107.5 dave fm

#872: “Tattoo”

GETTING MORE TALE #872: “Tattoo”

On January 10, 2012, Van Halen released their first new single with David Lee Roth on vocals since 1996:  “Tattoo”, from the forthcoming album A Different Kind of Truth.  An exciting day to be sure.

I had not yet started this site, but if I had, on that day nine years ago I would have written this story.

In 2012, radio station 107.5 Dave FM (now Dave Rocks) was still running the contest that put me on the map locally speaking:  The Four O’Clock Four-Play.  Afternoon host Craig Fee would play four songs in a row, and listeners had to guess what the common thread between the four songs was.  I won more often than anyone else and became a local celebrity named “LeBrain”, and that’s why you’re reading this today.  But on January 10, Craig stumped me.

The Four-Play that day was, of course, Van Halen’s “Tattoo”, played four times in a row!  Craig, who has since left the radio business, was a massive Van Halen fan.  He was the kind of guy who would see “Love Walks In” on that day’s play list, and remove it in favour of “Hear About It Later”.  He was unafraid and that combined with a diehard love of Roth-era Van Halen must have been all it took to play “Tattoo” four times in a row on the Four-Play.

Truly it was a glorious time to be listening to the radio.  You never knew what Craig was going to play on any given show.  He had a penchant for “Rainbow in the Dark” by Dio, and of course Roth-era Van Halen deeper cuts.  He played half of Fair Warning on his show once.  I don’t know what the real-world consequences were for these musical shenanigans, but Craig’s bravado was inspiring.  After the Four-Play contest was discontinued in April of that year, the show’s format became more of a listener call-in program, and the glory days came to an end.

But what was the “common thread” for the purposes of the contest that day?  “Tattoo” played four times?  Arbitrarily, it was the Elvis tattoo in the lyrics.  “I got Elvis, on my elbow…”  Of course it could have been anything, but Craig just needed an excuse to play the song over and over and over again and still give away that day’s prize.

This post is dedicated to Craig, who I hope is doing well out there in his post-radio life.  I feel very fortunate to have had his show to listen to at work, playing all this stuff that no other radio station would have dared.  We Van Halen fans were in our glory that day, getting our fill of the new tune and enjoying every moment.  Of course, people who hated the song were in agony for that show.  Oh well!  So sad, too bad.

Hard to believe David Lee Roth was back and an album was really coming — and now we had the proof in our ears!  Almost as hard to believe Craig got away with playing “Tattoo” four times in the space of a 30-minute contest.

A story for the rock n’ roll history books; a memory for the ages.

#352.5: CODA – “It’s All Helix’ Fault!”


#352.5: CODA – “It’s All Helix’ Fault!”

RECAP:  In Getting More Tale #352, we learned about my history of dental problems coinciding with Helix concerts.

Today, that legacy has continued.

This morning, I won tickets to see Helix next time they hit town.  (For concert details, click here.)  Simon McGhee was giving away tickets this morning on 107.5 Dave FM.  All you had to do was call in, and give Simon the nicknames for Brent Doerner (“The Doctor”) and Greg Hinz (“Fritz”).  Before Simon could read off the phone number, I was already listening to it ringing.  The show is at the Wax in Kitchener on February 14.  That being Valentine’s Day, I am of course going with Uncle Meat.

This evening, I had a dentist appointment.  And wouldn’t you know it?  Cavities!  Two of them!  My history of dental issues and Helix concerts continues.

Damn you Helix!  See you on the 14th, I’ll still give you an “R”.

#338: Answer to 4-Play Quiz No. 2

VH 194_0006

We have a winner! Check out the big brain on Brian Zinger (AGAIN!) who nailed this one!

Here are the four tracks:

  1. Van Halen – “Oh Pretty Woman”
  2. Van Halen – “Little Guitars”
  3. Van Halen – “Secrets”
  4. Van Halen –  “Jump”

And here’s my original email to Craig explaining the answer:

“Only the real fans will get this one. I thought it was real cool yesterday when you did the “five play” with “Little Guitars (intro)”. So, here’s 4 VH songs…and when you play them, fans will realize that on the albums, all songs have INSTRUMENTAL INTROS!”  1. “Intruder” 2. “Little Guitars (intro)” 3. “Cathedral” and 4. “1984”

VH DD_0005

#338: Unreleased 4-Play Quiz No. 2

VH PW_0001

RECORD STORE TALES Mk II:  Getting More Tale

#338:  Unreleased 4-Play Quiz No. 2 

At the conclusion of Record Store Tales, I told the story of how I earned the nickname LeBrain.  It started with a contest on the Craig Fee Show (on 107.5 Dave FM) called the 4 O’Clock 4-Play which I dominated.  I also sent Craig numerous 4-Plays of my own creation.

The challenge is to figure out the common thread that ties all four songs together. The theme could be anything: lyrical, musical, background trivia, artist related…and I liked to come up with unique themes.

Play the tracks in order as a listener would, and make a guess in the comments section!  Be specific.

  1. Van Halen – “Oh Pretty Woman”
  2. Van Halen – “Little Guitars”
  3. Van Halen – “Secrets”
  4. Van Halen –  “Jump”

Good luck!

#325: Answer to 4-Play Quiz No. 1

Congrats to Brian Zinger for the win!

Play the tracks in order and solve the 4-Play: what is the common thread to these four song?

1. Iron Maiden – “Flight of Icarus”

2. Nirvana – “Lithium”

3. Freddie Mercury – “Mr. Bad Guy”

4. David Lee Roth – “Just Like Paradise”



1. IRON Maiden (Fe)


3. Freddie MERCURY (Hg)

4. David Lee Roth aka DIAMOND Dave = CARBON (C)

FACT:  C also stands for curveball.

#325: Unreleased 4-Play Quiz No. 1 (RSTs Mk II: Getting More Tale)


RECORD STORE TALES Mk II:  Getting More Tale

#325:  Unreleased 4-Play Quiz No. 1 

At the conclusion of Record Store Tales, I told the story of how I earned the nickname LeBrain.  It’s a fairly common question.  It all came down to a contest on the Craig Fee Show (on 107.5 Dave FM) called the 4 O’Clock 4-Play…which I dominated.  I was the undisputed champion.  I had more wins under my belt than anyone, including two wins on the very first song.  I also sent Craig numerous 4-Plays of my own creation, some of which still haven’t been used yet. I thought it would be fun to post one or two that I especially liked.  Here’s my favourite.

The challenge is to figure out the common thread that ties all four songs together. I had to choose songs that Dave FM would be willing to play. This one isn’t overly difficult (although I may have thrown a curveball in there), but I did enjoy constructing it.   So put yourselves in the shoes of a listener, and trying to figure out the theme one song at a time.  Also keep in mind that Craig would not tell you what song he is about to play.  A casual listener could easily mistake the Freddie Mercury track for Queen, or the David Lee Roth song for Van Halen.  This could potentially affect your guess.  But the theme could be anything: lyrical, musical, background trivia, artist…and I liked to come up with unique themes.

Play the tracks in order as a listener would, and make a guess in the comments section!

1. Iron Maiden – “Flight of Icarus”

2. Nirvana – “Lithium”

3. Freddie Mercury – “Mr. Bad Guy”

4. David Lee Roth – “Just Like Paradise”

I’ll post the answer right here later today, so check back. Good luck! Take a swing at the piñata and post a guess!

Part 320: End of the Line #6: The Birth of LeBrain

RECORD STORE TALES Part 320: End of the Line #6: The Birth of LeBrain

I discovered quickly that listening to rock radio in an office was much better than listening to CDs in the Record Store. They really hounded me about my in-store music selections.  With the radio, nobody yells at me about the music. I could just enjoy it as I worked, and the music has not been lame!  Just this week, I rocked out to Judas Priest’s “Painkiller” and Savatage’s “Hall of the Mountain King” at work on the radio.  Last week it was Slayer.  I doubt I ever played any of those songs in the Record Store.  Traffic reports are an added bonus.

Our office has its radio set to 107.5 Dave FM, and it is through them that I met new friends such as Marko Fox, Craig Fee, Simon McGhee, Patrick Dynamite, and more. It is there that I became “LeBrain”.  There was a daily contest…a near legendary contest…called the 4 O’Clock 4-Play.  Every day at 4:00, Craig would play four songs with a common theme.  Guess the theme, win the prize.  I started winning frequently, and had started submitting my own 4-Play quizzes for the show.  They numbered in the hundreds, I am certain.  Some have never been used.  Craig told me he had an email folder filled with my 4-Plays that hadn’t been used yet.


Craig Fee with some beard douchebag.

This led to features on the station such as “Stump LeBrain Week”, where I was in the studio every day for a week as listeners tried to stump me. (The only day I was not in the studio was the Wednesday, where I was live on air with Marko at Chicopee ski club.)  Other listeners sent in their own 4-Plays specifically to stump me, and Craig picked his five favourites.  That was followed by LeBrainuary – an entire month of my own musical 4-Plays.  They also did a final LeBrain Week before they finally shut the contest down.

I still hear about that contest.  Every once in a while I meet someone new who knows me only as “LeBrain” from the radio.  There was one at Sausagefest this year.  I always get asked, “When are they bringing that contest back?  It was awesome.”  I wish I knew!  I’ve bugged Craig about it too.

While it lasted, it was awesome. I became a D-grade local celebrity! But I wanted more. I pestered and bugged Craig Fee daily. I sent him my reviews, early chapters of the Record Store Tales, rock news, rants, anything and everything!

You know what happened next. It was the “lightbulb moment”.  Craig said the magic words: “You need to start your own blog.”  

And so I did, and that’s why you’re reading this today.

I knew immediately I wanted to finally publish the Record Store Tales.  I started writing them over 10 years ago.  I originally envisioned a book version of Record Store Tales.  I started writing it with that in mind, but most of it hasn’t been used, because I felt some chapters were a little too off-topic.   Instead I mined my extensive journals to create new content.  It took about 2 1/2 years to post all of the Record Store Tales, at an average of one every three days.

So here we are, at the end. I knew this day would come eventually. I thought at most I’d come up with 100 installments, tops.  Having said that, the number of stories that I chose not to tell exceeds this body of work greatly.  Believe it or not, I decided to be nice.  There are many things done and many things said that have been left out.  I’ve tried to be candid and maintain my own integrity, and just tell the story of a very cool time in my life.  Not everybody gets to work in a record store.

Positives and negatives aside, the writing experience for me has been mostly healthy, sometimes cathartic, and immensely fun. I hope you have had fun too.

Thank you for your support, inspiration, kind words and contributions: Mrs. LeBrain, Craig, Marko, Aaron, Uncle Meat, Iron Tom Sharpe (Meaford’s greatest athlete), T-Rev, Lemon Kurri, my parents, and everyone else who has ever contributed or told me not to stop.

A huge thanks to the owner at the old Record Store. You gave me a chance and taught me so much.  You have my number.

Sincerest apologies to those I have hurt or offended.

Finally, thanks to YOU – the people who have read this stuff, whether you were a one-timer or a regular. I thrive on feedback and you made this a very rewarding experience.

I hope you’ll stick around, as we launch the Post-Record Store Tales (official title to be announced soon) and continue on with the awesome reviews! Live long…and prosper.

The End.


Part 320: End of the Line #5: A New Life

Part 320: End of the Line #5: A New Life

I enjoy meeting new people and learning new skills.  I spent a while at Aecon and I really liked it there.  Something I learned in my new workplace:  people love a music geek. I was at Aecon for three or four months, and then another place, and another, before finally finding myself working in a full-time-permanent position again. That process only took about two years, which is not bad at all.  One thing all those jobs had in common was that there were music fans everywhere.  As soon as people found out I used to work in the Record Store, the questions began! Did you have this? Have you ever seen that? What was it like working there? Can you make me a Bon Jovi hits CD?  (The answer was yes: I made her a double.  It included Cross Road as Disc 1, and my own custom made Disc 2 with all the rest of my favourites.  See below for my track list.)

I will always have a soft spot in my heart for my job at United Rentals.  We really had a lot of fun there.   They were very good to the staff, and even though I was non-permanent there, I was treated as an equal.  I really appreciated and respect that.  On the music side, we had the radio tuned to Dave FM (having switched from the uber-lame-o Chym FM).  I worked in a computer room in the back.  My boss at that job came in during “Cum On Feel the Noize”.  Excitedly he gasped, “Are they playing Quiet Riot?  That’s awesome!”  We then bonded over cheesy hair metal. I made him a custom May 24 Quiet Riot party CD.  I also made a Christmas rock disc for everybody in the office, two years in a row. That was a hit with a lot of people.

It was a sad day when United Rentals closed their Canadian office.  That unfortunately split up a wonderful group of people.  It did however open the door to where I am now.  Today, I work a satisfying job in the steel industry. It’s special for the same reason that all my jobs have been special: the people.

I like to say that I used to sell Heavy Metal, and now I sell heavy metal!

To be concluded…

WTF Search Terms: The Never-ending Search Terms

Welcome to the semi-regular feature where I reveal stunningly weird search terms that led people to mikeladano.com  For the last installment, Questions & Comments edition, click here. Alright, let’s dive in!

WTF SEARCH TERMS XXI:  The Never-ending Search Terms

10. guess who am i (Give me a clue?  Are you Leonard Nimoy?)

9. port elgin sucks (Harsh, dude.  Harsh.)

8. timmy loved judas priest (That’s great!)

7. kunci gitar white lion till death do your fart (Fart to the death!)

6. 107.5 dave fm craig fee them song (It is by Glenn Murphy and can be downloaded from iTunes.)

5. showing true using penis pump (Told ya I’d be getting hits for this.)

4. are johnny lee johns and sid haig the same person (Johnny Lee Johns is a fictional character played by Sid Haig.)

3. bum bum bay (Bop bop boo.)

2. 48،257 فيدو سكس (How the fuck did this lead to me??)

1. fuaked (You said it, man.)


REVIEW: Van Halen – Balance (1995)

VAN HALEN – Balance (1995 Warner – Japanese version included)

I had no idea what to expect when Van Halen released Balance in 1995.  Grunge had come and gone, the landscape vastly altered since Van Halen’s last wax in 1991.  Eddie was the king of pyrotechnics, and that kind of playing was not in vogue.  How would the band adapt?  Well, they didn’t.  Balance takes Van Halen into a highly polished, commercial direction. This is “balanced” with heavier grooves and a couple more “serious” lyrics.   The result turned out to be one of Van Halen’s most pop outings.

BALANCE_0003Produced by the late Bruce Fairbairn, Balance borders on over-polished. The sounds are rich, thick and glossy, but miles away from the raw guitar pummeling of the early days, or even the previous For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge. Eddie Van Halen, in a Guitar World interview, said the album was characterized by “better song writing”, but I think what he really meant was “more commercial songwriting”.

The album starts with a different sound for Van Halen: Gregorian chants. Hey, it was the 1990’s and later the same year, Iron Maiden would introduce their X Factor album with similar chants, no shit. The chanting merges into a heavy guitar riff accented by a wall of droning fills. This is “The Seventh Seal”, and Sammy’s voice is in top form. Michael Anthony’s bass rolls and hits the notes at just the right moments. This is truly a great song, completely different from Van Halen of old, but surely a triumph.

The next tune (and second single) however, “Can’t Stop Loving You”, is an embarrassing foray into pop. While Van Halen wrote pop stuff before (“Love Walks In”), this song lacks cojones of any kind. The guitar is really thin, Alex Van Halen cha-cha’s his way through the drum fills, while Sammy sings a lyric that David Lee Roth would have used to wipe his ass.

“Don’t Tell Me (What Love Can Do)” is anything but a love song. Sammy tackles drugs, faith, youth in crisis, and the 1990’s. Hagar has never sounded more foreboding, or mature for that matter. Eddie’s riff is simple, but dark and rhythmic. Michael locks onto the riff, creating this unstoppable wall of groove.

BALANCE_0005Sammy has an unfortunate habit of being too jokey when it’s inappropriate. Eddie didn’t like the lyrics to “Amsterdam” and you can see why. There is nothing wrong with this mid-tempo rocker with spare Eddie riff, except the lyrics. After the previous song’s warnings about drugs, suddenly Sammy is singing, “Whao, wham bam! Roll an Amsterdam!  Stone you like nothing else can.” Granted, two very different drugs (heroin vs. weed) but lyrically “Amsterdam” isn’t winning any awards.

“Big Fat Money” is very old-school boogie ‘Halen in intent; the music could have fit on virtually any of the first six albums. Producer Fairbairn had Eddie playing a fatbody jazz guitar during the solo section (mirroring a trick he pulled with the Scorpions two years previous) but it doesn’t save the song.  I’ll give VH a C for trying, but “Big Fat Money” is a C+ at best.


“Strung Out” is a jokey opener to the ballad “Not Enough”. Basically, this is Eddie messing with (and wrecking) a piano from the inside! This was recorded years prior, at Marvin Hamlish’s house in Malibu during the writing sessions for 1984. Van Halen destroyed Hamlish’s white Yamaha piano and had to have it repaired.  It was covered with cigarette burns, and Van Halen had attempted to play the piano from the inside, by throwing balls at the strings.

That fades into “Not Enough”, another ballad.  Not quite as embarrassing to listen to as “Can’t Stop Loving You”, but not by much. Really, in the year 1995, Van Halen should have stuck to the serious themes, and guitar-based songs. Tunes like this made Van Halen seem completely out of touch with what was happening in the 1990’s. Within months of its release, Shannon Hoon would overdose, Layne Staley locked into a dance of death with smack,  and Richey Edwards of the Manic Street Preachers went missing (presumed dead) after suffering long bouts of depression. These were dark times in rock and roll.  I just wasn’t feeling “Not Enough” and “Can’t Stop Loving You”, then or now.



“Aftershock” is another hard rocker, nothing embarrassing here, good riff, good melody, good song. Won’t make anybody’s desert island Van Halen list, however. A pair of instrumentals follow, an interesting touch seeing as Van Halen didn’t do too many instrumentals post-Dave. “Doin’ Time” is Alex messing around on the drums, which segues straight into “Baluchitherium”. “Baluchitherium” was so named because a baluchitherium was one of the biggest prehistoric land mammals known — and Eddie felt a stomper like this tune needed to be named after one of the biggest baddest animals to ever walk the Earth.  Unlike most VH instrumentals, this one just sounds like an unfinished song — an idea without a vocal.

“Take Me Back (Deja Vu)” is a pop song that I don’t mind at all, accented with acoustic guitar. Apparently Eddie had the guitar part in his head for decades, going back to the pre-Van Halen 1970’s, when he was a kid. It’s very laid back, but also very summery and the lyrics are decent.

BALANCE_0002“Feelin'” is a morose song but with an epic, powerful chorus. It is very different from anything the band had done prior, and hints at the directions to come in the Cherone years —  for better or for worse.  It’s a good album closer, as I like a dramatic ending from time to time.

If you’re lucky enough to be in Japan, there was one bonus track: this is the groove laden, oddball “Crossing Over”.  It’s a song about the afterlife and lyrically it’s probably the best tune of the bunch. The bass part alone on this song was so infectious that in my opinion, it is actually the main hook of the song. I’d consider this the best track on the album myself.  The arrangement is fairly unconventional, and the drums tumble and roll against the groove in a cool way. Again, apparently this song dates back to 1983! I think you will not regret tracking this one down.  Thankfully it was easier to find on the “Can’t Stop Loving You” single.  Notably, the Japanese version of the cover was also toned down.

On the whole, I think the majority of Sammy’s final Van Halen album is not to be ashamed of. I think the songwriting and lyrics were stronger than Unlawful, if only the production had been less geared towards pop and a couple ballads deleted, this might have been the very best thing Van Hagar ever did. However I’m not always the most objective guy.  There are Van Halen fans out there who don’t think much of Balance.  Some of those fans really, really don’t like Balance.  In order to end this review with some “balance”*, I found one and asked for his opinion.

Craig Fee: “I kept re-listening to Balance, doing my best to like it because it was 75% of my favourite band. It turned out to be more disappointing than my illustrious NHL career and my attempts to have a three-way with Rose McGowan and Liz Phair. “Can’t Stop Lovin’ You” is a steaming pile. It still is.”

I don’t have any sort of rebuttal for that.

3.75/5 stars

* Two clear signs of a writer doing a half-assed review:  Using the same pun twice, and padding it out with quotes from other people.


The band were foreshadowing the firing of Hagar with subtle hints left on the back cover of Balance.