kiss

#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?

#991: You Shook Me All Long Weekend

Jen and I took a Friday off so we could make a long weekend at the lake. With three days to ourselves, good food and good music were a given!

Music for the road trip up:

  1. Ace Frehley – Bronx Boy
  2. AC/DC – Power Up
  3. Deep Purple – Deep Purple

Upon arrival, I spun the usual Kiss on the porch, until 9:00 PM at which point I tuned in to Thursday Night Record Club with Brent Jensen and Alex Huard, discussing AC/DC’s Back In Black.

We filled the weekend with food (pork chops, steaks, trout, and veggies) and more music (lots of Kiss and Iron Maiden).  We enjoyed a few nice walks in the cool summer air.  Yes, it was a chilly one, but we still managed a game of Monopoly on the back porch, in the open air.  Our money never blew away once!

What did blow me away?  Listening to Iron Maiden’s Live After Death on the back porch.  It was like 1986 all over again, but only if 1986 had digital quality sound on the back porch!  We also played some music for Grampa Winter, who would have cranked Kenny Rogers’ Greatest Hits and “The Gambler”.  Except he did it on vinyl with some big old speakers mounted on the front of his bunkhouse.

Friday night I did an excellent live show with Rob Daniels and Harrison Kopp, showing off some incredible collectables.  This enabled me to do some stop motion with my new phone/camera, which turned out really cool.  The new camera is also finally capable of capturing some of the majesty of Kincardine sunsets.  I was impressed with the results and intend to use it frequently all summer.  Another feature is slow motion, which I used to capture some fire and waves.

It was over all too quickly.

Music for the drive home:

  1. Peter Criss – Out of Control
  2. Peter Criss – Let Me Rock You
  3. Criss – Cat #1 (Half)

I can’t explain why I chose those, but every once in a while, you need to listen to some Peter Criss.  So I did.

Please enjoy the video of the weekend, all the sound of Max the Axe, below.

#989: Moving In Stereo

RECORD STORE TALES #989: Moving In Stereo

It was May 2002 and I was a first-time homeowner.  My dad taught me, “Never rent!  Only buy.  Put your money towards something.”  So I trusted his advice and lived at home as long as could I possibly milk it!

Moving in to my new place took a day.  I had a lot of help from family and friends.  We probably had 10 or 12 people total.  I packed up all my CDs and insisted that only I handle them.  It caused me more than a little anxiety.  I figured a few jewel cases would crack, but there were some special ones I took extra precautions with.  Coloured jewel cases are hard to replace.  The most precious CD case to me is the 1996 Deep Purple In Rock anniversary edition.  The case comes etched with signatures and other text.  Breaking one of those means either living with it, or trying to find another copy with case intact.  I desired to do neither.  In Rock survived the move intact.  I would not be lying to you if I told you that this one little item was of more concern to me than anything else I moved that day.  My stereo equipment came in second.

Some people say they have a hard time sleeping, their first night in a new home.  I did not have that problem.  After a full day of moving, I was wiped.  But also eager to get going the next day and set up my new place.  Against the better judgement of everyone who helped me move, the very first thing I did was set up my CD towers.  Having those discs sitting in boxes really bothered me.  I wanted them out, so I could inspect them and ensure they all survived intact, and I wanted them accessible.  A long day of painting was ahead!

I cannot remember the first album I played in my new home.  Strange, because normally I’d commit that sort of thing to memory.  It was probably Kiss.  I like to use Kiss for firsts.  I do remember the first movie I watched.  It was The Phantom Menace.  I wanted my first movie to be a DVD, and I wanted it to be a Star Wars.  The older Star Wars films would not exist on that format until 2004.

I set up the CD towers, put the discs back in their alphabetical homes, and was relieved that only a couple cases broke.  I then painted around them.  Priorities.

The funny thing about these memories is how much space I thought I had back then.  I had so many empty closets.  I didn’t have enough stuff to put on my shelves.  To say things have changed would be an understatement.  Due to lack of storage, there are CDs everywhere in random order.  We need to hire a carpenter and get some proper CD shelving made for this place!

After a solid weekend of working, painting and assembling, I was settled into my new place.  I had my first guests over that Monday.  I loved my new place, but I did not have long to enjoy it.  The following week, I was on my way to Prince Edward Island, determined to find the home of Stompin’ Tom Connors, and eat lobster at least once a day.  Success on both counts.  But I couldn’t wait to get home again.  I had a new Deep Purple box set of official bootlegs waiting for me to finish listening.  12 CDs.  I only had time to hear the first three discs before departure.  And you can bet your last dollar that I picked up where I left off, with disc four.

Jen moved here in 2008.  It’s cramped but we make due.  Her illness set us back in the sense that we haven’t been able to move somewhere bigger.  But it’s home.  It’s our home.  It has 20 years of memories.  I’m proud to say that many of them are musical in nature.

#980: Uh! All Night

RECORD STORE TALES #980: Uh! All Night

My final year of grade school, 1985-86 was momentous.  I’ve written an entire 1986 saga about those times.  I had mono which kept me home sick for much of the end of Grade 8.  This meant plenty of music listening time while I recovered.  Music and comic books.  Discovering so many new songs and bands made it a uniquely special time.  Being sick wasn’t so bad.  It kept me away from the bullies while learning about Van Halen songs such as “Unchained” and “So This Is Love”.  I sat in the basement and watched a lot of Pepsi Power Hours, during (arguably) the peak era of the show.

Additionally, it was the year I decided my favourite band was Kiss.

Kiss were hot on the TV with “Tears Are Falling”, the first single from their newest album Asylum.  Kiss were one of those bands that just made me want to collect them all.  Although I had acquired some used Kiss records in a trade, Asylum was my first brand-new Kiss purchase from a store.  That’s a special thing, because it felt like a rite of passage.  A year earlier I would have been walking up to the counter with an action figure in hand.  In autumn of 1985 I approached the cash register with what was once forbidden fruit.  Kiss used to seem dangerous, even disgusting when I was a kid.  Here I was buying the new Kiss album, for the first of many times.

I like to think that I have a knack for picking the singles for albums today.  It all started with Asylum and their little ditty called “Uh! All Night”.  While “Tears Are Falling” was a really obvious choice for single #1, it seemed to me that album closer “Uh! All Night” should be second.  A lot of albums I owned back then seemed to have a handful of good songs, and a lot of filler.  Asylum has filler (mostly the Gene songs) but “Uh! All Night” was catchy from first listen.  It was also far more upbeat than “Who Wants To Be Lonely”.

If Kiss were out to corrupt young minds, then they would have been happy to know that my sister and I jumped around the basement singing, “When you work all day you gotta UH! all night!”

I wasn’t 100% certain what “uh!” meant in this case.  The Pepsi Power Hour was little help.

With VCR at the ready, I watched attentively as VJ Christopher Ward introduced the video on the Power Hour for the first time.

“What does it mean, ‘Uh! All Night’?” teased Ward.  “Do your homework all night?  I think it means do your homework all night.”

I figured “uh” had to be something naughty.  Partying?

The video came on, and Paul Stanley descended a dark staircase wearing a white captain’s hat.  He removed his overcoat revealing more sequins, reflectors and hair than I could take in.  Dated looking by today’s standards.   The epitome of cool for 1985.  All of them looked cool, except for Gene who really struggled to find the right image, until the Revenge era.  The stage set was cool, like a construction zone at night adorned with lights and speakers.

Kiss danced, and posed, and lipsynched up a storm.  Kiss were designed for pubescent boys like me, who were giving up on action heroes and discovering rock and roll.  And girls.  The “Uh! All Night” video was criticised for, of course, objectifying scantily clad women.

Funny enough, this is where Kiss missed the mark with me.  I liked girls, but not…not the ones in “Uh! All Night”.

I liked David Lee Roth’s “California Girls”.  I ogled the ones in the video for “Blondes In Black Cars” by Autograph.  I didn’t like the platinum blonde Dolly Parton lookalikes in “Uh! All Night”.  Not at all.  Their striptease with the white nylons did nothing for me.  After Bruce Kulick whips out a wicked solo with tapping and guitar faces, the Partons beds turn into bed/car hybrids with headlights and grills.  But the Partons couldn’t drive the car-beds; they had to push them.  Dozens of Partons pushing the car-beds wearing fuzzy high heels and lingerie.  It was ludicrous and completely un-hot.

At least Kiss looked cool, so I watched the video over and over, doing my best to ignore the Dolly Partons in their white beds.

David Mallet directed “Uh! All Night” and the other two singles from Asylum as well.  They all share a similar look, but “Uh! All Night” stands out among them, and not for any good reasons.  Considering the good stuff that Mallet did direct (Maiden, Bowie, Leppard, Queen, AC/DC and many more) it’s best if “Uh! All Night” just goes forgotten on a dusty shelf somewhere in the Kiss archives.

Sunday Screening: The Contrarians Presents “The Worst of Episode 1: KISS – Lazy Nights”

Creating your own “Worst Of Kiss” album is a fun concept.  I could certainly come up with some variations on that theme!  In this Contrarians episode, Marco and Bret each picked five songs for their Lazy Nights: The Worst of Kiss compilation.  Marco did one side, Bret the other.  And Bret is right that you could pick all Gene songs!  But that wouldn’t make for a real Kiss compilation.

Marco and I have some disagreements here.  I’m more in tune with Bret.  See what you think!

 

#965: The Collector’s Disease

RECORD STORE TALES #965: The Collector’s Disease

There’s no question I have the disease of a collector.  It’s undisputed and quite obvious.  I like to have not just one of a thing, but many.  I couldn’t just start with one Kiss album, I had to get more.  The goal was to get them all.  Having one GI Joe figure wasn’t enough.  You had to have as many as you could afford.  It’s marketing genius that this common psychological flaw was exploited guilt-free for so long.  Where did it start with me?

Perhaps my collector’s nerve was first tickled by Lego.  The more you get, the better stuff you can make.  Every year, new pieces were introduced.  In 1978 they launched the “Space” theme of Lego.  Prior to that came the new “Technic” pieces.  Right as I was hitting the perfect age for creating things made of Lego, they upped their game in a way that completely meshed.  I remember getting quite a few Space sets and several Technic too, including one where you build an 8-cylinder engine.  All you needed were more pieces to fully realize your creative visions.

At the same time, Star Wars had hit theatres and we were starting to collect the action figures.  This planted a seed.  Cleverly, Kenner included pictures on the back of every figure package:  Each Star Wars figure, numbered in a checklist style.  This was cribbed from trading cards, like Topps — another Star Wars merchandising brand we tried to collect.  Something about a checklist is an itch that begs to be scratched by certain personality types.  Hasbro recycled the checklist gimmick with their in-pack Transformers catalogues in 1984.

As I’m happy to recount the tale, I discovered Kiss in 1985.  Their new album Asylum was out.  The next door neighbour George had a bunch of rock magazines, and one of them (perhaps Faces) had a big full page Kiss ad.  The famed “Accept No Imitations” Asylum ad.  Simple branding, like Coke or Pepsi.  The “real thing”.  They were really promoting the new Kiss in North America as the 20th in a series of records, including the four solo albums, two live albums, and Double Platinum.  Laid out in two rows at the bottom, checklist style, were all 19 of the previous album covers, including their release dates.

Like bells going off in my head, the collector’s itch needed to be scratched.

Gene Simmons is a lifelong comics reader, and he knew as well as anyone that Marvel had a monthly checklist near the back of each book.  He would have had many trading cards in his youth and was surely familiar with the concept of a checklist.  Whether that’s a connection or not, that Kiss ad really set off the fireworks in my brain.  I stared at it, studying each individual album cover, and the frequency of release.

I’ve detailed, many times, my process in first recording all the Kiss records from George or Bob.  The desire to have a complete set, buying as many as I could find while recording the rest.  The need to include the “forgotten” Kiss Killers album in the count.  I displayed all my tapes, either recorded or originals, in order by release date, just like the ad I had seen, except my taped collection numbered 22, including Killers and Animalize Live Uncensored.  Eventually in highschool (1987 precisely) I discarded the recorded copies and acquired a complete set on tape.  In the Record Store years, the process would repeat on remastered CD.

But wait….

While all of the above is the truth, and nothing but the truth, it is not the whole truth.  Kiss were not the first rock band I sought to “collect”.

Before I had that Kiss epiphany with the checklist, I can remember having a specific earlier conversation.  It would have been Easter of ’85, several months before the September release of Kiss Asylum.  My mom asked me what I wanted for Easter, and I told her “the new Quiet Riot” because “I want to have all their albums.”  I thought they only had two, and it would be an easy collection to complete.  But there it was:  the desire to have “all” of something.

Strange how the concept of collecting only latched onto me in some ways.  Atari games looked pretty on display in their coloured boxes, but we had no desire to get all the games.  Just the “good” ones.  Even with comic books.  I would buy issues of current books off the newstands, but did not go back to buy older issues, because they could get insanely expensive, and numbered in the hundreds.  Since comics always referred back to previous and concurrent issues, they really made you want to buy them all to get all the backstory.  But I didn’t — couldn’t.  This is exactly why Bob preferred only to buy limited series, like movie adaptations.  I guess my collector’s desires only extended as far as I could reach, in a monetary sense.

Today, musical artists exploit this common need to collect at lengths never before seen.  We’re still out there, trying to make it through an adult world, but now we have disposable income.  It used to be you’d want all the albums, and if you discovered single B-sides, you wanted those too.  Then it became the bonus tracks, the deluxe editions, the super deluxe editions, and all the different colours of vinyl you get for just about every release these days!  That’s how they get us.  Next thing you know, you just dropped a grand or two on a Gene Simmons Vault, or $800 on a Judas Priest box set.

And we go along with it, time and time again.  Once the itch has been scratched, and the soothing radiation of a complete collection rolls over you like waves…the itch inevitably returns.

And so it ends?  It never ends.

 

#964.5: The Lists – 2021 Year in Review – Part Two

Here We Go Again:  End of Year Lists 2021

2021:  the year of the hamster wheel.  It sure felt like we were spinning our tires all year!  Sometimes inching a little forward in the mud, only to slide right back.  What a year.  But we did get some great music out of it.

Here at LeBrain HQ, if you go strictly by the numbers, there were two bands that dominated the year, both oldies acts from the 1980s:  Coney Hatch and Iron Maiden!  They (or members thereof) appear numerous times in the lists you’re about to read.  Not so “oldies” after all eh?  Five appearances for Iron Maiden, and a whopping seven for Coney and its members!

Even I was surprised by the lists this year!  All my favourite things, and the stats of 2021, are curated below.


Top 11 Albums of 2021

11. PolychuckShadows Exposed EP
10. Suicide StarIsolation
9. Max the AxeOktoberfest Cheer EP
8. Mammoth WVHMammoth WVH
7. Danko JonesPower Trio
6. AcceptToo Mean to Die
5. Smith/KotzenSmith/Kotzen
4. Iron MaidenSenjutsu
3. Lee AaronRadio On
2. Coney HatchLive at the El Mocambo
1. StyxCrash of the Crown

Top Five Box Sets of 2021

5. KissDestroyer
4. WhitsnakeRestless Heart
3. Def LeppardCD Collection Vol 3
2. TriumphAllied Forces
1. MetallicaMetallica 

My Favourite Movies of 2021

5. Black Widow
4. Eternals
3. Free Guy
2. The Suicide Squad
1. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

(placeholder) Spider-Man: No Way Home – you have to assume it’ll be my new #1 when I see it!


Top 11 Interviews / Unboxings of 2021 (by YouTube views)

11. Robert Lawson interview
10. Sean Kelly interview
9. Suicide Star interview
8. Coney Hatch live LP unboxing
7. Andy Curran round three
6. Andy Curran part one
5. Paul Laine interview
4. Mike Fraser interview
3. Martin Popoff interview
2. Andy Curran + Mike Fraser interview
1. Iron Maiden Super7 figure blind box unboxing

Top Five List Shows / Deep Dives 2021 (by YouTube Views)

5. Top Concept Albums
4. 5150 Deep Dive with Tee Bone
3. Desert Island Discs
2. Top Maiden Art
1. Top Five King’s X with Martin Popoff

Top Reviews of 2021 by Hits

5. GUNS N’ ROSES“ABSUЯD”
4. STYXCrash of the Crown
3. PAUL STANLEY’S SOUL STATION – Now and Then
2. IRON MAIDEN – Senjutsu 
1.  – Off the Soundboard – Tokyo 2001


What’s in store for 2022?

  • The Book of Boba Fett
  • Jethro Tull – The Zealot Gene
  • Marillion – An Hour Before Its Dark
  • Guns N’ Roses – Hard Skool EP
  • new Sven Gali
  • Scorpions – Rock Believer
  • new Coney Hatch live with two new studio cuts
  • new Journey?
  • new Def Leppard?
  • Bryan Adams – So Happy it Hurts
  • Liam Gallgher – C’Mon You Know
  • Thor: Love and Thunder
  • Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness
  • Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
  • Disney+: Ms. Marvel, Moon Knight, She-Hulk, What…If? season 2, Secret Invasion, The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special
  • The Mandalorian season 3
  • New albums from Ghost, Rammstein, Ozzy Osbourne, King Diamond, Weezer and more

 


TONIGHT.

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

#958: Coffee With Scott

LeBrain Train viewers know Scott, my mega-Kiss-fan friend for four decades.  The other day we went out for a hang in the freezing cold, drinking bad coffee, eating bad food, and freezing our asses.  But we had a great time doing it.

Our conversation was wide-ranging, from idiots in the drive-through, to childhood memories.  This led to a tangent on the “Mandela Effect“.   One of Scott’s memories, of a rare Saturday Night Live sketch with Will Ferrell and featuring Kiss music, was driving him crazy.  Was it real, or just fantasy?  Probably due to music copyrights, you can’t find this sketch online.

One day sitting at home with no PVR or ways to record television, Scott saw the episode that the Kiss sketch was in.  He sat at the edge of his seat, waiting to see the sketch again for the first time in years.  Refresh his mind on what it was about, and the Kiss tunes used.  Just as his dog needed to go walkies.

I don’t need to tell you what happened.  But I will.

Scott got back in, and his lovely wife Ellen told him, “There was just a sketch on Saturday Night Live that you would have liked, it had Kiss music!”

Ooft.  Shock me!

 

#951: Set Your VCR, It’s 1986 and KISS Meets The Phantom Is On Tonight!

Special thanks to Jennifer Ladano for telling me to write this story down!

RECORD STORE TALES #951: Set Your VCR!
It’s 1986 and KISS Meets The Phantom Is On Tonight!

When thinking back about my earliest rock and roll discoveries, it’s important to recall the order in which I got the albums, or first heard the tunes.  It seems like I had always known “Rock N’ Roll all Nite”, but since my first Kiss albums were Alive! and Hotter Than Hell, those were the songs I knew best.  And I barely knew them!  I got my first Kiss in September of ’85.  But I was learning slowly.  Eventually I’d get Asylum, and gradually tape Kiss albums from my neighbour George.

Something else happened that exposed me to Kiss in a new way, that I sometimes forget about.  It was the first time I saw Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park.

Everybody knew about Kiss Meets the Phantom, but few of us were old enough to have seen it.  When it showed up in the TV guide one week, on some Buffalo station, it seemed like every kid with access to a VCR set it to record.  It was being shown at something like 1:00 in the morning on a Sunday.

Upon waking, I got my sister up early and we raced downstairs to watch.  We did not have time to watch the whole thing that morning.  It was winter, possibly the tail end of Christmas holidays, and we were off to the lake for one day.  We watched some, went to the lake, had lunch at the Embassy, and came home to finish the movie.

I noticed there were far more ads to fast forward through on late night TV than during the day!


Actual ads from the actual tape of the actual night.

My sister recalls liking Kiss Meets the Phantom; my memories are quite different.  I was bored to tears any time Kiss wasn’t on screen, and you had to wait through, like, an hour (with ads) for Kiss to arrive at the bloody park!  I didn’t know who this Anthony Zerbe fellow was, but at age 13 I considered him possibly the worst actor I had ever seen.

It was my first time seeing Peter Criss on video and not just still photos, and I was surprised at his voice.  I told everyone, “Peter Criss sounds like Aquaman.”  I had the show right, but the character wrong.  Michael Bell did the voice of Peter Criss in Kiss Meets the Phantom, and Wonder Twin Zan in the cartoon Superfriends.  Legend has it that this was because Peter didn’t show up to loop his lines in post-production.  Whatever the case, it led to a different urban legends:  that Peter Criss had given up rock and roll, and taken up a lucrative career as a cartoon voice actor!

I thought Gene’s distorted voice was tiresome after a while, and Paul seemed the coolest.  My sister liked that Kiss were like superheroes with powers.  On the other hand, I didn’t like that.  If Paul Stanley couldn’t shoot a laser beam out of his eye in real life, I didn’t understand why he would in this movie.  They were still Kiss, still playing the same Kiss songs, but also super-powered.  My rigid brain couldn’t reconcile the two.

As for the music, the movie contains several songs that I heard for the very first time that day.  “Beth” (acoustic, no less), “Shout It Out Loud”, “God of Thunder” and “I Stole Your Love”.  (“Rip and Destroy” doesn’t count.)  Now, because I didn’t know these songs, and there were no captions, I had to guess at the titles.  “Shout It Out Loud” was the easy one.  But these were the live versions taken from Alive II, fast and reckless.  Not to mention we were hearing it on a TV with mono speaker; state of the art for the time, but not for proper music listening.  So that’s why, for that day at least, I thought “God of Thunder” was “Not a Doctor”, and “I Stole Your Love” was something that sounded like “I Ho-Jo-Ho”.

The process of discovering Kiss was so memorable because it’s so fun.  The superhero character aspect appealed to my sister and there’s no denying that it had something to do with why I loved Kiss too.  But hearing the songs and albums for the first time can only happen once.  And I can clearly remember a tinge of sadness when I finally acquired Rock and Roll Over, the last original Kiss album I needed to finish my collection.  I was starkly aware that I was having this experience for the last time:  hearing a classic Kiss album, guessing who was singing the songs by the title alone, and discovering hidden favourites.  As I learned when Crazy Nights came out, hearing a new Kiss album was simply not the same as discovering the classics!

Kiss Meets the Phantom was a struggle to sit through then, but fortunately I saw it at an age when Kiss still seemed larger than life.  Objectively, it is a pretty terrible film, best enjoyed as a trainwreck.  The best parts are the concert scenes, which was the closest I got to seeing Kiss live at age 13.  It was my first exposure to some really important songs even if I wondered why Gene was singing about being “Not a Doctor”!

[Re-Post] Part 241: Halloween, KISS style!

Always nice to repost a seasonal classic.  Enjoy this Halloween tale.

RECORD STORE TALES Part 241:  Halloween, KISS style!

Our annual inventory count fell on October 31.  For five years straight, I never got to dress up, hand out candy, or do anything fun on Halloween because I was too busy counting discs and CD towers!  However in the early days, this wasn’t the case.  Halloween 1996 was actually a pretty good one.

Like most malls, ours had a few Halloween contests.  T-Rev entered the store in the Pumpkin Carving category.  He and I came up with the plan to do a Kiss pumpkin.  T-Rev, the store owner’s brother, and myself gathered in my mom’s workshop in the basement. My mom had plenty of paint, and I was good at drawing the Kiss makeup designs.  T-Rev had the idea to make the pumpkin Gene Simmons, and figured out how to make a pumpkin tongue stick out.  I must say he did an amazing job.

The first step was to spray paint the pumpkin white.  One of the guys did the cutting.  Then, I drew the Demon design with a black magic marker.  We thought the nose needed to be more three-dimensional, so I cut it out a bit.  Together, we began colouring in Gene’s makeup.  We needed something to define the eyes of Gene, and T-Rev thought of using pumpkin seeds.  We added a wig, and voila!

T-Rev propped Gene up on the magazine stand outside the store.  Immediately we started getting compliments, and the response was pretty unanimous:  We had done the best job in the entire mall.

Unfortunately, the judges didn’t base their ratings on who had done the best job.  They were only marking the results, whether the store employees did the pumpkins themselves or not!  A store that hired a professional carver won first place.  We came in second.  There was no prize for second.  T-Rev and I considered that to be cheating.  Cheatie-cheatertons.

The contest was over, and not too soon:  the pumpkin had begun to rot, as pumpkins do.  That didn’t stop a customer from coming in on November 1st and offering him $10 for it.  T-Rev accepted his gracious offer, even though the thing would be turning horrific in a day or two.  A fool and his money, right T-Rev?

By 1997, the store had moved out of the mall.  This was our last pumpkin carving contest, but at least we had the satisfaction of winning the popular vote.  As far as I’m concerned, we went out on top.  My personal consolation prize was later on, Halloween 2006.  By this time I had moved on to United Rentals.  They took Halloween very, very seriously at United Rentals!  I dressed up as Paul Stanley, and this time, I finally won first prize!