Part 157: The Year in Review / Top 5

RECORD STORE TALES Part 157:   The Year in Review

So here we are, the tail end of 2012.  While I’m sure you’re just starting to get your drink on, we here at LeBrain’s Blog are tirelessly bringing you the rock even into the wee final hours.  This is the time, traditionally, when we look at the past year!

We used to do Top Five of the Year lists at the record store, when we used to have our newsletter.  Unfortunately I don’t have copies of any of those newsletters, not a one, which is a real shame since I poured my heart and soul into them as much as anybody else at the store.  It would have been fun to look back 15 years and see what my top five of 1997 was.  I do know for certain two albums that were on it:  Accident of Birth by Bruce Dickinson, and The Colour and the Shape by Foo Fighters!  The rest have been lost to the dusts of time.

Hey, if any of you guys are still speaking to me and have copies of the newsletter, lemme know eh? ;)

Back to the present for a moment:

What can I say about 2012?  Before I even thought about doing my own blog, events were in motion that pushed me in that direction.   My good buddy Craig Fee invited me down to 107.5 Dave FM for an entire week — Stump LeBrain Week!  I spent a week on the air, with listeners trying to stump me.  There were even a couple LeBrain Weeks and an entire month of LeBrainuary, where every single day’s 4 O’clock 4 Play quizzes were mined from my own brain’s knowledge.  It was a blast, and left me hungry for more.

I’d always been writing Record Store Tales.  The oldest ones were at least a decade old on my hard drive, but I had no idea what to do with them.  I’d also been writing reviews — well over 800 of them on file before I launched — that very few people had seen.  Craig said to me, “LeBrain, you need to get blogging this stuff.  Write something every day.  If you build it, they will come.”

So that’s what I did, and I thank you for reading.

Back to the Record Store Tales:

I published Part 1 on March 9 2012, the beginning of the story, called Run to the Hills.  It was about the very first time I heard Iron Maiden, a date I’ll never forget.  And thus LeBrain’s Blog and Record Store Tales were launched.

Some highlights from the early months that you may have missed if you’re fairly new here:

So, if you have nothing better to do on this New Year’s Eve, there’s a good waste of time for ya.

And now that we’re done with the preamble…let’s get down to business.


5. TENACIOUS D – Rize of the Fenix

KG and JB cannot be stopped.  This album is the “Deth Starr” of rock, The D aim “To Be The Best”!   Read LeBrain’s review of Rize of the Fenix here, including all bonus tracks.

4. THE DARKNESS – Hot Cakes

I will never stop loving this band.  Welcome back.  Read LeBrain’s review of Hot Cakes here.

3.  RUSH – Clockwork Angels

My favourite Rush album since Counterparts, at least. Read LeBrain’s review of Clockwork Angels here.

2. VAN HALEN – A Different Kind of Truth

I’d never been more worried that a band would fuck up their big comeback.  Thankfully, Van Halen did not.  Read LeBrain’s review of A Different Kind of Truth here.

And finally…

1. KISS – Monster

You know this was gonna happen.  Aside from the fact that I’m the biggest Kiss fan around, it’s a fucking great record.  Read LeBrain’s review of Monster here.

Runner up:  Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson – TAAB2 Thick As A Brick 2.




  1. Cool top 5….especially with the Darkness and Ten D in there…..mine are as follows….
    1-Van Halen Different Kind Of Truth
    2-Rush Clockwork Angels
    3-ZZ Top La Futura
    4-Kiss Monster
    5-the Cult Choice Of Weapon


    1. If I did a top 10, The Cult would be on there for sure. Great album by them, their best in many many years. And I still don’t have that ZZ Top. It’ll be on my 2013 wishlist. Your list is probably the fifth that I have seen it on!

      Good call on The Cult man. Really good call.


  2. For sure the Cult put out a real inspired album,for me I bought all there stuff but they seemed to be floating around lost at sea so to speak,but made there way back. No frills ,just straight ahead rock.
    ZZ album too,what a great album there best since Rhytheem from 96,I love the rawness of it,u won’t be disappointed Mike.
    Kiss Monster,superb ,not a dud on it best album of theirs easily in my all time top 3 Kiss along with Revenge and Creatures..
    Rush and Halen I could have put either one at one,but I went with Halen at the tiebreaker as I seen them live this yr and the DKOT tunes came across live really well.(plus Ed was focused and his live playing was stellar)
    And well Rush, man dudes pulling off a concept at the age of 60 with there musical chops,crazy good….
    2013 gonna be hard to top 2012….
    Happy New Year Mike…glad I found yer blog!


    1. Thanks man, glad you found it too.

      2013 will definitely have a hell of a year to live up to. It’s going to be hard for any band to top albums like these. It remains to be seen what Sabbath and Deep Purple can do, but my money’s on them for some serious high hopes!

      I liked the Cult so much, I downloaded their Choice of Weapon demo album. It was really good too.


  3. Hey Mike, great list! And yer right, no surprises here, except maybe the D. I guess I didn’t hear you talk about it as much as the others… Can you believe I still haven’t even heard your top 3? I know, I know…

    Sorry Dude, I don’t have any of those newsletters here, or you’d have them post haste.

    Good on yer buddy Craig for the inspiration. The interwubs are all the better for your insightful writings on records and working in the store! And don’t forget the early-days support and encouragement of Statham, man. He loves yer blog! He’d have kicked yer ass if you’d given up. ;)

    You know what else would be cool? A year-end round up, counting your posts. Like, you did x number of record store tales, x number on KISS, x number on Maiden… etc. Just the raw numbers. I think it’d be pretty interesting stats, looking back.

    Here’s to 2013!

    And for shameless self-promotion, here’s my own Best Of 2012, in case nybody cares. ;)


  4. Cool Top 5! I didn’t expect Tenacious D to sneak in there. Not heard that. I really need to get that ZZ Top album at some point too after seeing it appear in so many lists. I just guess I’m not in a ZZ mood and the songs I heard really didn’t do much for me. I’m intrigued now though.


    1. I did like the single — “I Gots To Get Paid”. From years and years at the store, I was waiting for new ZZ Top albums only to be let down, from Antenna onwards. I guess that has made me wary. But so many reviewers can’t be wrong!

      And if you can’t trust Deke, who CAN you trust???

      I threw the D in there as a surprise really. I almost did Tull, I had it in there with the photo and everything and backed out at the last minute. D was in my car deck all summer, and it provided many rocking moments and laughs too.


      1. Well that’s the thing. I heard the tracks of the wee EP they brought out to promote it and I thought it was a bit meh but when you see it being rated by people like Deke and Rich and Every Record… you have to take notice!

        Like Marillion though, maybe I’m just not in the mood at the moment. I’ll probably wait until I’m actually listening to them more and buy it then. The TAAB2 is another one I need to check out. Keep hearing great things. It’s not credited to Tull though is it? I thought it was out as an Ian solo?


        1. Yeah, it’s credited as Ian solo, but it’s essentially a Tull album. All it’s missing is Martin Barre. (Ian says that Martin loathes the studio. The rest of the guys are on it.) It’s certainly the most Tull of all the Ian “solo” albums I have heard.

          I’m not sure if I’m in a ZZ Top mood or not either. I have the box set on deck to listen to and review in the future, maybe that will kick start it!


        2. That’d be o a good way to do it. The Box Set is great. And there was a Moving Sidewalks album out recently too that looks interesting.

          I’m glad they didn’t use the Tull name though. I think Barre is too big a part of Tull to call it that without his involvement.


        3. Yes — at this point Tull is Barre and Anderson, and I think Ian did the right thing. I consider it a Tull album, and I will file it as such in my collection though.


        4. I think Anderson really considers it a Tull album too. Think he called it an Ian solo just to avoid controversy/criticism. I read a recent interview where he was talking about Barre, saying that “as team captain you pick the players that score the goals.”


        5. Martin’s certainly scored plenty of those over the years! If he doesn’t enjoy the studio anymore, I would say that at his age he’s earned the right not to do it. When I’m that age I hope I have the freedom to avoid the things I hate, too! (If we should be so lucky!)


        6. Exactly, there certainly doesn’t seem to be any acrimony. I think some fans are looking for problems that aren’t even there. Barre seems quite happy just touring (and is at the moment doing a Tull based set).


  5. Well fella’s the thing is with ZZ Is that they stripped off all the layers off,like the drums,eight million overdubs of yesteryear and just went back to basics in the sound.
    Plus the fact that they just did 10 songs kept the overall album length to around 40 minutes is a plus as well.
    To be honest when I bought it I was just thinking well hopefully there’s not to much filler on here but nope I can honestly say all 10 tracks are solid a d I can listen to it from start to finish.
    I know of the Ep as well HMO and I believe those were the first four songs that are on La Futura,give it another go,slap the headphones on and knock back a 6 pack and some tacos..hahahaha…..


    1. That sounds exactly like what they needed to do. Maybe ZZ Top will be in my first purchases of 2013!

      Not that I need more music right away, I’m still listening to my Christmas haul, but when that is done….


  6. Way better I bought those and they just collect dust now,I would say this is there best since Rhytheem and before that Recycler.


  7. I know what u mean Mike about Recycler,but for me I liked it better than Afterburner which was just sides 3 & 4 of Eliminator.
    So for me I thought Recycler was on the right path in general except for goofy songs like Burger Man and they could have put on something new than Doubleback which was already out plugging the Back To The Future Franchise.
    But all momentum I thought was lost with Antenna,I just could not wrap my head around it…


    1. Burger Man…ugh! Proof that ZZ Top will write about anything! I had high hopes for Antenna but they lost me on that one, and I pretty much haven’t paid much attention since then.

      Having said that, I’m ordering the new one. But I need to find the Best Buy exclusive version, with the bonus tracks. I’ll let you know how that goes!


    1. There’s a dude on eBay selling one, but his feedback ranking isn’t the best. Think I’m going to go with It’s $35 including shipping, but I gotta have ALL the tracks.


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