mrs lebrain

Sunday Chuckle: No Quarter (by Mrs. LeBrain)

Currency is a method used to pay for goods and services in the country or region where these good and services are provided.  Its denominations are very specific and exact.  Often, the customer cannot pay the vendor an exact amount so the vendor is required to return the difference to the customer to complete the transaction.  This action is commonly referred to as making “change”.

Money is highly recognisable to its users.  Larger denominations are made of universally sized paper and plastic sheets referred to as “bills”.  Smaller denominations are metal pieces with a circular shape in a variety of sizes known as “coins”.  The different sizes typically indicate value so they can easily be detected and assessed by their users.  Many nations have ‘coins’ very similar in colour and shape, but with the value of these coins being so small, most users cannot be bothered to examine these pieces closely to confirm authenticity.

A common coin in Canada is known as a “quarter” which has a value of 25 cents.  (1/4 of a dollar) To put this into perspective, my daily coffee costs about eight quarters and an ass-kicking rock CD would cost Lebrain about 80 of these things.

One afternoon, after having a morning coffee with one of my girlfriends, we decided to visit the “Golden Arches” for a quick and unhealthy lunch.  The order came out to $11.25, and for once I had EXACT change (woot!!!).  I reached into my purse and pulled out my ten dollar bill, my one dollar coin (known in Canada as a ‘Loonie’) and what I thought was a “quarter”.

The cashier and her supervisor examined the coin closely and gave it back to me.

McD:  “What is this?”

Me:  “A quarter.”

McD:  (In a rude, shaming tone) “No it isn’t and we can’t accept it from you”

I took the coin back and gave the cashier a fifty dollar bill (making her provide me with a lot of change to complete the transaction.  It turns out the “quarter” was a Swiss Franc with an exchange value of $1.27 CAD.

Their loss, my gain.  I just hope they didn’t spit in my fries.

Mrs. LeBrain

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#598: “Seven”

Here’s a very special story for a very special day. September 18th is the day I met my wife! Happy “meetaversary” sweetie.

GETTING MORE TALE #598: “Seven”

When dating, there are many rites of passage on the road to a long term relationship.  For either sex, one of the usual hurdles is meeting the “best friend”.  If the best friend doesn’t like you, your whole relationship could be doomed.  It happened to me and it could happen to you!

I met Mrs. LeBrain on Sept 18 2005.  We made contact like most people these days, first online and then in person.  Meeting people online in 2005 wasn’t as mundane as it is today.  Jen had never met someone from online before.  We’ve told the tale of meeting before – from both perspectives.  Mine was Record Store Tales #111:  The Girl in the Sam Roberts Shirt.  Her version was Getting More Tale #434:  The Man in the Bob Marley Shirt.  Needless to say, music is important to both of us.

There was one thing Jen failed to do, and that was inform her best friend Lara that she was meeting someone over the internet.  She knew Lara wouldn’t approve.  Once we started dating regularly, she had to come clean.  As predicted Lara wasn’t impressed that she would go and meet some random internet dude without telling her.  She was in trouble!  And so was I, just for existing secretly!

Jen arranged a coffee meet up.  We picked up Lara and her friend Dave, and headed over to the nearest Tim Horton’s.  I was pleasantly surprised by Lara.  Jen had made her out to sound evil and dangerous.  She seemed anything but!  Funny, smart, and clearly someone who cared deeply for her best friend.  We got along immediately.

At one point in the evening, Lara asked me, “On a scale from one to 10, how pissed off would you be?”

I didn’t understand.  “Pardon?”

“On a scale from one to 10, how pissed off would you be?” she answered.

“Well, I’m a pretty easy going guy, so I’d say about a three.”  Hypothetically, of course.

Secretly, inside, Jen was worried what this meant.  She said nothing, nor did Dave.

We continued to drink our coffee and chat.  Lara liked science fiction, so we had that in common.  In Canada, sitting around a Tim Horton’s all night drinking coffee (or tea in Lara’s case) is a pretty common pastime.  My wife can really drink coffee like a champion.  If there was a Stanley Cup of Coffee, she would win it every season.

We made tentative plans for a future meet up, when suddenly –

RRRRRRRIIIIIP!

Lara reached over, grabbed my soul patch hair, the part right below my bottom lip, and YANKED HARD.  I looked wide-eyed to see my own facial hair in her fingers.

She asked again, “On a scale from one to 10, how pissed off would you be?”

My answer was immediate.  “SEVEN!  DEFINITELY SEVEN!”

And that is why to this day, all of Lara’s kids and their friends call me “Uncle Seven”.  My nickname became Seven, irreversibly and permanently.  It’s been over ten years and I’m still Uncle Seven.  In fact, here is an actual conversation that I had with her son Tyler, and his girlfriend.  It was Tyler’s 19th birthday:

Mike:  “Tyler, you’re an adult now, you don’t have to call me Uncle Seven anymore.  Just call me Mike.”

Tyler:  “OK Seven.”

Girlfriend:  “Wait…your name is Mike? I thought it was Seven.”

Mike:  “…You thought my real name was Seven?!  Who the hell would name their kids a number?!”

Girlfriend:  “There’s a girl named Eleven.”

Mike:  “Yeah!  On a TV show!  And it wasn’t her real name!!”

 

The fact that I took Lara’s little “test” as a joke meant that our friendship was solidly guaranteed.  I passed!  We’ve been tight ever since.

 

#555.5: A Short Visit to Sonic Boom

GETTING MORE TALE #555.5: A Short Visit to Sonic Boom

Yesterday I took Mrs. LeBrain to Toronto to see a neurosurgeon.  It was a great meeting; very positive, but we will get more into that in a future tale.   (Look for an upcoming Getting More Tale story called “Seize the Day” if you want to know more.)   After the meeting with the doctor, she had some tests.  I didn’t need to be around for the those, so with a couple hours to kill, I went down to Sonic Boom on Spadina.  I was accompanied by Mrs. LeBrain’s Mom, who insisted we cab to the store.  It was a rainy miserable day outside.  Wet, cold, windy and unpleasant.  The cab ride wasn’t unwelcome.

I’m glad I shaved my beard down to a goatee the other day, because almost every dude in that store looked the same.  Bearded hipsters buying vinyl, left right and center, lookalikes all!  I tuned out the background noise and focused on the cool.  Upstairs they had two colouring books I almost considered getting.  Do you know anyone who is a huge fan of either James Franco or Benedict Cumberbatch?  If so, I am happy to report that Sonic Boom had colouring books of both.  (They also had Star Trek and Star Trek: The Next Generation.)  I spied the new Mastodon among the new releases, but headed downstairs where the real treasures usually lay.

Although I put in a Herculean effort, there was little to be found.  Maybe I have too many CDs, because everywhere I flipped it seemed to be “got it, got it, got it, got it…”  Aaron asked me to look for Danny Michel and a few other titles.  Nothing to be found.  I was struck by how just about everything seems to be reissued on vinyl today.  The Spice Girls’ first album, Spice.  I fail to comprehend.  It doesn’t compute.  I considered buying some Kiss reissues, but I didn’t really want to come home with something I already owned.

With some persistence I did liberate three titles:

  1. The Sword – High Country (CD, used, $9.99)
  2. Queen – The Game (2 CD remaster, used, $9.99)
  3. Rush – Agora Ballroom, Cleveland Ohio, May 1975 (vinyl, new, $32.99)

The Queen set was in the recent arrivals, and that is a nice score.  I’m nowhere near complete with my Queen remasters, but when I can pick them off one by one, used?  That’s the best way.  The Rush on the other hand is something of a chance I’m taking.  This is a radio broadcast vinyl, and I’ve never bought one of those before.  They had several available.  I don’t have anything live from Rush in 1975, so that was the key factor.  Also a non-album track:  “Bad Boy”, a Larry Williams cover.  180 gram coloured vinyl to boot.  Should be good times.

Not a knockout shopping excursion, but not a waste of time either.  We walked back to the hospital (although Mrs. LeBrain’s Mom would have preferred a cab) and got soaked, but it’s good to stretch the legs when it’s a long day of driving and sitting.  Besides, we enjoyed looking at the Toronto scenery.  The fruit and vegetable markets smelled great.  They even had bonsai trees.

Back in the hospital waiting room, I was able to do a little research for my Kiss Re-Review series in progress.  Guess which album I have to write up next.

I don’t want to use the word “disappointing” for this Sonic Boom trip, because I am very pleased with my new albums.  I told Uncle Meat I wanted some more The Sword, and Sonic Boom delivered.  I’m more surprised than disappointed that I was only able to scrounge up three finds this time.  Every visit is different, and I’m sure that next time I return (either in the fall with Aaron, or sooner for more tests) it will be another story.  Sonic Boom is still an absolute must for any music fan visiting Toronto.  Don’t miss out, and be sure to check out the new arrival bins.  They are often the key to many great finds.

As always Sonic Boom gets 5/5 stars.  And so does Mrs. LeBrain for being a tough-as-nails trooper.

 

#512: Sh*t LeBrain’s Wife Says

GETTING MORE TALE #512: Shit LeBrain’s Wife Says

As readers here know, when I can get away with putting the minimum amount of effort into a story, I’m going to go for it.  This one is lifted directly from my Facebook posts, a couple months after Jen and I got married.  Her ongoing education in rock was just beginning.  I can proudly say that today, Mrs. LeBrain knows the difference between Van Halen and Van Hagar.  But in 2008?


 

Oct 9 2008:

TOP TWO QUOTES FROM JENNIFER TODAY:

#2 Some background, I was playing the track “Me Wise Magic” by Van Halen, an obscure song with David Lee Roth singing.  I said to Jen, do you know who this is? And she responded:

“Yeah…is this Van Hagar?”

#1 “Wow is your beard ever grey!”

But I’m still gonna stay married to her anyway.

wow is your beard ever grey


It’s even more grey today.

Jen likes both Van Halen and Van Hagar now, and she’s perfectly capable of telling the difference.  She counts “Jump” and “Why Can’t This Be Love” as her favourite VH songs, tied for the #1 position.  Considering that in my dating days, girls used to insist on listening to MuchDance95 in the car, I’m a very lucky man. I dodged some musical bullets, and somehow ended up with the best girl in the world.

GUEST SHOT! #434: The Man in the Bob Marley Shirt

A sequel to Record Store Tales Part 111: The Girl in the Sam Roberts Shirt.

Guest Shot by Mrs. LeBrain

GETTING MORE TALES #434: The Man in the Bob Marley Shirt

10 years ago was a very interesting part of my life.  I had been out of college for a few years, and took a promotion at a company that I had been working at for some time.  I was single and enjoying my life as a woman in her mid-twenties doing a lot of volunteering and making great friends.  A lot of my friends from earlier years were getting married and having kids, but that didn’t seem like a part of my future at that time.  Until September, 18th.

I had made a friend through the world of social media who lived an hour down the highway in Kitchener Ontario.  We were spending a lot of time using Messenger to chat and occasional phone calls on land lines.  One day this friend was having a bit of a bad day.  He had been on a first date the day before with a woman he found on the internet who he described as creepy.  He was having a bad day at the job he no longer enjoyed.  In our chats I invited him to make the drive up the highway to Bramalea Ontario.  He accepted and we made plans for him to pick me up at my family home.

He told me that he wanted a laid back evening with a walk in a park.  I told him that I could handle that, but in actuality, I was scared shitless.  I had never gone on a single date with anyone from the World Wide Web.  I had heard horror stories of serial killers and this guy wanted to walk in parks on a Sunday night.  Not the smartest of ideas, but for some reason I went with it.  Something was telling me that things were going to be okay.

When he arrived at the house in his green neon I was outside having a cigarette.  I approached the car and opened the door.  Inside was a very cute guy in a grey Bob Marley t-shirt and a blue sweater.  Very cute.  We drove around for a bit turning on a lot of streets that started with the letter A so I could get him a bit lost (Bramalea is divided into ‘sections’ where streets are all named with the same first letter after UK communities – I figured if he was a serial killer, I could out run him and call 911, telling the police there was a green neon, lost somewhere on Aberdeen.

We took a walk into the park and played on some swings before making our way down to a creek to talk about our lives.  He told me that he was starving and saw a Wendy’s.  He asked if we could grab a burger there.  For all burger aficionados, Wendy’s is at the bottom of the totem poll.  I told him there was a much better burger not too far away.  We got back in the car and drove to Sonny’s, a drive in burger joint around since the 60’s.  We ordered two hamburgers with ‘funky onions’ (a fried onion with paprika seasoning) and other toppings too our likings.  We shared a large poutine and talked a lot on the hard to get picnic table.  (The joint is so busy, you usually can’t sit – a picnic table is a prime piece of drive in real estate).  We talked so much, that we didn’t even give our burgers a try.  We left them in their wrappers to eat at a later time.

After our first dinner, we decided to go to another park to hang out some more.  I directed him to Gage Park in Brampton Ontario.  This is more of a romantic park that girls like to hang out in.  We walked around the park, talking for a while, and then moved to a knoll of grass to sit and do more talking.  After a few minutes, the man in the Bob Marley t-shirt leaned in and gave me our first kiss.  It was ground-breaking.  All bets were off.

After a bit more time of kissing in the park, Bob Marley boy realized that he needed to get home because of an early work start.  He drove me home, kissed me one more time in the car and drove back to his home in Kitchener.  I entered the house to my half-asleep mother.  She asked me how my date went.  I sat on the reclining chair next to her and told her that I met the man I was going to marry.

She stood up, looked at me and said “You’re just like your father”and went to bed.  That was September 18th in a nutshell.

I love you LeBrain.

MARLEY

*  In 1976, Jen’s father was in a Florida hotel.  He saw Jen’s mother for the first time in the lobby and went to the phone where he called his best friend and said “Graham, I just saw the girl I’m going to marry.  Now I just have to figure out her first name.”

#347: Hortons (featuring Mrs. LeBrain)

She’s back with another guest shot!  Enjoy this two-fer Tale.

RECORD STORE TALES Mk II: Getting More Tale
#347: Hortons

IMG_20141117_173614LeBRAIN’S TAKE:

Here’s one thing I never understood, either in the Record Store days or today:  People who are obsessed with Tim Hortons coffee.  I’m married to one and I still don’t get it.

I worked with people who never showed up at a shift without their double double in hand.  I worked with others who had to do a daily Tim’s run.  I served customers who left their empty cups on our shelves, or at the front counter.    That was always a favourite of mine, and it’s not unique.  I’ve shopped at many stores, finding the brown empty cups sitting there on shelves.  Somebody else’s problem, right?

I fail to understand the obsession. Jen has to have one (large decaf with three cream and one sweetener) every single day.  There was an old urban myth (an untrue one) that Tim’s put nicotine in their coffee to keep you hooked.  The only reason that myth has such long life is that Horton’s Addiction (HA) is so prevalent in Canadian society.

Now that Burger King, an American company, has bought out Tim’s, I fear for our friends south of the border.

I see a future littered with brown cups.  I envision our American friends unwittingly becoming addicted to Hortons’ secret brew.  I picture, somewhere in the US, a record store manager not unlike my younger self, pulling empty brown cups from their shelves as I once did.

Just say no to Tim’s.  Make your own coffee at home.  Hell, just drink water!  Don’t fall into the trap of Horton’s Addiction, an affliction for which there is no known cure.

IMG_20141214_171037_editMRS. LeBRAIN’S REBUTTAL

50 years ago, one of the greatest defensemen in NHL history decided to expand his horizons, and open a coffee & doughnut [his spelling] empire.  That man’s name was Tim Horton, and he made a damn good cup of coffee.

One thing that is very special about “Timmie’s” (as we call it) is its consistency.  Your coffee in Kitchener Ontario will come out exactly the same as your coffee in Kitchener BC.

Every coffee drinker has their ideal cup of coffee, and sometimes it takes years to find that combination of cream and sugar that is right for you.  When you do find it, Tim Hortons has dispensing equipment designed to maintain that perfect coffee for you, no matter what size you order it or where you order it from.  (The only exception to this rule is Splenda sweetener which is dispensed by hand from packets.)  Rival chains such as Starbucks make the customer add their cream and sugar themselves, creating human inconsistencies.

I love the texture of the cream; the feeling inside takes me to a special place.  It also doesn’t hurt that they use 18% cream, a treat in itself.

Contrary to the way LeBrain makes it appear, I really do like all kinds of coffee.  My Keurig machine is well used in the LeBrain household, but Tim Hortons is the champion, and whenever possible that brown cup will be in my happy hands.

Even LeBrain himself knows that if he ever does something to get him in shit, a five minute trip to the drive-through can fix the situation!

The two greatest things on this planet are hockey and coffee.  There was a man who brought those two worlds together, and his name was Tim Horton.

[Re-Post] Part 236: Thanksgiving 2005, featuring special guest Mrs. LeBrain!

My Grandmother reminded us of this story today. I thought I’d repost it for the new readers who missed it last year. Happy Thanksgiving!


RECORD STORE TALES Part 236:  Thanksgiving 2005

Miserable at the record store, and mere weeks away from giving my notice, I still somehow managed to swing Thanksgiving weekend off.  The family tradition back then was Thanksgiving at the cottage with my aunt and uncle, grandma and sister.  Complicating things for me this Thanksgiving was that I had started dating Jen, the future Mrs. LeBrain.  She was alone that weekend, because her parents were spending Thanksgiving in Ottawa.  I felt that she was somebody special, and I wanted to somehow have Thanksgiving with her, but also my family.  The only catch was that we’d been together less than a month, and she’d never met anybody from my family before.  Ever.

As this story is a bit of an indictment against myself, I’ll let her take it from here.

LeBrain told me that his parents and his sister would be staying in this peaceful cabin by the lake.  He didn’t tell me about anyone else.  It had been a long time since I met a suitor’s parents.  A sister too?  Well that was uncharted territory to say the least.

As we approached the cottage through the woods, my anxiety started to increase.  The car stopped and my heart began beating in my throat as I looked into the cottage’s big front window.

Mike’s mom and dad, sister, and her boyfriend were waiting at the window!  So were his aunt, uncle, grandmother, and the disapproving family dog!

After introductions, Mike walked me to his bedroom where I’d be staying while he was sleeping on the couch.  The door closed behind me, and what I saw on the wall was a vision to haunt me, and to one day tell our future grandchildren about.  It was a gun rack, made with actual deer parts, holding a gun.

“Maybe this online dating thing is a bad idea!”

GUN RACK

Gun rack given to me by my Grandfather

It’s only a pellet gun.  Happy Thanksgiving, Canada!

GUEST SHOT! Part 319: The Musical Crimes of LeBrain (by Mrs. LeBrain)

I really had this coming.  In Part 314 (The Musical Crimes of Mrs. LeBrain) I exposed the somewhat embarrassing contents of Jen’s CD wallet.  I knew retribution would come.  Enjoy this penultimate episode of Record Store Tales, and its final guest shot, courtesy of Mrs. LeBrain.  (Warning:  LOTS of pictures!)

By MRS. LeBRAIN

RECORD STORE TALES Part 319: The Musical Crimes of LeBrain

#10 HIM – And Love Said No.  That deep dark gothic prince Ville Valo makes lonely girls swoon, but he is also hanging out on LeBrain’s shelf.

#9 Soundtrack – SMALL SOLDIERS.  I don’t know how this made it into the LeBrain home.  I understand his need for everything Geddy Lee has ever created, but “Mixed by DJ Z-Trip“??  Is that really worth it?  (Not to mention that you have to rock out to Bone Thugs-N-Harmony to get there.)

#8 ROD STEWART – “If We Fall In Love Tonight” CD single.  Going through my adventure here, I came across this single, designed to get the listener to first base.  YOU’RE MARRIED. THAT SHIT DOESN’T NEED TO STAY.

#7 Soundtrack – THE KARATE KID, Part III.  “Wax on, wax off.”  The case and book for this CD do not meet the demanding criteria that LeBrain enforces on his collection, but neither does the track list.  (I don’t know who most of these people are, but I have heard of the Pointer Sisters.)

#6 WOODSTOCK 99 – Various.  Look at the first six tracks from crap bands, and try not to laugh (a challenging task).  The second CD is just as bad.

#5 Soundtrack – SON IN LAW.  The Pauly Shore franchise was known for making really bad movies.  The soundtracks are not much better and this shouldn’t be taking up valuable shelf space.

#4 ELMOPALOOZA – Various.  If LeBrain were a daddy, this CD might make sense (Steven Tyler has a song about trash).  But LeBrain is childless, and Tickle-Me-Elmo is pretty pointless here!

#3 ZZ TOP: A Tribute From Friends – Various.  Three words:

MIKE OWNS NICKELBACK!

#2 AVRIL LAVIGNE – The Lavigne Collection (see below).  In Part 314, LeBrain threw me under the bus for wanting to marry Joey Mac from New Kids on the Block, 25 years ago.  Payback time!  Just because he wanted to be her “Sk8tr Boi” doesn’t mean he needed to buy her entire repertoire.

And #1! HIT ZONE 4 – Various.  LeBrain’s messiest musical moments have been in his “Various” section, but this one takes the cake.  My husband owns tracks by NSync, the Backstreet Boys and Boyz II Men?  And to top it off this boy band festival, here’s Hanson!  Regardless, I think the most disturbing thing about this CD is cover.  Look at the scratches and scrapes on the case.  This tells me the CD has been well enjoyed.

CONCLUSION:  

LeBrain, with all the mess on YOUR shelves, you really can’t make fun of me.  But no matter what crap you listen to, you’re still mine.

– Mrs. LeBrain

NEXT TIME ON RECORD STORE TALES…

End of the Line!

 

Top Five(s) of 2013 – Part 2: Movies, TV and the rest

If you missed the Top Five Albums of 2013 lists, click here!

Some people got carried away and submitted more than 5 in their lists this year, Uncle Meat being the number one offender. But since Tom & Uncle Meat were good this Christmas, here are the Top Five (or Six) (or Ten) Movies of 2013.  And while we’re talking about movies we may as well do a Top TV Shows of 2013 as well huh?

Tom

SMAUG

Movies

6. Sound City
5. Star Trek: Into Darkness
4. This Is The End
3. John Dies At The End
2. The World’s End
1. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

TV Shows 

SCHANGhhhhhhhh10. Rick and Morty
9. PTI
8. Colbert Report
7. Daily Show
6. Eagleheart
5. Venture Brothers
4. The Jeselnik Offensive
3. Aqua Teen Hunger Force
2. Community
1. Game of Thrones

Meat

Movies

SOUND CITY
10. Carrie
9. Kick Ass 2
8. Pacific Rim
7. This is the End
6. Man of Steel
5. Star Trek: Into Darkness
4. 42
3. Sound City
2. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
1. The Wolf of Wall Street

TV Shows

Meat came up with a Top Nine.  Sure, why not!

HEISENBERG9. Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
8. The Following
7. The Killing
6. Walking Dead
5. Californication
4./3. Tie: Mad Men/Breaking Bad
2. American Horror Story: Coven
1. Game of Thrones

Seb

Movies

man-of-steel-25. Iron Man 3
4. Pacific Rim
3. Star Trek: Into Darkness
2. The Incredible Burt Wonderstone
1. Man of Steel

Seb also had some Top Concerts he wanted to mention:  “Brian Setzer and Meshuggah….. Yeah, I know its weird….he he he!”

Mrs. LeBrain

SHELDONTV Shows

5. Jeopardy!
4. Dragon’s Den
3. Blue Bloods
2. The Big Bang Theory
1. Hockey Night In Canada

LeBrain

For a variety of reasons I don’t get out to the movies often, so I decided to just post Five Movies I Saw in 2013!

MoviesGARY KING

5. Man of Steel
4. This is the End
3. Sound City
2. Star Trek: Into Darkness
1. The World’s End

TV Shows

When Mrs. LeBrain wasn’t watching hockey, I watched these shows in 2013:

5. Star Trek re-runs (best I could come up with)
4. The Liquidator
3. Toy Hunter
2. Survivorman
1. Breaking Bad

LES

REVIEW: Paul Stanley – Live To Win (2006)

PAUL STANLEY – Live To Win (2006 Universal)

This album is significant to me for one reason only:  It was the first CD bought for me by my lovely wife, Mrs. LeBrain.  She knew I liked Kiss and she knew I didn’t have this album.  It was a total surprise!  It was also a total disappointment.

Paul’s 1978 solo album is a milestone for me, it’s one of those albums I can put on any time, any where, anyhow, and I always love it. When Paul wrote (quoted in the “Kiss: Behind The Mask” book) “Let’s just say it needs a sequel right about now,” I was so excited. Yet I forgot, the word “sequel” has many different connotations.

LIVE TO WIN_0002Unfortunately, Live To Win is a sequel in the sense that it’s inferior to the original in every way. The production is plastic, modern synthetic, and boring. The songwriting is good in parts, but there are three ballads here. Paul’s first solo album had nine songs and one ballad. Here, there are ten songs and three ballads. You can work out the math on your own. The playing is bland and generic. John5 plays guitar a bit, and he’s always great, and Bruce Kulick plays bass (why bass?) on a few songs. Everybody else is just a studio cat, guys who are paid big bucks to make people like Avril sound good.  Good players, but there’s no personality on this album.  Not like when Bob Kulick ripped Paul’s first solo album to shreds.

There are two good songs.  They are “Wake Up Screaming” and “Where Angels Dare”. “Wake Up Screaming” starts off with some terrible drum machines. (Yes, not a misprint. There is far too much ProTools and programming on Live To Win.) It’s generic sounding, until Paul’s melody and vocal elevates the song to a whole different level. Still, it’s not aggressive enough for a song called “Wake Up Screaming”. Raw production would have turned this into a classic.  The other good song is “Where Angels Dare”.  It’s another great song with Paul’s riff, vocal, and melody taking it where it should be. A highlight.

“Live To Win” is also decent, it has a good chorus, but the riff and verses are boring. “Bulletproof” sounds like a Hot in the Shade outtake.  “Lift” should have been on Carnival Of Souls, it has that grungy sound. The rest of the album is just plain boring, especially the ballads. Among the ballads there’s nothing here that can hold a candle to the dynamics of “Hold Me, Touch Me” even though they are every bit as schlocky.

Paul, I’m disappointed. For a guy who had the idea to go back to basics and record the Kiss album Sonic Boom on analog tape, this just doesn’t even sound like it came from the same person. Maybe if your first solo album wasn’t so good, so classic, then I wouldn’t have expected so much. Yet, Paul, you are a rock god. There’s no denying it even to non-fans. You are an icon, and you are responsible for a dozen or more of the best songs in rock history. There’s no denying it! For you to put this out, I can only conclude you were out of touch with your fans and rock in general. Or, worse, you were trying desperately for a hit.

Disappointing. But still better than Asshole by Gene Simmons.

2/5 stars.  One for each good song.

More KISS at mikeladano.com:

Complete KISS reviews + Complete ACE FREHLEY reviews 

PETER CRISSCriss EP review + GENE SIMMONSAsshole review

Record Store Tales Part 3:  My First KISS + Part 8:  You Wanted the Best +
Part 77:  Psycho-Circus Part 151:  24kt KISS…cheap at twice the price +
Part 152:  Carnival of Lost Souls Part 173:  Gene Simmons’ Asylum Demos 
Part 179: Phantom of the Opera Part 241:  Halloween, KISS style!

Also available: iTunes exclusive live soundtrack to Paul’s One Live KISS DVD.

ONE LIVE KISS