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Two Gun Cohen
Two Gun Cohen
by Daniel S. Levy
Edition: Hardcover

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Two Gun Cohen", 13 July 2011
This review is from: Two Gun Cohen (Hardcover)
Daniel Levy's biography "Two Gun Cohen" is an excellent, well researched and a very interesting read. Morris Cohen was from London's East End and was sent out to Wapella a Jewish farm settlement in Saskatchewan, Canada in 1905. He soon drifted around the Canadian prairies and became a carnival barker, bunko artist, gambler and petty thief. He did time in Prince Albert jail and through gambling he made contacts with the Chinese community in Saskatoon. Cohen foiled a robbery in a Saskatoon Chinese resturant and subsequently was fully accepted into the Chinese community. This was at a time when the Chinese in Canada faced terrible descrimination. The Asian Exclusion League an organization rampant in Western Canada attacked the Chinese as "the beardless and imoral children of China". The Chinese lived on the margins of society but prospered as a community through hard work. Western Canadian cities had their Chinese areas (Saskatoon's was on 20th Street West, and it still is today). The Chinese run laundries, restaurents, lodging houses and opened grocery stores. But, they also opened gambling dens where "fan tan" and "pak a pu" as well as poker was played. Cohen became a trusted friend of the Chinese in Western Canada at a time when a friend was very much needed.

By 1922 Morris Cohen is in China where he became the chief bodygaurd and aide to the Chinese Nationalist President Sun Yat Sen. Cohen the tough, rugged adventurer fell under the charismatic spell of Sun Yat Sen. But, he also became devoted to Soon Quingling, Sun's wife (she was 26 years younger than Sun). Daniel S. Levy does not answer the question of whether Cohen and Soong Quingling had an affair after Sun's death in 1925. His description of Soon Quingling's escape by plane with Cohen's help from the Japanese at Hong Kong in December 1941 is like something out of the film "Casablanca". Both exiting and romantic.

The person who probably could have answered the question about a Soon Qungling - Cohen affair was Ruth Weiss. She was a Jewish born Austrian who arived in China during the 1930's. She taught at the Jewish school in Shanghai; was later a secretary at the Canadian embassy and a journalist. She was also one of Soong Quingling's closest friends. Weiss died in 2006 and is buried next to Soong Quingling. Daniel S. Levy had ample time to contact Weiss while doing his research.

Levy, explodes the myth that Morris Cohen met Sun Yat Sen in Canada in 1911. Cohen couldn't have as he was at that time an inmate of Prince Albert jail. But, where does Cohen get this story from? Daniel Levy does not mention that Cohen wasn't the first westerner to get close to Sun Yat Sen. In 1909 while on a fund raising trip to the United States Sun met Homer Lea. Lea, like Cohen had befriended the Chinese but this time in Los Angeles. Lea had learned Cantonese and travelled with Sun to China and remained a close adviser to him until his untimely death in 1912. If anything, Sun saw something in Morris Cohen that reminded him of Lea.

Daniel S. Levy does deal with Cohen's support of Zionism and the State of Isreal. However, he fails to answer an imortant question. Sun Yat Sen was an open supporter of Zionism. Was this support through Morris' influence or did Morris become a Zionist through the influence of Sun? And, did Morris Cohen have any role in China not voting against the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948?

Levy, does an excellent job of Morris' role in China post Sun Yat Sen. Morris' jobs with Soong family members and his activities such as gun running for South China warlords is very interesting. I really enjoyed Levy's description of the 1927 anti-Communist purge and Morris' role in it. Soon Quingling who was a communist supporter must have really been angry with Morris?

Levy fails to mention Morris' meetings with Ernest Hemingway in Hong Kong and later New York. He had a number of meetings with both Ernest and his wife Martha Gellhorn early in 1941 at the Repulse Bay Hotel in Hong Kong. He introduced the Hemingways to Soon Quingling. Ernest later described her as the "only decent Soong sister". The Hemingways wanted to report on the China - Japanese war and Morris advised them to go to the 7th War Zone where Chang Kai Shek's regulars were engaged with a strong Japanese force. Through Morris' contacts the Hemmingways were able to interview Chang Kai Shek at Chungking, China's wartime capital. Ernest Hemingway thought about writing a book about Morris but nothing came of it.

Levy, omits an event that must have been very important and meaningful to Morris. In March 1955 Morris was the guest of honour at the Brady Boys' Club in Whitechapel, East London (Brady Bulletin, March 1955, Special Display Number, p.3). The Brady Club was probably the most important Jewish youth club in Britain. And, it's here that Morris retrned to his roots as a now famous local hero. It must have been a wonderful moment for him.

Daniel Levy set out to set the record straight about "Two Gun Cohen". And to some extent he does. But even when the myths are explained the remaining story is just as incredible and exiting as the myths. Cohen was at times utterly ruthless. He was full of energy and had a great love of life and was always looking for the next adventure. He was sometmes loud and vulgar but could also be sensitive and tender. Morris loved to prime the press with his embellished stories and he liked to promote himself. But, both the Chinese Nationalists and Communists accepted him as a real friend of China and in the 1960's he was a welcome guest in both camps.

And, in the end the myths about Morris "Two Gun" Cohen will live on. In his book "Bloody Foreiners" (2004) Robert Winder states: "...and after he shot a pair of cowboys who called him a filthy Jew always wore a revolver" and "in 1925 Chaing Kai Shek made him a general, and he led troops against the Japanese..." Just wonderful.


The Ultimate Helen Shapiro (The Emi Years)
The Ultimate Helen Shapiro (The Emi Years)
Price: £7.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Collection, 13 Jun. 2011
This is a really excellent three disc c.d. of Helen Shapiro's EMI years. There are all the early hits from 1961 - "Don't Treat Me Like A Child" (a song about a mild early teen rebellion although most British teens didn't get to rebel as they left school at the age of 15 or 16), "You Don't Know" (about a secret and unrequited love), "Walkin' Back To Happiness", "Tell Me What He Said", "Let's Talk About Love", and "Little Miss Lonely". And by the end of 1963 that really was it as far as hit records were concerned. Thre were some international hits especially in the old commonwealth countries such as Canada, New Zealand and Australia as well as in parts of Europe and "Walking Back To Happiness" did manage to scrape into the U.S. Billboard chart at 100. So why did it all go wrong? There are various reasons given. Firstly, the well known quote by Helen herself "I'm happy singing pop now but one of these days I'd like to make a living singing jazz, blues, and that kind of music". Really, teenagers do not sing the blues. Then there was the appearance on "Sunday Night at the London Palladium" where she sang standards. But, I believe the real reason for her demise was the rise of the Beatles and all that came with it. Helen suddenly looked dated and passe. she needed to re-invent herself and adapt to change as quickly as possible. But, she didn't and infact kept releasing recordings simular to her early hits. Helen was often compaired to the American singer Brenda Lee. But all they really had in common was their age (and they both did tour with the Beatles). Brenda Lee was a country and western crossover. When her pop hits dried up she moved easily back on to the country and western U.S. circuit. Helen turned to "variety" which was on the wane in the U.K. and jazz which had only a minority public interest. She probably should have used Dusty Springfield as the model. Dusty went from being a member of the Lana Sisters pop vocal group to the country and western Springfields to pop vocalist to rhythm and blues singer to pop diva. So it comes down to bad management and Helen's misguided faith in Norrie Paramour (she needed a manager more like Brian Epstein). Back to this c.d. There are some great covers that Helen does brilliantly - Jane Morgan's "The Day The Rains Came", Doris Day's "Move Over Darling", Timi Yuro's "The End Of The World", Mary Wells' "My Guy", Leslie Gore's "It's My Party" etc. Helen's version of "Beyond The Sea (La Mer) is just exquisite. This c.d. is a great buy.


Bloody Foreigners: The Story of Immigration to Britain
Bloody Foreigners: The Story of Immigration to Britain
by Robert Winder
Edition: Paperback

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Historical Outline Of Immigration Into The U.K., 30 May 2011
I must admit that this book is a very good read even though Robert Winder has nothing really new to say. Anyone, who has the slightest interest in British history already knows about the Huguenot, Jewish, Irish, Indian, Italian, Chinese ect. immigration into Britain. Winder does not deal at all with inter-ethnic conflict between for example the Jews and the Irish at the turn of the century. And there is no mention of the anti-semitic Tredegar riots before World War I. Rober Winder doesn't offer a solution to the important problem of how an immigrant group can survive and be intergrated into the economic system in Britain and yet at the same time be able to isolate itself in its own family and religious system. How do you achieve the former while at the same time perserving the latter? How will it possible to prevent immigrant groups from living in solitudes? And what happens when an ethnic cause clashes with for example, with British foreign policy or national interests. The book has some interesting obmissions and mistakes. For example the actress Audrey Hepburn went to the Netherlands in 1939 not to escape the bombing of south-east England but because both her parents were active ranking members of the British Union of Fascists and wanted to avoid internment. Secondly, Morris "Two Gun" Cohen did not "shoot a pair of cowboys who called him a filthy Jew" (see Daniel S. Levy: Two Gun Cohen: A Biography).


Hey Ho
Hey Ho
Offered by Mud Records
Price: £10.99

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Take Love Easy, 22 May 2011
This review is from: Hey Ho (Audio CD)
If you are expecting a c.d. of swing jazz I'm afraid you are in for a disappointment. Britain's "Queen of Swing" (Time Out) has opted for a subtle "in the wee small hours collection". There are only four up-beat songs on this c.d. However, the remaining twelve tracks show off Clare's amazing vocal talent. The collection is British except for William Butler Yates's "The Sally Garden"(Irish) and Moloko's "Sing It Back"(Anglo-Irish). The four up-beat songs are "One More (Baby Be Good To Me)", "It's Not Unusual", "Love is the Sweetest Thing" and "Sing It Back". The first three of these songs swing along nicely and have excellent new arangements by Grant Wilson Clare's piano-organ accompanist, musical arranger and producer. Clare's cover of Moloko's "Swing It Back" was one of the highlights of her "Great British Songbook" tour last year. Her studio recorded version is just wonderful and exciting. Clare herself wrote the tracks or collaborated on "One More(Baby Be Good To Me)" and "Whole(It Isn't Like Me)". These two tracks show that Clare is a very talented songwriter. The track "He Was Beautiful" a cover of the Cleo Laine/John Williams (a lyrical version of Stanly Myers 'Cavatina' from the 1978 film 'The Deer Hunter') is, I suspect, Clare's tribute to the late John Dankworth. Her interpretation of the lyrics is sensitive. She projects a sad longing and gives a beautiful mellow rendition. I must admit I'm no great fan of Noel Coward but I was quite pleasantly suprised by the lovely arrangement of "If Love Were All" which highlights Clare's soft mood vocal. "Care of Cell-44", "Chasing Cars" and "Why" show off both Clare's vocal ability and superb interpretation of lyrics. On these tracks her singing is intimate and sometimes slow as honey and her phrasing projects an optimum effect. " The Sally Garden" Yates poem is set to music by Herbert Hughes. It's one of my favourite poems ...take love easy, as the leaves grow on the tree, but I was young and foolish, which my darling could not agree... Thank you Clare. Just Superb. The last two tracks on the c.d. "A Nightingale Sang In Berkley Square" and "We'll Gather Lilacs" are of course two great British popular music standards. Clare's appealing and distinctive singing voice gives these two songs fresh life. Frank Sinatra recorded these last two songs on his 1962 album "Sinatra Sings Great Songs From Great Britain". Clare has found more great songs and they are on this c.d.


East End Chronicles
East End Chronicles
by Ed Glinert
Edition: Paperback
Price: £11.99

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars East End Odyssey, 18 May 2011
This review is from: East End Chronicles (Paperback)
This book is really a socio-political history of London's East End and is a very interesting and absorbing read. However, there are some obvious problems. These are the glaring omissions. There is no mention of England's most famous higwayman Dick Turpin who at one time was an apprentice butcher in Whitechpel. In 1737 he escaped from the Red Lion Pub, Whitchapel. However, his accomplice highwayman "Captain" Tom King was killed. Ed Glinert does mention the 16th century seafaring expeditions led by Sir Hugh Willoughby, Richard Chancellor, Martin Frobisher and Henry Hudson that sailed from Blackwall or Ratcliff on their epic journeys. Furthermore, he mentions Captain James Cook who lived for a time in Shadwell and then Mile End. However, he omits completely the story of the local privateer Sir Michael Geare who was born in Limehouse in 1565. Sir Michael sailed with Sir George Carey, a cousin of Queen Elizabeth I and from 1588-1591 rose through the ranks until he became captain of his own ship. An associate of Sir Francis Drake, Geare sailed throughout the Caribbean attacking and capturing Spanish treasure ships. In 1603 he was knighted by King James I and retired to a luxurious home in Stepney. Glinert outlines the awlful conditions of brutality and violence in Old Nichol Street (The Jago) during much of the nineteenth century. However, he omits to mention the Bluegate Fields at St. George's-in-the East which was probably the most dangerous portside slum in England. This was an East End area of deprivation, disease, prostitution and drugs. Nor does he mention the notorious White Swan pub on the Highway in Shadwell where visiting seamen met up with local prostitutes. Furthermore, there is nothing in this book about "coining" -the making of counterfit money; an industry that was widespread in the mid-19th century East End. On page 133 Glinert outlines the activities of Issac (Ikey) Bogard "Darkie the Coon". Yes, Bogard was a pimp and a gangster around the Brick Lane area during the period before World War One. However, Glinert fails to mention that in that war Bogard was a decorated war hero and was the recipient of the Military Medal. He became a reformed character - married and raised a family and became something of a minor local philanthropist. Furthermore, in this book there no mention of the 19th century East End working class blood sport pastimes such as ratting and dog fighting. Also there is nothing at all about the East End's obsession with boxing. Especially, the Jewish obsession with this sport. On page 129 Glinert states that "The proletarian Jew was taught that manual work was not to be worshiped as an end in itself, but was simply a stepping stone to a greater - calling making or managing money." This is absolute nonsense and an unfortunate stereotype. Robert Winder in his book "Bloody Foreigners - The Story of Immigration to Britain" makes it quite clear that he Jews of Britain are "Musicians, buisinessmen, surgeons, cab drivers, dustmen, comedians, designers, journalists, judges, teachers, nurses, cooks, shopkeepers, electricians, soldiers, publishers, actors, firemen, boxers, philosophers: there have been geniuses and blackguards, and everything in between. Almost every field has been touched by this Jewish odyssey". Two Jewish boxers from the East End were of course world champions Ted "Kid" Lewis, Jackie "Kid" Berg. Some of the other fighters were Teddy Berg, Phil Lolosky, Harry Fox, Moe Mizler, Ralph Felt, Kid Rich, Sid Fine, Jack "kid" Nitram, Paoi Schaeffer, Joe Braharus, Harry Mason, Moe Moss, Max Baerand, Buddy Baerand, Dave Finn, Lew Cohen, Benny Sharkey, Jack Hyams, Mickey Gould, Jack Camek, Harry Silver, Harry Mizler, Lew Lazar and so on. They don't fit Glinert's silly stereotype. I think I've made my point. And there's more. On page 206 Glinert says that in 1936 "no Jew would willingly cross Burdett Road eastwards". Well, Jews did and many of them lived east of Burdett road. Infact the Mile End and Bow District United Synagogue was situated in Harley Grove, just off Bow Road and served this community. O.K. there are lots more silly comments in this book such as the one about the Brady Youth Club: "At Brady youth club on Hanbury Street anglicized young Jews forsook a life of rabinical study to play football to the point of nausea and trade R&B recods." There was much more to the Brady club than this. I would suggest that Ed Glinert take a look at the Brady box files at Tower Hamlets Archives. This book does have some excellent chapters. "The Silk Weavers of Spitalfields", "Mystics and Myth Makers", and "The Mysteries of the Orient" are an excellent read and it's worth buying this book just for these chapters. And then there was the nude shows at the Queen's Theatre Poplar in the 1950's. But, that's not in this book!


Take Love Easy
Take Love Easy
Price: £7.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Great Canadian Song Stylist, 15 May 2011
This review is from: Take Love Easy (Audio CD)
This is an excellent c.d. from the Juno award winning Canadian Jazz vocalist. It is a well balanced collection with material from the lesser known American Songbook such as Haven Gillespie's "Beautiful Love", Duke Ellington's "Take Love Easy" and Alan Bergman's "Where Do You Start?". Then there are the more well known songs from the Great American Song Book such as Cole Porter's "I Concentrate On You", "Love For Sale" and Johnny Mercer's "Day In Day Out". We also have Paul Simon's "50 Ways To Leave Your Lover" and Bruce Springseen's "I'm On Fire" The Canadian content includes Saskatoon's Joni Mitchell's "Be Cool" and Paul Shrofel's "That Is Love" along with three other tracks that make up this collection's theme on various aspects of love. And it all works! It is a very interesting choice of highly literate well crafted songs and Sophie provides them with a smooth tone as well as sophisticated phrasing. The arrangements are brilliant. On occassion Sophie allows a slight Israeli accent to slip in but this just adds something new and exotic to her interpretation of the lyrics. Great.


The Joe Brown Story: The Piccadilly/Pye Anthology
The Joe Brown Story: The Piccadilly/Pye Anthology
Price: £7.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Retrospective Overview, 15 May 2011
Joe Brown is one of the U.K.s most enduring and adored rock and roll entertainers. He is still touring and playing to full auditoriums throughout the country. I was lucky enough to see him a couple of years ago when he was playing alongside his daughter Sam. They were just magic together. This compolation c.d. entitled "The Joe Brown Story" is of course not the whole story but it does cover the years 1959 - 1967 (therefore it excludeds Joe's minor 1973 hit "Hey Mama") when Joe was most innovative and productive. Joe is very proud of his Plaistow East End roots. As I'm from Mile End I am so pleased with him and his success because for some unacountable reason the East End did not produce many notable Rock and Roll performers. This c.d. contains an excellent overview of Joe's work from the cockney music hall styled "Jellied Eels" and "I'm Henry The Eighth I Am" to his minor hits including "Dark Strutters Ball", "What A Crazy World We're Living In", and "Sally Ann". And then there are his major hits "A Picure Of You", "It Only Took A Minute" and "That's What Love Will Do". All three are sang in Joe's distinctive Rock a Billy style which show off his excellent guitar skills. On this c.d. is Joe's redition of "All Things Bright and Beautiful" from his successful 1962 Christmas e.p. Also, in that year Joe was voted the U.K. Music Personality of the Year. In all there are fifty tracks on this double c.d. and it is well worth buying.


This Strange Effect - The Decca Sessions Volume One
This Strange Effect - The Decca Sessions Volume One
Price: £12.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Epitmoe Of Cool, 13 May 2011
I've seen Dave Berry live a number of times. The first time was was in Harrow during the early 1960's when he appeared along with his backing group the Coasters. Also on the bill was Marty Wilde and the Wildcats, the Ronettes and the Rolling Stones. I last saw Dave Berry about a year or so ago at the Cliffs, Southend. He hasn't changed much. The white gloved hand appearing from behind the stage curtain (sometimes it's Sooty). He's dressed all in black; the slow hand movements around the microphone and cable. Foot movements accross the stage. And the ambience is all very mysterous (some might say creepy). There was and is nothing like Dave Berry in U.K. popular music and Rock and roll. There is of course some of the lingering influece of Gene Vincent. This compolation c.d. has Dave's minor hits such as "Memphis Tennassee", "Tossing and a Turning" and "My Baby Left Me" "Baby It's You", "One Heart Between Two" and "This Strange Effect" and his major hits "The Crying Game" (used in the 1992 film of the same name along with a Boy George cover version), "Little Things" and "Mama" and lots of other tracks some which should have been hits. During December 1965, Dave had four releases in the Dutch hit parade: 1. "This Strange Effect" 5. "I'm Going To Take You There" 10. "Can I Get It From You" and 17. "Little Things". All these tracks are on this c.d. This c.d. is accompanied with a very good booklet, full of infomation about Dave. However, if you are interested in knowing more I would suggest that you obtain his book "Dave Berry All There Is To Know". On page 88, there is a full length picture of Dave and his sister Julia taken in the mid-1960's. They are dressed all in black - the epitome of "cool". And that's what much of this c.d. is.


Never Been Gone
Never Been Gone
Offered by Direct Entertainment UK
Price: £2.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Carly Simon Today, 12 May 2011
This review is from: Never Been Gone (Audio CD)
This is a wonderful unashamedly nostalgic c.d. and an obvious labour of love. A reworking of of many of Carly's more popular songs with well conceived new arrangements. I first heard Carly way back in 1972 at campus party. Those parties where you sat around drank cheap wine and talked about the classes you were taking as well as life in general. And, then I heard her. Someone put on Carly singing "The Right Thing To Do". I bought her album " No Secrets" a couple of days later and I still have it. Once a few years later on holiday we drove up to Provincetown from Hyannisport listning to a tape of Carly's songs. And a few days later in a cafe on Martha's Vinyard we sat sipping coffee; reading newspapers while a recording Carly singing "It Happens Every Day" played in the background. So this c.d. brings back some nice memories. Carly is the best folk rock singer songwriter that the U.S. has produced. Her work is about love, changes in relationships, second chances, obsession, betrayal, sadness, loneliness, friendship, regrets, moods, feelings and optomism. Carly's voice has have of course changed; she's a woman in her 60's just like most of her origional fans. I think that's what gives this c.d. its appeal. Her song "Coming Around Again" with its poignant lyrics

I know nothing stays the same
But if your willing to play the game
It's coming around again

sums thing up for most of us. Yes, you could buy a Carly Simon retrospective compolation c.d. The best is probably the 2002 release "Anthology". But if you want to hear the Carly of today then this is the one to buy.


Latin Pulse/Spice With Brasil
Latin Pulse/Spice With Brasil

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Un Gusto A Miel, 8 May 2011
This is an excellent Nancy Ames c.d.compelation of the albums "Latin Pulse" and "Spiced With Brazil". Nancy Ames shows that she really enjoys Latin American music. I specifically liked her interpretations of "La Sombre De Tu Sonrisa (The Shadow of Your Smile)" and "Un Home Et Une Femme (A Man And A Woman). I also engoyed very much her Lennon/Mcartney songs especially "Michele" and "Un Gusto A Miel (A Taste of Honey). Her singing on the track "Pow Pow Pow" is just breathtaking and her approach to "Caraca" with its jazz-samba beat shows a vocal reminiscent of Flora Purim. Included on this c.d. are Nancy's minor U.S. hits. "He Wore The Green Beret" is Nancy's anti-Vietnam War reposte to Barry Sadler's "Ballard Of The Green Berets" and "Cry Softy" a lovely lyrical song. I just wish that there had been a few bonus tracks and the compelation included Nancy's beautiful singing of "Malaguena Salerosa" and "Yours" from "This Is The Girl That Is" album. Also I would have liked included are "Cu Cu Cru Cu Cu Paloma" from "The Incredible Nancy Ames" album and the exhilerating "Manah de Carnaval" from "A Portrait Of Nancy Album". Anyway, a great c.d Let's hope there is more to come.


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