Author: mikeladano

Metal, hard rock, rock and roll! LeBrain's Record Store Tales & Reviews!

VHS Archives #15: Killer Dwarfs on MuchMusic (1986 and 1990)

Here are two MuchMusic clips featuring the Killer Dwarfs!

First is Russell and Darrell Dwarf in the Much studios in 1986. You can see just how small these guys are! Then in 1990 (they must have grown a bit by then) it’s Mike and Darrell Dwarf talking about their newest album Dirty Weapons.

Great, heavy band with a sense of humour.  Check ’em out!

 

Sunday Chuckle: Sebastian Bach Has a Weird Laugh

This Sunday, a sneak preview of an upcoming episode of VHS Archives! Sebastian Bach of Skid Row sat down with Teresa Roncon on the Power 30 in 1992, and laughed real funny. I recorded it and 27 years later I made a clip of it. ENJOY!

#736: San Fransisky? Did you drove or did you flew?

GETTING MORE TALE #736: San Fransisky? Did you drove or did you flew?

One of the first friends I met when I started at the Record Store in 1994 was Christina, better known as “San Fransisky”.  I’ll get to that in a minute as it requires an explanation.  San Fransisky was a friendly, outgoing girl who worked at the dollar store around the corner called A Buck or Two.  When I was the rookie in my first months at the Record Store, she would come in and chat, which helped me feel welcome at the Mall.  Our store played her store in the Mall bowling tournament, and I think they probably beat us.

San Fransisky was Portuguese and proud of it.  Her house had one of those front rooms for your shoes, and another room that was strictly decorative.  You didn’t go into that room or sit in it, it was to be admired from outside.  My memory is hazy on one detail, but I could swear that room had a stuffed (taxidermied) dog in it.  But what about that nickname “San Fransisky”?

When she used to call my house, the call display showed her dad’s name Fransisco.  This led to my dad doing his best Sid Dithers impression.  Remember Sid Dithers, Eugene Levy’s overtly Jewish character on SCTV?  His catch phrase was “San Fransisky?  So how did you came here, did you drove or did you flew?”

Every time she called the house, the name came up “Fransisco” and my dad would howl, “San Fransisky?  How did you came here, did you drove or did you flew?”  Nobody in our house even called her Christina.  It was San Fransisky.  That’s the effect my dad can have when he repeats the same joke over and over again.

She was cool; we used to go out to eat, see Rangers games, and enjoy general good times.  The owner at the Record Store knew San Fransisky long before I did, and according to legend they once had this conversation:

Owner – “Hey Christina, ask me if I’ve ever had sex in my store.”

San Fransisky – “No!  I don’t want to know that!  Gross!”

Owner – “Go ahead, ask me if I’ve ever had sex in my store!”

San Fransisky, sighing – “Have you ever had sex in your store?”

Owner – “I’m not telling! Hahah!”

I like to think that he did it over in the rap section.

Nothing lasts forever and the Record Store eventually moved out of the Mall.  We continued to hang out with San Fransisky after hours but problems in the friendship began to emerge.  I was never much of a night owl.  I didn’t go out to bars, or to dance at the clubs, but once in a blue moon.  San Fransisky thought that if I wanted to meet someone, I needed to get out to the bars.  I didn’t like the music, the crowds, or even drinking that much.  I would decline but she’d really push, and push persistently.  People who really know me also know that I hate being pushed.  If I say no to something, please just respect that.

“Mike if you came out you’ll really have a good time,” she’d insist.  “You know if you keep saying no, people are going to stop asking you to go out.”  I knew that, and eventually that’s what happened.

I really pissed her off once in the winter of ’96.  She was setting me up with one of her friends.  It was a skating date, and it was OK.  Nothing happened for a while.  Several weeks after, we all went out together again as a group to go bowling, loser having to sing karaoke afterwards.  San Fransisky brought two of her friends, and I brought two of mine.  One of them happened to be my ex.  Turns out, the girl that San Fransisky was trying to set me up with, didn’t appreciate that I brought my ex bowling.  Ah well.  I screwed up that night absolutely gloriously even after that.  I lost at bowling, and I had to sing.  When I sing karaoke, there’s one song I always go to:  “The Immigrant Song”.

I don’t know if San Fransisky had ever been more embarrassed in her life.  I had a great time, but I was definitely on her shit list.

She was starting to get a little demanding as a customer at the Record Store too.  She wanted better discounts than I was allowed to give, and she wanted more money for her used DVDs than I was permitted.  There was a dispute over the movie Bubble Boy.  She wanted way more than I could pay, and the disc was pretty scratched up too.  She wouldn’t let it go.

The next bump in our friendship involved a guy named Hercules.  I have no idea what his real name was.  San Fransisky met Hercules at the bar.  If I remember the details correctly, she didn’t know his name so she called him Hercules.  I remember Hercules lied about his age and his name, which set off alarm bells.  T-Rev and I met him once, but soon after he told San Fransisky that she was not to see us anymore.  He was that kind of boyfriend.  We didn’t like it, but we were cut off.  T-Rev may or may not have felt like inflicting violence upon Hercules, but he is a peaceful man who finds violence to be the last refuge of the weak minded.  If someone got mad and challenged T-Rev to a fight, he’d laugh and say, “Sure, because if we fight and I win, that means I was right, and if you win that means you were right.”  We knew Hercules wouldn’t last long.  San Fransisky was an independent girl with lots of friends.  It wasn’t in her nature to be locked down like that.

Eventually San Fransisky re-emerged, told us that Hercules was done, that we were right.  That was that and we all moved on.  But, like many things, friendships often have a trajectory in life.  We were all changing.  T-Rev moved to Sarnia, and I drifted away from San Fransisky.

Our friendship ended permanently after I bought a place in the same condo complex that she lived.  We were briefly in contact again, but she got mad at me when I was mentioned I was interested in buying a used microwave oven from a friend of hers, and then changed my mind because new ones were so cheap.  I just went over to Canadian Tire (or “Newfy Speed N’ Sport” as T-Rev used to call it) and bought a small one out of box.  It just seemed like I should have a new clean microwave for my first place.  She was pissed that I reneged on the deal; sorry about that.

The straw that broke the camel’s back was fittingly over a CD.  We met at a CD store, and we departed over a CD.  This story was recounted in Record Store Tapes Part 313:  Not Allowed Lending!  We were living in the same building, and she was having a party upstairs.  Keep in mind, I knew how well she took care of her CDs and DVDs, because she used to trade them in to me at the store.

The story continues as follows.


A few weeks after I moved in, she came down to my unit. She was having a party upstairs. She needed some music.

“Do you have any Beatles?” she asked me.

“Yup, I have the Red and Blue albums. They’re excellent. The Red one probably has all the songs you’d want for a party.”

VH 194_0001She asked me about a couple more CDs.  Van Halen was one. I got them out of my CD tower.

“You’re going to take care of these, right? And you’ll return them tomorrow morning?” I asked pointedly.

“It might not be tomorrow morning but I’ll bring them back, of course.”

I knew how this girl took care of her own CDs. I had bought enough used discs from her at the store. She always bitched when I told her the discs were scratched up. She never put them back in the case, and left them out all the time.  Knowing her ways of handling discs, I added additional instructions.

“I want you to be careful with these discs, and put them back in the cases when you’re done. I also want you to make sure nobody else touches my CDs. Only you.  I want them back exactly as they are.”

She gave me this flabbergasted expression. What she said next was the sentence that ended what was left of our “friendship”:

“What do you care if they get scratched?! You work at the store!”

That was it. I told her I wouldn’t loan her the CDs if that was her attitude. She went upstairs in an angry huff, and we never socialized again. I ran into her now and then, and she was always bitchy.  The friendship was over.

 


She moved out of the building later that year, got married and de-friended me on social media.  I’m not even sure what her new name is.  I do know one thing that has not changed.  I still have those Beatles CDs, in the exact condition I bought them in.  That microwave still works, too!

It’s been at 15 years since she moved, but I hope San Fransisky is out there doing well.  Some personalities are just not meant to mix for extended periods of time, but there are more good memories than bad.  Bowling, arcades, playing cards, eating food, and mini-golf.  Good times.  Such a shame she couldn’t take care of her CDs!

 

VHS Archives #14: Stryper on the Power Hour (1990)

On location in Hollywood, MuchMusic spoke to Tim Gaines and Oz Fox of Stryper about their new album Against the Law!  Cast your memories back to 1990.  Stryper told the bold step of dropping the Christian lyrics and yellow-and-black outfits.  It was a move that they expressed regret about later, but check out the young Stryper’s perspective in this interesting Power Hour clip.

VHS Archives #13: Two Rob Halford interviews (1990)

Two fantastic, historic clips for you today, featuring the “Metal God” himself, Rob Halford of Judas Priest!

First up, from MuchMusic’s news show called FAX, Steve Anthony talks to Rob about the Judas Priest suicide trial.  They also talk Priest’s new album Painkiller.  (The anchor of the FAX show is Monica Deol.)

Second, and most important: Dan Gallagher visits the Scarborough rehearsal hall where Priest were gearing up for their Painkiller tour! Rob is friendly and engaged for this top-notch interview. Halford co-hosts the Pepsi Power Hour with Dan, and talks about his passion for new heavy bands like Pantera (he’s wearing the shirt), Love/Hate, and Suicidal Tendencies. They also discuss the trial, the drummer change, education, and reading. “I consume books,” says Rob. You’ll be impressed with Rob’s answers especially where the trial is concerned.

Rob picked all the music for the show, and while I didn’t include the music in the VHS Archive, you can at least find out what bands and songs Rob picked! (Hint: heavy bands!)

Also look for a Painkiller tour ad during one of the commercial breaks — I kept that in.

REVIEW: Video Capture USB 2.0

VIDEO CAPTURE USB 2.0 – Software by honestech

I almost gave this 0 stars.

For only $18, I was willing to take a chance. I needed to get my VHS Archives online before it was too late and the tapes were degraded all to hell.  Fortunately the tapes are in great shape, so all I needed was a way to convert them.  I didn’t even know if my VCR was still working.  It’s not so easy to hook up an old VHS player to a hi-def system anymore.

So I gambled my $18 for a little USB device to connect my VCR to a PC, using a USB-to-RCA device and some special software.  I set up a little work station with my VCR and laptop and began running into problems.

Issue #1 is no big deal for me, but might be for you.  The software you need can’t be downloaded, it’s on a little 3″ CD included, with a 16 digit access code printed on it.  My laptop refused to install the software — something to do with permissions and security.  The manual isn’t super-helpful.  “Any problems, please email the seller,” it says.  I’m sure some lackey at Amazon could tell me how to install it….

I bypassed the error by installing the software in a different folder.  Then I hooked up the VCR to the USB device and plugged everything in.  Unfortunately I could not get the software to detect the video source.  It defaults to capture from a webcam, but it couldn’t access the USB.  “The selected device cannot be used” said the popup window.  “If you get this error message, the USB might not install correctly.  Input win+x or use other ways to open the device manager”.  That was the not-helpful advice in the manual.  However it did tell me that the USB needed to install something on the laptop, and that was the hold up.

I was unable to get the USB to install, so I decided to try a different computer.  I tore down my little work station and hauled the VCR over to my desktop.

Everything installed quickly and easily on my PC.  In the end all I lost was an hour of my time, and my plan to use my laptop for everything.  No big deal.  I can manage.  So how does this device work?

Once you have it running, it works like a charm!  It’s the easiest thing in the world to use.  Rather than burn my tapes to DVD, I set the device to export directly to .WMV video file.  Click “record” on the software, press “play” on your VCR, and you are in business.  As soon as you click “stop”, the file will save itself.  You can make a file up to 24 hours long!  Any tape you have, this baby can handle it.  There is also an editing suite here to trim the excess or add transitions, but I don’t use it.  It is very limited.  You may as well use the default video editor on your computer (Window Movie Maker on mine).  Within minutes of playing my tape, I had videos on Youtube.  So painless!

The quality you get will depend entirely on your tapes and VCR.  Fortunately those things were not an issue for me.  You’ll probably have a harder time finding a VCR that isn’t all beat up, than using this device.  Incidentally you can plug in anything that uses standard RCA plugs or an S-video connector.

Bumpy installation aside, the Video Capture USB 2.0 has done everything I needed it to do, and actually more smoothly than I thought it would be.  For the price, this device is recommended — but be forewarned you may have the same problems installing it as I did.

3/5 stars

VHS Archives #12: Queensryche co-host the Power Hour (1990)

This is a great example of what made the Power Hour special. It was an hour of live television. That means when Dan Gallagher (always) refers to Anthrax as “Anthrash”, then it goes out live like that.

Queensryche were in Toronto promoting their then-new Empire CD. Geoff was sick, so Michael and Chris visited the MuchMusic studios. They co-hosted the hour with Dan and did a damn fine job of it. Ladies and gentlemen, Chris DeGarmo and Michael Wilton: Queensryche!

REVIEW: The Hellacopters – Grande Rock (1999 vinyl)

THE HELLACOPTERS – Grande Rock (1999 Sub Pop vinyl edition)

Personally, it all began with Iron Tom Sharpe and Joe Big Nose Perry.  By 1999, everyone was well aware that the big Kiss reunion album, Psycho Circus, was a diluted compromise of the album they should have made.  “The Hellacopters made the real new Kiss album, man.”  Come on, Tom, quit yanking my chain.  “You’ll love it.  This is the album Kiss should have made.  No man, seriously, they even have a song called ‘Paul Stanley’.”   Joe stepped in by offering to pick me up a vinyl copy, which had a bonus track, at the Orange Monkey.  I gladly took him up on his offer and hoped to hear what Iron Tom was talking about.  Grande Rock was the Hellacopter’s third LP, but LeBrain’s first Hellacopters.

What’s this about Kiss then?  As “Action De Grâce” easily demonstrates, The Hellacopters can groove like the original foursome don’t even dare anymore.  This is Kiss circa 1976, but if they had taken a road other than Destroyer.  This is something like what they could have done if they wanted to take Kiss Alive! to the next step, and maybe taking some punk inspiration instead of disco.  “Move Right Out of Here” slams like Dressed to Kill on jet fuel.  “Alright Already Now” adds some harmonica, fuzz bass, and wah-wah.  The Hellacopters are not slavish like Klassik’78, they’re not trying to duplicate anything.  They’re going their own way with it, and it just so happens to be a lot better than Psycho Circus.  A lot of the vocals actually are closer to Steven Tyler circa Draw the Line.

A slower and darker vibe hits on “Welcome to Hell”, with some electric piano mixed in with Frehley-like solos and a little “Sympathy for the Devil”.  The punk rock builds on “The Electric Index Eel”, with stabbing guitar licks in under two minutes of length.  Clearly far beyond Kiss.  But then as if to get my attention back, there it is:  “Paul Stanley”, the song!  The riff must be inspired by Paul’s solo song “Tonight You Belong to Me”.  Wasn’t I telling you recently that Paul is one of rock’s most underrated riff writers?

The vinyl bonus track is right at the end of side one:  “Angel Dust”, which really sounds more like a top speed Appetite for Destruction outtake.  There’s a lot of Guns N’ Roses on this record too, particularly when there is a wah-wah solo or a blast of speed.

“The Devil Stole the Beat From the Lord” continues the rock and roll party on side two.  It’s pedal to the metal right through to “Dogday Morning”.  There’s a real gem in the middle of side two called “Venus in Force”, a big and grand riff with a song to go with it.  A more Kiss-like tempo in “5 Vs. 7” maintains a sense of variety.  Enjoy the flurry of guitars in the extended fade-out.  “Lonely” is a nice shorty by contrast, like a Gene Simmons love lament written in a hotel bathroom.  Closing position goes to “Renvoyer”, a killer outro jam.

Here is an interesting observation for you.  I used to think that Grande Rock had a great side one, but not much happening on side two.  However, I hadn’t actually listened to the vinyl for years.  I was listening to an mp3 rip of the 13 track album.  This time, I played the record and my perspective changed.  You have to get up and flip the record, and I happened to do something else for a few minutes before I dropped it back on side two.  That intentional break right there is everything.  There’s some sort of reset that happens, and you’re good to go for round two.

Grande Rock is damn near perfect for anyone craving a dose of the classic 1970s with a toe in punk rock too.  Vinyl is the way to go.  Don’t even bother with the CD, which taunts you with the fact that you bought the wrong version on the back cover by telling you that you’re not getting “Angel Dust”!  Awesome.

4.5/5 stars

 

VHS Archives #11: Bret Michaels interview 1989

Just a clip from an interview by MuchMusic’s Steve Anthony.  I didn’t catch the full show at the time, so I recorded the interview clips whenever they were re-run.

In this clip, a hyper Bret talks about inspiration for his music and the audience response.

#735: Quite Possibly the Worst Music Video I’ve Ever Seen: Vigilant – “Run For Cover”

GETTING MORE TALE #735: Quite Possibly the Worst Music Video I’ve Ever Seen
Vigilant – “Run For Cover”

Recording music videos from the TV as a kid was a fine art.  My method was to keep the machine on “record-pause” as videos were playing.  Then all I had to do was un-pause and I’d be able to start recording almost immediately.  I’d lose maybe a second of video.  Then I’d pause again at the end, waiting for the next “good song”.

The Pepsi Power Hour was an amazing way to discover new (or old) bands.  By recording the videos, I could hear the songs over and over.  If there was a new band I was curious about, I’d take a chance and hit record.  If I didn’t like the song or band, I’d just rewind and record over it.  The Power Hour would play virtually any kind of metal.  Their intro had Slayer’s “Angel of Death” as the theme music!  From Poison to Cro-Mags, they would play it.  Venom were regular favourites.

One afternoon in 1986, I was recording away when J.D. (John) Roberts announced a new band coming up, called Vigilant.  (Over the years I’ve seen it spelled as Vigilants and Vigilante, but I will continue to use the spelling as it appeared on TV that day.)  I recorded it — decent enough hard rock song — and I kept the video because their labelmate Lee Aaron had a cameo in it.  Lee Aaron was and is Canada’s Metal Queen, so I thought the band must be OK.  But dear God, what a video.  What a horrendous video!

Let’s break it down.

We got the asshole record exec who won’t give a band a shot.  We have Lee Aaron at reception, and a stripper entering the offices!  What could this be about?

The stripper plays the record exec a tape, and then suddenly enters:  more strippers!  How many?  Who knows, but you can play “count the strippers” with your friends if you like.  The song is playing, but we still haven’t seen the band.

It’s well over two minutes before the band burst into the room, guitars in hand, to play along to their song.  The fashion of the day:  checkers, stripes, tassels, and tight tight pants.  Pants so loud that Jon Bon Jovi himself wouldn’t have been seen in them.  The bassist has one of those narrow body basses that were trendy at the time.  The drummer?  He doesn’t even show up until the 3:00 mark.  Poor drummer!  The point of course is that the strippers have far more screen time than the guys in the actual band, the hallmark of the stinkiest of the 1980s.  Sulfer-stinky!

The one on the left is in roller skates.

The plot thickens when a roadie enters, with a flash bomb.  He’s going to blow up the band!  But then, Lee Aaron pulls the old switcheroo.  And the roadie, though good at plugging in flash bombs, doesn’t seem to know how to unplug them.  Guess who gets blowded up!  Not the band or the strippers, I’ll tell you that!

Don’t worry, it’s a happy ending for everybody.  Including the lead stripper, it’s heavily implied….

Please enjoy (?) the music video for “Run For Cover” by Vigilant (or Vigilante, or Vigilants) featuring Lee Aaron.  The song actually wasn’t that bad.  The verses were nothing to write home about, but the bridge and chorus are pretty good!  Generic as hell, but it was the 80s.  (Oh, and check out the funny MuchMusic bumper before the actual video, featuring Loudness singer Minoru Niihara!)