Iron Maiden

#792: The Summer of ’93 – Live Album Explosion

GETTING MORE TALE #792: The Summer of ’93 – Live Album Explosion

Keeping up with new releases is challenging for anyone.  Today, every band is releasing a box set, live album, compilation, EP, or even (gasp) new material!  This is not a new phenomenon.  As a young collector in an earlier time, 1993 was particularly challenging.  I was suffering from “live album burnout” due to a number of double lives that year.  I dutifully picked up the most important ones to me, as much as I could afford.

I plotted things out.  The first batch of live albums on my radar that year were as follows:

Four of my favourite bands in one brief chunk of time, with two of the four being doubles.  I had to budget this out somehow.

I’m not sure when I bought Van Halen’s album, but I most likely bought it first.  The dual CD set was at Costco for thirty-something bucks so I put it in the cart.  I know it was early in the year because I remember listening to it in the car while driving to school for final exams, which occur in April.  Specifically I remember listening to the live version of “Cabo Wabo” on my way there.

I found the Van Halen album underwhelming.  Too much stuff from For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge and some clattering solos made it a struggle to finish in one sitting.  Sammy Hagar would later comment that the album sucked because too much of it was re-recorded in the studio.  I just thought it was a drag.

Kiss were (and are) my #1 band, so I dutifully bought it as quickly as I could.  I didn’t get it on the day of release (May 18), but I do know the exact date that I purchased it:  May 20.  I know this because I remember that we had to get home from the mall (Fairway Park Mall’s HMV store) in time to catch the series finale of Cheers.  I got the free poster with my cassette copy.  I chose cassette for strategic reasons.  Double live albums were a bigger investment, so I liked to get those on CD.  I was already starting to distrust the cassette tape format.  I’d hate to buy a double cassette set and have one of the tapes go bad.  Alive III was a single tape, so I went for that and stayed with that until I got a double vinyl reissue a couple years later.

The Ozzy was a limited edition package.  I needed that special grille cover with the two “tattoos” inside.  I couldn’t afford it so I put it on my birthday list.  I accompanied my mom to HMV to make sure she got the right one.  Killed the surprise, but also the anxiety of not getting the exact version I “needed” for my collection!

Ozzy Osbourne had already supersaturated the market with live albums, and his was tedious to listen to.  I gave it more it than a fair shot, as I wanted to really hear how Zakk approached the live versions differently than Randy or Tony had.  It was an exercize that paid minimal dividends, wading through minute after minute of numbing “extra extra crazy” Ozzy monologues.

I decided to hold off on Iron Maiden as long as I could.  The idea of a single disc live Maiden album was a little off-kilter for me.  An album of tracks from 1986-1992 didn’t sound all that appealing to me.  Maybe I should wait until the second disc, due in October, came out so I could listen to both equally.  Maybe I should skip A Real Live One entirely.  The album seemed a hasty entity, being released so Maiden could tour to support new product.  The cover art was also lo-fi sketchy, compared to predecessor Live After Death.

Good or bad, I decided to hold off on Maiden for the time being.  I had enough live metal to digest anyway.

Kiss was the only album I was happy with, though it was clearly an inferior offering to Alive I and II.  Unlike Osbourne, it wasn’t too long, and kept the filler to a minimum.

When the next batch of live albums rolled out, I was weary.

The Bon Jovi live disc came with a pricey special reissue of Keep the Faith, a limited edition.  I immediately put that one on my Christmas list and did my best to pester my mom into buying it.  I had to make a decision about the others.  I scratched Satriani and Testament off my list.  They weren’t going to be priorities this time.

As for the final call on Iron Maiden?  The decision was made for me when I found Live at Donington, once again at HMV.  What was this?  It looked like a bootleg, but wasn’t.  It had no liner notes.  Absolutely bare minimum packaging.  Nary an Eddie in sight.  It was a “limited edition“, and a double CD with a complete concert.  The easy choice was to buy this instead of the other two albums.  For the time being, at least.  I finally did get all three albums, when I was working at the Record Store, in 1996.  The Boxing Day sale enabled me to get both live Maidens and the recent Tesla greatest hits for a reduced price.  It took me three years to get ’em!

That busy 1993 list doesn’t include live home videos released that year (Ozzy, Van Halen, Bon Jovi, Kiss) or the albums that I didn’t even know about (Live Cult).  I had to draw the line and audio has always been my priority over video.

Too much is too much, and in 1993 we just had too much.

Do you remember what live albums you bought in 1993?  Comment below!

 

#789: Run 2 the Hills

A sequel to Record Store Tales Part 1:  Run to the Hills!

 

 

GETTING MORE TALE #789:  Run 2 the Hills

I still remember the first time I heard Iron Maiden.  I actually remember many childhood listening sessions involving Iron Maiden.  Some were solo, some were in groups.  We could talk as the day is long about how amazing Iron Maiden were in 1985.  Are they actually the greatest heavy metal band of all time?  Sure, but we don’t need to get into that here.

The two albums with the greatest personal impact in the early days were Piece of Mind and Live After Death.  It was those two albums that I owned on vinyl, and therefore had the lyric sheets to examine.  Playing them today enables me to use a sort of spiritual time machine.  I can transport my consciousness into the body of my 12 year old self and feel what it was like listening to Maiden when it was all new to me.

Iron Maiden had a forbidden quality, unspoken but undeniable.  They seemed far, far more dangerous than anything I’d been interested in before.  Styx?  Michael Jackson?  Kids’ stuff.  Iron Maiden had historical lyrics, good for educational value, sure.  For a young Catholic in the mid-80s, they were definitely adult entertainment.  Suddenly, the lyrics I was hearing were dominated by death, something that teachers and parents tried to steer kids away from.  Early Maiden is thick with death, like a metal mortuary.

“Fly to live, do or die.”

“To ashes his grave.”

“If you’re gonna die, die with your boots on.”

“You’ll die as you lived in the flash of the blade.”

“Iron Maiden wants you for dead.”

“For the love of living death.”

“Death in life is your ideal.”

“He killed our tribes, he killed our creed.”

“Fought for the splendor, fought to the death.”

“They dropped down dead, 200 men.”

Heavy stuff.  Adult frowns could be felt through the walls as we listened to our Iron Maiden albums.  At that age, every time I listened to Maiden, or Priest, or Sabbath, a little bit of the Catholic guilt always lurked behind me.  “This is bad stuff,” whispered the voice in my head.  “Not wholesome.  Very dangerous.  You’re playing with fire.”

I spent a lot of time with my best friend Bob pouring over the lyrics.  He didn’t have Live After Death on LP like I did, only cassette, so my lyric sheet was indispensable.  By no measure did we understand all that we were reading, but we picked up enough.  We all knew the legend of Icarus, so “Flight of Icarus” was cut and dried.  We picked up on a lot of it, even if we didn’t understand every line and verse.  It was clear their songs were stories, like mini-movies.  And entertaining they were!  We had actual discussions about this stuff, in between sessions of arguing about which Maiden member was coolest.  (I liked Adrian best.  Nobody picked Dave Murray.  George Balasz used to say that Dave looked like he was always thinking “I got something dirty on my mind”.  The rest of us disagreed.)

I was always mentally prepared for any confrontation with any Catholic teacher who took issue with my choice of listening to Iron Maiden.  I gathered some of their more educational lyrics, like “The Trooper”, which I could dissect on a dime.  It even taught me a new word — “acrid”.  I noted that even in some of the most negative sounding songs, like “Die With Your Boots On”, there was a positive twist.  “The truth of all predictions is always in your hands.”  We didn’t know what “Die With Your Boots On” was really about (Nostradamus); that one really eluded us.  The message that we honed in on was “the future is not set” and nobody is doomed to a particular fate.

One track that I thought the teachers would have objected to the most was “Powerslave”.  Lines like “I’m a god, why can’t I live on?” would be considered blasphemous.  Later on, after learning some Egyptian history in highschool, the lyrics suddenly made complete sense.  The pharoah was considered by his people to be a living god.  That’s it!  Now the lyrics made sense.  The pharoah, in first-person storytelling, approaches death and realizes too late that he will not live forever.  Their faith is a lie.  He fears death, and after succumbing, he feels pity for his successor.  “For he is a man and a god, and he will die too.”  It’s quite a poignant tale when taken apart.  It would make a fantastic short story (as I tuck the idea away for future expansion).

And “Aces High”?  That song was so significant that I wrote an entire chapter about it.  When school finally got around to covering the Battle of Britain in the highschool, I already knew the story.  I knew it because Iron Maiden were the launching point.  My dad took over my World War II education from there.  If I was going to be learning history from long-haired-hooligan music, he was going to make sure I knew the whole story.  They showed the ensemble film Battle of Britain in class, but for me it was a re-run of “movie night with Dad”.

Maiden passed the lyrical integrity test for a 12 year old.  The didn’t sing lovey-dovey nonsense that I couldn’t relate to.  Not all the songs could be brilliant, of course.  Even then, I knew “Quest for Fire” wasn’t good.  “In a time, when dinosaurs walked the Earth…”  What!?  No!  I knew that humans and dinosaurs weren’t contemporary to each other; how come Steve Harris didn’t?  One minor misstep.  Most importantly, Maiden passed the feel test.  The power of the music combined with Bruce Dickinson’s confident, defiant air-raid siren voice.  It stirred a boy’s sense of personal strength.  You could feel it.  The effect was almost like a drug.  Almost, but far more nourishing for the soul.

It doesn’t take much to regain those old feelings.  The right setting and the right Maiden albums are all it takes.  Then I’m running free.  Yeah!

#785: Seasons End (Oh Deer) + BONUS Nutshell Review: El Camino – A Breaking Bad Movie

A sequel to #774.5: Seasons Ends. Buckle up, it’s a busy one!

 

GETTING MORE TALE #875: Seasons End (Oh Deer)
+ BONUS Nutshell Review: El Camino – A Breaking Bad Movie
+ BONUS Star Wars – The Black Series 6″ figures “Abandoned” Video Reviews

“Be careful of the deer problem,” said my dad when I phoned him from Lucknow, about 20 or 30 minutes away from the cottage.

“Don’t worry, I’ll drive safe,” I reassured him in that voice that hardly reassured him.

“You know about the deer problem?” he asked to confirm.

No, but now I did.  Funny thing; I’d been driving up to the lake by myself for over 20 years and never came close to hitting a deer.  There are warning signs along all the major roads, some with flashing yellow lights.  Turns out Thanksgiving 2019 was my first on-the-road deer sighting.

It got dark quick after Lucknow, and soon it was like pitch.  I had been driving slower since the sun went down but it was Jen who saw the deer first.  I slowed down carefully until he jumped away unto the brush.  The guy behind me wasn’t paying attention and almost rear-ended me.

It’s so strange to review the dashcam footage afterwards. What felt like an eternal moment of tense surprise was really only seven seconds.*


Until that moment, we were wrapped deep in Iron Maiden.  I played the first album, with Paul Di’Anno, and the bonus tracks for the full-on experience.  This was music I’d been listening to for 35 years and under the weight of all that nostalgia, I immediately began singing along.  I remember “Charlotte the Harlot” coming up just as we were detouring past a town called Dorking.  I don’t know about you, but I think that’s funny.  Once completed, we switched over to Piece of Mind.  That’s the Maiden studio album that I have the longest deep relationship with.  Every word was dancing on my tongue, even “Revelations”.  But then again, I remember having that song memorised back in highschool.  My friend Andy and I sang it back to a rap kid named Patrick Barnes who claimed that metal lyrics are just unintelligible noise and nonsense.

All this Maiden reminiscence led to the writing of a new future chapter of Getting More Tale called “Run 2 the Hills”, a direct sequel to Record Store Tales Part 1.  Look for that one in the near future.

We had the near miss with the deer after both albums were complete, and I’d started on random tunes from Powerslave.  “Rime of the Ancient Mariner” was  the song playing when Bambi was spared by some good driving.

Upon arrival, I had get my Netflix fired up to watch El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie.  Nutshell review:


EL CAMINO: A Breaking Bad Movie (2019 Netflix)

I didn’t think I cared where Jesse Pinkman went at the end of Breaking Bad.  Turns out, I cared enough to watch this well-written coda to a great TV series.  Aaron Paul rules, equipped with very little dialogue and only his body language.  Paul gives us a hard insight to the PTSD-infested survivor Pinkman.  Every cameo you desire is in store via relevant flashbacks, fleshing out the original series a little bit.  After a while, you, like Pinkman, are disoriented and can’t remember if you’re watching past or present.

4/5 stars


It was a little freaky when I finished the film, went on Twitter, and saw Bryan Cranston announced that Robert Forster had died, just after I watched his final film.

In the morning I wrote up the rough draft of my new Maiden chapter while it was all fresh in my head, but I otherwise accomplished very little, creatively speaking.

I tried, I really did try.  When mom & dad stepped out of the house for a few minutes I thought I could squeeze in time for a Star Wars Black Series video review.  You’ll see what happened.  Something like this occurred any time I attempted to make a video.  So what you see is what you get; I gave up!


Abandoned Reviews

For entertainment use only.  Back off, fanboys!


Instead of using my creative juices for this one final weekend of the lake this season, I decided to pour it into cooking instead.  I picked up three beautiful steaks and a pound of lobster tail. I made some garlic butter, clarified it, and put the tail on the grill.  Everything was phenomenal.  I felt like we ended the season right with these meals.

There was the traditional turkey dinner the following night too, stuffed with goodness, but I feel the lobster tail and the steaks really put a cap on the season.

The drive home was enabled by Twisted Sister’s Live at the Marquee and The Razors Edge by AC/DC.  I don’t know how often I’ve played The Razors Edge in the car since it came out before I could drive.  Could this have been the first time?  I liked it better in the car than I do sitting at home.  As for Twisted Sister, Live at the Marquee is by far their greatest live product.  The raw heavy stage purity can’t be touched.

And now we are home, preparing for the arrival of winter routines and monotony.  Hibernation begins.  But spring will return again, and with it, so will the roadtrips, the steaks, and the sun.

Stay warm, my friends!

 

* It was just a young deer  When you start having more frequent animal sightings in cottage country like this, it means they are being displaced from somewhere else.  There has been a lot of building and development this year.

#768: Scanning the Notebooks

GETTING MORE TALE #768: Scanning the Notebooks

Mrs. LeBrain and I have been downsizing of late, and getting rid of old stuff we don’t need anymore.  In the process we have discovered lots of cool treasures we have been hanging onto.  In the last few months I’ve shown you a treasure trove of cassette and VHS rediscoveries, and things keep turning up all the time. The lady that helped us downsize, Elanda, didn’t understand why I needed to hang onto old yearbooks and CDs.  This kind of thing is important to me.  I’ve built an entire series of stories on nostalgia!  Preserving this stuff, to me, is preserving musical history.  It’s a part of the extended story of these bands.  It’s my autobiography.

Another great place to find old treasures is the parents’ basement.  I didn’t realize they hung on to some of my old, beat up highschool notebooks.  The covers are falling off, but like an archaeologist, I have to preserve this stuff for posterity.  Look what I found!

I didn’t just scribble band logos on my notebooks.  I painted them on.  My mother had a basement full of paints for her ceramics classes.  I had access to all the brushes, colours and textures you could ask for.  Most of the paints I used were water soluble, so I probably sprayed this binder with a clear coat to protect the paint.  30 years later, my artwork is still about 90% intact.

The Van Halen, Def Leppard, Dio, and Van Halen logos are self explanatory.  Look a little further.  I took the trouble of drawing Ratt’s titular mascot using three colours, including silver for his sunglasses.  The lightning bolts here are there are meant to be a reference to Frehley’s Comet.  (From looking over my homework inside, it seems I also signed my name with a lightning bolt.)  In the bottom front corner of the binder, “Dawn Was Here” was written on there by one of my sister’s annoying friends who took ceramics class at our house.

Digging inside, I discovered that I clearly put more effort into the front covers than my English homework.

Next to the very bored notes about American literature are more logos, more lightning bolts, a few grim reapers, and designs for multi-neck guitars.  More rats!  Cartoon portraits of Gene Simmons (no makeup; it was 1988) and Rob Halford.

Judging by my careless scribbles, it seems I was not a fan of Huck Finn.  The notes in English class are not legible and it looks like I didn’t do much homework.  That’s not to say I wasn’t working hard in class.  Some of the best sketches came from English class.  I obviously spent a lot of time on some of them.  A page called “Scenes of Death” looks alarming at first, until you look a little closer and notice that one guy is getting jumped by a giant Schnauzer.

 

And, of course, a giant page of logos.

Everyone had the giant page of logos.

Bob Schipper had the idea of calling our “band” Paragon.  “Not Paradox,” he stressed, “but Paragon.  It means we’re among the best.”  Our logo is the centerpiece of the page, coloured in yellow highlighter.  The entire page is like a “Where’s Waldo?” of bands and references.

My science and history notebooks are much cleaner.  Fewer band logos, more meticulously taken notes.  Still,  found of portrait of Satan in my History book.  I was trying to copy the style of Derek Riggs.

I’m grateful my mom and dad hung on to these books.  It makes up for my dad throwing out my Chopper Strike board game and damaging my ZZ Top Eliminator model.  There is still a ton more stuff at their place for me to go through, including a mountain of cool T-shirts that I forgot I owned.  My original Judas Priest shirt is there, the one that got me in trouble at Catholic school.  Imagine if ol’ Mrs. Powers at the Catholic school had seen my later Satan drawing!  I’m certain it would have raised concern and probably a meeting with my parents.

I’m glad I switched out from a Catholic grade school to a mainstream high school.  My logo and Satan drawing skills certainly flourished there, even if my appreciation for Huck Finn did not.

 

Sunday Chuckle: Rime of the Ancient Mariner

“This is a song about what not to do when a bird shits on ya!” — Bruce Dickinson

 

Last weekend, a bird shit on me.  It would have got me right on the head, except I happened to have my hands over my head at that exact moment.  I felt something wet on my fingers.  I looked and saw something gross!  I ran inside to wash.

I ran into the cottage warning, “A bird shit on me, clear a path!”

My dad’s response?

“How do you know?”

Gee dad, I dunno, how about the bird shit on the fucking fingers?!

 

VHS Archives #75: The craziest Iron Maiden interview you’ll ever see (1988)

Bruce Dickinson is extra naughty and caffeinated here with bandmate Dave Murray and Power Hour host Erica Ehm!

Seventh Son of a Seventh Son was brand new and the music video hadn’t even come out yet.  Bruce and Dave discuss:

  • The concept
  • The video
  • Lucifer
  • Whether Deep Purple are good football players or not
  • Recording
  • Bruce’s forthcoming book The Adventures of Lord Iffy Boatrace
  • Going folk?

This hilarious interview is a must-watch for Maiden fans worldwide.

VHS Archives #73: Killer Dwarfs interview + Bruce Dickinson rips off Darrell Dwarf’s undies! (1989)

“‘Arry wants it…’Arry gets it.” – Killer Dwarfs

You won’t believe this got broadcast on daytime television!

Laurie Brown talked to the Killer Dwarfs in rehearsal for their excellent fourth LP Dirty Weapons. Additionally you will hear a preview for a new song called “Nothing Gets Nothing” live in concert, plus some behind the scenes footage.  The band talk about the music scene in Canada at the time (not good) and touring with Iron Maiden.  “What Harry wants, Harry gets,” they tell us.

But the real reason you’re watching this video is to see Bruce Dickinson rip the pants right off Darrell Dwarf.  It was the last night of the tour and therefore prank night!  Enjoy seeing “all of Darrell” as the audience did that night!

 

VHS Archives #70: Iron Maiden’s Dave Murray and Janick Gers live interview (1992)

I’ll let the video do the talking.  It’s a big one:  Iron Maiden’s Dave Murray and Janick Gers went live with Teresa Roncon to divulge the details of the new album, Fear of the Dark.  Live calls are answered, new artwork is discussed, and Bruce’s new son is named!

#742: Returning the Rock

GETTING MORE TALE #742: Returning the Rock

There’s a recurring theme in fiction that I like a lot. It’s the idea that you have to return an object back to its origin point.  The One Ring had to be returned to the fires of Mordor where it was made.  Or the recovery of Luke’s lightsaber and its journey back to Skywalker.  Roger’s golden turd returning to his anus in order to destroy it.

Countless years ago, Iron Tom Sharpe gave me a tremendous gift.  You’ve seen it here before; the giant Iron Maiden “Holy Smoke” poster signed by all five members.  It was mounted and hung here in LeBrain HQ for over a decade.  Tom just didn’t have room for it anymore.  He gave me a bunch of his posters, but that was the crown jewel.

Now the times have changed and I’m the one who doesn’t have room.  This week, I removed at least 20 full bags of possessions from my place and we’re still going strong with lots to go.  Tom sent me a message.  “What’s with losing your possessions, are you going Buddhist?”  Hah!  No man, it’s just physics.  You can only store so much stuff in a condo.  “Do you still have that old Maiden poster?” he asked.  I thought about it, and then it hit me.  I knew what I had to do.

I had to return the Maiden poster to its originator.  Tom picked it up, and it is back where it should be.  I like to think of it as I was storing it for him the last 15 years.  I like the poetry of that.

Well, I’d better get back at it.  This place isn’t going to clean itself!

#741: Homework

GETTING MORE TALE #741: Homework

Teachers and counsellors used to tell us it was OK to listen to music when you’re studying, but don’t play things you like so much that you find it distracting.  Nothing you love too much, nor anything you hate.

That was always a problem for me as a kid.  I loved music!  Then and now.

There were always a few albums that hadn’t clicked with me.  In 1992 I was studying for exams, and I chose Mr. Bungle’s debut to do it.  I was also working with the belief that listening to more complex music got your brain juices flowing even better.  I had my method for studying, and I really don’t think music had much impact.  I just remember choosing Mr. Bundgle for the reason that it was complex, and I didn’t get it.

When I was younger, in highschool, I remember listening to a lot of different things while studying.  I had a vinyl phase in early 1988.  I was 30 years ahead of the hipsters.  My sister and I had discovered B-sides in the singles rack at the local Zellers store.  Def Leppard’s “Ride Into the Sun” was playing in store, and my ears perked up.  I knew it was Leppard, but I never heard that song before!  Another single I purchased at that time was Triumph’s “Let The Light (Shine On Me)”.  Rik Emmett played it a few weeks earlier live and acoustic on the Power Hour.  The single got quite a few spins while I was doing my homework that winter.

For some reason, Iron Maiden’s Piece of Mind was also on the turntable a lot while studying that year.  I may have purchased the record off Bob, because I am sure I got it from him.  There were a couple songs I played repeatedly.  One was “Still Life” and the other was “Sun and Steel”.  At that age, Bob and I thought we could really sing like Bruce Dickinson if we worked hard enough at it.  Those were two songs I was practising at the time!

Listening to music while studying seemed to work for me, but I will admit to one distraction.

Do you remember when Wayne’s World came out on home video?  The first releases came with a free pair of Wayne’s World drum sticks.  My sister bought the video and got the sticks.  However, I would frequently steal them and claim that I needed them to study.  It wasn’t untrue.  A lot of the time, I would pound out a beat on the bed while I was memorising names, dates and events.  However, other times I was just playing a solo.  Probably most of the time!

One could argue that drumming on the bed eventually led to my degree.

Hey, the teachers and counsellors also told us to take breaks from studying.  Sometimes mine were the length of a song…or several!