black sabbath

Sunday Screening: The Hudson Valley Squares – Black Sabbath ‘Born Again’ vs Rainbow ‘Down to Earth’

I was down in the dumps on Friday night because of the crash-and-burn that was my attempt to play LeBrain Train re-runs.  (Yeah, that’s not happening anymore.)  Uncle Meat saw my mood and recommended we watch this Sea of Tranquillity episode together virtually.

Everybody knows Born Again is my favourite album of all time.  I also like Down to Earth quite a bit.  What do the Hudson Valley Squares featuring special guest Martin Popoff think?  It’s a riveting hour of love and critique.  You have the Meat Man to thank for bringing this to our attention.

#914: The Bad Batch

RECORD STORE TALES #914 The Bad Batch

Mrs. Powers used to say to us, “You are the worst class I have ever taught!”  She was good at the guilt thing.  I understand that she continued to tell subsequent generations that they too were the worst class she has ever taught.  With the benefit of hindsight, she was the worst teacher we ever had.

I had her two years in a row.  Grades seven and eight.  We were the worst class she had ever taught both years.  Coincidentally, also the worst two years of grade school.  A couple years later, my sister had her.  She was still guilting and shaming the students when my sister had her.  She was the epitome of old lady Catholic school teacher clichés.

We were not particularly worse than any other class.  We had our bad apples, that the teachers didn’t seem to know how to contain.  My time with Powers coincided with my discover of heavy metal music:  Kiss, Priest, Maiden.  Wearing my Judas Priest shirt to school was one of the biggest mistakes I made in the 8th grade.  Powers gave me a good scolding in front of everyone else, who found it hilarious.  She must have thought I was going bad too.  I will always resent Powers for teaming me up with my nemesis Steve Hartman in gym class.  The guy had been picking on me since grade two, and she thought we’d get over it by doing gymnastics together?  The fact that I even had to touch the guy was disgusting to me.  Why did she have to do that?  Isn’t that borderline abusive?

In the 8th grade I had enough with Hartman and fought him one night after school.  He brought friends; my only backup was Kevin Kirby.  He was just there to enjoy the show, he didn’t care who won.  But I managed to get Steve Hartman to leave me alone for the year after that night.  That was pretty much it for his career in bullying; he never had a comeback though not without trying.

Kiss really did a lot to get me through the Powers years.  My year of discovery for Kiss was 1985, the Asylum period.  Not the greatest entry point, but I quickly found myself drawn to better albums like Hotter Than Hell and Creatures of the Night.  It was Mrs. Powers who presided over the school retreat to Mount Mary.  Possibly the loneliest week of my entire childhood as I bunked with every kid who ever tormented me.  But we had to go; Powers scared everyone in class by telling us that any student she had that skipped the Mount Mary retreat ended up “dead or on drugs”.   Bringing your own music was forbidden, so I memorized as much Kiss music as I could, to replay in my head when the going got rough.

Sex-ed was a joke of course.  I remember the usual school films with animated cells dividing, and sketches of genitalia.  The more we learned the less we knew.  But at least we got to sit there watching a movie, so the teacher didn’t have to explain anything herself.  Rock Hudson died of AIDS that fall, but none of us knew exactly what AIDS was.  She asked us if we knew.  One kid answered, “It makes you get old and die.”  She responded, “Well, it makes you look old, yes.”  We learned that much, and that you could get it from a blood infection.  That’s what we learned.  Can’t give this bad batch of kids too much graphic information.

Do you want to know the truth?  Maybe Powers was right.  Maybe our year really was the worst batch of kids she’d ever taught.  Some of them, at least.  Our only consolation was that she if she thought we were bad, she was going to find future generations were worse.  If she thought I was heading down the wrong path with Kiss and Judas Priest, I wonder what she thought of Marilyn Manson or rap!  She thought we were bad?  The 90s were still to come!

One thing that struck me from that time that will always remain is this.  Our family did not go to church much, but frequency in church visits didn’t seem to correlate to how good of a person you were.  My sister and I were good kids.  Some of these other kids that went to church every week were real assholes.  Just an observation.

I hope that Powers did end up with worse classes than us.  She deserved it.

Easter Memories: Quiet Riot, GI Joe, Alice Cooper, Def Leppard & More!

Just a short show tonight, for those stuck at home this Easter weekend with nothing much else to do! Music, toys, happy memories. Lots of audio/visual aids. Great comments and audience participation.

Quiet Riot, Black Sabbath, David Lee Roth, Def Leppard, Aerosmith, and rare Japanese imports.

Bonus: Couldn’t resist playing some music so we closed with the show with Uncle Meat singing “Fairies Wear Boots” back in 1991 with Heavy Cutting. Thank you for watching!

 

NEXT WEEK:  ANDY CURRAN!

Lists Bloody Lists: Marco the Contrarian boards the LeBrain Train with some Black Sabbath lists!

Thank you Marco from The Contrarians for your appearance Friday night!  The subject was Black Sabbath songs.  Three Nigel Tufnel Top Ten lists from three die-hard fans.  Do the math — that’s like a million tons of metal right there.

Marco is one of the most knowledgeable guests we’ve had on the show.  We couldn’t let him off without asking him some questions about Marco.  The first part of the show features a new segment that we call “Lightning Round – Getting to Know You”.  We’d like your feedback on this part of the show.  We had a lot of fun with it and so did the live viewers.  What did you think of this new feature?  Let us know in the comments.

Finally, we did a Contrarians style discussion on my favourite Black Sabbath record Born Again.  This was very enjoyable and I hope we did the Contrarians justice with our version of the format.

Finally Finally:  Marco mentioned a film project he is working on about a Canadian metal band called Mystique that is very close to his heart.  Check out their Youtube channel by clicking here.  This subject really grabbed the imagination of the live viewers who started looking up their stuff on Discogs!  ($377!)  You’ll also hear about a band called Slam Glory that I liked a lot back in the 90s.

All this and more on the LeBrain Train.  Thanks for watching!

For the statisticians:  Of the 33 songs on our lists, only five overlapped.  They were:

  • Cornucopia (Meat and Marco)
  • Sign of the Southern Cross (Mike and Meat)
  • Hand of Doom (Meat and Marco)
  • Disturbing The Priest (Marco and Mike)
  • Children Of the Sea (Mike and Meat)

Crossover! Contrarian Marco joins the LeBrain Train for some Black Sabbath shenanigans

The LeBrain Train:  2000 Words or More with Mike Ladano…and Meat!

Episode 56 – Contrarian Marco talks Black Sabbath

In a crossover event sure to melt the structure of reality, we have Marco from The Contrarians here with us tonight!  Their excellent YouTube show, featuring Martin Popoff, is the place you want to be for some real in-depth heavy metal album discussions.  It’s all about people like us who pick odd-duck albums as their favourites.  Which is something I’ll be doing tonight as well!

Without spoiling all the fun, here’s what we have in store.  Uncle Meat and I will be asking Marco some questions so we can get to know him a little better.  Then the three of us will break out the lists!  It’s the Nigel Tufnel Top Ten Black Sabbath songs.  As if that isn’t enough epic-ness, we will also be discussing contrarian-style my favourite Sabbath record:  Born Again.

Additionally:  I will be announcing the winners of our CD draw from last week’s One Year Anniversary show!  This will happen in the pre-show segment before 7:00 PM.


Announcements:  Next week is already Easter.  I’m considering doing two shorter shows that weekend:  One, featuring a Max the Axe live rehearsal with four songs.  These “Straight Outta Lockdown” sessions include a new tune.  The second show I am considering would be Easter memories.  Guests are on a volunteer basis if you’re interested.

Following that:

April 9:  Please welcome the legendary Andy Curran of Coney Hatch to the show!  With co-host Superdekes.

May 7:  It’s Paul Laine, Canadians singer extraordinaire, formerly of Danger Danger and currently with The Defiants!  With co-host John T. Snow!

Are you excited?  Because I sure am!  Thanks to Deke and John for booking these awesome guests.

The Very Beast Artwork of Iron Maiden on the LeBrain Train!

Great show tonight with your co-hosts  Harrison the Mad Metal ManAaron from KeepsMeAlive, and Superdekes!  We talked the Nigel Tufnel Top Ten Iron Maiden Covers/Artwork (that’s a mouthful) and it was awesome.  We took a close look at:  albums, singles, T-shirts, Reaction figures, MacFarlane figures, and the Neca Powerslave Eddie.  If you like Iron Maiden, you automatically love their artwork.  Ergo, you need to watch this show!

First we unboxed some brand new Reaction Eddie figures.  Go to 0:16:50 of the stream.

Then we wished Steve Harris a Happy Birthday, and commenced with the lists!  Go to 0:24:00 of the stream.

After the conclusion of the Maiden lists, we had a freeform chat covering Queensryche’s Operation: Mindcrime, and a newly unearthed Black Sabbath track called “Slapback”.  Go to 2:22:45 of the stream to check that out.

Thanks for watching, and if you just want to know what Maiden art we picked, check out Aaron’s hand-written list below!  See ya next week!

#855: Some Of My Favourite Fest Intros (and One Outro) 2020

As always, I was asked to introduce songs at this year’s Sausagefest.  I’d like to share some of them with you so you can get a taste of what I do for the Fest.

These four are only some of my favourites this year.  I did 10 intros altogether and the longest was about nine minutes.  That’s my actual favourite, but it was less about the track intro, and more about inside jokes that mean nothing to you.  I also did a well-received Neil Peart tribute as part of my “Passage to Bankok” intro but you can just read it here as it was previously posted in its original text form.

 

Below is a medley of four intros and one outro.  Some notes before you proceed:

  • Because it’s 2020 and why the fuck not, I understand they did the countdown in reverse order this year.  Starting at #1 going down to #100.  I didn’t know that when I recorded these.
  • I like to lift bits from cartoons like Rick & Morty and American Dad.  You will hear some.  These are not my original bits, just funny things that work as transitions from whatever Tom & Meat had going on before me.
  • Afroman has been a point of contention. I do not believe Afroman has a place at Sausagefest but they vote it in every year and then make me introduce it.  This year I fought back by putting in 0% effort.  (50 second mark)
  • Better than the Afroman intro was the outro which you will also hear.  I “interviewed” Werner Herzog about Sausagefest and people that vote for Afroman. (2 minute 15 second mark)
  • The Herzog bit was probably the most complex to edit.  I downloaded random Werner interviews and found a perfect part where he was talking about chickens.
  • Getting Darth Vader on Cameo was a real stroke of luck! (3 minute 45 second mark)

 

* I had to surgically create the word “one” out of the word “chicken” in order for it to make sense.  Now you’ll notice but before you wouldn’t.

REVIEW: Black Sabbath – Cross Purposes (1994 Japanese version)

BLACK SABBATH – Cross Purposes (1994 EMI Japan)

Cross Purposes catches a lot of crap from fans, and maybe it is the softest Sabbath, but it ain’t bad.  The Tony Martin era was unfairly derided when he was the singer in Black Sabbath.  “Only Ozzy or Ronnie — no Tony!” complained some fans.  Well, we had Ronnie for Dehumanizer and that didn’t last.  Tony Martin was probably always the backup plan in case things went south with Dio.  It is said that Tony Martin recorded his own set of vocals for the Dehumanizer album in case Dio left abruptly.  It wasn’t a surprise to anyone that Tony Iommi called up Martin when Dio did inevitably walk.

Ronnie brought drummer Vinny Appice with him, which meant Sabbath were replacing two members.  In a genius move, Iommi snapped up ex-Rainbow heavy-hitter Bobby Rondinelli.  Bassist Geezer Butler stayed put, but not without regrets.  He would later say that he thought they were recording an album for a new band, but that Iommi decided to use the name Black Sabbath.  This seems hard to believe given that Iommi always returned to the Sabbath name in the past.

Tony Martin & Bobby Rondinelli

Whatever the case may be, Cross Purposes was met with mixed reactions when it was released in 1994.  While some welcomed the return of a classic sounding band, others called them irrelevant in the face of grunge.  Indeed, Sabbath were accused of copying the style of Alice in Chains on “Virtual Death”, featuring a double tracked vocal similar to the Seattle band’s trademark sound.

True as that may be, there is no question that opener “I Witness” sounds like no band other than Black Sabbath.  From Iommi’s squealing guitar shrieks to Geezer’s slinky bass, only one band sounds like this.  Yes, on the surface Tony Martin sounds like Dio, but that sells him short.  Dio has more grit, while Martin takes it smooth.  “I Witness” is one of those blazingly fast Sabbath openers, and Rondinelli’s massive snare sound just kills it.  I’ve always enjoyed how Black Sabbath worked their name into certain lyrics, like “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath”.  Here, Tony Martin (an underrated lyricist) refers to the “pilgrims of Sabbocracy”, a word that doesn’t seem to exist outside the Black Sabbath pantheon.

Perhaps one of the biggest reasons this album was poorly received is that two of its best songs are ballads.  People forget that Sabbath have many classic ballads — “Solitude”, “Changes” and “Born Again” come to mind.  “Cross of Thorns” is a vocal workout for Martin that darkens the sky and shakes the seas.  An acoustic riff begins the journey, but it transforms into something bigger and more dramatic.  It also includes one of Iommi’s most memorable guitar solos from his entire career.  Special mention goes to late keyboardist Geoff Nicholls who provides much atmosphere for this dark burner.

“Psychophobia” is an interesting song; not the most memorable but with a tricky riff that’ll get the heads banging.   The middle section exactly halfway into the song is outstanding.  It’s also a gas to hear Martin singing “It’s time to kiss the rainbow goodbye”.  A sly jab at Dio?  Fans will probably always see it that way.  But then comes “Virtual Death”.  Its possible grunge inspirations stick out like the sorest of thumbs on side one.  This slow song drags too long.  The whole “virtual reality” trend was well worn out by 1994, so that did not help matters much.  Fortunately the first side redeems itself with a resounding closer called “Immaculate Deception”.  The beguilement here is that the song seems like trudge at first, until Rondinelli puts it in turbo on the choruses.

Side two opens with the second ballad (more of a blues really) called “Dying For Love”.  This is reminiscent of “Feels Good to Me” from the Tyr album.  Interestingly, Geezer’s bassline sounds like the one Bob Daisley played on “The Shining” in 1987.  (Geezer was around when “The Shining” was written, possibly under the name “No Way Out”.)  It must be said that, as great as Tony Martin is on this song, it would have sounded out of this world had Dio sung it.

“Back to Eden” is a skipper.  Nothing particular wrong with it, just not as good as other tracks.  We resume on the single, “The Hand that Rocks the Cradle”.  A keyboard opening gives way to a killer Iommi riff, one that sticks in your brain for days.  Top it off with an excellent chorus and this track is a winner.  Shame it never had a chance as a single.  “Cardinal Sin”, like “Back to Eden”, isn’t much to talk about, though it does have a cool keyboard line.

The standard album ends on “Evil Eye”, a song that incredibly came about through an unlikely 1993 jam with Eddie Van Halen.  Van Halen laid down a solo, but the band weren’t recording properly.  According to Tony Martin, the Van Halen recording is simply too poor in quality to release.  I don’t think fans would mind, but that is wishful thinking considering they couldn’t even give Eddie a writing credit due to contractual wranglings.  This song just grinds, like a mountain over the aeons.  Tony Martin wails on the chorus, and Tony Iommi lays down several minutes of guitar licks that may or not have been inspired by Van Halen’s original solos.

A big thanks must go out to Harrison the Mad Metal Man for locating this Japanese printing of Cross Purposes that you are looking at.  A Sabbath collection that began in earnest back in 1992 was finally completed in 2020.  The bonus track here is “What’s the Use”, a song that doesn’t quite sound like the rest of the album.  The short choppy Iommi riff sounds more like Judas Priest than Sabbath, but it’s a welcome addition because it’s unlike the usual.

Had Cross Purposes come out under a different band name (something anonymously 90’s…like, I dunno, Carpet or something) with “Virtual Death” as the single, who knows what might have happened?  Probably nothing, because just as there were too many glam rock acts in the late 80s, the 90s were choked to the gills with alterna-bands.  A Japanese copy is expensive to come by, so don’t hesitate too much if you find a gently used domestic CD in the wild.  The album is, of course, out of print.

4/5 stars

 

Live Stream – “Nigel Tufnel Top Ten” RUSH albums & more! – Saturday May 16

Missed the May 16 live stream? No problem. Watch LeBrain and special guest Uncle Meat below, discussing favourite Rush albums. Then LeBrain dives into Tony Martin-era Black Sabbath singles, and finally makes a surprise purchase live on the stream! We also pay tribute to Fred Willard who passed away at age 86. We’ll miss you Fred.

There has been an audio lag issue with the Facebook live streams which looks like an issue that happens when one person leaves during a split screen.  Going forward I will either have to reboot the stream at that point or use another platform.  Apologies for the audio lag.  Enjoy the show.

 

REVIEW: Black Sabbath #1 – Rock-It Comics (1994)

BLACK SABBATH #1 – (1994 Rock-It Comics)

1979:  Ozzy Osbourne walks out on Black Sabbath, the band he has fronted for 10 years.  Things almost get physical, and then Ozzy pledges to rule the world on his own.  Tony Iommi swears to come out on top, with or without him.  Bill Ward looks down, knowing that it is truly time for a change.  Geezer Butler doesn’t want to give it up and recommends they call “that Dio-bloke”.

Malibu comics produced a highly fictionalized version of Black Sabbath’s early history in 1994, with stunningly rich artwork and co-written by one Terence “Geezer” Butler himself.  Understanding that this is a mixture of fantasy and history, “The Power of Black Sabbath” is a hugely entertaining comic.  The basic bones of the Sabbath story are there.  The gradeschool rivalry between Ozzy and Tony was real, but Tony never said “Give it up Osbourne, you sing like a girl!”  And it doesn’t matter because it makes for a good panel.  Meanwhile, a young Terry Butler is visited by a mysterious entity that allows him a brief glimpse at his own future.

As if like fate, the four members of Black Sabbath eventually merge together.  Their early history as “Earth” precedes the fame.  Dirty managers, “Blue Suede Shows”, and Jethro Tull stories are rolled out panel by panel.  “Why did I ever think about leaving Earth?” muses Tony, as a demanding Ian Anderson commands him to play a solo.  After another supernatural encounter, they finally settle on the name Black Sabbath.

Album by album their success grows, but they cannot shake their continuing and strange encounters with entities not of this world.  By the time of Never Say Die, tensions between Tony and Ozzy result in the temporary hiring of Dave Walker to replace the singer.  Ozzy eventually leaves permanently on his own “Crazy Train”.  Ending the story here, we learn that Geezer Butler has come to peace with the supernatural side of his life.

But that’s only half the book.  There’s still plenty more content of the non-illustrated variety.

An interview with Geezer Butler is about as revealing as ever.  Dig these insightful answers:

Q: Tell us about the new album.

A: It’s called Cross Purposes.  There are ten tracks on it.  We started writing it last February and finished in mid-July.  [He then runs down the band lineup.]

To its credit, Geezer claims that this comic is the most accurate portrayal of Black Sabbath to date, though it does include “poetic license”.

Next is a very cool gallery of photos that you couldn’t easily find anywhere in 1994.  These include full colour pictures of the Glenn Hughes lineup of Black Sabbath, and versions with Dio, Tony Martin, Vinnie Appice, and Bobby Rondinelli.  There are even a couple monochrome photos with Ian Gillan.  At the time these were some of the only pictures I owned of the band in these phases.

The next pages feature a discography, full colour with album art, lineups and tracklistings.  Included here is a warning not to buy Greatest Hits or Live At Last!  “You have an inferior product both in packaging and sound.  You are warned!”  Screw it, I’m buying Live At Last!  The last page is an autobiographical story by editor Robert V. Conte about buying his first Sabbath album Born Again (my favourite).  Within two weeks he had most of their records.

I’ve read a few critiques about this book complaining about the overly fictional portrayal of the band’s history.  I don’t think it particularly matters.  It’s obvious from the supernatural elements that this is not to be taken as gospel (pun intended).  The vibrant ink and colours capture the Black Sabbath members perfectly, and each panel is glorious to look at.  Not to mention it’s an oversized comic so every page has more bang for the buck.  The stylized dialogue keeps the story moving at a good pace, and though the story is but a brief overview, it’s fine for a single issue.

4.5/5 stars