At Christmas 1914 there took place in some parts of the British line what is still regarded by many as the most remarkable incident of the War -- an unofficial truce. During the winter it was not unusual for little groups of men to gather in a front trench, and there hold impromptu concerts, singing patriotic songs. The Germans, too, did much the same, and on calm evenings the songs from one line floated to the trenches of the other side, and were received with applause, and sometimes with calls for an encore. -- Stanley Weintraub's Silent Night -- The Story of The World War I Christmas Truce
I've been sipping cups of Turkish coffee with Béla, our resident Ottoman Empire violinist, at a very small food stall that appears to have existed for quite some years near the Library 'ere... a small square of achingly sweet baklava, some Turkish coffee, and a friend's company have been a luxury for a late afternoon break for no little time, thanks to the proprietor, a small, neat, clean-shaven gentleman of a certain age with a spotless white apron highlighting his closely-cropped jet-black hair and equally dark eyes.
He's very skilled with his mortar and spoon, our host, grinding the beans to a very fine fluff, or gently stirring in the foam of the coffee as it boils in the gleaming ibrik over his little burner; part of the pleasure of the experience is watching him prepare the coffee after you've ordered it... .
We honour the traditional things 'ere at Green Man -- be it Turkish coffee, stockings hung over the fireplace with care, the annual reading by Jennifer Stevenson of her 'Solstice' story, or a hamper full of goodies to brighten the Winter Holidays as depicted in our story below, we know that some things do get better with age!
Now if your Winter Holiday shopping 'tisn't complete, our reviews this edition will 'ave you emptying the last silver coins from your purse! For instamce, I found myself lusting after Robert E. Howard's '...and their memory was a bitter tree...' -- Queen of the Black Coast & Other', not to mention Rockin' the Blues: Live in Germany 1964, A Howlin' Wolf recording.
Ohhhh, I almost forgot something very important! (Must have been all the Turkish coffee and sweets...) Next week's edition is solely devoted to our Winter Queen and her writings -- Elizabeth Bear. There'll be a wordy Toast to her, a Winter Queen Speech by Her Highness, a look at her writings to date, and even a rather silly interview with her!
I'm sorry. I'm so, so sorry you didn't receive an invitation to spend your holiday with those few who stick around the Green Man during this time of the year. I'm far away from the Green Man myself at the moment, off in a southern clime, in what feels like another universe.
I won't bore you with descriptions of this southwestern land of eternal brown, with its sweaty winter dead-leaf days and cloudless eye-achingly blue skies raked with barren, stunted live oak branches. The trees along this particular stretch of woods look much of a sameness whether it be the midsummer brown season or the midwinter one. I lie back in the crackling brown leaves, and close my eyes, and picture a place where the world is green all summer long, but blankets itself with white during the winter holidays... .
Snow crusts gently upward in fluffy drifts against the doors at the Green Man estate. The lane to the front entryway is wide and trampled, the prints of hoof and boot and paw mingling in the white with loose dirt stirred up from beneath the frost or carried in from far travels. A beautiful team of matched dapple grays pulls up the drive -- Percherons, majestic in their white shaggy manes and tufted ankles, with their coats like wide flat fields of snowflake stars. The back of the wagon they pull is piled high with hay, a miniature mountain which sways with the team's gait, spilling here and there small spiky tuffets which flutter down to salt the trodden white and brown tracks with gold.
The hamper itself is quite large. The wagon driver whistles to her team and they halt as one, the large brass bells chiming on their worn black leather harnesses, muted in the snow-stippled air. The horses' breath puffs out in small visible clouds, red ribbons braided into their thick white tails standing stark against the nearly matching white snow of the world beyond. At the sound of harness bells the front door swings wide, and four strapping young men -- the ones without whom we wouldn't have our teetering stockpiles of firewood to heat this ancient drafty place, nor our snow-shoveled paths through the winter clad gardens -- come bounding down the wide stairs and heave the hamper from its nest of golden hay.
The hamper is lowered to the floor in the middle of the hall. It's made of hickory splints with a solid hinged lid, like an oversized picnic basket. It appears to be quite old -- the wood is dark with age and has a slight musty smell mixed with ancient hay, as though the hamper had sat in a barn loft for untallied decades. It's lined with a tablecloth, white and red in a Dorset Mountain weave, which forms the perfect bed for the hamper's contents.
Ahhh. The contents of the Green Man holiday hamper. On top are the simple, cozy gifts which make our after-supper winter walks all the more delightful -- hand-knit wool mittens and thick boot-length socks, and scarves with crocheted fringes fashioned in clever patterns by fingers far more dexterous than most could ever hope to possess. There are cranberry strings and short evergreen boughs, and blood-orange pomanders studded with cloves to decorate the mantel in the main hall. There are buttery shortbreads lightly dusted with powdered sugar, candied yams still miraculously warm in their crockery, and decanters of dark maple syrup from the north and hand blown jars of honey from bees who feed on southern wildflowers, both of which receive equal appreciation from our winter bound staff. There's a pot each of wild elderberry and strawberry and blackberry jams, and wheels of sharp cheddar, and cave-aged gruyère with salty inclusions. For our four-legged members there are hand-tied bags of dried catnip, and hard homemade dog biscuits. For the musicians there are silver flutes and pennywhistles and harmonicas; and for me, an extra bottle of St. Germain, artisanal French liqueur made from handpicked elder flower blossoms. I imagine it warming my tongue even now, as I savour the taste of crisp air from the Alpine foothills, the taste of fleeting spring days and of tiny white blossoms.
But no. If you didn't get your invitation to GMR for the holidays, you and I are both far from all that, wherever we are. And yet when we close our eyes... and breathe deep... we can practically taste it!
Camille Alexa opens up this edition with an Excellence In Writing Award winning report from Austin's Alamo Drafthouse, where she attended Dionysium, a seemingly heady blend of drink, debate and debauchery! 'The Dionysium is a salon of debate, performance, music, and intellectual debauchery which occurs once each month at the Alamo Drafthouse in Austin, Texas. Styled after the yearly Dionysia held in ancient Athens, the Dionysium courses through everything from gross comedy to honed political argument, set against a backdrop of music, thespianism, and of course, wine.' The full story of debates on natural disasters and climate change, musical interludes on accordion and guitar, and of course the aforementioned wine can be found right here in Camille's review!
Tim Powers is a favourite writer 'round the Green Man offices, with his novels featuring vivid characters and complex storylines. That is why a reprint by Tachyon Publishers of his The Stress of Her Regard novel gets reviewed by Kage Baker this edition -- 'Now brought back in a handsome new edition by Tachyon, The Stress of Her Regard was first published in 1989, only a year after Tim Powers' memorable On Stranger Tides. Powers' head must have been spinning the whole while with intricately laced plots, theories of magick advanced and practical, and strange-but-true historical incidents.' Read her Excellence in Writing Award winning review 'ere!
The ever-so-charming and debonair Peter S. Beagle graces this issue with the fourth in his seasonal series of podcasts, once more returning to the Bronx of his childhood to reveal that then, as now and always, things are rarely what they seem -- especially in a high school cafeteria. Taste winter with him as he reads 'Marty and the Messenger,' right here. And if you haven't been following this series, why not try it now? Turn away from the snow and cold and go back to autumn in 'The Rock in the Park,' or summer in 'Mr. McCaslin,' or ebullient spring in 'The Stickball Witch.' Absolutely not to be missed, any one of them. And acording to Mr. B there is one more mysterious season yet to come!
David Kidney reviews a dvd re-release of a 1980 Paul Simon concert, recorded live in Philadelphia. 'He was six years away from Graceland but you can already hear African influences on rhythms and guitar styles. Gale adds some distinctly African licks to his bag of jazz stylings. It's fun to hear some of Simon's older songs done by this band. Richard Tee's rough harmonies on songs like 'Still Crazy After All These Years' take the songs in a different direction. Simon and band cover 'Me & Julio Down By the Schoolyard,' 'American Tune,' 'The Boxer' and 'The Sound of Silence.' And the fact that they sound great even in this different context speaks to the quality of songwriting.' You can read David's review over here!
David finishes off what's featured this edition with an Excellence in Writing Award winning look at a rather overdue re-release -- 'Rhino Records, in conjunction with Asylum, has just re-issued Warren Zevon's first album! The self-titled collection is part of Rhino's Collector's Edition line, which seeks to re-introduce 'legendary albums remastered, and expanded...with previously un-released material, extensive liner notes and rare photos.' Okay, I know, it's not his first album. But it's really the first one that counts.'
Camille Alexa starts off our book reviews this week with a look at the collected Crisis on Infinite Earths by Marv Wolfman and George Perez by stating that 'It may seem strange to begin a review by taking a look at the end of the book, but Dick Giordano begins his afterword of DC Comics' Crisis on Infinite Earths with, 'Whew, what a read, huh?' He praises the drawings of George Pérez, and claims the series (this is the collected issues of a monthly, first published in 1985) 'accomplished the herculean task of making the DC Universe more new-reader friendly.' I'm not new to comics. Though I wouldn't discover them for a few more years (being too busy wearing ripped fishnets and sneaking into punk shows and failing algebra), at the same time Crisis on Infinite Earths was released there was an upwelling of fantastic underground comics and zines, full of harsh, edgy drawings, ranting manifestic poetry, and politicized characters who knew the value of rebellion.' Read her review to see precisely how it is this story sucks royally.
Skip Bennininghouse reviews a book about real musicians who are most likely drinking CAMRA certied ale -- 'A couple months ago I saw Daniel Levitin speak about his new book The World in Six Songs: How the Musical Brain Created Human Nature. A question & answer session followed his talk. The final person given the chance to ask Levitin a question opted instead to make the observation that music a less participatory activity here in the 21st century. Levitin agreed and noted that instead of performing songs with family and friends, most people today are merely listeners who encounter music on the radio, at a venue, or take musical succor from an iPod. To counter this state of affairs, the evening ended with both speaker and audience singing a verse or two of Pete Seeger's 'If I Had a Hammer.' This impromptu bit of sing-along served as a nice coda to the book which I had recently finished, Ruth Finnegan's The Hidden Musicians: Music-Making in an English Town.' Skip earns himself an Excellence in Writing Award for this review.
Next up, Skip reviews an audio drama The Fourth Tower of Inverness by delightfully monikered Meatball Fulton. According to Skip, while the story is interesting, 'the heavy-handed spiritualism often times obscures what should have been the story's strong point -- the characters. They are charming and funny, but most of them get lost in the shuffle.'
Donna Bird found that the unexpected can be of interest -- 'The author [Helen Barolini] of this family saga sent us a copy to review, after chancing upon our Web site and thinking we might be interested. Her letter notes, 'Although it carries a publication date of 1999 I believe it still qualifies for a timely review because the book is still in print and the Italian edition has just now been declared the winner of a literary prize which I will go to Italy to receive... .' There are times when I consider myself fortunate to work so many shifts in the Green Man mailroom! I look forward to reading books that give me insight into the experiences of people emigrating to the United States from various parts of Europe in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. As you shall see, Umbertina offers quite a lot more than that!'
Now that The Spirit motion picture, based on the beloved Will Eisner character, is snowballing down a mountain of fan hype towards a theatre near you, Craig Clarke reviews The Best of the Spirit, and finds it to be 'a terrific introduction to Eisner's style, particularly his combination of the trappings of film noir with an occasional dose of slapsticky humor.'
Craig follows this up with a review of Ray Garton's Serpent Girl, a novella that blends genres in a particularly appealing way. 'This blend of sex, horror, and crime fiction (I like to call it 'erotic 'noir'ror,' but your mileage may vary) plays to Garton's strengths -- creative plots and the rare ability to know when to paint with broad strokes and when to be more detailed.'
He finishes off with a review of a novel redone as an audio work and he says that unfortunately 'The Lake is definitely among the least of Laymon's work. That it was found complete implies that the author himself did not think it was publishable as written, and it certainly reads like a first draft. The characterization is strong, especially the lead female characters (always a Laymon strong point), but the plot is overly convoluted and its presentation choppy, as if Laymon merely wanted to get his ideas down and intended on cleaning them up later. A lengthy flashback with little point besides deeper characterization cements this point. ' Read 'ere to see how it fares in an audio format!
Maurice Broaddus and Wrath James White's Orgy of Souls is, says Richard Dansky 'a book that one might expect never would be written. After all, the co-authors stand at opposite ends of the spectrum of faith, White being an avowed atheist while Broaddus blogs under the nom de Web 'The Sinister Minister.' To find two more unlikely writing partners for a sex-and-gore drenched tale of love, sensuality, and the hope of redemption, you'd have to go pretty far afield.' Sounds interesting!
Richard, instead of reviewing Micah S. Harris' metafictional mishmash The Eldritch New Adventures of Becky Sharpe, forwards us an Excellence in Writing Award winning letter passed onto him by 'the collected literary characters and historical figures currently residing in the public domain' who, having grown tired of authors (such as Harris) pitting classical literary creations against each other in tiresome 'Alien vs. Predator' cross-over fashion, 'do hereby humbly request that you leave us the hell alone already.'!
Richard then turns towards a book that reveres the pre-existing works of a popular fictional character (in this case, Conan the Barbarian) instead of writing him into a story where he arm-wrestles Abraham Lincoln -- '...and their memory was a bitter tree...' -- Queen of the Black Coast & Others by Robert E Howard.' 'There are reasons Conan has endured when so many other pulp heroes have vanished, including the depth and subtlety of Howard's portrayal of his protagonist, and the skill and vibrancy with which he drew Conan's world.'
After that, Richard reviews Method Man, the new graphic novella written by the Wu-Tang Clan member of the same name, and finds the artwork interesting, but the story and (heh) method questionable, saying the story 'confuses, rather than enlightens, through the sheer density of the material, and it consistently derails whatever momentum the narrative has attainted to that point.'
He looks next at a work well worth reading -- 'Single-author collections come in all shapes and types. There are themed collections, career retrospectives, chapbooks and award-winner-only books, and everything in between. Meaty slabs of prose like Ennui, however, are relatively rare, and with good reason. It's not every author who has produced enough work, of high enough quality, to necessitate a volume the size of this one. Quietly, however, David Niall Wilson has done exactly that, building an award-winning career in the horror field and putting together a body of work that calls out for a large, thematically diverse collection.' His spot-on review of Ennui and Other States of Madness can be found thisaway!'
Denise Dutton reviews yet another addition to the mythos of TV's most beloved monster masher, with Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Vol. 3 -- Wolves at the Gate, the latest volume in Joss Whedon's'Buffy Season Eight series. Although written by Drew Goddard and not Whedon this time around, he 'steps up to the task and, even without a Slayer's strength (I'm guessing), manages to hit it out of the park.' However, a caveat for newbies – Denise warns that this volume doesn't exactly work as a standalone from the first two volumes.
Cat Eldridge definitely enjoyed the ninth volume in Simon Green's Nightside series, Just Another Judgment Day, saying that it's full of 'some extremely violent adventures through which Green advances the story in some fairly significant ways'(he cautions you should read books 1-8 first to really get into this one).
April Gutierrez has only good things to say about Zot! 1987-1991: The Complete Black and White Collection -- 'This hefty tome (576 pages, including foreword, afterword and notes) brings together issues 11-36 of Scott McCloud's late '80s-early '90s superhero comic Zot! Well-known among comics fans for his series of books about the industry (Understanding Comics, Making Comics, Reinventing Comics), this early work demonstrates he is as capable a creator as chronicler'. She goes on to say that 'Zot! portrays the relationship between Earth-born Jenny Weaver and Zachary T. Paleozogt (Zot for short), her superhero semi-boyfriend who's from a utopian planet very similar to Earth. Truthfully Zot! is only nominally a superhero comic. Yes, Zot himself is a classic superhero -- he flies, battles super villains and even dresses the part -- but it's as much Jenny's tale as it is his, and the individual stories have a firm grounding in very human characters and emotions.'
April then turned her attention to a pair of poems by Neil Gaiman, published for children: Blueberry Girl and The Dangerous Alphabet. She says that the former 'is an inspiring, sweet and altogether charming paean to little girls everywhere -- and the women they will grow to be.' And the latter, 'just begs to be read aloud, sharing the text and pictures with a child.' Both are 'marvelous additions' to anyone's library, she concludes.
Michael Jones starts off his reviewing with two by Ilona Andrews, Magic Bites and Magic Burns -- 'In the semi-near future, Atlanta has become a strange and dangerous place to live. Waves of magic sweep over the world with unpredictable frequency, canceling out all things technological for the length of their duration. The supernatural is in full force during these times, with shapeshifters, mages, vampires, and far stranger things coming out to play. But for all the chaos that accompanies these shifts between technology and magic and vice versa, there is still order, in the form of various organizations, from the Paranormal Activity Police Division, to the Order of the Knights of Merciful Aid.' Read his review to see why he enjoyed these novels quite a bit!
Michael muses that 'All in all, I'd have to say I enjoyed [Jenna Black's] The Devil You Know. This series is fun, with plenty of action -- Morgan Kingsley is an ass kicking heroine when she cuts loose -- and mystery, with bits of romance seeping through at the edges. One might see Morgan and Lugh getting together in some fashion someday, but she'd have to lose a lot of attitude first. Wherever Jenna Black is going with this series, it's bound to be enjoyable in the end. I'll be back for the next installment.'
More urban fantasy is covered by Michael in his review of Patricia Briggs' Cry Wolf -- 'Following a series of events in Chicago, Anna Latham, once the least important werewolf of the pack, has become mated to Charles Cornick, son of the Marrok, the most powerful werewolf in North America. Their fates linked together in unexpected ways, the two have to learn to live and work together, as they attempt to figure out just what sort of bond they really have.'
Vampires are up next in his review of Karen Chance's Midnight's Daughter -- 'Meet Dorina 'Dory' Basarab. A 500-year old dhampir (half-vampire) subject to rage-driven blackouts, she works as a vampire hunter and occasional troubleshooter for her father, one of the most powerful vampires in North America. Her housemate and best friend Claire, one of the only people capable of keeping those rage episodes under control, has gone missing, and Dory is in the middle of searching for her when a summons comes from her father. It seems her uncle, the famed Dracula of legend, is out and about after his most recent period of confinement, and looking to get some long-delayed revenge upon the family. Guess who's been tasked to deal with this problem? That's right.' Sounds like a review worth biting into!
He really likes urban fantasy, as you can see in this review of Justin Gustainis' Black Magic Woman which he says 'is a tightly-plotted, absolutely fascinating dark urban fantasy, an excellent tale of good versus evil that spares no punches as it races towards the inevitable climax.'
He says that Foundation, the first book in [Mercedes Lackey's] new Collegium Chronicles, details a previously-untold period of early Valdemarian history. It's set not too long after the era of Herald Vanyel, as told in the Last Herald-Mage trilogy, and introduces readers to a whole new batch of characters.'
His review is of K.E. Mills' The Accidental Sorcerer which starts off this way -- 'For probationary Compliance Officer Gerald Dunwoody of the Ottosland Department of Thaumaturgy, it was supposed to be a routine safety inspection. You know, nose around a little, find out why the Stuttley's Superior Staff factory hadn't been submitting their paperwork properly, finish the report and go home. Nothing was supposed to go wrong.' HA!
A Deborah J. Ross collection also got his fancy and earned him an Excellence in Writing Award -- ' In Lace and Blade, editor Deborah J. Ross has brought together a number of stories which look to convey a sense of romantic fantasy, as inspired by authors like Oscar Wilde or Tanith Lee, or classic characters like Zorro, the Scarlet Pimpernel, and the Three Musketeers.' Read 'ere to see if that idea worked'
Ahhhh, more demons on the loose -- 'In Santa Luz, if there's a Hellbreed problem or bizarre murder that needs investigating, they call in Jill Kismet. Hunter, exorcist, spiritual exterminator, kick ass bitch, she wears many titles, not all of them complimentary. With her lover/partner, the werecougar Saul Dustcircle, she tends to cut a bloody swathe through anything that dares mess with her city. But big trouble is coming to Santa Luz, and Jill's not prepared for the sheer scope of the problem at hand. ' If you dare read the rest of the review, go thisaway!
Tammy Moore reviews the anthology Metamorphosis, which is edited by James P Blaylock. The stories, all written by Blaylock's Creative Writing students, are 'well-crafted, engaging stories and I'd be surprised if at least one of them doesn't make an appearance in a bookshop near you in the future.'
After that comes the Yanni Kuznia edited A Fantasy Medley. According to Tammy, this anthology from excellent female fantasy writers Robin Hobb, Kate Elliot, Kelley Armstrong, and C.E. Murphy, 'is definitely worth a read. The narratives are tightly woven and well told, the authors' familiarity with their worlds gives the setting a concrete feel and the stories are interesting and original.'
Meanwhile, Kestrell Rath says that Robert Masello's Blood and Ice 'is a superb science fiction thriller in which the Antarctic provides a setting as alien and deadly as that of any lunar or Martian landscape. Although Blood and Ice is an approximately five hundred page novel, it moves quickly, in part due to the use of two parallel storylines located in separate times but which both converge in present-day Antarctica. The dual storylines are further drawn together through the similar personalities of their male protagonists, both of whom are addicted to physical danger and exotic adventures as a means of dealing with their emotional unhappiness.' Kestrell earns an Excellence in Writing Award for this review.
Next up for her is Jeffrey Andrew Weinstock's Scare Tactics -- Supernatural Fiction by American Women which garners high praise from her indeed -- 'Weinstock's writing style is lively and accessible with the academic jargon kept to a minimum, so this book should be accessible to both scholars and those general readers willing to work a little at familiarizing themselves with the basic terminology of literary criticism.' Read the rest of superb review 'ere!
Kestrell rounds out her reviewing with Vivian Vande Velde's There's a Dead Person Following My Sister Around. Her assessment -- the alliteratively named author's 'young adult fiction is alternately spooky and funny. The author's style is quick and clever and her characters are realistic.'
A Excellence in Writing Award-winning review of Alison Goodman's Eon -- Dragoneye Reborn by Elizabeth Vail rounds off our book reviews -- 'An epic fantasy whose story hinges on a political system overdue for an overthrow is hardly new (just ask George R. R. Martin), but Eon: Dragoneye Reborn also succeeds as an intriguing analysis of gender roles and behaviour. Eon, a woman playing a man, treads the line in a nation where the genders are rigidly segregated (women even have their own separate written language), with males obviously in the superior position. More important, however, are the gender divisions that take place within Eon herself.'
Donna Bird has immersed herself in several dvd boxed sets on our behalf, and shares with us her findings from both Britain and Canada.
First up is a British drama series from the '90s: 'We watched the first series of Chancer in early summer 2007, and the second several months later, a while after Acorn released it... This is what you would call a dramatic series. Some would even call it a soap opera, although it wasn't marketed that way. Certainly the episodes are not discrete units, but are clearly part of a whole story that has a beginning, middle and end -- and several occasionally confusing subplots.' Donna's full review can be read right here!
Next, it's over to the Canadian criminal underworld: 'This is the first season of a Canadian TV series from Chris Haddock, who earlier gave us Da Vinci's Inquest (see my review). In addition to the unmistakable Haddock influence on the crisp writing and production values, Intelligence has two other elements in common with its predecessor: it is set in Vancouver and it features Ian Tracey (who plays Detective Mick Leary on Da Vinci) in one of the lead roles. However, the bottom line is that Intelligence stands quite well on its own merits as a suspense thriller.' If the suspense of this review snippet thrills you so, then maybe you'd like to read the rest, just here!
Finally, back in Britain, Donna catches an intense modern-day thriller: 'The story takes place primarily in present time (with a few flashbacks) and follows the explosive destruction of a number of mobile phone towers (in the UK a cell phone is called a mobile) and related deaths. The narrative assumes multiple perspectives; each episode adds information until by the final episode the viewer comes to an understanding of what really motivated all the destruction. I can tell you without giving too much away that it's not what the evidence leads you to believe at first. That said, let me give you a sense of some of the perspectives that I encountered as I viewed Mobile.' Catch Donna's full perspectives in her review, which can be found here!
Chris Tuthill has been out and about in New York, catching a couple of live gigs for us, and reports back for this edition!
First up, back in August, Chris caught up with folk-rock stalwarts Jethro Tull. 'The new band did not disappoint. They played a set worthy of Jethro Tull's long and storied career, including a number of songs from the really early days -- from 'My Sunday Feeling' to 'Serenade to a Cuckoo,' and even 'Dharma for One'... New generations come and go, and Tull's music is as resonant as ever'. You can read Chris' full review right here!
Rolling forward to November, Chris spent an evening in the company of the legendary Bob Dylan at New York's United Palace Theatre. Chris gives a 'thumbs up' to the great man himself, but was less impressed with the venue. 'The current group played loud, bluesy rock at the United Palace. 'All Along the Watchtower' was for me the highlight of the evening and had the band playing at its best. As Dylan sang ominously, 'businessmen drink my wine, plowmen dig my earth / none of them along the line know what any of it is worth', it was hard not to think about the current crises we're facing; the apocalyptic feel of this song has not dimmed with age.' Get the full story here!
Live at Ronnie Scott's is, according to David Kidney, from a master musician -- 'Jeff Beck. Guitar icon. I don't really know what else to say about him. He's been the most creative, most humble guitar genius that's come along. And when I mention him to people these days they say, 'Jeff Beck? Who's he?' 'He played with the Yardbirds.' 'I thought that was Jimmy Page?' Or 'Wasn't that Eric Clapton?' YIKES! It was Eric Clapton first, when the Yardbirds were a London blues band with a weak singer and visions of becoming the next Rolling Stones. They recorded as a backup band to Sonny Boy Williamson, but turned their back on the blues in favour of a pop hit (written by future 10CCer Graham Gouldman) 'For Your Love.' Legend has it Clapton left over this decision.'
David loves this recording -- ' This is a fine collection, and one that went immediately onto my iPod... but I also have all the other albums too, and I wouldn't part with them. As an introduction to a remarkable band, Swinging From the Chains of Love can't be faulted. I couldn't live without the stuff that didn't make the cut though. For my money, the best of Blackie & the Rodeo Kings is whatever they're doing right now.'
Ahhh, the Blues. And Rockin' the Blues: Live in Germany 1964 is, according to David Kidney, from one of the best Blues musicians ever -- 'The best blues singer? Quick! Muddy or Wolf? It's one or the other. And truth be told, when I'm listening to Muddy it's Muddy, but when I put Wolf on... there's no contest...it's the HOWLIN' WOLF! Chester Burnett. He stood 6 feet 3 inches tall, and weighed in at just under 300 pounds! If you thought Captain Beefheart had a growl, you ain't heard nothin' yet! This is the guy Beefheart wanted to be. If you're looking for an ultimate album by Wolf, this 1964 live album might just be the place to start.'
A Gary Moore recording also pleased this reviewer -- 'There's no mistaking what's going on with Bad For You Baby. Right from the first note, guitarist Gary Moore opens his new CD with a raw, loud riff, and then blues singer Gary Moore jumps in, 'You got a wiggle when you walk, you got a giggle when you talk, I see you comin' it makes me smile, you beat the other women by a million miles... I got it bad for you baby and I just can't help myself.' And there's no turning back. Full tilt rock'n'roll boogie time.'
Under Angels: the Design Hope Songwriters' Project #3 is a recording close to David's heart -- 'This is the third year for an exciting project. Design Hope is a local (Hamilton, ON) charity put together by artists, musicians, businesses and concerned citizens to aid the homeless. GMR has reviewed two other CDs issued by the group, and this year Dan Medakovic, the Design Hope chairperson, dropped the disc off in person to my door. I was downstairs playing the guitar when my wife answered the door and called, 'David, there's a present here for you.' I talked to Dan, who was very enthused over the quality of this year'smusical offering and the art auction which will follow on Dec. 5. After listening to the CD I can only say I share his enthusiasm.'
A Green Man favourite has their latest, There and back again, reviewed by fellow musician Peter Massey -- 'Mustard's Retreat is the duo of David Tamulevich and Michael Hough, but I expect most of you will already know that. A new album from Mustard's Retreat is always sure to catch my attention, none more so than this one. The album is sub-titled 'Snapshots from life on the road . .&ngsp;. To sum up, I liked the album and I am sure you will too. It may well have been recorded live but the quality of the recordings is excellent, so don't be put off.'
Another Irish recording, The Crow In The Sun, got the approval of Peter -- 'If the sound of an acoustic guitar beautifully played turns you on, then this is the album for you. Daithi Sproule is a superb artist and has a style of playing that would leave other lesser guitarists (including me) in awe. On this album, Daithi explains, 'I have spent most of my musical life playing accompaniment to songs, jigs and reel in Ireland. But from the very beginning of playing the guitar I have composed occasional melodies, usually in the quiet of the evening. These tunes, often associated with particular people or places, say something I can't express in words.'
Angela Desveaux's The Mighty Ship and Little Sue's Baby Knows Better get alook-see from Gary Whitheouse -- 'Here are two female musicians who write and perform music in a similar vein -- call it alt-country, Americana or roots rock. One is an up-and-comer, the other has been on the scene for a decade or more.' Read his review to see if they tickled his fancy.
Gary says -- 'You don't always need to understand the lyrics to enjoy the music. Here are two American-made albums, one in Cajun French, the other in Spanish, that both communicate quite well to listeners of any native tongue' Read his review of Feufollet's Cow Island Hop and Pistolera's En Este Camino to see what he thought of this recordings!
Lewi Longmire Band's Fire 'Neath The Still and a anthology, St. Jeffrey's Day, get high marks from Gary -- 'Here are two CDs that come out of the Portland, Oregon, music scene -- particularly the part that has inherited the hippie-rock mantle of the 1970s Rounders/Clamtones mob. One reflects music being made today by a mostly younger crop of like-minded down-home musicians; the other includes some of those same folks plus the old-timers, in a tribute to one of the scene's founding fathers.'
An Important (and Meaningful) Annoucement
On November 14th, beloved member of the Bay Area music community Michelle McFee underwent radical cancer surgery in San Francisco. From her early days as a Pegasus poet through her years working with the New Riders of the Purple Sage and into today, Michelle has been a constant in Bay Area music for over forty years.
To help defray her expenses, Blacklight Productions, in conjunction with the Kinkaid Foundation, has organized Words & Music: The Michelle McFee Benefit Concert. There is also a silent auction of unique items from the worlds of music, literature, and beyond. Both concert and auction are completely non-profit events; proceeds will go to defray Michelle's expenses.
David Nelson and Special Guests, with David Nelson, Mark Karan, Pete Sears, Jimmy Sanchez, Peter Albin and Dave Getz, Rubber Souldiers, with Chris Rowan, Lorin Rowan (contingent on his availability), David Gans, Jimmy Sanchez and Robin Sylvester, Bill Cutler & Friends, with Bill Cutler, Patrick Campbell, Dave Perper, Steve Shufton and Peter Harris
Details about the show, auction, donations, and ticket presales can be found here.
We hope that, as a member of the Bay Area music and media world, you'll join us in getting the word out about a fantastic show for a remarkable member of our community.
We should remind you about our special editions which are our way of looking at specific writers and other subjects worthy of exploring in-depth. Of course, we've done several editions on master storyteller Peter S. Beagle which you can find thisaway and over 'ere; a great edition on Charles de Lint; one on the ever fascinating trio of Brian, Toby, and Wendy Froud; naturally we did one on master storyteller J.R.R. Tolkien who is much loved by our staff; and one on a fantastic new storyteller, Catherynne Valente who is always worth reading as is master storyteller Patricia McKillip.
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Last revised 13 DEC, 11.00 hours
Uploaded in the midst of electrical failure St. Lucy's day 10:13 pm LLS
Archived 27th December, 2008 LLS