REVIEW: Talas – If We Only Knew Then What We Know Now… (1998 Japanese/bonus track)

TALAS – If We Only Knew Then What We Know Now… (1998 Warner Music Japan)

The Japanese edition of this Talas live album is something to behold.  It comes with lots of extras:

  • Beefy cardboard slipcase to house the jewel case beneath, plus…
  • A beautiful bonus 22 page photo booklet,
  • Japanese lyric sheet,
  • Two bonus tracks!

The first bonus track is just a shorty, a message from Billy Sheehan.  He briefly explains the history of the band, as much as one can in 34 seconds anyway.  The second bonus track is more interesting and valuable.  It is a vintage studio track called “Doin’ It Right”.  Very pop, but also paradoxically pounding.  It’s not available anywhere else, and it’s not bad at all!  It recalls other early poppy rock tunes by metal bands, such as Quiet Riot and Kick Axe’s obscurities.  One of those Japanese bonus tracks that is worth shelling out for.  But that’s just Common Knowledge!

(The rest of this review was previously publish in 2016)

The Talas story did not end with the breakup of the band.  Of course not; bands both famous and obscure like to reunite for nostalgia shows.  Talas did that in 1997 with the original power trio lineup:  Billy Sheehan on bass, Paul Varga on drums, and Dave Constantino on electric guitar.  With classic material (from the first two Talas albums) and a few unreleased songs, they memorialized their reunion with a brand new live CD.  Billy even pulled his old platform boots out of the closet for this one.

As usual the set opens with “Sink Your Teeth Into That” and an enthusiastic home town crowd.  Talas only sounded better with age.  The original voices are there and just as strong as they were in 1982.  It actually sounds like everyone has improved over the years.  A speedy “High Speed on Ice” is in the second spot ensuring no loss of momentum.  Material from the first self-titled Talas album is included too (unlike the last live album Live Speed on Ice).  “Expert on Me” is very pop in construction, but clearly not as great as the songs from album #2, Sink Your Teeth Into That.  Speaking of which, the slow rumbler “Never See Me Cry” is brilliantly adapted to the stage.

“Power to Break Away” is one of the previously unrecorded songs, and it kicks it just as hot as anything from Sink Your Teeth Into That.  It’s taut with hooks and the prerequisite bass workouts.  “Tell Me True” is the second unreleased song, a slow non-descript dirge ballad that takes a while to get going.

Imagine Billy Sheehan plowing his bass right through a funky Led Zeppelin riff.  That’s “Thick Head”, an awesome track from Talas (1979).  “You” has a cool vibe, almost like an unheard Aerosmith demo from the Done With Mirrors era.  A few other tunes from the first Talas (“Most People”, “Any Other Day” and “See Saw”) are adequately entertaining.  Back to Sink Your Teeth Into That, “King of the World” is still one of the best Talas tunes, overshadowed by only a few like “Shy Boy”.  Here, “Shy Boy” is preceded by a Paul Varga drum solo.  The sheer velocity of “Shy Boy” itself makes me wonder how Varga did it.  It’s just pedal to the metal, blurring the lines and smoking the minds.

Nothing like a good cover to help draw a live album to a close.  Talas did two:  “21st Century Schizoid Man” and “Battle Scar”.  The King Crimson cover is a daring one to attempt.  They somehow manage to strip it down and pull it off with integrity.  As for “Battle Scar”?  Total surprise there!  Max Webster were just across the border from Buffalo, and Billy Sheehan nearly joined Max at one point late in their career.  Introduced by a Billy Sheehan bass solo, this Max/Rush cover is the set closer.  As a final addition, “Battle Scar” surely makes this one hell of an album for the history books.

Since this is a more recent release on a well known label (Metal Blade), it turns out that If We Knew Then What We Know Now is an easy CD to find in the shops.  Fortunately this is a good first Talas album to add to any collection.

4/5 battle scars




RUSH – RANKED! All the albums in order, by LeBrain #2 of 2

Jonathan was so psyched for these lists that he wrote almost 8000 words. Me, I could barely get to 1500. For that I apologise. It has nothing to with the subject at hand, that being the ranking of all 20 Rush studio albums. It’s simply a matter of being burned out after 10 years of writing every single day. So here’s my list — not as comprehensive as Jonathan’s but hopefully enjoyable for you to compare and contrast.

My history with Rush goes back to 1994 and starting at the Record Store. I had been wanting to get into Rush since the 1990 release of the Chronicles compilation, but found the back catalogue intimidating. Finally I bought Counterparts, my first Rush and followed it with Chronicles, Signals, 2112 and Roll the Bones. I was off to the Rush Races. After some reflection, here’s how I feel about the Rush catalogue today. This list is very fluid and might be different by this time next year — but the bottom five are likely to remain there forever.

Let’s do this!

Jonathan’s list can be found by clicking here.

20. FEEDBACK (2004) This covers mini-album is one I never go back to. I remember being super psyched hearing “Summertime Blues” blasting from my car radio on a summer evening in 1994. After the initial blast subsided and I heard the EP, I was simply underwhelmed by Rush’s covers of classic rock influences. “Summertime Blues” is only the tune that I really liked. One interesting thing that I remember clearly: once we sold out of the initial shipment of Feedback EPs, it took weeks to get restocked by the distributor. This led us to wonder if the EP was a limited edition and was already sold out. Fortunately that was not the case, but clearly they didn’t print enough CDs to fill demand.

19. TEST FOR ECHO (1996) On the day of release in 1996, one of our customers purchased Test For Echo, hated it, and attempted to return it a few hours later. One problem: he had destroyed the disc in the meantime. Don’t ask me how. But that disc was hammered and he was furious we wouldn’t take it back after such abuse. He was a little wiener but despite his shitty demeanor, he didn’t get his money back. We offered him an exchange for another copy, but he hated the album so much, he declined and departed my store swearing never to shop there again. Good riddance, but I did have to agree with him that the album sucked. The only difference was, as an actual Rush fan, I kept my copy. Shite: “Dog Years”.

18. PRESTO (1989) This album was considered a bit of a return to form after so much synth on Signals through to Hold Your Fire, a span of four albums (not counting the unassailable Moving Pictures). Sure sure, I get why fans were happy to hear the jazzy-rock of “Show Don’t Tell” without a lot of keyboards clogging up the works. I find Presto to be a collection of mostly unmemorable material. “The Pass” is a total keeper, but I don’t need the rest.

17. CARESS OF STEEL (1975) Apologies all around. It’s impossible to rank Rush album without ruffling a few feathers. Something has to go at 17. Caress is a heavily harsh listen; fight me. It’s simply a matter of taste. You either love this complex brutality, or you prefer something else. No big deal. I find Geddy’s vocals to be a bit too far on the harsh side here, and the music is pretty impenetrable without putting in the work.

16. POWER WINDOWS (1985) An album that just never grabbed me. Loved “Marathon”, disliked “Big Money”. Found it a little herky-jerky, though the music video was undeniably cool. “Manhattan Project” is majestic and “Mystic Rhythms” is classic but I never come back craving the rest. With most of these songs present on various Rush compilations, Power Windows tends to gather dust.

15. HEMISPEHERES (1978) “Rush have songs about trees talking to each other, how different parts of the brain works and outer space bullshit,” said Ricky from the Trailer Park Boys. That could be a Rolling Stone magazine review as well. It’s not bad but it certainly is difficult to penetrate. This is probably Rush at their most progressive though mileage will vary.

14. RUSH (1974) John Rutsey, doomed to underappreciation under the shadow of Neil Peart, but special in his own way. The original Rush was less progressive and more jammy, to the delight of all who own their debut album Rush. “What You’re Doing” was a pissed off middle finger made even more so by Skid Row’s cover in the 1990s. Of course it also contains the monolithic “Working Man”, one of the most massive pieces of granite that Rush ever chiseled out of the Canadian shield. A monster!

13. SNAKES & ARROWS (2007) Though a fine late period Rush album with beautiful acoustic passages, Snakes & Arrows has a lot to compete with. It ranks lower than those other albums due to its length. Rush went in without limitations, utilized three instrumentals, and ended with an album that might have been able to lose a couple songs. “Armor and Sword” is a clear highlight, as is closer dynamo “We Hold On”. Rush have some of the best closing songs!

12. HOLD YOUR FIRE (1987) I love most of Hold Your Fire, but man this album just overstays its welcome. It’s not the keyboards, it’s the last couple songs. “Tai Shan”, “High Water”, no perhaps those could have been left for B-sides. “Mission” is amazing, “Time Stand Still” is a delight (as is Aimee Mann) and “Prime Mover” kicks. The synths are at their peak here, but that’s not an intrinsically bad thing. Alex got to come back into focus on the later albums with some incredible guitar work. Ultimately this was as far as Rush could go in that direction before experimenting once again.

11. VAPOR TRAILS (2002) Another album that a few disgruntled customers returned, but not due to the quality of the music. This time it was the production they hated; the brickwalled mix. This album is overblown to the point of near-distortion, and so was actually remixed a few years later in an alternate version. That version is probably your preferred listen, but there is something to be said about the sheer brutality of Vapor Trails. Rush’s heaviest album, overall? Peart’s triumph, after suffering so much loss in his life, that much is certain. A long album again, but there is a lot to love here including “Ghost Rider”, “Vapor Trail”, “Secret Touch” and closer “Out of the Cradle”. A very important album for if Rush weren’t feeling it anymore, that would have been the end.

10. FLY BY NIGHT (1975) I’m a sucker for “Rivendell”. Geeky goodness all around. It feels young, naive and innocent and that only lasts a moment in a lifetime. “Bytor” is a wicked ride through the arctic frost. “Anthem” needs no introduction or explanation. While not flawless there is so much to love on Fly By Night. There’s even a 5.1 mix to check out, one of several Rush albums released in surround sound.

9. CLOCKWORK ANGELS (2012) What a final album by a band; any band for that matter. Rush’s first true concept album from start to finish, with an accompanying novel? Why hadn’t somebody thought of this before! “The Wreckers” and “Headlong Flight” are absolute masterpieces, with the latter recalling early Rush circa “By-tor”. Many people point to album closer “The Garden”, with full orchestra, to be one of the band’s all time unsung best moments. It is quite a shame that it had to be the final Rush album ever, but so few bands go out on highs like this.

8. ROLL THE BONES (1991) Simply terrific album that succeeded where Presto failed: delivering great, memorable Rush songs. The playing was still dexterous complexity to the power of three, but the songs were better honed. Highlights included “Dreamline”, “Bravado”, “Ghost of a Chance” and the title track. Regardless of the rapping. Did you know they considered getting John Clease to do that “Jack, relax, get busy with the facts” rap? I might have liked that.

7. GRACE UNDER PRESSURE (1984) A natural evolution from Signals (1982), this followup had a chillier ambience but plenty more great synth-tinged rock. Upon first hearing it, I was obsessed with the cybernetic “Red Sector A”. I still am. There is much to love on this 80s afterimage. A looming iceberg of 80s progressive rock, Grace Under Pressure is essential to my collection.

6. PERMANENT WAVES (1980) With hindsight, sort of a transitional album. The last of the long epic songs, for a long time. Four stone cold classics: “The Spirit of Radio”, “Freewill”, “Jacob’s Ladder” and “Natural Science”. “The Spirit of Radio” really foreshadows the direction Rush would go in the near future. A fantastic album, and easy to fall for quickly.

5. A FAREWELL TO KINGS (1977) Two words monumental and majestic. Those words come up a lot, but look! “Closer to the Heart”! “Xanadu”! “A Farewell to Kings”! “Cygnus X-1”! Rush were challenging themselves and the listener. A Farewell to Kings must rank in the Rush top five for the sheer magnitude of its song for song firepower.

4. COUNTERPARTS (1993) Huge feels for this early 90s triumph. Rush seemed to be honing in on a sound, starting with Presto. Roll the Bones got them closer to the mark. Counterparts was it, the target. Bullseye. “Animate” is a top tier Rush track, as is “Nobody’s Hero” based on a number of true stories. “Double Agent” is different and grooving, and “Everyday Glory is another magnificent Rush album closer. Nothing bad can be said about Counterparts except that it was a difficult album to top, as Test For Echo proved.

3. 2112 (1976) Sci-fi metal? Don’t mind if I do! 2112 is Rush’s most coherent concept, though only half an album’s worth. The story is well executed and nearly all highlight. The rest of the album ain’t bad either with “A Passage to Bankok” being a masterful example. A Rush album that should find a home in every household with taste. I received this as a gift for my 23rd birthday.

2. MOVING PICTURES (1981) If you were going to point to one album as “the” Rush album, it would have to be Moving Pictures. “Tom Sawyer” is “the” Rush song, and one cannot live to the fullest without “Vital Signs” and “Limelight”. If that wasn’t enough, get some “Red Barchetta”, “Witch Hunt”, “The Camera Eye” and immortal instrumental “YYZ”. Just a magnificent

1. SIGNALS (1982) With “Subdivisions” as my gateway to the holy trinity, this #1 pick should come as no surprise. Signals was an early Rush purchase of mine, after Counterparts, 2112, and Roll the Bones. This album has some serious rich synth songs such as “Countdown” and “Losing It” with some good old fashioned Rush gallop on “The Analog Kid”. Not to be underestimated is “The Weapon”, with synth ticking like clockwork. Everything on this album rules, no filler, and if you don’t like synth then just stop buying Rush after, like 1979. The end.

RUSH – RANKED! All the albums in order, by Jonathan Lee #1 of 2

Ladies and Gents I present to you RUSH!

So this one was a bit tougher than our KISS ranking/review. Mainly because I had to go back and listen to a good bit of the catalogue. I haven’t listened to some of this damn stuff in years. But I must say it was nice to go back and revisit some of this stuff. Some, not so nice. I have changed my thinking on quite a few albums in 2022. Some for the better, some dropped down. And of course some will stay the same as they always were. But enough of the introduction. Let’s get on with the show!

Jonathan Lee

20. FEEDBACK (2004)

Well, I’m not spending much time on this one. It is dead last for a reason. For one I don’t like these songs to begin with so I damn sure didn’t neeed Rush to remind me of this. Now in their defense they have surely earned the right to do as they want and I’m sure they had fun. Too bad I didn’t have fun listening to this fucking mess. But I guess if I had to pick a song off of this disaster…I will go with the cover of the Yardbirds’ “Heart Full of Soul” but it’s nothing great by no means. Alright enough time on this. I don’t see playing this album/EP ever again. 2/10

19. VAPOR TRAILS (2002)

I’m not going to spend a lot of time on this one either because it just never clicked well with me. I will say get the remixed version if you have the original, because it sounds much better. Okay, the lead off track “One Little Victory” is a total kickass rocker and I like it but I don’t go back to it much, just like I don’t this album. The next track “Ceiling Unlimited” I never play. It’s just there. Next. “Ghost Rider” is pretty damn cool. One of the better ones on this for sure. It almost has that “Ghost of a Chance” feel to it but not as good. Next is “Peaceable Kingdom” and this one is a nice heavy one with some killer groove going on. One of my favs from this album. Wish they did more like this one. “The Stars Look Down” is a good one and I like how it flows. A solid track for sure. Love the mystical feel of it. Next we have “How It Is” and I find this one to be one I just skip. The slow part is nice but the other parts just don’t fit at all. Next we have the title track which I like pretty much. It has some damn good bass from Mr Lee. “Secret Touch” is one I skip sometimes. They do that funky stuff again and as always the parts where they don’t do that are great but I just can’t ignore parts of the song now can I? Now when they keep that bass and drum and guitar all in one steady funk groove I can deal with, but it’s when they stop and do different things and only one part stays funky. I don’t know. Hard to explain. It’s like a bass solo in the song that doesn’t need to be there. Okay, now you get “Earthshine” which I think was supposed to be the single, but don’t quote me on that. Either way I do like this one lots! Everything gels quite nicely. Winner. “Sweet Miracle” is just kind of there. Nice vocals by Geddy though. I don’t mind this song at all. It probably should have been the one they sent to radio. Okay next is “Nocturne” which I do not like at all. It’s a mess. Next. “Freeze” is another mess. Next. They close with “Out of the Cradle” and this isn’t nothing to write home about either. Just thrown together and lifeless. So I score this album pretty low at a 3.5/10 and Presto beats it by a hair because of the awesome album cover. LOL!

18. PRESTO (1989)

Oh, boy… This album just sounds like it is trying to hard to be something it isn’t. Nothing feels right about it. I suppose I like “The Pass” alright. The title track is decent. I probably like “Red Tide” and “Hand Over Fist” the best off of this album. But that’s about all I can do with this. I actually expected to go a lot tougher on this album because I may like it a tad more than I used to. But it is ranked right where it belongs. I can’t see playing this again no time soon. 3.5/10

17. FLY BY NIGHT (1975)

Yeah, I know. I’ll catch heat for this one but I just never got into this album. The only really great song on it is “By-Tor and the Snow Dog” and oh I LOVE that song. I also like “Rivendell” quite a lot and “In The End” is decent, but the rest, it just bores me. I never have liked the title track. Sorry, not sorry.  I will say that is one beautiful album cover though. But sadly this is where the blue owl lands in the ranking for me. 4/10

16. SIGNALS (1982)

This album isn’t one of my faves by any means and I’ll cut this one short because this is one I accidentally left out of the review/ranking and I want to get this done. We open with “Subdivisions” and a classic and my favorite song on the album. This sounds like it could have perfectly fit on Moving Pictures.
A timeless song we have right here. Next up we move to “The Analog Kid” and this song just sounds rushed and I just never cared for ir much. Next up is “Chemistry” which is much better. This one is nicely put together. The music has a nice groove to it and everything just works. A very well done track. Now we come up to “Digital Man” and this one is alright. I don’t really listen to this track. It’s just alright. Now flip things over to side two and continue with “The Weapon” and yeah, this song doesn’t do much for me. I don’t dislike it but nothing I go to. The song that was sent to radio and I don’t think it did well even there. I can see why. It just isn’t a very good song. Sounds sleepy except when it kicks in, and that doesn’t save it either. I like it alright so let’s just leave it at that. We now move to “Losing It” and I like the spaced out sounding intro and this is a nice relaxing song and my second favorite off the album. I dig it. Now we come to the closing track “Countdown” and it would be my third favorie. It has a “Subdivisions” feel to it but without the groove. These last 2 songs saved me from ranking this album super low but it’s still gonna be pretty low. I’ll give this one a score of 4.5/10

15. POWER WINDOWS (1985)

And this could be higher if it wasn’t for “The Big Money” which is in my top five of worst Rush songs ever. That song is one reason this is so low. But I also don’t like much of this album at all. “Grand Designs” is just fucking awful. I’m not even wasting time on it. “Manhattan Project” is really nice though. I’ve always loved this song. So relaxing and mystical. Sad it had to end up on this album. It is just too good to be surrounded by all this crap. “Marathon” is pretty cool though. Seems like the songs that start with the letter “M” saved this album. Because now you move on to “Territories” and it isn’t awful by no means but seems thrown together. I don’t like the drum sound on this either. Well the letter “M” saves the day again because though not great, “Middletown Dreams” is pretty damn cool. I like how it is all put together in structure. Next up is “Emotion Detector”.  It’s alright once it kicks in and gets going but the intro is awful. But it does get going thankfully. And to close the album you get what, ahhhh another great “M” song again to save the day AKA “Mystic Rnythms”, which I find very nice and a good closer. So I guess this album isn’t as bad as I remember it. I would give it a 5/10. Seems a accurate score since I like half of it.

14. CARESS OF STEEL (1975)

Okay… I’m not gonna go easy on these first few songs so if you love this and get offended easily you will want to roll by this one. I do not like “Bastille Day” and “I think I’m Going Bald” is just absolutely fucking terrible. “Lakeside Park” sounds like some bad southern honky tonk session. I do not like this stuff. This RUSH album is the only one I know of that has so many bad songs in a row. Okay finally one I do like AKA “The Necromancer” which is mysterious and creepy. I love what Alex does on guitar with this one. I always play this one all the way through, all 3 parts of it. I was so happy to hear this after that terrible start to this album. It’s like it took them a bit to get going and quit messing around. “The Fountain of Lamneth” is next and this one is even more epic with it consisting of six parts. I enjoy this one quite a lot as well. Not as much as “The Necomancer” but pretty damn close. I will say thank goodness for these two epic pieces or this would be ranked almost dead last if not last. I’ll give this one a 5.75/10. I actually almost put it a tie with Power Windows but no way can I do that with the two epic pieces on here. Which if you think about it I actually rank this album quite high considering it was a 0/10 until “The Necromancer” came on.


This one I had to go back to, believe it or not, just for the few tracks I haven’t played in awhile like the opener. Then I played it and I was like, oh yeah, I know this song like the back of my hand. And let’s just call this what it is, a great fucking opener. It is what you want in a opening track. I’m not a big fan of the jumping jack-like part that Geddy sings. Like the up and down chant thing. But other than that small gripe, great song. Now we move on to the masterpiece aka “Xanadu” which I prefer live off of Exit, but without this I don’t get that, so no way can I overlook the studio version because it is great as well. Another Rush song that is in my top four of all time (Exit version) and that will never change. It is the first song I ever took LSD to and it was one of the greatest experiences in my life. I wouldn’t do it again but it was everything and then some at 18. Oh the things I seen that night under the stars! I’ll never be the same and I’m glad of it. Next! Okay the short but sweet “Closer To The Heart” which I don’t play much. Meaning I don’t go to it. But if it comes on I’m not changing it either. I like it just fine. Now this next song I had to refresh my memory with “Cinderella Man” because it’s been a couple years since I heard this and I must say I kind of get why. I’m not a big fan of this song. It has that jumping jack thing going on again. I do love it when it is slowed down though. Wish they would have done it all that way. Next is “Madrigal” another one I had to listen to because I just couldn’t remember it. And it’s a nice slow one. It’s no “Tears” but it’s decent. And then they close it out with “Cygnus X-1 Book I: The Voyage” which has always been a bit of a iffy song to me. The intro is a bit silly. And to be split into three parts I find it should have been longer than just a little over ten minutes. It also takes a bit to get going. So I really see it as a eight minute song and that just didn’t need three parts. This easily could have just been one song. “Xanadu” is longer as a single song off this album. Plus to be honest I don’t find this song that great until like 3:30 point and on. So yes, in that sense it is a great 7 1/2 minute song which should have been longer because once it gets going t kicks total ass but it ends too soon. I mean I like it, please don’t confuse this as me slandering it I just feel they could have done more with this song. So where to I score this album? I’ll give it a 7.5/10 but without “Xanadu” and we at a 6/10.

12. TEST FOR ECHO (1996)

And here comes your surprise pick! I love this album! The lead off title track I find to be very well done. Nice and myseterious with a steady groove and some hard hitting parts. Nothing I dislike about this song. So let’s move to “driven” which is one of my favorite Rush songs ever. I love every damn thing about it and still a song they played at almost every tour after. And I can see why. It has a good live feel to it. So we doing great so far. Two for two! Can it keep up? “Half the World” is a nice laid back slow rocking tune. I dig it. I’m starting to wonder why I beat up on this album before. I don’t feel this bad about it. But of course I’m only three songs in so let’s see if that stands. Okay now this song “The Colour of Right” and this is some damn nice drum work by Mr. Peart. Again, I’m beginning to question what I didn’t like about this album because so far I like all four songs. Can it go five in a row? Yes it can because I really like “Time and Motion” and let’s go ahead and knock out then next one as well since I like it just fine.  “Totem” is the total happy Rush song. Damn. That is six in a row. I know I’m mad contrarian for this so far but that would be me hey?! I think I made this abundantly clear with my love for Hot in the Shade and Crazy Nights by KISS.  Anyway, forwards we go! “Dog Years” is a cool jamming song. Strange lyrics and for sure not some of the best. But I like the jam in this. They sound ready to go! Okay, so we come to “Virtuality” which I find to be a good heavy rocker but they doing that funky thing I don’t like! But still a killer song of you ignore that! Geddy is singing this perfectly! Let’s keep going! “Resist” is a total classic. Another one they played live a lot. And like “Driven” I can see why. It has that play me fucking live feel to it. And it works live and it works damn well here as well. You turn the lights down and get in the zone. Okay as we’re coming close to a end, I know some of you are like “Thank God”. LOL. But hey, you still reading! Okay now we get “Limbo” and this one is on that magical ride that they love to do! And I love when they do it! This song is a beautiful fucked up journey. One that I will take with them at any time. So the end is here with “Carve Away The Stone” and it is one I find that I skip. I don’t hate it I’m just not moved by it much. The riffs and solo are killer though and it’s alright. So now where do I score this one? Well with all that praise you would assume sky high but see I’m not going to do that because the songs I like a lot but do I love a lot of them? Perhaps not. So I will give this one a 7.5/10 which is still high!


Now this is one album I like a lot. How I rank it will be challenging because this is the Rush album where it has some of my favorite Rush songs ever, and some not so great. This will make it tricky to put in the rankings. I will feel bad that I can’t move it higher,because a few songs hold it down from that. But I’ll do my best! So it opens with “Distant Early Warning” which is one of my favorite Rush songs of all time. I love the lyrics and the meaning behind it. The song structure is one of perfection just like the next song “Afterimage” which continues in fine form. The lyrics on this album are some of the best. It is one of the darker albums by Rush but I tend to enjoy those a lot. This one is no exception. Up next is my favorite song off the album aka “Red Sector A” which not only covers some really deep subject matter the fucking music is just spot on. This album came out so strong with  three of my faves in a row. I will always go back to this album for these three songs alone but there is much more to unwrap here so we’ll move on to “The Enemy Within” which closes out side one. And what a way to end a perfect side! While not as strong as the previous three tracks it’s still a pretty damn nice song. I like how it slows down and then picks back up. A solid track. Now let’s flip it over to side two and see what awaits. No way could it top side one right? Yes, that would be right. It doesn’t. “The Body Electric” is a song I do not care for. It just has a bad intro. It does have its moments once that terrible intro is done and Geddy starts singing, but it still lacks. The chorus is nice with 1-0-0-1-0-0-1 but it doesn’t stay together. It moves around too much. Not in a good progressive way, more in a mess way. So let’s move to “Kid Gloves” which isn’t doing much for me. It’s just there. I think this one is the worst on the album. Next. “Red Lenses” is as bad as the previous track. This album makes no sense to me in the regard of how strong it starts and then just falls asleep on side two. Thankfully the closing track “Between the Wheels” wakes things up! A really great song! I love the keyboards in this one. They simple but creepy! And the groove of this song is damn sweet! Great closer! So now how do I rank this? Well…the songs I like, I LOVE. So they push this up higher for being so strong. I’ll go with a 8/10

10. HOLD YOUR FIRE (1987)

This one may surprise some people as it is often looked down upon in the Rush discography but I really like a lot of this on here. See they got it right on this one where as they failed on Presto.  I love the opening track “Force Ten” not only a great song but a great opening track to a album. It just has that feel to it. Next up is “Time Stand Still” which is another song I enjoy quite a lot. I love the breakdowns in this song. Plus it has the lovely Aimee Mann who has such a elegant voice and one I have always loved. Up next is “Open Secrets” which I also like quite a lot! This album was never low for me but it has went up quite some. I just love it. You know it wouldn’t be me if I didn’t have a contrarian pick or two in the mix. Ha. So let’s see… What do we have next? Ahh yeah, “Second Nature” another one I like quite a bit! Hey! I told you I love this album! Okay, maybe not love but I like it quite a lot! “Prime Mover” is a nice one as well. It has a good groove and I love the harmonies. The clean acoustic that comes in adds a lil’ special touch as well. Next up we have “Lock And Key” and it comes in with some amazing vocals by Geddy. Love the keys in it as well. Then it kicks in and rocks you a little and has some of the best lyrics as well by Neil. I love this song. The almighty “Mission” comes next and ohhh is this gooood.  This song makes me feel good. It’s like a song of hope. It makes you reach out to things that make you feel good inside. It makes me happy. Now the next song “Turn The Page” is cool as well. I swear I can’t believe how much I like this album now. As I said, I’ve always dug it but not this much lately. Moving on to “Tai Shan” which is the one song on here that I do not care for. I don’t hate it by no means but I just don’t find it up to par with the rest. I do skip this one sometimes. I appreciate what they were trying to do with it but it just doesn’t grab me much. Now for the closing track “High Water” which I almost put in the same category as “Tai Shan”.  It just doesn’t go anywhere. But I don’t dislike it. So having said all that… I will give Hold Your Fire a solid 8/10

9. RUSH (1974)

The one that started it off to us all and introduced us to all the great music over the years. “Finding My Way” is a kick ass opening track. Some good riffing by Mr. Lifeson. The song itself has one of the best rock grooves ever laid down. The second track, not so good. Seems a bit cheesy to be a Rush song. Lyric-wise anyway. It does have a pretty kicking groove which this album seems to focus on. It isn’t a song I skip by no means. Once again Alex is solid as fuck with that solo. This was one of the albums I had to go back to because I just forgot songs like this third track “Take a Friend” which by the way is a damn cool tune. I can’t over-specify the groove on this album. It’s a head nodder for sure. “Here Again” I really love. I like the slow pace of this one. Let’s just say I’ve been known to smoke a joint or two to this one. This is one of my all time favorite Rush songs that sadly gets overlooked. And if you can’t move to “What You’re Doing” you don’t have a fucking pulse. This one just jams! “In The Mood” seems like a song Ace Frehley or Gene Simmons could have written. Just has that old KISS groove. The solo even has a Ace feel to it. The drums have that Peter feel. Good stuff. Now we get a slow beautiful one with “Before and After” which is just fucking perfect. I love the chord breakdowns in this. I just wish they would have kept it slow like at the start. Not that I don’t like the rest. Especially the drums and Alex coming in with that kicking groovin’ solo. Winner. And to close things out we get “Working Man” which is in my top  five Rush songs ever. I love every fucking thing about this song. It just leaves you wanting more and you hate to see the album come to a end. So where do I put this one score wise? A very solid 8.5/10 which maybe isn’t so solid considering I’m leaning more towards a 8.5/10 than 8/10. Yep, it’s that damn good. Not bad for a debut aye?

8. ROLL THE BONES (1991)

Okay first things first. Let’s just get this out of the way by saying this is one of the best album covers ever. I love the way the colors all come together nicely and the art is amazing. Now can the album live up to the cover? Let’s see… So this starts out with “Dreamline” one of my favorite Rush songs and one of the greatest album openers ever. It just comes in and kicks your ass! I fucking love this song! It needs no more than that! Next we have “Bravado” which is another fave. This song just comes at you and doesn’t let go. It is so addicting! Two back-to-back great songs! Can they stay at this level?! Well up next we have the title track and I’m kind of 50/50 on this one. I like some of it so much and other parts I don’t. Mainly that silly rap part ruins it. The chorus is nice and relaxing. That synth keyboard that jumps at you is pretty silly as well but I still can enjoy this song. I just wish it could be redone and fixed in a proper way and it would be top notch. After this one we come up on “Face Up” which is pretty cool. It’s not great but not bad by any means. It has a steady rocking groove. It’s a nice one. Next we have “Where’s My Thing” which I always skip. I just don’t care for this, minus the slower parts and the faster grooving parts. But that funky part is a no-go. I never like when Rush does this. Thankfully they never did it much. Again, like “Roll The Bones” they could have took this and made it great by removing the silly parts. But hey, just my thoughts. Onto side two we head. The opening track “The Big Wheel” kicks things off and it’s a pretty rocking song. Has a good driving feel to it. I dig this one quite a bit. They probably should have sent this one to radio. It has that feel. Okay onwards we go to “Heresy” which is a nice one. A total underrated sleeper tune. Has a magical peaceful feel to it. They keep it simple and it works perfectly. This album did well but should have done much better. But now we come to my favorite song off the album, “Ghost of a Chance”, and I just can’t specify how much I feel this one It has moved me since the day I was given the pleasure of hearing it. I still play this one so much. They were onto something with this one. A fucking masterpiece track. As is the following track “Neurotica” which I find a very unique and different song for Rush. I wish they would have done more songs like this. It’s perfect. Now we close it out with “You Bet Your Life” and they end it on a pretty good note. Not one of the better songs on the album and that chorus chant is annoying but other than that a decent track. So what do I rank this one… How about a good 8.5/10

7. SNAKES & ARROWS (2007)

I use to always call this one and Vapor Trails the twins. But this is soooo much better so it’s the good twin. The leadoff track “Far Cry” is fucking killer. Such a damn opener! And then you get “Armor and Sword” which is also a damn amazing track and maybe my fave on the album! I love everything about this one. The music in this one just makes me want to melt! Now the third track “Working Them Angels” kicks in and by the intro I’m like iunno.. Then BAM! WIN! I also think this would have been perfect for Clockwork Angels not just because of the title (though that helps) but because of the feel of it. Sounds perfect for that album. “The Larger Bowl” comes up next and man is this good. I love when Alex has his acoustic moments. He is just so good. This song should have been a huge hit for them. Then we come to “Spindrift” and it’s a total win. Dark and heavy. I swear it is so good that Michael and I did this because I seriously forgot just how much I love this album. This one will be going in my car tomorrow. Now let’s move on to “The Main Monkey Business” which is a bit silly but Rush likes doing this sometimes. They always got along as a group so they had fun. Nothing wrong with that! The song though despite the silly title is actually anything but silly. It has that nice dark groove going on like most of this album. Yet it’s not done in a depressing way it’s more of a watch us have our dark fun and take you with us for the ride. It’s a really special album to me just filled with greatness one track after the next. I’m telling you midway through this review of this album that it’s going to be way up there on the list. I love this so much. But until we get there let’s keep going and we come to “The Way The Wind Blows” and they just don’t let up. This one has a nice blues feel and some nice jamming going on. And man that solo! I dig it! Okay let me try and speed things along because I could write for ages about this album. So on we come to “Hope” which is just what it feels like. Hope. This makes you feel like everything is going to be okay. Some sweet work here by Mr. Lifeson. He’s too good for words. So we’ll carry on to “Faithless” and this one I heard they caught some flack for. It is talked about for being anti-religion. So what, it’s their business and beliefs. I like this song just fine. It also has some amazing work by Alex. This really does feel like his album. Like this is his baby. Well congrats on this baby! Okay so what comes next is “Bravest Face” which just like everything so far wins. Everything just gels so well together on this album. It keeps the pace and sounds like a album should. This is not a album where you can just pick songs. You need it as one. It feels like it was recorded that way when albums meant something and flowed together. And we now come to “Good News First” and good news this is! Comes in and rocks right off! More dark grooves here. Fucking fantastic! Damn I’m running out of praise here. LOL. This is a long album! And I’m glad of this! Okay now we coming close to the end and the song “Malignant Narcissism” (great damn title btw) comes up and this one has them in a funky yet dark space and it works! Some great ass jamming right here! Alex just shines his ass off in this one. Well I did call this his baby. lol. Okay after a long and amazing journey we come to the closer “We Hold On” and this one is the one closes it out nicely and letting you know we’ll be back! Now how do I score this. Well high as kites of course. I give this a 9/10 and I was very close into moving this above 2112 but I’ll leave it here but it’s on your ass 2112!

original cover

6. 2112 (1976)

The holy grail I like to call it. I’m not going to spend a lot of time on this one for one reason. I just don’t feel I will do it enough justice. I’ll give it a small go though. The opener. Fucking 2112, MAN. THAT IS WHAT GOT ME INTO RUSH! I heard this at like 15 (I’m 27 now) and I just sat there blown the fuck away trying to take it all in as much as possible. I played this over and over and over for weeks. I don’t even think I got to “A Passage To Bangkok” for days on end. I had a friend at the time who said you know there are other tracks on here. I was like yeah in time. In time. Right now I’m dealing with this and I want it instilled in my mind for life. And I think I accomplished just that. Now back to “Passage To Bangkok” with all it’s greatness. The drums in this. The riffs. The lyrics. Geddy’s vocals. All perfect. This is one reason I wasn’t gonna say much about this album because as you can see I’m finding it hard to go against the grain and call it anything but perfect just like “The Twilight Zone” is. That is one of the best damn intros I have ever heard. They pull me in so deep when they do these slow paced songs yet move it to a total different area and then back to it. That is called great fucking musicianship skills. They don’t mess up one single damn thing. Okay, finally one that isn’t perfect. The song “Lessons” just doesn’t fit in on this album. I’ve never cared for it much which will stop this album from being a 10/10. But “Tears” is next and it is in my top 10 all time Rush songs. Everything about it is sheer perfection. I have no words for it. None. So to close it all down we get “Something for Nothing” which features some of the nicest acoustics laid down by Mr. Lifeson. They kick it in and go out on fire. Alex does his thing on this one. That solo is sick! So now time to score this one. Well I’ll go with a 9/10


Where to even start? Okay let’s begin with no matter how many times I hear “Tom Sawyer” I never get tired of it. It just stays fresh and never dated to me. What a damn opening track! Next we move on to “Red Barchetta” which is a straight up masterpiece. I never thought about cars so much until I heard this. It reminds me of that cartoon The Jetsons. But this time we have the Rush car in space with us cruising to all the horizons beyond anywhere the mind could take us! Damn, what a song. Coming up we move to “YYZ” which is not only one of the greatest instrumentals ever but I didn’t know ’til many years later it was named after this —-> YYZ dates all the way back to the Morse Code railway stations along the Canadian National Railway, which had two-letter identifiers. The code for the station in Malton, Ontario, was YZ, which is where Pearson sits today—hence YYZ.  Pretty damn cool hey?! And now we reach the end of side one with “Limelight” which is another song I never tire of no matter how much I’ve heard it over the years. It stands out as something I could hear today (even with the classic sound) and think man this is fucking great. Well, that’s because it damn well is just that. GREAT!

We now approach side two of the album and many seemed to overlook this side because of how great side one was/is and I just never got that because I find it just as strong. No, it doesn’t have the radio staples we have all come to know but let’s not forget how important this album is as a whole. And what better way to start it than with the astonishing epic “The Camera Eye” which showed us where Rush were heading so to speak. I even hear elements of Hold Your Fire in this. Heavier yes, but you hear where they going in the future. I didn’t mind it at all! This is a great song with so many spaced out sounds and progressive change ups. Man it just wins! As the 2nd song comes up aka “Witch Hunt” you begin to feel like you are on this magical journey where only Rush can take you. I have my own thoughts and beliefs in this song so I’m going to keep that personal. Take what you will from it. Let’s just say the way they I have a soft spot for the darker side of things. Oh, did I mention how much I love this song. Okay, well you get it! Next to close the album we have “Vital Signs” and if i have to choose a weak spot on this album it would be this song. I don’t dislike it but I do tend to fast forward it to the middle part and let it play out because then it’s great! So having said all this I give this album a solid 9/10. This makes it my fifth fave Rush album!


They back! That’s what I remember feeling when track one started. “Animate” is in my top 10 Rush songs ever! I FUCKING LOVE THIS ONE SOOOOO MUCH! ALL OF IT!  I could go on forever about this song! But I’ll keep it together and move along to “Stick it Out” which has that heavy dark punch to it. Great riffs going on in this one. Solid fucking track. Just like “Cut to the Chase” is a damn punch you out one! Man this album is so damn full of energy and riffs and amazing solos. You can tell they missed rocking out. They took it organic on this one. Up next we have “Nobody’s Hero” which is a deep song about AIDS and one that was needed. Dokken did it with “Kiss of Death” and that was amazing and so is this one by Rush. A straight up fucking gem. Damn can this album do any wrong? We gonna find out. Let’s keep moving. Now we reach “Between Sun & Moon” and yep, you guessed it. Another fucking winner. This album just won’t stop winning! Let’s see if it continues! So now we come to “Alien Shore” and where as not quite as good as the ones before it, still a damn good song! Again, it’s that funky part that rubs me the wrong way that I spoke on in a previous album review. But other than that a damn great song! So what do we have next… Ahhh.. “The Speed of Love” a very nice song that has all the lyrics of a great ballad but the music is grooving and Rush made this work damn well. Yeah, they pretty good at making things work aye? So we got “Double Agent” up next and this one is perfect. Seems to be the theme of this album! Now we come to the instrumental “Leave That Thing Alone” where the funky thing finally works! This is a fucking jamming song right here my friends. Crank this one up and zone out! And now we get to have a “Cold Fire” and if this is what fire is cold then freeze it for me because I want some! What a fucking song! LOVELOVELOVE!!! Man I knew I loved this album but i truly did forget just how damn much. This is such a damn gem. So let’s see how they close out things with “Everyday Glory”. Okay they slow it down and it is a good way to say bye for now. It feels like a farewell, see you later song. I like it lots. The lyrics are so damn good as is Geddy’s vocals. So now the tough part… Where do I score this? Well it’s getting the 9.5 and it’s closer to a 10 than a 9 if that helps you any. This album is one of my go to Rush albums for sure. Great stuff!


Sigh… Sadly the last Rush album but if this had to be it man did they go out on a high note! This kicks off with “Caravan” a nice rocker. They keep it simple and get right to it. They sound as strong as ever. A killer fucking opening track. On to “BU2B” which is heavy as fuck! They on that dark ride again that I love so much! GREAT SONG! Next up is the title track which I feel could have been on Hold Your Fire if it wasn’t as heavy. Maybe it’s the intro. But yeah a heavy one here with a melody that holds it down in a good way. Lot going on in this song. They do this quite well as I’m sure you are aware of. Solid fucking track. Now up is “The Anarchist” which is full of movement. This album has a dark feel but it seems they pace it up and keep it on the verge of let’s fucking party! It’s like they see the rainbow they just coasting towards it at their own pace. Something like that! Okay now to “Carnies” which is them taking you to the amusement park for all the rides. No, you don’t want to get off and you do not want this day and night ever to end. You are with Rush! Staying with them we go to “Halo Effect” which kind of makes me sad and miss Neil. More on that later though. But yeah just something about this song that touches me. It’s like good as you can be you still look back on the fool that you was. You never to good to look back on things and say damn, this is that song. Alright, so now we come to “Seven Cities of Gold” and this one reminds me of some old classic Rush. That riff sounds like this could have been on the debut album. They went back with this one! Geddy sounds fucking awesome! Good stuff! Moving on with the show we come to my secnd favorite song off this album AKA “The Wreckers” and I just can’t put into words how much I enjoy this song so I won’t even try. I’d only fail. Just know it’s perfect. I almost feel like this could have been off of Permanent Waves because yes it’s that damn good. The chorus is one of the best they have ever done. THANK YOU RUSH! So now we take a trip on a “Headlong Flight” and man what a fast fucking rocking tune! Man they kick ass on this album. Let’s just say I’m glad this flight wasn’t cancelled! I think this might be the fastest Rush song ever. They damn metal as fuck on this one. I LOVE IT. So now we come to “BU2B2” and it’s a short lil’ number that is alright but not much going on here. But a nice little Geddy moment. It’s cool for what it is. Would have liked it to be longer and seen where it could have went. But it’s cool. Now we come to “Wish Them Well” and this song hits me as I have had to let some people go in my life and just well, wish them well. I won’t go much into that. It’s a bit painful and personal. Okay and now we come to the end… Like literally the end. The last Rush song ever to close an album. This is it. It pains me to even start this song because not only is it the end but it’s so heartfelt and reminds me of Neil so much and my favorite song on the album. So it needs no introduction. It closes the book. and it is the perfect song. So as we come to the end I just want to thank you Geddy, Alex, and of course Neil. Thank you for all that you guys have given me. I love you all more than words can ever express. It’s been one magical journey and one I will never forget and one I will stay on. Thank you RUSH. Thank you. And now I’ll score this… Fuck this feels like saying goodbye. I knew this was going to happy. In tears now with “The Garden”. I give this a 10/10. That’s all I got. Cheers.


Now this is how it should have been done on Farewell To Kings because “Cygnus X-1 Book II – Hemispheres” is fucking perfect! A total epic masterpiece! I love this song beyond. It’s right up there with “2112” as far as the epic songs go. Yes, I love it that much. I actually listen to it more now than “2112”. Some of the best chord progressions I have ever heard. Now on to “Circumstances” which is a good ass kicking song. Always liked it from the day I heard it. This album reminds me so much of 2112. Just in structure and the whole way it is done. “The Trees” is just as beautiful as “Tears” even when it kicks in it retains it’s beauty. The subject matter is wild as bats but I love that about it! Tree’s arguing and getting jealous of one another! And to close out this amazing album we get my favorite Rush instrumental ever (though again, I do prefer it live on Exit) “La Villa Strangiato” a song that needs no introduction. The total buildup and then the breakdown middle is just glorious as it gets. PERFECT. So now where do I score this one? Well here we go. A PERFECT 10/10 and tied for my all time favorite Rush album. So there you go!


This one is going to be ranked high. I love everything about this album. The two opening tracks which were huge on the radio and still are kick it off and I love them to this day and never get sick of either one. Of course I’m speaking of “The Spirt of Radio” and “Freewill” which both are just so built for hard rock radio. And I don’t think either ever left the live RUSH set from the day they dropped. That is what you call hey, we know these are damn staples. Next up is my favorite RUSH song of all time aka “Jacob’s Ladder” which I don’t know how or why it became this but it has been for years and I just don’t see it ever changing. There is just something about it to me. I can’t explain it, so I won’t. I chose it by “Freewill”! Just like I choose “Entre Nous” as one awesome ass fucking song! Alex being all godlike as he’s so good at. And as we move on to the beautiful “Different Strings” you just feel it all pull you in and you look at this album and say is this even possible for something to be this good? Apparently the answer is yes. Straight up craftsmanship right here Ladies and Gents. In every musical sense imaginable. And if that wasn’t enough you get “Natural Science” to close it all down in sheer perfection. I swear, my only problem with this album… I never want it to end. Not ever. The score here is 10/10 which makes it tied with just one more album in the catalogue as my favorite/s.


Thank you Jonathan for almost 8000 words of Rush extravagance!  I will go tomorrow with my own Rush list!  — Mike

Tom Sawyer visits LeBrain HQ

REVIEW: Rush – “Caravan” / “BU2B” (2010 CD single)

RUSH – “Caravan” / “BU2B” (2010 CD Anthem single)

“Parts one and two of Clockwork Angels, a work in progress”.

That’s pretty monumental.  Rush were releasing two key tracks from their forthcoming studio album, a full concept album this time, well in advance.  Two years in advance.  Notably, this was a full concept album start to finish.  In the 70s, Rush were more known for half concept, half non-conceptual records.  The bands that Rush inspired like Queensryche and Dream Theater had done full concepts.  Now the original masters were taking a shot.

On the final album, “Caravan” is track one and “BU2B” is track two.  On this single the order is swapped.  “BU2B” (“Brought Up to Believe”) opens, although its intro changes on the album version.  “BU2B” absolutely slams.  “I was brought up to believe that the universe has a plan…”  Perhaps it opens this single because it sums up the overall album concept.  In a fictional world run precisely by a “Watchmaker”, a rebellious protagonist feels pulled in a direction different from that assigned to his life.  Questioning his reality, he embarks on his own adventures despite his mandated mundane role in society.  Musically, after the metallic riff has done its business, Neil Peart takes the spotlight a moment as the song shifts.  Geddy lays down the heavy bottom end while Alex strikes hither and yon with lightning-like licks.  Clearly a classic in the making.

“Caravan”, the final album opener, sounds pretty much the same as the record.  It establishes the setting, “in a world lit only by fire…”  The riff is a major feature, a deliberate, descending rock monster that feels just right in the guts.  The lyrics paint a picture of a steampunk world, half explored, with alchemy and ancient knowledge.

Clockwork Angels wound up as one of the greatest final albums by any band anywhere any time.  This single is a nice add-on, a reminder of the long careful gestation period that created a masterpiece.

4.5/5 stars

REVIEW: Rush – Working Men (2009)

RUSH – Working Men (2009 Anthem)

Rush weren’t really known as a “cash grab” kind of band.  That’s why the Christmas 2009 release of Working Men was so surprising to fans.

12 tracks, all but one previously released on live Rush albums of recent vintage. It is not difficult to figure out that this disc was created to keep Rush product on the shelves while the band was on break during the Christmas season. While the music is excellent (obviously), it is hard to imagine a Rush fan that would play this single-disc album before listening to the actual live albums that the tracks were sourced from.  This is Rush’s version of You Wanted The Best by Kiss, but with only one unreleased recording instead of four.

Here’s a tracklist, and a breakdown of where these tracks were lifted from:

1. “Limelight” (From Snakes & Arrows Live)
2. “The Spirit of Radio” (From R30)
3. “2112 Overture/The Temples of Syrinx (From Rush in Rio)
4. “Freewill” (From Snakes & Arrows Live)
5. “Dreamline” (From R30)
6. “Far Cry” (From Snakes & Arrows Live)
7. “Subdivisions” (From R30)
8. “One Little Victory” (From the R30 tour) (Previously Unreleased)
9. “Closer to the Heart” (From Rush in Rio)
10. “Tom Sawyer” (From Snakes & Arrows Live)
11. “Working Man” (From R30)
12. “YYZ” (From Rush in Rio)

“One Little Victory”, a stormy firecracker of a version, is the lone previously unreleased song. Is that one song worth your $15? You decide. Unfortunately “One Little Victory” is basically all you’re going to get for your money. There is no booklet and there are no liner notes to speak of. The cover art, once again by Hugh Syme, is quite nice, hinting at past works.

The songs fade-in and fade-out, rather than flow as a seamless listen. The selections lean heavily on oldies as opposed to newer tracks, which does not really reflect what a Rush concert was about at that time. Clearly, this was to entice consumers who wanted songs they have heard frequently on the radio. At least the running order is well sequenced for maximum firepower.

This release is not particularly for anybody except completists and Rush diehards. Everyone else would be well advised to spend their money on Rush In Rio, R30, or Snakes & Arrows Live.

2/5 stars, not for the music, but just because it’s a bit of a Christmas cashgrab.


#943: Irate With a Beeper!

RECORD STORE TALES #943: Irate With a Beeper!

There was once a time before we had our infamous “no questions asked” return policy.  In 1996, we were able to…shall we say, “express ourselves” more freely as managers of Record Stores.

We learned from the best, and we didn’t take kindly to someone trying to rip us off.   Some time in early September 1996, I received a call from T-Rev at his own store.  “Mikey,” he said, “Just a warning.  There’s a guy coming your way with the new Rush CD, that he wants to return.  Now I had a look at it, and it is just hacked.  There was no way he opened it like that.  I wouldn’t let him return it.  You’ll see what I mean when he gets there.  He’s this little short guy with glasses and short hair.  You’ll know him when you see him.”  A prepared myself for the Rush fan with Napoleon complex.

The new Rush album, Test For Echo, was received with mixed reactions.  We started seeing used copies early on, traded in by ordinary fans (albeit impatient ones) who simply didn’t like it.  T-Rev and I both thought it was a step down from Counterparts, while acknowledging that sometimes a Rush album needs time.  We liked a couple tracks, and disliked a few as well.  (“Dog Years” and “Virtuality” were on the shit list.)  We were not surprised to see people returning it, but Nerdlinger here was unique.

The little guy stormed in, straight up to the counter, and asked to return the Rush CD.  “I don’t like it,” he said simply.  I dutifully opened the case and, as T-Rev has warned, the disc was mangled.  Probably due to a car CD deck, which were common and had a habit of murdering discs.

“I’m sorry,” I began, “but I can’t take this back.  It’s seen some pretty serious use and it’s scratched up really bad.”  I didn’t know what else to say.  “I’m sorry,” I added lamely.

He was irate.  “‘Seen some serious use’?” he quoted back to me.  “How?  I just got it at your other store.  It’s a day old!”

Customers always asked “how” their CDs got scratched.  How the fuck am I supposed to know what he did with it?

“I don’t know how it got scratched up this bad, but they don’t come this way out of the shrinkwrap.”  I grabbed our store play CD to show him.  “See, this is one we just opened a few days ago and we’ve been playing it every day.”  He glared through his glasses at our copy.

He insisted he didn’t scratch it, that he bought it that way from T-Rev’s store and he wouldn’t return it.

I didn’t know what else I could say.  “Well, I showed you what they look like coming out of the shrinkwrap.”  Then, poking the bear just a smidge, I chided, “Did you drop it?”

“NO, I didn’t drop it!” he expressed in a mocking tone.  Knowing he was not going to get anywhere with me, he left.  And, much like many tenacious customers of his guilt-free mindset, he returned later that day on the night shift.  A time he assumed I wouldn’t be working.  But he didn’t get anywhere with the night staff.  They knew something wasn’t right about it and asked him to return when the manager is in.  So, like any douchebag worth his salt, he left a pager number for me to call the next day.

“Oh, joy” I said to myself upon seeing the note waiting for me.

I never called a beeper before.  I noted the occasion for its novelty.

A short while later, Nerdlinger stormed back into the store with his Rush CD.  He must have been so dejected upon seeing I was the manager.

And so for a second time I refused to return his CD, and he did the usual expected temper tantrum.  I’m never shopping here again, I’m telling all my friends, I’m this and you’re that.

And life got incrementally better, knowing I’d never have to see that fucking Nerdlinger again.


Hiatus Update

I’m sorry for “vaguebooking”.  I can tell by the number of concerned messages that it wasn’t a good idea.

We have a couple problems to deal with, some health related, and one plumbing disaster.  It is taking maddenly long to resolve.  Until it’s fixed I can’t do this site.  It’s taking up all my energy, and also the time that I normally would spend doing creative stuff.  The third plumber cancelled today because somebody else had a more dire emergency, which is fine.  But it has been over a week since we first reported this issue to the condo management.  We have to replace the carpet, the drywall and redo some tiles.  But the plumbing has to be fixed first and that’s condo responsibility.

Deke will be taking over the Storm Force interview, with me riding shotgun.  He’s just getting everything set up to stream, so keep an eye on Superdekes for updates.  I’ve cancelled the Jack Frost interview, but hope to reschedule when this is all resolved.

As Deke would say though, it’s not all bad.  Yesterday Mark from Encore Records stopped by to deliver a whole bunch of music that I ordered.  Yes, that’s what you think it is.  It’s the massive Metallica 2021 box set.  24 hours of music.  Also Permanent Waves box set by Rush, and a Kiss radio broadcast of the same Tokyo show that was recently released officially.  I ordered this a long time ago, before that official bootleg was even announced.  I just forgot about it and never picked it up.  Fortunately Mark kept it and brought it with him!  I have a weekend of music, at least.

Hoping to be back soon.  Sorry for worrying you.




This Is Your Life, Jacob Moon on the LeBrain Train + musical performance of “Someday”

The LeBrain Train reunites old friends — it is what we do!  Whether it be Mike Fraser and Andy Curran, or members of the community at large, we enjoy bringing people together.  We also enjoy improvisation, both in our music and in the live show.  This time, flying by the seats of our pants, we reunited Jacob Moon with old friends from his past.  By the stories told, you can call this episode This Is Your Life, Jacob Moon.

Watch as Meat, Trevor and Jacob relive their favourite memories, musical and otherwise.  Observe as Meat forgets how to count up to eleven.  Enjoy as Jacob performs some of his favourite impressions.  Ed Grimley?  Check.  Tom Waits?  Check.  Nigel Tufnel?  Top ten!

In a LeBrain Train first, Jacob gave us the show’s first full musical performance.  Steve Earle’s “Someday”, live by Jacob Moon, is a LeBrain Train exclusive musical performance!  He also gave us a partial version of “Downtown Train” with some hilarious impressions.

We took viewer questions and a celebrity guest question from Andy Curran.  Discussion subjects included:

  • The making of “Subdivisions”
  • Musical adventures with Trev and Eric
  • “Christmas Goalie”
  • Playing a Rush song in front of Rush
  • Playing the Marillion weekend
  • Looping and technical stuff
  • Streaming live

Thank you Meat, Trevor and especially Jacob Moon for an awesome Saturday show.  Jacob, I am honoured and flattered to have you play live on my little show!  I cannot thank you enough.


Robert Lawson Defeats the Live Stream Technical Glitches for an Evening of Rock

Not even disconnections and bad internet can keep a good man down. Robert Lawson — author of great listener’s guides on Cheap Trick, Nazareth and The Guess Who — persevered and eventually defeated the internet demons plaguing the start of Friday’s show. Hang in there folks — it starts rough but gets better!

This free-flowing chat covers numerous topics:

  • The Guess Who and Burton Cummings
  • Nazareth and “the kids”
  • Cheap Trick encounters
  • Band management
  • Rarities
  • Aerosmith’s Done With Mirrors
  • Martin Popoff
  • Sean Kelly
  • Gene & Paul
  • 5150
  • King Kong

When it comes to Cheap Trick, Robert gets raw and tells it from the heart.  You’ll have to see for yourself but we appreciate Robert’s candor and willingness to relive some emotional moments in his rock and roll life.

Thank you Deke for introducing me to Robert, and thank you Robert for being patient and generous with your time tonight!

REMINDER – The LeBrain Train: 2000 Words or More with Mike and Meat

Saturday – Episode 72 – Jacob Moon

“Jacob is an incredible Canadian talent.” — Andy Curran

If you only know Jacob Moon from his jaw-dropping Rush cover of “Subdivisions”, then you are in for a treat.  That viral video catapulted him to Youtube fame, but he is about so much more than just covers.  With nine albums to his name (so far), Jacob has been around.  When guys like Andy Curran sing his praises, you know he’s seriously good at what he does.  He has also won the admiration of Rush, Marillion, and many more.  What’s it feel like performing a Rush song in front of Rush?  Let’s find out from Jacob himself!

Saturday June 19, 1:00 PM E.S.T. on Facebook:  MikeLeBrain and YouTube:  Mike LeBrain.