Schnauzer Report Cards

Spring 2011, I found myself dogsitting.  There were three Schnauzers:  Lacey, Ani, Ali.  I am glad that I kept a record of that day.  Oh, the memories (and my eardrums)!  One of the pooches was so ill-behaved that I went to the trouble of writing up a report card for when their human-mommies came home.  I stuck it to the fridge so the doggies could be judged by everyone.

Incidentally the artwork at top was by a young Dr. Kathryn Ladano long before she was a Dr.  It is titled “The Rad Schnauzer”.

 

New Release Live Stream with 2loud2oldmusic, Mr. Books & Buried on Mars

A great show was had thanks to John / 2 loud 2 old music, Aaron/ Mr. Books, and Kevin / Buried on Mars!  You want to know about all the key rock releases in your future?  Then this is the show for you.

We looked at the upcoming AC/DC album Power Up in some detail.  We analysed the upcoming Iron Maiden live album Night of the Dead.  Thin Lizzy, Tom Petty, Mr. Bungle, and lots more.  John, thank you for putting so much time and effort into your research for this show.  And thanks to everyone for co-hosting with me. To check out the new releases, start at 0:19:00 of the video.

I did an unboxing from CD Japan at the top of the show.  Go to 0:04:30 of the stream to see what I got!  All Japanese imports, all with bonus tracks.

At the end of the show we were joined by Saige from Weeping Willow Creations, who designed the new LeBrain Train artwork!  I wanted to give her a chance to promote her work.  You can click that link to get to her Instagram.  I think she did a fantastic job and I’m really happy with the new graphics.  Saige joined us at 2:17:15.

 

New Release Friday Live Stream

The LeBrain Train – 2000 Words or More with Mike Ladano
Episode 32

We were supposed to talk about the upcoming big releases in music last week — and then King Edward died.  Devastating.  We needed to talk about Eddie.  But now, we’ll talk some AC/DC, Iron Maiden, Sloan and more!  The angle is based on something Deke said (and others have echoed) a few weeks ago:  something along the lines of “2020 needs new AC/DC”.  And it does.  We deserve it.

This week’s panel will include John from 2loud2oldmusic, the expert on all things New Release-wise.  He will be joined by AC/DC scholar Kevin / Buried On Mars, who will bring the perspective of the diehard, deep cut kind of fan.  I’ll probably just stand by and drink coffee!

For those who show up early, there will be the customary unboxing, this one courtesy of CDJapan!

7:00 PM E.S.T.  Facebook:  MikeLeBrain  YouTube:  Mike LeBrain


New artwork!

The new LeBrain Train artwork was made by Weeping Willow Creations.  If you don’t like it, blame me, not her!  She took the image I had in my head and made it digital.  All aboard the LeBrain Train — thank you Weeping Willow Creations!

 

REVIEW: Max the Axe – “Randy” Live at the Boathouse – VinylArt.co custom picture disc

There are plenty of services online for cutting your own music to vinyl these days.  The one that caught my eye was VinylArt.co, based out of Wales.  This company will cut picture discs with your chosen artwork and (legal) music to four sizes:  5″, 7″, 10″ and 12″.  How well does it work?  Read on to find out.

MAX THE AXE – “Randy” (Live at the Boathouse) (VinylArt.co custom picture disc)

“How many times can you say Randy?”

The first thing I need to note is that I didn’t choose a song to put on vinyl for its fidelity.  The prime factor behind me spending my money wasn’t to test the product for review, it was to make something that I wanted for myself.  It had to be something that you can’t get physically — I wanted to create my own physical product for something that only exists digitally.  In 2018, I recorded a song by Max the Axe when they played the Boathouse, and a few people commented that they liked the video.  I think the live version of “Randy” they played that night was outstanding.  It had bite and presence.  Singer Eric “Uncle Meat” Litwiller really gives his all in this version, particularly on the chorus.  I decided to turn that version, recorded on my phone, into an “official bootleg” live record.  Sound quality wasn’t even a concern in that regard.

VinyArt.co seem to market these records as keepsakes more than a way to play music.  For example, you have two packaging options:  a coloured paper sleeve, or a frame.  You don’t buy frames for records you plan on playing.  I planned on playing my Max the Axe “Randy” bootleg.  I wanted it to sound decent.  Does it?

Actually yeah.  It sounds OK for a picture disc.  There is surface noise that you can hear during the fades.  As you can see from the waveform image below, you also lose volume with a picture disc.  By nature it is not going to sound as clean as the original mp3 file that it was made from.  However VinylArt “master” the track as part of the process, and it does sound full and beefy enough for my needs.

Unaltered vinyl at top, original mp3 at bottom

It’s a very easy process.  All you have to do is upload a photo, and a track that you own (or one from their library).  Then you choose the record size.   The smaller the cheaper, but also the less music that will fit.  A 5″ record can only handle up to four minutes, so I had to go with the standard 7″ single.  The records are one-sided with a smooth white finish on the B-side.  With shipping to Canada, the whole thing cost me $55 CAD and took just over a week.  They track the whole process for you, from photo printing to audio mastering to record cutting.

Keep in mind picture discs do not typically offer the same quality as pure black vinyl, but this is something I wanted for myself as a keepsake.  The bass is nice and fat and the vocals clear as a bell.  Except for the fade-in and fade-out, which are noisy, it sounds like a vinyl record should.  About what I expected.

Now Max the Axe can boast that he has been bootlegged to vinyl, and a decent one at that.  I can claim to own the only copy in existence, a limited edition of one!  The rarest record in my collection.

VinylArt.co aren’t going to make your music sound better than the source material, but it will sound like vinyl.  Your music, on a playable picture disc!  I plan on ordering something from them again, so if repeating a sale is a way to judge a company, then VinylArt gets the passing grade.  And so does Max the Axe!

4/5 stars

REVIEW: Poison – “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” (1988 3″ CD single)

POISON – “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” (1988 Capitol 3″ CD single)

This is a beautiful item that I’m happy to have in my collection.  3″ CD singles were uncommon, but you’ve probably seen one before.  What is less common is the clamshell 3″ case that this Poison single came in.  A lot of 3″ singles came in regular 5″ cases, or a cardboard sleeve.  Clamshells are rare.  This one, called a “Gem Pak” (patent pending) was specifically made to house a “CD3”, another outdated term.  It’s made of white plastic and the artwork is in the form of a sticker which covers the front, back and spine of the case.  The Gem Pak’s flaw (patent pending!) is that it does not hold the disc in securely.  It wants to pop out.  Take care when handling one of these that the disc doesn’t fall out when you open it.

I’m a defender of “Every Rose Has Its Thorn”.  I loved it as a kid.  I remember some people saying it might be “too country”, which is wasn’t.  It’s just an acoustic ballad but a well written one and deserving of its success, if not its notoriety.  It tended to spawn a generation of soundalikes, a fuzzy swarm of late 80s acousti-balladry that ultimately only served to take bands like Poison down, while ushering in the grunge era.  “Every Rose” broke down walls for Poison, but the backlash was inevitable.  When Bill & Ted quoted it to get into heaven in 1991, it was already all over.  I can hear all that history when I listen to this single.  It’s an excellent song, and even C.C.’s solo, as inarticulate as it is, still fits like an electrically heated glove.

The B-side “Livin’ for the Minute” shows off the heavier side of Poison.  Fans might forget that Poison liked to really spit one out every now and then.  C.C.’s solo is bonkers on this one, but perfectly suited to the frantic tune.  Bret really cuts loose too.  Poison actually have some pretty cool B-sides.

These tracks are both available on the remastered Open Up and Say…Ahh!! CD, but you gotta snap this one up if you find it in the wild.

3.5/5 stars

REVIEW: Metallica – “Mama Said” (1996 CD singles one and two)

Part Two of a two-part “Mama Said” review

METALLICA – “Mama Said” (1996 Vertigo CD singles parts one and two)

In order to get all the songs, you had to buy three separate singles.  You needed the 7″ vinyl (reviewed yesterday) and two CD singles.  The total payoff was seven B-sides:  five live, one demo, one single edit.  The 7″ picture disc included “Ain’t My Bitch” live from Irvine Meadows in ’96, and the rest are on the two CDs each sold separately.

The first single ignites the live feast with “King Nothing”, which finds Metallica in an informal mood before kicking into the track.  Though “King Nothing” was eventually released on its own as the fourth single from Load, it was never really one of the best songs from that album.  It slams heavy enough and would have been fun to mosh to.  They go old school on “Whiplash” which has that energy you want out of live Metallica.  The old fans boo the new fans, but everybody gets what they want.  Lars is sloppy as fuck; what do you expect?  When Metallica play stuff like “Whiplash” live it’s not about precision, it’s about energy and this version delivers.

The first CD ends with just a single edit of “Mama Said”, a good ballad with a country twang that some fans might have found unpalatable.  It’s shorter by 40 seconds, starting immediately with James’ lead vocal.  15 seconds chopped at the start and 20 more at the end.  Do Metallica fans need single edits?  No; Metallica was always resistant to compromises like that.  Paul DeCarli was given the job of the edit, presumably being told to get it safely under five minutes for radio.

“Mama Said” album version (top) and single edit (bottom) waveforms

The second CD in the set wastes no time going for the throat.  It’s “So What”, the infamously vulgar Anti-Nowhere League cover that was a B-side for Metallica once upon a time before.  It was so notorious that it became a live favourite unto itself, often turning up in the encores.  That’s followed by “Creeping Death”, an epic way to cap off the live tracks.  That mountainously heavy rock just never lets up until it gives way to another massive one.

The last and most interesting track among the B-sides is the original “Mama Said” demo recorded solely by James and Lars in Ulrich’s basement.  Electric guitar at first instead of acoustic, but beautiful.  The purity of this version, unadorned as it may be, is the reason to seek it out.  The twangy guitar part is in place, as are the lyrics (not always the case with James’ songs).  Metallica could easily release an album of their demo versions, but they haven’t so you gotta get the singles.

Seek these out.

4/5 stars

REVIEW: Metallica – “Mama Said” (1996 7″ picture disc single)

Part One of a two-part “Mama Said” review

METALLICA – “Mama Said” (1996 Vertigo picture disc 7″ single)

I can admit that my first Metallica album was Load.  I concede that they were more Rocktallica than Metallica on that album, but the fact of the matter is that for the genre, Rocktallica was good!  A lot of hard rock and heavy metal albums in the mid-90s were not good.   Metallica introduced themselves to me with an album that was what I wanted, when I wanted it.  “Mama Said” was the third single from Load, a an acoustic ballad, and with an exclusive live B-side on the vinyl that wasn’t on the CD singles (to be reviewed next).

The 7″ single contains the album version, not the shorter single edit.  James Hetfield wasn’t afraid of getting personal in his lyrics anymore, and “Mama Said” is about his late mother.  It’s audible that he is getting something deeply important off his chest.  The music is notable for its distinct country twang.  Trash Metallica all you like, but this sounds great.  The thing about Metallica is that they usually (not always) do whatever it is they set out to do, and do it well.

That said, a 7″ picture disc is not the best way to hear Metallica play an acoustic ballad.  It can’t deliver the clarity and dynamics that a CD can.  The B-side, “Ain’t My Bitch” recorded live in California on August 4 1996, is a louder song and can get away with the format a little better.

James gets the crowd to shout “We don’t give a shit!” a couple times before they break into the song.  “Ain’t My Bitch” remains a fun little blast precisely about not giving a shit.  “Outta my way, outta my day!”  It might not be “Creeping Death” you can’t deny it’s fun to just bang along.  “Mama Said” might have been James dealing with deep shit, but “Ain’t My Bitch” says “just forget it and let go”.  Kirk Hammett’s solo on this one is mega fun, and it’s always a bonus to get Jason’s Newsted’s backing growls.  An underappreciated ex-Metallica member.

Including the tracks released over the two additional CD singles, “Ain’t My Bitch” is the seventh of seven total B-sides to “Mama Said”.  All the live ones are from the same show in Irvine Meadows.  If you gotta get ’em all, then “Mama Said” you need this picture single too!  Shame about the audio quality.

3/5 stars

Part Two tomorrow.

This Sunday Chuckle is brought to you by Samuel L. Jackson

I just think it’s cool that I have two Samuel L. Jackson figures in the same scale from the same toy company and from two of my favourite franchises.

The two figures are Marvel Legends’ Nick Fury (from Captain Marvel) and Star Wars The Black Series Mace Windu (Episode II and III).  They use this new digital facial scanning technology to get the faces eerily accurate.  Which do you think looks most like Jackson himself?

 

 

Eddie Van Halen Tribute – LeBrain Train Live Stream with Guests Galore

The Cradle Did Rock!  We had a great time talking Eddie Van Halen, memories and music.  If you miss Eddie as much as we do, then watch this live stream.  We digest the loss of the Edward the Great, share stories and learn new things.  Thanks to Aaron/ Mr. Books, Kevin / Buried on Mars, John / 2 loud 2 old music, Eric / Uncle Meat, and Tyler / Dravonous for joining the panel tonight.

I started the stream with some pre-show unboxings, which you can check out if you watch the whole stream from the very start.  If you only want to see the Van Halen discussion, then start at 0:20:00.

Thanks again everyone for watching and participating!

A Tribute to Eddie Van Halen on the Friday LeBrain Train

The LeBrain Train – 2000 Words or More with Mike Ladano
Episode 31

Shitty week, huh?  That’s why I’m here — to help you deal with the bad stuff, and leave feeling better at the end.  This week we are here to grieve, to mourn, and also to pay tribute to the greatest guitar player who ever lived:  Edward Van Halen.

We’re forgoing the list format, and just talking about what Eddie and his music meant to us personally.  Expect the usual suspects on the panel, and please post your comments so we can see what you have to say about King Edward.  Together we’ll process this horrible loss, and by the end we’ll feel a little better.  Van Halen meant a lot to me.  They were one of the first bands I ever liked.  We’ll talk about that and lots more.

For best results, view on YouTube.  Facebook is notoriously stoppy-starty.  For those who tune in early (before the official 7:00 PM start), there will be three unboxings to enjoy.

7:00 PM E.S.T.  Facebook:  MikeLeBrain  YouTube:  Mike LeBrain