judas priest

“Judas Priest…you f&%kin’ go!”

#992: Long Weekend of The Lizard, Water, and the Scales of Justice

RECORD STORE TALES #992: Long Weekend of Lizards, Water, and Max

We rolled in Thursday night and it was so hot that we cranked open all the windows.  And that was it with any kind of warmth!  The rest of the weekend was cold, windy and required long sleeves!  Regardless of the hot and cold reception we received, I watched Brent Jensen and Alex Huard discuss Appetite for Destruction on Thursday Night Record Club outdoors as planned.

The music on the road up was, as always, good!  We started with Saigon Kick’s The Lizard, in anticipation of Friday night’s big interview.  It was tremendous fun to listen to such a great album, 30 years young, in the car.  Upon conclusion we played a tape of Max the Axe’s first gig with the present lineup, recorded August 4 2017.  Five years of Meat, Dave, Mitch and Max creating music together.  While the years have made them better, the live cassette of the first gig is good enough that we hope it will form the basis of their first live album.  The setlist consisted of eight tracks from the then-unrecorded Status Electric album, a Black Flag cover later finalized for Oktoberfest Cheer, and the Max classic “I Don’t Advocate Drugs” with Meat singing lead for the first time.

All Friday and Saturday, music took over the cold front porch.  It is hard to type with frozen fingers.  I am working on a major Kiss project that I will not reveal yet, but in preparation I played a ton of old Kiss on the porch.  Lick It Up, Creatures of the Night, Hotter Than Hell, Paul’s solo album, and plenty more.  When the Kiss was concluded, I moved on to Judas Priest (Point of Entry).  As always, it was a magical retro soundtrack that acted as a mental time machine.  I would have been playing those same albums back in ’87-’88.  The big difference being – I was stuck in my room!  Now the porch is my room.

One thing for certain. I would have loved it if I had the technology to do stop motion animation in 1987. All I had were my Transformers toys, comic books and imagination. Now I have that plus cameras and computers. I spent several hours working on animation. Let’s face it: It’s just an excuse to play with toys as an adult!  There’s nothing wrong with that and it was damn fun, especially with Judas Priest blasting in the background just like they would have in the 80s.

Saturday night we went for some nice walks and I shared stories of the old days.  No phones, no cable, no digital music back then.  The only way to was to haul all my physical music, and associated players, up to the lake to enjoy.  And enjoy we did.  Nothing has changed there except convenience and sound quality.  Playing the music that I bought at the cottage originally sure brings the memories back.  White Lion’s Big Game and Jon Bon Jovi’s Blaze of Glory were two such albums that I spun again in the old original setting.  I bought ’em both in Kincardine on cassette.  Hanging out with Bob Schipper and picking our favourite new tunes…great memories!  I remember putting the sticker for the JBJ cassette on the bottom of the top bunkbed.  Jen and I talked a lot, and perhaps there’s a number of stories there to tell in the future.

Three days came and went as quickly as a cool summer breeze.  All I have left now are the photos and videos to keep the memories fresh.  You can watch them now too, all edited together to the sound of a new remix of “Scales of Justice” by Max the Axe!  I think it’s the best cottage video I’ve ever made.  What more could you want?

#987: The Summer Awakens

RECORD STORE TALES #987: The Summer Awakens

It’s official:  the earliest swim on record for any summer at the lake is May 13!  If you don’t believe in global warming, then I can tell you that past weekends in early May, we were snuggled up in jackets and long pants.  This year, early May was as warm as early July used to be.  What an incredible weekend.  Clear and sunny until late Saturday.  By then we were indoors waiting for the Toronto Maple Leafs to once again exit the playoffs in the first round.  But I’m jumping head of myself!

Traffic was light but the music was heavy.  Albums for the drive up:

As expected, both were awesome on the road.  There was no clear winner.  Interestingly, Jennifer liked “Roots In My Boots” by Scorpions, which I considered a bit of a throwaway.  Regardless, both albums did well on the highway and rocked us safely to the cottage in two hours.

First music on the porch:

  • Kathryn Ladano – Open

Not a new release, but since the good Doctor was next door, it felt right to serenade her with some of her best music!

From there we settled in with the first hot dogs of the year, and I began to prep for my show that night (Top 11 Star Wars movies) by watching The Phantom Menace.  10 years ago, the only way to do that would be to bring a DVD and watch it on the laptop.  If we wanted to watch a Star Wars movie 30 years ago, we needed to bring the tape and a VCR!  Everything is so easy now, but dependent on a good internet connection.  That connection enabled me to do the first cottage show of the year, and a success it was.  I experimented with some new lighting and it worked way better than last year after sundown.  A successful show — and one of the best we’ve ever done.   Certainly one of my favourites.

It’s always hard to sleep after a caffeinated show like that.  I got four or five hours, and was up and at ’em early Saturday.  It was so quiet.  Most cottagers have not opened yet — their loss!  They were not able to listen when I rocked Kiss on the front porch on Saturday.  Kiss albums this weekend included Dynasty, Kiss, Hotter Than Hell, Peter Criss, and Rock and Roll Over.

I made fish for breakfast (trout) and went to go pick up my new bass from neighbor Donna.  Her brother was Don Simmons of Helix, and this bass used to belong to him.  It is my honour to play it on the porch in his memory.  Although I use the word “play” very loosely.  I have never played bass before and can only “barely” play guitar as it is.  It took some time to get used to the size of the body.  Even the neck felt huge.  But it sounded great and really rumbled the porch.

I made chicken and steaks on the barbecue and burned up a bunch of old wood — without losing my glasses this time.  After being on my feet all day Saturday, I took it easy in the evening, missing the bright orange sunset.  I had been on my feet all day and it felt good to rest up in the evening.

We departed for home early Sunday.  Albums for the road home:

These albums, Priest especially, gave me some serious retro vibes, as if I had stepped into a time machine and was 16 again.  I had this happen numerous times last year, and I wrote about that feeling in multiple previous chapters.  It’s a very intense feeling, as if I was no longer living in the year 2022, but had stepped into 1987 again.  It felt as real as the steering wheel in my hands.  Looks like this summer will be no different.  Lots of flashbacks in store!

An excellent start to what I hope will be an amazing year.

#972: Snowfort Hippies

RECORD STORE TALES #972: Snowfort Hippies

2022:  the winter that snow came back in a big way! The sheer size of the snowbanks brings me back to the winter of ’85, in my old neighbourhood.  The snowbanks on the corner rival the ones we had in my youth, something I have not seen in many years.  And I remembered the snowfort that George Balasz built on that corner; a regal thing indeed.  The most palacious snowfort I have ever occupied!  And even this story works its way back around to music.

1985 was the year I got seriously into hard rock.  The Pepsi Power Hour was my favourite show and I was just absorbing all this new music through my neighbours.  George had an excellent LP collection and he’d always let me tape whatever I wanted.

He had a house on the corner, and in the winter the snowbanks built up as high as I could stand.  That was the year he built the ultimate fort.  As I remember it, the fort had plywood roof supports, and four rooms inside, lined up in a row.  You could squeeze four or five kids in there.  My dad was always afraid we’d get taken out by a wayward errant car, but it never happened.  He didn’t like us hanging out with George (thought he was a pervert) but he really didn’t like us hanging out in that snowfort.

George ran an extension cord out to the fort so we could listen to tapes on his ghetto blaster.  We had a conversation about Judas Priest.  Defenders of the Faith was their latest record and I was well familiar with the music video for “Freewheel Burning”.  But I was just learning the basics and I had a lot of questions.

“What’s a hippie?” I asked George.

He didn’t really know, but acted like he did.  His authoritative answer was “Hippies have long hair.”

“Well then what is Ian Johnson at school talking about?” I asked him.  “He said he didn’t like Judas Priest because they’re a bunch of hippies.  But Rob Halford doesn’t even have long hair.”

“You’re right,” said George.  I was happy to know a few things like the names of some of the members.  George or Bob Schipper gave me my first Priest poster, with the five of them standing in a row in the Defenders-era costume.  I thought Dave Holland looked the coolest because of that moustache.  I taped a copy of the album, but Priest songs like “Eat Me Alive” were still a bit on the heavy side for me.

I wonder what Ian was on about, with that hippie comment.  He probably had no idea what the word meant either.  Priest might have been considered hippies in the early 1970s, when they were wearing kaftans and denim floods.  They abandoned that look a long time ago and were really known for their leather and studs.   Meanwhile, Ian Johnson ditched the metal for new wave, by his own admission, in order to find a girl.  His opinions and stories changed regularly.

Though my dad worried, and this irritated me, we had good times in that snowfort.  George was a bit of a local punching bag, a strange guy slightly older who shoplifted and read porn.  He seemed desperately lonely some times, and maybe he had to be if he was hanging out with all these younger kids.  He was the oldest teenager in the neighbourhood and it didn’t seem like he had a lot of friends at school.  I could identify with the latter.

As the snowfort hippies bantered about Priest, one teaching and one learning, the boombox would be moaning out our favourite songs.  We talked about how cool it would be to put in a TV in the fort, but a warm spell eventually caved in the roofs.  Although George undertook a mighty rebuilding effort one afternoon, the fort was all but done for the year.

But not done in my memory.  As I drive around the corner, I smile remembering my dad’s warnings about safety.   I play some Defenders of the Faith and raise my coffee to George, now long gone himself.

To the good times, my snowfort hippie friend.

Thanks Marco for letting me participate! The Contrarians Panel: Dark Horse Album #7 – Judas Priest’s Rocka Rolla

Last week, I asked Marco from the Contrarians to sit in with us for our Top Five Tony Martin albums.  Unfortunately he could not join us live due to a taping of the Contrarians that night.  Instead he sent us a great video that allowed him to participate, a highlight of the show.  And as an added bonus, Marco asked me to participate in his Contrarians taping!  My very first Contrarians appearance.  The subject was Judas Priest’s Rocka Rolla, an album I have been playing a lot recently due to my recent acquisition of the 50 Heavy Metal Years of Music box set.  My part is right near the beginning.  After watching the in-depth analysis the group did, I wish I had contributed something a little more insightful.  However, this is such an honour and privilege to participate.  I can’t thank you enough Marco!

Happy New Year! 2022 Begins on the LeBrain Train

Thanks for dropping in and celebrating!  This 3+ hour show was brought to you by the following familiar faces:

A success all around as we took a look at the new Judas Priest box set, showed off our Christmas hauls, and talked about our favourite moments in 2021.  We got an update from Tim Durling on his forthcoming book Unspooled and heard a brand new Tee Bone song.  He now has enough for a whole album!  We also had some unreleased Uncle Meat music and some favourite clips from past shows.

Happy new year everyone!

REMINDER: New Year’s Eve Drop-In Party TONIGHT

The LeBrain Train: 2000 Words or More with Mike & Friends

Episode 92 – New Year’s Eve Drop-In Party

Wow, this year sure didn’t end as envisioned!  If, like millions of Canadians, you find yourself with cancelled plans on December 31, consider spending it with us.

We’ll be going live a little later that usual this week, so we can count down to midnight.  Catch us live this Friday night at 9:00 PM E.S.T.  This will be a drop-in party show with guests coming and going as they please.  Harrison Kopp will be reporting live from 12 hours in the future.  We will be showing off all our Christmas goodies, so yes, this means a solid look at the new Judas Priest 50 Heavy Metal Years of Music box set.

Can’t wait to do it again this Friday night, although I sure can’t believe we’re doing it again this Friday night.  Join us!

Friday December 31, 9:00 PM E.S.T. on YouTubeFacebook and also Facebook!

New Year’s Eve Drop-In Party

The LeBrain Train: 2000 Words or More with Mike & Friends

Episode 92 – New Year’s Eve Drop-In Party

Wow, this year sure didn’t end as envisioned!  If, like millions of Canadians, you find yourself with cancelled plans on December 31, consider spending it with us.

We’ll be going live a little later that usual this week, so we can count down to midnight.  Catch us live this Friday night at 9:00 PM E.S.T.  This will be a drop-in party show with guests coming and going as they please.  Harrison Kopp will be reporting live from 12 hours in the future.  We will be showing off all our Christmas goodies, so yes, this means a solid look at the new Judas Priest 50 Heavy Metal Years of Music box set.

Can’t wait to do it again this Friday night, although I sure can’t believe we’re doing it again this Friday night.  Join us!

Friday December 31, 9:00 PM E.S.T. on YouTubeFacebook and also Facebook!

VIDEO: Christmas 2021 Village Tour – Judas Priest – 50 Heavy Metal Years of Music Unboxing

Enjoy a tour of the best Christmas Village I’ve seen yet — complete with carnage and baby Yoda. Or, skip ahead to watch the unboxing at 3:43!

Yes — it has arrived. Judas Priest’s 50 Heavy Metal Years of Music. 42 CDs of music. Limited to 3000 copies. And in 2022 we will be reviewing this monstrosity front to back.


#961: Christmas in the Hamster Wheel

RECORD STORE TALES #961: Christmas in the Hamster Wheel

I always wanted a hamster when I was a kid.  I used to love looking at the neat setups that other kids had in their homes.  Hamster wheels, tunnels, all kinds of neat stuff for the little guys to run around in.  I never saw them use the hamster wheels.  They seemed to sit idle near the back of the cage.  A forgotten amusement.

These days, the hamster wheel in my head is running overtime.  Is this really the second Christmas of Crap?

One thing that’s concerning to me.  The last two years have blurred together in my mind.  I used to pride myself on knowing exactly when any life event occurred.  If I could remember the life event in terms of the music I was listening to, or a movie I was into, I would always be able to pinpoint the year.  But with the last couple years being such a blur, I find I can’t tell 2021 memories from 2020 memories a lot of the time.  That’s worrying to me.  Remembering these things is important.

I feel like Jen and I haven’t been able to catch many breaks at Christmas in the last five years.  2017…she had cancer.  2018…first Christmas without her mom (also cancer).  2019 was the one where I felt like we were getting back on our feet a little.  Then the carpet got pulled from under us in 2020 for the weirdest Christmas ever.  2021 looks a little better in some ways, a little worse in others.

I haven’t been as creative this Christmas as I was in past years, including 2020.  We do what we can.  I have my annual end-of-year list that I’ll be posting on the 31st.  I have the LeBrain Train drop-in New Year’s Eve party (message me if you’d like to join the fun).  I’m still working on the Def Leppard review series (15 parts written).  I’ll also be starting a Judas Priest box set review series in the new year.  Spoiler!

Y’see, I asked my parents if they’d be willing to part with a lot of money and buy me a Priest box set.  And, my dad let the cat out of the bag.  Even if 2021 is a bit of a downer compared to past years, it’s going to be pretty awesome opening that bad boy.  A know a certain Kontrarian (Kopp) who is eager to see inside its contents.  I’ll be showing off that box set and other goods on the New Years Eve live stream.

Things I’m grateful for:

  1. Health.  Nobody in our family has had Covid (knock wood).
  2. A roof over my head.
  3. Jen
  4. Family
  5. Friends

If I were to add a 6th thing to that list it would be “thank God I’m not working retail during Covid.”  I think I would have snapped long ago.

It’s funny — we have a friend named Michael who has been on the LeBrain Train a couple of times.  (We call him Max the Axe’s stunt double.)  He is absolutely thrilled to be working at the same Record Store chain that I used to work for.  His uncle Tom used to own a branch.  So things have come full circle in the world of the Record Store.  25 years ago this Christmas was my first one managing my own store.  I had a tradition of wearing a tie every Christmas Eve.  It was something the Boss originated that I liked.  So I kept it going.

Michael tells me that retail during Covid is much better working at the Record Store than it was at Giant Tiger.  Gratefully, they will be closed Boxing Day this year.  I had to work 80% of Boxing Days over the years, and truthfully they were one of the hardest.  Stock on everything was pretty picked over by then, and of course you had people doing returns and selling boxes of CDs for store credit.  Big sales, big crowds.  Including putting up signs and taking them down at the end of the day — a very long one.

So I’m grateful for that.

Merry Christmas everybody.  See you on the other side.  And please, join me New Years Eve for a rock and roll party!  Again!*

* I’m even re-using the exact same art as last year.