Cornish books fur us this week. Philip Payton edits Cornwall for ever! Kernow bys vyken! , a book that tells you everything you ever wanted to know about this part of England, and includes many beautiful photographs. Stephen asks, 'Now, how many books come endorsed by both Green Man Review and the prayers of a prince?' Stephen also dips into Harry Woodhouse's Cornish Bagpipes -- fact or fiction? Fiction? Oh, come on, who would make that up?
Michael Jones looks at a Charles de Lint book that will be published this fall. It is a collection of short stories, most previously published, called Waifs and Strays . In describing de Lint's work, Michael tells us: 'His works cover the spectrum from high fantasy to urban fantasy (or mythic fiction), detouring into romance, daytripping into mystery, dropping by poetry, visiting the relatives over in psychological thriller, and even sending Christmas cards to the folks back home in classic myth and folk tales.' If these stories represent even a fraction of that scope you'll want to read this book!
Patrick O'Donnell is a fan of Brian Lumley, so he jumped at the chance to review two of his books. The first is Deadspeak , the fourth book in Lumley's popular Necroscope series. Apparently Harry Keogh has lost the ability to speak with the dead. (Isn't there a support group for that?) Patrick also looks at Lumley's short story collection, Beneath the Moors and Darker Places .
Matthew Winslow gives us a long-overdue look at Guy Gavriel Kay's Fionavar Tapestry trilogy . Five college students travel to another world, and there they must face life's great questions. However, Matthew cautions, 'But to summarize The Fionavar Tapestry just by its plot is similar to saying that The Lord of the Rings is about this short guy who wants to get rid of some jewelry left to him by his uncle, who is the neighborhood nutcase.' Matthew wins an Excellence in Writing Award for this moving review.
Tim Hoke has this to say about Natterjack's On The Fly and Realtai Corafinne's Echoes Of A Celtic Past ; 'It isn't usually hard to review a recording that you particularly enjoy, nor is it terribly difficult for a recording that you expressly dislike. The tough ones are the ones that fall in between, because you really take a stand. I've been listening to two of those lately; the sort that make me compliment and complain almost at the same time.' Read his review to se why this is so.
Stephen Hunt is always happy to find good music son he was thrilled with Shane Jackman's Equilibrium . Indeed he exclaims: that this CD is 'is very good indeed. The acoustic instruments (guitars, accordion, Dobro, mandolin, bass etc.) sound precisely that, with the guitars resonating across their full tonal and dynamic range. The keyboards drums and electrics are mixed to optimum effect, that's to say that they do what they're supposed to without overpowering the otherwise 'natural' textures that underlie these songs.' Our reviewer was not in the least thrilled with Peter Stuart's Propeller CD: 'Peter Stuart (and his record label) have no doubt marked me down as a nasty, insensitive, vindictive little man who shouldn't be let anywhere near CD's like this one. I however, am not some first year undergraduate student beating myself up over my first failed relationship, I'm a folk music writer, and I've got more important things to worry about. I suggest that Mr. Stuart cheers himself up by listening to some traditional ballads. The folks in those songs had to cope with real treachery, murder, infanticide, supernatural phenomena and being burnt at the stake by their parents. There you go, life's not treating you so badly is it? I suspect that the reason that we get sent so much of this type of stuff is that the perpetrators know that Green Man gives everyone a comprehensive review, so there's 'bound' to be a few good quotes for the artist's next press pack. Best of luck... next.'
David Kidney is very happy with The Rough Guide to Okinawa , the latest CD we review in that incredibly varied series. In his Excellence in Writing Award, he says 'Okinawa is a hotbed of musicians and sounds, all seeking to find their roots and establish a foothold on the world stage. I was excited to have a chance to review this album as I had heard a couple of previous examples of Okinawan songs which were vigorous and driving. This collection continues the tradition!'
Jack Merry is known to enjoy a hearty drink of a strong libation now and again. And he claims that his appreciation of four CDs: Flook's Rubai , Swåp's Mosquito Hunter , Kalabra's Folka ; and Draupner's self-titled debut album -- were enhanced by the presence Applejack from Avalom: 'Some days one discovers that there's a lot more interesting music out there than one suspects. Or at may be that I've drunken more than me fair share of Avalon applejack at the Midsummer celebration that we hold every year, so that anything sounds good to me. No bleedin' way -- I'm not that drunk (yet). In a few hours, possibly, but not yet... The CDs that you'll find reviewed this week have 'nought little in common but that they are all superb, all of an instrumental nature, and all can be purchased from cdRoots, one of the best sources of folk CDs anywhere! Not to mention that they sound wonderful even when slightly buzzed...'
Big Earl Seller is not one to mince words as to the matter of liking or not liking a CD. (Just go read his review of Randy Armstrong's Dinner On The Diner for a superb 'thumbs down' commentary!) So when he says Sah! by Plommon is good, you can believe him: 'It's interesting how the current interest in reviving older traditions has been embraced by younger people throughout the world. Plommon is a group of five young women from Sweden playing traditional songs within a neotraditional context; namely a touch of recorder and harmonium here and there, but primarily working as a five piece fiddle ensemble. Sah! is a disc of rich cultural heritage performed lovingly and in deference to the tradition.'
Andrea S. Garrett went to see
Jethro Tull on May Day, and was glad she did. As she says in her
, 'The concert exemplified, I think,
an old performer who loves to play and sing for an audience. Ian Anderson's
got good musicians in his band and isn't afraid to learn new things. He didn't
seem stuck in the past 'here's when I was in the top 40' sort of stagnation,
nor only playing new stuff because 'that's where I am now.'' Read the rest
of Andrea's review to see why Jethro Tull is still worth a live listen.
Michelle Erica Green went to two local Virginia festivals this past weekend with her two children--and still managed to pay enough attention to what was going on to turn in a superb review of the proceedings. Bravo, Michelle! Celebrate Fairfax and the Potomac Celtic Festival have come and gone for this year, but read Michelle's lively review to see why you shouldn't miss them next year.
Rowan Inish brews up another Terry Pratchett DVD review - this time Wyrd Sisters . Rowan says, 'Soul Music is longer. Soul Music has better extras. Soul Music has a better cover. Soul Music has more music, and some of it isn't bad at all. That being said, Wyrd Sisters is a far more successful adaptation of a Terry Pratchett novel than its older sibling was.' If you missed his review of Soul Music two weeks ago...
We will not have any new reviews next weekend as the entire staff will likely need to sleep off the Midsummer celebration! But, in case you can't make it to the party, Liath, our Fey Librarian, has put together a special Midsummer's Eve edition of books, CDs, and videos that befit the Summer season. Come back next Thursday, June 20 (for those of you who haven't marked Midsummer's Eve on your calendars) to see what she's found for us. Rumor has it that she's also going to announce GMR 's pick for Holly King this year. And we'll see you back here in two weeks with more new reviews than anyone else on the web!
9th of June 2002
'Things need not have happened to be true. Tales and dreams are the shadow-truths that will endure when mere facts are dust and ashes, and forgot.' -- Dream in Neil Gaiman's Sandman -- 'A Midsummer Night's Dream'
You're back? Very good. Now, where was I before you came in? Ah, that's where I was...putting music on... Excuse me... Grab one of the Cornish Ales that Stephen Hunt left in the fridge and I'll be with you momentarily... That's better... Sola's The Edge of Silence CD...
Yes, Mab's Revel was indeed wonderful -- lots of good company, delightful music, dancing 'til dawn, superb food, and libations beyond description. (Jack had put together a wonderful pick-up band called Mouse in the Cupboard that did mainly Scottish dances. Neat!) Not surprisingly, the social season for the Summer Court is quite hectic this time of year, so there are a lot of parties for the Green Man staff to attend! Rebecca Swain, our might-be-sidhe Book Editor, is a favorite of the Court, as is Grey Walker for her knowledge of all things Arthurian, the sidhe having always had a vested interest in the Pendragon. (Grey's also known for her legendary mead made with water from the Mad River, but that's another tale.) It's also nigh unto the time of year when both the European and North American folk festivals start happening, so expect to see lots of festival reports fairly soon!
Two goodies of a literary nature arrived for review over the past few weeks -- Charles de Lint's Waifs and Strays, a collection of stories with young adults as the central characters, and Neil Gaiman's A Walking Tour of The Shambles, an odd little tour guide that Richard Dansky reviews this week! And it's rumored that a new (!) Ellen Kushner novel will be reviewed here shortly! Ellen Kushner and her mate, Delia Sherman, have written The Fall of Kings, which is set in the same world as Kushner's fabulous novel Swordspoint but two generations later. Cool!
This edition features looks at the Fairport Convention 4-CD box set, and hurdy gurdy master Nigel Eaton's new CD, Pandemonium, as well as CDs from Lindifarne and a Les Barker omnibus that is rib-tickling funny. You'll find reviews of over 300 CDs in this genre at Green Man -- far more than anyone else on online! Of these CDs, many can be purchased from the folks at Musikfolk , the best online source of English folk music. (Musikfolk has links back to many of our reviews.)
One last note before we go to the reviews... Wild Turtle Dreams Design Service, which
aims to provide reasonably priced design services to small businesses and entrepreneurs, within the framework of a larger dream of working together as a professional community
has a review of Green Man Review here . What little modesty that I have prohibits me from quoting from her review, but I will say that she does sum up very nicely the intent of our Web site!
Kate Brown provides us with an interview she conducted with Sara Douglass , author of the Wayfarer Redemption fantasy series. We learn a very interesting fact about Ms. Douglass's life when she says, '... how many other people have a delightful picture of a nineteenth-century ancestor's corpse on their walls?.' Stephen King, maybe. She also reviews a book with the coolest (and truest) title I have ever heard, Will Shetterly's Cats Have No Lord , about a group of adventurers sent to rescue the Lord of the Cats. Kate thinks this is a funny, busy book.
Rachel Brown contributes her first review to Green Man this week -- Fire Logic , by Laurie J. Marks. Rachel says, 'Fire Logic is a gritty and moving tale of guerilla warfare and magic in an occupied land.' Rachel receives an Excellence in Writing Award for this informative and perceptive review.
Richard Dansky gives us an amusing look at A Walking Tour of the Shambles , co-written by Neil Gaiman and Gene Wolfe. 'Purporting to be a travel guide to a little-visited area of Chicago, A Walking Tour runs down the historical attractions, local color and unique architecture of 'The Shambles,' offering droll detail and handy information (in many cases, this can be summed up as 'run, and don't look back') that the adventuresome tourist will find useful.' Richard wins an Excellence in Writing Award for this delightful review.
Cat Eldridge gives high praise to a true classic of dark fantasy, the Ray Bradbury novel Something Wicked This Way Comes , which is about the year Halloween comes early to a small Illinois town, and two boys who must save the souls of their fellow citizens. Cat begins with this gentle observation: ''Classic' is a word that has had its value greatly diminished through overuse by reviewers who generally know shite about how to determine a true classic.' Cat's review includes his opinions on some films that are based on novels and a few mentions of Stephen King. Duck, Stephen!
Michael Jones is back with reviews of Mercedes Lackey's The Gates of Sleep , and Vera Nazarian's Dreams of the Compass Rose . He likes them both, especially the intriguing Nazarian collection of short stories.
Grey Walker turns in a review just in time for your solstice-party planning. The Ancient Celtic Festivals and How We Celebrate Them Today is by Clare Walker Leslie and Frank E. Gerace, and contains much useful information on the most important Celtic festivals, as well as a bit of astronomy and history, geared toward children but interesting for adults as well. Grey issues this timeless reminder: 'yn ha, porth kov a wav.'
Matthew Winslow was charmed by
Abu Jmeel's Daughter and Other Stories , a collection of Arabian
folk tales by Jamal Sleem Nuweihed. If you like A Thousand and One Arabian
Nights, you'll like this.
Cat Eldridge seriously considered using Sparrow from Emma Bull's Bone Dance novel to find the Raggedy Rawney soundtrack ! Why was he this desperate to find a film soundtrack? Read his review and you'll see why. Just don't ask him to lend you his copy! He wins an Excellence in Writing Award for this review!
Judith Gennett thinks highly of the De Amsterdam Klezmer Band's CD, Limonchiki ; 'Looking for a spicy klezmer band? From Holland, DAKB might be the band for you. Assigned to Knitting Factory's alternative sub-label, their music is, at times, so spiced up with Eastern European ingredients that it's almost not klez. Fanfare Ciocarlia? Haidukes? No problem, we'll just whip 'em in. But a hot band they are, with non-stop action and unusual choppy rhythms, perhaps best described as a sense of eastern funkiness.'
Irene Jackson Henry is will tell you more about Les Barker than is probably wise, as she has a review of three of his delightfully demented albums: Les Barker, Probably the Best Album Ever Made By Anybody in Our Street , Up the Creek Without a Poodle , and Arovertherpy . She says 'Les Barker writes strange poems but, as many delighted audiences have found, his poems and songs are discoveries indeed.' Read the rest of her strange review to see why this is appealing.
Stephen Hunt has very, very long memories of his involvement in English folk music -- No, he doesn't personally know Cecil Sharp -- so it's not surprising that he reviews for Green Man Lindisfarne's new album, Promenade . He says that this is 'a very good listen (and, I suspect, something of a grower.) Personally speaking, I'd say that any CD that features the guitar and dobro talents of founding member Rod Clements is, by definition, a good thing.' And Stephen introduces us to the Cornwall Songwriters and their CD, The Cry of Tin ; 'Legend insists that Cornwall was trading its tin with the Phoenicians before the Romans ever came to Britain's shores. In 1998, South Crofty, the last tin mine in Europe, was closed. In 2002, a group of songwriters living in Cornwall collaborated on this CD.' Stephen garners Excellence in Writing Awards for both of these superb reviews!
David Kidney is happy to report that the trio of Danko, Fjeld, and Andersen has created one hell of a good album in the form of One More Shot ; 'Rick Danko, ex-patriate Canadian from The Band; Jonas Fjeld, Norwegian folk singer; and Eric Andersen, American song-writer, first joined forces in 1991. They released a stunning debut album which is now re-issued as One More Shot.' Some online zines have rushed their reviews of Fairport Convention's 4-CD boxed set, called Fairport unConventional , but we here at Green Man know better than to do that, which is why David has but the first part of his review this week -- a look at the inserts: 'I have chosen this somewhat unconventional way to review this collection, partly because of the title, but mainly because there is just so much stuff in this box that... demands consideration. Geez! It cost almost $30 to mail it, so imagine the magnitude of Fairport items that the box contains.' And a note to other reviewers: it's spelled unConventional, not 'Unconventional', as there's a pun in the title!
Jack Merry is madly, deeply in love with FHL (Faster Harder Louder) music, as played on hurdy-gurdies. This edition, he looks at music from Nigel Eaton and Celtarabia. Nigel Eaton's new CD is called Pandemonium -- Music of the Hurdy-Gurdy , and Fiddling Jack says that the 'bottom line is that you can never, if you like hurdy-gurdy music, go wrong purchasing a Nigel Eaton CD, and Pandemonium is no exception. Green Man has reviewed over three hundred English Trad and Not-So-Trad Music CDs, more than any other online zine, and I can say that this is among the very, very best of those CDs!' He says, too, that all three CDs from Celtarabia ( Ancient Forces , Cult of Radio and The Lost Music of Celtarabia ) are 'full of mad tunes, weird vocals, and enough energy for an all-night dance.'
Big Earl Sellar is a man with widely varying musical tastes -- just check out the many, many Rough Guide reviews he's done to see what he likes (and doesn't like). So it should be no surprise that he likes Hawaiian slack guitarist Keola Beamer's Soliloquy (Ka Leo O Loko) ! Big Early nods his head and says 'Of the various traditions that have come from the Hawaiian islands over the years, one of the most intensely beautiful is 'ki ho alu,' better known as slack key guitar. This delicate mix of the islands long musical heritage, and an instrument introduced in the early 1800's, has an almost intoxicating effect on most listeners. And in the hands of a master musician like Keola Beamer, slack key can be incredibly riveting.'
Our Video Editor, Asher Black, says that our library of video reviews is alphabetized for your convenience. It's not only mainstream film that is reviewed here at GMR. The obscure, the unusual, and the off-the-beaten-track consistently gets covered as well. Whether it's musiclore, dark fantasy, or other films with mythic or folklore elements, the reader is sure to find something worth watching in this growing section of our publication.
That's all for this week. Join us next week for more reviews to cause your wallet to grow emptier than it already is! Not that we need your money, 'cause we don't! (chortle...) The Green Man gift shop, located in the lobby of our office building, will happily sell you a Green Man T-shirt, The War for The Oaks movie trailer CD-R, an Eddi and the Fey tour t-shirt, or the Cats Laughing bootleg CD-Rs if you wish, but don't feel obligated to purchase anything--the the Summer Court keeps us supplied in everything we need...as long as the mead flows freely.
2nd of June 2002
How should we be able to forget those ancient myths that are at the beginning of all peoples, the myths about dragons that at the last moment turn into princesses? Perhaps all the dragons of our lives are princesses, or only waiting to see us once beautiful and brave. --Rainer Maria Rilke's Letters to a Young Poet
Bright skies and a fair wind to you! This is Liath o Laighan, making the introductions this week at Cat Eldridge's behest. He's off at Mab's Revel, so I'm writing the commentary for What's New this outing.
I spend most of my days at GMR in the archive tower, where, I may tell you, there are many things to delight both the senses and the soul. You have doubtless noticed that we do not bring to you, dear readers, only what is new. No, we also treasure tradition here, and offer thoughtful, good-humoured and skillfully written reviews of stories and songs, whether released yesterday or five hundred years gone. Be looking out for yet-to-come reviews that will fill in the gaps in our archives, and take today to wander through our indexes and see what timely and venerable items are already there.
This week, among our varied offerings, we humbly present to you a lovely overview of the work of Frankie Armstrong, a Rough Guide tour of African-influenced music, and yet another poor benighted human's attempt to understand the mysteries of the Pendragon...
Irene Jackson Henry gives us a review of As Far as the Eye Can Sing, an Autobiography , a work written by Frankie Armstrong with help from Jenny Pearson. Irene comments 'references to an autobiography, As Far as the Eye Can Sing , I wanted to learn more about this extraordinary singer, who is using music as so much more than mere performance.' Read her review of this autobiography for more insightful details!
Jason Lundberg is our newest staff member, and he debuts with a review of China Miéville's fantasy novel, The Scar, the second book in Miéville's Perdido series. This installment is set on a ship in the Swollen Ocean. Jason makes this amazing claim: 'This is without a doubt one of the finest works in 21st century literature, and I hope it wins every award imaginable.' Does he like it, do you think?
Matthew Winslow isn't so pleased with Hannibal's Children , an alternate history (Matthew is adamant that it is not an 'alternative' history!) of ancient Rome by John Maddox Roberts. In this novel Rome is defeated and driven north into the lands of the Germanic tribes. But Matthew has some quibbles with Roberts' history-tweaking.
Jennifer Byrne is our resident specialist on African music and this week she treats us to an Excellence in Writing Award winning omnibus review of yet more Rough Guides covering the Afro-Carribean region, to wit: Rough Guide to Afro-Cuba , Guide to Lucky Dube , Rough Guide to the Music of Nigeria and Ghana , and Rough Guide to the Music of Haiti . Jennifer wisely notes of these CDs that 'The following are reviews of a random but varied selection of the Rough Guide catalogue. Sometimes extremely specific in their subject choice, sometimes considerably more general, the thing that stands out most about this collection is its no nonsense approach. The music appears to be chosen for its indisputable value and standing within the particular tradition or genre. The albums are presented without fuss or gimmick, but will always be winners, thanks to the quality of music. Within this bunch of albums alone, names such as Lucky Dube, Manu Dibango, ET Mensah, Cheikh Lo, Juan de Marcos Gonzalez, King Sunny Ade are commonplace, proving that these collections are truly representative of world music. It may be impossible to compress the musical history of entire continents onto one series of discs, but the Rough Guide collection comes infinitely closer than the majority of its predecessors.' (Jennifer brings the total number of Rough Guide CDs we've reviewed to an even fifty!)
Judith Gennett is very, very pleased with Cape Breton fiddler and all around musician Natalie MacMaster's latest release, a 2-CD affair called Live , which she comments, 'ingeniously consists of two CDs: one a recent concert, and one recorded at a local dance several years back. This duality not only provides twice as much listening, but as a side project allows a look into the manifestations of both participatory and performance music.'
Tim Hoke really, truly loves Scottish artist Rob MacKillop's The Healing ; 'It happens every now and again: I stumble across a recording I like so much that I put off writing about it because I can't be distracted from listening. This latest release from lutenist Rob MacKillop is one of those.' Read his review for why he thought this album was so good!
Stephen Hunt has a look this week at superb guitar work as he looks at both Jerry Douglas's Lookout for Hope and Ed Gerhard's House of Guitars . But he notes that technical virtuosity isn't enough: 'Douglas was the player that I knew and admired; Gerhard was a 'shot in the dark.' I'm left with the feeling that while Lookout for Hope is something of an exclusive album, House of Guitars is inclusive. Douglas may have a superior technique (to anyone on the planet), but Gerhard radiates a warmth that makes me want to play his CD again and again, while this CD feels 'cold' in comparison.' (Stephen will be following up on his acclaimed Waterboys omnibus with a review of Fisherman's Blues, Part Two, a compilation of previously unreleased material culled from the original Fisherman's Blues sessions.)
Irene Jackson Henry is a great fan of English folk musician Frankie Armstrong which is why we have an Excellence in Writing Award omnibus from her for that artist. Her intro to that omnibus is well-worth reading here: 'Sometimes, when one does that little bit of research on an artist one's reviewing, the review takes an unexpected turn. I've been listening to Frankie Armstrong for years, but never looked deeper into her life or her background, taking her solely as a singer and occasional songwriter. The Internet pages I turned up for her, referenced her as much as a leader of voice workshops as a recording artist, but my initial take on that was that she was just teaching singing. Reading on, it became clear that Armstrong uses her remarkable voice not solely for music, but also in social work and therapy by teaching others to find their own remarkable voices. The BBC's two-page 'Artist Database' biography revealed another item not made much of by Frankie herself - her serious and long standing vision impairment. Finding references to an autobiography, As Far as the Eye Can Sing, I wanted to learn more about this extraordinary singer, who is using music as so much more than mere performance. So the review that I thought would be a straightforward omnibus of a phenomenal English singer turned into a re-listening and re-examination of her work in light of what I now knew about her career as a therapist, teacher, and social activist.' (And Frankie recorded an album with Blowzabella, a band that's a favorite of Green Man readers and staff!)
Chuck Lipsig has a review of two older Green Linnet releases by master fiddler Eileen Ivers: Fresh Takes and Eileen Ivers . It's her work on Fresh Takes with another master musician, John Whelan, that really got him rocking and reeling: 'Sometimes, genius is made more apparent when paired with excellence. Eileen Ivers is one of the finest Celtic fiddlers out there. But it's one thing to sound good as a soloist; it's another to be paired with a fine musician, such as accordion-player John Whelan, and then outshine the partner without overwhelming the duets. '
Peter Massey is indeed a man who loves his ale warm and his Irish music live. His review of Canadian artists the Prodigals and their CD, Dreaming in Hell's Kitchen , suggests that 'the band is good' but 'not outstanding enough to warrant top billing at a folk festival, if only because they need a stronger vocalist. They sound very much like the hundreds of other semi-professional working bands doing the local Irish Theme Pub circuit, which is now getting a little bit stale.'
Rowan Inish says fans will want Terry Pratchett's Soul Music for the interview, but is less enthusiastic than the author about this film adaption of his Discworld novel. Rowan says the animation is poor, the interface terribly inconvenient, and Pratchett's trademark footnotes missing from the presentation.
Michael Jones finds in the new star wars film a clumsily forced romance but little enough Jar-Jar Binks and plenty of amazing action, extraordinary scenery, and YODA like you've never seen him before! Michael takes an Excellence in Writing Award for this outstanding exploration of the film's disparate parts.
We've sought to please you, and with luck we've succeeded. We'll do it all again in seven days, so do return! It's time I take my leave and run the green road to Mab's revel. I'll catch the last few dances at least, if I tarry no more.