That was a blast (as always!) By popular demands, Aaron returned! True to form, the man known as “Mr Books” presented…books! Leonard Cohen, Charlie Watts, a certain black guitar wielded by David Gilmore, and more! As for Harrison, he too had some books to show, as well as some interesting discs by Concrete Blonde and a smashingly cool lightsaber!
I unboxed the new Queen Miracle box set, a Black Sabbath Sabotage, and a Def Leppard From London to Vegas. We took a look at the contents of each. The Queen box set is suitably majestic, featuring a lovely hardcover book and loads upon loads of music to listen to.
“Ask Harrison” returned tonight, with questions from Lana (via Tee Bone) and California Girl, and a bit of a curveball “Ask Mike” as well. Warning: there could be more “Ask Mike” coming in the future!
I had a pretty good weekend. I made some videos, and I wrote some fiction. I went to go see Black Panther: Wakanda Forever in 3D. I even almost missed writing reviews. Almost!
I feel liberated. Liberated from what? Myself – my own obsessions and hangups when it comes to music and writing. For example, in the past when I’ve seen a new movie (such as Eternals last year), I raced home and wrote it all up while the film was still fresh in my head. This time, I came home and had a nap! Who cares what I have to say about Black Panther anyway? You’re either going to see it or not see it the same as you would have with or without me.
I will say this. The 3D was unnecessary and blurry. A movie that was designed in 3D like Avatar is a completely different beast. Something like Black Panther is usually converted to 3D afterwards. It could have been used more effectively. I did not need to see it in 3D. Little was added to the experience. I did need to see it in the V.I.P. theater because damn, those parmesan truffle fries were the star of the show. I reclined in my chair and nearly fell asleep, I was so full and so comfortable! The film itself was very emotional. The whole thing was a love letter to Chadwick Boseman, and that added layer of meaning really hits you.
So there you go, that’s all you get for a review.
Instead of coming home from work and listening to something that I am playing just to review, sometimes twice in a row, now I’m coming home and listening to things that I want to listen to. Tonight it’s the Black Sabbath Technical Ecstasy remix CD. And I’m not listening with studious intent, picking apart the details. I don’t have five browser windows open, looking for credits and release information for research purposes. I’m just…writing what I’m thinking right here right now! And it’s awesome! Or to quote Bill Ward on the song playing right now, “It’s Alright”.
There’s so much more. I don’t feel competitive, like I’m trying to get as much exposure as possible on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. I’m free from promoting myself. I’m free from giving a crap. I realize that giving a crap in the first place was my own fault, but habits are hard to break. Freedom is a hell of a drug.
I do love doing the Friday night show. Writing fiction is a blast. Since Harrison can only do art for one Tee Bone Man episode per month, and we wouldn’t want to do an episode without his art, I’ve branched out. I’ve now written two spinoff chapters called the Writer’sRoom that is tremendous fun and easy to do. Harrison calls it the “Extended LeBrainiverse” and it keeps growing. The latest addition is The Adventures of Edie Van Heelin’. Any time I feel like writing fiction, I have an outlet without having to put more pressure on Harrison. Fiction, or at least short stories, are so much easier than writing reviews. And just as rewarding, if not more so.
Less than a year ago, as a way to thank Tee Bone (the real guy) for all his help with my show (he refused all offers of gifts), I created Tee Bone Man and Superdekes. And I wanted to share that creation with the community. Today five different authors write Tee Bone Man which is exactly what I wanted to happen! It has turned out better than I hoped! Then shortly after that, I met California Girl, and with her I’ve created Edie Van Heelin’. It took a few attempts to get Edie ready for her public debut but her stories bring me the same happiness as Tee Bone Man. Having all these creative outlets is a wonderful thing!
That’s it, that’s the story for today. As I finish up this incredible Black Sabbath album, I get ready to go and watch last night’s American Dad and chill on the couch. Not a bad life.
And it should be over; it had its run. It had a start, middle, and a couple endings. And it should be over now. Ozzy is right and this is good.
Ozzy is also right when he says the music he recorded with Tony Iommi on the excellent Patient Number 9 could have made great Black Sabbath tracks. He also sounds legitimately sad that he’s not touring and his health isn’t up to it.
All things considered (and there is a lot to consider), Ozzy looks pretty good here. Rock on Ozz.
Even without the nostalgia, it sure seems like the second summer at the Record Store was an endless string of perfect sunny days. It certainly was that on this occasion when I walked with confidence into the Record Store for my shift. The hottest artists on the charts at the time were TLC, Boyz II Men, and Bryan Adams with “Have You Ever Really Loved A Woman”. The source of the mojo in my stroll came from the company I kept that day. I was accompanied by the girl I liked and her kid. My ladyfriend and I were not dating, but to use the parlance of the times, she was smokin’ hot. She was seeing a guy I knew, but she confided in me that had she met me first, she wouldn’t be dating him at all.
File that under “things nobody had ever said to me before”.
We had been hanging out and shopping that afternoon as friends, but the truth was, I was waiting for the other shoe to drop. I knew it was just a matter of time before she dumped my buddy. Because I’m not a complete backstabber, I tried to talk her up to his positive attributes. In fact at one point she asked me to stop defending him because I was making it really hard for her to dump him. OK! I’d done all I could. Had she met me first, she wouldn’t even be dating him. The words rang in my head! Would this be the summer that I could answer the question “Have You Ever Really Loved A Woman” in the affirmative?
I was in the midst of my angriest of angry phases: 1994-1996. But that summer was an island of happiness. Still, I had gone absolutely mad for the doom, gloom and aggression of Black Sabbath, and was still in the middle stages of “collecting them all”. I had ordered the rarest ones, Seventh Star and Born Again on CD from Japan (never came). I had a CD copy of Headless Cross coming in and just got Technical Ecstacy on cassette. And they had a brand new album coming too, reuniting the Tyr lineup.
The exact date might have been June 20, the day of release for Black Sabbath’s Forbidden. I remember that our store received no CD copies, although I think we did get some on cassette. What I do know is that we drove up to Waterloo to get it at HMV, and she was with me. But I had a 5 o’clock shift back at the Record Store, and she gave me a ride. Tom was working behind the counter that day. After my ladyfriend departed, I distinctly remember Tom asking me a question that was also filed under “things nobody had ever said to me before”.
“How do you meet such hot chicks, man?”
I laughed and tried to say something cool. The truth was I was tearing up inside because A) I’d never met one like her before, and B) she was going out with someone else!
I saw the ways guys looked at her. I remember walking around uptown Waterloo with her, on our way to the Huether for lunch and a milkshake. She was wearing a bikini top with an unbuttoned shirt loosely around it. A creepy dude glanced and made a comment as we walked. She was definitely the kind of girl that attracted lookers.
But I knew I had a chance. I continued to be the friend. I helped her out when she needed a babysitter and I drove her around when I had the car. As the cool friend who worked in a Record Store, I hooked her up with music for her and the kid.
One weekend at the cottage, the phone rang. A rare occurrence. It was for me; a rarer occurrence. It was my buddy Aaron, who was well aware of the situation with the girl and was in my corner. Aaron always called me “Geddy”. He still does!
“Geddy? She dumped him.”
No way. Finally!
“What’s your next move?” he asked me.
What to do now? I was going to wait.
I got home and there was a message on the machine from my buddy. “Mike, don’t call anybody else. Call me first.”
On the phone, he told me of the Great Dumping. It was hard for me to have sympathy knowing the other side of the story already. If he didn’t mooch so much, if he didn’t hang out doing nothing all day, maybe this wouldn’t have happened. But I couldn’t tell him that. He had a plan to win her back. I told him how sorry I was, but I sure didn’t tell him that I was going to make a move.
I waited a long time. My birthday arrived; I had a murder mystery party and she came over to celebrate with me. A guy hit on her at my house! The birthday passed and I still had not made a move. It was like some kind of emotional paralysis. In fact I’d never asked a girl out before and had no idea what the hell to say. I’m notorious for tripping over my words. Finally, she confronted me. On the phone one night she said “I’m not going to ask. If you don’t, somebody else will.”
I asked her if it was lame to ask somebody out to dinner or a movie. She said no, so I asked her out to dinner or a movie.
She seemed relieved that I finally asked. I think she had everything for the first date pre-planned. She told me instead of just dinner, how about dinner in Toronto after a day on Toronto Island? I had no idea what that entailed but it all sounded great to me. I got her flowers, first time I had ever done that too. I had no idea what I was doing. I bought them too soon and they wilted so I got more. But it was a fun day and one of those magical, youthful memories that only get warmer with years. The funny thing, even though I asked her out, she organised all the details and even drove. Our relationship was a lot like that. She showed me things she liked and hoped I would enjoy. I remember listening to Loreena McKennitt with her. Harp music; very different from metal, but not so different from Blackmore’s Night which was only a few years away. But she didn’t care about my Iron Maiden. And she really disliked my Kim Mitchell. It wasn’t meant to last. I got three months.
“Nothing you can do will hurt me, I am indestructible.” That line from Black Sabbath’s “Kiss of Death” really resonated during the angry years. It wasn’t true though. The island of happiness was over and I was pretty was wrecked afterwards. Took a while to recover.
We had a fun summer, but I needed to be with someone who didn’t want to change me or improve me. Who demanded that I mature. Who liked me as I am, warts and all. Fortunately I have that now, even with the added mileage I’ve clocked since then! That’s real love.
Anticipation has been high for Tony Martin’s new album Thorns. His last solo record was the excellent Scream from 2005, but it feels like it was back in the 2nd age of Middle Earth! Fandom seems to have warmed up to Martin in recent years. His Sabbath albums, once derided as lesser Dio clones, are looked back upon warmly by more and more people, which could be good for Martin. And with some of those albums getting the reissue treatment in the future, the time is right for Tony’s re-emergence.
Thorns is heavy. Heavier than expected. “As the World Burns” is out of the gates with salvos of double bass and a gut-punching downtuned riff. This is essentially thrash metal – fast, aggressive, varied and complex. It’s certainly beyond Sabbath. Martin’s range is fully intact, though it sounds like he’s pushing his voice a bit too much and maybe should have laid back a bit in a couple spots. Even so, there is no doubting the man’s enduring power.
“Black Widow Angel” is hellbent for heavy. Then there’s this crazy funk metal breakdown in the middle with some wicked bass stuff, right out of the blue. Many of Martin’s songs demonstrate surprising diversity within the walls of heavy metal. Choirs appear on “Book of Shadows”, a modern Maiden-esque track with a pretty incredible lead vocal. There’s also a solidly Sabbath gothic streak.
One of the most interesting tracks is “Cry Wolf”. An acoustic metal song is often intriguing (ask Wino) and this is a fine tune with a guitar solo to match. Cool instrumentation abounds, and Martin fans know that they can expect some wicked violin within a metal song. The violin emerges on “Damned By You”, slow melodic and heavy. Moving on to “No Shame At All”, the groove takes the spotlight. The chorus is pure vintage Tony, but the groove is new.
Metal ballads rule, and “Nowhere to Fly” is a black rose of a ballad. The music is understated so it’s all about Tony’s singing. (Nothing like Dio’s, incidentally.) “Passion Killer” on the other hand rocks, but is also all about the vocals. Those “woah-oh-woah-ohs!” kick ass. There isn’t much of a chorus to speak of, but the verses slay. Tony then goes for speed on “Run Like the Devil”, hook laden and wicked! But then we get swampy on the surprising “This Is My Damnation”. It’s the second acoustic song, but completely different from the first. “Why terrorism? Why Covid? Why cancer? Why AIDS?” asks Tony in the words, speak-singing like in a Robbie Robertson song.
The closing title track is the most epic, featuring an instantly recognizable Pamela Moore (Operation: Mindcrime). Moore has lost nothing and raises the game by several levels. At first, I wasn’t sure I liked that “ooh-ah-ah” bit that sounds like David Draiman. It grows on you. At least it’s not the main hook of the song like it is with Disturbed.
Acoustic interludes, spoken word, subhuman bass, snakey synth solos, Pamela Moore…Thorns has plenty of delectables on offer. Get yours.
Great set of lists tonight from Harrison and Marco as we dug deep on our favourite Tony Martin albums! With Thorns fresh on store shelves, and the prospect of Martin-era Sabbath reissues, it’s the perfect time to talk Tony.
We also played an old track from Slam Glory, featuring Marco’s uncle Ray D’Auria on lead vocals. Great band from the Raw M.E.A.T Vol 3 CD.
The comments were terrific once again, and thank you all for watching! See you next time!
The LeBrain Train: 2000 Words or More with Mike and Harrison
Episode 95 – Cinco de Listo – Top Five Tony Martin Albums
Harrison has been wanting to do this show for a long time. Let’s show Harrison some appreciation for tonight’s topic: Top Five Tony Martin albums! Everything is up for grabs, including Black Sabbath, the Cage, and his solo work. In fact, just last week, Tony released his long awaited new solo album called Thorns. I’ve had a week to absorb it. Will it make my list?
We also have a special treat for you tonight. Not just a bonus list, but a bonus list from Marco the Contrarian. And not just a bonus list from Marco — but a video! It’ll be as if Marco was here with us! Unfortunately he could not make it due to a Contrarians taping at the same time. You’ll be hearing more about that Contrarians episode from me in the future.
I hope you can join us tonight to discuss all things Tony Martin and Black Sabbath too. Do you like his new album Thorns? Tell us tonight on the LeBrain Train.
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.
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.