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Book Review: The Da Vinci Code
by Lang Reid
all the “shock, horror” being put about over the Da Vinci Code film (which I
believe was fuelled by Sony pictures to get more bums on seats at the movie
houses), I felt it was worthwhile repeating my review of more than two years
ago, so if you want to read the book before the movie, then read the review
The Da Vinci Code (hard cover) by Dan Brown was released by Doubleday
publishing (ISBN 0-385-50420-9) as a whopping 450 page epic.
The story begins with an American symbologist in Paris, Robert Langdon, who
becomes the chief suspect in the murder of the curator of the Grand Gallery
of the Louvre, the home of Da Vinci’s famous painting of the Mona Lisa.
The French police begin tracking Langdon, who meets up with a deciphering
expert, a Ms. Sophie Neveu. Ms Neveu works for the French police, and is the
estranged granddaughter of the murdered curator.
On the other side of the story is a fanatical sect of the Catholic Church,
willing to stop at nothing to get their hands on the Holy Grail, a mystical
chalice that is looked after by the murdered curator, the successor to many
who have looked after the secret for centuries.
As the story unfolds, more people are dragged into the search, some on the
side of protecting the knowledge, and others on the side of destroying its
information. Throw in some modern day bounty hunters, a knight of the realm,
a combination of hundreds of years old logic and modern computerized web
crawling, and you are starting to see the bones of the plot.
Plot and sub-plot, twists and turns, it is all there with an amazing turn of
events at the end which may leave some readers stunned, others disappointed,
but nobody will have been able to guess the ending. The butler didn’t do it
– but he almost did!
Other authors and critics have given this book plaudits such as “pure
genius”, “the finest mystery”, “fascinating”, “perfect for history buffs,
conspiracy nuts, puzzle lovers, or anyone who appreciates a great riveting
story.” What can I say, other than that it is a damn good read.
This book is a historical who dunnit without peer. The writing itself is
superb, with author Brown dropping hints at the end of chapters that make
you turn the next page, just to follow the thread. He alternates between
short chapters and longer ones, just to keep the story going from all the
viewpoints of the different characters who are introduced in the novel.
However, the ability to weave fact and fiction into an extremely credible
yarn is what makes this book outstanding as far as I am concerned. The
problems that have occurred come from the situation that some readers cannot
distinguish between the two. It was the best thriller I had read for many
years, but beware, it is more than a trifle similar to his previous book
Angels and Demons. The RRP of the hard cover was B. 695, but this book was
worth every last satang!
Mott’s CD review: Pink Floyd
Atom Heart Mother
by Mott the Dog
5 Stars *****
This British band was to be more influential than anybody dared thought
in 1965 when they formed as The Pink Floyd, under the leadership of a
certain Mr Syd Barrett in Cambridge, England. They evolved from numerous
bands from the area, including Leonard’s Lodgers, The Abdabs and The Tea
Set, and changed their name to just ‘Pink Floyd’ in 1968 when Syd had
The first album to appear was the quintessential Sixties psychedelic
rock album The Pipers At The Gates Of Dawn (1967), which was mainly Syd
Barrett written, and is still wonderful to listen to today. It reached
Number Seven in the British album charts.
The second album A Saucerfull of Secrets (1968) was a difficult album
for the band, as Syd by then had gone, not literally gone as in
disappeared, but gone as in, his head was definitely somewhere but no
longer on this planet. David Gilmour had become a member of Pink Floyd
and for a while Pink Floyd was a quintet, but Syd became impossible and
they were down to four again. Syd Barrett only appears on three of the
songs on the album, but Gilmour only gets a writing credit on the title
Album Number Three was a soundtrack for the movie More (1969) and is a
marvellous album, but it was recorded in 5 sessions over a period of 8
days and was, after all, only meant to accompany the movie. Nonetheless,
it peaked at Number 9 in the British charts.
Fourth album out the traps was an ambitious double album affair:
Ummagumma. One album was recorded live whilst the other contained four
solo sections from each member of the band. The live album contained
three songs written whilst Syd Barrett was in the band plus the title
track from the second album. Whilst the second album is extremely
adventurous, it’s not really a band thing. But again the album was a
huge hit in the U.K., reaching Number 7, whilst in America it was the
first Pink Floyd album to break into the Top 100.
So with this rather patchy if successful album track record behind them,
what did the band come up with for their fifth album? Atom Heart Mother
(1970). Well it’s a bit hard to describe really. The first track is the
title piece taking up 24 minutes; it’s an amazing collection of musical
themes in a classical arrangement (this is why at first it was known as
the Amazing Pudding. Get it. Collection=Pudding. The Amazing Pudding is
still the name of Pink Floyd’s most famous fan club). The band had
various riffs and themes, but hadn’t really put it all together, and
with an imminent American tour coming up and a recording contract to
fill, with the band not really in agreement what should be done, they
brought in mutual friend Ron Geesin - the avante garde producer.
Roger Waters and Nick Mason went in the studio to lay out a rough rhythm
section for him, which was a bit ragged as both were a little tired, so
it speeds up in some places and rather alarmingly slows down at others.
With this the band clears off to America leaving Ron Geesin with the
instructions to over lay something grand; you know, heavenly choirs,
brass fanfares, whatever you like really, get on with it Ron we’re all
rather busy actually. Oh, have it ready for us when we come back in
So completely without supervision Ron Geesin took Pink Floyd’s rough
rhythm track and turned it into a musical masterpiece, bit of luck
When the members of Floyd got back from tour they were well impressed,
so they decided not to bother re-recording the bass and drums. But
Gilmour and Wright went back into the studios to lay some mercurial
guitar and keyboard solos onto our Atom Heart Mother.
The piece is broken up into six sections, but it all gels perfectly into
a whole. Gilmour and Wright really come out of the closet with their
dynamic soloing, whilst all of Geesin’s work fits perfectly with the
The brass section riffs are monstrous, whilst the violin playing is
executed with total abandon. The choir is in fine voice, especially with
its forerunner to Tubular Bells voices that rampage through the closing
sections. The SoundBits are also tastefully used with a motorbike
roaring away with the band and orchestra when they first come in
together. As the music builds to a false climax towards the end a voice
booms out, “Here is a loud announcement” whilst at the musical climax
another voice calls for “Silence in the studio” to no avail. With time
constraints, touring, and Ron Geesin only coming in half way through,
everything was against it being a classic, but it is.
The other four tracks are also little gems, but in their own special
way. Again not much band cohesion. But maybe they just worked better
this way. The next song is a lovely Roger Waters song called If, showing
Waters’ ever increasing interest in the human brain. Gilmour supplies
some exquisite electric guitar to accompany Waters’ acoustic guitar and
The lyrics are amongst Waters’ most uncomplicated (like later when he
tried to educate us all with ‘The Wall’ in 1979).
‘If I were a swan I’d be gone,
If I were a Train I’d be late,
And if I were a good man,
I’d talk to you more often then I do.
If I were asleep I could dream,
If I was afraid I could hide,
if I go insane,
Please don’t put wires in my brain.
Richard Wright’s contribution, Summer 68, is a nod to the past, showing
off unashamedly its Syd Barrett influences, with its catchy chorus and
mid tempo verses, all tied up with some rollicking barrel house piano,
and the return of the brass section at the conclusion. David Gilmour
then contributed Fat Old Sun, a wonderful little dirge that is a
complete rip off of The Kinks song released the previous year as Lazy
Old Sun, but that does not make it a bad song, and anyway Ray Davies
The last piece on the album is exactly what it says it is, Alan’s
Psychedelic Breakfast. The song’s title refers to one Alan Stiles of
Pink Floyd’s road crew in the Sixties and early Seventies. What you get
is the sounds of Alan getting up in the morning and coming downstairs to
cook his breakfast, all rather noisily, with the band jamming some
breakfast type themes over the top in places. Often they just leave Alan
scratching away solo. A rather odd end to the album, but as with the
rest of the music, rather effective.
Atom Heart Mother was released at the back end of 1970 and was the first
Pink Floyd album to top the British charts, and crack the American top
fifty. So job well done. Mind you when Pink Floyd released their
greatest hits double CD Echoes in all its one hundred and fifty minutes,
they could not even find time for one little excerpt from this album.
The cow pictured on the front cover of this album is called Lulubelle
the third. I hope she got her royalties all right, because for a little
while there, she was the most famous cow in the world.
Roger Waters: Bass Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, and Vocals
David Gilmour: Lead Guitar and Vocals
Rick Wright: Keyboards and Vocals
Nick Mason: Drums
Atom Heart Mother (Father’s Shout, Breasty Milky, Mother
Fore, Funky Dung, Mind Your Throats Please, Remergence)
Fat Old Sun
Alan’s Psychedelic Breakfast (Rise and Shine, Sunny Side Up, Morning
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