'I decided to return to the library
and see what I
could learn there. Besides, I like libraries. It
makes me feel comfortable and secure to have
walls of words, beautiful and wise, all around
me. I always feel better when I can see that
there is something to hold back the shadows.'
-- Corwin in Roger Zelazny's Nine Princes in Amber
25th of January, 2004
Ah, 'walls of words, beautiful and wise.' Maria
Nutick here. We're all about words here at Green Man...words
about music, words about film, words about words. We read them,
we write them, we revel in them. I daresay that the collective
personal library of past and current Green Man staffers
would number in the hundreds of thousands. We relish the finely
crafted and we revile the maladroit, and we sigh over the merely
Dear reader, do you remember when you first discovered
your favorite author? That first tingle of recognition as a beautiful
turn of phrase reached up from the page and snatched at your heart?
That odd ache of loss as you read the last page and realized that
the first adventure was over? You may never have met them, but
there are authors who you know, and who know you.
And whether your first love was J. R.R. Tolkien, Ursula Le Guin,
or Charles de Lint, don't you feel just as much excitement and
wonder when a new author inspires that same tingle?
I know we here at GMR do. And that's one
of the reasons why Green Man exists; to help you find new
authors who can help you 'hold back the shadows,' and to help
you avoid wasting your precious reading time on literary detritus.
That, and the sheer joy of reading and writing words.
Clarke has the first of two ghost anthologies for us this
week. According to Craig, 'The
Two Sams is a welcome refresher from what has become a
decreasingly represented subgenre -- the ghost story. In the book's
introduction, British horror author Ramsey Campbell compares [Glen]
Hirshberg's output to the seminal work of M.R. James, Fritz Leiber,
and Thomas Ligotti, and is willing to 'stake [his] reputation
that history will hail him as a crucial contributor to the field.'
That's quite a goal for a collection of five short stories to
have to achieve, but Hirshberg appears to be up to the test.'
In his second review, Craig briefly considers leaving
us for a life of freedom and adventure. Thank goodness we know
he's not serious...or is he? Well, this fascinating book gives
'the pros and cons of life on the rails' as it 'include[s]
poems and songs and the life stories of fourteen hoboes, from
two teenage girls who dropped out of school to ride the rails
(youthful energy is a definite benefit), to septuagenarians who
still ride part-time...' Craig gives us a taste of the longing
for freedom in this review of One
More Train to Ride, edited by 'part-time hobo and full-time
philosophy professor' Cliff 'Oats' Williams.
underscores my point above when he says in his review of the
new Kage Baker chapbook '[W]e're spoiled here at Green
Man. Really. Truly. We get to read, hear, and watch really
cool material that you most likely have never heard of. It's a
tough job but we generally bear up well under the burden of doing
this.' He goes on to say that '[I] really love chapbooks
as they amount to little tales in a handy package that can generally
be read in a hour or so.' So it's no wonder he loves this
really cool material: The
Angel in the Darkness, by Kage Baker.
The Web site for Cat's next offering claims that
'[F]rom Freetown to Istanbul, Timbuktu to Ulan Bator,
it has proven its worth under less than ideal conditions. When
a doctor lost in the Congo rainforests with only a few antibiotics
and feral pigmy elephants for company cannot diagnose his odd
spinal condition, he reaches for his handy copy of the Guide.
When a family practice doctor cannot understand why a patient
of 30 years with no history of mental defect suddenly begins to
mimic inanimate objects, she turns to the reliable Lambshead
Pocket Guide.' What is this gem of the medical world, this
catalog of such maladies as Black Orgasm and Twentieth Century
Chronoshock? Why, it's The
Thackery T Lambshead Pocket Guide to Eccentric & Discredited
Diseases, currently edited by Jeff VanderMeer and Mark
Roberts. Sounds like an invaluable resource to me!
As Eric Eller
observes, '[A] historical mystery must finely balance
the needs of the mystery with the needs of historical evocation.
Too far in either direction can cripple the novel.' He goes on
to explain how and why 'John MacLachlan Gray's The Fiend in
Human struggles to stay perched on the edge of this balance,'
and how, ultimately, the book fails to maintain the balance. He
receives an Excellence in Writing Award for this astute
and equitable review.
Queen Elizabeth I as a detective? Hmmm. This could
work, or it could be a disaster. In this look at another historical
mystery, Eric explains that '[a]ccepting Queen Elizabeth
I as a murder-solving detective, complete with her own Scooby
gang, was difficult. You've got to give the author a chance to
state her case, something that I struggled with. Queen Elizabeth,
P.I. just didn't sit right at first. Once I got past this hang
up and let myself sink into the story, the issue almost entirely
faded away.' You can find out why in his review of The
Queene's Christmas, the latest in a series by Karen Harper.
One advantage to having such a diverse staff is
that, no matter what the subject matter, someone here is probably
knowledgeable about it. Such is the case with
April Gutierrez and this review of an academic text.
Upon a Time: Women Writers and the History of the Fairy Tale,
Smith College professor Elizabeth Wanning Harries 'sets out to
reintroduce 21st century readers to a 'lost' fairy tale tradition;
the rich, complex stories written by 17th century French women,
or conteuses (French for female story tellers).' Since
April knows a thing or two about the conteuses, she found
'this glimpse into their translated work, and the contrast with
the better known Perrault, to be fascinating.'
Another place where we find April's expertise handy
is in the world of graphic novels. Oh, she's not the only staffer
with a huge collection of those, but if you need a rundown on
a title chances are she knows something about it. So it's hardly
astounding that she picks up an Excellence in Writing Award
for her analysis of Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill's League
of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Volume II. Unfortunately,
she's not offering them any prizes for this one: 'As a sequel,
Volume II is sorely disappointing in both plot and characterization,
and leaves little hope of a follow-up to set things straight.
While light-years better than the
unfortunate movie based on Volume I, it falls far
behind the high standards of that volume.'
Are you familiar with Robert Olen Butler? I wasn't,
but after reading Liz Milner's
Excellence in Writing Award winning review of his work,
I certainly intend to remedy that PDQ!! 'Imagine,' Liz says, 'what
would happen if tabloids were written by really fine writers instead
of hacks. Well imagine no more, for Robert Olen Butler has done
Dreams is a collection of short stories with such intriguing
tabloid style titles as 'Woman Uses Glass Eye to Spy on Philandering
Husband,' 'Boy Born with Tattoo of Elvis,' and 'Woman Loses Cookie
Bake-Off, Sets Self on Fire.' Mr.
Spaceman is a novel length expansion of one of
the stories from Tabloid Dreams. Thanks, Liz, for bringing
both to our attention!
'If the ghosts of the dead haunt the living, who
-- or what -- haunts the dead? While this question is never explicitly
asked in the dark fantasy/horror anthology Haunting the Dead,
you will probably have more than a few answers after finishing
the book, along with a sense of unease at the prospect of death
not necessarily representing finality and peace.' Now if that
doesn't send shivers up your spine...ugh. Go ahead, go read the
rest of Matej Novak's
review of Haunting
the Dead, an anthology of novellas from White Wolf, edited
by Philip Boulle.
I certainly number Neil Gaiman among those authors
who I first read with that delicious shiver. I came to his work
late, as I had been under the sadly mistaken impression that he
was 'just some comic book writer.' Thanks to my fellow Green
Man reviewers I've been enlightened! The newest books on my
wish list are the Sandman series and the Death spinoffs.
picks up an Excellence in Writing Award for her thoughtful
look at Death: The
High Cost of Living and Death:
The Time of Your Life, from Gaiman and artists Chris Bachalo,
Mark Buckingham, Dave McKean, and Mark Pennington. According to
Rebecca, '[I]f you haven't read The Sandman, and
you're wondering if you'll like it, this makes a pretty good taste-test.
If you have read Sandman, and haven't yet gotten around
to the Death miniseries, trust me, they're just as good.'
We'll be introducing several new reviewers in the
coming weeks. Say hello to
Robert Tilendis, joining us from Chicago. We welcome
Robert, and bring you his first review for Green Man. Robert
says that 'Jim Grimsley's Kirith
Kirin, a beautifully crafted and strikingly original fantasy
novel,' is 'at once an absorbing adventure, a unique coming-of-age
story, and a bittersweet romance, done with great economy and
elegance.' Sounds lovely, and look -- it's another small press
Grey Walker has an enticing review of a book about
the 'near-mythical' libation known as absinthe. 'Absinthe,' she
explains, 'has had a cloudy, romantic history, and now I know
why. Wittels and Hermesch tell about its beginnings as a wormwood
tonic created for health benefits. They recount its rise in popularity
to its cult status among Victorian poets, artists and megalomaniacs,
Aleister Crowley and Rimbaud among them. And finally they discuss
its controversial downfall.' The book is Absinthe:
Sip of Seduction, a Contemporary Guide, by Betina J. Wittels
and Robert Hermesch. Yum.
Finally, Australian reviewer Daniel
Wood has 'long had a fascination with the spiritual power
of Aboriginal faith. More than 10,000 years ago, the Australian
Aborigines gave rise to an animistic spiritual tradition in which
they infused the earth and the land with stories of spiritual
beings, stories they call 'dreamings.'' Daniel goes on to remark
'[L]ike the Aboriginal spiritual traditions, many Native
American traditions are largely ignored or misinterpreted, or
glossed over and romanticized beyond recognition, and for this
reason a book like Sacred Sites Of The West is most welcome.
Editor Frank Joseph's collection of essays concerning the mystical
centers and spiritualized land formations of Native Americans
serves as a concise, informative, and gripping investigation into
how our modern world has lost or abandoned the last tenets of
these animistic traditions, as well as a practical guide to the
ways in which we may embark on a journey to rediscover them.'
Daniel adds another Excellence in Writing Award to his
mantlepiece for this detailed look at Sacred
Sites Of The West: A Guide To Mystical Centers.
We hope you enjoyed this all book issue of GMR.
We'll be back next week with our usual quality assortment of musings
on books, film, and music. In upcoming issues, Denise Dutton will
be reviewing Eragon by Christopher Paolini, Cat Eldridge
will take a look at George Alec Effinger's Budayeen Nights,
Matt Winslow will give us his thoughts on Lord Dunsany's The
Pleasures of a Futurescope, and Rebecca Scott will review
Jo Walton's Tooth and Claw. I'll be handing our Film Editor,
Tim Hoke, an assortment of reviews of independent, documentary,
and obscure but newly available films, such as the B-horror classic
Gargoyles. Kim, our Music Editor, tells me that there are
too many delicious upcoming items to list here, but if it's Celtic,
blues, bluegrass, worldbeat, or just plain eclectic you can bet
you'll be seeing a review of it soon!
Now, I'm off to tackle Kate McCafferty's Testimony
of an Irish Slave Girl. Though I should finish up Red Tails
In Love, which I'm reading for my lunch time book club. And
the Chief's expecting my review of Ian Christie's The Complete
Headbanging History of Heavy Metal forthwith...so much to
read! What's a girl to do? Why enjoy herself thoroughly, of course!
18th of January, 2004
'Wild nights are my glory,' Mrs.
'I just got caught in a downdraft and blown off course.'
-- Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle In Time
Caught in a down draft, eh? Well, warm yourself
with a pint of cider, dear, and let's unwind those scarves. It's
just good to see you back, Mrs. W!
Gentle Reader, you'd be surprised at the way some
of our guests arrive here at GMR Headquarters. With the
food and drink, it's no surprise, of course, but I have a feeling
that some of our guests have seen some pretty exotic fare, even
by our standards. And it never ceases to amaze me how many interesting
folks I meet here -- it's given me some insights as to where some
novelists get their material. Some rather limited types like to
nod, with one of those sharp, 'knowing' looks and suggest that
these folks appear because they've taken shape as pages are turned
and young imaginations expand. But I rather think it's those who
set pen to paper, quill to parchment, fingers to keyboards, or
even voice to microphone that are making us see what is already
there. They are the true dreamers, the ones who slip in here,
off the subway and down the path, through the wardrobe and across
the bridge. And sometimes they write. Well. Fame can be difficult
even in these parts, and I do wonder at the relationships that
develop between writers and their subjects. After all, you rarely
see disclaimers by novelists that characters are not meant to
resemble folks who slip between worlds at will. Take Mrs. W, for
example -- folks are always pestering for help, and want to know
the star's perspective. Sheesh. It's enough to get anyone to doctor
their tea! But she takes it all in stride, sticks her feet back
into those wet boots, and is charming to all.
But pity the poor tourist who asks for an autograph!
We're a bit like New Yorkers here: we let folks be themselves
and take pride in not gaping at the famous. And the fact is, our
crowd is as varied and unusual as you might wish, fame or no.
It's a bit like the Neverending Session -- guest players get some
attention, but soon come to realise that the regulars have some
amazing moves, and soon the pressure to be special is lost to
the joy of playing with such talents as can be found here. So,
hang your coat up here, dry your boots by the fire, line up for
some cider and take that barstool over there. You're sure to find
some great conversation here at the Green Man Pub, and
you may be surprised where you meet up with these folks again!
This week we're featuring a pair of reviews from
the irrepressible Jack
Merry. Both reviews focus on career retrospectives of
artists which you, dear readers, are undoubtedly familiar with.
Of the first book, The
Art of Maurice Sendak -- 1980 to the Present, Jack says
'[A]s good as the Kushner text is, and it is among some of the
finest non-fiction writing I've ever encountered, it's the illustrations
that'll make you gasp with delight.' Of Susan
Seddon Boulet -- A Retrospective, which Jack calls 'a
loving look at a woman who helped create the look and feel of
mythopoeic literature and art,' he says '[F]rom the quality of
the printing job which is superb to the text by Babcock which
is both well-written and intelligent, this is one of the best
books of its kind that I've ever read.' Jack earns an Excellence
in Writing Award for this fine set of reviews.
Doiron explains that '[t]he goal of A Forest of Stories
by Rina Singh and illustrator Helen Cann is to raise affection
for and awareness of trees as living things and vital to our world.'
Now that's a worthy purpose! Is this book of short stories from
Barefoot Books successful? Read Christine's review
to find out what she thinks!
says that he has been reading Roger Zelazny for 'twenty years
or so,' so he's more than qualified to judge our next offering.
'Now keep in mind,' he says, 'that this never before published
Zelazny novel was finished posthumously with the help of his coauthor
and companion, Jane Lindskold. But unlike so many of this sort
of collaboration, this one has Zelazny written all over it. This
is important to emphasise as the online reviews that I looked
at for it generally trashed it as not being true to the spirit
of Zelazny!' Go read his review of Donnerjack
for Cat's explanation.
Long time staffer Michael
Jones has moved on, but he left us with a review of the
new Simon R. Green novel,
Agents of Light and Darkness. Take a moment to join
us in wishing him well in his future endeavours, and then go find
out why he says 'I can't recommend Green's work enough.'
Let's just start out by giving David
Kidney his Excellence in Writing Award for his
first review this week, shall we? If the book is half as interesting
as David's review of it, this Book Editor will be rushing out
to find it posthaste! David begins with his love affair with books:
'[T]hey're magical things. I love the feel of a book. Just the
touch of it is exciting. Really. The sensory impressions of fingertips
on card, and the the easy, careful first crack of the spine. The
smell of ink on paper. The slight impression left by the press
as it indents the surface of the white sheet, and leaves its mark.
What font? I like to look at the last page to see whose updated
version of the classic font is being used in this volume. And
then, after all this has been noted, I begin to read. It may seem
a touch obsessive I admit...Hippolyte's
Island is the kind of book that deserves this special
David doesn't just love books -- he's got a rather
passionate feeling for music and musical instruments as well!
He's quite attached to the ukelele, in fact, which makes him the
perfect reviewer for Jim Beloff's The
Ukelele -- a Visual History. 'The little 'dancing
flea' is in the middle of a major comeback,' David explains,
'and Jim Beloff has played a big part in it.'
has one more contribution to the book section this week, as he
looks at a third non-fiction piece that came in for review. 'One
has to love university presses,' Jack says, 'as they publish books
that the more profit oriented presses can't afford to even consider.
This work, Christina
Rossetti and Illustration, amply demonstrates why this
is so; this is very much a 'specialist' work that will have an
appeal only to specific audiences. Oh, but that doesn't mean it
isn't worth knowing about!'
Like most of us here at Green Man, Matthew
Winslow is a big fan of small presses. There is a drawback,
though, which, according to Matthew, 'is that a lot of writing
that still needs to be worked on is getting published. Also unfortunate
is that this unprofessional work seems at times to be drowning
out the quality small press efforts.' You'll guess from this,
of course, that Matthew is not pleased with our final book offering
this week. He tried, he really did. He says 'I really wanted
to enjoy this book. I wanted to be able to reveal another small
press success.' Unfortunately, Woodbyrne:
The Fallen Forest isn't it.
Hmm? Oh? We have venue reviews? It's
been quite a while since we've seen any of those around these
parts so let's see if I (your little heard from Venue Editor,
can remember how to present these reviews properly.
This week brings us three venues that hold special
places in each reviewers heart. Faith
J. Cormier brings a look into a quaint venue in Nova Scotia,
Canada, The Dockside
Ceilidh. Check out her review to see what draws her there.
Next, we have a reviewer who would have us believe
he was busy with his nose to the grindstone, attaining his brand
new doctorate degree, but he seemed to have had some time to enjoy
himself in New York City. Scott
Gianelli brings us a look at the recently opened Satalla
club, whose owners are billing it as, 'The Temple of World Music'.
See why Scott feels they are living up to their billing with this
Excellence in Writing Award winning review.
Finally, Master Reviewer Stephen Hunt yet again
makes me want to leave Oregon for the British Isles with his review
Hammersmith & Fulham Irish Centre in London.
According to Master Hunt, this venue is the 'coolest venue in
London, offering a head-spinning programme of artistic and cultural
may be new to the books about J.R.R. Tolkien written by Jane
, but she's familiar enough with the Tolkien mythos
to want to make an amendment to Senior Writer Matthew
review. However, Winslow himself comes
armed with enough Tolkien knowledge to parry her attempt--with
his signature tact and charm, of course.
came across our site and found himself engrossed in the writings
of Master Reviewers David
Kidney and Gary Whitehouse
(but don't we all!). He offers experiences and reminiscences regarding
myriad Green Man review subjects including Taj
Zevon, John Hiatt,
and the Rolling Stones.
Passionate letters from readers are often the most
heartening ones--as well as the most fun to read. But it's when
they disagree with our reviewers that the heat is turned up high.
Adrian LeCesne wrote one such
letter when he realized that Master Reviewer Grey
Walker called his favorite song off Malcolm Dalglish's
Pleasure CD 'the one weak
song on the album.'
Read all these letters (along with reviewers' responses)
on our Letters page and feel
free to send in your own comments about anything regarding Green
Man Review to your friendly Letters
Editor. The most interesting ones will be posted on our
Web site, whereupon you can 'google' yourself and brag about being
a published writer!
Jack Merry here. Have you ever had a Hungarian
apricot brandy called Barack pálinka? I hadn't either 'til
Bela, our resident Balkan violinist, returned from a trip abroad.
He says that he travelled on the Orient Express back to the country
where he was born, a country he says no longer exists. The reason
for his trip was that Huddled Masses Violin Ensemble held a reunion
of all its surviving members. All I know for certain is there
were apparently more violinists there than one can possibly imagine,
all looking like well-dressed refugees from some long forgotten
war that had no winners. But before he left to return here, his
fellow musicians insisted on providing him with as many creature
comforts as they could provide -- all of which got shipped by
train to here. One of them was a wooden crate full of straw cushioning
bottles of Barack pálinka. Bela provided the editorial
staff with a few bottles... Bloody 'ell, it was good!
Ahhh, but so are the reviews this week, so grab
a snifter of this brandy and settle back in a comfortable chair
near the fireplace as I've got things to tell you...
Brown found Cross o'th Hands' Saint
Monday recording to be quite good: ' This is the third
recording from Derbyshire's Cross o'th Hands. Since this is their
first Green Man review, a brief glossary is in order. The
band takes its name from a tiny Derbyshire hamlet whose name is
taken in turn from the bare knuckle fist fighting matches that
took place there (illegally) in the nineteenth century. The band
feel that 'the whole place has a feeling of Englishness and history
about it,' and that the association of hands and the making of
music fits nicely too.' An Excellence in Writing Award
goes to the reviewer for this well-crafted review!
Columbia/Legacy sent us a passle of Blues recordings:
the Feel Like Going
Home collection, the The
Soul of a Man collection, the Warming
By the Devil's Fire collection, the Piano
Blues collection,a Son
House collection, and a Keb'
Mo' collection. That's a #@$%! lot of blues, eh? David
Kidney agrees in his Excellence in Writing Award winning
review: 'And so the juggernaut that is Martin Scorsese Presents
the Blues continues. First it appeared as a PBS television
event; then a book; the television films were released on DVD;
and now Green Man Review looks at a small part of the vast
CD release that accompanied the series. Each episode was accompanied
by its own soundtrack album, a dozen or so special artists were
awarded new compilation albums which were footprinted with the
Scorsese logo, and a five-disc boxed set was issued which has
received reviews declaiming it 'the best blues album in the world...
ever!' (Uncut, January 2004) Wow! Ever?!?! Unfortunately we don't
have that one to review. What we do have is a cross section of
the soundtrack albums and a couple of the individual artist sets.
And, as you might imagine, they're a mixed bag.'
Alive is viewed favourably by David: 'The group known
as Tanglefoot began as a three-piece in the early 1980s. They
played Canadian folk songs with.. . shall we say... vigour! The
group grew and changed, but their enthusiasm continued, and they
began to write their own material. This new recording, done live
at the Flying Cloud Folk Club in Toronto over three nights in
May 2003 is (except for one traditional tune) all original material.
But it sounds completely authentic. The songs, the subject matter
and the performances are strong and lusty.'
David has more blues for us: 'Booze and the blues.
They fit together like a hand in a glove. There are certain connections
that just don't ever change. Much of the blues is concerned with
a man staying away from the Devil. Whether it's a literal Devil,
or that old demon rum... spirits run rampant through the blues.
Telarc's new compilation CD Bar
Room Blues presents a dozen gin-soaked 12-bar tunes drawn
from Telarc's ever-expanding catalogue of contemporary blues artists.'
Nathan Granner, Daniel Montenegro and Mauricio O'Reilly
are The American
Tenors, another fine release from Sony Classical. Oops,
I'm sorry as it's not such a fine product after all. Notes Kelly
Sedinger in his Excellence in Writing Award
deserving commentary: 'what to say about the CD itself? Well,
not much, really. I'm not sure what word they apply to this genre
of recording these days -- 'classical crossover,' maybe. It's
pretty much the same kind of thing we've already heard from the
Three Tenors, the Three Irish Tenors, and whoever else: operatic
standards and popular songs -- some from Broadway, some old American
folk tunes -- arranged for, well, tenors and orchestra. You get
'O sole mio' and that old Italian chestnut, 'Funiculi, Funicula,'
side-by-side with 'Shenandoah,' 'When Johnny Comes Marching Home'
and 'Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair.' The disc features a medley
of tunes from West Side Story and closes with 'America
the Beautiful.' Ouch.
Listen to Kelly as he tells us a tale of smoky blues:
'Julie Powell's official bio makes reference to 'playing guitar
in smoky bars,' which is a perfect image for the music on Heart
of a Woman. This is the kind of music that makes you think
of drinking beer with a whiskey chaser in one of those bars where
even the pool table goes quiet when the local talent takes the
minuscule stage at the back, where the red and blue lights cast
a tinge on the smoke that hangs in the air, and where somehow
the blend of smoke and sweat and alcohol and a pair of loud amps
adds up, in spite of itself, to an impressive musical experience.'
Now go read his review of Powell's CD, Heart
of a Woman.
reviews Rachael Sage's Public
Record. The artist is, according to Grey, 'a founding
member of New York City music collective Urban Muse, as well as
Woman rock and Indiegrrl, and she's played at the Lilith Fair.
It shows. On the cover of Public Record, she's wearing
purple and yellow eye make-up, with yellow sequins lining her
lower eyelids. It's not clownish, it's arty. Cool, even. And from
the first word she sings, you can tell she's been influenced by
Tori Amos, Sarah McLachlan and Suzanne Vega.'
Pennies is from The Have Nots which are, according
to Gary Whitehouse,
'a young duo from England, who make a hybrid sort of folk-pop,
with influences ranging from country to emo-core. Bad Pennies
is their first full-length release, following a handful of EPs,
demos and limited releases.' He goes on to say that 'ven though
most of them aren't very interesting at this point in their careers.
And they have lovely voices, though they could enunciate better.
This duo bears watching.'
Tori Amos' new CD, Tales
of a Librarian, has been mentioned by Neil Gaiman on his
weblog more than a few times. Let's let Daniel
James Wood explain what her latest is about: 'Atlantic
Records is touting Tori Amos' latest CD, Tales Of A Librarian,
as her 'greatest hits' collection. And sure, you could call it
that, if only more than a couple of the tracks had actually been
released as successful singles. You might instead call it her
'best of' album, were it not for the fact that some of her very
best tracks are glaringly omitted. Really, Tales Of A Librarian
is the Cliff-Notes version of Amos' decade-long career -- a career
that, in addition to being broadly represented on the album, is
also depicted bravely and unflinchingly, warts and all. Two new
tracks, 'Snow Cherries from France' and 'Angels,' as well as two
B-sides from previous single-track releases, 'Mary' and 'Sweet
Dreams,' join sixteen tunes taken from Amos' first five albums,
each of which has been reworked and remixed using the original
raw recordings. Some have been significantly changed; others,
not so much. Some are representative of Amos at her very best;
others must be on here for gimmick value or for the benefit of
completists, or just to demonstrate how far Amos can miss the
mark. The result is a mixed bag of tunes that is, I suspect, intentionally
erratic and uneven -- anything less, and it wouldn't be a Tori
Amos record at all.' Daniel picks up an Excellence in Writing
Award for this insightful review!
Speaking of folks, famous and not-so, we've got
some staff to bring to your attention. First off, given our editor
shifting the past few weeks, we thought we'd point up the group
of folks currently handling the music end of things here at GMR.
Kim Bates is the Music
Review Editor in charge of finding and requesting CDs and assigning
them for review; David Kidney
is her assistant. Grey
Walker, David Kidney
and Gary Whitehouse
are the Music Review Production Editors, sharing the task of editing
the reviews as they come in and putting them up in our new issue
every week. Jack Merry
(with help from anyone he can find loitering here in the Pub)
'blurbs' the reviews in What's New each week.
Secondly, we've got a group of reviewers who have
all been with Green Man now for at least a year, and in
their time here have consistently written good reviews and generally
been all-around good eggs. We're promoting them to their well-deserved
new positions as Senior Writers. They are Donna
Sedinger and Wes
Unruh. Congratulations to all of you!
Warm and cosy now? Well have some cocoa before heading
out into the weather. You'll find us back here again next time,
with amazing fare and even better company.
11th of January, 2004
'One impression above all remained
though he could not have explained why. Having
crossed the Place de la Bastille, he was passing a little
bistro on his way down Boulevard Henri IV. The door,
like the door of most cafes on this cold morning,
was shut for the first time for months. As he went past,
someone opened it, and Maigret's nostrils were assailed
by a gust of fragrance which was forever to remain with
him as the very quintessence of Paris at daybreak:
the fragrance of frothy coffee and hot croissants
spiced with a hint of rum.'
-- George Simenon's Maigret and the Spinster
( translated by Eileen Ellenbogen)
Come in! Just give me a few minutes to finish the
House books for the last year (or three), and I'll be right with
you. So, you've applied to work in the Kitchen, eh? Pleased to
meet you. Let me tell you a little about what the job entails.
Like Maigret, the staff of Green Man are
very much lovers of good food and fine drink. In all the decades
that I've been on the House staff here, I can't remember a time
when there wasn't some sort of celebration involving culinary
treats and interesting drinkables. Certainly the accounts kept
by my predecessors (going back centuries, I should add), show
just how expensive their tastes could be. Importing caviar fit
for the Winter Court of St. Petersburg could be considered excessive,
but, in fact, rates as frugal compared to some of the gastronomic
tales that abound here! The wedding feast of Jack and Brigid included
wild boar on the menu, but getting the beast here from France
involved a certain amount of, ahem, 'fiscal diplomacy' in our
dealings with the customs men. I suppose that seeing as how the
boar was, on arrival, very much alive, very large, very angry,
very musky and very incontinent, they had a right to feel a little
inconvenienced. Still, once the chef had roasted it slowly over
a hickory fire it was simply delicious!
As you might have noticed, we also brew our own
drink. Bjorn is the latest of a long line of brewmasters that
have carried out their arcane craft here. One rather long-lived
member of the Neverending Session claims he remembers a Scottish
bloke by the name of Burns that dropped in to the Pub one cold
day. (Was it Robbie Burns? The teller of the tale won't say.)
The publican that day had a large cauldron of hot spiced Applejack
going in the fireplace. This Burns drank some, then drank some
more, and started telling tales. Almost caused the musicians of
the Neverending Session to stop playing to listen to him. He only
stopped (after many hours) to go for a much needed piss...
Another brew exclusive to us is Dragons Breath XXX
Stout. Have you ever encountered a Brazilian brew called Xingu?
If not, think Guinness on steroids. It's that thick. But compared
to Dragons Breath XXX Stout, Guinness is as weak as one of those
American beers that we won't mention here. One swallow of Dragons
Breath will cause... oh, just drink it and you'll will know what
I mean. Good, eh? Here's a health!
Dutton declares 'I have been a Constant Reader of Stephen
King's work since I got my hands on a paperback copy of Salem's
Lot back in middle school. The Stand was the first
hardback book I bought that didn't have a picture of a dinosaur
on every page. And I've seen just about every movie and miniseries
based on his work, including a few sequels that I hoped would
live up to the promise the name Stephen King offered, but never
seemed to.' Now, since joining the Green Man staff Denise
has proven to be a superb film reviewer. So it's fitting that
she makes her Excellence in Writing Award winning debut
as a book reviewer with a look at a 'comprehensive but not all-inclusive
review of King's filmography' entitled Hollywood's
Ah, that David
Kidney ... what a busy, busy man! In addition to his Music
Editing duties, he finds the time to submit a steady supply of
fantastic reviews! He begins this week with discussion of a book
that sounds uniquely fascinating; a comic book/graphic novel biography
of an important figure in Canadian history. David says 'I'd like
to see it used as a textbook in high school history classes.'
David earns an Excellence in Writing Award for this review
of Louis Riel:
a Comic Strip Biography.
It's hard to decide whether David should receive
another EiWA or just a big hug for his omnibus review of
selected works from a man who David calls 'a gifted and sensitive
author of books for young people who managed to write in a way
that would entertain parents and kids alike' -- the late, great
Shel Silverstein. With the re-release of Silverstein's books since
the author's death in 1999, a new generation has the opportunity
to bask in his wonderful talent. Here, David lovingly reviews
the Lion Who Shot Back, A
Giraffe and a Half, The
Missing Piece, The
Missing Piece Meets the Big O, and Falling
Scott is entirely correct when she declares 'I know I'm
not the only one who wanted to play Pirates as a little girl.
I also know I'm not the only one who was told some version of,
'You can't play! Girls can't be pirates!' by
the boys.' This Book Editor certainly remembers such injustice!
So I was delighted to read Rebecca's first review this week, as
she revels in a volume with the impressive title of Pyrates
in Petticoats: A Fanciful & Factual History of the Legends,
Tales, and Exploits of the most notorious Female Pirates and also
Some Lesser Known Women Who Plied the Seas and inland Waterways
for Fortune, Adventure & Romance From Ireland, China, the
Bahamas, and the Barbary Coast to the Americas. Rebecca
comes away with booty in the form of a nicely gilded Excellence
in Writing Award for this entertaining review!
Written by Tony Kushner and illustrated by the near
legendary Maurice Sendak, Brundibar is 'a charming story
about how the weak can overcome the strong by banding together.'
Despite one slight flaw which bothered Rebecca, she says that
Brundibar has 'earned a place on [her] bookshelf.' Find
out more in her thoughtful review of Brundibar.
After publishing 24 volumes, 'for its twenty-fifth
book, Golden Gryphon Press decided to celebrate by bringing together
the authors from its first twenty-four books and have each submit
a short story that capsulizes his or her work. The finished product,
as can be expected, is quite variable in content, but unexpectedly
consistent in quality.' This according to Assistant Book Editor
a man who knows his stuff when it comes to fantastical literature.
Now go read his astute review of The
Silver Gryphon , and we'll see you next week with more
tasty books for you to devour.
Jack Merry here. I just dropped in from the
skating pond for a few minutes to write up the notes for the CD
reviews this week. The weather has been perfect for skating --
below freezing with no winds. Most of the staff and various invited
guests have been skating late into the night after which we have
a midnight meal for all followed by music and other merrymaking.
After you read these reviews, do join us in the Great Hall as
we'll be having a dance there!
Condon looks at three tasty Latin jazz CDs: Paquito d'Rivera's
Big Band Time,
Elio Villafranca's Encantaciones/Incantations,
and The Rough Guide
To Latin Jazz. Richard notes correctly that 'Cuba's is
not the only Latin tradition to have cross-fertilized with American
jazz, and in 2004, a year after two of Cooder's veterans, Francisco
Repilado (better known as Compay Segundo) and Ruben González,
died after tasting a few brief years of renewed fame, these three
CDs remind us of the scope and attraction of what is commonly
called 'Latin jazz,' a term that covers not only Cuban-influenced
music, important though it is, but also fusions of jazz with sounds
from other parts of Latin America. The rumba, mambo, cha-cha,
Brazilian samba and its 1960s new wave ('bossa nova'), all have
played a part in the evolution of this multicultural music.'
in reviewing Jules Massenet's Manon
CD from Sony Classical has a great explanation of why some folks
don't like opera: 'For many people, opera is like broccoli. You
either like it or you don't. This is unfortunate, because with
an open mind you'll find opera surprisingly good. The drawbacks
(highly stylized singing, the language barrier) can be overcome.
The result is usually worth the effort. Providing subtitles has
helped boost opera's appeal in recent years, but this can be as
much of a distraction as a benefit during a performance. One doesn't
have this aid when listening to an opera on CD, but detailed liner
notes can fill in the gaps created by the language barrier. Combined
with good singing and a good story, an opera on CD is well worth
Gianelli looks at the long awaited, and I mean
really long awaited, first
album from Rock City, a Memphis, Tennessee band active
at the same time that the Nazgul and the Doors were active: 'a
number of aspiring young musicians in Memphis were more heavily
influenced by bands like the Beatles, the Kinks, and the Byrds
than by the local soul music, and many of these players hung around
the Ardent Studios, aggregating into a number of short-lived bands.
One such band that recorded nearly a full album's worth of material
at Ardent in 1969 and 1970 was Rock City. Although fronted by
bassist Thomas Dean Eubanks and featuring Ardent co-owner Terry
Manning on keyboards, Rock City has become noteworthy because
of its other two members, guitarist Chris Bell and drummer Jody
Stephens. Bell and Stephens continued to work together after Rock
City folded, and Bell's long-time friend Alex Chilton started
frequenting Ardent Studios after quitting the Box Tops. Chilton,
Bell, Stephens, and Ardent regular Andy Hummel (bass) would form
the legendary early seventies rock band Big Star.'
Winch review a revised Beatles album, Let
It Be... Naked. Eh? The Beatles? In this zine? Or as Spike
puts it ever so well: 'They're a bleedin' POP group Dave! They're
DINOSAURS! They're not relevant!' Read their review to see how
the Beatles and the world of folk music intertwine. Really. Truly.
All of the CDs in the next review ( Mickey Baker's
Don Covay & the Jefferson Lemon Blues Band's The
House of Blue Lights, James Luther Dickinson's Dixie
Fried, Josh White's Empty
Bed Blues, and Tony Joe White's self-titled
debut album) have a common link, according to David: 'This
is a collection of albums which will serve to introduce one of
the new breed of labels, Sepia Tone. A label which seeks to find
obscure yet desirable recordings from the past and reissue them
on CD for today's audience. A brief glance at the albums which
they have done so far is like a walk through the history books.
A listen to this superlative collection of 60s and 70s music is
to breathe the rarified air of the past. This is some heavy stuff!'
Next up is a review of McDermott's 2 Hours v Levelers'
and Wings. Yes, Peter
Massey noticed the name was queer: ' If you're thinking
this a strange name for a band, you're not alone, because so did
I. But it's the music that's important, not what they want to
call themselves. In fact, the album appears to be a collaboration
between members of two bands, McDermott's 2 Hours and The Levellers.'
Was the music good? Oh. yes!
Five, count 'em five, albums (Solveig Kringelborn's
To a Friend,
the Ligo anthology,
Javier Ruibal's Sahara,
and Al Jewer and Andy Mitran's Two
Trees) are reviewed by the Master of Cool Mike
Stiles: 'Here are some CDs that will help reduce your
blood pressure without shutting down your frontal lobes. So here
I appear in my incarnations of the Rajah of Relaxed, the Lord
of Loose, the Monarch of Mellow, the Caliph of Calm, the Chieftain
of Chill for your reviewing pleasure.'
Now I'm off to the Great Hall where the Neverending
Session is playing some tunes while the staff eats.
Ah, it looks like the skaters have returned to a more somber meal
than previously planned. The musicians have struck up an Olde
English dirge, as they've just learned of the January 4th passing
of beloved fantasy author Joan
Aiken. A grand dame of the genre, her The Wolves of
Willoughby Chase would likely have been found on the childhood
bookshelves of many a past, present, and future Green Man
staffer. She will be missed.
4th of January, 2004
When I sit down at my table, clasp
my hands and bow my head,
Should I thank my heavenly landlord for my crust of daily bread?
When the hunter's in his stable, and the hound's in his pack,
pickings of the harvest on which I break my back?
There's a fence around the common
land put there by the law,
it's called hunting if you're gentry but it's poaching if you're
and the law forgives your trespass like the hounds forgive the
You must number all your blessings with the hapence in your box.
And it feels like winter spit to
eat and hell to pay.
It feels like Reynardine on Boxing Day!!
Robb Johnson's 'Boxing Day' off
Band of Hope's Rhythm and Red album
Blwyddyn Newydd Dda! Jack
Merry at your service. I've been playing David DiGiuseppe's
'The Midwinter Reel', a spritely tune that fits the weather we're
experiencing right now. But the cold, snowy weather hasn't put a
damper on the activities in the new year here at Green Man.
Our new endeavour, the Arthur
Rackham Art Gallery, with an exhibit by Kate
Johnson, is now available for your viewing pleasure.
What I've been working on this week in the times that I'm not playing
for various dances is a rewrite of the review of the Band of Hope's
Rhythm and Red album that I wrote some years ago. Why a rewrite,
you ask, of a review long in the Green Man archives? Because
I didn't do it justice the first time, that's why. Here's the whole
review: 'This is a truly great album with its Englishness written
large upon its songs and tunes. Any band consisting of Roy Bailey,
Martin Carthy, Steáfán Hannigan, John Kirkpatrick,
and Dave Swarbrick has got to bloody fine! The band toured but twice
and produced just this CD -- a pity as it would have been nice to
have more from them. The album starts off a medley of 'Nonesuch
- The Cheshire Rounds - The Lancashire Hornpipe - Boxing Day', which
allows the lads to strut their stuff. And unlike far too many ad
hoc bands, this feels like a true band. The first three cuts are
tunes, but 'Boxing Day' is a bitter attack upon the role of class
in modern Britain. The lyric '...just like Reynardine on bloody
Boxing Day...' as a metaphor for the class struggle in modern Britain
is sharp as a fox's tooth! 'If They Come in the Morning', 'Who Reaps
The Profit? Who Pays The Price?', and 'Hard Times of Old England'
also continue the theme of being oppressed by the overlords. But
don't worry -- these are great songs full of piss and vinegar that
will stick in your heads for weeks after you hear 'em!'
Sigh... I was bad. Blame it on too much single malt... or perhaps
too much going on when I wrote it. Either way, I did a far less
than sterling write-up. But it is an album that deserves a longer,
more detailed look, so I'm carefully crafting a new review. We've
done this before here, as it's not unusual for us to decide that
we can do a better job than we did. We're not perfect, but we bleedin'
well try at least to get it right!
Our Featured Review this week comes to us from Master
Reviewer Stephen Hunt, who draws from his own knowledge
on the subjects of whisky, folk music performance, and 'Middle-Aged
Blokehood,' not to mention his inimitable humor and wisdom, to review
a book which he explains is 'a narrative which is not merely about
whisky (its history, manufacture, and properties) but encapsulates
and articulates the joyous conversational experience of actually
slinging it down your throat.' In the true tradition of the Excellence
in Writing Award, this review is informative, thought-provoking,
and extremely entertaining; it sounds as though this book by Iain
Banks, Raw Spirit
- In Search of the Perfect Dram, must be very nearly as
good as Master Hunt's review of it is! At any rate, your friendly
Book Editor is eager to track down a copy for herself!
Donna Bird starts us
off with a classic this week. 'Bless Random House,' enthuses Donna,
'for re-releasing so many of the Modern Library editions of classic
works of fiction and non-fiction in the last few years!!! Whenever
I visit any bookstore, I look for these affordable, handsome paperbacks
with their distinctive black and copper spines, readable font and
high-quality paper and bindings! Not a few of them have found their
way onto the shelves of our home library.' Her most recent acquisition
is a volume from Honoré de Balzac. Well, it's Balzac so it
must be a great work, right? Er, maybe not. Read her review to find
out why Donna is less than thrilled with The
Wrong Side of Paris.
'To set the record straight before I start,' announces Faith
Cormier, 'I lived in the British Columbia rainforest from
1964 to 1967 and never saw or heard a Sasquatch. However, I didn't
see or hear a lot of other things that I know were around, so that
doesn't prove anything.' Why is she talking about Sasquatch? Why,
because if nothing else, we here at Green Man like to keep
our minds open to the possible, and so we were intrigued to receive
review copies of a pair of nonfiction books taking a serious scientific
look at the legendary creature that, if nothing else, is a truly
fascinating piece of North American folklore. Go read Faith's review
of Robert J. Alley's Rainforest
Sasquatch and Thom Powell's The
Locals: A Contemporary Investigation of the Bigfoot/Sasquatch Phenomenon
to find out more about these scholarly works.
reviews another interesting work of nonfiction by photographer Kelli
Bickman. Among other subjects, Bickman chronicles the two week shoot
of Neil Gaiman's BBC series Neverwhere. Read her review of
What I Thought
I Saw: New York - London to find out what April thought
of a book of photographs, some of which she characterizes as 'the
product of a mind slightly askew.'
Jack Merry updates
a previous review of Child's The
English and Scottish Popular Ballads. Why an update? Well,
as Jack says, '[D]espair no more! Dover Publications, bless them,
has reprinted the entire set with splendid new cover art...it's
the contents that you'll be lusting after -- every word of the Houghton
Mifflin of 1882 is here, apparently from the original plates!'
'Good Night Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet) is a three-act
play which is something of an honor to review.' Now with an opening
like that, how can we fail to be eager to read Jessica
Paige's review? Need more? She goes on to explain that Good
Night Desdemona 'asks what if Othello found out about Iago's
treachery before he murdered Desdemona? What if Tybalt had just
been told that he couldn't kill Romeo because Romeo had just married
Juliet?' Ah, now you have to go read her tantalizing review!
Finally, with Christmas over and the holiday season winding down,
it's a great time for Leona
Wisoker to take a look at an anthology about ... Santa Claus.
Santa Claus? Yup. Now that the warm, fuzzy, cookies-and-milk season
has passed, let's read about Santa in some very different incarnations.
Leona introduces her Excellence in Writing Award winning
notes on A
Yuletide Universe with '[W]ho says Santa Claus has to be
a jolly fat man? Who says he's universally welcomed and loved? What
if.... Those two words, placed in the hands of authors ranging
from Neil Gaiman to Harlan Ellison, have spun out into sixteen fantastic
(the cover calls them 'fantastical', and that certainly
applies too) stories. Not knowing what authors were involved when
I asked for this book, I was, quite honestly, expecting to have
to trudge through a sentimental, moralistic collection of kitsch.
At my first sight of the intricately detailed cover, I dared to
hope that I was in for a treat.'
Rachel Manija Brown
thought The Last Samurai
was encumbered by the casting of Tom Cruise in the lead role, and
by the writing for that character. Read her review and see why she
recommends leaving a few minutes early. Rachel earns an Excellence
In Writing Award for her in-depth review.
Although she remarks that Big
Fish is 'basically a chick flick for men', Maria
Nutick goes on to say 'this is a film that will take on
new nuances and give fresh insights with every viewing. I want to
see it again and again, to catch what I missed the first time.This
is a smart film, a wise film.' Maria picks up an Excellence In
Writing Award for her comments on the Hero's Journey.
Jack speaking. It's fairly quiet here in the
Pub this week with just the Neverending Session and a few of the
staff sort of recovering from rather bad hangovers. If you're looking
for most of the staff, they're down skating in Oberon's Wood as
we've had enough cold weather to freeze the old mill pond quite
nicely. Come, let's have bittersweet cocoa with brandy and discuss
the music reviews this outing...
Most of the Putumayo World Music CDs sent en masse by that fine
company to Green Man for review didn't fair terribly well
among our group of exceptionally picky reviewers, but Eric
Eller found one he liked a lot -- Italian
Musical Odyssey: 'It's hard to incorporate the contemporary
folk music scene of an entire country in a single CD. How do you
do justice to the various musical traditions of a diverse population?
Putumayo has a habit of attempting this, and Italian Musical
Odyssey is a good faith effort to capture the multifaceted folk
tradition of Italy on a single CD. With acts ranging from Palermo
(Agricantus) to Tuscany (Ricardo Tesi) to Sardinia (Calic) to Naples
(Nuova Compagnia di Canto Popolare), Italian Musical Odyssey
provides a good introduction to traditional Italian music.' Eric
earns an Excellence in Writing Award for this review!
Tim Hoke was not at all
pleased with this CD: 'When I listened to Jake
Armerding's self-titled release, I heard something a bit
different than I was expecting. His Web site (which has since been
updated) and the promotional flyer which was sent along with the
CD both talked about his skills on fiddle, and about his background
with the bluegrass band Northern Lights. I popped in the disc expecting
to hear some blazing bluegrass fiddling. Instead, I heard a singer-songwriter;
not at all what I was expecting. I grumbled and groused all the
way through the album, pausing only for one track...'
Dave Arthur's Return
Journey was more pleasing for Tim as he notes in his Excellence
in Writing Award winning review: 'Wild Goose Studios is a label
dedicated to English music 'both old and new, with a strong bias
toward the traditional.' So why release a CD of mostly American
old-time music? Dave Arthur explains it in detail in the insert,
telling how many of the songs originated in Britain and survived
in North America, albeit often with changes. Now, Arthur, living
in Sussex, is playing some of the American variants, hence the return
journey. On the return, Arthur has combined some of them with British
melodies, partly to illustrate the kinship of the traditions, and
no doubt partly because they sound good together.'
The folks at Pinecastle Records are releasing bluegrass recordings
of the finest quality. Recently, we here at GMR received
three such discs, all, as Tim notes, by powerhouses of the genre:
The Osborne Brothers' Detroit
To Wheeling, Eddie and Martha Adcock's Twograss,
and WhiteHouse's Self-titled
release. Tim says 'All three recordings are topnotch, in
both musicianship and sound quality. They run on the short side,
though. The Osborne Brothers release was a radio and media sampler,
and as such would be expected to be short. Both of the other recordings
ran under thirty-five minutes -- short for a CD. The music is good.
Give us more.'
According to Kevin Lau,
'Armik's Amor de Guitarra
is, as the title suggests, a love letter to the tradition of flamenco
guitar music. Having little knowledge of this tradition myself,
I was pleased to discover its appeal. For the most part, it is a
feast for the ears, combining dazzling dance melodies and catchy
rhythms with a solid variety of different song forms.' Kevin picks
up a well deserved Excellence in Writing Award for this thoughtful
Franz Joseph Haydn's Piano
Sonatas Numbers 29, 31, 34, 35 and 49 was one of dozens
of Classical CDs that Sony recently sent along. Kelly
Sedinger notes in his Excellence in Writing Award
worthy commentary that 'The recording is pleasant, except for the
loudest passages, when a certain shrillness creeps in; otherwise,
the piano tone is warm and exacting. The liner notes are serviceable;
I would have preferred a paragraph or two from Ax himself, presenting
his thoughts on these works as he records his cycle. Still, this
is an excellent recording of repertoire not nearly familiar enough.'
A recording of Mendelssohn
and Bruch Violin Concertos are next up for Kelly who says
these are fine recordings: 'The two works recorded here represent
two of the greatest war-horses of the violinist's repertoire. The
Mendelssohn Concerto in E-Minor for Violin and Orchestra, written
in 1844, is by turns haunting, elegiac, magical and spritely; it
has never been out of the standard repertoire and is often paired,
as it is here, with the Concerto in G-minor for Violin and Orchestra
by Max Bruch. Bruch's concerto, written in 1865, is by far that
composer's most popular work -- in fact, it is almost the only work
of Bruch's still performed regularly. It is a warm and lush work,
reminiscent of Brahms and Mendelssohn in its conservative form.'
Dominig Bouchaud's L'ancre
d'argent, Harpe en Bretagne was a tricky thing for Pat
Simmonds to review as 'Recorded harp music can be
a dodgy thing by any standard, particularly of music pertaining
to 'The Celtic Traditions' because, although the image of the harp
has endured through turbulent times, the music has not. In Ireland
it was on it's last legs by the end of the 1700's but it's demise
began with the collapse of the Gaelic order and the subsequent redundancies
of the itinerant harpers. It lingered on in Wales in some fashion
but had completely disappeared from Brittany after the Middle Ages.
A more complex form of the instrument has taken over public popularity
with the concert harp, ensuring a permanent place in the classical
orchestras of Europe. The last 20-30 years has seen a huge resurgence
in the harp music of ancient times, a movement kick started by Alan
Stivell, but firmly put in place by younger players grounded in
their traditions. A dubious by-product has been the rise of the
'Celtic Harp,' basically an excuse to get dressed up in fluffy gear
and play any auld dross at Renaissance Fayres.' Now oddly 'nough,
he liked this CD. Read his review to see why so!
Spælimenninir has three CDs out ( Spælimenninir
í Hoydølum, Umaftur,
all of which get reviewed by Barb
Truex , a woman who knows her Nordic music so well that
she recently hosted a radio programme consisting of nothing but
what she call 'reindeer music'! Of Spælimenninir she notes,
'Malargrót found its way into my hands earlier this
fall, and I intended to review just this one CD. While I was in
the early stages of listening, however, Mr. Editor-in-Chief (that
would be Cat) let me borrow his two other earlier recordings so
I could take a pass at all of them. The group has recorded a number
of other albums over the years besides these three, as you can see
on their Web site. This review will look at two from the early years
of 1977 and 1978 (which probably originally appeared on vinyl) and
their most recent one released in the fall of 2003.' She goes on
to note 'Spælimenninir, 'the folk musicians', was formed
in 1974 and went under the name Spælimenninir í Hoydølum,
as they were based in Hoydølum in the Faroe Islands. But
from the beginning the membership has included players from all
over the northern Atlantic climes. Their repertoire is likewise
representative of Scandinavia and all of the British Isles and includes
a good amount of cross-fertilization among the various traditional
styles. A true example of the ever-evolving world of folk music.'
leads off his review Serah's Late
Harvest his way: 'Serah does herself no favor by packaging
her CD in a way that far too closely emulates Joni Mitchell. The
portrait of the singer that accompanies the lyrics to the first
song (painted by Soemi, the 'mio amore' to whom Serah dedicates
the disk) comes perilously close to being a parody of Mitchell's
self portrait on the cover of Taming the Tiger. Where Joni
is as accomplished a painter as she is a musician, this painting
is, at best, the work of a 'Sunday painter.' The reason I begin
here is that, as I say, Serah does herself no favor setting herself
up for immediate comparison to one of the premier artists of the
last thirty years. Were I to offer advice, it would be that Serah
might do far better to draw comparisons to someone like Johnny Clegg,
next to whom her blend of activist sensibilities and Afro pop tinged
arrangements might fare better. Better still, find a designer who
will avoid setting up any such comparisons.' Ouch. Now he does go
on to say it's a pleasant album, so go see why he says this is so.
Like David Kidney and Big Earl Sellar, Gary
Whitehouse really knows the Blues. The bull sessions
I've seen them have in the Pub as they discuss which artists are
good and which artists are truly shitty are well-worth listening
to if you're here when they're holding court. So what did he think
of W. C. Handy's Beale
Street: Where the Blues Began? Let's ask him what he thought
of disc in which the most recent cut was 1931: 'Listening to all
twenty-one of these tracks at once may be a bit much, unless you're
a rabid fan of early jazz. Unless you're careful, they all start
sounding alike after a while. But this is a fine recording, well
played and enjoyable to listen to. The blues should always be so
much fun.' Need I say that Gary adds an Excellence in Writing
Award to the long list of ones he's already gotten?
Cat Eldridge, Editor-in-Chief
here. If you're a regular reader of this publication, you'll have
noticed that you don't see much of me. That's because in a properly
managed publication, the position I hold and what I do in that position
is virtually unnoticeable. Really. Truly. Go ahead -- tell me who
the Editor-in-Chief of your local newspaper is, or who edits Time
magazine. But I'll bet you've got your favorite writers that you
know by name.
The other layer of management that should be invisible if a publication
is being run well is those various editors, all of whom will be
doing tasks that are needed, but again not generally noticed by
you. Oh, it's easy to see when they're not there -- sloppy writing,
misspellings, even plagiarism crop up all too frequently. Green
Man has been blessed by having editors who are very, very good
at what they do, and who care deeply that Green Man has a
professional approach to what it's doing.
To keep themselves fresh, some of the editorial staff will be assuming
new duties with the first issue of 2004.
Maria Nutick was Music
Review Production Editor and Film Review Editor. She will now be
Book Review Editor (and will remain as Copy Editor for the time
being). Grey Walker,
our best Book Review Editor to date, will be taking Maria's place
as a Music Review Production Editor. She hopes to have more time
to write in that position than she did as Book Review Editor! Meanwhile,
Tim Hoke was Assistant
Film Review Editor and will be stepping up as Film Review Editor,
as he has now completed his apprenticeship and qualifies for Guild
membership. He will continue to assist with Music Review Production
as needed. In addition, Ryan
Nutick, our Webmaster, has his hands more than full with
that job, so Grey will taking over the ever-so-important task of
1st of January, 2004
'The job of the artist
is always to deepen the mystery.'
-- Francis Bacon
Welcome, and Happy New Year! We're celebrating the opening of the
year by opening a new space here at Green Man Review. One
of the floors in the tower of our building is now the home of the
Arthur Rackham Gallery.
All of the windows in the circular walls provide wonderful light
for exhibiting art. There are pillars throughout the room in the
shapes of trees, with works of art hanging from their branches.
Sculpture sits here and there on plinths carved like tree stumps.
We'll host two shows annually in this lovely space.
For our first show, this winter season of 2004, we are proud to be showing the work of Kate Johnson.
Cathy Johnson, sometimes known as Kate, has worked as a naturalist, writer,
and freelance artist for the past thirty years, and was staff naturalist and
contributing editor for Country Living magazine for eleven of those years. She
is a contributing editor to the Artist's Magazine and Watercolor Magic, where
she writes on a subject she feels passionately about -- the importance of
creativity and magic in our lives. She is currently most enjoying combining
her lifelong fascination with nature and mythos, exploring the Green Man
image and the parallel world of Faerie.
Johnson has written many books on art and nature, including those for North
Light Books and the Sierra Club. She has worked with a number of national
magazines, and has been included in a variety of nature anthologies and art
books, Her paintings and sculptures are included in private and corporate
collections in the U.S., Canada, and Europe.
She is a longtime member of the Author's Guild, and was chosen Conservation
Communicator of the Year by the Burroughs Audubon Society. She won the
Thorpe Menn Award for Creative Writing (AAUW) for The Naturalist's Cabin:
Constructing the Dream (Viking Penguin) in 1992. A resident of Missouri all
her life, she was born in Independence and has lived in the Excelsior
Springs area since 1969. She has always seen magic just at the edge of our
field of vision.
Her interests (more rightly considered obsessions) include travel, reading,
natural history, Celtic myth and history, reenacting, pottery, jewelry
design, and drawing and painting for the sheer enjoyment of it -- sort of a
And among those things that are most important in her life are nature
and solitude, creativity, music, magic, cats, family and friends, honesty,
humor, and love. What else does one need?
Do come in and enjoy our opening! And help yourself to the cranberry punch -- we have it both spiked and unspiked...
And in case you missed it, be sure to take a look at what some of our favorite authors and musicians say were their favorite books for 2003.
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Entire Contents, except where otherwise
Copyright 2003, The Green Man Review.
All Rights Reserved.
25 January 04, 17:25 GMT (RN)