#770: Encore!


I’ve been avoiding downtown Kitchener for the last couple years.  All that construction (five years’ worth) installing our new light-rail transit system…it’s been hellacious.  But that construction is now over, and the LRT train (called the ION) is running every 15 minutes.  Only two years behind schedule!  And guess where one of the stops is?  Right by legendary record store Encore Records.  Perfect!  No need to worry about parking.

Mrs. LeBrain and I hopped on a bus to the mall, and a few minutes later the train pulled in.  Using the free Wi-fi, I live-streamed myself making goofy faces on our new train.  The ride was quiet and fast since it only stopped a handful of times.  These new trains are lovely!  Now that they are finally running, I can see that the headaches will be worth it.  Clean and quick – I’d use the ION again.  It’s a shame but there are still people who hate the train so much that they would actually like to spend taxpayer money on ripping up the tracks!  What a waste that would be.  Let’s give this LRT a fair shake.

We disembarked the train at the City Hall stop, only a brief walk from Encore.  Not only was this my first ride on the train, but also my first visit to Encore since they moved from their old Queen St. location.  The new store, though not wheelchair accessible, seemed bigger and cleaner.  Old pal Al “The” King was there, happily still slinging the rock for us patrons.

We chatted a bit.  Al really enjoyed working at Encore.  There was a guy that I trained at my old Record Store about 15 years ago.  He left shortly after to work at Encore, and he’s still there!  When you find a place you enjoy working, I guess you stay!

Time to go look at music….

It didn’t take long for me to exceed my budget for the day.  First snag was from the new release rack:  The Beaches’ excellent new EP The Professional, $9.99.  A great recording; it will be getting a few spins this summer.  Next:  the used CD racks.  Plenty of stock as usual.  I came looking for old Styx, but there was no used Styx that I needed.  Instead I grabbed three Scorpions remasters:  World Wide Live (with DVD), Savage Amusement (with DVD), and Animal Magnetism.  $20 each.

Whoops!  I already owned Animal Magnetism.  No big deal; looks like some lucky person will be getting a free copy from me.  I really have to keep track of reissues better.  This is happening more and more frequently as my collection grows.

I still wanted some more classic Styx.  I’ve been playing my Styx albums repeatedly.  I needed some more classics to throw in the shuffle, so I moved on to the new CD racks.  There I picked up Pieces of Eight and Crystal Ball.  $9.99 each.  One by one and I’ll get them all.

Continuing through the racks of new stock, I spied two Kick Axe remasters by Rock Candy.  I’ve wanted both these albums for a long time:  Vices and Welcome to the Club, $22.99 each.  I’ve spun through both twice and was impressed with both the music and liner notes.  What an underrated singer George Criston is.  This sparked more Kick Axe purchases later on Discogs and Amazon.  The third album, Rock the World, is coming in the form of another Rock Candy remaster.  And thanks to the excellent liner notes inside Vices, I also tracked down some early Kick Axe on Discogs.  Debut single “Week-End Ride” / “One More Time” from 1981 is inbound!  Also coming, from the same year, is a compilation LP called Playboy Street Rock.  Kick Axe have a live track on that called “Reality is the Nightmare”.  It’s going to be cool hearing those early songs, which had a different singer.

It’s funny about Kick Axe.  One of the first buttons I ever bought for my jacket was Vices.  It only took close to 40 years to finally get the album.

Finally we closed the Encore trip with some vinyl.  A lovely reissue of Alice Cooper’s Zipper Catches Skin, on clear “black smoke” vinyl.  It looks and sounds great, and now I finally have all the Alice Cooper studio albums.

We bid farewell to Al and headed home again on the ION.  Now that the train is up and running, I do believe I’ll be making Encore a fairly regular weekend stop.

5/5 stars





      1. No kidding. $20 for Animal Magnetism? That’s a $5 CD here. Even with the currency difference, that’s absurd! Poor LeBrain. I need to get an unremastered copy of Savage Amusement. Mike Shipley was the best of the best. Probably their best sounding album since Dieter Dirks compressed the life out of the stuff he did with them. Lovedrive in particular just sounds so awful. I remember the first time I heard it, I thought there was something wrong with my stereo.


        1. Oh, I didn’t even know they existed. I thought they were the ’90s ones. Never mind. I’ll see myself out, and I’ll go sit in the corner. Yeah, the 2015 ones never came out here. Europe exclusive.


        2. Can’t believe they didn’t include both versions of China White in the Blackout set, given that the European solo is different from the American one.


  1. that’s so cool, supporting the local business. So those double purchases are happening to others as well. I just bought a cd by a band that only released 2 albums thinking I only had the other one but it was the same one and I’m still missing the other one. I think I’m getting old. Or maybe it has something to do with the fact that this ripping cds and listening to digital files eliminates the time used to spend on studying the album covers. I remember back in the day when they started to change book covers on newer editions probably in hopes of getting readers to rebuy the books thinking they’d be getting a new book since the cover didn’t look familiar.


  2. My latest haul of used cds was Sepultura 2cd Roorback, Adrenaline Mob 2cd Men of Honor, Bonfire Knock out, the very best of Dokken and DarknewDay twelveyearsilence. Of these I just listened to Dokken last night. No idea who DarknewDay is. Their cd cover just looked like something i might like.


  3. I agree, give the new train a chance. People protested when the Docklands Light Railway was built in London but it has worked well. Unfortunately, not having lived or worked in London for over 20 years, I don’t know if it stops by any record shops so I wouldn’t have been able to get an impressive haul like yours.


  4. Those first two Kick Axe albums were rock solid! Criston pulls off one of the best metal yelps at the beginning of Heavy Metal Shuffle!
    Glad the reissues went the extra mile for you, Mikey. Scorps yeah good adds as well!
    How many Coop albums on vinyl do u own? 300? hahaha


  5. Sarah and I hunkered down the last couple of weeks and put our entire vinyl and CD collection into a Google spreadsheet. We both can access it on our phones so no more buying what we already own for these two!


  6. Excellent haul, especially the Kick Axe. I have eyed that Vices myself, but I already own the old original CD and LP versions so…

    Last time I was in Encore (a couple of years ago) I found a cool (rare? I dunno) ROLLINS interview kit. Awesome.


  7. Great haul. Got all those Scorps remasters too. Zipper is a bit crap but I kinda love it regardless. Its fun! And now I know what all your FB gurning was about… I kept getting told you were “live” just to find an image of you on a train!


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