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Book Review: The 9/11 Report
by Lang Reid
the front cover of this book are the words, “September 11, 2001, was a day
of unprecedented shock and suffering in the history of the United States.
The nation was unprepared. How did this happen and how can we avoid such
tragedy again? Ten commissioners were given a sweeping mandate to find
answers and offer recommendations. On July 22, 2004 they issued their report
The front cover also promised a Graphic Adaptation, based on the final
report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United
Published in 2006 by Hill and Wang (there was probably a message there that
I missed) (ISBN 0-809-05739-5, written by Sid Jacobsen and Ernie Colon), the
book was sealed as is the norm these days on the Bookazine shelves.
Consequently I did not open it until I returned to my office. I had read the
back cover, where ‘Spiderman’ Stan Lee was quoted as having said, “I cannot
recommend it too highly. It will surely set the standard for all future
works of contemporary history, graphic or otherwise, and should be required
reading in every home, school, and library.” I missed the other wording on
the back cover which described Messrs Jacobsen and Colon as having worked
for the Spiderman comic book publishers. This was an inexcusable error.
But before I begin, let me state my position. I do not believe that 9/11
“was (just) a day of unprecedented shock and suffering in the history of the
United States”, it was a day of shock and suffering for the planet earth,
which has changed the entire world as we once knew it. The significance
extends far wider than just the American shores. I remember watching the
twin towers destruction live, and saying to my wife, “The world as we knew
it has gone. Life will never be the same again.”
And so I took off the plastic wrapping to find that this book about this
most momentous event in world history was a comic book, complete with the
usual comic book expletives such as “FLAMM!” as one plane hits the ground,
and “POK” as a Soviet soldier is killed in Afghanistan, and “BLAM!” as a
suicide bomb ship crashes into USS Cole and “WHOOOSH!” as a rocket launcher
hits a Taliban tank and “WHEE-OO” as the police rush to the World Trade
At B. 650 this book is over-priced. It has no literary merit. It trivializes
the shocking event, and if this is what is going into American homes,
schools and libraries, as suggested by the back cover’s Stan Lee, then God
help America. Does everyone in the USA have a 12-year-old’s mind? I do not
believe so, but this book would make you think so.
If there is anything positive I can write about this pathetic book is that
the sketches are quite good, even down to Condoleezza Rice’s gap in her
front teeth. That is not enough reason to buy it.
However, it does quote George W Bush as saying, “I’m tired of playing
defense. I want to play offence.” And thus explaining Iraq!
Mott’s CD review: The Sensational Alex Harvey Band
The Penthouse Tapes
by Mott The Dog
Rationalized by Meow The Cat
The Sensational Alex Harvey band was formed in 1972, when a thirty eight
year old Alex Harvey decided he should have one more crack at the world
of rock superstardom. Alex’s brother Les had died that year, having been
electrocuted on stage by a malfunctioning microphone, with his band
‘Stone The Crows’ in Swansea. Despite a ten year age difference Les and
Alex had been close; although devastated by his young brother’s death it
made Alex even more determined to succeed. He went back to his native
Glasgow, Scotland, to check out a bunch of young tearaways who had
formed themselves into a hard rock act called ‘Tear Gas’. Words were
spoken, ideas exchanged, and Alex persuaded these young lads to become
In 1968 he had joined as guitarist the London based orchestra pit for
Gerome Ragni and James Rado’s iconoclastic musical ‘Hair’. This would
have a heavy influence on Alex, making him more aware of the theatrical
side of rock music and why it was so important to put on a good show to
back up your music. As Alex himself once said he formed ‘The Sensational
Alex Harvey Band’ and in turn invented Pantomime rock, with plenty of
‘boo and hiss’ and ‘look behind you’.
Tear Gas was quickly transformed from the normal long haired rockers in
their jeans, boots and T-shirts to characters in Alex’s show.
Of course on stage out front was the man himself, Alex Harvey, the first
rock ‘n’ roll pirate. Skin tight jeans, dirty red handkerchief hanging
out his back pocket, a black and white hooped T-shirt, with Alex’s huge
head sticking out the neck (he needed a big head to store up all his
creative thoughts), a mop of unruly jet black hair on his head, all
topped off with a swaggering black great coat.
Zal Cleminson, a staggeringly good lead guitarist in his own right, was
persuaded into a skin-tight green cat suit and clown’s white slap on his
face, which made every gurn of his face during his searing solos turn
him from one minute into something quite comical, to the next something
quite sinister, the perfect foil for the band leader.
On the other side of the stage with a bass guitar in his hand was Chris
Glenn, who would be attempting his Elvis impersonations, but actually
coming across more as one of Elvis’s body guards. So while all the girls
flocked around Alex and Zal, everybody kept their distance from the mean
looking bloke on the left.
Behind the drums was Ted McKenna. Every band has to have a rock on which
to build on and Ted McKenna was the rock that the ‘Sensational Alex
Harvey Band’ was built on, and absolute no nonsense drummer who could
also turn his hand to any of Alex’s little idiosyncrasies.
On keyboards, holding the whole thing together musically, no matter how
far off on a tangent the others went, Hugh McKenna always kept the ship
on an even keel, even though he always did look a lot more like a school
music teacher than a rock ‘n’ roll star.
So the scene was set for fame, fortune and frolics. Immediately the band
started touring, playing anywhere that would have them, all the time
working up their act. Vertigo signed them, and released the first album
‘Framed’ (1973), which met with great critical acclaim but little else.
It was on the road, though, that the word was being spread. Seeing that
they had a hit band on their hands the executives from Vertigo, smelling
money, put the band back in the studio with famous glam rock producer
Phil Wainman and gave them an unheard of in those days month off the
road to record their next album. When it came out, ‘Next’ (1973) was not
an instant hit, but slowly crept up the charts. After more touring,
appearing at the Reading Rock Festival, touring as support to Slade, and
appearing on the British rock show ‘The Old Grey Whistle Test’, it
finally went into the British top thirty in early 1974.
That year the band set about consolidating their position at the top of
the rock ‘n’ roll tree, touring all over Europe and releasing another
album, ‘The Impossible Dream’ (1974) which went straight into the Top
Twenty album charts.
But it was 1975 where they hit pay dirt. ‘The Sensational Alex Harvey
Band’ was the largest grossing live act in the U.K. Completing two
extensive tours, headlining the Reading Rock Festival, releasing two Top
Twenty albums (‘Tomorrow Belongs To Me’ and a fabulous ‘Live’ album),
plus a Top Five hit single with their version of ‘Delilah’. I do not
think that ‘Top Of the Pops’ ever recovered from having this lot on.
After the homecoming Christmas dates in Glasgow at the end of 1975, the
band should have been given some time off to recover, particularly their
leader. But the record company wanted more product, and the band was put
back in the studio. With not much material written for a new album, the
decision was made to put out what they had, and fill the rest up with
some of the cover versions that they used to play in their live set.
This may not sound like such a good idea, but what actually came out as
‘The Penthouse Tapes’ (1976) is a real fun rock ‘n’ roll album.
The album opens up with a fat slice of Glam Rock Alex style in ‘I Wanna
Have You Back’, followed by another band original ‘Jungle Jenny’ which
is possibly the naughtiest song ever recorded. Then who can resist the
band’s version of Del Shannon’s ‘Runaway’? A throwaway rock through I.
Anderson’s ‘Love Story’ and then perhaps the album’s highlight, Alex
preaches to his boys and girls that when you get freedom within the
sweaty grasp of your hand you should hang onto it and not pollute the
water supply. The band then breaks into a rampant version of Alice
Cooper’s ‘Schools Out’, a brilliant piece of musical theatre.
Next up is one of the better known songs in Pattaya, ‘Goodnight Irene’,
a Jackie Lomax song. The famous Pattaya Tahitian Queen Rock ‘n’ Roll bar
plays this every night to let us all know to go home. Well, Woody better
not get his hands on this version, as it starts off in its traditional
dreamy manner, but in the hands of the Sensational Alex Harvey Band it
is of course soon twisted round into a vicious rocker that would soon
have the aisles of Tahitian Queen rocking again.
‘Say Your Mine (Every Cowboy Song)’ is a gentle parody on Country and
Western featuring some fine pedal steel guitar from B.J. Cole. ‘Gamblin’
Bar Room Blues’ is sung with such conviction that perhaps somebody from
the record company should have realized there was a problem lurking just
under the surface. With tongue firmly in cheek the band then rocks
through the Osmond’s ‘Crazy Horses’, although Alex himself had very
serious concerns about the environment having already penned ‘The Tale
Of The Giant Stoneater’ from the ‘Tomorrow Belongs To Me’ album, which
dealt with green issues. (Those Crazy Horses were actually cars spouting
carbon monoxide.) The album closes in style with a lovely tilt at Irvine
Berlin’s ‘Dancing Cheek to Cheek’. You just have to remember which
cheeks Alex is talking about here.
The Penthouse Tapes charted well, but ‘The Sensational Alex Harvey Band’
never recovered. Alex left the band in 1978 and the band imploded in his
absence. Alex formed a new band, but never recovered his former glories
and tragically Alex Harvey died of a heart attack while on tour in
Europe in 1982, the day before his 47th birthday.
But at the height of their powers, his band was truly sensational.
You can buy ‘The Penthouse Tapes’ as a two for the price of one now. So
you get the ‘Penthouse Tapes’ and ‘Live’ for your buck: get onto
www.amazon.com right now.
The Sensational Alex Harvey Band
Alex Harvey: Vocals, Guitar
Zal Cleminson: Guitar
Ted McKenna: Drums
Hugh McKenna: Keyboards
Chris Glenn: Bass
I Wanna Have You Back
Good Night Irene
Say You’re Mine (Every Cowboy Song)
Gamblin’ Bar Room Blues
Dancing Cheek To Cheek
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