I hate this fucking song. (See our coda for the story of this quote.)
Sorry ’bout the delay in getting your Queen’s Lament IPA to you, it’s been a very busy day as we’ve got a hand fastening on the Greensward and the brides changed their minds this morning on what libations they wanted for the reception afterwards.
And I’m down workers as Gus needed them for desperately needed work in Macgregor’s Kitchen Garden which is much larger than the quaint name it has would suggest. Though it’s only large on the inside as that Doctor helped design it, as he considered an interesting thing to do as a form of applied geography. It stays warm even in the coldest of winters as it’s not really here. And yes there was a Head Gardener here by that name when the Doctor engineered it.
The weather’s been sunny and warm so almost everyone here is finding an excuse to be outside. The Kitchen staff has been out on the back terrace that borders on the Kitchen (which is actually in the basement level right below our Pub, which is in the first level of basement) setting up the reception. I should tell you that Kitchen and Pub have full banks of triple glazed leaded glass windows so they’re cheerfully bright spaces when the sun reaches this side of Kinrowan Hall.
So I wonder what we’ve for you this edition …
Eric provided an excellent omnibus review of five of Rosemary Sutcliff’s novels of Roman and post-Roman Britain: The Eagle of the Ninth, The Silver Branch, Frontier Wolf, The Lantern Bearers, and Dawn Wind. ‘Rosemary Sutcliff’s Roman Britain series is historical fiction at its best – excellent historical details, interesting characters, compelling stories, and a seamless blend of fiction with history. Though ostensibly for young adults, these books are excellent for adults. Sutcliff successfully brings the struggle between Rome and the barbarians to life, covering the back-and-forth battle under changing circumstances and across the centuries.’
Following up on his omnibus review of her historic fantasy Romano-British novels, Eric reviewed Rosemary Sutcliff’s Sword at Sunset, one of her books about legendary Celtic Britain. ‘There are many novelizations of King Arthur, but Rosemary Sutcliff’s Sword at Sunset stands out for its raw emotion and storyline stripped down to the essentials. The fully drawn characters sell you entirely on her version of the legend.’
Grey found she couldn’t put down this YA fantasy novel, Robin McKinley’s Sunshine. ‘C.J. Cherryh and Orson Scott Card are the leading masters in the science fiction/fantasy field at writing real aliens, aliens who are truly alien, not just humans with an extra leg or scales. With Sunshine, Robin McKinley joins their ranks.’
Jason reviewed a Lisa Goldstein book that blends historical fiction with horror and fantasy. ‘The Alchemist’s Door takes place mostly in 1580s Prague. The city is a nexus of great magical energy, where the barrier that separates the world of men and the world of demons has grown thin.’
Leona, an admitted fan, gave an enthusiastic review to Karl Wagner’s epic anti-hero tales in Midnight Sun: The Complete Stories of Kane. ‘The basic plots of all stories in this book, which range from prehistoric to modern and even futuristic settings, can be broken down into such simple terms and explanations, but that misses the brawny vitality filling the pages. Inspired by Wilde, Lord Gro, and Marlowe, Wagner used his training as a psychiatrist to gift Kane with a more complex personality than many writers give “good” heroes.’
Marian knew nothing of the story in a Lisa Goldstein book she reviewed, which she summarized thus: ‘Dark Cities Underground is a story of what ifs. What if Alice in Wonderland was a true story, but rather than Lewis Carroll being the originator it was really Alice Liddell who experienced the adventure and told the story to Charles Dodgson? Or what if Lord of the Rings was a tale told to J. R. R. Tolkien by his son Christopher? Or Peter Pan was the adventure of Peter Llewelyn Davis as told to J. M. Barrie? This book’s premise is: What if “Jeremy in Neverwas” was really the adventures of E. A. Jones’s son Jeremy Jerome Gerontius Jones, now simply known as Jerry Jones, and not just a story made up for children?’
Marian also reviewed an earlier entry by Lisa Goldstein, which she enjoyed quite a lot. ‘Walking the Labyrinth is a joy to read. Goldstein provides a very detailed story without wasting any words, and leaves the reading hoping for more. The different levels of story leave you guessing about what will be discovered next.’
Robert had high praise for a work by an author he frequently reviews. ‘Science fiction, like any other genre, has its landmarks, those works that stand above their cohort and may, all else being equal, stand above most works from other genres as well (and I include so-called “mainstream” literature among genres). Gene Wolfe’s The Book of the New Sun is widely recognized as being one of these: a work that established a new paradigm for science fiction as a literary form and may rank as one of the great works of American literature in general.’
Robert reported in with the first two installments of a young readers’ fantasy trilogy, Kenneth Oppel’s Silverwing and Sunwing. ‘Kenneth Oppel has built an intriguing fantasy world, with a mythology and history of its own, from the lives of the creatures of forest and jungle. Interestingly enough, many of the good guys are creatures that people don’t especially treasure – bats, rats and owls. But then, some of the bad guys are bats and owls, too, and the good guys aren’t always that appealing. Missing are the standard characters of “animal” fantasy – no bears, foxes, wolves, or badgers appear as characters. In spite of repeated demonstrations of affection among the bats, there is little here that could be called “cuddly.” ‘
Michelle starts off her look at American baseball films this way: ‘In the big inning, God created baseball. Or perhaps it was Loki, patron of athletics and other tricks; the origins are shrouded in antiquity. There is also debate about which mortal first received the divine inspiration. Abner Doubleday often gets credit, though some historians claim the game was played in England in the 1700s. What is known is that, in 1845, a team called the New York Knickerbockers adopted the rules of the game we know as baseball. In New Jersey that summer, they played the first organized baseball game, and America acquired its own pantheon.’ You can read her delightful essay here.
Jennifer offers chilaquiles for breakfast on a hot summer morning. No, really. When your ears are sweating a little, you don’t notice the heat outside so much. Your clothes smell delicious all day. Takes ten minutes. Any lucky soul who shares your breakfast with you will roll over with their paws in the air and love you for a solid week afterward.
Gary liked both the art and the writing in Larry Gonick’s The Cartoon History of the Modern World, Part I: ‘Harvard mathematician Larry Gonick continues his wildly successful Cartoon History of the Universe series with this book, an irreverent cartoon look at world history “From Columbus to the U.S. Constitution.” Anyone who loves history, comics or both should have this volume.’
David wrote a second review of Jochen Ross and Jens-Uwe Popp’s The Ten Islands because … well, he can tell you. ‘I must confess I’ve had this CD on my shelf for over a year. I listen to it regularly when my brain is abuzz with distractions and plans. The music of The Ten Islands has a calming effect. It’s quite wonderful. Why have I taken so long to review it, you might well ask. I did write a review, which seems to have been lost in the ether. So let’s look at this album again, with the knowledge that it’s taken on a more important role than it had when we first listened.’
Gary reviews Heat Haze, an offering from the ‘ambient country’ band SUSS. ‘I was immediately drawn to the sound of SUSS when I came upon it on their Bandcamp site. To me, it echoes and carries on the sounds pioneered by Bill Elm, Naim Amor and Co., in the 90s Tucson band Friends of Dean Martinez. SUSS takes the classic western music sounds of baritone guitar, pedal steel, acoustic guitar, resonator, and occasional harmonica, and lays them over an evocative multi-layered electronic drone.’
Gary also reviews one from the Medicine Singers’. ‘The Medicine Singers’ self-titled debut release is yet another mind-blowing musical project out of Indian Country. This year of 2022 seems to be the year for them! Although this one includes some guest vocals from Joe Rainey, a Red Lake Ojibwe whose debut recording Niineta I reviewed earlier this year, it mainly features members of the Eastern Medicine Singers, most or all of whom are from the Wampanoag Tribe and related tribes of the Eastern Algonquin in the Northeastern U.S.’
Gary is pretty excited about the post-modern Exotica on the debut recording from guitarist Nick Millevoi and keyboardist Ron Stabinsky who call themselves Grassy Sound, titled The Sounds of Grassy Sound. Especially because it combines his love of old cowboy songs with his love of … the Meat Puppets? ‘The final glorious track presents them performing “Tumbling Tumbleweeds” with Cris Kirkwood on bass and vocals, Curt Kirkwood on vocals, and Derrick Bostrom on drums and joined by Millevoi and Stabinsky doing what they do.’
Meredith had high praise for Susan McKeown’s first solo album Bushes & Briars. ‘This album showcases the range of McKeown’s voice, as she ably conveys the emotions of the songs, whether she is singing in English or Gaelic. At the same time, the distinctly contemporary arrangements breathe new life into the traditional material.’
Michael found that it was worth waiting four years for Spiral Dance to release another CD, this time The Quickening. ‘There is plenty of light and shade throughout the CD, with equally effective acoustic or electric guitar work from Nick Carter helping to provide the right mood for each song. The production is well layered, the sound is full and even the cover design somehow manages to evoke the overall feel of the CD. This is still distinctively Spiral Dance but with more of an edge and it is all the better for it. I do hope it’s not another few years until the next one.’
Patrick could hardly find enough superlatives for Susan McKeown and Lorin Sklamberg’s collaboration entitled Saints & Tzadiks, which he said ‘… is a unique and amazing work of aural art; full of unexpected delights and twists that will leave the listener wondering what’s next – and wondering how McKeown and Sklamberg put it all together without becoming tongue-tied. It’s by far one of the most original CDs I’ve heard in years. One can only hope it’s not the last pairing for this dynamic duo.’
Patrick also enjoyed Lowlands, Susan McKeown’s sixth studio release. ‘McKeown borrowed from quite a crop of musicians on this album, a list too numerous to mention in this review. She has an uncanny ability to recognize just who – or what – will provide a perfect accompaniment on each track. I can only shake my head in amazement at her talent. She is a true musical genius, a rarity in this age of sound bites and two-minute pop hits.’
Our What Nots are of a Dragonish manner, and let’s have Camille start off for us: ‘Like every Folkmanis puppet I’ve so far seen, the Baby Dragon Puppet is a marvel of workmanship for the price: carefully stitched seams, articulated wings, darts along the inside of the limbs and belly to allow for movement and keep shape. The tag tells us it’s made in China, so we know who to thank.’
Mia finishes off with a look at four of Folkmanis’s creations, to wit Blue Dragon, Green Dragon, Three Headed Dragon, and Phoenix and she says, ‘Oooooh, shiny! I have a box of dragons here! Folkmanis makes the best puppets ever, and their dragons are some of the finest of their puppets.’
Once upon a rainy, cold night the concierge at the hotel we staying at in London said that Eric Burdon was playing a few streets away at a club near to the hotel. Sounded interesting so we got our anoraks and walked there. Club might’ve held a hundred but there was no more than few dozen there. It was was very obvious that most were more interested in their drinks than the music that would soon be playing that night.
Eric came out and introduced the rest of the band — Brian Auger and Brian’s son, Karma. They preceded to play a seventy five minute set with no break. The obligatory encore of course included ‘The House of The Rising Sun’. But before Burdon performed this, he said ‘I hate this fucking song’ and explained he played it several hundred times every year, starting in the late sixties. I think he was more bitter about his vast body of work was essentially being ignored except for this song and a few others such as ‘We Gotta Get Out Of This Place’ which the Vietnam set TV show China Beach used, but they used the version done by Katrina and The Waves.
The song as recorded here was performed by Eric Burdon & the Animals on the 8th of May 1967 at the Marquee Club, London. It’s not quite the song that he’d grow to hate as it’s presented more as a talking blues song which makes sense as the Newcastle lad that Burdon was thought he was a bluesman.