a different kind of truth

#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.

#342: All in a Day’s Drive

RECORD STORE TALES Mk II: Getting More Tale
#342: All in a Day’s Drive

Friday November 21, 2014 was a pretty nice day weather wise. There was no precipitation and the skies were clear. If you’re going to pick a day to make a drive down the 401, you couldn’t have picked a better one. Jen needed to see a doctor at the hospital in Mississauga, so off we went. [Note: don’t worry, she’s fine. This is regarding her epilepsy.]  I brought music and reading materials, and kept a log of the rock:

9 am: Depart Kitchener for Brampton. Playing in the car: Deep Purple – Smoke on my Mega-Mixa bootleg compilation CD of remixes and live tracks.

10 am: Pick up Jen’s mom in Brampton [she spent the weekend with us]. Depart for Mississauga. Playing on car stereo: Van Halen – 5150.  As a “bonus track”, I tacked on the live version of “Why Can’t This Be Love” (from the music video) to the end of the playlist.  Jen’s comment: “The singing on this is… (pause)…really not as good as the regular version.”  She’s right.

11 am: Arrive at hospital. Playing on mp3 player: Kiss – Love Gun (deluxe). Reading material: Martin Popoff – Live Magnetic Air: The Unlikely Saga of the Superlative Max Webster

4 pm: Depart hospital with mission accomplished.

6:30 pm: Finally arrive home after 2 1/2 hour crawl along Highway 401!  The whole way was brake light city. Just a tedious, slow drive. There was no reason for it.  From what I could tell, it was all caused by commuters that didn’t know how to properly merge.  When somebody leaves you 5 or 6 car lengths space to merge in, take it.  Don’t race further ahead to see if you can get in front of that transport truck and that guy in the Hyundai.  Car music: Van Halen – Fair Warning, Diver Down, and A Different Kind of Truth. Yes, that means Jen and her mom heard a LOT of Van Halen today. And that’s fucking cool.

For more information on epilepsy, please visit epilepsyontario.org.

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.

LeBRAIN’S TOP FIVE OF 2012

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.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

REVIEW: Van Halen – A Different Kind of Truth

Van Halen – A Different Kind of Truth (2012)

I’ve read every word printed between the year 2000 and now that was available about the new Van Halen album with DLR. I’ve been waiting patiently. The band tried once a decade ago and never got off the launch pad. Then Sammy came back. Then Sammy left. Then Mike was fired, and Wolfie was in.

And lemme tell you folks, Wolfie can PLAY. No offense to Mikey, the original, but Wolfie plays circles around him. And not only that, his chemistry with his dad (and uncle too) is infectious. Never before have you heard syncopated unison bass and guitar runs on a Van Halen album, not like this.

The star of the show is Edward Van Halen. I wanted to hear an album that made me say “Holy shit, how the hell did he do that?” And that’s what I said when I first heard “China Town” a couple weeks before the album came out.

The whole album is like that. Eddie is riffing, flying into a quick lick that sounds impossible, then back to the riff. Just like the old days. The album is largely (but not completely) based on unused Van Halen songs from the early 70’s and 80’s such as “Down In Flames” and “Ripley”. Now dubbed with new lyrics and titles (all but the smokin’ “She’s The Woman”), the band has sewn new life into these amazing tracks. With Wolfie’s pulsing bass, Ed’s impossible guitar, and Alex driving the whole thing, this who record smokes. Not one weak track.

Well, I know a lot of people didn’t like “Tattoo”. But fear not. New single it may be, but it’s far from the best track on this album. My faves include: “She’s The Woman”, “China Town”, “As Is”, and “Big River”. Still there are no songs that I would skip.

And Dave’s lyrics? Just as clever and cheaky as ever. While Dave waxes poetic on many songs, don’t expect him to suddenly want to deliver a message. Any messages about the state of the union (political or VH) have no place on A Different Kind Of Truth.

The acoustic DVD sucks, but Dave’s handwitten lyrics and drawings are awesome.

5/5 stars, ain’t talkin’ bout anything less