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Book Review: Don’t you have time to think?
by Lang Reid
Feynman was a brilliant man who was a professor of Theoretical Physics in
America. He was awarded a Nobel Prize for his work on quantum
electrodynamics. The true nature of the man can be seen from his response to
questions asked as to what it felt like to receive such a world honor. “I
don’t see that it makes any point that someone in the Swedish Academy
decides that this work is noble enough to receive a prize – I’ve already got
the prize. The prize is finding the thing out, the kick in the discovery,
the observation that other people use it (my work) – those are the real
things, the honors are unreal to me.”
Apparently, according to the letters in this new book “Don’t you have the
time to think?” (ISBN 0-141-02113-6, Penguin books, 2005, edited by Michelle
Feynman), the great scientist was going to turn down the prize, but the news
of the award was given to the press before he could stop the process.
Though, of course, this might have been grandstanding, something he was
often accused of.
This new book is a collection of letters, collated into around five year
interval sections, running from 1929 through to 1987, the year before his
death from cancer.
He could be short, to the point of almost being irascible or rude, as can be
seen in his letter to a Science producer at the BBC in London, where he
wrote, “I looked at your enclosure ‘Traveling in Time’ but didn’t read
beyond the second sentence because I also believe that time travel cannot be
Yet he could be patient and charitable, assisting many young students to
continue their studies of physics, even to the point of contacting a
professor he knew in Poland to have a Polish student’s visa extended.
He was very proud of his family, whom he obviously loved very deeply, hand
writing long letters such as the three pager from Athens which he finished
by writing, “PS, If you can’t read the above handwriting, have no fear – it
is unimportant ramblings. I am well and in Athens.”
For those people who have been admirers of Feynman, and I am one of those,
this book is an interesting exercise in trying to fathom the character of
this very complex man. Yet he was a man who could describe complex physics
in terms that made it understandable for the layman. So much so, that his
television lectures were immensely popular all over the world.
At B. 495 in Bookazine, it is an outstanding book of communiqués written by
an outstanding human being. And it is those last two words that make this
book so memorable. Richard Feynman may have been one of the great thinkers
of the 20th century, but he was also a human being, with all the fears and
frailties and abilities that human beings possess. He just made less of some
traits and more of others. That was Feynman’s legacy. Your job is to try and
make your own judgment reading his letters and decipher his lust for life.
Mott’s CD review: Audience
Alive and Kickin’ and Screamin’ and Shoutin’
In the Audience have been Mott the Dog and Meow the Cat
After the release of their fourth album ‘Lunch’ (1972), a very
lacklustre affair, Britain’s premier Art-Rock band ‘Audience’ imploded.
Things had started so promisingly with their original self titled debut
album in 1969 released by Polydor Records. But although it met with
great critical acclaim the record buying public turned a deaf ear and
hardly a copy left the record shop. The band was immediately dropped
like a hot potato by Polydor, to be immediately picked up by the new
progressive rock label Charisma Records run by Tony Stratton Smith, who
had been impressed with the band when he saw them supporting Led
Zeppelin at the Lyceum in London, England.
The band was then allowed into the studio and given as much time as they
wanted to come up with a new album. The band was perhaps given a bit too
much rope. Writing and producing the album themselves, ‘Friends,
Friends, Friend’ is a good album, but lacked any real control. But it
did establish ‘Audience’ as a contender in the eternal rock stars quest
for fame and fortune. The record sold in reasonable quantities and so
encouraged after a year’s touring they returned to the studio, this time
under the production care of Gus Dudgeon.
When they appeared back into the light from the studio, they had created
a masterpiece: ‘House On The Hill’ (1971). Gus Dudgeon had done a
wonderful job in bringing out the strengths in these fine young
musicians. The writing was superb, and the selection of Jay Hawkins ‘I
Put A Spell On You’ was literally inspired. The title track summed up
the sound ‘Audience ‘had developed for themselves.
Howard Werth had a unique soulful voice, and his choice of instrument,
an electric nylon strung guitar, gave the band a distinctive sound.
Keith Gemmell was perhaps the number one saxophone and flute player of
his day. It can be fairly laid at Keith Gemmell’s door that he really
made the saxophone a hard rock instrument, whilst his flute playing lent
light and colour to the sound. In Trevor Williams on bass and Tony
Connor on drums they had a rock solid rhythm section to build upon. Tony
Connor’s style also gave the band a bit of a jazzy feel, so there were
not many elements of music that were left out of the ‘Audience’s’
But even with the release of a separately recorded single ‘Indian
Summer’ (1971), which started to rapidly climb up the American charts,
the band and record label felt despondent about their lack of immediate
commercial success, which in hindsight is hardly surprising considering
the competition they were up against, Led Zeppelin, Free, Genesis, Pink
Floyd, etc. They should have perhaps bided their time instead of pushing
out the poor ‘Lunch’ and splitting up.
Keith Gemmell joined various bands including the brilliant but
underrated ‘Sammy’ and ‘Stackridge’ before concentrating on a successful
career in session work. Trevor Williams followed Keith Gemmell into
session work. Tony Connor took over the drum stool of ‘Hot Chocolate’
where he remains today. Howard Werth had a solid solo career as well as
toying with the idea of replacing Jim Morrison in ‘The Doors’, an avenue
that was fortunately pretty quickly closed.
Rock ‘n’ roll is a funny old world and after often bumping into each
other over the years they decided after thirty three years to give it
another go. Keith Gemmell, Howard Werth, and Trevor Williams were all
keen, but it was too much to ask Tony Connor to give up the security of
his position behind the kit with Hot Chocolate who have a very heavy
So the hunt was on for a new skinsman, the band had to search long and
hard to find somebody as versatile as their former drummer. But when
they came across John Fisher they had their man. He had plenty of rock
experience, including a stint with the Blue Bishops, but had also served
in big bands, leaving himself open to any form of music. As ‘Audience’
were always just as likely to slide into bossa nova, folk, jazz, or kick
off into heavy progressive rock, or even the blues, ‘Audience’ had
always refused to be pigeonholed, as any one of these things. John’s
open mindedness was essential, so was his sense of humour, playing with
this bunch of jokers.
Once rehearsals were complete for the first time in thirty three years
‘Audience’ hit the road. After their first tour the last concert at Deal
in Kent’s Astor Theatre was recorded for release. Some may say that a
live album from Audience may be thirty three years too late, as if a
live album had been released in 1973, it may have broken them into the
big time then. But better late than never I say.
There’s something about this album that defies believe If these guys
have been apart for so long, how come they have almost telepathic sense
in their play whilst at the same time being so relaxed, and obviously
enjoying themselves? You can actually hear them grinning at one another
through the music as they play along. One could be forgiven for thinking
they had done nothing else in the intervening years.
There are ten songs on display. Three from ‘The House On The Hill’,
opener ‘Your Not Smilin’ - a jaunty and well chosen song to play first
up, the haunting ‘I Had A Dream’ and a ten minute version of the title
song with plenty of improvisation from Keith Gemmell; one song from
their debut ‘Leave It Unsaid’ and one from Friends, Friends, Friend; the
moving ‘Nothin’ You Said’; which leaves room for two songs from Howard
Werth’s last solo album, ‘The Evolution Myth Explodes’ - a Werth
composition Zig-Zag and Swirl, plus a stunning interpretation of Lennon
and McCartney’s ‘I Wanna Be Your Man’, which the boys originally wrote
for ‘The Rolling Stones’ when they could not write themselves a hit back
in 1963. Audience have taken the song, taken it apart, and slowly burnt
it back together again. There is no point doing cover versions unless
you have something to add to it or a different slant to add. ‘Call Me
Responsible’ is a chance for Keith Gemmell to show of his skills and
sense of humour. This is immediately followed by the old James Brown
classic ‘The Bells’ which gives Howard Werth his chance to show that the
talents of his throat have in no way diminished. Finally, as an encore,
the band launches into the late great Tim Rose’s ‘Morning Dew’, which
will send shivers up and down your spine, such is the emotion poured
into the song by the band.
As a live album it may have come a little late in the band’s career, but
nothing diminishes pure raw talent. I for one hope that the band gets
some more belated success, as news seeps through that we may be treated
to an all new studio album later this year.
You may think the name of this album a little strange but actually it
just goes to send up the band’s sense of humour. The album cover shows
an audience sitting in complete boredom watching a band, until you look
a little closer and realize that it is a collage of the band themselves
in the audience watching themselves (the look of distaste on Keith
Gemmell’s face is hilarious). Which just goes to show that Audience are
indeed ‘Alive and Kickin’ and Screamin’ and Shoutin’.
Keith Gemmell: Saxophone, Flute
Howard Werth: Vocals, Guitar
John Fisher: Drums
Trevor Williams: Bass Guitar
You’re Not Smilin’
Zig-Zag And Swirl
Leave It Unsaid
Nothin’ You Do
I Wanna’ Be Your Man
Call Me Responsible
I Had A Dream
The House On The Hill
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