Everybody Wants Live Streams!! Van Halen Deep Cuts Friday, Halloween Memories Saturday!

For the first time since the very first time in March, I’m doing two shows in one weekend!


The LeBrain Train:  2000 Words or More with Mike Ladano

Episode 34

As suggested by the inimitable Kevin / Buried on Mars, Friday’s show will be the Nigel Tufnel Top 10 Van Halen deep cuts.  Join the panel and I as we run through the best stuff they don’t play on the radio.  Friday October 30 at 7:00 PM E.S.T. 


Episode 35

Halloween Memories!  One thing I’ve noticed this year is that many friends are really bummed about the loss of Halloween. I feel bad about this so I thought I’d throw a Halloween live stream party.  I used to be a real Halloween kid, so I thought it would be a lot of fun to just talk Halloween memories!  I have many good ones going back to the 1970s, and best of all, I will be in costume!  Saturday October 31 at 7:00 PM E.S.T.  

Facebook:  MikeLeBrain  YouTube:  Mike LeBrain

REVIEW: Storm Force – “Breathe” featuring Serena Pryne (2020 music video)

STORM FORCE – “Breathe” featuring Serena Pryne (2020 Escape Music video)

Our rock and roll friends Storm Force have released a new video for “Breathe”, and a good one it is!

These days when a band drops a new video, are you often disappointed?  Many videos today are low budget slideshows of still photos, or crude animations.  This was the trend even before Covid.  Unless you’re AC/DC, few go to the trouble of actually filming a concept/performance music video anymore.  Storm Force did a good one with “Pretty Vegas”, and now they are back to blow minds with “Breathe”, one of the strongest tunes on the new album Age of Fear.

“Breathe” deserved a proper video, and Storm Force deliver.  Lead singer Patrick Gagliardi sings from behind bars, but is it the prison of the mind?  He is joined by vocalist extraordinaire Serena Pryne, who has the grit and power of people like the highly respected Sass Jordan.  Although the lyrics are open enough to work with many interpretations, the song is about mental health, and having someone there to support you.  The video has the right tone and passion for this serious subject.  But if you want, you can just enjoy it as a mighty power ballad.

Of course, guitarist Greg Fraser has plenty of experience with music videos.  His solo on “Breathe” is cool because you can hear that it is him by the tone and technique.  Drummer Brian Hamilton and bassist Mike Berardelli create a really cool groove on this track, and Hamilton looks imposing and fearless in the video.

One must also credit Gagliardi for a collection of increasingly cool hats.

5/5 stars

REVIEW: Aerosmith – Honkin’ On Bobo (2004)

AEROSMITH – Honkin’ On Bobo (2014 Columbia)

Sometimes we take one for the team. For no reason other than to get it done, we take out albums we strongly dislike just for the sake of writing them up. Sometimes there are pleasant surprises and time has been kinder than our memories have been. And sometimes you’re just Honkin’ on Bobo, whatever the fuck that means. It could be code for Sucking the Big One.

Necessary background:  After 2001’s putrid Just Push Play, Aerosmith were eager to strip it back to basics and record an album live in the studio.  They returned to producer Jack Douglas and picked an album’s worth of blues covers to Aero-fy.  This is a formula that rarely works out well for rock bands, and Aerosmith fell into the blues cover trap with both feet.

The only exception is one new original, a ballady blues called “The Grind”.  It happens to be one of the best tracks, though firmly within that Aerosmith bluesy ballad niche that they carved out for themselves in the early 90s with “Cryin'” and “Blind Man”.  That this is an album highlight is a warning as sure as a watchman yelling “iceberg dead ahead!”  We’re about to take on water, and there aren’t enough lifeboats.

One of Aerosmith’s issues since the mid to late 90s is how they’ve become a caricature of themselves.  Bob Diddley’s “Road Runner” is thick with Aerosmith clichés to the point that it sounds like an Aerosmith covers band filling their set out with standards.  “Road Runner” isn’t limber, it’s thick in the thighs with thuddy rock tropes.  Joey Kramer injects some life into “Shame, Shame, Shame” but it only makes you wish Aerosmith had tackled the track in 1974 instead of 2004 so it wouldn’t sound so contrived.  “Eyesight to the Blind” (Sonny Boy Williamson) isn’t convincing, as Tyler huffs through the song like a burlesque singer.  “Baby Please Don’t Go” makes you crave AC/DC’s superior version, although the groove on this one is positively unearthly.  It’s an unbelievable groove that perhaps should have been made into an Aerosmith original rather than a throwaway cover.

Aretha’s “Never Loved a Man” is transformed into “Never Loved a Girl”, and with the Memphis Horns on board there’s some value to it, but compared to Aretha they sound like rookies.  Like an amateur artist copying a master with crayons.  “Back Back Train” is actually OK, and it might be that Joe Perry is a more appropriate vocalist for a blues classic.  Tyler’s histrionics wear thin on this album, but Perry’s laid back singing works better.  Tyler surely doesn’t aid the sluggish “You Gotta Move”.

A dreary “I’m Ready” (Muddy Waters) is still a long way from the end.  “Temperature” also drags along, Tyler turning it into a parody.  Fleetwood Mac get the Aero treatment on “Stop Messin’ Around”, at least the second Mac cover that Aerosmith have done after “Rattlesnake Shake”.  Please welcome Joe Perry back to the microphone on “Stop Messin’ Around”, and please keep Tyler away!  Unfortunately it’s a boring tune (blazing fretwork aside), and so is the closer “Jesus is on the Main Line”.

Even the most stalwart defender must concede that Honkin’ On Bobo isn’t a blues album for a blues lover.  It’s a blues-rock forgery that occasionally captures the odd highlight for posterity, but is otherwise expendable.  In other words if you’re in a Zombie apocalypse looking for CDs to chuck at the undead, Honkin’ On Bobo can be flung guilt-free.

1.5/5 stars

And once again, it’s the return of the dreaded flaming turd!

 

 

AERO-REVIEWS:

MORE Aero-Reviews:

 

#864: The Inside of Van Halen

Thankfully, I didn’t give away all my magazines.  Some special ones remain.  Most of those are Kiss-related, but a few are not.  I was smart enough to hang on to a few that are special, at least to me.  Today we’re looking at the only issue I own of The Inside, an excellent Van Halen fan club magazine.  This comes from Fall ’96, a brief period where the Van Halen lineup was presumed to be a reunited band with David Lee Roth.  That’s only one of the things that makes this issue interesting.


GETTING MORE TALE #864:  The Inside

The location that I first managed had been open only about six months.  1996 was an eventful year both for music and for me.  Notably, Sammy Hagar left Van Halen, and in a whirlwind of events they were recording new music with David Lee Roth.  People wanted to talk about it at the front counter and find out what I knew.  I knew no more than anybody else, but one of my early customers had the scoop.  He had access to The Inside, an unofficial Van Hagar magazine that would have been the best place to find information on them in the pre-internet-in-everybody’s-living-room age.

I can’t precisely remember how he got this issue.  Passed down from a brother-in-law, I believe.  Issue #6.  The front cover broke the news:  David Lee Roth was back?!  With a question mark, of course.  It already had some water damage when I received it third-hand.  We had been discussing all the latest Van Halen happenings in-store, and this particular guy already read the most in-depth coverage you could find.  He told me he’d pass the magazine down onto me, and true to his word, he did.  The news was so fresh that the letters column only contained correspondence from readers pre-split.

“These are strange times indeed,” reads in the first line on the first page, “Letter from the Editor”.  On page 10 is a detailed timeline of the breakup/reunion, monitoring early internet mailing list chatter and official statements.  It’s fascinating and many of the details turned out to be true, including the title of a new song, “Me Wise Magic“.  On the 14th page is an update on Eddie’s upcoming hip surgery, and the news that the Toronto pay-per-view concert was not scheduled for home video release.  Page 15 reveals that Dimebag Darrell recorded covers of “Everybody Wants Some!!” and “Outta Love Again” for B-side use, and that Pat Boone was covering “Jump” and possibly also “Panama” for the album that became In A Metal Mood.  (Only “Panama” made the final cut.)

Most of the issue is dominated by David Lee Roth, both coverage and speculation, but with big photos splashed over the pages.  There’s an interesting interview about the Balance tour with the lighting tech, but due to circumstances beyond their control, this was old news by comparison.

For music geeks that crave the obscure, there is a two page article on Brian May’s Star Fleet Project featuring Eddie Van Halen.  This article details the two day session that brought the three track mini-album to life.  How it came together, details and trivia.  There’s even an ad for a rare CD release of the album, complete with bonus tracks, as part of Brian May’s & Cozy Powell’s Resurrection release.

The back page has information on an album called Fatherless Child by Rich Wyman, featuring a guest appearance by none other than King Edward himself.  (If you have been watching The LeBrain Train: 2000 Words or More with Mike Ladano, on our Van Halen tribute episode, a viewer from Norway mentioned this release.  I claimed to have never heard of it, but apparently I had just forgotten!)  Eddie caught Wyman live and was impressed enough to produce four songs on Fatherless Child (Wyman’s second CD).  Better than that, he even played guitar on three.  This article details the songs and playing, and concludes with an interview with Wyman.

Generous customers like this, who treated people like me at the Record Store like an actual “Humans Being”, helped “Balance” out all the real assholes we got in that first year.  Shirtless dudes, shoeless dudes, (no pantsless dudes thankfully), construction workers tracking in dirt, thieves, troublemakers…and the odd real gem like this now-forgotten Van Halen fan.  All we did was talk a little Van Halen.  He had this magazine that he finished reading, and wanted to pass it on to a fellow fan.  He returned with the book in hand, and it’s been in my collection ever since.


In a way, it’s kind of wrong that I still have this issue.  The original owner passed it on to someone else, who passed it on to me.  In the spirit of the way I acquired it, I really should have passed it on again when I gave away the bulk of my collection.  But I do still have it, in the same condition as I received it.  The inner page is loose as they often come to be, but it’s perfectly readable and enjoyable.

Instead of giving it away, I’ll live up to the spirit of the gift with this story and the pictures above.  Thanks, mystery Van Halen fan.  If you’re out there anywhere, let’s raise a toast to King Edward.

REVIEW: Twisted Sister – Live at the Marquee (2011)

“Ladies and gentlemen…Twisted mother fuckin’ Sister!”  – Lemmy Kilmister

 

TWISTED SISTER – Live at the Marquee (2011 Rhino Handmade)

First of all, this thing is huge.  There’s a CD in there somewhere.

You already know some of these recordings from the Big Hits and Nasty Cuts CD.  In 2011, finally, after numerous B-sides and compilations, the entire legendary Marquee club show was made available on CD from the fine folks at Rhino Handmade. Coming in this beautiful (but fragile) cardboard die-cut cover, this was so long overdue.  For a long long time people sank many dollars into collecting as many of these live versions as possible.  Few collected all the released tracks, but now the entire show is available.  That means you get all those B-sides plus a bunch of unreleased songs from the gig, including all the talking.

From Lemmy’s now legendary introduction to the final notes of “Feel So Fine”, this is Twisted Sister at their absolute heaviest. When I first heard five of these recordings as the “Nasty Cuts” on the Big Hits (1992) CD, they turned me off a bit. They were too heavy. Too fast. Too ragged. Too punk rock. Not what I was expecting from what I considered to be a pop rock band, back then. However, Dee’s rants made this so difficult to turn off! You never know what was going to come out of Dee’s mouth next.

Eventually I realized, this stuff is actually Twisted Sister at their absolute best! They are in their element and in their glory, playing these songs for the fans and also the haters in the crowd that night, whom Dee addresses frequently.

I’m sure the band won the haters over that night.

The recording is crisp, clear, and powerful. It is in your face.  It feels like you are right there on that stage with the band.  The mix is perfect.  The guitars have good separation and the drums are recorded perfectly.  The vocals are also clear and only slightly overpowered by the stampeding band.

Personal fave: “You Can’t Stop Rock And Roll”. The crowd had never heard this one before, being brand new and unreleased.  Finally I am hearing a version of “You Can’t Stop Rock And Roll” that lives up to the song’s potential. The album version, as great as it is, isn’t as heavy as it was live. This, my friends, is Sister at their absolute best. I’m saying that without a trace of hyperbole. For me, this is it. This is Twisted Sister at their tightest, fastest, heaviest and inspired. The crowd eats it up.

Honorable Mention: “I Am (I’m Me)”, which comes close to the end of the set. Dee’s voice is off on a few notes, but this is rock and roll baby! I’d pay my life savings to be able to sing as well as Dee did that night!  (note: my life savings are not much, but I’d pay ’em anyway.)

Dud: “Leader Of The Pack”. It’s just weird to hear it at a show this insane. It kinda slows things down a bit much (even though it’s so much heavier than the Ruff Cuts version).

5/5 fuckin’ stars!


     

 

Sunday Afternoon Test Stream

With all apologies to Aaron, the old backdrop of checkers and lighthouses is gone.  Behold the new backdrop of a cloth with a paper logo!

But that’s not all.  Before this afternoon’s listening, I decided to un-package a rare 2016 limited edition 180 gram reissue of Soundgarden’s Badmotorfinger.  Lemme tell you folks, it sounds great.  But it also looks cool and you can see it fresh out of the package in the live stream below.

Sunday Un-funny?

This Sunday Chuckle comes courtesy of one of my neighbours in this building.  I think he’s the annoying guy who lets his dog run loose in leashed areas, but I’m not sure.  You can be the judge if his joke is chuckle-worthy.

I was taking out my garbage last weekend, and I was wearing my mask because legally in Ontario, masks are mandatory inside common areas of condos.  I exited the building on my way to the dumpster and I passed by the neighbour guy.

The neighbour raised his hands in the air like he was being robbed, looked at me and said, “Take the keys, you can have the car!”

I looked back at him puzzled and said “I’m sorry?”

“Because you’re the Masked Man!” he said, pointing out my mask and hat.

OK then!

Steph Honde talks music, collecting, gigs, stories and lots more on the LeBrain Train

Thank you Steph for generously spending your time with Deke and myself today.  Check out the show below on YouTube if you missed it.  Topics discussed include:

  • Playing with Paul Di’Anno
  • Moving to L.A.
  • Gigs
  • Stories
  • CDs and box sets
  • Canadian rock
  • Now Or Never, Hollywood Monsters, Jim Crean and solo work

…and much more!

 

 

#863: Masks Are the New T-Shirt

GETTING MORE TALE #863: Masks Are the New T-Shirt

If you have been watching my videos or live streams, I’ve occasionally shown off my new masks.  Now, I don’t wanna get into the whole “issue” of masks.  I just want to talk about masks in terms of music, marketing, and keeping businesses alive in 2020.  No matter your political affiliation (I consider myself unaffiliated and flexible enough to change who I support), then if you are reading this then I think we can all agree on three things:

  1. We love music.
  2. We want businesses to survive in this difficult year.
  3. We need to do things that make us happy, especially now.

I’ve been saying for months:  every band, brand, and icon needs to put out branded masks, pronto!  Many of us are going to need masks for at least the next six months.  I have five Kiss masks currently.  I don’t know how long these things last, especially if you wash them as frequently as you have to, so I assume we’ll all need replacement masks in a little while too.  It makes sense to put out your own branded mask right now.  I love that I can put on a Kiss mask and go out and do my shopping.  It’s like wearing a T-shirt.  In 2020, the mask is the new T-shirt.  Especially in winter time when, in Canada, we will be wearing heavy jackets on our backs like a tortoise shell.  T-shirt weather is far behind us.  Bonus:  though they fog up my glasses, the mask does keep my nose warm in the morning chill.

To Kraft Dinner:  I would love to buy a mask from you that has your delicious cheesy noodles on my face!

To the estate of Frank Zappa:  I’m looking for a mask with his trademark moustache and beard.  Does such a thing exist?

Dear ZZ Top:  You know exactly what I want!  One of those longer “goiter” masks with your beards!

And local clubs, restaurants and businesses:  I would love to be able to buy a mask with your logo or website address on it.  We need to support each other in this time, I firmly believe, and that starts at home with our venues and clubs.

Sceptics might ask me, “Will any of that actually make the life-or-death difference for a business?”  I don’t know.  I didn’t study business or economics in school.  I just know that I am (somewhat) in a position to help (a little bit), and…I have to try.

I practice what I preach and have thrown a bone or two to some local businesses and music venues.  I’m not saying this to show off what a super guy I’m am, I’m saying this so I can lead by example.  I’m not wealthy though, and what works best for me is if I can buy some merchandise.  That way I get something I need while helping somebody else out.  I would rather buy official than knockoff.  I need more masks, and if there are enough cool ones, I could even give some as gifts to certain family members.

For the next six to twelve months (who knows?), masks are going to be in our lives.  Like it or lump it, I suppose they say.  Maybe I’ve just been more successful trying to have a positive attitude in 2020, but I’ve been able to…have fun?…with masks.  We gotta support each other to get through this damn pandemic, and to play on the words of my man Jon Bon Jovi:  I’ll Be There For You!  These five words I swear to you.  If you sell, I’ll buy a mask from you.  I’ll mask up for you!

 

 

Steph Honde Saturday! NoN / Hollywood Monsters star joins the LeBrain Train

Episode 33

Steph Honde is a multi-talented singer and guitarist from France, and this week Deke and I are privileged to welcome him on board the LeBrain Train:  2000 Words or More with Mike Ladano!

Steph has played with artists such as Paul Di’Anno, Vinny Appice, Danko Jones, Greg Godovitz, Jim Crean, Don Airey and many more.  With his bands Hollywood Monsters and NoN (Now or Never), plus his many collaborations with Crean, Steph Honde boasts a pretty damn cool discography.  He has an album under his own name with the covers CD Covering the Monsters, and just released an acoustic album called Empire of Ashes!  Perhaps just as cool, Honde is an avid music collector with a CD library to die for!  (Legend has it that his Zappa collection alone can move mountains.)  We have a lot to geek out about!

Because Steph is based in France, there won’t be the usual Friday night show.  Instead you can catch us bright-eyed and bushy-tailed on Saturday morning.  Please join Deke, Steph and myself on Saturday October 24 at 8:00 AM E.S.T. / 2:00 PM France time.

Facebook:  MikeLeBrain  YouTube:  Mike LeBrain