music

#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.  

Best of 2020 Part 4: Guest Lists from Frankie and Michael

FRANKIE THE MAN OF MYSTERY

Here’s my list, for what it’s worth. Turns out I didn’t go watch many movies in theatre, but did stream a lot of content. It also seems I like watching cartoons and anime, but that’s not really a surprise. – Frank

Film and Streaming

Blood of Zeus, Netflix
Castlevania Season 3, Netflix
Dragon’s Dogma, Netflix
The Mandalorian, Disney+
1917
The Boys season 2, Prime
Bill and Ted Face the Music
Altered Carbon Season 2 Netflix
October Faction, Netflix
Bosch, Prime

Music

Testament, Titans of Creation, track “Night of the Witch”
Static-X, Project Regeneration Vol 1., track “Hollow”
Sepultura, Quadra, track “Raging Void”
Trivium, What the Dead Men Say
Five Finger Death Punch, F8, track “Scar Tissue”


MICHAEL, MAX THE AXE’S STUNT DOUBLE

Gorillaz – Song Machine
Warbringer – Weapons of Tomorrow
Lamb of God – Lamb of God
Run the Jewels – RTJ4
Poppy – I Disagree
The Chats – High Risk Behaviour
Oliver Tree – Ugly is Beautiful
King Gizzard – K.G.
Testament – Titans of Creation
Atomic Bitchwax – Scorpio

Runners Up

Flaming Lips – American Lips
Midnight – Rebirth by Blasphemy
Deep Purple – Whoosh!
Jeff Rosenstock – No Dream
Blue Oyster Cult – The Symbol Remains

 

Best of 2020 Part 1: The Year in Review

Best of 2020 Part 1: The Year in Review

2020 was a learning experience!  I think I can speak for everyone there.  Before 2020 I never heard the phrase “flatten the curve”.  I’ve worn a face mask before, but only in a hospital.  Now I have a collection.  My theory is that Neil Peart was the glue holding the universe together.

“And when the music stops, there’s only the sound of the rain…”

Neil’s death was the first shitty thing that happened this year.  Losing the Professor.  It certainly set the tone for a year a loss.  A year that stole Eddie Van Halen, my uncle Don, and countless more.  We grieve the losses of not just people, but also daily ways of life.

I naively hoped this pandemic would bring us all closer together.  Instead it has divided us…some of us.  Not all.

Community.  My friend Aaron from the KeepsMeAlive is the champion of community, and this year we have seen the community come together like never before.  It warms my heart to see the genuine care that you have for everyone.  We all started just talking about music.  Now it’s something so much deeper, as we are huddled in isolation, but never isolated.

2020 also taught me that there are good people out there that you can count on.  They know who they are.  I’ve had to lean on a lot of people.  A few have had to lean on me.  Point being — we’re still standing!

Going out less meant more time to focus on listening and writing.  While the lists are still coming (stay tuned!), I can tell you that I both bought and reviewed more new releases in 2020, than any other year.  I’m happier with my year-end list than ever before, and I’ve expanded it from a top five to a top ten…a Nigel Tufnel Top Ten, in fact!

This has been a musically rich year.  There is usually one band, sometimes a handful, that defines my year.  My band of the Year would have to be Loudness, even though they didn’t release anything new.  So why “band of the year”?  The reasons are entirely personal, as they should be.  In early 2020, before Covid, I got really sick with a bad flu.  (Or was it Covid, who the fuck knows?)  As sometimes happens, music ran through my head when I was sick.  That music was “Let It Go” by Loudness which led to some deep dives into their discography.  In 2020 I bought and reviewed my first 10 Loudness albums, many from Japan, including a five disc box set.  No band defined my 2020 like Loudness did and I’m glad I got into them when I did.

The road forked with Loudness.  Not only did I explore their discography, but “Let It Go” then led to a left turn:  a deep analysis of the year I first heard that song, 1986.  A really key year in my life.  I wrote a big “1986 Saga” and felt like I had exorcised some ghosts.  Some of the most rewarding writing I’ve ever done in my life.

THE 1986 SAGA

I didn’t stop there, and I dove into another year:  1991.   It turns out people like reading personal history and how music ties into it.

Of course the virus and the lockdown also caused a different fork in the road, this one being the live streaming.  That has been its own reward.  So rewarding that they’ve earned their own lists this year, and I’ll present some for the best shows of the year in the coming days.

As bad as 2020 has been (undoubtedly the worst year in our collective lives), on a personal level it hasn’t been so bad.  People being indoors has driven traffic on the site way up, and this has been our most successful year yet in terms of hits.  But this has been earned: the writing and content on the site has improved with it.  I’ve learned more about personal health and mental health this year and was somewhat more prepared when lockdown began.  I hate to say it because it sounds like boasting, but as much as 2020 sucked, for me personally…I’ve had worse years.

Silver linings.

I feel very fortunate that in 2020, we didn’t lose anyone in my family to Covid.  Not to Covid.  But I did lose people.  Many of us did.  And there is a long way to go before this is all over.  So please, for me:  be safe.  Be smart.  We have to beat this thing and protect those we love.

We can do this.  In the memories of everyone we lost in 2020, please keep yourself and your loved ones safe.


 

REST IN PEACE

Donald Winter

Clifford Michael Woodhouse

Dorothea Daniels

Tina Schipper

Abigail Lobsinger

Neil Peart

Eddie Van Halen

Leslie West

Martin Birch

Steve Priest

Pete Way

K.T. Oslin

Jeremy Bulloch

David Prowse

Alex Trebek

John Prine

Charley Pride

Lee Kerslake

Gerry McGhee

Tommy Lister, Jr.

Ken Hensley

Jason Slater

Chuck Yeager

Fred Willard

Pat Patterson

Frankie Banali

Bob Kulick

Chadwick Boseman

Ben Bova

Johnny Nash

Spencer Davis

Sir Sean Connery

Kirk Douglas

Vera Lynn

Christopher Tolkien

Terry Jones

Reed Mullin

Freeman Dyson

James Lipton

McCoy Tyner

Max Von Sydow

Johnny Yune

Keith Olsen

Kenny Rogers

Joe Diffie

Bill Withers

Ellis Marsalis

Mort Drucker

Brian Dennehy

Little Richard

Betty Wright

Jerry Stiller

Astrid Kirchherr

Anthony James

Bonnie Pointer

Ian Holm

Joel Schumacher

Carl Reiner

Ennio Morricone

Grant Imahara

Regis Philbin

Peter Green

Wilford Brimley

Ben Cross

Justin Townes Earle

Helen Reddy

Mac Davis

James Randi

André Gagnon

Charlie Daniels

Chad Stuart


REMINDER!

Don’t forget tonight’s live stream “Christmas Memories”!  No bad, no ugly — just the good.

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

 

 

 

 

 

Christmas gallery of goodness 2020

All The Bands You Never Heard Of…epic 3 hour LeBrain Train

Awesome show this week! The 42nd LeBrain Train was another three hour long epic.  The theme was “Best Bands You Probably Never Heard Of”.  We never settled on a proper wording for it, or a proper system for keeping score.  The goal was to introduce you to plenty of artists we think you’d think.  And we hope you do!  For the first time ever, there was no crossover with the six lists!

Lists by:

Added bonus:  At the mid-way point (1:30:00 exactly) a very-caffeinated-me decided to go on an F-bomb laden rant about people who post The Mandalorian spoilers openly on social media without warnings.  Please enjoy my rant!

The final score:

  • Mike:  11 points
  • Sarah:  14 points
  • Harrison:  17 points
  • Rob:  19 points
  • John:  23 points
  • Aaron:  88 points

Huge thanks to everyone for hanging out so long!  Thanks for watching and see you next week.

Awesome Music That Makes Your Skin Vibrate: Two Hours of Brent Jensen on the LeBrain Train

A million thank-you’s to Brent Jensen, the author of No Sleep’Til SudburyLeftover People: A Journey Through Post-Rock & Roll America and All My Favourite People Are Broken.  Chatting music is what we love to do here, and it was a privilege to speak with someone so saturated with musical knowledge, stories and connections.  When you watch this show, I hope you feel the kinship that we music diehards share.

Obscure format junkies:  Check out 0:24:10 of the video for info on a format Sony were working on called “The Cube”.  It would have been a six-sided format around the time of the compact disc.

You can buy Brent’s books at Amazon, and you can check out his podcasts at nosleeptilsudbury.libsyn.com.  (I’ll be checking out the Sandy Horne from the Spoons episode ASAP!)   If you’d like some merch, contact him directly and he’ll hook you up.  Details at the end of our video.

A million more thanks to Superdekes for setting this episode up.  My brother from Thunder Bay should be known as “Superfan” after his meticulous homework and attention to detail!

There will be no sleep tonight as I hit the web looking for all these tunes!  From Saxon, to Kick Axe, to Maiden (with and without Blaze), to Priest (with and without Ripper), please enjoy the music that makes our skin vibrate.

 

 

For those who missed it, here is the 11 minutes that Youtube missed, but Facebook had. Unboxings: Jeff Scott Soto, John Norum, The Black Crowes, Frank Zappa, Def Leppard.

Friday Live Stream – Music Movie Lists & Guests

The LeBrain Train – 2000 Words or More with Mike Ladano
Episode 29

Another week, another list show, and this one comes courtesy of the founder of the Nigel Tufnel Top Ten list, Uncle Meat himself.  Music Movies — with one caveat.  No documentaries.  Those would make a fine list on their own.

Lists by:

 

Friday September 25.  7:00 PM E.S.T.  Facebook:  Michael Ladano or Facebook:  MikeLeBrain.  YouTube:  Mike LeBrain.

 

#861: Fall(ing Down)

GETTING MORE TALE #861: Fall(ing Down)

The air is cooler, the leaves are changing colour, and I am sort of keeping it all together.

Six months ago we all went into lockdown, with the optimism of summer still ahead of us.  We didn’t know what summer would look like, but it had to be better than lockdown, right?  For most of us, it was.  We got outside, basked in some sun, watched the numbers go down, and dared to have some hope.

Now the days are shorter, the sleeves are longer, and the numbers are climbing once again.  As it gets colder, our options for getting out of the house are fewer.  Some people love this season.  They love the leaves, the sweaters, the blankets.  I dislike the cold, the dark, the misery.   Now we have to deal with the uncertainty of the future too.   Thanksgiving?  Halloween?  No guarantees.  Some will participate, some will be unable.

Fortunately, music will be there.  It always has been and always will be.

There are plenty of albums that I consider “autumn albums” even if they are not.

Savatage are a good band for fall and winter.  They might be from Florida but albums like Dead Winter Dead and Handful of Rain have a cold, dark aura.  Early Sabbath fits the mold.  Queensryche’s Rage For OrderRadiation by Marillion.  It’s all very subjective but as much as summer music really activated my memory circuits, the same can happen with winter tunes.  This is something to look forward to.

Yes, there are some things I can look forward to.  When I’m hunkered down indoors staying dry and warm, the VHS Archives will return.  I find this to be a good project to work on in the colder months.  Pulling out old VHS tapes, converting them and putting them on YouTube just seems to work better in the winter.  It’s also a good time for buying and trying new tech.  I’m going to try and teach myself some Photoshop this year, so I can give you better images for this site.  This winter I’ll also have live streaming.  That will continue as long as necessary.  I look forward to it and so do the viewers.

I’ll try to focus on what I can do during the winter, and not what I can’t.  Not the traffic, not the wet, not the mess, not the inconvenience.  I will try.  I never believed in what Yoda said.  “Do.  Or do not.  There is no try.”  I understand the point of it — don’t let failure enter your mind, focus only on completing the task.  I just never bought into it.  I’ve given myself some goals, and I will try.

Maybe I can even use some of that negative stuff that I hate.  Do you want to see videos of driving around in the snow to the music of Max the Axe?  Do you want to see me attempt to live stream outdoors from a snowy porch?  It’s likely that both will happen!

There’s one last brick in this fortress of mental health that I am attempting to build that I have not mentioned.  And that is you.  For almost nine years you’ve been there waiting for the next chapter, review, or video.  You’ve shared your thoughts and ideas, and opened your hearts.  Without the loyal reader (or lately, viewer), I might have given up writing a long time ago and done something else.  I am grateful.  So thank you!