Welcome to another issue of Green Man Review.
You'll want to step carefully...there are cats underfoot everywhere
today. If you've had cats, you'll understand -- it's not up to
them to get out of the way, it's up to you to watch out for them!
If you want a faithful servant, get a dog. If you want to be
a faithful servant, let a cat into your life. The Old Man will tell
you more about our GMR felines in a bit.
Our theme for August has been storytelling, and
of course that's part of what we do here each week as we invite
you into our shared Green Man world. We could just upload
a batch of reviews every week, and hire some hack to scribble
a brief introduction, and if we were just a bunch of folks who
wanted to see our names in bold print on a Web page somewhere
that's probably what we'd do. But the staffers here are not only
reviewers, they're artists in many different fields -- and GMR
is not just a magazine, but a meeting of minds, and a blending
of talents. Have you read the staff bios? David
Kidney is a musician, a writer, and a publisher; April
Gutierrez is a graphic designer; Liz
Milner is a cartoonist; Scott
Gianelli is a physicist -- and an accomplished musician.
Writers, artists, musicians, and actors make up the staff; we
live in such diverse locations as Maine, Seattle, Ireland, Cornwall,
Australia, Sweden, Israel and Belgium. Our readers visit us from
all over the world. We need a place for so many creative and interesting
personalities to feel comfortable. And so we have the Green
Man offices, a point of reference on a map that includes Narnia,
Middle-earth, Xanth, Newford, Earthsea and Majipoor. There are
indeed cats here, and dragons, and we're always discovering new
rooms to explore. And whether you've arrived here on a broom,
through a wardrobe, on a magic carpet, or through a modem, we're
happy to invite you in for a drink and some good conversation.
So pull up a chair, have a cup of Earl Grey, and enjoy another
excellent issue brought to you by music makers and dreamers of
dreams...who happen to be some damned fine reviewers to boot!
'Once upon a time, an Oxford professor, who also
happens to be magnetic public speaker (and the two do not necessarily
go together), has developed a comfortable life for himself teaching
mostly attentive students, speaking to adoring audiences, and
even writing a series of children's books whose many readers send
him letters telling him how magical the stories are. 'Pain,' he
trumpets with easy authority to assembly after earnest assembly,
'is God's megaphone to rouse a deaf world.' His name is C.S. Lewis...'
So begins Grey
Walker's heartwrenching review of a heartwrenching film
about a portion of the life of one of the most beloved authors
in literary history. Or, a film loosely based on a portion
of his life. Is it always necessary to be absolutely accurate
when approaching biographical material? Or is capturing the essence
of the story worth the sacrifice of detail? You might ask a fan
of Braveheart or A Beautiful Mind that question.
Grey shares her views on the subject, and wins an Excellence
in Writing Award for this beautiful review of Shadowlands.
has an omnibus review covering ten books this week! The books
in question are Volumes Three, Four, Five, Six, Nine, Ten, Thirteen,
Fourteen, Sixteen, and, err, one extra in The
Kitchen Musician's Tunebook Series. Tim says, 'These tunebooks
are almost tunebooklets; they are very slim volumes, the thickest
ones being twenty pages long. That doesn't leave room for a lot
of tunes, as you might guess. What makes these so convenient is
that each volume is compiled around a theme.' Read Tim's review
for an overview of the theme of each volume, and an explanation
as to why sometimes it's nicer to have a thin, thematic tunebook
to work from, rather than 'the 246-page revised O'Neill's'.
M. Jones reviews three books for us this week, the first
two being 'middle books' in ongoing fantasy series. Wild
Magic is the second title in Jude Fisher's Fool's Gold
trilogy. Michael says, 'While one could argue that Wild Magic
suffers from 'middle book syndrome', it certainly furthers the
multiple storylines considerably, and leaves us dangling on some
very painful cliffhangers, as the main characters plunge further
into chaos and danger. At the same time, enough answers are dropped
into the mix to satisfy some curiosity, and raise plenty of speculations.'
of Despair is the third novel in Jane Lindskold's series
starring Firebringer, a young woman who was raised by wolves and
is now a major player in the political affairs of three imaginary
nations. 'Originally, I'd thought this to be the last in a trilogy,'
says Michael. 'However, I'm pleased to be wrong on that matter.'
Read his review to see why, and what you can look forward to in
this 'continuing quintessential story of the feral child all grown
up, with plenty of skulduggery, intrigue, and adventure all thrown
in for good measure.'
Michael's third review is of a collection
of retold fairy tales intended for fourth grade children, Rosemary
Upon a Time When the Princess Rescued the Prince. Michael
begins and ends his review by saying, 'On the one hand, I really,
really, really wanted to like this. I am a sucker for retold
fairy tales.... [But] ultimately, I'm going to recommend this,
with reservations.' Read the rest of Michael's review to see what
his reservations are, and where he thinks Rosemary Lake excels
as a thorough researcher.
When Nick Mamatas asked Jason
Erik Lundberg if he'd review Nick's new book, 3000
MPH in Every Direction at Once, for GMR, Jason
initially told Nick that he's taking a break from reviewing to
pursue graduate school. 'But I started reading the book two nights
before classes started,' Jason says, 'and couldn't put it down.'
Jason's review describes this irresistable book, which is a collection
of short stories and essays, in a way that's convinced us that
you might like to hear about it, too.
here. I must admit, I so look forward to seeing reviews from Rachel
Brown in my inbox that I sometimes just contact her and
beg for something, anything...this is because Rachel, in addition
to being a wonderful writer, so often sends in reviews of films
I've honestly never heard of. And then I have to add another film
to my 'must-see' list! This week she discusses a Korean movie
called Volcano High.
Rachel says 'Volcano High is a Korean action-comedy-special
effects extravaganza set in a high school in which all the kids
and teachers have psychic powers and spend more time dueling than
studying. With a premise like that, Volcano High cant
help but be entertaining. And it is. Intermittently.' Go read
her review to see if 'intermittently' is enough to make it worth
Shetterly has been reviewing the DVD sets of Buffy
the Vampire Slayer for us. This week we're up to my favorite
season of the series, Season Three. In his superb review of a
superb season, he tells us '[I]n many ways, season three is the
perfect conclusion of the story of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It
builds to Buffy's graduation, as a high school student and as
a student of the Watchers. It even builds to an appropriate graduation
from first love. If you want to stop watching Buffy at its artistic
peak, stop here.' Brilliant man, that Will Shetterly. Read his
Excellence in Writing Award winning review of Buffy
the Vampire Slayer, the Complete Third Season to see if
you agree with me.
The Old Man here. You did know that the Pub, like all
of the Green Man building, is really ruled by the felines
who live here? I don't know how many precisely are here, but it's
a bonnie bunch. I think that Ysbaddaden, named after the King
of all Giants from the story of Culhwch & Olwen and sometimes
affectionately known as 'Bad Daddy' by the human staff, is the
oldest of the ones here. He's probably all tortie but it's somewhat
difficult to be entirely sure due to the amount of 'markings'
that he's picked up over his very long life. Fiercely loyal and
protective towards the other cats, he still packs a hell of a
wallop and a frightening turn of speed for an old 'un, and I've
got the scratches to prove it! But he can be quite mellow at times
-- he's been known to spend hour upon hour curled up near the
Neverending Session listening to them play. His purr's almost
loud enough to drown out the music!
'Yawn... Where's my blanket?' asks Tim
Hoke. Lynn Morrison's Cave
Of Gold put him almost to sleep: 'This CD has several
qualities that I would normally complain about. There are those
keyboards playing out in the ozone, hypnotic note patterns and
soft singing. Without fail, the arrangements are slow and sleepy;
Cave Of Gold is a real snoozer. Ah, but that's the idea!
This is a collection of lullabies.'
African artist Kasse Mady Diabate's Kassi
Kasse gets a rave from David
Kidney:' It begins with a kalimba, I think, although none
is listed on the liner notes; a solid rhythm, a chant, 'Eh Ya
Ye' and African singing. They are telling the story of a sorceror
who had a gift for conjuring. There are some nice acoustic guitar
fills. The rhythm is intense, overwhelming. Some choral singing,
and a repetitive riff on a variety of African instruments. This
is authentic music, from Mali in West Africa. It was recorded
in the village of Kela...and the sound is wonderful. The playing
is seemless, and the singing superb.'
Canadian label Borealis always produces fine work.
Two CDs, Ken Whiteley's Acoustic
Electric and Le Vent du Nord's Maudite
Moisson!, that are reviewed this outing by David are no
exception. Read David's review for all the details.
David rounds out his reviewing with an appreciative
look at Lonesome,
On'ry and Mean: a Tribute to Waylon Jennings: 'I hear
there's going to be another Waylon Jennings tribute album. It'll
probably feature some big names, and A-list songs, but it can't
possibly be any deeper felt than this album produced by Chuck
Mead, Dave Roe, Scott Robinson and Dan Herrington. So long Waylon,
it's been good to know ya!'
found Canadian artist Shane Simpson and his CD, More
Electric, to be a pleasant affair: 'I would file this
album in the Country-Rock section of my library. My wife said
it makes a pleasant change from just listening to folk music day-in
and day-out, and I can also see it making its way to my son's
music system as well. The lyrics are young, it's tasteful, and
it's damn good. Lend it an ear -- see what I mean.'
If it's not Scottish, it's shite. Well, not quite,
but North Sea Gas' Dark
Island and John Wright's That's
the Way Love Is get the once-over from Lars
Nilsson: 'Two records without any self-penned songs; one
folky, one contemporary; one group, one solo singer; one very
Scottish, one more English, though including a lot of American
songs.' Sounds good to me!
The CD, Jodee James's Little
Birds and Quiet Places, that Lenora
Rose reviews this week had far too much noise (literally)
and not enough signal to make it a good listening experience for
her: 'Well, the bad news is that I can't review the Jodee James
CD at all decently. The hideous static crackle is, if anything,
worse on the second copy, though there's some inconsistency in
how the flaw manifests, especially if one experiments by trading
copies, or grits one's teeth to find out just how bad it
can get.' Now go read her review to see why she actually listened
to whole $#@ album!
Ernie Hawkins' Mean
Little Poodle and Ragtime Jack Radcliffe's Hottest
Hands In Town are both Southern USA roots, blues and ragtime
respectively. And, as notes Big
Earl Sellar, 'It's important that older musical styles
don't die out, and these two discs prove that these two genres
are each in good hands. Both Hawkins and Radcliffe have wonderful
takes on their respective traditions, and both are well worth
gets baroque on us as he reviews two CDs, Dominig Bouchaud and
Cyrille Colas' Water
Sun and Sara and Maynard Johnson and The Rogues' Consort's
he exclaims that these are a 'delightful pair of CDs giving us
some period and regional tunes.'
Green Man does review Classical music as
we did with the Aaron Copland sets that Sony sent us, so I wasn't
all that surprised to hear that Mike was reviewing A
Day in New York, a CD by Paula Morelenbaum and other musicians
on the Sony label. But this isn't Classical music 'tall: 'This
is a CD of piano bar smarm Jazz.' Ouch! How do you figure it fared
in the hands of our reviewer?
Ysbaddaden and his brood are telling me that 'tis
time for their eventide feeding, so I'll take your leave now.
(Jack Merry's supposed to be feeding them, but the bugger is no
where to be found. All I know is the revised and expanded release
of Jethro Tull's Songs from the Wood was snatched up by
him earlier this.week. No sign of him after that. Nor of our Tull
reference materials. I wonder what he's up to? Now where did the
kitchen staff put that leftover game cock from last night? Ahhh,
there it is!
Thank you for visiting our offices once again. Come
back often; you're more than welcome. Should you ever lose your
way, we're just next door to 'once upon a time', half a block
down from 'happily ever after' and around the corner from 'straight
on til morning'. Just look for the cats...
24th of August, 2003
'Have another drink
and just listen to the music.'
-- Charles de Lint,
of the Heart
Reynard here. I'm the publican in the Green Man
pub, and I play concertina in a number of bands with Jack and
Bela, two of the many fiddlers who seem to inhabit this place.
May I pour you a pint? And put your jacket and boots over by the
fireplace so they can dry out. Yes, I know it wasn't supposed
to storm, never know what we're going to get for weather here
this close to the border!
Maria Nutick said last week, 'Some say that the
Neverending Session in the Pub will eventually play every tune
and tell every story that there is to play and tell -- and then
they'll just turn 'round and start right back at the beginning,
of course.' Well... not exactly. They've never actually played
the same tune twice, nor told the same tale more than once, as
they -- and we as the greater culture that Green Man and
the Neverending Session are an aspect of -- are always creating
new tunes, telling new tales. Just take Bela, who says he was
born in Central Europe, in a country which no longer exists, and
whose last name would hold no meaning to those who heard it. Is
this a true story? Maybe, maybe not. But as John Jones of the
Oysterband sings in 'One Green Hill':
'My people are the poor ones
Their country made of stones
Their wealth is in persistence
In stories and in bones....'
So we'll keep telling you tales about what's going
on here at Green Man and providing you with reviews as
long as you care to visit us.
Oh, and if you see Cat Eldridge, our Editor-in-Chief,
you might remind him that his vacation is over. When the editorial
staff met earlier this week, he was conspicuously absent. Nor
could they roust him out of the Robert Graves Reading Room (he's
been in there for a few weeks reading Medicine
Road, a forthcoming work from Charles de Lint, and all
of the new Year's Best
Fantasy and Horror). One of the brownies who was bringing
him tea in the afternoons says he mumbled something about visiting
the Library at Evenmere,
and that was the last any of them saw of him.
(Cat here. My vacation's for the whole month
of August. Now go away!)
Clarke was on a roll this week. He's brought us four reviews,
two of them omnibus reviews, for a total of six books reviewed!
His first omnibus review is of two related mysteries by the illustrious
Sharyn McCrumb, Bimbos
of the Death Sun and Zombies
of the Gene Pool. Both of these books have as their protagonist
electrical engineer and science fiction author Jay Omega, and
both mysteries revolve around the insular and often bizarre world
of fandom. 'The Jay Omega books aren't about to change the world,'
says Craig, 'but they are a lot of fun to read.' Another entertaining
duo of books are The Drive-In novels by Joe R. Lansdale,
which Craig covers in his second omnibus review. Entitled respectively
A B Movie with Blood and Popcorn, Made in Texas and The
Drive-In 2: Not Just One of Them Sequels, these books
are silly, over-the-top 'horror' stories full of 'sex, violence,
very little plot, and a hell of a lot of fun.' So why was the
first Drive-In novel nominated for both the Bram Stoker
and World Fantasy Awards? Read Craig's review to find out.
Craig's third review, which garners him an
Excellence in Writing Award, is also of a rather odd but
entertaining bit of fiction, Choke
by Chuck Palahniuk. Craig says, 'Choke is the story of
Victor Mancini, who makes his living by pretending to choke in
expensive restaurants, depending on the old Chinese tradition
that whoever saves your life is responsible for your welfare forever.'
Um, so what exactly is the link between this rather bizarre novel
and GMR's book reviewing focus which is folk lore,
folk tales and fiction with some sort of folkloric theme or tie-in?
Well, aside from the fact that protagonist Victor attends a sex
addicts recovery group which is full of every urban legend regarding
sex out there, the book was recommended to us by a GMR
reader. Yes, you remember 'William', who wrote to us in June,
recommending the writing of Chuck Palahniuk? Craig (who just so
happens to be the Letters Editor), acted on William's recommendation.
And he's glad he did. 'I'm not sure if it's a 'good' book,' he
says, 'but I know that I was carried quickly from start to finish.'
So there you have it. We do read our mail here at GMR,
and we pay attention, too! Thanks, William.
But Craig isn't done yet. For his final review,
he takes a look at a new graphic novel, Kolchak,
The Night Stalker: The Devil in the Details, by Stefan
Petrucha and Trevor Von Eeden. Craig has several criticisms to
make of this book, which is based on a 1970s TV series, Kolchak,
The Night Stalker. But we can't quite give Craig a Grinch
Award for this review, because in the end he admits he rather
likes the book. '[It's] a pleasant thriller that in some ways
outdoes some episodes of the series,' he says. So we'll give Craig
another Excellence in Writing Award instead, for a knowledgeable,
Master Reviewer David
Kidney has written a short story, entitled 'Me & the Devil
Blues', inspired by blues legend Robert Johnson. So it's not surprising
that he was eager to review Robert
Johnson: Lost and Found, written by Barry Lee Pearson,
a professor at the University of Maryland, and Bill McCulloch,
a career journalist and one-time blues musician. 'Together they
have set out to debunk the myths which have surrounded Johnson
like a thick vine, to trim off the suckers, and to look directly
at Johnson's accomplishments as a blues musician.' Do they succeed?
Read David's review to find out.
Sedinger has two reviews for us this week, the first of
Road to Romance, a book of memoirs written by famous travel
writer Richard Halliburton. Kelly says, 'What's most valuable
here are the way Halliburton continually finds wonder and beauty
just about everywhere he looks, and his clear belief that the
world is not a place to fear but rather a place in which to take
joy.' Read the rest of Kelly's Excellence in Writing Award-winning
review to see why this book should be a reference source for all
fiction writers engaged in 'world-building.'
Kelly also takes an indepth look two books
by Gene Wolfe, Soldier of the Mist and Soldier of Arete,
recently republished in one volume by Orb as Latro
in the Mist. Kelly found Latro's story to be slow, difficult
reading, but definitely worth the time and effort. We can't pull
out one quotation from Kelly's superb review without giving away
the whole thing, so let's just say you need to go read it! It
will send you straight out to find Latro in the Mist for
yourself. And, naturally, Kelly wins another Excellence in
Writing Award for this one.
is back with his ongoing overview of George R. R. Martin's fantasy
series, A Song of Ice and Fire. This week he reviews Book
Three of the series, A
Storm of Swords, which he says is just as fine a piece
of writing as the first two titles. In fact, he says, 'George
Martin crafts a reality as solid and as detailed as anything anyone
else has written in any genre, ever.' High praise, indeed!
Wiloch finishes up our book reviews with Under
Cover of Night, a collection of short stories by Mary
SanGiovanni. The underlying thread of all the stories in this
collection is 'chilling horror', says Thomas. It won't take you
long to read his review, but when you do you'll see why a review
doesn't have to be long to be thorough and to give you a perfect
sense of what to expect from the book being reviewed. We don't
have a Hemingway Award here at GMR (if we did, Tim Hoke
would have won it several times already), so we're giving Thomas
an Excellence in Writing Award for an excellently succinct
the Tenth of The Book of Tales is up this week.
In this column, which we publish once or twice a month, we cover
short fiction and folk lore found elsewhere than in the books
we usually review, such as magazines, Web sites, and so on. For
this issue, Matthew Scott
Winslow makes a thorough exploration of a recent issue
of Black Gate: Adventures in Fantasy Literature, a relatively
new magazine devoted to short fantasy fiction. Matthew's review
gives you as complete a sense for what this magazine is like as
you could possibly have without actually holding it in your own
hands, and his review wins an Excellence in Writing Award.
here. So, what's a Film Editor to do? Here we have Craig
Clarke, masterful Letters Editor, superb reviewer, and
one of my very favorite people here at Green Man -- and
he's written an absolutely scathing review of one of my
all time favorite satirical films! Pouting won't help, and the
Chief wouldn't be happy if I snuck into the Gallery of Souls (that's
the room on the fourth floor where we display the exquisite miniatures
of each staffer created for us by Liath's distant cousin, who
is an accomplished sculptor) and stuck little pins into the Craig
figurine. I guess I'll take the high road and simply hand Craig
his Grinch Award and congratulate him for yet another well
written review. Now go read his review of Lake
Placid and see what you think, while I go sulk in the
corner. Hmmmm, maybe just one pin...
Jack Merry here. The lads and lasses in the Neverending
Session discovered a keen new reel this week. They said it was
written by Paul Brandon, author of one of the finest novels of
recent years, Swim the
Moon, who has a new novel, The Wild Reel,
coming out early next year. They're learning it in honour of Paul's
new Brisbane Celtic band Rambling
House, which will be playing here later this year.
Let's listen in for a while as they play his 'The Rolling Home
Reel' while we look at the reviews this outing...
Tywanna Jo Baskette's CD is something that Craig
Clarke liked a lot: 'This level of truth has been replaced
so much by artifice that it is refreshing to see it surface again.
She will likely get lost in the shuffle of singer-songwriter albums
and that is unfortunate because Fancy
Blue is a record that hits all the right notes, just not
the ones you expect.'
As Spike put it to me, 'What the &^%$# is National
Lampoon's Lemmings doing being reviewed on Green Man?'
Let's have Craig explain: 'National Lampoon's Lemmings
is a parody of the Woodstock Festival.
It takes the 'peace, love, and music' idea and adds 'mass suicide'
to it. Half a million youth, gathered together on a farm in New
York for the 'Woodchuck Festival of Peace, Love, and Death' to
commit mass suicide...' Errr... Read his review please. And then
you can tell me why we're reviewing it!
Two releases by Richard Thompson, 1000 Years
of Popular Music and Ducknapped get a joint review
from Master Reviewers David
Kidney and Gary
Whitehouse. Read their Excellence in Writing Award
to see what they thought of these CDs!
Laurie McClain's The
Trumpet Vine; A Tribute To Kate Wolf found great
favour with Peter Massey:
'this is one of the nicest collections of a songwriter's work
I have had the pleasure to listen to. This really is a fine album
produced by a singer that deserves wider acclaim. Laurie McClain
sings with a 'down home' honesty in her voice, and her choice
of material indicates experience learnt from the University of
Life. I recommend you buy this album, you won't be disappointed.'
All Night is the latest from The Waifs. Not 'tall surprisingly,
really, really likes 'em: 'The Waifs are a new discovery to
me, but I like them very much. The album has been running quite
a few times in various CD players in the house over the last days
and it will certainly be played a lot even after this review is
finished. If you like people like Bonnie Raitt you should really
check it out. I assure you it will be worth your time, money and
Foot Stompin' sent us two CDs in which Emily Smith
plays a role: her CD, A
Day Like Today, and the Let
Scotland Flourish collection. Consider this review
by Lars as your introduction to the 'pick of the new generation
of Scottish folk musicians.'
Whether this CD is perfect is not an issue
for Lenora Rose as
she likes the small 'flaws' in Ingrid Heldt's Love
Matters: 'This is not modern folk music. It's a lovely
album in the style of pre-rock pop, influenced by some modern
singers, but just as often influenced by jazz. But for the electric
nature of the background, most of the songs could have been recorded
in the forties. Her vocal style, too, while high and beautiful,
has an old feel, as if someone had magically stripped the scratches
and crackle from an ancient record. It's not a polished gem of
a voice, but a 'burrs in the sweater' voice, lovely in part because
it has a mild creak.'
Grant Livingston's The
One That Got Away and Let
Me Off The Leash are best avoided in the opinion of Big
Earl Sellar: Someone once said, 'Comedy is the most difficult
of the arts.' Hoo yeah, brother! And it's an art that should best
be avoided by some. Listening to these discs by Floridian Grant
Livingston are a great case in point. More 'pleasant' diversions
aren't what the music world needs.' Read Big Earl's review to
see why he thinks the world doesn't need more musicians like this
'Mention Hungarian music in a sentence,'
says Barb Truex
'and the word gypsy will inevitably follow. But as is the
case with stereotypes, that doesn't give you the whole picture
(a lot of it, but not all of it). The
Rough Guide to Hungarian Music takes you all through this
small country (as well as some surrounding areas) and gives you
a peek at the diversity that lies within, from the many different
traditional styles to the new music infused with influences from
technology and other world music.' Interested? Go read her Excellence
in Writing Award winner of a review to find out more about
the diverse world of Hungarian music.
are two CDs from Cordelia's Dad, a band which any Boiled in Lead
fan will know of. Gary
Whitehouse notes that ' Cordelia's Dad is one of a number
of acts that started as a punkish rock band in the early Nineties
and morphed into a roots band by the end of the decade. The Massachusetts-based
combo went further into their roots than most, however, and ended
up unearthing and performing traditional American music from the
18th Century on.' Read his review to see how they fare on these
Exposure did not fare as well with Gary: 'Cory
Morrow is part of a new and apparently bottomless supply of Texas
country-rockers riding on the coattails of several earlier generations
of outlaws, from Willie Nelson to Robert Earl Keen. Full Exposure
is an ambitious mostly live CD, paired with a DVD anchored by
the same live performance (which will be reviewed elsewhere in
GMR). I wish I could say that it's something more than
your standard Texas frat-boy party-time country. But it's not.'
Ahhh, a lovely reel indeed!
Now let's head up to the The Edna St. Vincent
Millay Reading Lounge to hear Grey read 'Cold
Comfort', a story by Paul which he adapted from Swim
Did I mention that things get a bit weird here at
Green Man sometimes?
(Jack here -- things are always weird here --
it's just a matter of how weird they are!)
(Grey here -- And yes, we've mentioned it. Many
times. Jack says it most often.)
(Only 'cause it's true. Sometimes.)
Ahem. Ignore them, and consider the matter of the
man who truly believes in Babbage Machines... Yes, the ones that
form the basis of William Gibson and Bruce Sterling's The
Difference Engine. I thought they were a mere whimsey
of a mad engineer, but apparently not!
This fellow was in the Pub last week explaining
to all who would listen that he was doing research on the history
of these computing devices, which he said actually existed. I
told him I have no doubt that the Green Man library has
material on these machines. Apparently, they were the size of
railroad cars, and they might have been shunted around an England
that never was. (The library also has maps of such places as the
Republic of Northumbria -- where I am a citizen -- and commentaries
on music that was not written in this universe, let alone performed.
Not to mention the writings of Mad Merlin himself, who supposedly
visits us every few centuries.)
I don't believe everything I hear! But his tale
was told so well that we could picture the clacking of the immense
gears in the Machines, the hiss of their coal powered engines,
and the multitudes of mathematicians running around them. Liath,
our Archivist, was so impressed by his storytelling that she granted
him access to all of the material in the library -- even
the things she has not yet archived -- in hopes he might find
something that would truly earn him accolades from his peers.
17th of August, 2003
If you are a dreamer, come in,
If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar,
A hope-er, a prayer, a magic bean buyer...
If you're a pretender, come sit by my fire
For we have some flax-golden tales to spin.
-- Shel Silverstein, Invitation
here. Our theme this month is storytelling...a bit redundant perhaps,
because isn't that always our theme? Isn't storytelling, through
prose and poetry, lyric and melody, acting and dance, really the
whole point of it all? And we don't just mean Green Man
and the authors and performers we review. In a scene from Empire
Records, one of our favorite films, a character named Eddie
claims 'You gotta understand something. This music is the glue
of the world...it holds it all together. Without this, life would
be meaningless.' Now, Eddie's referring to Poky Little Puppy and
Pink Floyd, among others, but surely we can say the same of Fairport
King Biscuit Boy, Apocalyptica,
Boiled in Lead, Hedningarna,
or the Flash
It's happened to all of us, hasn't it? We turn on
the radio or pop in a new CD, and suddenly there's someone singing
our own story back to us. Singing as if they had written the song
specifically for us. Who sings your stories? For us, the Nuticks,
Maria has Billy Joel and Cat Stevens, Gorky Park and Gaia Consort;
Def Leppard and ABBA, the Chieftains and AfroCelt tell Ryan's
tales. Some say that the Neverending Session in the Pub will eventually
play every tune and tell every story that there is to play and
tell -- and then they'll just turn 'round and start right back
at the beginning, of course.
And it's not only music. We love authors best when
they tell us our own tales...whether Holly
Black, A.A. Milne or
we know when they've been spying on us, don't we? And don't art
critics say 'It speaks to me...'?
We've a compact issue for you this week, as it's
high summer and so many of our folk, including Chief Cat
Eldridge himself, are on well deserved vacations. But
never fear, unlike some backwater vanity magazines, we have a
team of editors ready to step in and make sure that we've something
tasty for you every week no matter what. So let's see who's telling
our stories this week.
'Is newer a priori better? Of course not,
but the challenge to be new and trend-setting is always there.
Consider how many yet-unpublished authors strive to find that
something different so that they can get a contract and become
published. On the other hand, consider how within the fantasy
genre, repetition is what sells books. Consider the fact that
the bestsellers tend to be either part of a series or books by
familiar authors that don't cover 'new ground'. If you're the
editors of a series that purports to present the year's best short
writing [in the fields of horror and fantasy], this dichotomy
of the new vs. the old is one that must be considered. With sixteen
years of creating such anthologies, Terri Windling and Ellen Datlow
have once again proved that they can balance both.' Yes, you guessed
it, Matthew Scott Winslow
is talking about the new Year's
Best Fantasy and Horror anthology. Read the rest of Matthew's
Excellence in Writing Award-winning review for a thorough
examination of Volume Sixteen of this series, which has become
the standard for superb writing and editing in its field.
Also, as Matthew mentions in his review -- and as
you may have heard elsewhere -- this is Terri Windling's last
volume as fantasy editor for YBFH. In the next few weeks,
we'll publish an interview with Terri and Ellen Datlow about YBFH
and what it's been like to edit it all these years.
Brazil picked up one of the Anita Blake, Vampire Executioner
novels by Laurell K. Hamilton the other day -- and ended up reading
the whole series. Noticing that we'd only reviewed a couple of
them, including the first one, he offered to review the second
and third books in the series, The
Laughing Corpse and Circus
of the Damned. Naturally, we said, 'Yes!' So here you
go. More about Anita Blake, who Nathan says 'takes more hits than
the head of a nail, [and] keeps on going.'
Brown reviews the first two titles in the graphic novel
series Lone Wolf and Cub, The
Assassins' Road and The
Gateless Barrier. 'Lone Wolf and Cub is an ultra-violent
samurai manga series,' says Rachel. 'It's also a remarkable work
of art... The elegant black and white illustrations sometimes
portray the delicate beauty of the Japanese countryside, and sometimes
the blurred and furious action of a sword moving faster than the
eye can track. The characters are archetypal but realistic...'
Read the rest of Rachel's review to learn more about this series
by writer Kazuo Koike and artist Goseki Kojima.
Wisoker looks at a novel about folk music and murder,
the Colour of My True-love's Heart by Ellis Peters. Originally
published in 1967, recently republished by Time Warner, 'this
is a book of music, of silence, of words; it has love, hate, and
all their analogues. Myths and fact combine to wrap the storyline
in a heavy cloak of authenticity. This is a story of high passion
and cool deliberation; it dances through the morals and minds
of another age and gives the reader a wide window into the world
of folk music and ballad-singers.' And, obviously, Leona thought
it was wonderful.
In addition to his great work editing the Letters
section, Craig Clarke
always brings us interesting film reviews, and this week he positively
boggles our minds with the juxtapostion of horror and...um...well,
we'll get to that in a minute. First up is a trilogy of dark psychological
horror films all directed by the same man: Joseph Ruben, who Craig
calls 'a genre-spanning director of films like Dreamscape
and True Believer that, while not classics, are examples
of solid storytelling.' Certainly Ruben's films have been successful
in warping classic family relationships into something much darker
and far more twisted. See if Craig thinks he lives up to his own
reputation with The
with the Enemy, and The
On a possibly more frightening note, Craig's been
babysitting for friends, and in the course of his duties has been
required to submit himself to (shudder) what passes for children's
entertainment these days. Even worse, the kiddie's choice of fare
was a pair of Nutcrackers: Barbie
in the Nutcracker and the Care
Bears Nutcracker Suite. Are they as bad as they sound?
Well, you'll have to read his Excellence in Writing Award
winning review and see, but here's a taste: '...I'm all for children
being introduced to classical entertainment on their level. After
all, my first memories of classical music are from the Looney
Tunes. Having said that, The Nutcracker and colored
bears with weather symbols on their admittedly adorable bellies
(sunshine, moon with star, stormclouds, rainbow, etc.) were simply
never meant to go together.'
Oliver Wendell Holmes said that 'a pun is the lowest
form of wit.' Of course, Oscar Levant said that 'a pun is the
lowest form of humor -- when you don't think of it first.' Who
was right? After you see this film, you'll have an idea. Film
Editor Maria Nutick 'spent
nearly [an] entire hour laughing' at Pun-Smoke,
'a documentary filmed at the 25th annual O. Henry Pun-Off World
Championship in Austin Texas.' Read Maria's Excellence In Writing
Award winning review to hear why she wasn't disa-pun-ted.
Nutick steps up this week, with a review of an amazing
film set in the near mythical world of rock and roll. A film 'loosely
based on the real-life experiences of director Cameron Crowe,'
Ryan says that Almost
Famous 'is not a caricature of Cameron; this seems to
be an honest glimpse into what it was like for him.' Go read this
insightful review to find out what it's like to watch this film
which garnered multiple Oscar nominations for cast and crew.
brings us a review
of the performance by Blackie
& the Rodeo Kings at the annual Festival
of Friends in Hamilton, Ontario. Their performance closed
out the festival this year, and the band was in rare form. Tunes
from their latest album, BARK,
dominated the show. BARK includes 'some of the finest songs that
they've' ever recorded and David lauds them as 'perhaps the most
exciting band in Canada today'. Reading the review may not match
up to being at one of their shows, but it should give you a reason
to seek out a show or CD from them in the future...
here. Excuse me while I wipe the rotten tomatoes off meself. A
record company executive who thought we had dissed his wife in
a review we did organized a demonstration against us outside of
the streetside entrance to our building. It's quite amazing how
thin the skins are of some folks -- even the slightest criticism
can cause great offence. It certainly was an interesting sight;
masses of aggrieved musicians, producers, and poobahs from various
records companies holding up signs that said things like 'Green
Man is unfair to singer-songwriters' and 'We demand you link
to favorable reviews now'. So who threw the rotten tomatoes at
me, you ask? Spike says it was some aging country musician who
thought I was another reviewer who has said unkind things about
his vocal skills -- didn't realize I was just helping out with
security. Spike says it's the rowdiest crowd he's seen here since
the Greens objected to being excluded from the Devolving Europe
meeting that we hosted a few months back. Hope they leave soon
-- the Neverending Session musicians are getting annoyed at their
Now that I've changed into a fresh Eddi and the
Fey Tour t-shirt, let's see what we've got for reviews...
Three CDs by Randy Kohrs (A
Crack in My Armour, Sing
and Play Country Music, and Everything
That Slides) caught the ear of David
Kidney: 'Randy Kohrs first came to the attention of Green
Man Review when he played Dobro on the third of Dolly Parton's
bluegrass albums Halos
& Horns. I said some nice things about his contributions
there, and he sent me a selection of CDs wherein he is the leader.
This music is in the clear bluegrass tradition of those albums,
and while we don't have the benefit of Ms. Parton's wonderful
voice, there is plenty here to keep the bluegrass fan happy.'
Spike and David have been discussing, in a rather
heated manner in the Green Man Pub, what the ^%$#* the
Blues are. No, they didn't come up with a nice, easy as ribs on
a July afternoon definition, and as David notes over a bowl of
Brunswick Stew with a side of corn bread: 'The blues. It's hard
to define, even in its simplicity. But all over the map people
are still responded to those three chords, those twelve bars.'
You'll have to read his review of four Blues CDs (Tommy Castro,
Jimmy Hall, and Lloyd James' Triple
Trouble; Tony Furtado and the American Gypsies' Live
Gypsy; Glamour Puss' wire
& wood; and Doc Watson's Trouble
In Mind: the Doc Watson Country Blues Collection 1964-1998)
to see what &*^%$ he thinks the Blues are.
Rachael Davis's Minor
League Deities was an interesting affair for Peter
Massey: 'Rachael Davis is virtually an unknown on my side
of the pond. However I have a feeling that situation will soon
be rectified if this album is anything to go by. The first time
I clapped eyes on the album cover -- a photo of a very pretty
young lady looking like model -- I thought,'mmm very nice - but
can she sing?' Well, yes she can! And what's more she sings like
an angel. Rachael has a voice that makes love to you
me in mind of the first time I heard Eva Cassidy. There is an
old saying in P.R 'sex sells' and with an inviting voice like
this -- I suggest she's one to watch.'
Wicked Tinkers' Banger
for Breakfast is the fourth disc by that Celtic
group we've reviewed, and their first live CD. Is it as good as
their previous outings? Maria
Nutick says yes as she notes here: 'The recording is really
well done for what must have been almost entirely outdoor, open
air shows. Wayne Belger's didgeridoo on 'Those Marching O'Neill's'
from Hammered rumbles
through the speakers like doom...you'll want to turn up your base
when you listen to the Tinkers as their music is an incredibly
found a good one in neo-swing violinist Andrew Bird and his CD,
but don't expect Swing here! As Gary notes, 'Languid, atmospheric
music is the order of the day, with nary a swing in sight. This
is beautiful music, somehow lush and sparse at the same time.
Lush, in that the strings are layered and sometimes looped, the
vocals are airy, light and echo-laden; sparse in its generally
stripped-down instrumentation...' Hmmm... I think our resident
Balkan violiinst, Bela, would approve!
Now I must see if Spike needs any assistance in
keeping the crowd at bay... Spike, you may not use the
fire hose on them!
There you have it, dear readers. Come back next
week, as usual, for more quality fare. And this week, while you're
going about your daily routine, you might think about this: who's
telling your story -- and whose story are you telling?
10th of August, 2003
'Far away in a meadow
There is a small castle
Built of ivory and dewdrops and dreams.
And there is a fair maiden
Who lives in that castle
And she walks through the meadow and sings...'
-- lyrics by Nile Johnson
Welcome! I'm Grey
Walker, Aigne, Book Review Editor, and your host for this
issue of the Green Man Review.
Cat Eldridge, our Editor in Chief, is taking two
weeks off. (Need I mention that this vacation conveniently coincides
with the recent arrival of the new Year's Best Fantasy and
Horror? I thought not.) 'I'll be in the Robert Graves Reading
Room,' he said. 'Hopefully, no one will find me!' It's quite possible.
There are places a person can step into and emerge in another
time or place. Or never emerge at all. And if you go in after
that person, you may find yourself in another place altogether,
a place they, well, aren't. Ryhope Wood. Tir na Nog. The
Wardrobe. Luthe's valley. Myst.
Now, I'm not saying for certain that our Reading
Room in the library here at GMR is such a place. I really
don't know. Liath does, I'm sure, but she never answers questions
like that, and she has a way of looking at you when you ask them
that makes you forget what you were asking until you're back out
the door and halfway down the hall. What I do know is that the
Reading Room has lots of high-backed, deep chairs in odd alcoves,
and the shelves are arranged to obscure the organizational structure
of the room rather than reveal it. This isn't always a bad thing.
If you want to find something fast, the reference room is your
bailiwick. But if you want to read for hours, undisturbed...
We've got an issue that looks like both the Reading
Room and the reference room this week. If you want to find information
about a book or album or film quickly, whizz through the highlighted
links below. What you're looking for isn't there? Then scan our
organized and weekly updated indices
to see if it's been reviewed in previous weeks.
Or, if you'd like to just wander randomly and comfortably
through a half dozen -- or so -- intriguing reviews, noting titles
you think you might like and following links to author and artist
sites, then keep reading. And here's a starting wander for you:
Terri Windling's Endicott
Studio has just put up a new issue, and it's a lovely
collection of fresh treasures, including a poem by Jane Yolen.
Take a look, and then wander back here for the rest of what our
reviewers have laid out for your delectation...
Brown brings us our featured review this week. Lucy, Neil
Gaiman's young protagonist in the just-released The
Wolves in the Walls, 'is sure there are wolves in the
walls. She can hear them at night, prowling and carousing. So
she tells her mother. 'I'm sure it's not wolves,' said her mother.
'For you know what they say... If the wolves come out of the walls,
then it's all over.' 'What's all over?' asked Lucy. 'It,' said
her mother. 'Everybody knows that.'' Rachel says that this collaboration
between Gaiman and artist Dave McKean is just as good as you'd
expect. It's 'a charmingly surreal trifle full of dream-logic
twists and rhymes begging to be read aloud, featuring unexpected
appearances by strange people and rowdy wolves.'
Brown brings us another review this week in addition to
the one featured above. This review is of A
Coalition of Lions, the second novel in a series by Elizabeth
Wein (we've also reviewed the first in the series, The
Winter Prince). Rachel says of A Coalition of Lions,
'While the politics are murky, the relationships between the characters
are clear and compelling. Wein's large cast of characters are
distinct, memorable, and complicated the way that real people
are complicated. There are no Dark Lords here, only men and women
struggling to do the right thing under difficult circumstances.'
Author James Gurney has always loved anthropology,
art and dinosaurs. What happened when he combined his three loves?
Dinotopia was born! Faith
J. Cormier reviews the first two ground-breaking Dinotopia
books for us this week, Dinotopia:
A Land Apart from Time, and Dinotopia:
The World Beneath. 'These are true graphic novels,' Faith
says. 'The intricate illustrations do not just complement the
text, they complete it, and some elements of the story are told
only through the illustrations.' Read the rest of her review of
these unique books, which have spawned take-off novels, a movie
and a TV series.
Doiron asked us to let her know if we thought her review
of the Flying Dutchman by Brian Jacques was too harsh.
Not at all! But it is an honest assessment of a book that
Christine found less than thrilling. 'Absorbed at the beginning,'
she says, 'from page 51 on I felt like I was counting down the
pages, trying in vain to hurry my way through a plodding scavenger
hunt.' Compare this review with Faith J. Cormier's glowing Redwall
review from last week, to see how Jacques may be an uneven writer.
recently got lost in Michael Cisco's novel, The
Divinity Student. 'Serving up radical visions framed around
a quest for strange knowledge, The Divinity Student is
a mind-bending look at the bizarre... Cisco writes with a dark
hyper-sensuality, like Tanith Lee on Ecstasy.' Sound intriguing?
We thought so, too.
Erica Green, who recently read Dan Brown's bestseller,
The Da Vinci
Code, liked it so much that she went back and found Brown's
earlier novels. This week, she reviews Angels
and Demons, which has the same protagonist as The Da
Vinci Code, Harvard professor Robert Langdon. Michelle says,
'As a thriller, Angels and Demons proves a bit of a disappointment,
for the red herrings are predictable and the guilty party's motivations
are difficult for most modern readers to relate to personal experiences.
But until that point, the story is told so stylishly that it hardly
And last for books this week, Will
Shetterly wins an Excellence in Writing Award for
his friendly, informative review of Seven
Seasons of Buffy: Science Fiction and Fantasy Authors Discuss
Their Favorite Show. Will begins his review by warning,
'If you're not a fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, this
book isn't for you, and this review isn't, either.' He finishes
the review with: 'This book's weakness may be its strength for
its audience: most of the writers love the show too much to be
truly critical. But then, I suppose I do, too. If you're tempted
to read it, follow your instinct.' In between, he gives a basic
overview of the essays collected here, with tempting bits to entice
you, including a link to one of the essays, which is available
on the Web.
Letter Editor Craig
Clarke is an Albert Brooks fan. He says that Brooks '...always
stars in his own films and he has a charming, sad sack quality
that invariably elicits empathy. His movies -- which include Real
Life, Modern Romance, Mother, and The Muse
-- generally showcase his foibles and make him out to be a lovable
loser; he is Woody Allen without the manic side.' This week the
ever timely and perceptive Craig reminds us of a Brooks film that
fits perfectly into this month's theme of storytelling: Defending
'I don't fully understand it,' muses David
Kidney, 'but for some reason the DVD format has been more
effectively used by bluegrass and country musicians than by musicians
in all other genres combined. Perhaps it is easier to translate
the quiet viruosity of fiddle, dobro and flatpicked guitar; of
gentle close harmonies; of downhome lyrics and good people than
it is to display strutting, preening rock gods in their splendour.
But, the fact remains, from Jerry Garcia and David Grisman's Grateful
Dawg, and the star studded Down
From the Mountain to Norman & Nancy Blake's quaint
My Dear Old
Southern Home this music comes across beautifully on the
DVD format. The living room with stuffed couch and bowl of popcorn
is a fine setting for good pickin' and grinnin'. And the bonuses...well
shoot, they're a bonus!' I'm sure you realize, dear readers, that
Mr. Kidney is reviewing a bluegrass DVD for us in this issue!
Go read his review of Alison
Krauss + Union Station LIVE to find out if this DVD lives
up to David's high expectations!
Shetterly is the third staffer to attempt a review of
our final film offering this week. In a staggering display of
dedication, he claims that he actually made it through 'two-thirds
of it in one sitting before I nodded off, and the next day, feeling
obliged to check the end for the sake of this review, I only fastforwarded
through about half of the rest...' That's at least a third more
of the film than either of the previous two staffers could manage!
We'd give Will a Grinch Award for this review, except that
he kept reminding himself to be nice. Ah, well. Go on and
read his sanitized thoughts on the Hallmark version of Alice
Activity here in the mail room is definitely cyclical.
We'll go for long stretches without a single letter, and then
all of a sudden the dam breaks loose. The last three weeks averaged
out to three a week, but I received over half of them in the space
of about four days. Some of them may make more sense than others,
but they're all worth a read.
sent in a poem regarding a particular What's New page that is
now in our archives. The only thing is that no one on the staff
can tell if it's a laud or a slam. The letter sounds one way,
but the text of the poem seems to portray different feelings,
making Mr. Boyes seem guilty of furry thinking.
Much clearer in their intent are our other letters.
Steven Ehrenberg wrote
to praise Gary Whitehouse's
review of Calexico's Feast
of Wires, saying it deepened his perception of the album.
Meanwhile, Cat Eldridge's
review of the Horse Flies' live recording of In
the Dance Tent was to Mike
Eckhardt as a dunked biscuit was to Marcel Proust--it
brought all sorts of memories of that concert flooding back. Now
I'm not saying that this is Mr. Eckhardt's In Search of Lost
Time but it's full of genuine feeling nonetheless.
Cat also caused JD
Billy to wax literate with his review of Like
Water for Chocolate. JD finally saw the movie because
Cat said...well, just read the letter and Cat's equally appreciative
In a blast of serendipity that is becoming very
common in the mail room, two folks wrote in from different parts
of the world--on the same day--to agree with David
Kidney (in his American
Western Film Omnibus Essay) that Bonanza just wasn't
the same after Adam Cartwright (played by actor Pernell Roberts)
left the Ponderosa. The reminisences are by Melissa
James (US) and Dale MacLeod
wrote in to defend Aidan Quinn's imperfect singing in Songcatcher,
calling it 'moving' and 'soulful.' Read his letter and Liz
Milner's response. Then Cornelis
van Dam wanted to let Liz know he didn't appreciate her
comments on the titular subject of Tapani Varis' Jews
Harp album. You can read his thoughts and some of the
other artists he recommends people hear to get a feel for this
Jack Merry here. Grey Walker, who's in charge of
Green Man as our Editor is on vacation right now, just
reminded me that I hadn't written the music commentary yet, so
I'm now in me office looking over the reviews this week. I'd rather
be down in the Pub qauffing a pint of Brains Traditional Welsh
Ale while listening to Mia and company tell tales of mad fiddlers,
comely wenches, and pirates. So let's get this done...
Maggie Keane's Happy
Day CD did not get a thumbs up from Richard
Condon. No doubt some music journos like her as Richard
notes in his lead-off: 'Dublin based singer-songwriter Maggie
Keane was described in 1999, on the Web site of Cork music venue
the Lobby Bar, as the 'hottest new international discovery.' The
writer claimed that her 'unique style' had been likened to The
Cranberries, Bjork, and Enya. I am surprised that he did not mention
the Corrs as well, as I found this extended play CD, issued last
April, much closer to the mixture of pop and ersatz folk music
of that group than it is to either Bjork or Enya, although perhaps
it is not a million light-years from the Cranberries. The resemblance
to the Corrs is probably more than coincidental, since one of
Keane's regular accompanying musicians is Conor Brady from that
band. There is also more than a suggestion in her singing of Sinead
O'Connor, to whom other critics have compared Keane.' Read his
review to see why he thinks they are wrong!
John Langstaff, who has a long and llustrious career,
has had two of his fifty year-old albums re-released as CDs: John
Langstaff Sings At the Foot of Yonders Mountain and John
Langstaff Sings The Water is Wide. Are they worth your
time? Oh, yes as David Kidney
comments that 'In the days before rock and roll; before the era
of compact disc and mp3; before vinyl, 8 tracks, cassettes; even
before 78rpm records, songs gained popularity because they were
sung. Sung and played. The family gathered in the front room,
around the piano, maybe someone played a fiddle or a guitar, and
from the sheet music a tenor or a baritone, a soprano or an alto,
would sing. The folk songs, the classics, even new songs which
were rushed out in printed form to waiting music lovers. This
tradition is all but forgotten in today's society of easy access
to entertainment. Revels Records is bravely reissuing a series
of CDs which seek to recapture the immediacy and intimacy of those
days. Their motto is 'building tradition through music, dance
and drama,' and these two discs by John Langstaff provide an interesting
David found a CD that caused rampant nostalgia:
Ray Materick's life
and times. (Spike, who just wandered into me office, says
that most everything makes David feel nostalgic these days --
even bad punk bands!) Think we're being unfair to David? Wrong!
Just listen to David: ' When I was scuffling around, playing coffeehouses
for busfare and coffee, back before I even drank coffee, there
were some models for me to emulate, or not. One of them was Stan
Rogers, and my experiences with Stan will be told some day; but
another was Ray Materick. He had a book of poetry out, and a record,
both with the same picture on the front, a bearded guy down the
street with a guitar. Then Ray Materick signed to Asylum, and
had a hit single. You could not escape hearing 'Linda Put the
Coffee On' anywhere that season. Canadian radio played it almost
hourly as I recall. The Asylum album had better songs, but the
powers that be knew that 'Linda...' was the hit. And on disc two
(entitled '70s Stuff) of this two disc set 'Linda Put the
Coffee On' is the lead track, and the only song from that first
October Project is a folk rock band that has seen
its fortunes go up and down over the years as the band has shifted
personnel and even split off into odd mutations such as the december
girl. (I kid you not!) Their latest EP, different
eyes, is a gift to all of us says David: 'Songwriting
is first of all about melody, and the link between all my disparate
musical tastes is just that...they are musical, they have melodies.
As a fan I appreciate this generous gift from October Project.
As a reviewer I appreciate the craftsmanship and technique that
this second look, with different eyes has brought to these
songs. And I recommend this small package to all who are searching
for a break from the mundane, who are willing to use different
ears to hear this ethereal and delicate offering. Thank you Marina,
thank you Emil, thank you Julie. I look forward to the full album.'
David gets around: 'I was in a meeting last night
with a group of musicians and Mose Scarlett was there. He stood
up, unfolded his long legs and walked across the room to greet
me. 'Dave Kidney...we finally meet!' his deep voice rumbled. Even
in conversation his voice is resonant and melodious. I had reviewed
several of his albums (with
Ken Whiteley and Jackie Washington; and an
album with a variety of guitarists and had received an
e-mail thanking me for 'getting what they were doing.' I thought...how
could someone not get what he's doing? Mose Scarlett is
not a songwriter. He is one of those people who performs other
peoples' songs. He takes the notes and the chords, and the words,
and puts them all together, with his own distinctive stamp and
creates something new under the sun, out of those raw materials.'
Read his review of The
Fundamental Things to see why Mose has turned out another
He finishes off his reviewing with a Blues collection
worth seeking out: 'In 1972 the Rolling Stones released a double
album called Exile on Main Street. It was a ragged and
rocking collection of bluesy rock'n'roll, dirty and grubby, just
like the Stones had first appeared when they cracked the American
market in 1964. Do you remember that first time we saw them? Hollywood
Palace? Dean Martin was the host, and he introduced them in that
whiskey soaked voice...'I been rolled when I was stoned before...but
I never saw nothin' like this.' After Mick and the boys played,
Martin announced a commercial break, 'You're not gonna leave me
here with those Rollin' Stones, are ya?' They were not clean and
acceptable like the Beatles, and in 1972 Exile... underlined
the fact that they were in a category by themselves.
The people at Telarc introduced an interesting series of
recordings a few years ago. Collections of songs by well known
artists done by current blues performers. We've seen a Nick Lowe
set, the Beatles Blues Album and a Dylan set, Blues
on Blonde on Blonde. Now Telarc's stable of artists takes
on the Stones' classic with Exile
on Blues St.'
(Spike here. You forgot to note that everything
David did this outing got an Excellence in Writing Award.
Sometimes the %$#@& bugger is just too *&^$
One of the nice things about writing for Green
Man is we all get to sample lots of different sorts of music,
which is how Peter Massey
was the reviewer for Doch's Chasing
Grasshoppers: 'If you are into Romanian or Hungarian Traditional
Gypsy music you will like this album, but if you don't you will
more than likely hate it! There, I've said it. I played this album
to several friends and, dare I say it, 'folk musicians' before
I started to write this review, mainly because the album left
me with mixed feelings. The consensus of opinions from my learned
friends was 'how the hell can so many good musicians have such
boring taste in music.' As I said you will either love or hate
it, and if you are a dyed in the wool folkie, who likes Celtic
music, this may not be the album for you. But, and it's a big
but, I think it is good, in fact I think it is very good. It's
not the sort of music I might want to hear 24 hours a day, however
it is lively and, after the first track, somewhat refreshing.'
Now it is not true that we here at Green Man
have thought 'bout a bounty on singer-songwriters. (Spike
here -- well, we have.) it's just there's so many bad ones
out there! Amy Speace's two CDs, Fable
and The Grassy
Hill Sessions, which are reviewed by Lenora
Rose, weren't quite that bad, but she says 'I was pleased
with what I heard. Well, most of it.' Read her review to see if
those CDs deserved a bounty on their creator!
Now the Puentes Brothers and their CD, Morumba
Cubana, gets nothing but high accolades from Mike
Stiles: in his an Excellence in Writing Award winning
review: 'Alexis and Adonis Puentes are purveyors of the Cuban
Son musical tradition. As children they spent much time among
artists the likes of which frequented the legendary Buena Vista
Social Club. Morumba Cubana is the brothers' release that
follows a tour of Canada and Europe, and believe you me it was
a great thing they made it to the studio.'
Now let's off to the Pub. I understand that Stephen
Hunt has an interesting tale of a Cornish mermaid and her desire
to leave the sea forever...
I hope you've enjoyed your time with us this week.
Come again soon. The library is always open, and so is the Pub!
3rd of August, 2003
In a circle of stones they placed the pot,
In a circle of stones, but barely nine
They heated it red and firey hot
'Till the burnished brass did glimmer and shine.
They rolled him up in a sheet of lead
A sheet of lead for a funeral pall.
They plunged him in the cauldron red,
Melted him, lead and bones and all.
At the Skelf Hill the cauldron still
The men of Liddesdale can show
And on the spot where they placed the pot
The grasses they will never grow.
Leyden's ballad of 'Lord Soulis' -- recounted
A Guide to Legendary Britain,
recorded by Boiled
in Lead on their first album, Boiled
in Lead, as 'The
Man Who Was Boiled in Lead'.
Come in! Jack
Merry at your service! May I get you something to drink?
Some Avalon Applejack? Or perhaps Dragon's Breath XXX Stout? Or
something less lethal? Yes, the heather-smoked salmon is quite
tasty, as is the fresh soda bread. If you're feeling daring in
your eating, there's grilled eel kabobs that must be tasted to
be appreciated. Too strange for you? Too bad -- they are quite
tasty! You should have been here Friday for our feast of Lughnasadh
(Brón Trogain for those of us, like Liath, who have longer
memories). We celebrated the breaking forth of harvest in the
usual Green Man style, with eating and music from dusk
'til dawn. Merry Lammastide to you!
See that woman over in the group at the far table?
The one with red hair down past her waist and the really cool
clothes, the one with the loud laugh? That's Sharyn
November, Editor of Firebird
Books, and the woman whom no less than Jane
Yolen calls the punk goddess of children's publishing.
Sharyn's visiting us to learn all about Anglo-Celtic stories of
a mythopoeic nature, as we're looking at all aspects of storytelling
during this month. And yes, that's a diet Mountain Dew she's sipping
-- we had to order in a case because the Green Man Pub
doesn't normally stock it, but we honour all requests of our guests
unless they are, errr, distasteful, as sometimes those of the
Fey can be.
British and Celtic folk and fairy stories fascinate
the Green Man staff, as can be demonstrated by the number
of reviews in our archives covering this subject. I was telling
Sharyn that one of the best books for sampling these tales is
William Butler Yeats' Mythologies,
which is a collection of stories first published as three separate
collections, The Celtic Twilight, The Secret Rose
and Stories of Red Hanrahan. Liath, who used to visit with
Yeats on occasion, likes this collection as well. One of our staff
opined that Marie Heaney's Over
Nine Waves is a better choice; he thinks that Yeats can
be a bit obtuse, whereas Heaney presents the stories in a sparse
style, quite different from the more poetic renditions of Yeats
and the like. One of me favourites, A
Bag of Moonshine, is from Alan Garner, author of The
Owl Service, and I think 'tis an essential part of any
serious folklore collection. Me wife Brigid traded a baker's dozen
of her mincemeat pies for a first edition! Children of all ages
will appreciate these tales of boggarts, gowks (a spectacularly
dumb idiot), hobgoblins, changeling salmon, babies driven to dance
madly by fiddle music, ladies of the lake, and wee not-so-green
men who badly mislead travellers late at night.
April Gutierrez says that a a favourite of hers
is the Ella Young collection, Celtic
Wonder Tales, of which she says 'it's title, Wonder
Tales, is a good fit to the stories within. Although it's
not stated in the book, you can infer that the poet (Young) definitely
interpreted, if not translated, the tales herself.' Grey Walker,
of course, put her oar in for the Mabinogion
itself -- the Everyman edition that was translated by Gwyn Jones
and Thomas Jones.
Maria chimed in that it isn't just books, no matter
how good they be, that we can use to brush up on this subject.
of Sherwood video series gives a unique look at this English
myth with a uniquely Celtic spin on the story. And Sharyn noted
that Firebird has republished Robin McKinley's excellent take
on the Robin Hood myth, The
Outlaws of Sherwood, which I reviewed enthusiatically.
Another video worth seeing is The
Secret of Roan Inish, which deals very nicely with the
Selkie story. The Old Man recommends Paul Brandon's Swim
the Moon, a novel also based on this myth. Maria also
Wicker Man, as she notes that the Celtic pagan rites shown
in this film are well documented in many academic texts.
Two copies of Swarb!
Forty-Five years of Folk's Finest Fiddler were sent to
Green Man -- one's now in the posession of our Editor,
the other went to Stephen
Hunt who had the distinct honour of reviewing it.
Did I even need to say that he got a well-deserved Excellence
in Writing Award for this tastefullly written, insightful
review of 4 CDs worth of the very best of Dave Swarb? Of course
not! Just savour his coda: 'I could spend the rest of the week
happily extolling the virtues of this wonderful set, but you'd
just get bored and my editor would go into deadline-induced apoplexy.
Did I mention anything about Swarb's reaction to reading his own
(premature) obituary in The Daily Telegraph yet? Or recount the
tale of the swimsuit photo-session involving Martin Carthy, Dave
Swarbrick and a weight lifting Swedish glamour model? No? Oh well,
surely, by now, you've already decided to buy this, haven't you?'
(Cat here. Deadline-induced apoplexy, no; more
than a bit anxious, yes. After listening to the set here and finding
it to be as good as the Carthy and Fairport sets from Free Reed,
I was more than a bit anxious to hear Stephen's take on this set.
I was not disappointed!)
It was a task worthy of Telemachus. I'm referring
to Christopher Tolkien's editorial work on the twelve volume History
of Middle-earth. Just this year, HarperCollins UK has released
the History in a three
volume set. Liz
Milner was the obvious choice to review it. As she says,
'a review of all twelve volumes threatens to be almost as long
as one of Tolkiens books,' so she's writing her review in
three parts. We're publishing Part One this week, with the others
soon to follow. When you read it, you'll agree that Liz more than
deserves an Excellence in Writing Award! We'd also like
to thank David Braun at Harper Collins UK for sending us the new
set for review.
J. Cormier is becoming known around here for her dab hand
at series overviews. If you haven't already, check out her omnibus
reviews of David Eddings' The
Tamuli and The
Elenium. This week, Faith takes a broad view of the Redwall
series by Brian Jacques. We have reviews of individual Redwall
books already, and we'll have more for you in the weeks to come,
but what if you haven't read any Redwall yet, and are wondering
what it's about overall, or if you'd like the writing style? Then
you'll definitely want to read Faith's Excellence in Writing
Award-winning review, in which she talks about the food, the
names, the richness of the language, and other common threads
that run through this popular series.
is working her way through another series, Stephen King's The
Dark Tower. She's already reviewed the first book in the series,
and now she has for us a review of The
Drawing of the Three: The Dark Tower II. 'Always a master
of small details,' says April, 'King here turns that talent loose
on his characters, unveiling new aspects of each player with each
turn of the card.' Follow April as she reviews this entire series,
finishing up with the newest story in the Dark Tower epic,
to be released later this year by Viking.
looks at two books this week, the first a collection of essays
on children's literature by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Alison
and Girls Forever: Children's Classics from Cinderella to Harry
Potter. Grey says, 'Lurie writes like the best sort of
anthropologist or sociologist.... She's fascinated by children's
stories, by their authors, by children themselves, and her enthusiasm
seems to have simply brimmed over in the form of these essays.'
Grey also has high praise for the second book she reviews, Robin
McKinley's new 'young adult' novel, Sunshine.
'A novel about vampires, set in a alternative-history modern 'North
American' city, is a bit of a departure for [McKinley],' Grey
says. 'Or is it? Right away, Sunshine is recognizable as a McKinley
heroine. She's resourceful, she's practical, she's sturdy and
plain, she reads a lot.' Grey asked us to let you know that Sunshine
isn't due to be released in bookstores until October, but she
says you'll definitely want to start saving your quarters (or
shillings) to buy it as soon as you can!
Scott Winslow is the only reviewer this week who really
disliked the book he reviews. Tad Williams' latest 700 page novel,
of the Flowers, left Matthew cold. While this is certainly
a negative review, it isn't quite a candidate for the Grinch
Award. Nevertheless, Matthew has a couple of nicely Grinchy
things to say. For example: 'By the time the monster from faery
shows up, you want Theo [the main character] to cash it in because
you are quite sick and tired of his whining life.' Read the rest
of the review for a thorough (if not quite Williams-length) explanation
of why this novel fails to deliver a satisfying story.
got a real treat in the performance
of medieval Spanish music by The
Ivory Consort last week. The group presented a compelling
mix of religious and secular music from the Christian, Sephardic
Judaic, and Islamic traditions of medieval Spain. Featuring a
mix of medieval instruments, the performance of 'Music in the
Land of Three Faiths' provided Tim with an opportunity to explore
the differences and similarities between the three faith traditions
of Spain. Read Tim's review to find out why he left asking the
question 'Who expected this to be so much fun?'.
Reynard here. The music editing staff decided,
not surprisingly, to hold their weekly meeting here in the Pub
where they could listen to the two Swedish fiddlers who are part
of the Neverending Session right now. So I volunteered to write
the commentary for this week as it appeared that neither Kim nor
Jack would be in any condition to do so once Gary generously provided
a case of Young's Double Chocolate Stout which those two found
particularly pleasing! Not to mention that they seemed more interested
in Cat's information on The Wild Reel, Paul Brandon's second
novel which is due here in galley form very shortly. (Our review
of his first novel, Swim the
Moon, is featured on his
Web site.) This novel is an urban fantasy set in Ireland
(partly), but mostly in Brisbane, Paul's Australian adopted home
city. It should be interesting to see how 'an entire Irish Faerie
Court [which] is a little out of place in the sub-tropical
streets of Brisbane...' copes!
Yet another of the many, many Rough Guides that
we've reviewed gets a sort of thumbs up from John
D. Benninghouse: The
Rough Guide to the Music of the Balkans. Though not completely
pleased with it, he says ' if you're not already an expert in
Balkan folk music and are curious where bands like Reptile
Palace Orchestra receive inspiration or are just keen
on an aural adventure, then add this CD to your collection.'
Best of Wild Asparagus is reviewed by Vonnie
Carts-Powell: 'Wild Asparagus is one of the premier contradance
bands in New England. But what works well at a contra dance doesn't
always translate to an excellent CD. The very things that are
necessary for dancers -- a steady beat and repetition in the tunes
-- can limit a CD.' Read her review to see why!
Steve Ashley's Speedy
Return was, according to Michael
Hunter, out of print far too long: 'I bought this album
in LP format when it came out (the US version, on Gull but distributed
by Motown) and at the time, found it a bit tricky to get into
and not as immediate as Stroll On. Now, nearly 30 years
later, I must confess that it was not the music at fault but perhaps
the fact that it requires a certain level of maturity to appreciate
it properly. On fresh, digital listening, it is utterly charming
and enjoyable and still contemporary sounding, despite the inevitable
1970s style production...'
has more Balkan music for us this week, this time filtered
through a modern form: jazz. Joe says that the Vasilic Nenad Balkan
Band and their leader, Nenad, 'have taken a leaf from Bela Bartoks'
book and collected a bunch of traditional tunes and folk songs
from Serbia, Vojvodina, Kosovo and Bosnia, and transformed them
using an improvised jazz template, which on paper may sound suspect,
but it really does work' See what else he has to say about the
Nenad Band's CD Folk
Peter Massey was
a lucky bastard as he got to review Robin Bullock, Al Petteway
and Amy White's A
Midnight Clear, a Celtic Christmas album that he says
of: 'At the time of writing this review there are only about 182
shopping days to go before Christmas, so what I have told you
might be useful when planning your list of presents. This album
would obviously make a nice Christmas present for anyone. Good
background music at dinner party or in a supermarket -- certainly.
In truth the music content can be enjoyed at any time of the year,
as witnessed by your intrepid scribe sitting in his deck chair
with his headphones on in the garden enjoying the sun, writing
this review. Why wait until it is freezing cold to enjoy the music!'
Double Chocolate Stout wasn't the only thing that
caught the attention of Jack
Merry this week. Four Celtic CDs that had escaped reviewing
also caught his fancy.
The first one was the newest from Aly Bain and Phil
The Summer Long: 'Yawn, another bloody brilliant album
from a duo, Aly Bain and Phil Cunningham, who can do no wrong.
So why should you get excited? Are you completely daft, man? This
is Aly Bain on fiddles and Phil Cunningham on damn near everything
else (accordion, whistles, cittern, piano, keyboards, trump, mandolin)
with more than capable assistance from Malcolm Stitton acoustic
guitar, and bouzouki and Stuart Nisbet on acoustic guitar, dobro
and pedal steel. How can you not like it? Do you 'ave not a touch
of magic in your soul?'
The Mollys' Hat
Trick was a mixed affair for him. Jack has raved about
the early CDs here in the Pub many, many times, but this CD was
'feels a bit off, a bit sour tasting, when compared to many of
the other albums that the Mollys have done. I thought I might
be being a wee bit fussier than usual so I indulged meself by
listening to their other albums. I wasn't being fussy was what
I discovered -- it's not as good as this
is my round, Tidings
of Comfort and Joy, or Wankin'
Out West but better than Moon
over The Interstate and Only
a Story. It seems to me that the troubles that would later
tear the band apart and lead to Catherine either leaving or being
kicked out of the Mollys, left the band less than entirely enthused
about this project.'
Jack picks up an Excellence in Writing Award
for his look at Nightnoise's The
White Horse Sessions. Jack has a few pithy comments
on the matter of Irish Traditional music: 'Their music is a fusion
of jazz, traditional Irish, and impressionistic post-classical
music, mostly written by the group's members, with the exception
of 'Moondance' by Van 'the Man' Morrison In most pieces, the Celtic
influences are somewhat subtle, with some traditional tunes standing
out. The overall impression is of graceful, polished playing as
the instruments here are fiddle, piano, flute, and whistle. Now
I can hear grumbling from the more traditionally inclined musicians
out there who think this sounds like New Age twee. Maybe it is,
maybe it isn't. But I'll wager you a case of Dragon Breath XXXX
Stout that you can't find anywhere a definition of what
instruments and which tunes comprise proper Irish trad? Surely
not Simon Jeffe's 'Music for a Found Harmonium'? Ahhh, what about
'The Philadelphia Reel'? It's trad, 'tisn't it? (No, it was written
by Phillipe Varlet.) And accordions? Are they a traditional trad
instrument? I think not. Me point is, more or less, that what
Nightnoise is doing will someday be considered trad. And bleedin'
fine trad at that!'
Last week Kim
Bates took a look at a couple of re-released Kathryn Tickell
CDs, and this week Jack picks up where Kim left off with a review
of another Tickell offering. Would it be safe to say that Jack
is a fan? Well, he does mention that for him, 'there's such thing
as a less than perfect Kathryn Tickell CD'. Go read his review
of The Gathering
to see if this CD is true to form.
All of us are now headed over to the Robert Graves
Reading Room in the Library, because Jane Yolen's up there reading
from her Tam Lin
to a group of children from the School of Imagination, while Adam
Stemple, her son, plays Scottish tunes. Oh, you heard about the
rather striking tartan they are wearing? That's the Douglas
plaid which is for their clan.
Jane has even told us that she'll be singing! We
are hoping that she'll also read a bit from her novel, The
Wild Hunt, when she comes back in her role as the Winter
Queen this coming Solstice. (We'll soon find out if the Robert
Graves Reading Room is where it was this morning. It has been
suggested that the Library is itself a living being which reshapes
itself as it pleases, so no one knows for sure where anything
Some final notes of a related nature. The chapbook
of Jennifer Stevenson's short story, 'Solstice'
(designed by Grey Walker), has been signed and numbered by Jennifer.
For those who expressed interest in having one, please contact
Grey's now working on the next Green Man chapbook -- Emma
Bull's 'A Bird that Whistles', the prequel to her legendary War
for the Oaks .
I am very pleased to note that Emma Bull has graciously
given us the first look anywhere at her forthcoming novel, Territory.
She notes 'Territory is a historical fantasy set in Tombstone,
Arizona Territory, in 1881-1882. Yes, it deals with what I've
taken to calling the Matter of Tombstone: the events surrounding
the gunfight behind the O.K. Corral, and the enmity between the
Earp brothers and what came to be refered to as the Clanton Gang.'
Go read the rest of her delightful note for all the details!
Characters of Sharyn November and Jane Yolen used with gracious
permission of their counterparts this side of the Border!
Paul Brandon and his band The Rambling House appear by kind permission
of the band. The Wild Reel will be published by Tor early
next year. Check back here for more details!