Iron Maiden

#921.5: All I Wanted For My Birthday Was…

I wasn’t feeling very social on my unhappy worstday.

However, rotten moods eventually fade and I thought I would try to fulfill my social obligations on Tuesday. I picked up Jen and we went to go visit my parents. They had special donuts for us and a birthday card for me.

I couple weeks ago, I was talking to someone about having the vaccine, and the province re-opening. She asked me “What kind of things are you looking forward to doing now that you are vaccinated and things are opening back up?” I have simple needs so I answered, “I’d like to go shopping at Toys R Us and a record store.” So far I’ve done one of those two things. Realizing I had a birthday coming too, I added “and I’d really like to watch TV with my dad.”

Watching television with the old man is an experience. The way he flips channels, his running commentary…I haven’t watched TV with my dad since Christmas 2019. I realized yesterday that the only birthday present that I really needed was to watch TV with my dad.

He had Pawn Stars on. I sat on the couch, and after an hour had gone by…I started to feel normal again.

A guy was selling “rare” picture discs. The Pawn Stars offered him $60 for five. I had one of the five! It was a shaped picture disc for Iron Maiden’s “The Clairvoyant”. I paid $10 for it back in 2001.

The Pawn Stars explained that the discs were not a gold mine, because picture discs have an inferior sound, which is true. Still, $60 for five discs is $12 each USD. And I only paid $10 CAD. So that’s not bad. The same guy also had “Infinite Dreams”, some Pee-Wee Herman, and a Ghostbusters disc.

It was the first time I’ve been in the same room as my parents without worrying about masks, viruses, and sanitizer. It was the first “normal” visit in a year and a half. It felt strange, and then it felt normal.

All I wanted was to watch TV with my dad for my birthday. I got what I wanted.

I feel alright.

REVIEW: Smith/Kotzen – Smith/Kotzen (2021)

SMITH/KOTZEN – Smith/Kotzen (2021 BMG)

Had this album come out 30 years ago, it might have been called Smith/Curran.  According to our good pal Andy Curran from Coney Hatch, Iron Maiden’s Adrian Smith has been looking for a project like this for quite some time.  The right partner arrived with soulful singer/songwriter/shredder Richie Kotzen.  As heard on the nine-track debut, everything clicked.  It was Smith’s wife Nathalie that introduced the two.  Friendship turned to jamming, and jamming turned to writing and recording.  We owe Nathalie a huge debt of rocking’ gratitude.

Fans of Kotzen, either via his solo work or the Winery Dogs, won’t be shocked by what they hear.  It is the Maiden fans who are in for an adjustment.  Not that Smith/Kotzen is wimpy — it isn’t at all — but it is vastly different from the traditional metal that Maiden peddle in.  This is a soul/blues/rock fusion from the heart.

None of the nine songs should earn a “skip” in your player.  Each one boasts a wicked blend of guitars and voices.  Who would have thought that two players and singers, so different in style, would mix so naturally?  You can usually pick out who is playing what, but it all works as one monolithic gestalt.  The whole thing is brilliant.  You can choose your own peaks, because everyone will have their own favourites.

“Running” should be an uptempo high point in anyone’s scorebook.  On the opposite end of the spectrum is the power ballad “Scars” (if you want to call it that).  Over six minutes with heartfelt playing and harmonizing over a slow riff — pigeonhole it any way you like.  The guitar tones on this album are rich and sometimes trippy.  Fans of both guitarists are in for a tour-de-force of feel.

Another high water mark is “Glory Road” which may be a slower blues, but boasts a melodic power chorus that you can imagine Iron Maiden pulling off successfully.  That gives way to a wicked series of solo trade-offs that blow the mind and punch the gut all at once.  But if you really like Maiden, there is no way you will not recognize the one and only Nicko McBrain on the Purple-y “Solar Fire”.  (The drums on the rest of the album are performed by Kotzen and Tal Bergman, which Richie and Adrian share bass duties.)  Picture the Coverdale/Hughes/Blackmore vibe.  An album highlight, “Solar Fire” is as hot as the stellar eruptions it’s named for.

Pick a song — “I Wanna Stay”, “Some People”, “Taking My Chances”, or “‘Til Tomorrow”  — all are excellent choices.  Smith/Kotzen has nine remarkable tracks to choose from.  They’ve all been road tested, and given fair play at home and on the porch.  Though they vary in tempo and direction, all nine promise excellent, memorable melodies and powerful playing.  This is an album for the summer of 2021 — an album we need.

4.5/5 stars

#907: Lake Listenin’

RECORD STORE TALES #907: Lake Listenin’

These days, I like playing music at the lake that takes me back in time.  Maybe that’s the curse of getting older.  Everything reminds me of something else.  Since that’s the case, I might as well make the most of it.  If I’m having a good time at the lake, there is nothing better than music that reminds me of having a good time at the lake.

I set the scene with a very relaxing drive, to the 80s tunes of Kim Mitchell’s self-titled EP, plus Shakin’ Like a Human Being, and The Sport of Kings by Triumph.  It was golden.

Instead of diving right into the nostalgia pool right away again upon arrival, I officially started the weekend with some music that is new to me:  Coney Hatch and Andy Curran.  My current favourite Coney Hatch tunes are “First Time For Everything” from Outa Hand, and “She’s Gone” & “Wrong Side of Town” from Friction.  Arriving Thursday night, these tunes, along with Curran’s “No Tattoos”, led our evening on the porch, watching the sun set.  Not only did the tunes get us psyched for the weekend, but also next week’s LeBrain Train.  Andy is our guest again, so I am preparing once more.

I closed the night studying up for the next day’s episode:  the Nigel Tufnel Top Ten Judas Priest albums.  This “remastered” episode was an update on one that Harrison and I did on Facebook Live a year ago.  I re-watched the episode from the previous year, very much enjoying myself.  Harrison and I had a great time the first outing, though the second one surely topped it!

When I’m at the lake, I try to keep the volume to a reasonable level.  I like to take a walk to the end of the driveway and down the road and check the levels.  A little music at the end of the driveway is OK but I don’t want to hear myself down the road.  However, I said “to hell with that” for the rest of the weekend, when the neighbours had a loud party on the Friday night.

“I hope they enjoy ‘Detroit Rock City’ at 6:00 am,” I said.

So that’s how my Saturday began:  Destroyer, cranked.  Destroyer has never been my favourite Kiss album by a long shot, but for some reason it just clicked with me that morning.  The cool breeze coming off the lake, the birds and squirrels bickering over my head; and Kiss Destroyer on the speakers.  Things you don’t think would go together, but in my brain, actually do.  I would have played Destroyer at the lake as a kid — many times.  The difference was, now nobody was telling me to turn it down.  Apparently that “if it’s too loud, you’re too old” thing doesn’t apply.  As I get older, I love it loud.

After Destroyer came Rock and Roll Over, Dynasty, and the complete audio to the video Exposed.  This included all the studio tracks from the music videos, all the live tracks exclusive to the video, and even that little nugget of Paul and Gene harmonizing on “I’ll Be Back” by the Beatles.  As a kid, I made something similar on a cassette.  I recorded all the live stuff and “I’ll Be Back” from the VHS tape and made an album out of it.  I left off the music videos.  Today, I ripped all the music from the DVD directly to mp3 and made a double album out of it!  I sat there in wonder listening, imagining what my younger self would have thought of such an audio miracle.

That’s a lot of Kiss though; solid Kiss with no other bands breaking the streak.  When I did finally need an intermission from Kiss, I chose Iron Maiden’s Piece of Mind.  I actually bought that album at the lake in the summer of ’85, at an old record store that used to exist on the main street.

As far as volume goes, keep in mind I’m blasting my music on a $24 pair of speakers from Amazon.  The guy partying across the street must have had something stronger because I could identify “The Impression That I Get” by the Bosstones easily from my seat on the porch.

“I hope they like Star Wars,” I said as I cued up The Empire Strikes Back on my Disney Plus.

I had another revelation while watching Empire.  Objectively, it could be the best Star Wars, but because nostalgia is my thing, I flashed back to 1980.  1981.  1982.  1983.  The golden era of Star Wars fandom.  For a long time, at that ripe age, we were left with two major cliffhangers.  What would happen to the frozen Han Solo, and was Darth Vader lying about being Luke’s father?  Hard to believe but we spent years — an eternity of a child’s age, a significant fraction of our lives — not knowing the answers.

We also had to spend this time making up things to do with our Han Solo figures.  He was frozen in carbonite at this time.  Sometimes I took my Solo figure and froze him in ice in the freezer.  We used our imaginations.  Empire was such a huge part of our childhood.  For me the Empire era ran from age seven to just before age eleven.  It was the Star Wars for which I had all the collector’s cards (first series), the soundtrack, the “story of” record, the comic, the novel, colouring books, and just about everything else you could buy.  The bedsheets — check.  Dixie cups — check.  Burger King glasses — also check.  We had a good chunk of Kenner figures from that era.  We had everything we could possibly get our hands on.

Except the movie itself.  That, we could not recreate on a whim.  We brought our toys, our comics and our cards to the lake so we could re-imagine the movie.  But we could not watch it.

That was a luxury that was not lost on me as I sat on the porch watching the Battle of Hoth.  I smiled ear to ear knowing this.  Something unimaginable during the actual Empire era.  Though, we did indeed see The Empire Strikes Back at the lake.  And it wasn’t the special editions.  We saw the original, at the drive-in.  It was in a double feature with a bicycling movie called Breaking Away, which we slept through.  My sister slept through most of Empire, too!  She was only three.

I took a break in the middle of The Empire Strikes Back to take a dip in the water.  But the Sooners had come.

“Sooners” is how my dad refers to the people who show up to go to the beach for day.  I wondered what “Sooners” meant so I looked it up.  He must have got it from one of his cowboy movies.  Sooner:  “a person settling on land in the early West before its official opening to settlement in order to gain the prior claim allowed by law to the first settler after official opening.”

I don’t see how that applies to the beachgoers, but the name stuck.

Anyway there were a bunch of Sooners at the beach.  There was Man-Bun and his two girlfriends, and a family of seven who parked their bikes right in front of our place.  I know my dad would have had a fit.  The bikes were well out of the way, but it’s no fun trying to back your car out of the driveway with any kind of obstruction, so I get it.

The Sooners weren’t as bad as the renters.  They had a huge dog — the size of a small pony — that kept going after Jen any time we walked down the path to the beach on our own property.  They’d scold the dog but not put him on a leash.  I say “him” because his name was clearly Frank.  Who names their dog Frank?  Seriously.

I don’t know who held the party that night.  The salvos of US-grade fireworks began when I was sleeping.  Jen says they were still going off at 1 am.  I say “US-grade” fireworks because I know the difference.  There are the kind you can buy in the convenience stores here, and there are the ones you can’t.  This was the stuff you can’t.  On and on and on it went.  It seemed to be coming from the renters’ place.  When I went down to the beach the following morning, their firepit was still smouldering.  Late night party fire?

What could I do?  I woke up and blasted Aerosmith.  I played them while packing the car, on the car system, doors open.  I hope you like Toys in the Attic.

Sooners and renters aside, summer has gotten off to a tremendous start.  Maybe next time, I’ll play all new albums and make some new memories.  It doesn’t particularly matter — the setting is conducive to to anything you want to listen to.  And now that I can bring my entire music collection with me in my pocket, I am limited only by my own whims.

I am a lucky guy.

#903: Online Dating in the Brave New World (2000)

Attention:  Mike’s mom.  You don’t need to read this one.  Skip it please.

RECORD STORE TALES #903: Online Dating in the Brave New World (2000)

It was the year 2000 and the world seemed new to me again.  Iron Maiden had a fresh reunion album on the horizon, ushering in a long-awaited rebirth of classic heavy metal.  The snow was melting, and spring was in the air.  Things were going really, really well.  Especially at the Record Store.  My store had a “head office” (actually a broom closet) in its back room.  That’s why the upper management was always breathing down my neck.  But I had heard through the grapevine (actually Tom) that head office was moving to a new location across town.  They never told me, but Tom did.  I was elated.  Things were looking way up.

I also had what at the time I called “the best first date I’d ever been on”.  I even washed my car before driving to Hamilton to see her.  That’s how my parents knew something was up!  Her name was Terra and she fancied herself a photographer.  Strangely her apartment was filled with photos of herself.  That should have served as a warning.  T-Rev also dated a girl who was obsessed with photos of herself, and that didn’t work.  His story was told in a song by local band The Candidates called “Who’s Your Daddy Now?”  “Sold your soul for a photograph, I tore it up and had the last laugh.  Who’s your daddy now? He ain’t got nothin’ on me!”

But I had to take my chances.  The first date went so well that I called up T-Rev on my cell phone and told him I thought I met “the one”.

I did confide in T-Rev one thing that was unusual about Terra.  She didn’t drink or do any drugs, which I liked.  I rarely drank and had never touched a drug.  What was unusual was that Terra was a member of Alcoholics Anonymous.  In my mind, trying to ease my concerns, I said “that means neither of us drink or do drugs – so that’s a good thing.”  I wouldn’t be heading out to bars with her, or anything like that.  I had to give her a chance for date #2.

She thought it would be fun to catch a sunrise together.  She lived in Hamilton so it would take me an hour to get there before the sun came.  I had never watched the sunrise with a girl before, so I was on board.  The people at the Record Store thought I had a screw loose.

“You’re going to drive to Hamilton at 5:00 in the morning, to watch a sunrise?” asked one of the supervisors.  They didn’t get why I thought it was such a cool idea.  It sounded romantic to me and I’d never done anything like that before.

I called Terra up the night before our sunrise date and she had suddenly changed her tune.  “That’s reeeaally early,” she complained about her own idea.

So that idea was off.  Instead I came down in the afternoon.  We hung out and watched MuchMusic.  Britney Spears had just come out with “Oops! I Did It Again” and I can remember watching that video in her apartment.  “I want a PVC bodysuit!” said Terra.  I just wanted to do anything but sit around watching MuchMusic.  After a few hours of watching Static X, Disturbed and other staples of the era, I headed home.

Date #3 was the weird one.  She had an AA meeting that night and didn’t want to miss it.  I offered to drop her off on my way home, and that turned into her inviting me to the meeting.  Going to it was one of the most regrettable decisions I’ve ever made in my life.

I didn’t know what I was doing.  I did not realize it was a “closed meeting” or what that meant.  I don’t know why she thought bringing me along was a good idea.  I was curious, and I liked Terra.  I trusted her that this was OK.

The AA meeting was in the basement of a nice church.  We all sat in a circle.  “When it comes your turn to talk, just pass,” said Terra.  So I did.  Instead I listened to stories that, quite frankly, I never should have heard.  Me being there was an invasion of the group’s privacy and I felt uncomfortable immediately.  I wanted out that door.  I waited for an appropriate break.

When the group leader broke the meeting into smaller groups, I said to Terra, “I have to go, I’m not comfortable, I’m really sorry.”  She said it was OK and that we would leave together.  We briefly spoke to the group leader.  His name was Mike too.  “We have groups for beginners too, if you feel you’d like to come back and talk about whatever is going on.”  This made me feel even worse.  I was masquerading as someone I was not, for the sake of sitting next to a girl in this room.  I thanked him and we left together.

I decided that would be our last date.

Which is why I am still surprised I went on date #4.  Mother’s Day weekend 2000.

The phone rang on the Friday night.  “What are you doing this weekend?  Do you want to come and hang out at my mom’s place in Huntsville?”

I silenced the alarm bells going off in my head.  The suddenness of the invite was strange but if she was introducing me to her mom, that sounded alright.  I packed a small bag and headed to Hamilton to pick her up.  A few hours later we were in Huntsville.  We went to a bar where her friends were.  There was a covers band playing.  I found a spot to watch.  They played “War Pigs”.  I was happy.  But where was Terra?  She left me there watching this band while she hung out with her friends.  Outside, one of them passed her a joint and she had a haul.  On the way back to her mom’s place, she said “I really shouldn’t have smoked that joint,” and I was shaking my head wondering what the hell I was thinking.

Her mom was really nice and made me feel very welcome.  They had a beautiful place up in Huntsville.  Huge, with a guest house in the back where I slept.  But by the end of the weekend, her mom was giving her shit for hanging out with her friends instead of the guy who brought her to Huntsville.  I felt the same way.  The whole weekend was her hanging out with friends, and me tagging along.  We never did anything just the two of us.  I felt good that her mom at least recognized there was something fucked up about it.  They had a big argument in the kitchen while I sat in the living room with one of her friends, not speaking, just staring at the newspaper.

I raced back to Kitchener barely in time for Mother’s Day dinner.  This time I really did mean it:  that was the last date.  That was the end of it.  No more.  I never saw her again.  I could tell when I’ve been hosed.  She promised me $50 in gas money that I knew I was never going to see.  I shot off an email mentioning the $50 debt, and that was our last communication.

Iron Maiden came out with a brand new single called “The Wicker Man” which served as my cheer-up.  I bought the CDs and the vinyl and immersed myself in new music.  I always turned back to music when stuff went sour with a girl.  In this case, one of my favourite bands were triumphantly returning with their strongest lineup.  Three lead guitars.  I couldn’t wait to hear it.  Terra was the past, but the “Wicker Man” was the future!  I felt that jolt of energy again.  The life-giving electricity of rock and roll.

Valuable lessons learned here.  Not many of my friends can say that they’ve been to an AA meeting.  I’ve been there and I know it’s not a place for outsiders.  A learning experience and not one I’ll repeat.

 

To be continued….

 

Gallery: Iron Maiden “Eddie” Reaction figures — full set

Check out the photo gallery below for a gander at all 19 Iron Maiden “Eddie” figures by Super7.  This is their line of 3 3/4″ ReAction figures.  Same size and articulation as classic Star Wars.  For a little bonus content, check out the video instead.  Some havoc broke loose during the photo shoot.

 

Live Iron Maiden Super 7 Reaction blind box unboxing

The LeBrain Train: 2000 Words or More with Mike Ladano

Episode 59.5 – Iron Maiden Super 7 Reaction blind box unboxing

 

Wanna see every Iron Maiden figure that Super 7 has ever released in their Reaction line?  Unboxing starts at 2:00 PM E.S.T., Saturday April 10.  This surprise episode is brought to you by Obsessive Compulsive Disorder!

FINAL TALLY:

  • 2 x Killers blood splatter Eddie
  • 1 x Maiden Japan Eddie
  • 3 x Aces High camo flightsuit Eddie
  • 1 x Aces High bulletholes Eddie
  • 3 x Powerslave stone Eddie
  • 1 x Powerslave black transparent Eddie
  • 1 x The Trooper zombie Eddie
  • 1 x The Trooper glow-in-the-dark Eddie
  • 2 x sealed blind boxes remaining

 

#887: A Glimpse of the Future

RECORD STORE TALES #887: A Glimpse of the Future

Sometimes I like to imagine myself in my younger self’s shoes.  I think about me as a kid, sitting in the basement watching the Pepsi Power Hour on MuchMusic.  There I am, staring intently, VCR remote grasped in hand, and set to “Record-Pause”.  Waiting for the new music video by Kiss to debut.  Hitting that un-pause button to get a good recording as soon as the video began.  Could I even have imagined the on-demand nature of YouTube?  No, but I like to imagine what I would have thought if I could have seen a glimpse of the future.

I always felt limited by technology, even though I was spoiled enough to have my own stereo, my own Walkman, and access to the family VCR (almost) whenever I wanted.  Though I had all this stuff, I couldn’t make it do what I wanted to do without some improvisation.  Making a mix tape, for example.  If I wanted a live song on a mix tape, I had to fade it in and out.  My dual tape deck couldn’t do that.  To do a fade, I plugged my Walkman, via a cable in the headphone jack, into the audio inputs of my ghetto blaster.  This was done with a Y-connector, and an RCA-to-3.5 mm adaptor cable.  Then I used the Walkman’s volume knob to fade the song in and out while the ghetto blaster recorded.  It took trial and error and the end recording usually sounded a little hot and crackly.  But I didn’t have anything better.

If that highschool kid playing with cables in his bedroom could only have imagined Audacity.  Instant fades, exactly as you want them.  Precise digital replication.  I would have lost my shit.  If you had given me Audacity as a kid, I might not have left my bedroom for a week…and not for the reasons a teen usually hides in his bedroom!

I worked long hours on mix tapes back in those days, mainly because you had to make them in real time.  And you had to keep it simple too.  Making the tape in the first place was the challenge; making it creatively was the icing.  But the end results were always…disappointing?  Underwhelming?  The second generation taped songs never sounded as good as the first.  You’d get a little noise, perhaps a pop, between tracks where you started and stopped your recording.  Little imperfections.  Maybe one track sounds a little slow, one a little fast.  Volume levels are inconsistent.  All stuff out of your control.

The amount of control I have today over what I create is astounding.  Even visually speaking.  I don’t make tape cover art anymore, but doing so was a painstaking process involving sharp pencils, rulers, erasers, and scissors.  Everything had to be handwritten and hand drawn.  Sometimes I might be able to get my dad to photocopy a cover at his work, but usually I had to make my own stuff.  I was very limited when it came to to making visuals.  Even taking a photograph, it took days or weeks to get your picture back.  You had to use the entire roll of film before getting it developed, of course.  Now you have a phone that’s a camera and a computer.

Now that’s something that young me definitely couldn’t have imagined:  our phones.  Even science fiction of the mid-80s didn’t have anything like the phones we have today.  Imagine what I could have made with that!  It took months and a lot of clunky equipment for Bob Schipper and I to make a single music video in 1989.  I can throw together a clip in minutes today, thanks to computers and phones and ubiquitous cameras that ensure I always have raw photos and videos waiting to be edited together.

Computers — now there’s a quantum leap that young me wouldn’t believe.  We had a family computer from a very early time, decked out with a dot matrix printer and a monochrome block of a monitor.  But it wasn’t connected to anything.  We didn’t have the instant access to information.  We couldn’t look up a band’s complete discography in a moment on Discogs, much less actually buy those rare items and have them shipped to the front door!  Can you imagine how much that would have blown my mind?  I had a few hundred bucks in the bank at that age.  Well, it would all have been gone if you had given me access to Discogs for an hour in 1986.  The ability to actually complete an artist’s music collection today, was something I just could not ever do as a kid.  Very few people could.

We did what we could with the resources at hand.  We’d save our pennies, and take the bus down to Sam the Record Man.  We’d look around for an hour and decide where we would best spend our dollars.  “Don’t go to Sam the Record Man and buy something you can get at the mall,” was the motto.  That would be a waste of time and bus money!

Bob Schipper made far more trips to Sam’s, usually via bike.  But if he acquired a rarity, it was always a given that I could tape it off him.  A lot of my first Maiden B-sides were just taped copies of records he found at Sam’s.

What I was doing in those early formative years was absorbing rock’s past.  Collecting the albums, discovering the bands, learning the member’s names through the magazines and interviews.  But what if I could have seen the future of all this?  What would I have thought of things like a six-man Iron Maiden lineup with three lead guitar players?  I think tunes like “The Wicker Man” would have blown me away as an evolution without losing what made Maiden great.

I wonder what I would have thought of the Kiss tour with the original members back in makeup?  I know I would have been disappointed that they never made a proper studio album together.  One thing I appreciated as a kid was that Kiss put out something new every year.  Today, Kiss only put out an album when there’s a solar eclipse on planet Jendell.  I think the success of that reunion tour would have made the younger me feel validated for my Kiss love, but I know I would have been unhappy about the lack of new material.  However, if I could have heard albums like Sonic Boom and Monster, I also know I’d have been happy that Kiss dropped the keyboards, brought Gene back to prominence, and had all four members singing.  That would have impressed me.

I’m still working on my time travel powers, and I’m also wary of doing anything that could change the future.  Since The Avengers: Endgame taught us that you can’t change your past’s future’s future (or something like that), I’m going to continue to work on the technology.  If I can show my past self some of these amazing technological advances, I might…I don’t know!  Buy first print Kiss LPs and keep them in the shrink wrap?  I haven’t fully through this through, but trust me — it’s going to be awesome.

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!

Fear of the Art: Best Iron Maiden cover artwork on the LeBrain Train

The LeBrain Train:  2000 Words or More with Mike Ladano

Episode 54 – Best Iron Maiden Cover Art

 

Time to chill out with a more laid-back show this Friday!  We’ve had some serious lists, and serious guests in recent weeks.  This week is almost like a vacation.  Join Harrison the Mad Metal Man, Aaron from KeepsMeAlive, and Superdekes with myself here tonight as we share our favourite Iron Maiden artwork.

The art of Derek Riggs, Melvyn Grant, and many talented coversmiths including Hugh Syme will be up for examination tonight.  No disqualifications:  albums, singles, whatever!  As long as one of us likes it, we can list it.  Each of us will have our own rules and criteria.

BONUS:  Iron Maiden ReAction figure unboxing!   While it would be nice to have a complete set, I could only order four.  These Eddies, based on Iron Maiden cover art, will definitely be on topic for this show!

7:00 PM E.S.T.
Facebook:  MikeLeBrain  YouTube:  Mike LeBrain

 


Next week:  The 1 Year Anniversary Show with giveaways and special guest Brent Jensen!

#884: The Long Walk Home

RECORD STORE TALES #884: The Long Walk Home

In theory, it should have taken 15 minutes for us to walk home from school.

Cross the busy Ottawa Street with the crossing guard.  Down Ottawa, left on Crosby and then right on Secord.  All the way down Secord to Hickson, Inlet and home.  Sometimes if my dad was driving home from work at the same time, he’d see us walking and pick us up.

The reality was, we usually took a lot longer.  My dad used to say that we “dawdled home”.  Most of the time, we trudged it on foot.  We began at the start in clumps of kids, who would peel off singly or in pairs for their own homes as we walked the route.

The other day I was driving that way, and decided to take a spin down Secord and the old route.  The roads were slushy and the snowbanks were high, and suddenly I had a flashback.  Why does it seem like we were always walking home in the middle of winter?  Those are the most powerful memories.  Dodging snowballs thrown by other kids, trudging through deep snow trying to make a “short cut”.  Coming home soaked and cold.  Eating some Scotch broth for lunch and then back to school for the afternoon.  I’ve driven that way lots of times, but only this one time — in the winter, with snowbanks at kid-level — did I have a flashback.

One of the only shields from the cruel outside world that I had as a kid was music.  At the moment I was driving, suddenly the power chords in “Little Death (Mary Mary)” by the Barstool Prophets hit the speakers.  “I would have loved this song as a kid,” I said aloud.

I never knew who my friends were back in those days.  A kid who claimed to be my friend one week would be a bully the next week.  There were one or two kids I knew I could trust, like Allan Runstedtler.  He was too nice and smart a kid to get caught up in that stuff, but he walked home from school in the opposite direction.  There was nobody else I could count on to stick up for me.  KK was just as likely to be throwing the snowballs at me.  Ian Johnson used to get under my skin.  “Name five songs by Iron Maiden,” he would say, instead of just teaching me about Iron Maiden like my real friends did.  But my real friends, from my neighbourhood, didn’t go to that shitty Catholic school.

The thing that I was discovering was that music like Iron Maiden made me feel good.  It made me feel temporarily bulletproof.  Something about those proud, defiant power chords.  I felt more capable of projecting pride and defiance if I had Iron Maiden behind me.  Helix, Kiss, Judas Priest — these were the bands that kept me trudging through the snow while being pelted from behind.

The Barstool Prophets song had the same effect.  As the flashbacks hit me, the guitar riff of “Little Death” pushed back against them.  Yes, I would have loved the song as a kid, had time travel existed back then.  Still working on my flux capacitor, but I’m getting there.  It’s strange, but sometimes I sit there and imagine if I had been able to allow my past self to hear certain songs.  I imagine my younger self’s reaction.  It makes me emotional.  That’s the only kind of time travel I’m able to do.  I didn’t have a bad childhood by any means, but man those bullies did a number on me.  I made it well into my 30s before being able to assess the damage that followed me right into adulthood.  I think the hardest part was not knowing who I could trust.  As it turns out, almost nobody.  By the end of the eighth grade, only Allan hadn’t picked on me.  And then I was rid of them forever as I changed school systems.

I would try to memorize songs as best as I could so I could keep them in my head while I was at school.  The teachers were part of the problem and the defiant nature of heavy metal music was, shall we say, not appreciated by Mrs. Powers.  I don’t think she commended its aesthetics, nor song titles like “Hotter Than Hell“.  She wasn’t one of my supporters as the grade school days drew to a close.  Nor was Ian Johnson, Kenny Lawrence, Kevin Kirby or any of my supposed “friends” in class.  My only friends in that cold depressing classroom were the songs by Helix and Kiss in my head.  I drew guitars in art class.

There’s a flashback for you.  Ian Johnson may have mockingly quizzed me on how many Iron Maiden songs I could name, but he vastly underestimated just what that music meant to me.  A year later he cut his hair short and was into something else.  My love affair with music never ended and only grew with me through time.  The Barstool Prophets have just shared a serious emotional moment with me, which allows them automatic entry into my soul’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  It’s a pretty serious honour.  Please takes your seats with the other immortals enshrined within.  Graham Greer, Glenn Forrester, Al Morier, and Bobby Tamas — otherwise known as the Barstool Prophets — welcome to the hallowed Hall of Fame!