Ahhh, that's where you went off to . . . Sitting deep and cozy in Falstaff's Chair by the cheerful cracklin' fire on this cold, windy night is a lovely thing to do, and I see you're enjoying your novel. . . . What am I reading? An advance reading copy of Ysabel by Guy Gavriel Kay, his first (I believe) contemporary fantasy.
Yes, it does indeed seem that almost anywhere you look in this ancient building, you'll find a staffer reading one book or another sent from a publisher well in advance of when you'll see it at your favourite bookstore, or listening to music downloaded from the Infinite Jukebox onto their new wireless iPods. Yes, they're scribbling notes for a review they're working on. But I can't possibly list everything reviewed this edition so I'll just say that there's commentary on the Charmed and Deadwood television series, music from a band named after a character in a Richard Thompson song, the difficulties of independent booksellers, Bruce Springsteen on tour, '70's country rock, two novels by Nina Kiriki Hoffman, and the marvels of Victorian fantastic literature but to name just a few highlights this edition. . . .
But first, a story about why the Fair Folk can oft times be, errr, difficult Librarians...
Well, I suppose you could say that she seems rather distant, but I tell you that she's not, and you're simply going to have to trust me on this one, Bela.
Oh, hello. Bela and I have been gossiping over coffee. Would you like to join us? I see there are no other tables left, but you will have to listen to me argue with Bela! I apologize for our terrible manners in advance. Bela, pas de betises, hein!
I think I've seen you about the Building before, haven't I? Enchant?. I'm Stephanie, I am one of the Sub-Librarians. I see you have some baklava there, isn't it lovely? He makes it every evening, you know. Oh, here's an extra napkin!
Well, we're arguing about Liath, our Head Archivist. Have you met her? She is very quiet, but so lovely: hair so pale it's nearly white, tall and slender as a willow, like most of her people. Once you have met those grey eyes, you never quite forget them. Sometimes I see them in my dreams.
But no, Bela, Liath's not cold at all, really; she's been quite good friends with some of the Librarians, and remember Grey? I think Liath really took it very hard that Grey left The City while Liath was gone on that trip to Corsica for those diaries of the Lombards.
But of course, if you'd seen generations and generations of us growing older and dying, perhaps you'd seem a bit cold too. Think how it must be for the Folk who allow themselves to befriend these short-lived humans! Even here in the city of Midsummer where we often live extremely long lives, we must seem as mayflies.
Well, you know that she helped me with the histories of The Library and the Librarians. Liath worked with almost all of them directly -- I think she's the only one who remembers the scandal when Old Nick disappeared that night, in a remarkably similar fashion to the way Annie Radley's husband disappeared a few years before.
Old Nick had been the Head Librarian for years, you see; some said since the late 1700's, although of course time is a difficult thing here, and our Librarians aren't always what you'd call official. Annie was his assistant, and then took his place after his mysterious disappearance; she was a proud and complicated Irishwoman and apparently quite an accomplished singer, who performed in the music hall that used to share the space here back in the mid-1800s; she left quite a collection of penny dreadfuls on the shelves!
But I don't think Liath really got along well with Tatiana Islamova, Librarian after Mr. Melvil met with that odd accident in 1905. I rather suspect Liath knows something about that accident that she's not telling us, frankly, but the Folk are very good at keeping secrets, and I could never wangle whatever it was out of her.
I wrote down Liath's description of the Islamova's arrival down almost verbatim: standing in the snow of the courtyard wearing a long fur coat and Cossack hat over her velvet skirt, a huge satchel of books clutched in one hand and a carpet bag of clothing in the other, dramatically asking for sanctuary from what she called the Tsarist purge of the library staff in St. Petersburg.
And certainly, everyone thought that Robert Graves came here to visit Ms. Islamova after the war, and certainly she was a lovely woman with pale skin and masses of dark hair, but, interestingly, Liath's eye turns somewhat inward when you mention his name, so I have my suspicions . . . still, there's no question that it was Mr. Graves who put the plaque over the fireplace in the Reading Room shortly after the Islamova died.
I'm dreadfully sorry! I didn't realize you hadn't met Liath after all; why, she's one of the Fair Folk, you know. Only one of her people could manage the enormous archive collections of The Library; she's the only one I know who can keep complete control over the staircases of the East Tower; it connects the stacks to the collection rooms. Even Mr. MacKenzie can't always be certain where the landing of the third floor is going to take him.
And certainly we have one of the most comprehensive long-range archive plans any Library has ever had.
Ellen Kushner's well-liked around the Green Man offices, both for her
writings and her awesome hot chocolate recipe. Vonnie Carts-Powell was
lucky enough to catch up with Ellen, who was joined by Josef Kessler
on fiddle and mandolin, to hear a combined reading and musical
performance based around her award-winning novel, Thomas the
Rhymer. Read Vonnie's
Excellence in Writing Award review to hear how Ellen 'kept the audience spellbound
for the hour-and-a-half performance,' who ultimately found that 'the
sweetness brought tears to my eyes.'
Listen up as Kelly Sedinger explains in his Excellence in Writing Award review why Victorian literature still matters: 'To the casual reader or observer, it sometimes may seem that the twentieth century was the time of real blossoming in terms of the Fantastic in literature: after all, that's when science fiction really came into its own, and when a certain Don of Oxford penned a tale about hobbits and gold rings. But the more rigorous student of the Fantastic knows that Fantasy, as well as those tropes that eventually spun away to become science fiction, are far older than just a hundred years. The literature of the fantastic stretches back as far as Homer, after all, and likely even before that. The Encyclopedia of Fantastic Victoriana, a long-gestating labor of love by Jess Nevins, focuses on the Fantastic of the Victorian era. The nineteenth century was one of the richest periods for the exploration of the Fantastic in art, and the literature of the time gave us such characters as Sherlock Holmes, Ivanhoe, Judah Ben Hur, Allan Quatermain, Quasimodo, the Wonderful Wizard of Oz . . . it's an endless list, one suspects. Nevins has done nothing less than provide twenty-first century readers with a guidebook for an era of the Fantastic that fewer and fewer these days are aware even exists.'
Our featured music review comes from Gary Whitehouse, whose Excellence in
Writing Award winning look at a new set from Tom Waits is almost as long,
and fascinating as the CDs he reviews. Gary begins like this, '. . .Waits is
one of the great poets and showmen of our time. If you don't believe me,
spend some time with his utterly splendid new three-disc set, Orphans. For about
30 years now, Waits has been honing his craft. Starting as a southern
California lounge minstrel paying homage to the seamy side of Tinseltown's
dreams, he has grown over the years into a giant talent of American song.
His work incorporates nearly every thread of American popular music, not
just of the pop era's last 50 years but back to the beginnings. Scots-Irish
murder ballads, patriotic marches, parlor romances, gospel, backporch
dances, juke joint blues, field hollers, rockabilly, show tunes, musique
concrete, honky-tonk country, psychedelic folk, beat poetry, lullabies, film
scores and more find their way into his songbook. Shaken and tumbled and
stirred up together, mixed and jumbled and cobbled back together into
something breathtaking and new. And sometimes scary.' No wonder Tom had to
spread this over 3 CDs and a 90 page book!
Whatso'er else is goin' on here with the staffers here -- and don't ask what I mean by that! -- they are reading and reviewing a lot of books, as we can see 'ere. . . .
A classic gets a strong nod of approval from Kathleen Bartholomew: 'Robert Anson Heinlein is inarguably one of the great formative writers of science fiction. His work is not only seminal, it's good -- well-told, well-plotted, with solid characterization. It's also frequently thought-provoking, with underlying philosophy and speculation that stays with the reader for a lifetime. Most modern readers attribute these qualities to the more outre and/or famous novels, like Time Enough For Love and the iconic Stranger In A Strange Land. But Heinlein's so-called juveniles are actually among the most thoughtful of his books. Modern critics now often complain of Robert Heinlein's perceived sexism and militarism. Personally, I think they should be taken in the context of the writer's time and background, and in any event these criticisms are irrelevant to his skills as writer. Time For The Stars, being a juvenile, has little of Heinlein's soap-boxing but is rich with concepts like honor, integrity and courage. I would not hesitate to recommend this to any 'juvenile'. Adults will not be disappointed, either.'
On the other hand, I must admit that the idea of Spider Robinson writing a novel, Variable Star, from an outline done by Robert Heinlein a very long time ago made me use several French vulgarities including merde, as I find Spider a tedious writer at best. Kathleen says it is much better than what I expected -- Spider, she says, 'has done a more than creditable job. This is a good book. It has action, adventure, humor and romance; futuristic throw-aways, Heinlein in-jokes, plentiful interior references to the rest of the canon, and interesting plots and characters. I am trying to avoid damning this with faint praise, because it really, really is a fine book. It just tried too hard to reproduce a unique voice, and it doesn't quite succeed.'
We get a lot of advance reader copies here, far more than can -- or should in many cases -- be reviewed. But the really good ones make our reviewers very, very happy. Such is the case with Kathleen and this novel: 'Cherie Priest's brilliant first novel, Four and Twenty Blackbirds (Tor, 2005) introduced the intrepid Eden Moore, psychic and polished steel magnolia. Wings To The Kingdom is not precisely a sequel, but a second chapter set in Eden's overlapping worlds -- Priest's beautifully detailed culture of the South, and the world of the dead: immediately adjacent, and always visible to Eden. Wings is more firmly based in the physical world than Blackbirds was, but it's every bit as fascinating. Once again, Ms. Priest succeeds in making her story both straightforward and exquisitely strange.' Now go read her Excellence in Writing Award winning review!
A book about independent booksellers caused lust in Donna Bird: 'I will confess to experiencing an immediate hankering for Reluctant Capitalists the first time I noticed it in a University of Chicago catalog, months ago. When I finally saw it in the Green Man mailroom, I made sure to spirit it away to my office before anyone else picked it up! (I promise to lend it to anyone on the Green Man staff who wants to read it, really!) Why did this book interest me so much? I am a university-based sociologist. One of the courses I have developed and regularly teach is called Leisure and Consumption under Global Capitalism. I also like to consume books, both in the sense of reading them and in the sense of buying them. I have read quite a lot of fiction and non-fiction that focuses on various aspects of consumption and retail. I have friends who own or work in independent bookstores (both new and used), and close acquaintances who work (or have worked) at Borders. And, of course, I write lots of book reviews for Green Man.'
Another historical novel, surprise, got Donna's attention: 'In The Night Watch, [Sarah] Waters takes a look at life in London during and after the Blitz. Somewhat notorious for her inventive approaches to plot structure, Waters' trick in this book is to reverse the time sequence, so the first part of the book (about 150 pages) is set in 1947, the next part (250 pages' worth) in 1944, and the very last part (just under 50 pages) in 1941. One of the characters even makes a reference to this effect of going back through time, telling another character that she likes to go into the movie theater when the feature is already half over and watch the second half first. I have certainly read more than a few novels in which large parts of the story were told in flashback. Sometimes it works better than others. I don't think it works as well as it might in The Night Watch.'
Evan Kuhlman's Wolf Boy didn't fare at all well in the hands of Faith J. Cormier: 'In the interests of full disclosure, I must tell you that I started to read Wolf Boy, a novel of family implosion, under the effects of grief a couple of weeks after my father died. That fact definitely colours my impressions of it. On the other hand, it comforts me to know that my family is slightly less dysfunctional than the Harrelsons..' Why it didn't fare well is a review well worth reading!
Denise Dutton says 'Our offices are filled with Benbella offerings. And we review 'em, you betcha. from Buffy to Farscape , Harry Potter to Flirting With Pride and Prejudice: Fresh Perspectives on the Original Chick-Lit Masterpiece -- some successful, others merely well typed. So a look at the eight-season wonder that is/was Charmed? Sounds like a good fit. And it is. Probably because with this look Jennifer Cruise has her tongue planted firmly in cheek, giving her essayists the freedom to love and to mock, giving readers a multi-faceted view that in almost every case entertains as well as informs.' Now go read her review of Totally Charmed: Demons, Whitelighters And The Power of Three to see why she was . . . utterly charmed -- duck -- by this anthology from Benbella!
Now, The Unauthorized X-Men: SF and Comic Writers on Mutants, Prejudice and Adamantium from Benbella Books didn't fare anywhere near as well. As Denise says, 'But -- you knew there was a but here somewhere, right? -- there's a I found myself underwhelmed by the essays as a whole, going from one to the next with no real 'wow' moments. It's not that they're poorly written, far from it. But they're all the sort of writing that I can step away from for hours at a time, with nothing holding my interest enough to keep me riveted. Perhaps that's not the point with these essays, maybe they're really meant to inform rather than entertain. But coming from Benbella's Smart Pop line, I expected more snark, more humor, and at least a smidgen of tounge-in-cheek. Nick Mamatas' 'New Mutant Message for the Underage' and Adam-Troy Castro's 'Dear Magneto' come close, but ultimately succumb to a sort of reverse-fannishness. In order to lend credence to their essays they load 'em up with facts, rather than pulling out the gee-whiz and just letting 'er rip'. Mercy. Go read her review for all the not so great details on this anthology.
A new anthology caught the attention of April Gutierrez when it showed up in our mail room: 'Datlow and Windling are old hands at editing anthologies at this point, and they're exceedingly good at it. Salon Fantastique is their latest offering, a collection of fifteen previously unpublished fantasy stories from both established (e.g., Peter Beagle, Jeffrey McGuire, Delia Sherman, Lucius Shepard) and new authors. The anthology lacks a central theme and serves more as a sandbox of sorts for the various authors to show their chops in the genre, which they have done with gusto. The result is a solid, entertaining collection from cover to cover, with a broad range of fantasy represented: selkies, ghosts, phantom cities, a modern day Green Woman...'
Simon R. Green's Hell To Pay is the seventh novel in his Nightshade series. Michael Jones who, like our Editor, has read all of these novels (and everything else Green has written!) notes that 'Hell To Pay is urban fantasy with a neon edge, and its shameless abandon is a welcome change from the books that wallow in angst and indecision. And in a subgenre rapidly overflowing with paranormal romances, it's refreshingly light on matters of the heart.' For a contrast in writing approaches, look for his review of the latest Merry Gentry novel next edition in which he notes that 'Laurell K. Hamilton's created a new subgenre: urban Penthouse fantasy. 'Dear Penthouse, I never thought it could happen to me, but I slept with three elves, a sluagh, and a goblin...' and offers his opinion on how not to write a fey sex scene!
Nina Kiriki Hoffman's new novel is barely a novella in its length but Michael Jones says it packs quite a wallop: 'And that, I'd say, is how one can approach just about all of Catalyst. For such a short book (less than 200 pages), it certainly packs a lot of meaning and subtext into its space. On the surface, it's about a boy, a girl, and an alien race, and how they all learn to work together towards a greater understanding. Underneath the surface, the story teems with sexuality, texture, growth, change, and discovery. I'm absolutely sure that it's pushing boundaries; I'm just not sure which ones, yet. Time will tell if this book will be singled out for its innovation, or rejected for being -too- strange. It certainly deserves some attention, and Hoffman's to be saluted for venturing into such strange territory.
According to Michael, Jacqueline Kushiel's Scion 'is an interesting continuation of the Kushiel's Legacy series, and it greatly expands areas of the world not touched upon in the previous books. It explores the legacy of the infamous Melisande and the legendary Phedre, and it looks at how their entwined influences have created something entirely new. Imriel is neither saint nor sinner, angel nor demon, but a conflicted, complex, flawed hero in his own right, and watching him grow into his destiny and his own tastes is half the fun of this book.'
Warning: David Kidney in this review talks about really foul language: 'Long-time readers of Green Man may recall a long essay I wrote about the American Western films. I love the western genre. John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, even Hoppy, Roy and Gene (that's Hopalong Cassidy, Roy Rogers and Gene Autry for the uninitiated) I love 'em all. So when I heard that a new western was being created for HBO I couldn't wait. About two minutes in to the first episode of Deadwood I sat stunned. Cowboys didn't talk like that! Did they? Well, now it's three years later. I haven't missed an episode. I'm shocked that the series has been cancelled. Oh, sure, they'll wrap everything up with a couple of two-hour specials next season, but then Al Swearengen, and Seth Bullock, and all the whores, and prospectors, the cornishmen, opium smokers, gamblers and hardware salesmen will be gone. And we'll all be waiting for the next attempt to 'post-modernize' the old west. Of course, we'll have David Milch's new book Deadwood: Stories of the Black Hills to remind us of how it was.'
Rush drummer Neil Peart's Roadshow is, according to David, a cool travel book: ' 400 pages of fascinating tales, told in Peart's plain-speaking voice. It's all rather like listening to a friend tell about his vacation. A little gossipy, a little funny, and with the odd wink of the eye, nudge-nudge, know what I mean.'
Robert Santelli's Greetings From E STREET: the Story of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band was certainly a present that David appreciated: 'Another day, another book about Bruce Springsteen. This one though, is different. It is packaged in what appears to be a gig box, one of those big black reinforced boxes in which bands store their instruments and amps while on the road. Inside is one of those non-traditional books that have become the rage. It has envelopes with reproductions of memorabilia, like posters, and business cards, handwritten song sheets, and the like. It's almost as though Bruce Springsteen had a shoe box under his bed filled with paraphernalia from his whole career . . . and now everyone can peruse it at their leisure. Even handling the solid box, one is struck by a sense of weight and quality. The corners are square and sharp, the images are reproduced with care and precision, the torn bits of tape really look like torn bits of tape! And inside . . . it's even better.' Read his Excellence in Writing Award winning review for all he amazing details!
Yet a second new novel from Nina Kiriki Hoffman gets looked at by Kestrell Rath in an Excellence in Writing Award winning review: 'It's late autumn here in New England. The last lingering tattered leaves have crashed and burned to the ground, and even the fiery rites of Halloween and Guy Fawke's are behind us. We're left with a shrinking hoard of days burning shorter and shorter, like a few handfuls of candle stubs. With the darkness gathering around us, it is now the season for telling tales about the things that live in shadow. Nina Kiriki Hoffman's new book Spirits That Walk In Shadow is, as the title suggests, a story about beings that live in the dark. One of these is a mysterious entity which threatens the life of Kim Calloway, the young protagonist who is experiencing her first semester of college. The other is Kim herself, who lives within the shadow of a dark depression which threatens to swallow her completely. In the hands of a less talented writer, such a plotline might offer a one-dimensional snapshot of adolescent angst. In the graceful hands of Nina Kiriki Hoffman, however, the story becomes a three-dimensional portrait which exploits all the power of chiaroscuro.'
Robert M. Tilendis left speechless?!? Hard to believe, isn't it? So hear why this was so: 'Elizabeth Bear has put me in an odd position: I read Blood and Iron, loved it, found it rich, stimulating -- altogether an extraordinary book. I've now read Carnival, her latest, and find myself without much to say. Well, not entirely, but you have to admit, this doesn't happen very often . . . I enjoyed Carnival thoroughly, even though I didn't find it particularly subtle or challenging. But, there's something to be said for a well-written, engaging story about ideas, particularly when the ideas are not belabored and the cast is attractive.' Read his look at this novel to see why Carnival was a challenge to review!
Robert's head exploded (!) on this novel: 'This was Fancher's first published work, and it's not perfect. Most of the rough edges are just that, a matter of fine tuning. I have my usual objections to dream sequences and flashbacks, although in this case they are obviously necessary and germane -- I'd just like them to be briefer and more pointed. It's that pacing thing again. The intensity, which was a large part of the appeal of Groundties, by the end of Harmonies becomes almost painful -- I found myself having to take breaks before my head exploded.'
Three books by Pat Murphy, A Flock of Lawn Flamingos, The Shadow Hunter, and The City, Not Long After get the once-over from him: ' I am having an immense amount of fun discovering the work of Pat Murphy. Aside from laudatory comments picked up from other writers, I first ran across Murphy as one of the editors of the James Tiptree Award Anthologies. (Strangely enough, she had no stories included in those collections, which is, I think, our loss.) When the chance came to review some of her work, I smiled and said 'Sure!' I started off reading The Shadow Hunter and decided I wasn't ready for another 'last Neanderthal' story right then, so I picked up The City, Not Long After instead. As it turned out, I don't think there was a wrong place to start with this group.' Read his Excellence in Writing Award winning review for why Murphy is so bloody good!
Robert had serious problems with a novel that should've been better than it was: 'Dark Moon Defender is the third in Sharon Shinn's series The Twelve Houses. (This novel is the sequel to The Safekeeper's Secret.) It features and intriguing universe, appealing characters, believable villains, and some serious missteps... ...This is my first encounter with Shinn's work, and she appears to be one of those writers, in this volume at least, who is treading the somewhat shaky borders between fantasy and romance. Others have done much worse, but then, others have done much better. Part, at least, of my reservations about this book stem from the fact that I lose patience with minute introspective examinations of every nuance of every feeling. I'm of the school that says 'Don't tell me how the character feels, show me what she does.' Shinn tells me how the characters feel, and consequently, the book lurches along.'
Ahhh, Welsh music -- a favourite 'round 'ere. 'Crasdant plays music to warm your heart and tells tales to tickle your funnybone,' Vonnie Carts-Powell writes in her review, 'This Welsh band played on a wet windy night that, they said, reminded them of home.' What better way to spend a rainy night that with a pint and good music? Vonnie's review shows that music can turn even the worst nights into something special. And with plenty of links to get you familiar with the band, after her review you may want to check them out yourself!
Mike Wilson's review of The Dubliners performance at the Lowery begins with a quick overview of their career: 'The Dubliners are true legends of folk music, having now performed together as a group for 44 years. Many of the stories they tell of Dublin, are of a city that has all but disappeared in this day and age, and they are now as much a part of folklore as the songs and tunes that they perform.' Sounds wonderful; a well known group of musicians performing songs that harken to an earlier age. Did the gig live up to their esteemed reputation? Mike takes a close look at the band and their music, and gives us a taste of how it was to hear these legendary musicians perform up close and personal.
This is David Kidney here, writing from the sub-basement office that has
been my place of residence since I began writing for GMR some seven years
ago. Seven years! And they said it wouldn't last. This issue is filled
with reviews of new CDs, and some old, and some even older, from almost
every realm of music one might imagine. I'm just back from a weekend
retreat where I (and my musical partner Mark) put together a band to backup
a half dozen would-be soloists who have always wanted to sing. It took us a
few weeks to learn all the different styles and arrangements but, damn it, if
I do say so myself...we sounded mighty fine. It's so much fun singing
harmonies for others! Many of the CDs reviewed here today sounded fine to
our reviewers' ears too. Come along as we scan the selection...
Michael Hunter had the opportunity to engage [by e-mail] the legendary Steve
Ashley in conversation. He
sets the stage, 'Earlier this year English singer and songwriter Steve
Ashley turned 60, so it was only natural to have a celebratory concert. Many
musicians from his past were happy to join in, which brought about
reformations of the Tinderbox duo and the band Ragged Robin, along with
other special guests including Fairport Convention friends Simon Nicol, Dave
Pegg and Chris Leslie along with other folk/folk-rock luminaries such as
Phil Beer, Martin Brinsford, Maartin Allcock etc. To make the evening even
more special, Robert Kirby conducted an orchestra on several songs,
including some he had previously worked on, plus a new arrangement for 'Say
Goodbye'.' Read the interview to see how Steve feels about being 60...and
much, much more!
Continuing in the British folk vein, Michael reviews two new releases from
Maddy Prior (legends are everywhere this issue!) 'Over the decades, she has
had a long, varied and fulfilling career (certainly fulfilling for the
listeners!) and both these CDs prove that she is still willing to take risks
and follow her own path. You can always tell it's Maddy Prior's voice but
you can't always guess what she will do with it
next. Long may she continue.' Get the details here.
Somehow, in my busy schedule I managed to review quite a bit this time!
How'd that happen? [SPike is away on assignment.] Several reissued
classics (and not-so-classics) and some new blues. The Texas band Fever
Tree was never a chart topper, but that didn't stop them from making some
Collectors' Choice has issued a twofer of their first two albums, and my
recommendation is to 'turn off all the lights except for the little blue one
that shines when your CD player is on. Grab a...well...make it a Guinness, I
guess. Relax. And crank up the volume. You will be immediately transported.
Ahhh! The late '60s, awesome!' Read the whole review here.
Collectors' Choice also released Ronee Blakley's two solo records on CD.
Ronee who? She played a lead role in Robert Altman's Nashville and then
'...Ronee Blakley continued to work as an actress after Nashville, finding
smaller parts; she became director and producer of the movie I Played It
You; she scored Wim Wenders' film Lightning Over Water and hopes to make
that music available and even cut another album. Until then... these two
reissues (and the live tracks from Nashville) are all we have. There's some
fine music here. Give it a listen.' That's who! Read more here.
Then check out my look at Raven's anthology of Dickey Betts' post-Allmans
'Bougainvillea's Call reminds us that there were two great guitarists in
the Allman Brothers Band, and it makes an outstanding call for us to pay
more attention to the Richard Betts side of the equation.'
Seems like between Raven and Collectors' Choice my whole vinyl collection is
being reissued! Texas blues-rocker Doug Sahm issued his first album for
Atlantic Records in 1973.'I remember buying this album in 1973 when it
first came out. It had such a cheesy cover, although I notice now that the
cartoon portraits were drawn by Gilbert Shelton! I might have prized it more
carefully if I'd only realized. I did know that Doug (Sir Douglas) Sahm
(Saldana) surrounded himself with big-name talent [like] Bob Dylan...Dr.
John, David Bromberg, and Arif Mardin...Augie Meyer and Flaco
Jimenez... produced by Jerry Wexler, Arif Mardin and Sahm.Now here it is,
some 33 years later...'
How's it sound?
Read the review!
My final review this time is the Be Good Tanyas Hello Love album. 'This CD
has been on my playlist since it arrived a month or so ago. I put it on and
then get busy doing something, and have to leave it. But today I turned it
up a little louder and shut the door. 'Do not disturb' sign hung
on the doorknob...' Find out why I can't stop listening here.
Peter Massey is up next with five different reviews. First Graham
Bellinger's Black & White Days about which Peter says, 'On this album,
Graham takes a reflective look at his past song-writing, cataloguing work
stretching back to the late 60's. The songs on offer here also reflect the
various lyrical and instrumental ideas that influenced the folk and blues
scene of that time.'
Irish singer Niamh Parsons new disc is Peter's second review. He considers
Niamh's career, '[she] seems to have been around for quite a while making
extremely good albums, and to my mind's eye doesn't seem to receive the
acclaim she deserves. This is Niamh's 5th album as a solo artist, and it's
beauty, with 14 tracks of cleverly selected, gentle songs that blend
together like cheese and wine.'
Mmmm, sounds tasty...see what else is on the menu here.
Then Mr. Massey listens to Crucible, '...a nice, tight folk band from
Sheffield in Yorkshire, England
that is continuing in the mould of what the Waterson's, The Young Tradition,
The Critics, and The Copper Family did in their early days. There's nothing
wrong with that I hasten to add, because they do it extremely well. In fact
they must be one of the best traditional folk groups around at the moment.'
Read all about Crux here.
And then another example of the variety of music available in the GMR library. On his new album For Kids of All Ages' Michael William Harrison
teams up with Linda King...for an album of folk songs chosen with children
in mind. The collaboration came about after both artists learned that they
were both planning a similar project. Encouraged by the North Texas Irish
community they got together... decided to go ahead.... realized that what the
recordings needed was some input from children...went out and recruited a
choir ('The Kids') mainly from St. Johns Middle School in Dallas, Texas, who
were joined by a few of their friends' kids...[which] gives the album an
unexpected edge and lifts it to another level.' Who knew there was a North
Texas Irish community? Anyway, check out the review!
We've already had a review of two Maddy Prior CDs. Peter's fifth review
this issue mentions her again!
'It is easy to be blase and listen to a few and say yes that's another Maddy
Prior, or that's another Kate Rusby sound-a-like, but every now and then
along comes a little madam that makes you sit up and take
notice. This was just the case when I first heard Helen Kennedy perform.
For not only does she sing like an angel, she has developed a very
respectable guitar style, and she is also a very accomplished harpist. This
is Helen's debut CD.' Hmm, a good guitarist and harpist who sings like an
angel? I must look into this one. Follow this link!
Now, everything has been going so well. Our list of new music this issue
has been received positively right up to Jack Merry's
concluding remarks on Street Cries by Theatre of Voices.
'I will say it doesn't work well 'tall. Street Cries is an unfortunate
experiment in gilding a lily which looked quite fine in its natural state. I
do think any lover of seventeenth century English music will be quite
happy with this recording. I wasn't as I really expected something that
clearly isn't there.' Grinch Award? I think so. A review worth reading?
Jack was much more satisfied with a storytelling CD by Colcannon. 'Ahhh,
there you are. I saw you sitting over in Falstaff's Chair by the cheerfully
cracklin' fire on this cold, windy and even rainy night. I see you're
enjoying your novel...not all great literature comes in the form of the
printed page -- indeed some can only be listened to like those told by the
storytellers who sit in that chair telling stories long after midnight is
but a memory, or the entertaining tale told by Colcannon on the recording I saw you eyeing a short while ago in the Library.' Intrigued? See what else
he has to say about Two Stories.
For another change of pace Robert Tilendis notes that he 'just checked [his] GMR indexes and
realized that I've barely
reviewed any Mozart on this site, which is distinctly odd: I love Mozart.'
What! Hardly any Mozart!?! Blasphemy! Shocking! 'His music is one of the
things I'd insist on if I were going to be stranded on a desert island.
Otherwise, I'd just refuse to be stranded.' (I think most of us would agree
that we all need our fair share of Wolfgang...but I've always wondered how
people are playing these CDs on these desert isles?) Back to Robert's
review of The Magic Flute... don't miss it!
There you have it, folk, blues, acoustic music for the homeless, a touch of
Mozart in the night, cries from the street, Celtic, new age, country,
Tex-Mex, and more! And I thought Mark and I had to straddle a variety of
genres! There MUST be music here that'll set your hearts a thumpin'! And
plenty of good reading to fill your day! Enjoy!
We're working on doing podcasts here at Green Man but it'll be awhile before they're up for you to hear. We keep getting distracted by, errr, live music and really good ale... Care to have some of our new batch of pumpkin spiced ale? Yeah, that's real pumpkin flesh in it!
In the meantime, we have news of Folkcast, a most cool podcast hosted by Ken Nicol and Phil 'Widds' Widdows. Here's Widds' description of their endeavour: 'Folkcast features folk, folk-rock, singer-songwriter and roots-based music from Great Britain and around the world, this UK-based podcast is approaching the end of its first year of monthly shows. Presenting an entertaining mix of music from new and established artists, together with a monthly feature on the folk traditions of the British Isles, FolkCast has also secured exclusive interviews with Simon Nicol (of Fairport Convention), Steve Ashley, Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson, Ralph McTell, Show Of Hands, PJ Wright (of The Dylan Project and Little Johnny England), Chris While and Bob Fox. FolkCast is co-produced by Ken Nicol (of Steeleye Span) and British journalist Phil Widdows. The November show features an exclusive 'first play' from the new Steeleye Span album, plus music from England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales ... and Australia! Download current and archived shows for free here.'
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Entire Contents Copyright 2006, Green Man Review except where specifically noted. All Rights Reserved. The Ravens are designed by Lahri Bond, the oriental carpets are copyright free courtesy of Dover Digital Images.
Updated 19 NOV Midnight Albion Tme by The Old Man who's off to the Pub now!
Archived 12/2/2006 LLS