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A Year to the Day: Rest in Peace, Eddie Van Halen

‘Twas only a year ago I wrote these words:

There will never be another Van Halen.  No player before or since will have the ingenuity and influence he did.  From modifying his own guitars and amps to achieve the perfect “brown sound”, to brutalizing the strings with a drill, he was an innovator.  He was the most important of all the guitar innovators. And he sheepishly grinned through the whole thing as if to say, “Who, me? I did that?”

A year later, it’s only more certain that there will never been another Eddie.  You can read my full memorial here:  Rest in Peace to the greatest guitar player of all time.

The week Eddie passed, we did a tribute to him on the LeBrain Train.  You can watch that tribute below, starting at the 20 minute mark.

As if that wasn’t enough, we followed that with another Van Halen show: VH deep cuts!  One thing for sure, Eddie certainly inspired a lot of conversation on the LeBrain Train over the past year.  You can watch the deep cuts below, starting again at 20 minutes.

Let’s all take a moment to reflect, and play some Van Halen tonight.  Tonight, I’m going to go with “Dirty Movies” from Fair Warning to spotlight the greatest gee-tar picker of all time.  What song or album will you play for Eddie tonight?

#935: LeBrain Train Finale Stats and Analysis

RECORD STORE TALES #935: LeBrain Train Finale and Stats

A week ago we wrapped up the weekly LeBrain Train series to take a nice break.  This has allowed me to devote more time to listening and writing and living!

It’s also been enlightening to look at the last 18 months of shows, and the feedback of viewers and my fellow co-hosts.  Harrison the Mad Metal Man went to the trouble of graphing everyone’s picks for favourite episodes — 11 lists total.  Have a look at the stats and click to zoom in for details.

It’s rewarding to see that most of the shows were on somebody’s favourite list.  Even some of the shows I thought were not very good.  Even one of the early shows, pre-Nigel Tufnel Top Ten, made a list thanks to Harrison.  The very first Tufnel list show was Rush, which showed up on three lists.  This must be heartwarming for Uncle Meat, who was the originator of that Nigel Tufnel Top Ten list idea.

In the beginning I was resistant to doing list shows.  “I hate lists!” I complained.  (Because they’re hard — I could do five Rush lists in one night, all different.)  But Meat persisted, and came up with the Tufnel gimmick.  The concept, based on everyone’s favourite scene in This Is Spinal Tap, is that we call it a “top ten” but we really go to 11.  The gimmick appealed to me, and when we actually went live that day, the Meat Man and I had some great lists.  We also had a Rush list from Michael Morwood making it a nice tight three.  The next week we did Kiss and brought more people in.  The ability to bring in participants this way really appealed to me and the show began to take off.

That Rush list show could definitely use a re-visit….

Votes for favourite shows are clustered on the latter half.  The votes focus mostly on shows from late November 2020 onwards.  At that point streams starting getting a lot longer with more guests.  What do you think is the ideal time for a live show?  I think two hours is prime, but we’re a talkative bunch and most of the later shows clocked in over three hours.  Viewers seem to like a variety of guests with a lot of conflicting opinions, but keeping it to two hours is impossible!

Another interesting thing about these statistics is the way the interview shows break down.  Most of us decided to choose only one show per celebrity — so even though Andy Curran appeared three times, we only picked one each.  So it might appear bizarre that some great, great interviews got no votes:  Brent Jensen’s first visit, and Andy’s first and third did not make any lists.  Only because each of those guys did one show that was far and above some of the best stuff we’ve ever done!

Overall there were six shows tied for first place:

  1. One Hit Wonders.  Probably due to Max the Axe’s hilarious appearance that night.
  2. Top Maiden Artwork.  A very visual show with some serious fans.
  3. Andy Curran/Mike Fraser double header.  A magical moment when the two guys got to talk to each other while Deke and I just sat back and smiled.
  4. Paul Laine.  Truly a special interview and special moment for John Snow and I.
  5. Top Spielberg Films.  A recent show.  The velvety voice of Erik Woods had a lot to do with this!  But it was also truly a great set of lists.
  6. Top Animated Films.  Another recent show (with Woods!) and one I went into with barely any knowledge of animated films at all.

It’s very pleasing to see those last two shows on so many lists.  It proves we were doing quality work right to the end.  I have no doubt the final episode would have made lists too if we could do it again!

Mostly, Harrison’s graph tells me yet again that it wasn’t for nothing.  It meant something to people, and it was consistent if not growing.  We didn’t do a handful of great shows.  We did a series of consistently great episodes.  Peaks and valleys, yes, but lots of peaks.




Long Live the LeBrain Train

The weekly LeBrain Train has come to an end after 18 solid months.  I’ve done what I wanted to do — keep you entertained and connected during this pandemic.  I’ve not missed a week, but my fuel tanks need refilling and now’s the time to take a break.  But not to fear — as we announced, there is an alternative.

Darr Erickson said, “What about re-running classic episodes instead of going live?”  So that’s what we’re doing!  Special and well regarded past episodes will be repeated on Friday nights at the regular time and regular place.  The shows aren’t necessarily easy to find so we’ll do the searching for you, and play the best of the best one more time.

Next week tune in for the ZZ Top Deep Cuts episode, which made many lists tonight.

Oh right, the lists!  Joined by Harrison the Mad Metal Man, we listed the Nigel Tufnel Top Ten episodes of all time.  Lists submitted by:

  • Tee Bone (x 2)
  • Rob Daniels
  • Uncle Meat (x 2) – special cameo appearance
  • John T. Snow
  • Scotty Peddle
  • and me (x 2)

We also had plenty of special features!

  • Harrison’s Top Albums He’d Save From a Fire (0:08:00)
  • Brand new Tee Bone song “Ode to Darr” (0:29:00)
  • Special Sausagefest 20 highlights & video from Uncle Meat (0:31:15)
  • Lego LeBrain Train diorama & Easter Eggs with Harrison (1:01:30)
  • Not one but two new LeBrain train intros, adding new faces

Watch the video to learn who’s who in this Lego diorama by Harrison!


Discussion in the comments was lively and made me wonder if more people are still home on a Friday night than I assumed.  I hope you enjoy next week’s repeat of the ZZ Top episode.  With Dusty’s recent passing, it will be interesting in retrospect.

And we’ll be back with Superdekes on September 24 to talk to Storm Force one more time.  Our first interview was Storm Force so it’s full circle.  Stay tuned for plenty more list and theme shows.  The ideas flowed in the comments section so there is no shortage of potential themes!

‘Til next time….

A LeBrain Train Retrospective

Lego by the awesome Harrison


The LeBrain Train: 2000 Words or More with Mike Ladano

Episode 81 – A Retrospective

When you put as much into something as I have with this show, you eventually need a break.  I said I would keep doing this every week so long as Covid is keeping people stuck at home with nothing to do on a Friday night.  I think I’ve done that.  While not 100% of us are back to situation normal, it’s clear that most of us have had other things to do on the weekends.  And that’s awesome.

Given that the landscape has changed, and I’ve been at this for 18 solid months, changes are coming.  This show is to honour the past and look to the future.

Tonight, Harrison and I shall discuss our Nigel Tufnel Top Ten LeBrain Train Episodes of all time.  We’ll also run down the show’s history from its debut on March 20, 2020 to the present.  The fun, the ambition, the setbacks, the wins, the losses, and the memorable.  And what is to come!  We have something very, very cool planned.  You have Darr Erickson to thank.

I’ll be back September 24 with Superdekes to talk to Greg Fraser of Storm Force.  And we’ll be back again and again, any time a bunch of us want to talk about music on a Friday night.

As Ozzy would say, “Thank you, goodnight, I love you all.”

And you know about Ozzy and farewells.


Friday August 27, 7:00 PM E.S.T. on Facebook:  MikeLeBrain and YouTube:  Mike LeBrain.


Complete Show List


#908: Practice Practice Practice

RECORD STORE TALES #908: Practice Practice Practice

Time for another confessional!

After our amazing interview with Paul Laine a little while ago, I finally have the confidence to say that I feel like a good interviewer.  I didn’t always feel that way.  My very first interview, with Eddie Jackson of Queensryche, was 20 years ago.  That was a great interview, but I didn’t think I was a good interviewer yet.  I felt like I needed a few more under my belt first.  My next interview didn’t go nearly as well, and I stopped pursuing them.

Here’s the truth.  I don’t care how stupid this sounds.  You go and interview Paul Laine yourself if you think this sounds stupid.

When I was younger…I used to practice interviewing rock stars in my room.

Paul Stanley.  Ace Frehley.  Bruce Dickinson.  I made up questions and I practised asking them.  I worked on my cadence and imagined loose, fun interviews.  I pictured myself improvising followup questions.  I practised!

This continued into my 20s.  Listening to albums.  Reading interviews.  Thinking, “I could do better than this.”  Pondering the questions you really wanted to know the answers to.

I’m happy that I’m now well past the point of practising.  Only experience can be my guide now.  If this shtick comes naturally to me, it’s only because I practised at it for years!


#896: Plans


Plans.  Gotta make ’em, but sometimes nothing goes according to them.

Winter is over.  We made it through.  I have Seasonal Affective Disorder (appropriately acronymed as SAD), so winter is always a hard time.  It feels good to be on the other side of it, and not have to put on layers of warmth just to take out the garbage.

Last fall I made some plans to make it through the winter.  I completed some, and I left others unstarted.  That’s just the way the cookie crumbles, and what was winter 2020/21 but a shitty stale crumbled up cookie?

As we hunkered in for the winter, I gave myself a couple projects to keep me occupied.  One was continuing with the VHS Archives.  I accomplished very little on this.  I did not play any video tapes at all this year, and only uploaded videos I already had on my hard drive.  This season I only posted six videos.

I also wanted to teach myself Photoshop this winter.  I didn’t get anything done there.  As it turns out, I didn’t really have to, thanks to the generosity of friends.  Good ol’ T-Bone has donated his time and made plenty of great artwork for the LeBrain Train live show.  Plus our artist friend Saige did some great work too.  I’m so lucky that we have built such an amazing community of artists and writers together.

Speaking of the live show, I had one plan that I thought would be easy, but never came to be.  As a proud Canadian boy, I wanted to show some of our American friends (especially the one in Hawaii!) what a Canadian winter looks like.  I planned on doing a live show outdoors in a snow storm.  I thought that would be an absolute hoot.  The weather never really aligned with a good live stream day.  It was kind of a mild winter compared to others.

Looking back at the goals from the fall, there are two I did accomplish. One was to make a dashcam video of a shitty winter drive, set to the music of Max the Axe. I did that with “Magnum P.I.” and it is a great example of a typical winter commute.  The second mission accomplished was to keep on live streaming.  I still haven’t missed a week — knock wood.

I couldn’t have done it without my friends.  You know who you are.  Chances are if you’re reading this, you’re one of ’em.

Brent Jensen and the Raiders of the Lost Mahogany Tape Case

Thank you Brent Jensen for appearing on the show a second time!  Although the conversation veered wildly from Cinderella to Raven and back again, we orbited around Brent’s mahogany box of cassettes.  Maybe you had one like it.  But was your stuffed alphabetically from Accept to W.A.S.P.?  Take a look inside Brent’s tape collection and listen to the amazing stories that unfold.

The chat with Brent commences at 0:23:00 of the stream.

As my One Year Anniversary Show, we are doing a CD giveaway too.  Next week we’ll draw a winner from a hat.  See bottom for the trivia question and submission form!

The trivia question was: What is the tagline on Brent’s No Sleep ‘Til Sudbury podcast? Watch the episode for some pretty obvious clues and submit your answer in the form below.  Really, really, really obvious clues.  Really obvious.

A winner will be drawn next week!


Marco the Contrarian joins Uncle Meat and I for the Blackest of Sabbaths, only on a Friday!

Brent’s Back! Leftover People with Ladano, Deke and Brent Jensen

The LeBrain Train:  2000 Words or More with Mike Ladano…and Deke!

Episode 55 – The Return of Brent Jensen

** One Year Anniversary Episode **


Brent Jensen is one of my favourite people.  His No Sleep ‘Til Sudbury podcast is essential listening.  I’m currently working my way through the book No Sleep’Til Sudbury, a story I really identify with.  Though Brent is a couple years ahead of me, I really see myself in his story of discovering hard rock and heavy metal in the early 80s.  Seeing bands for the first time, the contrived origins and evolution of Motley Crue, cassettes, video tapes…it is a great read.  One that has me stroking my beard in deep thought, as I am forced to consider heavy metal history from a different angle.

Superdekes will be back as your co-host for what we hope will be another excellent free-form conversation about the subject we all love:  music that makes our skin vibrate.

In addition:  this will be my one year anniversary show!  Ontario went into a state of emergency on March 17, 2020.  I went live that Friday.  And here we are a year later!  To celebrate, I’ll be doing a CD giveaway (details at bottom), and showing clips from the very first show a year ago.

Not only that:  Brent is celebrating four years and 200 episodes of No Sleep ‘Til Sudbury, the podcast!  He just opened a new Patreon membership too, so we will be talking about that and plenty more.  This is an episode you don’t want to miss.  You want to catch it live!

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



We will be asking a skill-testing question about Brent Jensen on the show.  Submit your answers in the form below.  We will be giving away two sealed CDs:  The Cars’ debut (remastered), and a signed copy of Jim Crean’s excellent Insatiable.  I will be doing a random draw from a hat next week!

Surprise Live Unboxing

The LeBrain Train:  2000 Words or More with Mike Ladano

Went live for a short stream yesterday, just to unbox some stuff that I didn’t wanna wait until Friday to do. You’ll have to watch to see the three special new arrivals.

Also just building the hype for March. The whole month is already booked up and I’m really excited. Watch the video and check out what we have in store. It’s not a spoiler to tell you that this Friday is Riffs of the 80s with Mike Slayen!  This is a followup to our very popular Riffs of the 70s show back in January.  Mike will demonstrate some of the riffs we’re going to discuss.  As an added bonus we’ll also have Rob Daniels with us, who always has an interesting set of picks.

Check out the video, and subscribe to my channel so you never have to worry about missing one!







And speaking of…

Martin Popoff chills with the Three Amigos at the Rock and Roll Highschool

Thank you Martin Popoff for a thunderous rock and roll chat on a locked-in Friday night!  Confronted by three Top Five Popoff lists, Martin threw it down!  From his books to his Youtube shows, we tried to cover a bit of everything.  Thank you Martin for giving us an hour of your Friday night.  If you haven’t read one of his terrific tomes yet, check out what’s available at  Money well spent!

We decided to take a three-pronged approach to the discussion by focusing on three Top Five lists:

  1. Deke – Top Five Martin Popoff Books
  2. Mike – Top Five albums I bought because of a 10/10 review in Riff Kills Man
  3. Eric – Top Five Martin Popoff YouTube appearances

From there the discussion flowed like a gin & tonic.

Hope you enjoyed the show!