music

Awesome Show & Tell! Top Music We’d Save From a Fire on the LeBrain Train

Let’s have a huge round of applause for our awesome panel tonight!  Showing off all our most beloved treasures, this show was a bounty of beautiful musical mana.

We didn’t stick strictly to the idea of saving “albums” from a fire.  We just made it “music” and in some cases it was “musical memorabilia”.  All good — all valuable in their own way.  Some valuable in serious monetary ways!  Wait until you hear how much some of these things cost today!

Special features tonight included:

  • Tons of show & tell! – Gene Simmons’ Vault, Metallica’s Fan Can #4, autographs, vinyl, cassettes, CDs & VHS!
  • The return of “The Author Reads“, the first in over 16 months.  This time I read Record Store Tales Part 19:  “The Rules” which directly related to my #1 pick.  (2:55:00 of the stream.)
  • Great stories from Aaron about his awesome Nana and B.B. King.

 

Thanks for watching and the awesome comments.  See you next week!

 

 

FIRE! What Music Would You Save? Join the discussion on the LeBrain Train

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

Episode 80 – Nigel Tufnel Top Music We’d Save From A Fire

We’ve all heard the question while hanging with pals over a couple drinks.  “What albums would you save from a fire?”  Nobody even wants to think of it!  But as a fun exercise, tonight we’ll tell you our Nigel Tufnel Top Ten Albums We’d Save From A Fire!  Whatever gets saved, you can be you’ll hear about some treasures that are very near and dear to our hearts.

Your panel this week:

Expect lots of show & tell.  John owns The Vault… I own a Fan Can… will these items make our lists?  What will be left to burn?  Find out tonight.

Friday August 20, 7:00 PM E.S.T. on Facebook:  MikeLeBrain and YouTube:  Mike LeBrain.


SCHEDULE:

  • Greg Fraser of Storm Force returns!  Friday September 24 7:00 PM

 

#929: “The Neanderthal Flute”

RECORD STORE TALES #929:  “The Neanderthal Flute”

When Beethoven invented music in 334 BC, he had no idea we would owe him a debt of gratitude over two millennia later.   When his friend, Presley of Elvis, heard this wonderful sound, he decided to pin some strings to a piece of wood and created the first guitar.

That’s how it all started right?  Beethoven, Bach, Elvis, the Beatles?

Music has likely been with us since the dawn of abstract thought.  Ancient evidence is difficult to find, since most musical instruments would have decayed to nothing over tens of thousands of years.  Without physical remains, an “invention” of music is difficult to date.  Even musical notation came much later.  According to Dr. Kathryn Ladano at Wilfrid Laurier University, those who played ancient music “were improvisers. Improvisation has to be the oldest and first form of music, before anything was written or passed down in the oral tradition.”

The oldest musical artefacts we have are flutes made of bone.   The most ancient of these could be the 45,000 year old Divje Babe flute, discovered in Slovenia in 1995.  It was dated using the Electron Spin Resonance (ESR) technique.  The bone is commonly called the “Neanderthal flute” but there is no consensus on who made it…if anyone.   If indeed it is a flute, it would be the oldest known musical instrument ever found.

There are other, younger known bone flutes, but the Divje Babe femur would be the most ancient found by far.  What we do know with certainty is very little.  It has never appeared on a Jethro Tull album for one thing, which is truly unfortunate.  The Divje Babe flute is a broken juvenile cave bear bone, with two clear holes, and possibly the remains of two more at either broken end.  Bones with holes in them are common.  Rather than a flute, it could just be a fluke – a piece of bear femur, pierced by the teeth of a predator.

We have theories.  Was the bone just left as-is by an animal?  Both ends are damaged, probably by a predator looking for the tasty marrow inside.  Tests were made with metal castings of various predator teeth.  The hole alignment does not match any known animal’s teeth, but the holes could have been made at different times rather than simultaneously.  Canadian musicologist Bob Fink thinks it unlikely that such a situation would result in four holes in a straight line.  Tests also showed that bones often broke when trying to duplicate an animal bite.  Finally, we can’t rule out that the holes could be a modern hoax, nor can we rule out Ian Anderson as a suspect.

As humans, we hope the bone is the first known musical instrument and there is some evidence to support that.  For one, the bone appears to be cleaned of marrow, since the inner and outer surfaces are the same colour.  This would be necessary if it were a flute.  The holes are also quite circular, which is unlike most oval-shaped bite holes.  There are no marks on the bottom of the bone, which you would expect if it was between an animal’s jaws.  It takes a lot of pressure to bite a hole in a bear femur.  However there are also no tool marks, which are common on actual man-made bone flutes.

Here’s the most interesting evidence, if not the most compelling.  According to Fink, the four holes line up with the “do, re, mi, fa” of the diatonic scale.  Can you imagine?  45,000 years ago, somebody playing “do re mi” on a bone flute.  Perhaps for ceremonial, religious reasons.  Maybe just to entertain the tribe with a hit song.  Binding communities together, person by person.  Expanding the capabilities of the human brain one note at a time.  The same scale we play today.*

Before you get too excited about the possibilities, the bone is a juvenile cave bear and would not have been very long even before it was broken.  One study (by Nowell and Chase) indicates that the bone would have had to be twice its natural length to play the diatonic scale.  Fink countered this with the possibility of an added mouthpiece that extended its length.

Why not use modern technology to create a replica flute and try to play it?  In 2011, Matija Turk and  Ljuben Dimkaroski did just that.   Their study showed “it was possible to perform a series of musical articulations and ornamentations such as legato, staccato, double and triple tonguing, flutter-tonguing, glissando, chromatic scales, trills, broken chords, interval leaps, and melodic successions from the lowest to the highest tones.”  Furthermore Dimkaroski found that a longer bone was not necessary to play music.  The reconstructed instrument had a three and a half octave range and was less like a flute and more akin to modern woodwinds.

One of the most fascinating aspects of the flute is that it could have been made by our Neanderthal cousins, which would prove that music is a trait shared by two species and not just ours.  Even if the bone really was carved by Neanderthals, there is no way for us to know for certain.  It could have been left in the cave much later on by a wandering human.

We do not have all the answers yet, but the possibility of the same musical scale that we use today being at least 45,000 years old is an enticing one.  It sets the imagination on fire with possibilities.  You could go back in time and play “Heartbreak Hotel” on this ancient flute in that dark cave, if the theories hold true.  What an incredible thought that is.

 

* Dr. Ladano notes, “Even if it didn’t match with the western major or minor tonal system, it isn’t any less valid. Other cultures use different scales and maybe the maker of this flute used a different scale system as well.”

#928: Rockin’ the Computer From Then to Now

RECORD STORE TALES #928: Rockin’ the Computer From Then to Now

It’s funny to think about my parents being on the cutting edge of technology, but back in the day, we had all the cool stuff.  In my earliest memories we had a Lloyd’s Pong machine.  It came with two paddles and a really cool light gun assembly that you could customise with a stock or silencer.  It was primitive but very few people had video games in the home back then.

You wouldn’t call the Lloyd’s a “computer”, but our next device was specifically marketed as a “video computer system”. The Atari 2600 console was beloved by our family for many years.  There was a big sale.  You could get the console with two games (Combat and Space Invaders), two joysticks, and two paddles.  Our family grabbed one as did everyone else in the neighbourhood.  While the games were not as sophisticated as those in the arcade (or any other home entertainment system), they were the most popular.  And then one day in 1984, in front of that Atari 2600, I had the musical epiphany that changed the course of my life.  Iron Maiden and Snoopy & the Red Baron collided in such a way that my life would never be the same.  From that point forward, computers and music would be intertwined in my life.  Music enhances everything from gaming to homework.

Cousin Geoff “Captain Destructo” wrecking our Atari joysticks while playing Snoopy & the Red Baron on the 2600

I had always been into soundtrack music, but when I was given a Fisher Price mono tape recorder as a young kid, I was able to record whatever I wanted.  I made a compilation of all my favourite Atari 2600 musical themes.  My sister and I would walk around the house humming those game tunes, so I recorded them for us to enjoy.  Ms. Pac Man in particular had a good musical theme.

The next evolution in our computing lives was when my dad got an IBM PC through work.  Not one but two 5 1/4″ floppy disc drives.  Monochrome monitor.  The ability to copy games from friends.   That computer kept us going for many years until the early 90s when I wanted something new that could handle modern word processing for school.  Not a very good computer, but a new one at least.  It was regular upgrades from there:  a modem, and finally the near-mythical CD-ROM drive.

Dad at the original PC

The first thing I did as soon as we got a CD-ROM drive was to buy something that truly combined the world of computers and music.  In a way, CD-ROM was a new format in music, an upgrade from simple CD.  Having a drive on the computer opened up my world to things I couldn’t play before, such as Queensryche’s Promised Land.  (I first bought Alice In Chains’ Jar of Flies CD-ROM but couldn’t get it to work, so I exchanged it for another Seattle band.)  There I sat at the keyboard, clicking on my mouse and virtually touring Big Log, the island studio that Queensryche recorded the album in.  The CD-ROM also included a video game, and the prize for winning the video game was a brand new song.  Queensryche specially recorded “Two Mile High”, an acoustic song, for the game.  I never won the game, but I figured out what file the song was, and recorded it to a tape deck via the PC’s audio-out jack.  And let me tell you, I thought it was pretty cool to gain an exclusive song by expanding my tech to play a new format.  Collectors are kind of nuts that way.

When I started working at the Record Store, Trevor and I would check out CDs that had exclusive CD-ROM content, such as Tales from the Punchbowl by Primus.  There was a special “enhanced” reissue that included visual content for your computer.  This became common practice in the 1990s.  And so, it became important to always have a computer able to keep up with the newest releases.

Ozzy had screen savers.  The Tea Party had exclusive videos.  I never found out what Alice In Chains had.  We learned quickly at the Record Store that these “enhanced” CDs gave some people problems with playback, especially if they tried to play the album on an older computer.  We had many returns.  The alternative was to exchange the disc for a version manufactured by Columbia House.  They usually lacked the enhanced content for your computer, which was causing some customers the playback issues.  The feedback we received was that the Columbia House versions played fine!

With the advent of cheaper memory and better computers, my collection began the ongoing migration to digital copy.  Having a decent computer is more important than ever.  In fact now I do most of my listening right here in front of the screen.  The subwoofer gives me plenty of depth.  This is something I could never have imagined, even back in the early CD-ROM days.  Only in the last 10 years has listening to music on the computer been smooth and decent sounding.  Tech got faster and cheaper and now the computer is my main station.

I’ve had so many computers over the years that I’ve lost track of them all.  The new laptop I bought doesn’t have an optical media drive at all, which alarmed me.  I will always need the ability to have my CD collection interact with my digital machine.  Will my future be external drives that play increasingly obsolete formats?  Kang only knows, as this ride has been unpredictable so far.  I guess we’ll see what changes in the next 10 years.  I just know that it will change.

BOOK REVIEW: Gord Downie & Jeff Lemire – Secret Path (2016)

GORD DOWNIE & LEFF LEMIRE – Secret Path (2016 Simon and Schuster)

Residential schools are Canada’s shame.

History cannot be buried forever.  Eventually, atrocities are brought to light.  This terrible secret is no longer hiding in the dark.  It has shown the world that even the great nation of Canada has skeletons.  Tens of thousands of them.  Children, taken away from their families, and forced to assimilate.  Forced to lose their language, culture, and way of life.  All in the misguided and shameful effort to “civilize the savage” and “bring the heathens to God”.  Thus, “saving” them.

Thousands of these children never came home from the residential school system.  How many?  With bodies being unearthed daily, we may never know the true tally.  If Gord Downie were alive today, what would he have to say about these discoveries?

Downie and Jeff Lemire tried to tell us.  In 2016 they released Secret Path, a gorgeous and painful graphic novel to accompany the Downie album of the same name.  The book comes with a download code so you can listen along, and read the full lyrics.  It is the story of Chanie Wenjack, Anishinaabe by birth, raised in northern Ontario.  The residential school forced him to change his name to “Charlie”.  This is not ancient history.  This only happened in 1966.  The Beatles were the biggest band in the world.  Our parents were living normal lives.  Meanwhile, Wenjack and thousands like him were abused and tormented at residential schools all over the country, not even afforded the dignity of their own names.

At age 12, Wenjack ran away.  Home was 370 miles.  He never made it.  Secret Path is his story.


The book has no text other than the album’s lyrics.  Listening along is the best way to appreciate the rich images.  You must take time to study the lines and shading, for each page is rich with beauty and detail.

It was October of ’66 and the story begins with Chanie already on his way home.  Alone, following the train tracks, Wenjack is illustrated in stark black, blue and white.  The trees are bare, and ravens circle free overhead.  Chanie’s story is told in the form of flashbacks.   His thoughts go back to happier times, fishing with his father.  These memories are in full, beautiful watercolour.  Lemire captures the love in his drawings.

“My dad is not a wild man.  He doesn’t even drink.”

Chanie’s memories then go back to his first day at school.  Like a prisoner, he was issued a new haircut and new clothes.  His sorrow leaks through the pages.  He then thinks back to the morning of October 16.  Unable to tolerate any more abuse, Wenjack and two friends made a run for it.

“Now?”  “Not yet.”

“Now?”  “Now yes.”

They stayed briefly with the family of the other two boys, but Chanie wanted to return to his own home.  On his own, and only with a railway map, a windbreaker, and a jar with seven matches inside, Chanie followed the rail.  Only seven matches.

“And I kept them dry.  And as long as there were six, I’d be fine.”

“As long as there were five.”

“As long as there were four…”

His thoughts return once again to the school.  Sexual abuse is alluded to.  Chanie continues to run on his secret path, but he also tries to escape from his memories.  They are never far behind.  Only happy dreams of his father bring warmth, and they are gloriously painted in fall colours.  As he weakens, hallucinations manifest, both good and bad.  He wishes for revenge, and to see his father one more time.  The raven circles overhead.

“I’ll just close my eyes.  I’ll just catch my breath.”

While there is no way to really know the thoughts and feelings of Chanie Wenjack during his final walk, Secret Path is not a work of fiction.  It happened.  And now we know that Chanie is one of thousands.  Chanie Wenjack did not die on that train track from exposure to the elements.  He died of genocide.

If this book does not make you feel, then consult a doctor because something is wrong with your heart.

5/5 stars

MOVIE REVIEW: Bill & Ted Face the Music (2020)

Bill & Ted Face the Music (2020 United Artists)
Directed by Dean Parisot

I went into Bill & Ted 3 not expecting much, due to the poor reviews and long-ass time since the second movie (1991).  I came out thinking everybody else got it wrong, and Bill & Ted Face the Music could actually be the best of the series.

Keywords:  “the series”.  This isn’t The Godfather we’re competing with.  Once you shed the rosy glow of nostalgia, realize one thing:  Bill & Ted were never great.  They were always fun, headbanging nonsense.  There was some wit and some great performances thanks to George Carlin and William Sadler, but Bill & Ted were never great.  The movies didn’t make a lot of sense where time travel is concerned, and were essentially just vehicles for the two dumb guys to have dumb adventures.

What is amazing is that the two “dumb guys” (Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter) wanted to come back.  They seemed to be having fun making the movie, which means it’s fun to watch.  What’s new in the last 30 years?  Not only are Bill & Ted still together, but they are still together with their medieval princesses too!  And they even have children — Thea and Billie.  And they are chips right off the old blocks.

One catch though.  Although Bill & Ted’s band Wyld Stallions achieved some early success, they quickly dropped off the map* and never wrote the song that would bring the world together.   And if they don’t do it before 7:17 PM, the universe will cease to exist!  (That doesn’t make sense?  Well neither did the first two films!)

The movie splits into two tangents here, both equally entertaining.  The affable Bill & Ted decide to go into the future, and just steal the song from their future selves.  Meanwhile, Billie and Thea have their own idea:  form the band that will back their dads when they play the song.  They borrow a time machine from Kelly, who is the daughter of Rufus (George Carlin).  Kelly is trying to warn their dads about a time travelling assassin robot (named Dennis) sent back to kill them.

While Bill & Ted encounter increasingly older versions of themselves as they travel further trying to find the song, Billie and Thea recruit Jimi Hendrix, Louis Armstrong, Mozart, legendary Ling Lun, and a cave drummer from the stone age named Grom — the greatest musicians in history.   This is where Bill & Ted Face the Music really surpasses its forebears.  While it was fun seeing Bill & Ted recruit historical figures and going to hell in the past, this time it’s actually about the music.  For three movies, we are told that Wyld Stallions will unite the world in music.  Only in the third is the music actually a significant part of the movie.  It’s fun seeing Hendrix jam with Mozart despite the language (and time) barrier.

Spoilers from this point.  Bill & Ted screw up worse and worse the further they go.  Their future selves try to trick their past selves into stealing a song from Dave Grohl, which backfires and ends up with future Bill and future Ted in the slammer.  Their princesses abandon them.  Dennis lasers everybody to death (including himself) and they all end up in a familiar landscape:  Hell.  But that’s OK.  Turns out that Bill & Ted’s former bassist lives nearby.  Yes, it’s William Sadler as Death, who we learn quit Wyld Stallions to go solo years ago.  (We couldn’t get George Carlin back, but we did get William Sadler, and that’s just awesome.)  The clock ticks on and all seems lost, but don’t worry — Kid Cudi shows up to help with the quantum mathematics.

But what about the song?  As Mr. Holland’s Opus proved adequately, when you build up a piece of music in the audience’s mind, nothing will meet that expectation.  And as Dave Grohl is well aware “this is not the greatest song in the world, this is just a tribute.”  Given that no piece of music will ever satisfy an audience when you build it up as “the song that will save the universe”, this movie took an interesting turn.  It is revealed that the song itself wasn’t as important as getting everyone in the world to play along simultaneously.  It’s like a big “I’d like to buy the world a Coke and sing in harmony” situation.  And our heroes have a time machine, so they can make sure they get the message (and an instrument to play along) out to everyone in the world.  Don’t think about it the time travel stuff too hard!

End spoilers.  

Keanu Reeves, and Alex Winter in particular, are so much fun to revisit as these characters.  Keanu is a little more laid back, but Bill & Ted are in their late 40s (while the actors are in their 50s).  They’re not as enthusiastic as they once were.  But they are still Bill & Ted, bonded at the hip, and going to couples therapy as a quartet with their princesses.

Because of its focus on the music, Bill & Ted 3 surpasses the previous two movies.  There’s little “wheedly-wheedly” air guitar and shenanigans.  They don’t run around saying “excellent” and “bogus” all the time.  The endgame of Bill & Ted has always been that one day they would save the world with their music, yet the previous two movies didn’t focus on music.  The first one was about collecting historical figures to pass the highschool history exam.  A fun and fresh premise indeed.  The second went dark, having them assassinated by future robots and journeying through hell.  The third combines the two ideas, but this time with historical musicians.  Rock, jazz, classical, and I had to look up Ling Lun!

You get the sense that Keanu and Alex realized that there is a certain innocence to Bill & Ted that requires younger characters.  Their daughters (played by Samara Weaving – niece of Hugo, and Brigette Lundy-Pain) fill those roles and do it, pardon the pun, excellently.  You need that wide-eyed excitement.  Bill & Ted have already travelled through time, met Socrates and did it all twice — they have nothing to be wide-eyed about.  To them it’s old hat, even ending up in Hell one more time.

The Bill & Ted movies are, objectively, dumb movies.  The two lead characters are, objectively, dumb.  But dumb can be classic, as Stooge aficionados know, and updating a classic is really difficult to do.  Just ask the Farrelly brothers.  Ted Theodore Logan and Bill S. Preston, Esquire managed to have a third adventure appropriate to their ages, while finally saving the world as George Carlin promised they would.  Nothing new added to the stew.  By finally focusing on the music, potential is fulfilled.

3.5/5 stars

* Their experimental opus “That Which Binds Us Through Time: The Chemical, Physical and Biological Nature of Love; an Exploration of The Meaning of Meaning, Part 1” is not a hit.

#889: The Dreadnoks

RECORD STORE TALES #889: The Dreadnoks

I’ve always had trouble letting go.  Even though rock music was my true obsession, there was some overlap.  Even  into grade nine, I still bought GI Joe comics and figures.  It was always hard letting go of an obsession.  My “favourite things”, in order of discovery were:

  1. Star Wars until its natural end in 1983-84.
  2. GI Joe/Transformers from 1984 to 1986-87.
  3. Rock music from 1984 to present.
  4. WWF Wrestling from 1985 to 1990.

You can see how the evolution of this worked.  A GI Joe figure was in the same scale as Star Wars, but with far more articulation well suited to an older kid.  The first wave of figures even featured real-world accurate weapons.  They were a natural step for a kid still wanting that action figure experience, but geared for someone older.  Transformers went hand in hand, since Marvel were producing a comic line to go for each.  Transformers resembled the die-cast cars that older kids (and adults) collected and displayed.

I discovered heavy metal music on December 26, 1984.  A  few months later, wrestling appeared on my radar with the very first Wrestlemania.  A lot of those guys looked like rock stars, with crazy costumes, long hair and male bravado.

As my interests shifted and evolved, so did my collections.  The Star Wars toys were put into storage in the crawl space.  I was given tape boxes, Christmas after Christmas, to store my growing music collection.  A typical Christmas would see me receiving some new tapes and action figures.  I’d sit in my bedroom reading GI Joe comics while rocking out to Long Way to Heaven by Helix.  I was a weird kid but I liked what I liked and didn’t much care.

The Joe characters diversified along with me.  In 1984 they got a little more outlandish with the introduction of Zartan and the Dreadnoks.  Zartan, the master of disguise, was a deluxe action figure whose skin colour turned blue in direct sunlight.  This gimmick only worked outdoors, which meant we played with Zartan outside in the summer while giving him a rest in the winter.  His backup didn’t arrive on toy shelves until 1985.  They were three bikers named the Dreadnoks:  Buzzer, the Brit with a ponytail and a chainsaw, the mohawked Ripper, and the flamethrower Torch who had a bit of a Lemmy beard going on.  Their Mad Max inspired outfits would have allowed them to fit into a rock band quite easily, if only they came with musical instruments instead of weapons.  They’d make a cool punk trio.

The Dreadnoks expanded their lineup the following year.  On explosives came Monkeywrench, bearded and obsessed with Guy Fawkes.  Then in a deluxe set came the vehicle driver Thrasher, and his definitely Mad Max inspired Thunder Machine car.  Made of bits and pieces of scrap, it hit the same post-apocalyptic notes as the other Dreadnoks, as well as rock bands like Motley Crue, Kiss, and Armored Saint.  Thrasher had a punk rock streak of green in his hair.  And now they were a quintet.  They were literally begging for me to make them custom musical instruments.

There were always wooden match sticks in the house, so I used them for guitar necks, drum stands, drumsticks, and a microphone.  Cardboard boxes were cut up to make the bodies of guitars and a few drums and cymbals.  Black electrical tape held them all together.  And so the Dreadnoks became a five piece band, and I put them on display in my bedroom on a shelf with my Kiss cassettes.

If only I had a picture of my Dreadnok band.  Not everybody had a camera back then.  Even if you did, it seemed film was always out!  You can imagine what they looked like!

 

#883: Live! Bootlegs – the Prequel

A prequel to Record Store Tales #286: Live! Bootlegs

 

RECORD STORE TALES #883:  Live! Bootlegs – the Prequel

 

I didn’t discover “bootlegs” right away.  But inevitably, I had my first encounter and was confused by what I saw.

The setting:  Dr. Disc, 1988 or ’89.  Downtown Kitchener.  In the store with best friend Bob and one of his friends.  Browsing in the cassettes, I had worked my way over to Guns N’ Roses, a band I was still learning about.  Something about an EP that came before Appetite?  But what I saw was not that.  In fact, there multiple Guns bootlegs in their cassette section, only I didn’t know they were called “bootlegs”, or what that even meant.  Each one seemed to have a different member on the front.  One had Slash, one had Axl, one even had Izzy.  They were printed on different coloured paper.  They had songs I never heard, like “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door”.  Live shows from the last few years.

Were they official releases?  They had to be if they were sitting there in a store, right?  But A&A Records at the mall didn’t have these.

I didn’t get of the Guns tapes.  I didn’t have the money, and even if I did, I wouldn’t have taken a chance.

My knowledge of bootlegs was limited.  In my mind, I associated the word with the kind of bootleg records they had to buy in communist Russia.  Since you could not buy American music in the Soviet Union in the time of the Iron Curtain, fans got creative.  There is a famous series of Beatles bootleg records, etched into X-ray photographs.  It was the right kind of material to cut the music on.  Like a flexi-disc.  When I heard the word “bootleg album”, I associated it with an album that was illegal to own, but somehow you got a copy of a copy.  Not live recordings smuggled out of a gig and sold for profit.

I finally put the pieces together when I bought the book Kiss On Fire on December 27, 1990.  In the back:  a massive list of live Kiss bootlegs, from Wicked Lester to the Asylum tour.  Tracklists, cover art, the works.  Suddenly, it clicked.

“These must be bootlegs!” I whispered to myself in awe.

“We must have them,” said my OCD to my unconscious self.


I acquired my first live bootleg from Rob Vuckovich in 1992.  It was David Lee Roth live in Toronto on the Eat ‘Em and Smile tour with Steve Vai.  It was just a taped copy on a Maxell UR 90, but it was my first.  My sister got an early Barenaked Ladies gig on tape shortly after, including the rare “I’m in Love With a McDonald’s Girl”.  Then in 1994 she bootlegged her own Barenaked Ladies show on the Maybe You Should Drive tour!

Around this time, my sister and I also started attending record shows a couple times a year.  Bootlegs were now available on CD.  And there were many.  Who to choose?

Black Sabbath with Ozzy, or with Dio?  Def Leppard before Rick Allen was even in the band?  Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, Motley Crue’s final gig with Vince Neil…so many to choose from!

Interestingly enough, the idea of one band member being on the cover art carried into the CD age.  By my side at one show was Bob once again.  I flipped through the Kiss.  There were so many!  I picked one out with Gene on the cover.  Not knowing what bootlegs were himself, Bob thought they were solo albums.  “Don’t get one with just Gene!” he advised.  It wasn’t something I wanted anyway — it was from the Animalize tour, which I already had represented on VHS at home.  I wanted something I didn’t have anything from yet.  There it was!  The Revenge club tour!  Unholy Kisses, they called the disc.  Stupid name, great setlist.  I only hoped it sounded good when I got it home.  They used to let you listen to it before you bought it, but I think I was too shy and just bought it.  As it turns out, I loved it.  Every thump and every shout.

That’s the thing about bootlegs.  You really never knew what the sound was going to be like.  Or even if the gig advertised was the gig you were buying.  Or just because it sounded good at the start, will it still sound good at the end?  Or did the guy recording it have to move to a different seat next to a loud dude?  A soundboard recording was almost a too-good-to-be-true find.  One thing you were certain not to hear:  overdubs.  No overdubs on a bootleg!  They were raw and authentic.

I had made a good “first bootleg” purchase.  A whole new world opened before me.  There were not just live bootlegs, no!  Also demos, remixes, even B-sides.  And among them, some great, and some dreadfully bad choices!


Hear about some of the great ones this Friday, February 26 on the LeBrain Train: 2000 Words or More with Mike Ladano

 

 

 

 

#882: The Day KK Came Back

RECORD STORE TALES #882: The Day KK Came Back

Working retail means you can’t control who you see on a day-to-day basis.  Faces from the past are part of the job.  Teachers, old neighbours, bullies, and so on.  Sometimes it’s not a face you really cared to see again.  For example, there was this one kid named Terry Moulton from grade school.  He was known as a burnout even in grade eight.  The word in class is that he would skip to go and smoke pot with his dad.  One day I was working and who should show up to sell me some used CDs but Terry.  He recognized me.  I’m not so good with faces from the that long ago, but I remembered the name.  I made him a generous offer on the discs, and asked for his ID.  We had to ask for ID in order to buy anything used from the public.  Part of theft prevention.  Of course Terry didn’t have any ID so I skipped that part for him as a favour.  I asked for his address and he didn’t even have a fixed address.  I broke a few bi-laws by buying discs from him that day.

My journal records another encounter with a forgotten face from the Catholic school days.

Kevin Kirby’s name was ingrained in my memory even if I didn’t recognize his face.  Kirby was into metal when none of the other kids were.  He had Black Sabbath, Van Halen and Ozzy records thanks to an older sister.  He was my “friend” I guess.  Friends by circumstance, not by choice?  Frenemies?  He copied my homework.  He pushed me around.  He made fun of me.  Once he picked on me, and I fought back, so he cried to his mom about it.  His mom called the school.

According to my journal the last time I saw him was in 2004.


Date: 2004/08/04

An interesting day, thus far.

A couple assholes, but not many in general.

Saw Jessica, waved hello.*

Then a dude with a mullet came in. Bought a CD. Asked if I remembered him. He knew my name. Kevin Kirby it was…guy who used to pick on me in grade eight. Nice to see ya, pal.


He might have been into good music, but he was a prick to me in our last year of school together.  Don’t care if I ever see him again.

 

Yours Truly

* Jessica was Money Mart Girl who I had a crush on.  

 

#881: The Return of the Record Store Tales

RECORD STORE TALES #881: The Return of the Record Store Tales

A minor announcement, but an announcement nonetheless!  As of this chapter, for all of my stories going forward, I have decided to retire the name Getting More Tale.  I am returning to the original moniker of Record Store Tales.

It’s really always intended to be considered one body of work.

One of the most important parts of the original Record Store Tales was the “ending” — quitting the store in Part 320.  That series of events was one I was really anxious to tell, so when the time felt right, I got it done and wrapped Record Store Tales up in a lil’ bow.  I then broadened the scope of my stories with the “sequel” series Getting More Tale (title suggested by Aaron of the KMA).

Getting More Tale has often dipped back into the Record Store days for subject matter, as well as childhood, and the 15 years since I quit.  I’ve also told stories about technology and historic records.  The sky was the limit when I changed the name to Getting More Tale…but I have always identified as a “Record Store guy”.  Even if it has been 15 years since I last worked behind a counter…once a Record Store guy, always a Record Store guy.

The 12 years I spent in the store were 12 of the defining years of my life, from the highest highs to the lowest lows.  But to quote a song, “It’s My Life” and calling the whole she-bang “Record Store Tales” feels right.  Even if roughly half the stories have nothing to do with working in a store, “you are what you is”.  Today I may be a guy who works in the steel industry, but I will always be a guy who managed a Record Store, and proud of it!

So there you have it; the lines shall no longer be blurred.  The ongoing story of Mike LeBrain, former Record Store manager, obsessive music collector and all-around open book, shall henceforce be known once more as the Record Store Tales.*

The content is not changing one iota.  I have the next 10 chapters locked and loaded, with subject matter covering the whole gamut.  Childhood musical flashbacks, working behind the counter in the glory years, school daze, old tech, bad dates, toys, and maybe even some controversy.  I continue to be excited to bring you stories that you seem to enjoy!  It has been been over six years since I “wrapped up” Record Store Tales.  There was backlash to the ending.  But that only emboldened me.  My writing has improved ten-fold since.  I’m proud to fly the flag of Record Store Tales again.

Thanks for reading all these years!  It has been an organic experience and for nine years you have been an integral part of it.  Let’s go forward, shall we?

To be continued….

* I won’t be going back and re-naming anything, I will just be carrying on the numbering system will the title Record Store Tales.