music

#840: 40 Years in Photos

GETTING MORE TALE #840: 40 Years in Photos

According to Ye Olde Photo Album, we began building the cottage in the summer of 1980.  Until then we stayed in a log cabin down the road with Grandma and Grandpa.  It was a tight squeeze.  Grampa had a bunk house out back where he spent the night.  Grandma had a bedroom where Little Baby Kathryn Ladano slept in a crib.  My mom and dad had a room.  That left me to sleep on a cot in the living room.

Many of my memories of that cabin are Star Wars memories.  The Empire Strikes Back had just come out.  I remember reading the comic book and the collector’s cards by the little front windows.  My mom bought a whole box of Empire Dixie cups for the lake.  Our action figures were always there with us.  I didn’t have a Boba Fett yet, so in the meantime I used a Micronaut with missile-firing backpack.  The cabin had structural support cables running from front to back, and they were great for hanging Star Wars figures in precarious adventurous positions.

There wasn’t much room in that little log cabin so eventually we needed to get a place of our own.  My parents bought a vacant lot nearby and began clearing the land.  We had no phone, no cable TV, nothing other than what we brought with us.  That was usually our Star Wars guys and sometimes a little Fisher-Price tape recorder to play cassettes.  But all my Star Wars soundtracks were on vinyl.  My grandfather had a record player at the cottage but we didn’t play Star Wars records.  Just country!

The land was cleared, a foundation was poured, and flooring laid.  Insulation was installed under the floors and that’s when it rained.  Insulation had to be re-done, a messy job.  The construction attracted attention from local cottagers and a curious little boy named Cyril became my first cottage friend.

Cyril was not only my first cottage friend, and not only my first black friend, but also the first black kid I’d ever met in my life.  Growing up in Catholic schools in Kitchener Ontario was a very white experience.  I’d never even see a black kid before that wasn’t on television.  The picture of Cyril checking out the brand new window delivery was typical.  That was as exciting as things got.  There were always trucks dropping off mountains of lumber.  Like all other little boys in 1980, Cyril was a Star Wars fan.  We got our figures together and played.  I remember freezing Han Solo in a glass of water.  It was the best way to make a “frozen Han” back then!

Funny thing about Cyril.  He had an older step-brother.  Eight years after meeting Cyril, his older brother was my science teacher:  the legendary Mr. Marrow, one of the greatest teachers I ever had, and a guest star in my “Nothing But A Good Time” music video.  He played – surprise surprise – the teacher!  And he nailed it!

I’m not sure what happened to Cyril or Mr. Marrow as their family sold the cottage long ago.  I did see Cyril once as an adult.  He towered over me, and apparently developed a love of Phil Collins!

By 1981 we had a space we could live in.  The interior was not finished, and we used an old folding table in the kitchen.  The back yard was nothing but dirt and stones.  My mom’s ashtray and cigarettes sat on the kitchen table.  It took years to finish the inside, room by room.  The wall slats went up and the ceiling was eventually finished too.  Soon, front and back decks went on.

The next photos come from Easter of 1986, an occasion I’ve written extensively about.  Easter fell in March that year, and we spent it at the lake.  The water was still partly frozen, but a few leads opened up in the ice and we took out the canoe for a trip.  You can see my little sister hunkered down in the middle while my uncle and dad paddled.  Later on in the back yard, I could be found playing air guitar on my favourite weapon – a badminton racquet.  If there was a tape deck on the back porch, it would have been playing “Turbo Lover” by Judas Priest.  The video had just come out and I recorded it to tape so I could listen to it whenever I wanted.  Naturally “Turbo Lover” was followed by “Locked In”.  I wouldn’t get the album itself until September.

One of the most interesting things to me about the older photos is the lack of puppies.  The first Schnauzers arrived in August of ’86.  We had two to choose from – Gentle Ben and Crystal Belle.  I connected with little Ben as the photos show.  I thought he might like to listen to some Triumph on my earphones.  But we chose Crystal (I was outvoted 3-1), and she was our puppy for the next many years.  I’ll be honest and admit that the stories you’ve heard were true.  At the time, I did not want a dog.  I didn’t want a dog because my sister did, and I didn’t want her to have her way.

In a photo from fall of 1987, she can be seen looking for cookie scraps as we lounged on a hammock.  I was wearing an Iron Maiden “Trooper” shirt that I don’t even remember owning at that age.  Later that fall we went on a big hike, following the lake north.  Shortly after, I painted that black vest with flames, and it became part of my Alice Cooper Halloween costume.

During the school years, I stayed home more often.  I didn’t want to miss any WWF wresting, or Much Music Power Hour music videos.  The absence of cable TV and a telephone made it feel like you were really out of contact with the outside world.  Of course, that was the point, but when you’re in your teens that’s not a point you really feel like making.

In the winter, my parents would go for day trips while I would stay home and get into mischief with Bob Schipper.  A photo was snapped of my dad shooting one of his guns on one such trip.  I stayed home to make cardboard guitars with Bob.

Time flew – and so did we!  My dad had a good friend named Jack, who was an airline pilot.  Because of Jack, any time we were going on a flight, he could made arrangements with the pilot to let us come up to the cockpit.  I felt like the kid in the movie Airplane!, meeting Captain Oveur.  Jack was a customer of my dad’s at the bank and that’s how they met.

Jack also had a small plane over his own.  When he came to the cottage for a visit, he didn’t drive.  He flew.  Summer after summer we always looked forward to his visits.  He’d take us all up two at a time if we wanted to.  It was pretty wild being able to see the cottage from the sky.  Too bad we didn’t think to take pictures from the air.

The 80s turned into the 90s.  I’ve written extensively about the summer of 1991, and the photos show change!  The old brown back deck was never meant to be a permanent fixture.  In ’91 we designed and built a bigger and better deck.  It was my job to cut out holes for the trees to grow through and you can see this in the photos.  Or at least you can see me goofing around for the cameras in my beloved Jon Bon Jovi Blaze of Glory T-shirt.  I bought that album there, on cassette the previous year.  The “bloody” scene was caused by a bottle of ketchup, cropped out of the photo (but left in on the original print).  Neon pink was in at the time, by the way.

1991 was a special summer because it was the last summer that Bob came to stay, and the first one that my buddy Peter came for.

Seasons passed and hair grew.  I had pretty good long hair when my Aunt came to visit in 1992.  You can tell it was 1992 by the Wayne’s World shirt.  I just had to have one.  Wayne’s World was everything in 1992.  I started talking like Wayne, using words like “spew” and “not”!  The tape deck that summer was loaded with Queen, Iron Maiden, and my favourite band Kiss who was out for Revenge.  We still have those old plastic deck chairs too!

What is really amazing to me is how quickly the time has gone by, especially those early years.  It felt like ages to finish the cottage.  It seemed like the unpanelled walls and temporary furniture was forever.  Even into the 1990s, our closets were not finished.  You could find the words KISS and NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK inked into the wooden 2x4s framing our closets.  Archaeologists will be able to determine whose room was whose based on hidden graffiti.

I hope you enjoyed this trip down memory lane and can imagine what it was like to be a kid at the lake, playing Star Wars, and later rocking the air guitar badminton racquet to “Turbo Lover”.  Maybe next time there I will break out the racquet for another go.

 

 

#838.5: Father’s Day 2020

Father’s Day 2020 was one of the strangest yet, but we celebrated my dad outdoors with steaks and social distancing.

The day started quietly with an espresso at dawn, but I couldn’t wait to get cooking.  Jen bought steaks and corn.  I love cooking and I especially love barbecuing.  Cooking for my mom and dad is one of the best hobbies I have.

The morning was spent relaxing by myself on the patio, reading Gord Downie and Jeff Lemire’s graphic novel Secret Path, the story of Chanie Wenjack.  I spoke about this book a bit on Saturday’s live stream.  To say reading this book was an intense undertaking is to sell the experience short.  I had to stop twice to catch my breath.  This powerful, true story is made so clear, so intense and spiritual thanks to the words of Gord and the images of Jeff.  A book/album review is absolutely forthcoming.  (Even though the book comes with a download of the Gord Downie album, I still bought the CD individually as well.)

It was a hot afternoon but at least my parents have a back deck with some shade.  I lit the gas and let the flames do their work.  I incorporated some new techniques that I picked up watching YouTube videos over the winter.  I let the steaks get up to room temperature, then patted them dry and seasoned with just salt, pepper and garlic powder.  Nothing fancy and no marinate was necessary.   I overcooked mine a bit for my liking.  Everybody else likes them a bit more done than me.  I forgot how hot my dad’s barbecue can get.  But they were still juicy and flavourful, I just prefer them a little more red.

We chatted current events, the cottage, and Uncle Don Don.  My mom saved for me what was left of his CD collection (I gave my sister first dibs and she took Frank Zappa’s Hot Rats.)  Mom asked me to sort through the music, but I decided to take them home to do that here.  The CD covers have the telltale yellowing of a smoker’s home and I didn’t want to handle them and have to prepare dinner too.

There are a few CDs here that I’ll have to keep.  I’m missing several Tragically Hip.  I don’t have that Lee Aaron (her debut).  I could probably use some Johnny Winter, George Thorogood, Garbage, and Jane’s Addiction.  A few of these are duplicates; I have all the Deep Purple and Alice Cooper albums.  But those are two bands that Uncle Don influenced me to get into.  “Child In Time”, he said.  That was the song he praised.  He has two versions of “Child In Time” in this cardboard box.

Looks like I’m going to be owning Jackyl, Haywire and Collective Soul too.  Cool.  I’ll go through the box in detail in the coming days.

My dad enjoyed his Father’s Day meal, and we had a nice visit.  The first one in many months.  It wasn’t hard to stay sanitised and distant, but it was different.  Just something we have to live with for a while.  Hopefully not too much longer.  I’m starting to get tired of the same old scenery from my little patio at home.  I want to get back to the lake.  Because of various health concerns and vulnerabilities, we’ve all agreed that we can’t all be at the same cottage at the same time, so we’ll have to take turns.  I’ll have to wait a little while longer to cook my dad a nice barbecue chicken dinner (skin on, of course). It’ll happen though — eventually.

I hope all the fathers had as nice a Father’s Day as my dad did.

 

 

 

#837: Freestylin’ 7 – Into Best Buy

GETTING MORE TALE #837: Freestylin’ 7 – Into Best Buy

I hadn’t set foot inside a store since March 15.  Three months later on Jun 13, I broke this long streak and went into Best Buy.

We’ve been trying to stick to essential trips, and Mrs. LeBrain was doing the groceries and other essential shopping while I worked.  Ontario entered “Phase 2” of re-opening on June 12 so it felt like a good time to see how shopping had changed.

There was no lineup, but there were clear and nicely marked spaces for you to wait outside.  At the front was a gentleman in a mask.  Even with the mask I recognized him from a previous Best Buy excursion, back before the shit hit the fan.  He asked what I was looking for that day, and I said “laptop speakers”.  He instructed me to follow the arrows on the floor until I got to the computer monitors.  You can still walk around and browse, but they are trying to keep things efficient.

Most customers wore masks but they were not mandatory.  I have chosen to wear a mask in public.  To coin a phrase from our Prime Minister, I don’t want to speak “moistly” on people.  I tend to do that.  Of course as soon as I walked in, a maskless guy was meandering against the arrows talking on his cell phone.  Of course.

Best Buy have this re-opening well in hand.  They were organized, friendly and asked us to use hand sanitizer on our way in.  After a squirt and a quick walk around, I found the exact laptop speakers I was looking for.  $27.  Cheap and simple.   Looked around a bit more, and headed for the cash registers.  No line there either.  Mission accomplished with no fuss and no muss.

New speakers in action.  Uncle Meat made fun of my porch music choice.

The Covid world definitely looks different from the pre-Covid world but I think we can deal with this.  It’s going to take patience and a willingness to play ball.  There was a story on the weekend of a man entering a mall in Guelph where masks are mandatory.  When he refused to wear one, he coughed on the mall employee and fled.  This kind of behavior is disgusting.  Retail workers have it bad enough.  I’ve had people throw things at me but never had bodily fluids fired in my direction during a pandemic.  If you think wearing a mask is infringing upon your freedom, then take a stand and don’t shop at those places.  Vote with your wallet.  Don’t cough or spit, and don’t give a retail workers a hard time.  You’re the asshole if you do.  In the meantime, I will wear my mask.  I wear it to protect you from my flying spittle when I talk.  I’m not afraid.  I care.  You’re welcome.  I don’t care if you think I look stupid or not.

I look stupid on my best days anyway.

After Best Buy, we took a drive.  Streets were busy like a normal Saturday in the summer.  You couldn’t tell anything was amiss from the roads.  Restaurants, not so much.  Meals are permitted on patios.  Places with open patios looked comfortably full to the new Covid standards.  Establishments without had empty parking lots.  Elsewhere, we saw a lineup at the Nike store that went around the building.  Must have had a sale.  I don’t need shoes that badly!

I did need shoes, actually, but then I ordered some online.  It was actually better than shopping in store.  No picking through boxes looking for my size in a style I liked.  I simply clicked the shoes I wanted, clicked the colour, and picked my size.  They fit perfectly when they arrived a few days later.  Most comfortable shoes I’ve ever owned, actually.  I could get used to this.  In fact, why should I buy shoes in a store again when there is a better selection online?  I hate shopping for shoes!

Yes, the world has changed.  It will continue to change, and our old world is gone.  Look at music.  Doro Pesch played a concert to a drive-in audience, and it looked cool.  Artists are constantly live streaming chats and performances now.  We adapt.  Some restaurants, businesses and rock bands will not survive.  The economy is still being ravaged.  Most bands will not return to the concert stage until 2021.

In the meantime, people are hungry for entertainment.  Bands and record labels would be wise to release stuff from the vaults during this time.  Unreleased live recordings?  Put ‘em out.  B-sides and outtakes?  Release them.  There has never been a better time for a band to put out of a box set of rarities.  Record stores are opening and need the business.

Unless our collective mistakes cause another surge and another lockdown, I am optimistic.  We have made it through three months of this.  While in some respects we are looking at a lost summer ahead of us, I think we still have a lot to look forward to.

Doro

 

 

 

Superstream! LeBrain and Superdekes talk Top Live Albums of all time!

Thank you Superdekes!  This had to be one of the best live streams of all time!

You can thank Harrison the Mad Metal Man for the idea.  A “Nigel Tufnel Top Ten” list for the best live albums of all time.  With little notice, Superdekes and I whipped up some lists.  We also recruited John Snow (2 Loud 2 Old Music), Holen MaGroin, and Uncle Meat to contribute lists.  While the lists varied in some respects, many albums made repeat appearances, sometimes in the same position on two lists!

We ran into some audio issues at the start but those five minutes have been edited out of the stream for your convenience!

Thanks again Superdekes, you were an amazing co-host and we have to do something like this again.

 

The First LeBrain Live Streams – Watch ’em here if you missed ’em

It appears that I started this lockdown live streaming stuff on March 20th — a Friday.  I went live again on Saturday the 21st, and then for almost three straight hours on Friday March 27.  I started running out of gas on April 3, but kept plugging away anyway.  I started uploading my live streams to YouTube for those who missed them with the April 10 show.  The videos below are all the live streams that were previously unposted.

MARCH 20 – LOVE AT FIRST STREAM.  I was just messing around and people started watching.  We were fresh into lockdown (March 18) and looking for ways to connect with each other.

MARCH 21 – THE SECOND STREAM!  Live streaming was an addiction.

MARCH 27 – THE EPIC 2 HOUR 43 MINUTE STREAM OF MADNESS.  This was like a long-distance race.  Tremendously fun.  Music, Star Wars, Uncle Meat, and Harrison galore.

APRIL 3 – RUNNING OUT OF STREAM. “The Author Reads” was not a big hit. Lots of poo and fart content.

Live Stream – Uncle Don Don Cutoff Shorts Countdown, Interview with Geoff Stephen, Unboxings & Guests

Thanks for watching the Saturday live stream! If you missed any of it, it is now available below via YouTube. I ran into numerous technical issues, so apologies are in order for bad audio, bad video and audio lag.

Content-wise though, woah nelly! You are in for a treat. Here are some highlights:

For a live interview with Geoff Stephen of 1001 Albums in 10 Years, skip ahead to 0:07:00!  He is doing something really special for healthcare workers, so check out what he has to say.

To check out some unboxings, go to 0:12:40 of the stream.

BONUS FOOTAGE – For a sneak peak at an animation test (not part of the actual live stream) you must go to 1:26:06.

For the Uncle Don Don Cutoff Shorts Countdown, start at 1:26:10 of the stream.

For a special Star Wars chat with all-around awesome guy Kovaflyer, go to 2:01:30 of the stream!

Technical issues aside, this live stream set one new record.  It represents the longest span of time in a single day.  I’ve done longer streams but this one had segments ranging from 7:00 am to 9:00 pm, a 14 hour range.  It was fun for me and I hope you enjoy despite the quality problems.

#834: Top Five Masked Artists

GETTING MORE TALE #834: Top Five Masked Artists

The Masked Singer, you say?  Never seen the show; not interested.  What about real artists who wear, or have worn, masks?  Not makeup, but an actual physical face covering?  Since masks are everywhere today, and sometimes required depending on where you go, let’s have a look at some artists who were already ahead of the (flattening) curve.

#5:  Crimson Glory

Before Slipknot, Mushroomhead, and before Ghost, Crimson Glory were the most famous masked metal band.  Often compared to Queensryche (but more ambitious), Crimson Glory were fronted by singer Midnight.  He wore a half-mask so he could sing, while the rest of the band kept their faces fully covered.  At first, anyway.  The masks were toned down on the second album and eventually dropped.  But when their debut appeared in ’86, they looked like nobody else.  That they are forgotten is unfair — they don’t even appear on Wikipedia’s “masked musicians” list!

#4:  Buckethead

At best, Brian Carroll is a recluse.  He’s rarely been photographed without his plain white mask and a chicken bucket on his head (though you can find pictures of a young unmasked Carroll online).  According to Bucket, the mask was inspired by Michael Myers in Halloween 4.  It is highly likely that the anonymity of a mask allows Buckethead to loosen up and perform live.  In all probability, the mask helps him get into his creative headspace.   It’s not too much of a stretch to say that without the mask there could be no Buckethead.

#3:  Nash the Slash

Nash was very early in the mask game, having started wearing bandages in 1979, the same year the Residents started wearing giant eyeball helmets.   The Slash, or Jeff Plewman, passed away in 2014.  He was best known as a founding member of FM, playing electric violin and mandolin.  His 1980 solo cover of “Dead Man’s Curve” had a music video featuring that bandage mask, and trademark top hat.  It was one of the weirdest videos of its time.

#2: Slipknot

I considered Gwar for this position, but then I remembered:  Gwar don’t wear masks. They are aliens that crash landed in Antarctica. No, seriously, this position should belong to Gwar except that I don’t really consider them a masked band. What they have done takes the idea of “masks” and puts them in an entirely unique category. Gwar might be the top “costumed” band, but speaking strictly of masks, this spot goes to Slipknot. Mushroomhead may have come first, but there is no question that Slipknot commercialised their image much more successfully. They expanded upon the masks with matching numbered jumpsuits. They became iconic. Just as one can easily recognize Gene Simmons as a member of Kiss, Shawn “Clown” Crahan simply cannot be mistaken for some guy in Pearl Jam. When you see Slipknot, you know Slipknot. And only they can take the credit for that.

#1: Kathryn Ladano

Biased? Yeah, so what!  This is where I defend my choice.

All of the above artists are brilliant and that cannot be disputed.  But how many of them incorporate the mask with the music?  Perhaps only Buckethead uses the mask to get into a specific headspace to create.  Kathryn Ladano’s newest album, also called Masked, explores this.  Masks and blindfolds were worn in the studio while music was improvised and captured for the album.  The mask becomes part of the audible art, which you cannot say about Slipknot or Crimson Glory.  Maybe I’m biased, or maybe I’m one of a few people who knows how critical masks were to the creation of this music.  Without the masks, some of this music wouldn’t even exist.  For that reason, Kathryn Ladano is our topped masked artist.  Nobody else incorporated the mask with the music like she did.


Worthy Mentions

 

Hey!  Where’s Daft Punk? Where’s Deadmau5? Not on this list, that’s where!  Neither are Ghost, Thunderstick, the Residents or a number of other groups who wear physical facial coverings.  Narrowing down is the hardest part of any list, but I hope you enjoyed this one anyway.  Check out some Crimson Glory or Nash the Slash and tell us who you think the greatest masked artists are.

 

#824: “I’m Outta Here!”

GETTING MORE TALE #824:  “I’m Outta Here!”

A sequel to Part 287:  Closing Time

Name one person who doesn’t love closing down for the day.  Work completed, clock ticks 9:00 pm, and the doors are locked.  Time to go eat some dinner and unwind.  At the Record Store, we got paid until 9:15 pm, the approximate amount of time it would take to cash out and close.  Sometimes we could do it in 10 minutes, sometimes far longer.  It was always considered a victory if you could completely close out in 10 minutes, and get paid for 15.  Small triumphs.

My favourite location to close was the original mall store at Stanley Park.  It was probably my favourite for closing because I was working alone.  Closing a store by yourself gives you a greater sense of responsibility.  Plus you could listen to whatever (metal) you wanted.

Listen, I don’t care where you work, everybody wants to go home and get refueled.  It’s a basic right.  Once you stop getting paid, you’re a free human being again.

There was one occasion at the mall I’ll never forget.  I was closing up normally and had just returned from the bank to drop off the night deposit.  I shut down the lights, packed up my stuff and locked the door.  As I was heading to the parking lot to meet my dad who was picking me up, I spied a group of three or four kids down the hall heading to the store, arms loaded with CDs to sell.  Just loaded — the group must have had 100 discs altogether.  I stealthily sneaked out of the mall via a seldom-used side entrance, hopefully unseen.

Close call!  The last thing I wanted was to have my dinner delayed by a group of kids needing last minute (booze) money after closing time.

This kind of thing still bugs me.  When I’m out shopping I’m very conscious of closing time.  I’m not going to get some sales rep to perform handstands just before closing, and definitely not after!  Some kids don’t know any better, but they should.  Didn’t they have their own part time jobs that they didn’t like to stay late for?  Did they get paid extra if they had to stay late?  We didn’t.

I was glad to say “I’m outta here!” at closing time even if there were still people wanting to come in.  Maybe we could have made more money if we did stay open, but none of it would be coming my way.

 

#814: Freestylin’ 4

GETTING MORE TALE #814: Freestylin’ 4

I’ve had a lot on my mind.  Thinking about the past, thinking about the future.

Every now and then, I’ll search for old acquaintances online.  Co-workers, customers, friends…many of them have not emerged in the new online world of social media.  At least not yet.  I continue searching.  Looking for a guy I used to work with, a coincidence of search terms led me instead to the obituary of an old customer.

I recognized his face immediately as that of “Surly Brad”, one of the very first customers I had when I managed my own Record Store location in 1996.  Brad passed away in 2011, but he wasn’t really very surly.  Is there a male equivalent of “resting bitch face”?  Brad looked grouchy but he could also pull a wide smile.  He was short and to the point, but eventually we got to know each other a little bit better.  Like many music collectors, he was picky about what he bought.  He could hear defects on a CD that I couldn’t.  I haven’t thought about Brad in years, but I don’t have any negative thoughts of him.  Just sadness.  Brad died age 47, the same age I am right now.

Rest in peace Brad.  I’m sorry we used to call you Surly.

Onto other trains of thought, I’m currently deep in the midst of my usual Seasonal Affective Disorder.  Long before I knew what it was or that it existed, I experienced it.  Ever since I was a kid.  The winters were a long, sad and lonely time.  The summers were much happier and more vibrant.  I thought for many years I just “hated winter”.  I do hate winter; don’t get me wrong, but there was more to it.  In the winter of 1998 I was explaining to a friend that I was in my “big blue funk”, a long period of (what I now call) depression.  The friend was taken aback because I was speaking of these things as if everybody experienced them.  “That’s not normal,” they said.  “Sure it is,” I retorted.

I’ve learned to deal with my big blue funks a lot better these days, though I still need to seek help.  One thing I do to try to stave off the blues is to give myself something to look forward to every day.  This can be anything from having some special food that I enjoy, to buying some new music, to watching my favourite shows.  I have to make some time to just enjoy myself a little bit every day.

Of course, buying music costs money and when you’re a collector it can get expensive!  When you can’t settle for anything less than “all the tracks”, you can expect to spend money.  Of course this is connected to another mental illness, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.  I’ve had this forever too.  As a kid, I would try to collect complete sub-teams of GI Joes and Transformers.  I’d also collect music, but that was a lot more difficult in the 1980s.

The first group I ever decided I wanted a “complete” collection of was Quiet Riot.  I thought it would be easy.  I assumed they only had two albums.  How wrong I was.  There were no Wikipedia articles to refer to.  Eventually I learned about their early Japanese-only albums.  It took me about 15 years, pre-internet, to get copies for myself.

As I grew to like more and more bands, I wanted more and more “complete” collections.  Magazines like Hit Parader would run ads for mail order record stores.  They would list stuff regularly that I never heard of nor saw in stores.  All in US dollars of course.  Plus shipping!  Stuff like:

ALICE COOPER – THE BEAST OF

ALICE COOPER – DADA

ALICE COOPER – PRETTIES FOR YOU

JUDAS PRIEST – STAINED CLASS

These were not albums you could find in your local Zellers’ tape section.  I had never seen or even heard of Stained Class.

Then I would browse down to the singles and start crying when I saw things listed like:

AEROSMITH – DUDE LOOKS LIKE A LADY / ONCE IS ENOUGH

BON JOVI – LIVIN ON A PRAYER / EDGE OF A BROKEN HEART +1

EUROPE – THE FINAL COUNTDOWN / ON BROKEN WINGS

Like a cruel tease, I became aware that some of these things really existed, but on a teenage allowance, had no way to acquire them.  Or even hear what they sounded like.  I was grateful that bands like Kiss never seemed to put our exclusive non-album songs as B-sides.  Not knowing any better, I thought that was very democratic of them:  everybody had access to every Kiss song – there were no exclusives only for those who could pay for them.

Boy, did I read those Kiss cards wrong!

Many of these tracks and albums never showed up in my collection until the internet age.  But now, with access to even more information, the want list continues to grow.  It’s an expensive hobby.

Whitesnake was one of those bands that had many albums prior to the ones I knew about.  The winter of 87/88 educated me otherwise.  Meanwhile I had just acquired Slide It In.  I can picture myself shovelling the snow in the dark of the morning listening to that warbling tape.  Geffen didn’t put out the best quality cassettes in the 80s.  My copy of Slide It In ran so slow that it was almost unlistenable.  I would try to fast forward and rewind the tape to loosen it up a bit.  Nothing really helped and I never heard the album properly until I got a CD copy.  But Slide It In is one of those albums I associate with winter, shovelling snow and all of it.

I’ll make it through this winter just like all the others.  But I can’t wait for summer.  That’s when I really feel alive again.

#812: Klassic Kwote – Hanson

You can imagine how hard it is finding music for people who have no idea what they’re looking for.

“Yeah, the guy wears a cowboy hat in the video.”

Can I get a little more information?

“Yeah, it was a white hat.”

Alan Jackson?  I don’t fucking know!

One day a customer walked in to T-Rev’s store and asked for a new band.  They had a new song out called “MMMBop”.

His description, which Trevor had to somehow use to figure out what band he wanted, was as follows:

“It’s a new band.  They sound like Michael Jackson.  But white.”

Hanson, ladies and gentlemen!  The white Michael Jacksons!