RECORD STORE TALES MkII:
Getting More Tale
- OLD DIRECTORY OF REVIEWS (not updated – use search)
Awesome, fast-paced show tonight! We picked our favourite riffs of the 80s, and Mike Slayen did his best to play some of ’em for us. A big round of applause for Mike, please and thank you!
Your Riff Merchants tonight were:
For me personally though, the highlight of the show was the brand new music video by T-Bone. I have been waiting two weeks to play this. If you’d like to catch this new song, a wonderful tribute to our own Uncle Meat, then go to 0:14:00.
See ya next week when I return with Harrison and Aaron with some Iron Maiden cover art lists!
The LeBrain Train: 2000 Words or More with Mike Ladano
Episode 53 – Top Riffs of the 1980s
The last time we talked riffs, San Diego-based guitarist Mike Slayen was there to show us how to play ’em. Tonight, Mike will be back to talk the 80s. The era of Van Halen, Scorpions, Motley Crue and Metallica. Mike is gonna have his hands full — literally!
Added bonus: This time, Rob Daniels from Visions In Sound will be joining us with his own 80s rock perspective! The panel is seven, so we will be doing these lists very quickly with minimal jabber:
Added extra bonus: Lana Teramae submitted an 80s list and I’ll be reading it at the end!
There are additional surprises lined up, so take it from someone who knows: you don’t wanna miss this week’s show. You want to catch this one live.
RECORD STORE TALES #884: The Long Walk Home
In theory, it should have taken 15 minutes for us to walk home from school.
Cross the busy Ottawa Street with the crossing guard. Down Ottawa, left on Crosby and then right on Secord. All the way down Secord to Hickson, Inlet and home. Sometimes if my dad was driving home from work at the same time, he’d see us walking and pick us up.
The reality was, we usually took a lot longer. My dad used to say that we “dawdled home”. Most of the time, we trudged it on foot. We began at the start in clumps of kids, who would peel off singly or in pairs for their own homes as we walked the route.
The other day I was driving that way, and decided to take a spin down Secord and the old route. The roads were slushy and the snowbanks were high, and suddenly I had a flashback. Why does it seem like we were always walking home in the middle of winter? Those are the most powerful memories. Dodging snowballs thrown by other kids, trudging through deep snow trying to make a “short cut”. Coming home soaked and cold. Eating some Scotch broth for lunch and then back to school for the afternoon. I’ve driven that way lots of times, but only this one time — in the winter, with snowbanks at kid-level — did I have a flashback.
One of the only shields from the cruel outside world that I had as a kid was music. At the moment I was driving, suddenly the power chords in “Little Death (Mary Mary)” by the Barstool Prophets hit the speakers. “I would have loved this song as a kid,” I said aloud.
I never knew who my friends were back in those days. A kid who claimed to be my friend one week would be a bully the next week. There were one or two kids I knew I could trust, like Allan Runstedtler. He was too nice and smart a kid to get caught up in that stuff, but he walked home from school in the opposite direction. There was nobody else I could count on to stick up for me. KK was just as likely to be throwing the snowballs at me. Ian Johnson used to get under my skin. “Name five songs by Iron Maiden,” he would say, instead of just teaching me about Iron Maiden like my real friends did. But my real friends, from my neighbourhood, didn’t go to that shitty Catholic school.
The thing that I was discovering was that music like Iron Maiden made me feel good. It made me feel temporarily bulletproof. Something about those proud, defiant power chords. I felt more capable of projecting pride and defiance if I had Iron Maiden behind me. Helix, Kiss, Judas Priest — these were the bands that kept me trudging through the snow while being pelted from behind.
The Barstool Prophets song had the same effect. As the flashbacks hit me, the guitar riff of “Little Death” pushed back against them. Yes, I would have loved the song as a kid, had time travel existed back then. Still working on my flux capacitor, but I’m getting there. It’s strange, but sometimes I sit there and imagine if I had been able to allow my past self to hear certain songs. I imagine my younger self’s reaction. It makes me emotional. That’s the only kind of time travel I’m able to do. I didn’t have a bad childhood by any means, but man those bullies did a number on me. I made it well into my 30s before being able to assess the damage that followed me right into adulthood. I think the hardest part was not knowing who I could trust. As it turns out, almost nobody. By the end of the eighth grade, only Allan hadn’t picked on me. And then I was rid of them forever as I changed school systems.
I would try to memorize songs as best as I could so I could keep them in my head while I was at school. The teachers were part of the problem and the defiant nature of heavy metal music was, shall we say, not appreciated by Mrs. Powers. I don’t think she commended its aesthetics, nor song titles like “Hotter Than Hell“. She wasn’t one of my supporters as the grade school days drew to a close. Nor was Ian Johnson, Kenny Lawrence, Kevin Kirby or any of my supposed “friends” in class. My only friends in that cold depressing classroom were the songs by Helix and Kiss in my head. I drew guitars in art class.
There’s a flashback for you. Ian Johnson may have mockingly quizzed me on how many Iron Maiden songs I could name, but he vastly underestimated just what that music meant to me. A year later he cut his hair short and was into something else. My love affair with music never ended and only grew with me through time. The Barstool Prophets have just shared a serious emotional moment with me, which allows them automatic entry into my soul’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It’s a pretty serious honour. Please takes your seats with the other immortals enshrined within. Graham Greer, Glenn Forrester, Al Morier, and Bobby Tamas — otherwise known as the Barstool Prophets — welcome to the hallowed Hall of Fame!
The LeBrain Train: 2000 Words or More with Mike Ladano
Went live for a short stream yesterday, just to unbox some stuff that I didn’t wanna wait until Friday to do. You’ll have to watch to see the three special new arrivals.
Also just building the hype for March. The whole month is already booked up and I’m really excited. Watch the video and check out what we have in store. It’s not a spoiler to tell you that this Friday is Riffs of the 80s with Mike Slayen! This is a followup to our very popular Riffs of the 70s show back in January. Mike will demonstrate some of the riffs we’re going to discuss. As an added bonus we’ll also have Rob Daniels with us, who always has an interesting set of picks.
Check out the video, and subscribe to my channel so you never have to worry about missing one!
And speaking of…
“If you like Black Sabbath,” said the security guy at the mall, “then you have to hear Type O Negative. They are one of my favourite bands right now. Do you have it?”
We checked the racks, and we did — Bloody Kisses, the recent re-release in a smart looking cardboard digipack.
There were two security guys at the mall. There was Trevor Atkinson, the laziest guard in the world, who I knew from highschool. The other guy had more the look of the cop-wanna-be, the way you picture the cliche of mall security guards in your head. He was the Type O fan.
The year was 1995, still early in the winter, and fresh working at the Record Store (for about six months). I had been collecting Black Sabbath for years, and in 1995 I was still mad for them, trying to acquire the rare stuff on CD like Born Again and Seventh Star. Knowing my infatuation with Black Sabbath, the cop-looking guard recommended Bloody Kisses. I was also about five months since my first big breakup, and I was still bitter and angry. It clicked.
I mean, read this dedication in the inner booklet.
I wouldn’t recommend Type O Negative to any old Sabbath fan like he did. In fact a few months later, I saw Type O Negative with a bunch of Sabbath fans, and they couldn’t have given a shit. But I got why he did. The gothic imagery, the heavy guitars, the keyboard accents. Certainly, the comically deep vocals of Peter Steele were nothing like any of the higher-pitched crooners that Sabbath have ever had in their ranks. But Type O did sooth my angry, heartbroken soul when I hit “play” on my brand new copy of Bloody Kisses. I didn’t know, but I had bought a recent reissue featuring a new song called “Suspended In Dusk”, while losing a lot of the instrumental bits and novelty songs on the first edition. The reissue, with only nine tracks instead of 14, is an overall better listening experience. (There is also a deluxe edition with all the material from both, plus remixes, and their cover of “Black Sabbath” from Nativity in Black.)
Both versions open with the same song – “Christian Woman” – although the original makes you wait through 40 seconds of metal machine music and moaning called “Machine Screw”. Cutting to the chase is better. Soft, subtle keyboards welcome you in. The nine minute track is laid out in three parts in the booklet. A: “Body of Christ (Corpus Christi)”, B: “To Love God”, and C: “J.C. Looks Like Me”. Each is a distinct section with its own riff and hooks, with “To Love God” being a soft interlude between two harder parts. If anything is Sabbathy here (besides the title), it’s the varied arrangement, the keys, and the Appice-like drums of Sal Abruscato. Guitarist Johnny Hickey sings the higher vocals in contrast to Steele’s ridiculously low baritone. This is a truly great song, though the naughty lyrics aren’t poetry. It’s solid all the way through, which you can’t say for every long song on this album. The track was pointlessly edited down to four and a half minutes for single release, losing all its grandeur.
The reissue and original differ drastically in running order here, but the more concise reissue blends seamless into “Bloody Kisses”, a very slow dirge that goes on for 10:56. A bit of a slog, with highlights here and there, but get to the point, right? In the booklet it is subtitled “A Death in the Family” and that’s exactly what it sounds like. In the quiet parts of the song are sounds which create the image of a gothic castle during a storm, so you have to give Type O credit for caring about their craft. “Too Late: Frozen” is another long one, distinguished by it’s goofy “too late for a-pol-o-gies-ah!” chant. It has a lo-fi punk vibe and is quite enjoyable for all its disperate ingredients. Of course one of those parts is a big dark dirge-y gothic breakdown. It’s really two songs in one, with “Frozen” bookended by “Too Late”.
Type O goes for straighter riffing on “Blood & Fire”. This is about as conventional as songs get on Bloody Kisses. Some of the lyrics resonated with my sad-sack-of-shit broken-hearted persona that I found myself projecting.
I always thought we’d be together,
And that our love could not be better,
Well, with no warning you were gone,
I still don’t know what went wrong.
It sounds as if a natural side break was inserted after “Blood & Fire”, because there is a respite before the bizarre sitar-inflected “Can’t Lose You”. It’s a very long buildup, but this sets up their version of Seals & Crofts’ “Summer Breeze” on the reissue. (We’ll get to what they do on the original running order in a bit.) “Can’t Lose You” sounds like a gothic parody of the Beatles’ “India period”, but “Summer Breeze” is more like Ozzy’s cover of “Purple Haze”! Guitars distorted to the max, Pete croons about the jasmine in his mind. On both versions of the CD, “Summer Breeze” is paired with “Set Me On Fire” as a sort of high-octane organ-centric outro. Dig that backwards flute. (Flautist: uncredited.)
A sudden break here leads to a dark cave where Peter Steele can be found breathing heavily and taking a deep drink from a bottle. “Damn me father,” he says, “for I must sin.” It’s the reissue bonus track “Suspended in Dusk”, a frankly dull song about a vampiric creature. The slower-than-slow approach, paired with the spoken word vocal style does not hasten the blood. Some clear chordal homages to Black Sabbath catch the ear. That said, the lyrics are cool. “Four centuries of this damned immorality. Yet I did not ask to be made. Why?” Too long, too long, goes on forever. Shame.
Closing the reissue is the other big single, “Black No. 1 (Little Miss Scare-All)”, a tribute to the goth girls of the 90s. This is a great tune, and it’s hard to believe this hit is an 11 minute tune. Granted, it was shaved down under five for its single release, which is a shame since you miss great hooks.
“I went looking for trouble,” begins Pete. “And boy…I found her.”
It’s all Hallow’s Eve, and she’s got a date at midnight with Nosferatu. Peter taps into everything sexy and cool about Halloween on “Black No. 1”, named for the hair dye colour. “You wanna go out ’cause it’s raining and blowing, she can’t go out ’cause her roots are showing. Dye ’em black.”
Terrific ending to the reissued album. Hit ’em hard with a single on the way out. Epic, fun, hook-laden and conclusive. So why did they re-arrange the tracklist and cut so many from the original? “Sacrebleu!”
The band were fully involved with the reissue, which also featured an alternative cover photo. One has to assume they saw the potential of a better listening experience in the revised tracklist, and they were correct. If Bloody Kisses has a primary flaw, it’s that too many songs take a while to get to the point (if they get there at all). With all the original additional material, the album is too uneven in tone and quality.
“Machine Screw” doesn’t take long to get out of the way, but the jokey opener isn’t necessary. The original tracklist then gets the two biggest tunes out of the way right at the start, albeit a combined 20 minute start, “Christian Woman” and “Black No. 1”. It then segues into “Fay Wray Come Out and Play” a minute of what sounds like a woman being sacrificed by some kind of jungle tribe. It’s a sonic filler that doesn’t enhance enjoyment of the album, just contributes to a jokey novelty quality. As does the next track, a punk thrasher called “Kill all the White People”. The lyrics are pretty simple — “Kill all the white people, then we be free!” Is that why they wanted to sacrifice Fay Wray? I’m getting confused here. In an abrupt change of pace, “Summer Breeze”/ “Set Me On Fire” follows. It’s a very different setup from “Can’t Lose You” on the reissue.
Back to “Set Me On Fire”, (which ends abruptly on both versions). On the original set, the next track is the birthing noises of “Dark Side of the Womb” followed by “We Hate Everyone”. This is a cool tune, but perhaps the lyrics were considered too jokey for the reissue. Who does Type O Negative hate, for example? “Right wing commies, leftist Nazis”, and most importantly “We don’t care what you think!” The punky tempo and melody are at odds with the majority of the album, but this is one track worth having the original version for. The song straightens out into a mid-tempo rocker by the middle, before reverting back to its punk origins. It’s the one they shouldn’t have cut.
The final piece of exclusive music on the original album is “3.0.I.F.” which bridges “Bloody Kisses” with “Too Late: Frozen”. It’s a bizarre sonic collage of chanting, engine noises, whispering, and the word “negative” repeated before the crash of a highway accident. While it does serve as an interesting intro to “Too Late”, you don’t miss much by not having it in there. The original running order goes out on the ballad “Can’t Lose You” which is cool. And just to avoid any sort of flow or outro, it ends abruptly as the sitar peaks. When the same thing happens on the reissued version, it sounds more like a setup into “Summer Breeze” than a sudden end.
Get both, or get the deluxe with the bonus CD, or don’t get it at all. It’s almost like they never wanted you to buy it in the first place. On the back of the original CD, instead of a tracklist, is just a warning: “DON’T MISTAKE LACK OF TALENT FOR GENIUS”.
Original: 3.5/5 stars
Reissue: 3.75/5 stars
1. “Machine Screw” 0:39
2. “Christian Woman” 8:57
3. “Black No. 1 (Little Miss Scare-All)” 11:14
4. “Fay Wray Come Out and Play” 1:02
5. “Kill All the White People” 3:23
6. “Summer Breeze” 4:49
7. “Set Me on Fire” 3:29
8. “Dark Side of the Womb” 0:27
9. “We Hate Everyone” 6:50
10. “Bloody Kisses (A Death in the Family)” 10:55
11. “3.0.I.F.” 2:05
12. “Too Late: Frozen” 7:50
13. “Blood & Fire” 5:32
14. “Can’t Lose You” 6:05
I’ve been watching a lot of classic SCTV lately, and this is the second Sunday Screening from the show. It’s quirky stuff that resonates only with those who have a more…refined taste in comedy. Like those of us from the Great White North.
Sammy Maudlin is Joe Flaherty’s late night talk show character. Maudlin had been doing the late night talk show host thing for years, until an ill-advised 80s reboot under the name Maudlin O’ the Night. This is a wry satire of Alan Thicke’s Thicke of the Night reboot in the early 1980s. Sammy kicked out sideman William B. Williams (John Candy) and replaced him with “The Zanies” – four idiots headlined by Howie Soozloff (Martin Short). Howie Soozloff is a spot-on parody of early period Howie Mandel.
It was Martin Short’s performance as Soozloff that had me in stitches. Other guests include Henry Kissinger (Eugene Levy) and Jennifer Beals (Andrea Martin). Maudlin O’ the Night is a trainwreck waiting to happen, so just watch it unfold.
One of my favourite episodes as a kid.
This has been one of my personal favourite episodes! Bootlegs were the subject, and we saw a wide variety. Yet even with the limitless possibilities of bootleg recordings out there, we still ended up with one duplicate. You’ll have to watch and see which one was on two lists!
John wins “best collection” award.
Lots of audio/visual backup here to go with these bootlegs too. For that reason alone, this was one of the best shows we’ve ever done. Thanks for watching and being a part of it!
The LeBrain Train: 2000 Words or More with Mike Ladano
Episode 52 – Best of the Bootlegs
This live broadcast of the LeBrain Train is brought to you by John “2Loud2OldMusic” and Harrison the “MadMetalMan“! They have driven the demand for a show about our favourite bootleg recordings. Bonus: you can also expect to hear from Kevin “BuriedOnMars” about his favourites too!
What are bootlegs? The simplest definition is this: a recording, usually live, released without authorization, or knowledge of the artists. Also without compensation to the artist! Most bootlegs are audience recordings (covertly sneaking a tape recorder into a gig), some are soundboards. We will we be talking about LPs, CDs, cassettes, VHS tapes and even Youtube videos.
Take a glimpse into our personal music collections with this rough and raw episode of the LeBrain Train!
“How to Make a Bootleg” 101
Once upon a time I thought Dicky Barrett was the most ridiculous singer I ever heard. That still might be true. His low growl is part Tom Waits and part Sherman tank. Fortunately the three piece horn section of the Mighty Mighty Bosstones is capable of delivering all the good clean melodic hooks. This leaves Barrett to deliver verbal gut punches while gargling glass mixed with sandpaper. 1997’s Let’s Face It was their breakthrough. It’s a fine honing of their frantic ska-punk rave ups with a commercial understanding.
All the tracks are dance-able, it’s just a matter of slow or fast. Most are fast! “Noise Brigade” starts the party with some serious skanking, but the Bosstones give you a chance to breathe on hit “The Rascal King”. You can sing along while you get down: “The last hoorah? Nah I’d do it again!” Gentler reggae picking soon gives way to a chorus full of punch. The horns (Tim “Johnny Vegas” Burton – sax, Kevin Lenear – sax, and Dennis Brockenborough – trombone) are a major part of another big hit, “Royal Oil”. Great trombone solo, and upbeat chorus despire its dire anti-drug message.
This cluster of hits concludes with the big one, “The Impression That I Get”, #1 on the Canadian rock charts, was all over the place in ’97-’98. For good reason. If you could distil the Bosstones down to a chewable concentrate, it would probably taste exactly like “The Impression That I Get”. Written by Barrett and bassist Joe Gittleman, it’s simply impossible not to move to this one. The hooks that the horns deliver are just important as the chorus. Both are equally timeless. Nate Albert on guitar is the rhythmic master of ceremony, with the tricky offbeat reggae stylings mixed with metal pick slides. While we’re handing out kudos, drummer Joe Sirois hits hard, but check out his cool shuffle at the end of the song. Meanwhile, dancer Ben Carr makes his biggest impression (that I get) in the music video, as the newspaper-reading dude in a suit just dancing through various shots. Brilliant video, too — cool use of backwards photography at the start. The stark white background with the sleak dark suits matches the whole image and vibe of the Let’s Face It album. Barrett looks about to burst of blood vessel when delivering that yell before the chorus. The video was always in heavy rotation in Canada that year.
It doesn’t matter that there aren’t any singles left, because this is an album of great songs from top to bottom. The title track could have been a fourth single. Upbeat with hooky horns and a very important message: “We sure weren’t put here to hate, be racist, be sexist, be bigots, be sure. We won’t stand for your hate.” Two decades before “woke” culture”, the Bosstones were already leading the charge. And the message is as true then or now.
They take it heavy again on “That Bug Bit Me”, but with the horn section to the melodic rescue. Nate Albert’s penchant for the odd metal hook makes a return, but the horns dominate “Another Drinkin’ Song”. It starts slow and ominous but picks up and turns on the party hooks once more. “Numbered Days” lets a guitar riff stand out, but Barrett’s barrelling baritone is a force to reckon with here.
Through to the end, there are no low points. It’s just a matter of style and what hooks are the ones that stick. “Break So Easily”, “Nevermind Me”, and “Desensitized” all hit the mark. But closer “1-2-8” is mental. And that’s the party in 33 minutes. Over before you know it. A perfect album.
A prequel to Record Store Tales #286: Live! Bootlegs
RECORD STORE TALES #883: Live! Bootlegs – the Prequel
I didn’t discover “bootlegs” right away. But inevitably, I had my first encounter and was confused by what I saw.
The setting: Dr. Disc, 1988 or ’89. Downtown Kitchener. In the store with best friend Bob and one of his friends. Browsing in the cassettes, I had worked my way over to Guns N’ Roses, a band I was still learning about. Something about an EP that came before Appetite? But what I saw was not that. In fact, there multiple Guns bootlegs in their cassette section, only I didn’t know they were called “bootlegs”, or what that even meant. Each one seemed to have a different member on the front. One had Slash, one had Axl, one even had Izzy. They were printed on different coloured paper. They had songs I never heard, like “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door”. Live shows from the last few years.
Were they official releases? They had to be if they were sitting there in a store, right? But A&A Records at the mall didn’t have these.
I didn’t get of the Guns tapes. I didn’t have the money, and even if I did, I wouldn’t have taken a chance.
My knowledge of bootlegs was limited. In my mind, I associated the word with the kind of bootleg records they had to buy in communist Russia. Since you could not buy American music in the Soviet Union in the time of the Iron Curtain, fans got creative. There is a famous series of Beatles bootleg records, etched into X-ray photographs. It was the right kind of material to cut the music on. Like a flexi-disc. When I heard the word “bootleg album”, I associated it with an album that was illegal to own, but somehow you got a copy of a copy. Not live recordings smuggled out of a gig and sold for profit.
I finally put the pieces together when I bought the book Kiss On Fire on December 27, 1990. In the back: a massive list of live Kiss bootlegs, from Wicked Lester to the Asylum tour. Tracklists, cover art, the works. Suddenly, it clicked.
“These must be bootlegs!” I whispered to myself in awe.
“We must have them,” said my OCD to my unconscious self.
I acquired my first live bootleg from Rob Vuckovich in 1992. It was David Lee Roth live in Toronto on the Eat ‘Em and Smile tour with Steve Vai. It was just a taped copy on a Maxell UR 90, but it was my first. My sister got an early Barenaked Ladies gig on tape shortly after, including the rare “I’m in Love With a McDonald’s Girl”. Then in 1994 she bootlegged her own Barenaked Ladies show on the Maybe You Should Drive tour!
Around this time, my sister and I also started attending record shows a couple times a year. Bootlegs were now available on CD. And there were many. Who to choose?
Black Sabbath with Ozzy, or with Dio? Def Leppard before Rick Allen was even in the band? Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, Motley Crue’s final gig with Vince Neil…so many to choose from!
Interestingly enough, the idea of one band member being on the cover art carried into the CD age. By my side at one show was Bob once again. I flipped through the Kiss. There were so many! I picked one out with Gene on the cover. Not knowing what bootlegs were himself, Bob thought they were solo albums. “Don’t get one with just Gene!” he advised. It wasn’t something I wanted anyway — it was from the Animalize tour, which I already had represented on VHS at home. I wanted something I didn’t have anything from yet. There it was! The Revenge club tour! Unholy Kisses, they called the disc. Stupid name, great setlist. I only hoped it sounded good when I got it home. They used to let you listen to it before you bought it, but I think I was too shy and just bought it. As it turns out, I loved it. Every thump and every shout.
That’s the thing about bootlegs. You really never knew what the sound was going to be like. Or even if the gig advertised was the gig you were buying. Or just because it sounded good at the start, will it still sound good at the end? Or did the guy recording it have to move to a different seat next to a loud dude? A soundboard recording was almost a too-good-to-be-true find. One thing you were certain not to hear: overdubs. No overdubs on a bootleg! They were raw and authentic.
I had made a good “first bootleg” purchase. A whole new world opened before me. There were not just live bootlegs, no! Also demos, remixes, even B-sides. And among them, some great, and some dreadfully bad choices!