Then my sister, Dr. Kathryn, twisted my arm to start posting the stories instead of just talking about it.
Finally former radio dude Craig Fee, wherever he is today, gave me the last push I needed to get going on WordPress. He sent me a link and an email saying, more or less, “just do it”. So I clicked the link, and began posting. It’s really that simple. I clicked a link, cut and pasted the first chapter, and hit “publish”.
I had almost no audience except Craig and Aaron. Not even HMO, our Heavy Metal Overlord, was reading yet. That is, until May 7 2012. Everything changed at that point and suddenly, the hits went crazy! If not for May 7, I probably would have lost interest years ago. If there’s one way to commit me to a project…it’s to tell me to quit.
So: Thank you to all of the above, and to all of you, new or old! I hope you enjoy what we’ve done here and where we’re going in the future. If not…too bad!
Rock, Rock, ‘Til You Drop indeed!
This Friday, we will be celebrating 10 years of Record Store Tales, and mikeladano.com, on the LeBrain Train. Please join me! If you would like to appear as a special guest, let me know in the comments.
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.
During Craig’s live “Tedious Tiresome Trivia” segment on the Tuesday afternoon show (on which he takes live phone calls), he received a call from Ray at “Visa Mastercard”. The entire thing went out on the air, live, just as you hear it below. There’s nothing Craig loves more than messing with a solicitor calling into his show. Needless to say, things go wonky very quickly.
What I learned from “Visa Mastercard” on this call is that, apparently, your credit card number is not personal information. It’s right there on the face of the card, so that makes it public…apparently. “Anyone can see that or memorise that,” according to the “Visa Mastercard” rep (“not a third party!”) that unwittingly called a radio station.
Some people call me LeBrain. Some of my friends in the radio community call me LaLoofah. It doesn’t matter, I’ll answer to those, but I’m a Mike. Always have been, since I was born actually.
As readers generally know by now, my radio friend Craig over at 107.5 DaveRocks has nicknames for most of his listeners. He also likes to claim that he has “only 3.5 regular listeners” according to the last surveys. I’m one, and there’s another one named “Ass Kisser Mike”. Sometimes people mix the two of us up. I’ve met Ass Kisser Mike. He’s a really nice guy. We actually met recently at a protest. (You can read all about that here.) At the time, I jokingly said that we should take a picture together to prove we’re not the same person. However there was a lot going on and we never took the picture.
Fast forward to the April 12 2017 instalment of the Craig Fee Show. Another Mike called in, a new Mike. Craig feigned disbelief, he couldn’t have three callers named Mike out of 3.5 listeners, could he? This led Craig to start the rumour that I and Ass Kisser Mike are the same person. Fake news! He also speculated that Ass Kisser Mike’s righteous beard may be fake. And of course, I could not produce a photo of the two of us together.
I assure you, my faithful readers. LeBrain and Ass Kisser Mike are two different people. One day I’ll get a photo to prove it!
Not an actual photo of LeBrain and Ass Kisser Mike
Ever had a nickname that you acquired accidentally that you didn’t care for? Who hasn’t?
What about a loofah, have you ever heard of those? It’s a spongey thing that some people use to clean themselves in the shower.
On June 5 2014, the subject of loofahs came up during the Tedious Tiresome Trivia segment on The Craig Fee Show on 107.5 DaveRocks. Craig didn’t know what a “loofah mitt” was. Having seen one in my own shower (not my loofah I assure you), I tried to be helpful and sent him an email. I probably should have clarified that it wasn’t mine, because what did I get for my kind gesture? Mockery!
His response, which was live on air, was that I needed to renew my “Man Card”.
I let him know that the loofah mitt “is not mine, sillypants” (exact words). It was too late, the damage had been done. Thousands heard his mockery of my Man Card status. I made the mistake of speaking up, and Craig wasn’t about to let it go. On June 10 he re-ignited the loofah issue, again stating that I needed to get my Man Card updated. The nickname “LaLoofah” began to take off. If we hashtagged it, it would have been trending. On June 25, DaveRocks listener Duncan dubbed me with his own modified version of the nickname: “Optimus LoofaBrain”. That one’s not bad.
The LaLoofah nickname only died recently. That’s why I’m bringing it back. I hated the name but now miss the attention. Can’t stand my reviews or opinions? Then go ahead – call me “LaLoofah”, the derogatory nickname of choice for your friendly neighborhood LeBrain!
GETTING MORE TALE (Retro) #469: Stump LeBrain Week, by Aaron!
“Getting More Retro” is a sub-series of my music stories Getting More Tale. I posted this back in March in 2012, when nobody was reading except Aaron and my old boss from the Record Store. Before that, Aaron posted it on the KeepsMeAlive (Feb. 19). And now, for the third time, here’s Stump LeBrain Week!
I had become such a dominating force on the 4 O’Clock 4-Play, my favourite music contest on 107.5 Dave Rocks, that listeners were now writing in 4-Play quizzes specifically to stump me! For a while there it seemed everybody wanted to be the one to put an end to LeBrain’s reign!
Craig had me in the studio for the contest, live on the Craig Fee show, during what he dubbed “Stump LeBrain Week”. Each day that week, I came in at 4 o’clock in order to play the contest on the air. Craig selected five 4-Plays, one for each day. If I answered correctly, I won the prize (I Mother Earth tickets). If I was stumped, the person who wrote the 4-Play question would win the prize.
At the end of the week, I sent Aaron audio CDs of all my appearances minus commercials. He was kind enough to document it in the written word for history. Since very few saw this when I re-posted it at the launch of this site, I’m re-posting it once again for you! Re-use and recycle, baby!
Big thanks to Aaron for listening to all five shows and writing it down, and of course thanks to Craig for giving me the opportunity! Here we go. Ready?
Four-Play #1 (submitted by Chris Cottingham)
01 Motley Crue – Shout At The Devil
01 Mike’s Guess: ‘tracks that were not singles’ (no)
02 Rolling Stones – Brown Sugar
02 Mike’s Guess: ‘bands that have toured with guns ‘n roses’ (no)
Comment: He nailed this one before the first song was even over. Jeez.
Score: Mike is 2/2.
Four-Play #3 (submitted by Kathryn Ladano, Mike’s sister)
01 Rush – Subdivisions
01 Mike’s Guess: ‘album covers with dogs on them’ (no)
02 Neil Young – Rockin’ In The Free World
02 Mike’s Guess: ‘all Canadian artists’ (no)
03 Guess Who – Runnin’ Back To Saskatoon
03 Mike’s Guess: ‘songs about Canadian cities’ (no)
04 Loverboy – Turn Me Loose
04 Mike’s Guess: ‘all artists who sang on Tears Are Not Enough’ (yes!)
Broadcasted live from Chicopee ski resort. This was not the Four Play that Kathryn had wanted played, so her confidence at being able to stump her brother was pretty low, at the outset. It shocked me that Mike had never heard the Guess Who song before. I thought everybody knew that song.
My favourite half-hour of every day used to be 4 PM, on 107.5 Dave Rocks. The Craig Fee Show. Craig’s still slinging the rock, but the contest came to an end on April 27, 2012. It was a fun challenge and since I dominated the contest so much, I earned the nickname “LeBrain”. Craig would play four songs with a common thread. The thread could be absolutely anything. I won more times and more quickly than anyone else, including two first-song-guesses. I also contributed dozens of 4-Plays of my own construction.
Back then, when nobody was reading, I posted a week’s worth of 4-play quizzes “live”, so to speak. Craig featured a week of my own custom made quizzes, (following LeBrainuary and a few prior LeBrain weeks) just before they put the contest on ice. From April 16-19 2012, I updated the site with the quiz and that day’s results. Since my only readers back then were stalkers from the old Record Store, I thought it would be fun to re-post these!
Here are my daily update posts from that week — a week’s worth of 4-Play quizzes written by yours truly. Could you have been a winner?
April 16, 2012
Tune in ALL WEEK to the Craig Fee Show on 107.5 Dave FM, at 4 pm!!
IT’S LeBRAIN WEEK! The 4 O’clock 4-Play! And it was off to a KICKING start this week!
Song #1: Skid Row – 18 & Life
Song #2: Twisted Sister – The Price
Song #3: U2 – Bullet The Blue Sky
Song #4: Kiss – I Was Made For Loving You
Answer (highlight to view): All artists have done MUSICALS (Jeckyl & Hyde, Rock of Ages, Spiderman, Phantom!)
CAN YOU OUT-BRAIN LeBRAIN?
April 17, 2012
Tune in ALL WEEK to the Craig Fee Show on 107.5 Dave FM, at 4 pm!! It’s LeBRAIN WEEK all week!
Song #1: Deep Purple – Smoke on the Water
Song #2: Rainbow – Stone Cold
Song #3: Bon Jovi – Livin’ on a Prayer
Song #4: Journey – Separate Ways
Answer (highlight to view): All five piece bands (on these recordings, anyway) of the v/g/b/d/k configuration!
Incidentally, two of those bands spent some time as four pieces.
Bon Jovi has been a four piece since 1994 when original bassist Alec John Such left. He was unofficially replaced by Hugh McDonald, but McDonald remains a side musician even after 18 years with the band! Journey was a four piece for a short while, on the second and third albums.
CAN YOU OUT-BRAIN LeBRAIN?
April 18, 2012
Tune in ALL WEEK to the Craig Fee Show on 107.5 Dave FM, at 4 pm!! It’s LeBRAIN WEEK all week!
Song #1: Bon Jovi – Runaway
Song #2: The Rolling Stones – Emotional Rescue
Song #3: Kiss – Magic Touch
Song #4: The Darkness – I Believe In A Thing Called Love
Answer (highlight to view): All songs featuring falsetto vocals!
Note: I have never heard Magic Touch on the radio before today!
April 19, 2012
Tune in ALL WEEK to the Craig Fee Show on 107.5 Dave FM, at 4 pm!! It’s LeBRAIN WEEK all week!
Song #1: The Beatles – A Day in the Life
Song #2: Pink Floyd – Comfortably Numb
Song #3: Kiss – Shout It Out Loud
Song #4: Kiss – Black Diamond
Answer (highlight to view): Each song features performances by two lead vocalists singing different parts!
Lennon sings the start, and Paul sings the finish on A Day in the Life. Roger sings the verses, with David on the choruses. Gene and Paul trade off some lines. Paul sings the intro, Peter sings the body of Black Diamond.
Incidentally, Black Diamond is one I have never heard on the radio before.
April 20, 2012
I want to say a big THANK YOU to Craig at 107.5 Dave FM, for yet another fantastic LeBrain week. I think this is the third LeBrain week, and of course all of February was LeBrainuary!
To cap it off for me, Craig picked my favourite 4-play. Would you have solved it?
Song #1: Guns N’ Roses – You Could Be Mine
Song #2: Ozzy Osbourne – Mama I’m Coming Home
Song #3: Motley Crue – Girls, Girls, Girls
Song #4: Hanoi Rocks – Boulevard of Broken Dreams
ANSWER (highlight to view): Vince Neil is a Douche!
1. Guns N’ Roses – You Could Be Mine (Vince and Izzy got into a backstage scuffle with led to a longstanding rivalry with Axl Rose.) 2. Ozzy Osbourne – Mama I’m Coming Home (Vince started a feud with the “Mama” of this song – Sharon Osbourne which basically makes it a feud with Ozzy too. He trashed her in his book. And you know Sharon doesn’t back down.) 3. Motley Crue – Girls Girls Girls (What Vince, where? FIRED that’s where! And let’s not forget the MTV interview with the Crue where they mocked Vince Neil for hitting a coral reef while surfing.) 4. Hanoi Rocks – Boulevard of Broken Dreams (Vince killed their friggin’ drummer!)
That last one is still one of my all-time favourites! I hope you enjoyed this trip down memory lane and some killer tunes.
RECORD STORE TALES MkII: Getting More Tale #374: The Winter of Our Discontent
I don’t think there is any question that driving around here has been especially tough this winter. There were a couple days when it was colder here in Ontario than it was in Alaska! The snowfall has been relentless, and the roads chaotic. Although we in Canada get to work on our winter driving skills every single year, it rarely seems to help the majority. This winter has most definitely been the winter of our discontent for driving.
The snow banks are piled high, making it hard to see cars about to turn onto the street. Some streets are packed hard with slick ice. Road salt is not effective below -10 degrees, and the city has been cutting down on salt usage for environmental concerns. Meanwhile because of the plowing and piling of snow, lanes have been rendered too narrow by the massive banks on either side. Not to mention the visibility issues of snow blowing in front of you as the sun sets in your eyeline.
As usual, my commuting has been done to the tune of several 8 gig flash drives in my car. Albums spun in the last several weeks included:
That’s when I wasn’t listening to the radio. Local radio is always helpful when one needs to find and navigate the least messy route home. If I hear that there is an accident on King St., that means I’m taking Highway 8 home. Most days the roads have been plugged with accidents all over the place. My radio is good for helpful navigation, and also entertainment. I enjoyed when, on the Friday February 27 commute home, Craig Fee played a wonderful tribute to Leonard Nimoy on the Overdrive at 5:00. The station assembled some of the best, all time classic Spock quotes and backed them with the theatrical Trek theme. Craig followed that with “Intergalactic” by the Beastie Boys, which of course features the line, “like a pinch on the neck from Mr. Spock.” I think Leonard would have enjoyed his musical tribute. It was certainly an emotional ride in the car that day for me.
Sadly, killer tunes on a flash drive or the radio can only do so much to ease the nerves when a transport truck is passing cars on the shoulder of the 401 in the middle of a snow storm. There is, unfortunately, nothing that music can do to protect us from the idiots out there who somehow managed to wield a driver’s license and get behind the wheel in a blizzard.
I think in Canada, drivers should have to take an additional test. Not only should they have to take their road test, but a winter road test too. Only then can we know if they are up for the challenges of driving in a Canadian winter!
I will be live on the Craig Fee Show on 107.5 Dave FM this afternoon 12/01/14, around 5:20 pm Ontario time, to discuss one of the tracks included on this album. Listen live by clicking right hereto stream!
Van Halen’s first “greatest hits” compilation was historic in its fallout. The band had talked for years about putting out a “best of” set, with one disc of Dave and one disc of Sammy. That never happened but the concept continued to be discussed in the Van Halen camp, with Sammy Hagar adamantly against it. When Hagar’s friend and Van Halen’s manager Ed Lefler passed away, he was replaced by Canadian Ray Danniels, who was also handling Rush, Extreme, and King’s X. Hagar and Danniels never quite saw eye to eye and when push came to shove, Hagar refused to participate in the recording of new music for the compilation. The Van Halen camp considered this to be highly hypocritical of Sammy, since he had done just that for his own solo “greatest hits” CD, Unboxed (1994). All of this led to a tense telephone standoff with Eddie Van Halen himself, the revelation that Ed had already started working on new songs with former singer David Lee Roth, and Hagar quitting the band. (On top of all that, and unbeknownst to Hagar or Roth, was that was Van Halen were also eyeballing Gary Cherone, who Ray Danniels brought in from one of his other bands, Extreme. They had even recorded some test tracks with Mitch Malloy who ultimately turned the gig down.)
When Best Of Volume I was finally released in fall of 1996, there was so much confusion in the air that many fans really had no idea who was in Van Halen or what the hell was going on. At the Record Store, I had one guy come in and return this on the day of release, October 22, 1996.
“Yeah, I want to return this CD,” he said. “I already have these songs.”
What?! You couldn’t tell that from the title Best Of Volume I?
That’s indicative of the confusion in fandom. This guy had assumed, like many people, that Van Halen had a brand new album of songs out with David Lee Roth singing.
Another common urban myth was that there was such a thing as Best Of Volume II. People would constantly ask if we had it, when it was coming out, and sometimes even insist they had seen it before in stores. When asked when Best Of Volume II was coming out again and again, I started answering “18 years”, because that’s how long it took for them to come out with Volume I.
T-Rev wrote up a quickie review for our store newsletter. He praised the remastering job, but bemoaned that only one song was included from Van Halen II, and that there wasn’t enough Dave in general. I would agree. At the very least, a song like “Can’t Stop Loving You” should have been ditched for something else like “Everybody Wants Some!!” However, to put this into context, in 1996 that was one of Van Halen’s most recent hit singles, just over a year old. The rest of the album takes tracks from each studio record (sans Diver Down which Eddie doesn’t speak too highly of). The most notable omissions were “Hot For Teacher” (only available on the Japanese release of Best Of) and “Love Walks In” (which I can do without). Presumably there would have been more tracks on a Volume II, which never materialized. (18 years my arse!)
To me, the hits part of this disc is just preamble. The reason fans went out and bought this CD was the return of David Lee Roth on the two new singles. Nobody cared about the hits they already had. Indeed, as implied by T-Rev’s review, most of us didn’t really agree with most of the hits selected.
They stuck “Can’t Get This Stuff No More” and “Me Wise Magic”, the first new songs by the original Van Halen in over a decade, at the tail end of the CD. As fans, we were elated to hear new music that clearly hearkened back to the pre-synth, pre-1984 sound of Van Halen. Dave’s voice was lower and less powerful, but no less expressive. His delivery is pure gleeful Dave, even on these darker songs. His lyrics (which according to Roth, Eddie didn’t like) are as Diamond Dave as ever. As far as guitar goes, Eddie’s letting it, basing both songs purely on riffage. This was a pretty cool about-face from the too-commercial sounds of Balance.
Neither song was really single-worthy, but they would have made solid album cuts, had this incarnation of Van Halen continued to make an album. Of course, that didn’t happen. Best Of Volume I is, thus far, the only place you can buy them. And that means if you love original Van Halen, you need to buy this album.
For Van Hagar fans, there was the excellent newbie “Humans Being”, with its angry modern verses and bright shiny chorus. I’ve always liked the song, because of the chorus and Eddie’s guitar. The verses, not so much, but as a song it holds together as something different for Van Halen. In some ways it pointed the way forward to Van Halen 3. This is the only ‘Halen album where you can get “Humans Being”, saving you from having to buy the terrible Twister soundtrack.
(Missing is a track called “Respect The Wind” billed by Eddie & Alex Van Halen from the same soundtrack. It’s not really that good, and it’s not billed as Van Halen the band, so seek as per your own needs. Presumably, “Respect the Wind” was from the batch of music that they were working on while Sammy refused to record. See KeepsMeAlive for a review of the Twister soundtrack CD.)
Roth mentioned in his autobiography Crazy From the Heat that he hated the cover art and booklet for this. It looked devoid and sucked dry of all life. I would agree. A music video was planned but nixed. The concept was the trio of Michael Anthony and Eddie & Alex Van Halen playing on a stage, with a big screen behind them of Dave singing. Insulted, Roth refused to do it.
Of interest, if you’re lucky enough to own a first pressing of this CD, you might have a mini-rarity. There was a version with an error on it. You may own a very rare alternate mix of “Runnin’ With the Devil”, released by mistake, where the verses, chorus and solos were arranged in a different order than that of the originally released album version. Take a listen and see if you’re one of the few. That version was quickly discontinued and corrected.*
3.5/5 stars. Despite the brevity, this album doesn’t overstay the party.
*My friend at 107.5 Dave FM, Craig Fee, had this to add about the “error” mix of “Runnin’ With the Devil”:
You just solved a huge mystery for me. Something that has been bugging me for YEARS.
When I first moved here, I was listening to Dave FM one day. I heard this fucked up version of “Runnin’ With The Devil” with the “whoooooo whooooooo” part at the end edited out. I mentioned it, but Darryl didn’t do anything about it. 5 years later, we are still playing this version. It sounded like a bad edit made by an overzealous producer who was trying to do something to the song.
Until this post, I had no idea why somebody would butcher the song like that. Now I know why. The majority of the big ‘hits’ were dubbed from that CD.
I have the version I bought the day it was released. I listened to it twice. I have no idea if it’s the edited version.
Craig advised me to load both versions (Best Of and Van Halen I) into Audacity and sync them. I did and I could see right away visually that they did not match up. I hit “play” and everything was synced until around 1:15. Then, as Craig puts it, “all hell breaks loose” and the two versions completely deviate. So apparently I do have both.
The only modification I made to the tracks was to reduce the version from Van Halen in volume by 7%, so they were roughly the same.
We have a winner! Check out the big brain on Brian Zinger (AGAIN!) who nailed this one!
Here are the four tracks:
Van Halen – “Oh Pretty Woman”
Van Halen – “Little Guitars”
Van Halen – “Secrets”
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”