'You were made for enjoyment, and the
world was filled with things which you will enjoy, unless you
are too proud to be pleased with them, or too grasping to care
for what you can not turn to other account than mere delight.'
-- John Ruskin
25th of April, 2004
A few weeks ago, Donna Bird told you about The School of Imagination,
which is just down the way from Green Man Review's
building. So this week, I thought I'd tell you a bit about another
wonderful place that's right on our block, just three doors south
of us: Wood's Book Stall.
Wood's is a combination indoor-outdoor affair --
at least on fine days it is. We do, of course, have lots of rainy
and snowy days in our fair city, and on those days Anna Wood doesn't
roll her book carts outdoors. But if there's no book-threatening
weather, you can see her pulling the carts out at eight in the
morning. There are three of them, old creaky wooden things, dark
with years, but topped with bright, multi-striped awnings that
Anna replaces every spring (at which time she also holds the annual
New Awning Sale). Anna has named the carts, and their names are
painted on them. Pi Sheng, Caxton and Kelmscott. So if you're
looking for a particular book, and Anna says, 'I think that one's
on Pi Sheng,' you'll know what she's talking about. Anna's corgi,
Offset, keeps an eye on the carts, lying curled up in the shade
under Caxton. And don't think Offset won't notice and go barking
to Anna if you try to snaffle a book without paying!
Wood's is also one of that rare breed, a combination
new-and-used book store. Anna sells books that she likes, whether
she finds them just off the presses or previously read. And you'd
be amazed at the wide variety of books you'll find in her store,
considering that she reads every one before she puts it out on
the shelf. At least we think she does. For thirty years, we've
pulled books at random and asked her about them, and she always
knows what they're about -- in detail. No one we know has stumped
But if you're curious about any folk roots or imaginative
book you find at Wood's, Anna might also point you up the street
in our direction. After all, it's likely we've got a review of
it! And for that matter, here are this week's new reviews.
wrote our featured review this week, and quite a review it is.
No'am explains: 'A move to London in late 1974 certainly helped
expand my small science fiction collection, as I began to frequent
a somewhat bizarre shop in Camden Town which specialised in importing
American books not available in Britain. Amongst the Zelazny titles
which I purchased were The Doors Of His Face, The Lamps Of
His Mouth (fabulous -- in both meanings of the word -- short
stories including the aforementioned 'Rose'), the first
two books in the then being written Amber series, and a
slim novel entitled Lord Of Light which, I was assured,
had won the Hugo prize for best novel in 1967. Nearly 30 years
later, it seems that many a Hugo winning novel is no longer available,
and so the good folks at Avon have taken it upon themselves to
republish some of the excellent titles, including Lord
Of Light. So this is a good occasion to look back on a
piece of classic science fiction by a well regarded author: Zelazny
died in 1995 as a result of cancer, but won six Hugos during his
writing career.' No'am wins an Excellence in Writing Award
for this stellar piece.
here, with this week's book offerings...I do believe Anna might
have some of these.
Cormier takes a look at a novel which blends science fiction
and fantasy better than most. 'Diane Duane is a prolific author
in several media and genres', Faith says, 'but I am mainly familiar
with her science fiction in the Star Trek universe. For her other
science fiction fans, Stealing
the Elf-King's Roses certainly has scientific aspects,
so long as you accept that science could work differently in alternate
universes. However, if you prefer fantasy, there's plenty of that.
You just need to look at everything as magic.'
'What better setting than the Dark Ages for a mystery
novel?', asks Eric Eller.
'The upheaval and uncertain politics of the era provide many opportunities
for plots, conspiracies, and high crimes. Build in enough detail
to immerse the reader in an unfamiliar setting and the result
is a captivating novel that will tempt you to read it in as few
sittings as possible.' So, does author Peter Tremayne use this
setting successfully? Sounds like it. Eric says: 'Peter Tremayne's
the Wind is exactly this sort of book.'
Film Editor Tim
Hoke has been struggling with his mixed feelings about
our next book for several weeks. The best he can say about editor
Kimberley Holloway's collection of essays exploring novelist Sharyn
McCrumb's work is that 'From
A Race Of Storytellers has some good places, but when
you leave one, you've got a ways to go before you reach the next.'
Beloved childhood characters do actually exist outside
the realm of Winnie the Pooh and Dr. Seuss. Yes, they do indeed.
So I was delighted when Leona
Wisoker first proposed reviewing her collection of Tove
Jansson's Moomintroll books...these were some of my 'best beloveds'
as a child, though most of my friends had never heard of them!
If you're not familiar with the Moomins, let Leona
explain: 'Tove Jansson, born in 1914, was the beloved creator
of a series of books about a small family of trolls living in
the wilds of her native Finland. Her Moomin books have been translated
into over two dozen languages, including Lithuanian, Ukranian,
and Esperanto. They have been converted to theater, opera, TV,
and a Japanese animation series, and Finland even boasts a Moomin
theme park. I had the good fortune to be introduced to the Moomin
books at a young age. I also had the exceptional good luck, as
an adult, to find copies of almost every one.' An an Excellence
in Writing Award goes to Leona for this
look at a series which every child should be fortunate
enough to have on their shelves.
'Stands Scotland where it did?' We'll
let Craig Clarke answer that. Craig's just finished watching Scotland,
Pa. for the fourth time. This dark comedy is based
on that Scottish Play of Shakespeare's, and Craig says, 'Those
familiar with the play will appreciate how faithful it is to its
source, while bringing the story forward to a more cinematic (and
colorful) era with all the fun elements intact.'
Hunter was thoroughly impressed with a recent performance
by Richard Thompson. Thompson was at the top of his form, mixing
high-quality guitar work with a distinctive voice and a self-deprecating
wit. The show included new songs and ones from the far reaches
of his catalog. Thompson made this work through a talent for pulling
together the most disparate-seeming songs into a seamless whole.
Was this a great performance? Michael can't imagine a gig to beat
it. Make sure to read his review to see why Thompson inspires
here, to point out the highlights of this week's batch of CD reviews.
You'd think it would have been quiet around here, what with SPike
off in New York City. (Believe it or not...he's helping to chaperone
a group of twelfth graders. Makes one shudder just thinking about
it.) But it wasn't quiet. There were lots of interesting and fascinating
bits of music echoing down the halls, and now you can read just
what our peerless team of reviewers thought of them.
Gianelli starts us off with a look at this week's celtic
choice. The Baltimore Consort have a new album out and Scott thinks
'they have unequivocally hit a home run with Adew
Dundee. Their playing is superb and the pieces meticulously
arranged.' He has lots more to say about this album...even
giving credit where it is due...to the composers!
I used the extra time I had, in SPike's absence,
to listen to a batch of albums, from a multi-disc bootleg of Harry
Nilsson songs (which I can't mention) to an autographed gift from
Van Dyke Parks, it was a full week. The soundtrack to the Bob
Dylan film Masked
and Anonymous features 'surrealistc swirls of images...and
forces you to rethink [what you know about Bob Dylan].' It's
really curious, and worth investigating. John Martyn, who has
been experiencing some health problems of late, has released another
potent live album. Live
in Concert at the Cambridge Folk Festival 1985 'shows
us where John Martyn's head was...' one day 20 years ago.
Listen to this and your head will join him!
Angels by Anonymous 4 proved to be '...an almost
perfect' introduction to the art of shape note singing. And
it's a beautifully relaxing way to spend an hour! Finally, I listened
to Canadian folkie Ken Whiteley's new gospel CD. Gospel
Music Makes Me Feel Alright is a 'vital and exciting
collection of tunes.' I found it 'well worth a listen.'
reviewed an anthology of live performers from the
Chester Folk Festival and he seemed to enjoy it. 'A
lot of singers [included herein] are not widely known on the club
singer's circuit,' but Peter recommends the album and the
Nilsson looks at a new album by olde folkies Steeleye
Span. Favourites of the editors group at the pub, Steeleye Span
have captured Lars's attention. Is They
Called Her Babylon 'a classic Steeleye Span album?
Well, it's too early to tell. Classic albums earn their status
as time passes...I will certainly keep on playing it through the
summer.' Well...a summer classic then!
That's about it for the jukebox this week. Now I
better get some sleep, I need to pick up SPike at 5 am at the
Before we forget, for those who read and enjoyed
Maria Nutick's review of Pun-Smoke,
it is indeed that time again. Gary Hallock writes to let us know
that the 27th Annual O. Henry Pun-Off World Championships will
be held May 15th in Austin Texas! Check out their Web
site for more details on this delightful event.
So you're off, are you? If you've just read a review
of any book that looks interesting, you might see if Wood's has
got it. But you'd better have a drink in the Pub, first. I just
saw Anna coming into the Pub herself about half an hour ago, and
Offset doesn't know the stock so well.
18th of April, 2004
'Continuity was writing a book. Robin Lanier had told her about
it. She'd asked what it was about. It wasn't like that, he'd said.
It looped back into itself and constantly mutated; Continuity
was always writing it. She asked why. But Robin had already lost
interest: because Continuity was an AI, and AIs did things like
that.' -- from William Gibson's Mona
I'm a Jack, so how do you know the tale
I'm telling you now is true? You don't. But does it really matter? I
tell tales, you tell tales. We all weave fictions every day of our
lives. Some sound true, some may be true, and a few are obviously
anything but true, so either you believe the tale that you are being
told now or you don't -- matters not to me 'tall!
I've been reading in the Library as
of late -- lots of fiction, some history, a bit of dipping into tune
books. Very late one evening, I left the Library to go down to the
Pub, where I thought the Neverending Session was playing. I had
forgotten that this old building has a way of getting one lost
without trying, which is how I ended up standing in what one of the
staff jokingly (I think) calls the Fourth Tower of Inverness after a
radio play she once heard a fragment of. It's on a corner of the
building that faces the City we are part of. (What's the name of the
city, you ask? Damn if I know. It depends on when you ask that
question. And who you ask. Zina Lee thinks it's called Samhain.) This
Tower looks over the whole of this ancient city. On this night, I
could see from the harbour to the moors and far beyond. What I can't
figure out is how clear the night sky is from this Tower, as we are in
the middle of a fairly large, often polluted city. All I know is that
the night sky goes on forever.
Going back down the steps did not help me reach the Pub. I ended up in the Green Room in the Great Hall,
where the posters from bands who've played here tell an interesting
tale themselves. Eddi and The Fey. . . Nazgul. . . Boiled in Lead. . .
Steeleye Span. . . Jump at the Sun. . . X-Bella. . . Why there's even an old
broadside for some now-forgotten fiddler who played here not long
after John Gay penned The Beggars Opera.
The next stairway was definitely not
the right one, either. I ended up looking out an open door into late 19th century London -- complete with hansom cabs, bobbies,
and even a Whitechapel lady or two. I thought it best not to step outside!
I thought perhaps this hallway would be the right
one. . . No, but I did find the players! They were in the kitchen, which,
like the Neverending Session, never really stops. And that's why the
musicians were there: both food (a fine venison stew with late
winter root veggies) and drink (mulled spiced wine) were on offer in exchange for some tunes, such as 'Da Day Dawn', which
they were playing when I came in. It was nearly dawn, and the bakers were engaged in what they called their 'Celtic
baking frenzy'. I was told that there were oat farls, currant and caraway scones, boxty bread, bannocks, brunnies, ballymaloe bread and even a fine Welsh small cake called teisennua ffair llanddarog, which I remember me nain making for our family.
'Curse whatever gods you believe in for taking George Alec Effinger from us
far too soon. And curse them if you will for making him suffer for most of his
life in pain far more severe than you want to even imagine. He deserved better,
much better, as he was without doubt one of the most brilliant writers that
ever graced our presence.' So says Editor in Chief Cat
Eldridge in his introduction to his review of this Golden
Gryphon Press collection of Effinger stories. A group of tales taking
place in the same universe as Effinger's 'trilogy of MarÓd Audran novels set
in a richly imagined 21st century Middle East, with cybernetic implants and
modules allowing individuals to change their personalities or bodies,' Budayeen
Nights definitely meets with Cat's approval. 'A second volume of tales
by George Alec Effinger is, I hear, planned by Golden Gryphon.,' says Cat in
this Excellence in Writing Award winning review. 'If it's anywhere near
as good as this volume is, you and I will have a hell of a good reading experience
on our hands when it comes out.'
Our featured CD review is one that the editors thought was virtually perfect. A model for others to read and emulate if they want to understand what Green Man Review is looking for in a review. Zina Lee has been listening to Eliot Grasso's Standing Room Only, and she has been loving it! She places the music squarely in the context of Grasso's career, and raves, 'if God is good to me, perhaps I'll live long enough to hear Eliot Grasso hit his musical stride in his maturity. Until then Standing Room Only. . . will suffice.' I guess that means Zina liked it, and the editors liked what she said well enough to give her an Excellence in Writing Award!
Brannon says '[T]here's nothing I enjoy so
much as a good story replete with fantastical and mythological
elements. Therefore, when I heard about Stefan Rudnicki's latest
venture, an anthology entitled Imaginings: An Anthology of
Visionary Literature, I was beside myself with anticipation. As
the name suggested, I expected a collection of bizarre and
forward-thinking stories. This is the first volume of three, with
this particular volume entitled After The Myths Went Home.
This conjured in me anticipation for stories of myth and nihilism,
meaning and void.' So, did Imaginings meet her expectations?
Er, sadly not, as you'll see in her very fair and balanced review.
Dance Publications sends us some wonderful stuff for review.
reviews a new offering by Jay Bonansinga a scary story about a
haunted house and a haunted man: '. . . I can say that this story
engaged me almost immediately. Mr. Bonansinga tells a captivating
tale. He's an excellent storyteller who knows how to pace his
narrative, and seems to understand when to hint at, and when to
reveal, his bogeys.' Sounds promising! Read her review of Oblivion
to see if the story kept Denise interested.
is one of Green Man's most knowledgeable comic readers,
but: 'I have a confession to make up front, one that's not
likely to endear me to this book's intended audience: I'm not a huge
Alan Moore fan . . . which is to say that when I was offered this tribute
in honour of Moore's 50th birthday, I wasn't sure at all I was
precisely the reader the authors had in mind.' So what did she think
Moore: Portrait of an Extraordinary Gentleman, from editors
smoky man and Gary Spencer Millidge? 'Portrait is immediately
accessible to anyone with even just a passing familiarity with
Moore's work. And more importantly, it's an absolutely fascinating
read. Portrait is not so much a retrospective (though
Millidge's 12 page biographical comic at the front does that neatly)
of Moore's illustrious career as it is equal parts birthday present,
professional tribute and celebrity roast.'
'Is the folk tale dying? Will mass media wipe out the oral
tradition, replacing that living and evolving heritage with ephemeral
entertainment? Jilali El Koudia is afraid so. Born into a rural
family in the ancient cultural crossroads of Morocco, he experienced
his mother's telling of folktales as a vital relief from daily
hardships. Now a prominent writer and translator, he feels it
urgently necessary to preserve the tradition that nurtured him,
before it disappears.' Lory
Hess receives an Excellence in Writing Award for her
wonderful review of El Koudia's Moroccan
Assistant Music Editor David
Kidney is a consistently wonderful writer, as he proves yet
again with our next review: 'You all recall Mister Lee Hays: the bass
singer from The Weavers. He was last seen in the Weavers reunion film
Wasn't That a Time. He passed away shortly thereafter. Robert
S. Koppelman, assistant professor of English at Broward Community
College and a banjo player and singer, has gathered together a rich
collection of Hays's writings. With these writings, and a Weavers'
album, Lee Hays will live on. His spirit is tangible on these pages.
As rough and tumble, as gentle, as opinionated and as caring as he
appeared in life . . . so too is he in written form.' Read more from
David on the subject of 'Sing
Out, Warning! Sing Out, Love!' The Writings of Lee Hays.
Lars Nilsson has
another biographical offering for us: 'Flora MacDonald was born in
1722 on South Uist, an island in the Hebrides. Her moment of glory
came in the aftermath to the 1745-46 Jacobite uprising in Scotland.
In the battle of Culloden on 16 April 1746 the Jacobite cause was
crushed by the Duke of Cumberland and his army, and with it the dream
of the free Scottish nation . . . In his Wee
Guide to Flora MacDonald David MacDonald tells the tale with
every detail there is to find. He adds pieces of information on the
situation in Scotland (and in America) in those rebellious times,
mentioning almost anyone who had a connection to Flora.'
Our final book review this week is a life or death matter.
explains 'Ben Sherwood, the author of The Man Who Ate the 747,
presents us with his own interpretation of life and death, in the
aptly titled The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud.' What
did Elizabeth think of Sherwood's novel? 'Think of The Sixth
Sense as written by Walt Disney,' says Elizabeth?
Hmmm . . . better read the review.
Craig Clarke here. It's been a banner month for our own
SPike Winch. Not only have the past few weeks seen his first solo review (previously he'd been collaborating with pal
David Kidney), and his first copy for What's New, but also his first letter in the GMR mail can.
Gene Serene wrote in to ask about SPike's knowledge of the Trio track, 'Da Da Da,' and we've got the exchange for you on our
Letters page. (Now, I'm not one to gossip, but I think SPike may be a little taken with Ms. Serene, because he's been humming 'Should I Stay or Should I Go' whenever he comes around the mail room for the past week or so. We'll see what transpires.)
Tom Garrett appears to be taken with GMR in general, at least as far as our
British Trad music reviews go. According to him, 'we have almost identical taste in books and music', and he lists such staff favorites as
Fairport Convention, early
Charles de Lint, and Emma Bull's
War for the Oaks among his own preferences. So, it seems that we have not only another satisfied customer, but a veritable soul mate in Mr. Garrett. He calls us 'an essential resource for the Brit Trad folkie'.
Also, Simon & Schuster Children's publicist
Alexis Burling wrote in to offer a gracious 'thank you' for Maria Nutick's continuing work on reviewing Holly Black's Spiderwick series, specifically the most recent installment,
The Ironwood Tree. And while singer/songwriter Dana Robinson found
Rick Hayes' review of his CD
Avenue of the Saints to be 'well-written...and insightful', he felt it might be more appropriately indexed under a different genre from where it was placed.
Cormier had an incredible time at a recent concert by
Danu. The group had
quite an impact on Faith; she's 'never seen a group who work out
their melodies quite like Danu. The performance was
all-around outstanding; the great instrumental performances wer
matched by tremendous singing. The group's focus on the music was
total, Faith 'could almost smell the concentration.' Check out
Faith's review to see why Danu inspired such enthusiasm.
David Kidney had the
chance to check out a small, intimate show by Tom Russel and Andrew Hardin. Russell performed some of his best
songs, with Hardin 'quiet, offering the odd unheard comment (for
Russell's ears only) and making himself known by the blistering leads
he would regularly squeeze from his Takamine.' The songs covered a
wide range of subjects -- from cowboys to train rides to cockfighting
(yes, cockfighting). Read David's review to get the full feeling of
this great show.
David Kidney and
SPike Winch here.
There's a bumper crop of CD reviews this issue. Yeah, but still
no @#$%in' review of Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros' new one!
Not yet, SPike, but there are some good ones.
Our fearless leader, Cat Eldridge, listened to the Red Stick Ramblers' Bring It On Down. Yeah, and every time I delivered his @#$%in' mail, or brought him his @#$%in' pizza, or popped open a Boddington's for him, he was up dancin' to the Red Stick Ramblers. He must've liked 'em because he says, 'this CD is so good we're going to buy -- yes BUY -- two tickets to their performance here this spring.' High @#$%in' praise indeed!!!
Then there's the batch of things that you did! Dave (that's Dav-ID Kidney for those 'a you who don't know 'im like I do) listened to a bunch of bluegrass albums, and found a common element in the guitar playing of Bryan Sutton. I'm not sure he liked all three of these albums, but, as always, he has somethin' to say about all of 'em: Bryan Sutton's Bluegrass Guitar, Jim Lauderdale's Headed for the Hills and Norman and Nancy Blake's Morning Glory Ramblers. As fer myself. . . whenever I hear the sounds of bluegrass guitar. . . I'm headed for the hills with all the other @#$%in' ramblers! But Dave also played a lot of Kevin Breit's new album John and the Sisters. He played this one loud and I dug it! I agree with 'im, it's 'powerful, fun blues. . . for putting the top down and cruising!'
The next album under the microscope is Iona's Branching Out. Peter Massey wasn't sure about this one at first. He thought he'd 'have to be in the right mood to enjoy [it] properly. . . but. . . it soon settled down and got [his] juices flowing.' Now there's a @#$%in' great image!
Me buddy Jack Merry had fiddle sounds comin' out of his office all week! And he looks at a couple of different albums, from a Scottish fiddler. Dawn Dance is an older solo album from Alasdair Fraser which Jack raves about, sayin' 'There are albums that are simply fey. . . blessed with something magical. . . beyond merely good. This is one of them.' Jack gets an Excellence in Writing Award for his comments here. He also liked Fraser's new album with Natalie Haas called Fire and Grace. He says, 'There is both fire and grace in [this] music. . . each listening has been more rewarding than the [last].'
Lenora Rose was fairly impressed by the Guarneri Underground's Wander this World CD. She describes their sound as '. . . hard rock mixes with bits of Irish fiddle, Middle Eastern-influenced singing, African and even Latin rhythms.' Mmmm, that sounds kind of int'restin'. And Lenora earned an Excellence in Writing Award for this review.
Lisa Spangenberg spent a quizzical week with Andrea Zonn's Love Goes On. She confesses that this 'album is difficult to pigeonhole musically and so is Andrea Zonn,' but Lisa was enough of a sport to give it a go and try and make some sense of Andrea's work.
There you have it folks. Another week, another fine batch of music reviews by all the usual suspects.
See ya' all nex' @#$%in' week!!!
With the sound of good music in me
ears, and a full belly too, I left the kitchen to return to the
Robert Graves Memorial Reading Room, where I had left the book I was
reading. . . but as I left, I wondered if this building would let me find me way back
11th of April, 2004
'I know that no one is going to believe
any of this. That's ok. If I thought you would, then I couldn't
tell you. Promise me that you won't believe one word.' -- Grandmother
Zofia from 'The Faery Handbag' by Kelly Link
The Neverending Session is the perfect session, here in the outskirts
of that sprawling city-state of the ethers, Samhain, which makes
it fantasy indeed, as 'perfect' is one of those things that you
know when you see it, but could never describe to anyone without
much waving of limb and rolling of eye taking the place of mere
words. 'Perfect' changes with the times and the people and the mood,
as it must in order to maintain perfectness.
Zina Lee here, GMR
reviewer and ofttimes player with The Neverending Session. It's
never morning, noon or night, when we're playing here at The Inn
at the Edge (also known as The Green Man Pub); rather, no
matter the time of day, it's always a darkling Pub Time, edges full
of deepening shadows, a dark gray-brown dusk that surrounds you
in a gathering fug of the ghosts of spilt alcohol, ashes drifting
from the fire, smoke laminated upon the walls and ceiling, permanently
sticky tables, and wooden floors that creak, the further you walk
into the pub. Time slows to a crawl or speeds up in manic gaiety
once inside the door, seemingly at its own choice, and the crack
is ninety as soon as you join the other musos at the table in the
On cold days, you call for a hot whiskey from Reynard there at
the bar, on cool days (and the weather in Samhain is often cool,
I feel, though some argue that it's often a lazy and warm summer
afternoon -- Samhain certainly seems to morph according to the viewpoint
of its inhabitants) it's a pint of your own, on rare hot days, a
shandy if you can get away with it without the lads noticing, or
it's a slagging for sure.
If there're two or three already playing, you stand for your shout
and carefully deliver the glistening pints onto the table between
Steve Hunt's waiting guitar and Bela's resting fiddle, turned onto
its side with the bow in its precarious resting place on the ribs.
Reynard's been talking of getting in help, which'd be kind of nice,
not having to trip to the bar for a new round, but then we'll have
to argue out about the tipping, since so many of us call in from
different sides of the globe. The lads keep hoping for someone who
looks good in a short skirt, or at least the males do, and the female
musos slag 'em to death for it, the pigs.
As all sessions do, the tunes of the time change and morph with
the fancy of the specific musos serenely frowning at bows and embouchures
and over their shoulders and knees in their blank way, there in
the corner next to the fireplace. Some of us are Irish or Scottish
players, others will throw in a bit of Morris or Old Time or of
that country just off Prince Edward Island. Still others of us have
different obsessions that color the tunes we play. Every now and
again, we'll tangent off into a fit of Simon and Garfunkel, or the
Beatles, and once we had a short spate of Cajun around Mardi Gras,
the punters clanking on glasses and ashtrays and silverware to join
in. Sometimes it's weapons down and everyone flitting about, half-spilling
drinks, roaring each other down, and slagging as good as we get
(especially at the bodhran and banjo players, with their skin necessarily
rivaling the rhinos' for thickness, but everyone eventually comes
in for their fair share of abuse). The music is only the excuse,
but an excuse we willingly often employ.
'D'you know this one?' says Jack Merry, one of our other resident
fiddlers, to a visiting piper, essaying a few notes of 'Hunter's
House' with a querying eyebrow, and we're soon off into another
set of tunes, reels again, but I expect sooner or later someone
will start in on a never-ending set of those fecking polkas until
someone starts throwing drink coasters at their heads.
Not so fond of polkas yourself, eh? Well, before you let that coaster
fly, have a look at the reviews we've got for you this week!
Cat Eldridge here. I had an exchange with an
Editor at a well known press who said that he hadn't sent us review
copies because he had given up on web zines; he said that every
one he read sounded like they had read Amazon and just copied the
comments. Fortunately he decided to read us! Now it does help if
you actually care about books and like reading them before you write
reviews, so sometimes it takes us a little longer to get a review
up. However, the delay this time was not because of a reviewer savoring
a book, but rather a package going awry in the mail. When I asked
the good folks at Simon and Schuster on Friday last why the latest
volume of Holly Black's The Spiderwick Chronicles had not
showed up, they said it had been sent out well over a month ago.
They promptly shipped two copies -- of course, I wanted to read
it too! -- and so Maria Nutick
started reading it this week. So what did she think of it? Let's
let her tell us: 'Is The
Ironwood Tree my very favorite book of the series so far?
No. Did I love it anyway? Without a doubt. The Spiderwick Chronicles
are sitting on my shelf next to Susan Cooper's The Dark is Rising
and Madeleine L'Engle's Time Quartet, and that should be
all I need to say.'
brings us our first book offering this week: 'Hugh Rawson is the
author of such interesting volumes as: Rawson's Dictionary of
Euphemisms and Other Doubletalk, Wicked Words, and Unwritten
Laws: The Unofficial Rules of Life as Handed Down by Murphy and
Other Sages. This book, Devious
Derivations, is an amateur etymologist's treasure, debunking
as it does popular etymologies for such words and phrases as posh,
S.O.S, and the f-word.'
Our Chief, Cat
Eldridge, is a fan of Simon Green's Nightside novels --
he declares that 'Simon writes some of the coolest narrative I've
ever read.' In his glowing review of the newest Green novel, he
says 'Detective John Taylor would be home anywhere in the metaverse
where there's a drink on the bar, dames in trouble, bad guys to
overcome, and a pay-off (preferably in cash) at the end of the case.
And it doesn't matter if you're dead as you still must pay him!
Will he save The Nightingale? Who is her father really? And does
either question really matter? No, because the plot isn't about
The Nightingale, but about describing a really weird place and its,
errr, unusual inhabitants. Nightingale's
Lament has everything I like in an urban fantasy novel --
an interesting and very cool protagonist, snappy dialogue, loads
of violence, a smidgen of sex, weird characters, a bit of a mystery,
and a pacing that never lets up.' Cat picks up an Excellence
in Writing Award for this review.
'This novel [I Was a Teenage Fairy] begins
with eleven-year-old Barbie Markowitz being thrust into the modelling
spotlight by her former beauty-queen mother. With her father practically
ignoring her, and her controlling mother paying all too much attention
to her, Barbie can only find solace with her best friend, Mab. Mab,
by the way, is the Teenage Fairy of the title. With fiery purple-red
hair and delicate green skin, Mab is a cranky, foul-mouthed, and
incredibly unpredictable pixie who longs to be photographed and
craves 'biscuits' (her code word for handsome specimens
of the male persuasion). Now that sounds like an interesting premise,
doesn't it? Find out what Elizabeth
Vail thought of Francesca Lia Block's book in this arresting
is expecting squishy missiles for her review of E. Rose Sabin's
A Perilous Power,
but instead she gets an Excellence in Writing Award: 'Book
reviewing can be a real test of courage sometimes. E. Rose Sabin's
work has received rave reviews, her novel A School for Sorcery
won the Andre Norton Gryphon award, her work is being compared to
the Harry Potter books regularly, but -- gulp -- even with
all that to speak for her, I just don't care for this book. While
you're getting ready to throw that rotten fruit, let me explain
Maria Nutick, hater of
comic book adaptation films, viewed Hellboy
under duress and now pronounces it...fabulous? Remember,
you heard it here first! Maria loves the writing, and the acting,
especially Ron Perlman's. She claims, 'Hellboy
has a wonderful duality about it; an action film with real emotions.'
has been watching a biographical film of jazz violin giant, Stephane
Grappelli: A Life in the Jazz Century uses film and
photography to document a long, influential musical career. Read
Gary's review, where he calls it 'a masterpiece of the art of film
Oh, do come in. I've been listening yet once more to a brilliant
new CD from Alasdair Fraser and Natalie Haas called Fire and
Grace. Good stuff, eh? Green Man oft times gets the most
amazing music, from the ever so traditional to the quirkiest of
ethnofolk. This week you'll find reviews that cover the classical
(Franz Schubert), Bluegrass (Bela Fleck and Edgar Meyer), punk country
and western (Mary Prankster), and a bit more. Next week, I'll have
a review of Fire and Grace as it's every bit as good as a
dram of the finest single malt!
English traditional artist Bill Jones has a new album out, Two
Year Winter, and one might expect that Vonnie
Carts-Powell who liked her (yes, her) previous release
would like this one. Alas you'd be wrong: 'I don't like this album
as well as Panchpuran, largely because I dislike music that
wallows in angst -- even if the misery is as lovely and atmospheric
as it is here.' Read her review to see why she found it so!
What makes a review worthy of an Excellence in Writing Award
is a mystery to me. I tried asking the Editors what the criteria
was but they muttered something 'about even higher quality than
usual around here and being easy to work with' before ordering another
round of Dragons Breath XXXX Stout, so I gave up. Be that as it
may this Excellence in Writing Award winning review by Richard
Condon of the Schubert
Piano Sonatas D. 958, D. 959 and D. 960 CD released by Sony
is a cracking good look at this disc. Just savour the opening paragraph:
'I don't know whether I am the only reviewer regularly to encounter
charming coincidences when writing reviews. In my case, something
often seems to happen that links up directly with whatever I happen
to be reviewing. In this case, while reading the CD booklet I discovered
that Franz Schubert composed these pieces, his final three sonatas,
in the year of life that remained to him after completing his second
and final song-cycle, the Winterreise. By chance, tomorrow
evening I shall be sitting in the Théâre de la Monnaie,
the Brussels opera house, listening to a live performance of the
Winterreise -- the winter's journey. If the liner notes mention
the collection of interrelated lieder that make up this masterpiece,
it is because the mournful tale of lost and irretrievable love told
by Wilhelm Müller's heart-wrenching poems, set to music by
Schubert, represents a uniformly bleak contrast to the often more
joyful music of Schubert's earlier years. This more sorrowful mood
also pervades a large part of the three last sonatas, even if there
are moments of relief and exultation.'
The Shetland band Shoormal suffers, as Scott
Gianelli notes, a malady that I meself have found to be
all too common among Celtic bands: 'While Migrant
does not suffer from any obvious weakness, the album does not really
distinguish itself as something special, either. The music is quite
pleasant, but one could argue that it is too pleasant, and not really
challenging. Having said that, any fan of straightforward female
harmonies will find this worth a listen, and Trevor Smith is a first-rate
guitarist as well. People looking for something light and melodic,
in a mainstream, non-traditional sort of way, could do much worse
Live at the Oak Center
General Store / folk forum, Volume One is a collection of
music made at the Oak Center General Store / folk forum on Highway
63, ten miles south of Lake City, Minnesota. After hearing this
CD, Peter Massey
wants to go there now! His final words are 'Honestly, you really
do need this album. After all, home grown 'organic' live music --
is better for you.'
Lars Nilsson likes
piping albums quite a bit thank you but Roddy MacDonald's Good
Drying 'is mainly an album for those who like the pipes
in different contexts. I will keep it as a showcase to take out
whenever my friends air preconceptions about highland pipes only
being fit for marching bands.' Check back for his review of Steeleye
Span's new album, They Called Her Babylon!
Sony, bless 'em, sent us not one but two releases by Bela Fleck
and Edgar Meyer: Music
for Two, a CD, Obstinato,
a DVD. It took Gary Whitehouse
not more than a few minutes to snatch them off the mail room sorting
pile and head off to his office. How good were these two releases
from a banjo virtuoso and an acknowledged master of the double-bass?
Gary says simply that 'Music For Two and Obstinato
are a sterling example of how to combine two kinds of media into
a package in which each part complements the other.'
is from Mary Prankster, who given her name, would at home in a Charles
de Lint novel alongside Donal's sister Miki, (a punk accordion player
in Forests of The Heart). Mary, Gary informs us, 'has left
behind, at least for now, most of her punk trappings and recorded
an album of acoustic country music. And that's not even the biggest
change in her life or career in the past year.' Read his Excellence
in Writing Award winning review for why this is so!
Of course, the Neverending Session's not always noisy. Sometimes
we'll call on someone for an air, or a singer'll drop in and get
called on for a song. Then the place grows quiet, everyone staying
still and gazing off into a huge and deepening chasm about a foot
from their chair as the singer or player sings from their heart
and gut; sometimes the old singers reach out to grasp the hand of
a bystander in the old way, as if the hand is an anchor to keep
them from sliding deeper into the land and time of which they sing.
An occasional quiet murmur of 'a good girl, good girl' or 'that's
it, now, ye boy' punctuates the performance, then a sighing silence
before the applause and approving calls. After a bit, we'll strike
up another set and we're off again, the punters' conversation rising
and falling over the music, an occasional shout punctuating the
It's not unheard of to look up and see a totally different set
of heads down over entirely different instruments at the end of
a set than when we first started. We get called in and out at different
times and spaces, and take our leave quietly and with little fuss
when we must go, knowing that we'll be back again soon, or forever
to pine for the Neverending Session in Samhain.
4th of April, 2004
'I remember years ago hearing a
record of pygmy music from the public library. It had all these
amazing chants and rhythms like I'd never heard before and it opened
my ears to music outside the western tradition. Tunnel vision is
the enemy of good music. Whether it's jazz or punk or anything else,
you have to fight against the purists who want to narrow the definition.
That's what kills music because it stifles it to death.'
-- Joe Strummer
The Green Man offices 'ave become a second 'ome fer me.
It's SPike writin'
from the deepest basement that the building's got. Dave (everybody
calls 'im Dav-ID around 'ere, but he's just Dave to me) has this
little office, underground, wif no windows, but lots of posters
on the wall, an' a stack of books wif pictures to look at, and CDs
to play, an' even old vinyl records, wif a Crosley record player,
jus' like the one I 'ad when I was a kid back at the home.
We've got autographed posters of some ol' jazz guy called Mose
Allison, and of Blackie and the Rodeo Kings. There's a print of
the Beatles' Anthology covers, signed by Klaus Voormann.
He's a German bloke who played bass on some Beatles' records, but
I remember 'im as the producer of Trio, 'DaDaDa!'
#$%^ me! I must be gettin' old!
Then this big ol' leather chesterfield which, if I put my feet
on one arm, and my head on the uvver I can sleep on quite comfortably!
I do this quite often, when I'm not runnin' copy up the stairs,
or zippin' off to the pizza place across the road, or poppin' cans
of Guinness or Boddington's for visitors. We never drink alone!
(Do we Dave?!?!)
Cat comes in once in a while wif assignments. 'SPike, could you
an' Dave listen to this?' Or Mia drops by wif a few new books. Once
John Lydon sent us a postcard. It wuz pinned up on the wall, but
some @#$%er walked off wiv it! I met Sid once. Vicious, you know.
He did it 'is way! He seemed all right to me. But we wuz both a
bit out of it!
The room next door is where they make the @#$%in' EIWAs.
If you've never seen one o' them. . . they're like these little
football trophies wif a picture of a leafy bloke grinnin' out at'ya
an' GMR EIWA scratched into a tiny foil bit. Nice! People
around 'ere fight for 'em.
Anyway. . . this week a bunch more CDs an' books an' DVDs an' stuff
came into the buildin'. I helped unpack 'em. An' the people that
work upstairs like Grey an' Stephen an' Gary an' all the rest worked
really hard to review some of 'em. If you can call that 'work'!
They don't have 'tunnel vision'. They see the BIG #$%^in' picture!
Like Uncle Joe Strummer said.
If you remember, awhile back all the editors were
talking about the books and music they've discovered by working
for GMR, things they'd never have encountered otherwise.
This week, Craig Clarke,
our Letters Editor, earns an Excellence in Writing Award
for revisiting that topic. '[M]y favorite of all the bands to which
I have been introduced through reviewing is the Saw Doctors,' says
Craig. 'Ever since I heard Play it again, Sham!, it has never
left the couple dozen or so discs that are in my constant rotation.
This band from Tuam, Ireland, have managed to take their influences
from their home country and from American rock and make their songs
universal, while writing solely of their own experiences.' Last
week, Craig reviewed the new CD and DVD from the Saw Doctors, Live
in Galway. This week, come along with him as he sees them
live in Boston,
and then as he interviews Leo
Moran, one of the Saw Doctors' front men.
Now busy Craig
starts off the book section for us. He says 'I've become quite fond
of the recent flood of books about books, specifically books about
book collecting and the characters who engage in this rare and costly
pasttime. Beginning with Arturo Perez-Reverte's novel The Club
Dumas (which was adapted into the film The Ninth Gate),
I researched more information about the necessities involved in
such a pursuit and the type of person best suited for it...Now celebrity
biographer John Baxter has added his own insight to this subgenre
with A Pound
'As a reader,' says reviewer Matej
Novak, 'you may not be able to relate to the specific details
of Kate DiCamillo's The Tiger Rising. You may not know what
it is like to lose a parent at a young age. You may not be familiar
with life in the American south -- or, more specifically, life in
a small Florida motel. And you probably haven't had the experience
of discovering a live caged tiger behind this unlikeliest of places.
Yet there is a resounding familiarity to this gem of a short novel,
a story unmistakably about the experience and magic of childhood.'
DiCamillo is rapidly becoming a favorite of Green Man reviewers
because of her magical touch: 'although the story is set in the
real world, there is a lingering sense of the fantastical lurking
just beyond the edges of the page', notes Matej in his careful
Lenora Rose is
a fan of Nalo Hopkinson. Lenora explains, 'Nalo's strongest point
is undeniably her skill with language, bending it and stretching
it until the creoles creep into your mind and feel more natural
than plain English, and until the plain English beats and sparkles.
There is a sharp sense of rhythm to her prose. She is also skilled
at coming up with characters who are deeply organic, not built as
a series of definable traits, but grown into their current shape,
and growing still. Her plots are rarely so much about action than
about tranformation: coming of age, coming into one's own, becoming
something new, overcoming the things which had trapped the characters
in broken shells. The plots meander sometimes, but tangents in the
story are invariably deeply important to the central theme, connecting
intuitively to the core of things. And yes, there are clear links
to folklore, myth, and faith, from a dizzying array of sources.'
But our very professional Lenora doesn't let starry eyed fandom
get in the way of her objectivity, as you'll see in her thorough
critique of Hopkinson's The
Salt Roads -- a critique which earns Lenora an Excellence
in Writing Award.
'Originally published in 1999, The Arthur of the English
is the second volume in a series of scholarly anthologies centered
on the Arthurian literature of the Middle Ages. The series as a
whole is a cooperative effort of the University of Wales Press and
the Vinaver Trust and marks a substantial revision of the Trust's
earlier history, the one-volume Arthurian Literature in the Middle
Ages edited by R. S. Loomis.' Reviewer Robert
Tilendis was suitably impressed by this ponderous tome,
yet manages to encapsulate his thoughts on the book in a review
which is both detailed and interesting. Robert picks up an Excellence
in Writing Award for this review of The
Arthur of the English: The Arthurian Legend and Medieval English
Life and Literature (W.R.J. Barron, editor).
2004 is approaching, and so our thoughts turn once again
to James Joyce. Christopher
White brings us a look at an unabridged audio edition of
a series of vignettes read by such notables as Colm Meaney, Frank
McCourt, and Fionnula Flanagan. Christopher says '[I]t is difficult
today to appreciate the paintings of Monet as being radical, as
they were seen at the time of their creation; so, too, it is difficult
to keep in mind that Joyce was among the originators of the modern
voice in literature. The structure and content of the Dubliner
stories, with their 'slice of life' approach and often lack of overt
dramatic conflict and resolution, are today thoroughly familiar
forms and devices, but were part of the explorations engaged in
by Joyce and his contemporaries that transformed our literary tradition.'
In our past two issues, Huw
Collingbourne has shared information on the history of tarot,
and suggested the appropriate books readers might obtain to begin
building a really first rate tarot library. In the last of his three
tarot pieces, Huw summarizes '[T]here are decks based on gemstones,
cats, witches, The Lord Of The Rings and several Celtic and
Arthurian themes. In fact, the tarot has been adapted for just about
all tastes. Some of these decks are, it has to be said, merely frivolous.
Some are fairly damn awful. Far too many are little more than slavish
copies of older designs. To review all the decks currently available
would be a gargantuan and ultimately pointless task. What I can
do, however, is to guide you to a selection of my personal top ten
historically significant and aesthetically pleasing decks.' And
so he does, with an essay entitled My
Top Ten Tarot Decks.
Jack Merry here.
Bela's new band, Shades of Grey, was well-received when they played
in the Great Hall last week. See the man over there sipping a Young's
Double Chocolate Stout? That's Paul
Brandon, author of The Wild Reel, a forthcoming novel
from Tor which is
about the Fey in Ireland and in his home city of Brisbane.
While here, he handed a copy of this new novel to Cat Eldridge,
who reviewed his first novel, Swim
the Moon. Right after the concert our Editor was off to
his office where he's been ever since! Paul stayed around to take
part in the Neverending Session's post-concert playing. He plays
guitars and bodhrán with Rambling
House, a Celtic band.
The cute lassie over near the Bar sipping a red wine, a Shiraz
I believe, is Kissy Black, publicist for Dualtone, and a fan of
the Rogues -- a Celtic band in her city of Nashville - she tells
me they played at her wedding! Kissy's married to singer songwriter
and she says they both adore Celtic music, which is how they came
to be here tonight.
Now let's see what we have for reviews this week...
I've no doubt 'tall that Kim
Bates loves Celtic music in all of its varied forms as she
notes in her intro to a review of three CDs (Jason Whelan's Blur,
The Tim Molloys' Wrecked,
and The Shite 'n' Onions,
Volume 1 collection): 'Here at GMR we like the raucous
music that builds on the Anglo-Celtic traditions; from the Oysterband
to the Pogues, we're there. And this omnibus review finds me with
a nice collection of raucous artists, from St. John's Newfoundland
to St. Paul, Minnesota, and beyond. We're drawing on multiple traditions
here, with music for wild, discontented souls.' So were they shite?
Or were they considerably better than much of the shite passing
as Celtic music these days? Read her review to find out!
Kim also loves reggae and ska which is why this album found her
approval: 'The Slackers have produced a seamless album with Close
My Eyes. The instrumentals are tight and well produced,
and both Lyn's vocals and the backing vocals go down with the ease
of rum punch. Before you know it, you've been playing the disc over
and over, and it seems like a good idea to have maybe one more listen
before actually writing the review. But here it is at last, an unambiguous
Dualtone is one of our favourite labels around here. Kissy Black
sends the most amazing items for review! Memory
Girls is yet another fine release from them as Craig
Clarke notes: That's Doctor Zanes to you. After an unsatisfying
run in Boston's indie rock band The Del Fuegos (with his brother
Dan, who has since gone on to a career making children's CDs), Warren
Zanes went back to school and got four degrees, including a Ph.D.
in Cultural Theory. Upon settling down with a girlfriend he had
previously dated fifteen years before (singer April March), Zanes
was 'not sure what to do with the [intervening] ex-girlfriends.'
Never having lost his interest in music, a solution became obvious:...'
Now go read the review to see what the solution was and why it took
years for this CD to be released!
Readers of Green Man might remember that guitarist Chuck
Mead of BR549 was on every track of Dressed in Black: A Tribute
to Johnny Cash, a CD that Gary Whitehouse reviewed for us. So
what did David Kidney
think of Tangled in the
Pines, their new CD? Quite a bit: 'Yeehaw! This here is
some good shit-kicking music, played by a bunch of rockin' country
Pay attention now! Peter Massey
has a history lesson for you geezers reading this: 'If you are long
enough in the tooth to remember the 60's folk group The Critics
Group (aka The Singers Club), you will know that Enoch Kent was
a founding member. Previous to that, back in the 50's, Enoch was
also a member of the Scottish group the Reivers, who were at the
forefront of the folk revival in Scotland. Enoch was born and raised
in Glasgow, but after moving to London, in the 60's he immigrated
to Canada. Here he has performed in many folk clubs and festivals
across the country, to wide acclaim. So it seems that, after nearly
forty years, Enoch returns to the recording studio with this, his
second outing since his 2002 release I'm a Working Chap.'
Now read the rest of his review to if Kent's new release, Songs
of Love, Lust and Loathing, is worth your time!
You can always trust No'am
Newman to be honest about a CD, as he is here in his assessment
of Katie Barbato's The
Tapestry Room: 'Well, I've had this disc for nigh on two
months, and I still can't think of anything in particular to describe
it. It's not as if the disc hasn't been played; on the contrary,
I've listened to it many times on repeat play and I can even sing
or hum bits of it when I'm in the shower. No, it's more due to the
fact that the disc is undistinguished, blending in with many other
discs which I've heard over the years.'
and Unedited: The Historic 1965 Carnegie Hall Return Concert
got this praise from Kelly
Sedinger: 'I have never heard the original recording, so
I cannot make a direct side-by-side comparison of the two; but listening
to the current recording (issued in part to observe the centenary
of Horowitz's 1903 birth), I'm not sure I'd want to. The musicality
of the performance comes shining through, and in any event, we now
know that the current recording is authentic. On the basis of this
recording, I have to wonder what other gems of live performance
sit in the vaults of the record companies, awaiting reissue.'
Big Earl Sellar
never ceases to surprise me with what he likes for music! This time
out it's classical guitar as he looks at two discs from John Williams,
and El Diablo Suelto:
'In the world of classical guitar, one name stands out: Segovia.
Every player before or since is measured against that Master musician.
Of all those players whose names are mentioned as the New Segovia
(much like a new Dylan), John Williams is one of the most prominent.
An exceptionally gifted player, Williams inserts emotion into his
playing that most guitarists, regardless of genre, would be hard
pressed to achieve. The man is a performing genius, in every sense
of the word. On these two discs, he attempts to move away from the
standard Germanic Classical school to explore other works in his
tradition, sounds largely influenced by the Mediterranean and the
influence of Spanish culture.'
quietly notes that alternative-country Dolorean's Not
Exotic CD has music that is 'beautifully orchestrated without
overwhelming the poetic lyrics, played and sung in a straightforward
manner.' Quite a contrast from BR549!
From our beloved Endicott Studio: 'The Winter
2004 edition of the Journal of Mythic Arts contains mid-winter
poetry from Kim Antieau, Ari Berk, Charles de Lint, Theodora Goss,
Mario Malosevic and Jane Yolen -- all published for the first time
here, along with one reprint poem from Jane. We also have terrific
articles on Finnish myth from Ari Berk, Russian fairy tales from
Helen Pilinovsky, and Spanish Carnaval from Alan Weisman. Our featured
story this edition is by Emma Bull, and our featured artist is the
Anglo-Norwegian felt maker Yuli Somme. Book reviews, upcoming mythic
events, and more can be found on the new Endicott
Studio Bulletin Board.'
I've heard all sorts of $%^& around 'ere. Good an' bad! An' sometimes
when I'm all by meself, I take my ol' Telecaster from behind the
chesterfield, an' play some pygmy songs like I usedta wif me bruvver
Like I said. . . it's become my second 'ome. . .
Brandon and Kissy Black appear in this issue courtesy of their own
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Entire Contents Copyright
2004, The Green Man Review. All Rights Reserved.
Updated 25 April 2004 0:400 GMT (MN)