EXCLUSIVE! Dr. Kathryn talks about new album MASKED out later this year!
GETTING MORE TALE #605: “Hey, you got a message, use Western Union!”
Featuring guest essay by John Hubner
“A lot of bands mature, which means they get square; they start delivering messages. Hey, you got a message, use Western Union.” – David Lee Roth
When David Lee Roth made that legendary statement, he was talking about rock and roll bands who take things too seriously. Might as well jump? This is course is a matter of taste. I enjoy Van Halen and ZZ Top, but I also enjoy the more cerebral works of Marillion and Dream Theater. In music there truly is room for all tastes and styles. Few genres are as diverse as rock and roll, even lyrically. If a writer is a strong enough to embed personal messages in their words that might go undetected by the listener, then this kind of lyric should be celebrated. On the other hand, fans are sometimes turned off when the messages are too overt. U2 have faced some backlash over this.
So, rock bands: by all means, feel free to tell us all about climate change, globalism, big pharma and Wall Street. If you do it well, the fans won’t mind. On the other hand, there is no shame in rock and rolling all nite and partying every day. As Paul Stanley once said in one of his many stage raps, “We all came here tonight to escape from the world! Tomorrow morning when we get up it’ll be just as screwed up as it is today. We might as well have a little fun!” And that is certainly one very valid reason to rock.
Even here, in these very virtual pages, I’ve taken a few liberties where I’ve veered slightly off course. I’ve preached a little bit about the plight of the Indigenous Canadian. Other tangents included mental health, stigma, religion, tolerance, and even the rights of service dog owners, with music as the common thread. I hope I haven’t offended anyone with these fairly benign notions. I try to be careful. As a writer, I founded myself with two projects: my reviews, and Record Store Tales. Most of you got here because of the music, and so that’s what I deliver. I don’t need to bore you with social justice or environmental ideals. I don’t want to bore myself, either.
Speaking of Record Store Tales, one of its many focuses was to relay lessons I learned from a decade of retail management. Any time I walk into any record store, I could make mental lists of things they are doing great and others for Continual Improvement. That goes for a lot of retail in general too. Back to the subject at hand…and this should be patently obvious to most sensible people…leave your personal politics out of your customer service job.
Mrs. LeBrain and I were up at the cottage a couple years ago, and we stopped at Shoppers Drug Mart to pick up some bathroom essentials and some candy. There was only one cashier on duty and she was a chatty one. There was a problem with the person in front of us; something wasn’t scanning right. It took forever to fix, and this cashier would not stop talking. I had a feeling we’d be in for some chatting when she finally got to us.
I was right, and it didn’t start well with a “How are you today darlin’?” Fine…thanks. “Would you like a bag for this?” I glanced at Mrs. LeBrain who nodded yes and said, “Yeah a couple bags.” Her response threw me for a loop.
“Well have you seen the landfill?” she asked me in a condescending tone.
“Ummm…no?” I answered, very puzzled.
“Well,” she began, “There’s no room left in the landfill and the birds are choking on plastic from garbage bags…”
I politely let her finish, and then explained, “OK, but we have dogs here at the cottage, and these bags will be used for them.” There were in fact three poop factories (Schnauzers) at the cottage that weekend.* Stoop and scoop, people. Stoop and scoop.
It’s none of her business why I wanted those bags, I didn’t need to explain myself and I certainly didn’t need to be lectured about reusing and recycling. I went through highschool at the start of the green revolution. I do my best to be a responsible inhabitant of Mother Earth. Rest assured, I am not some littering jackass who doesn’t give a shit. Sometimes you just need a couple plastic bags, goddammit!
I thought about being “that customer” and complaining about the talky cashier, but decided to live and let live, and instead save it for this story. Consider my wisdom, young padawans. You don’t know your customers as well as you think you might. Say too much, and you just might lose your customer, or find them complaining about you to your boss, as happened to me once when I made a snarky comment about Radiohead!**
So ends today’s lesson, friends. Do you agree with this experience and advice?
* We asked Schnauzer expert John Hubner for a “message” about how awesome Schnauzers are. He sent us the following treatise:
Klaus. Dieter. Helmut. Otto.
** Freed of the shackles of the Record Store, I can say I like Radiohead enough to own a couple CDs, but still find them so very pretentious.
The startling conclusion to What’s in LeBrain’s Bag?
- There are two records in there.
- One is a double, one is a single.
- One is a new release, one is a reissue.
- One is Canadian content, the other is not.
- You can kinda make out one.
And we had a winner, immediately. A man who knows his metal like he knows his haggis. SCOTT, your HEAVY METAL OVERLOrD correctly guessed the first record (the new release, non-Canadian double LP) and wins a picture drawn by me!
It was…ACCEPT – The Rise of Choas.
I did what any sensible shopper should do before buying the album. I looked it up on CD Japan to see if the Japanese version had any bonus tracks. They did not, so I grabbed the double vinyl. 10 tracks, 2 records, orange and blue swirl vinyl, limited to 700 copies. Those numbers add up for me! I can’t wait to sink my needle into those.
The second LP (which I didn’t seriously expect anyone to guess) nicely fills a gap in my collection. You see, I have CD remasters for every Rush album from the first one to Test For Echo…except one. Roll the Bones continued to elude me, so instead of CD, I opted for something possibly better: 200 gram vinyl LP remaster. As far as I can think of, this is my first 200 gram vinyl purchase, though I own a few 180 grams. Aaron correctly guessed Rush (with an initial guess of VoiVod) so I offered to draw him a picture of a cookie. Sadly it turned out looking more like vomit (even when I added the cookie fumes), so I hope you will excuse the lack of a prize.
RUSH – Roll the Bones 200 gram remastered LP. Now I have all the Rush remasters!
And now, the conclusion to the “How did Mike get the Max Webster The Party box set?”
Because, oh yes, I did get it.
Sunrise had it for $64.99, but I had trouble cancelling my Amazon pre-order at $89.99. I bought my Rush and Accept records, and drew a prize: a new fidget spinner! (I think I have four now?) I went home and kept trying to cancel my Amazon order. An email said that the issue should be resolved in a few hours, so I sat tight.
Around 4:30 that afternoon, I got the email that my pre-order was successfully cancelled. I hopped in my car; four minutes later was back at Sunrise. I grabbed Max Webster, and drew another prize: a Transformers mini-comic!
So, really, everything went down about as perfectly as you could imagine. I got The Party box set and an extra prize for coming back.
The Party is very bare-bones for packaging. There are no booklets, but the discs are housed in mini-LP gatefold sleeves with inner graphics. For that reason, I am going to hang onto my remastered Max Webster debut CD on Rock Candy, which has an extensive booklet. A buddy of mine named Scott has dibs on the rest of my old Max Webster collection. Hey, it’s a lucky day for guys named Scott!
I have a lot of listening to do, which will hopefully lead to a little reviewing. Hope you enjoyed this game! Back to reviews tomorrow.
This Christmas has been tinged with sadness. Rick Parfitt, George Michael…and a man you haven’t heard of named Peter Cavan Sr. I grew up with his son Peter Cavan Jr. Pete was the best man at my wedding, and his dad Peter Sr. always treated me well. The Cavans made me feel like part of the family. In my first year of university, I decided to stay home from the cottage on Thanksgiving weekend, so I could study for my first exam undistracted. Alone that Thanksgiving, Pete’s family had me over for dinner. I’ll never forget their kindness. I always enjoyed Peter Sr.’s stories, of growing up in Germany during the Second World War. Those are tales you don’t hear every day. And he was funny. Peter Sr. was truly funny. Whether intentionally or not, I knew his stories entertained us for many hours over the years. I received the sad message on Christmas morning that Peter Sr. passed after a short battle with cancer, peacefully at home that morning.
So it is with profound sadness that I give you this year’s annual post-Christmas commentary. My entire family knows and loves the Cavans, and we hope Pete and Joanne know we are there for them.
As it does every year, Christmas began early for me, at our office Christmas luncheon on November 25. Just look at that food. When you like the people you work with, an office Christmas party is a very rare and special chance to unwind with them.
My sister hosted Christmas Eve at her new place. What a spread she put out! Cheesey good appetizers, steak fondue, cheese fondue (the surprise winner), and chocolate fondue to boot. The guests had a spirited debate on the merits of CD versus vinyl, with myself being the only holdout who still prefers CD. (I know I’m not alone, just ask rock journalist Mitch Lafon which format he prefers.) My sister did a great job of decorating her tree. Have a gander.
And now, on to the good stuff. Broken down into categories, let’s give’r!
Stuff You Listen To:
I have only played the Rik Emmett so far, given to me by Mrs. LeBrain who met Rik back in highschool as part of her guitar class. Pretty cool! It features a Triumph reunion on the bonus track, “Grand Parade”. The Queen set is six discs of radio recordings. The Rush set I am both grateful for and bitter about. This is the third time I’ve received Rush 2112 as a gift in the last five years! First as part of the Sector 1 box set, then the “deluxe edition“, and now this 40th anniversary edition which has some tracks not included on the deluxe (and a slew of artists covering Rush including Jacob Moon, Alice in Chains and Foo Fighters). However, the 40th anniversary edition doesn’t include the 5.1 surround mix of the album, meaning…you kinda need both. It’s sad that Rush reissues have become so exploitive.
The Keel reissue of The Right to Rock has a bonus track, a remix of “Easier Said Than Done”. And this is my first time owning any version of Jethro Tull’s first album, This Was.
Stuff You Read:
Stuff You Play With:
The Force Is With This Stuff:
Stuff You Watch:
The Sopranos set I orchestrated myself. Sometimes-contributor Thussy and I both always said: “If the blu-ray set drops below $100, we’ll buy it.” A few weeks ago he texted me that Amazon has it on for 24 hours only at just $80! So this Christmas holiday, we will be enjoying some Sopranos and Italian food.
Stuff That Transforms From Stuff Into Robots:
Pictured below are the official Transformers Titans Return Astrotrain figure and a couple very interesting third party figs. These are Masterpiece scale and heavy as fuck with plenty of die-cast parts. Please meet Generation 1 Decepticon Reflector, incarnated here as KFC’s Eavi Metal series “Opticlones”. Representing the Autobots is Dinobot Snarl, produced by the excellent Fans Toys in their Iron Dibots line as “Sever”. I long ran out of room for more Masterpiece figures (especially Dinobots)…but who cares.
Stuff That Flies:
I always wanted to try flying a drone. My mom and dad surprised me with this starter drone, and is it ever a lot of fun. I can almost get it to hover! Getting it to fly in the direction I want is still a challenge. So far there are no serious injuries. Jen has a couple bruises. I think my mistake was calling her into the room when I got it into the air, rather than when I figured out how the controls worked. That was a lesson there.
That’s another Christmas for the books! I hope each and every one of you had a safe and happy holiday. As I think of my friends the Cavan family, I ask you to remember that life is short. Tell the people who matter that you love them. Let’s try and make the world a better place in 2017.
RECORD STORE TALES MkII: Getting More Tale Report: Aux 33 Tours in Montréal
My sister, bass clarinetist Kathryn Ladano, just completed the east coast leg of her Canadian tour last month. This was followed by a western leg, but while returning home from the east there was a stop in Montréal. Kathryn is a collector too, though not to the extent that I am. She doesn’t need the physical musical media in her daily life like I do. She still collects some of her favourite bands, and has recently started buying vinyl. While in Montréal, she visited a record store called Aux 33 Tours, located at 1373 Mont-Royal Est. According to their website, it is the largest record store in the city. She emailed me the following day, May 27, raving about the store. I’ll let her take it from here! Enjoy the pictures.
I found the most amazing record store in Montréal yesterday! I found almost all The Spoons’ albums on LP, including ones that aren’t available on CD. I also found a promo live album by them that didn’t have a proper cover because it wasn’t supposed to be sold. They were all dirt cheap – like $2 – $7. One of them was autographed and personalized “To Martin”! [Fortuitously, her husband is also named Martin!] I also got Kid A on record. Kid A and Sgt. Peppers are reissues with heavy packaging. They had an original Sgt Peppers, but the reissue was cheaper, so I got that.
I spent about $140. Which I think is good for that many albums! Note: the Simon and Garfunkel and Gord Downie ones are Martin’s.
I’d also like to point out how rare that Bryan Adams single is. He really tried to bury that song! Watch the video, you’ll hear why. (They sped up his voice which gives him a Chipmunks sound.)
And finally, gratuitous photos of Schnauzers and Starfleet collars:
RECORD STORE TALES MkII: Getting More Tale
#384.5: Little Ani
I was so happy when we got little Ani* in 2001. “She’s the best dog ever!” I said, and she really was. My parents have been taking good care of her since I left the family nest. My mom and dad really love that dog.
They had to put her down today. It’s one of those times when the family all saw it the same way, that sometimes these days come. Ani lived a happy little doggie life, constantly tormenting my dad by not being able to decide if she wanted in or out. I got to see her last weekend at Easter and you could tell she was not feeling well, but it was nice to see her one more time.
Ani is chasing birds in doggie heaven now, and I miss my puppy.
I believe in celebrating life with laughter, so here’s my laughter for today. Thanks, Kids in the Hall.
*named for Anakin Skywalker
RECORD STORE TALES Part 280: Record Store Gallery III – Furry Friends
I’m a sucker for furry friends. Who isn’t? Maybe you’re a cat person, maybe you’re a dog person, or something else! I mentioned a few weeks ago that Kitchener has a high population of Miniature Schnauzers, and the Ladano clan have owned quite a few of those.
This first picture is kind of a sad one. The year is 2000, and that’s me and my first puppy, Crystal aka Gozer. (That’s what happens when you let my dad name animals.) Crystal was a great little friend but very sick. She went blind in ’94 and had all kinds of health issues. This picture of us is the last photo taken of her. I remember the day we had to put her down, I had to work an afternoon shift at T-Rev’s store. T-Rev was out of town building a new store, and I was filling in for him as I occasionally did. It was not the happiest shift to work.
However life goes on and a year later we got Ani! Ani can be a bad little puppy sometimes, but she’s been my best furry friend for a long time now. Unfortunately Ani suffers from a lot of the same health issues that Crystal did. However she’s been a resilient little Schnauzer and has outlived her life expectancy by numerous years already. And seemingly happily too. Which is the main thing.
I brought Ani into the store one afternoon when I was off. She was so good, a little scared though. But she stayed quiet and didn’t try to escape, which she often does! Customers would occasionally bring their dogs into the store, and I never had a problem with it. Nobody pooped or peed on the floor when I was there.
Finally, I bought my own place and got this guy to go with it. This is Zoboomafoo, a leaping lemur from a hit Canadian kid’s TV show. It was on every morning before work and I started getting obsessed with it. One of our store managers, a girl who worked in Cambridge, spotted a Zoboomafoo puppet at the Cinema One store there. They only had one, and both of us wanted it! It was a race to see who could get it first. Needless to say, I won!
NIRVANA – Icon (2010 budget compilation)
The Icon series of compilations is mostly shit. One of the stinkiest of the shit is Nirvana’s installment of Icon. Where’s “Sliver”? There’s not one song here from Bleach. “About A Girl” is from the Unplugged CD and “You Know You’re Right” was a “new” song added to Nirvana’s first and only official greatest hits set, Nirvana. In fact, every song here can be found on Nirvana.
Rather than bitch bitch bitch about how shitty this CD is, and how pissed Kurt would be to have his music released in configurations that nobody in the band authorized, I’d rather just rate it and change the subject. Enjoy the following essay.
A Brief History of Kitchener, Ontario by Michael Ladano
Kitchener, a city of 220,000 in southern Ontario, was settled around the year 1800 on lands by the Grand River. The Crown gifted this land to the Six Nations, who sold it. It was settled by loyalist German Mennonites from Pennsylvania, to escape religious persecution in the United States. The Mennonites who settled here included families such as the Schneiders, Webers, and Ebys whose names can be found on streets and buildings all over town today. They named the settlement Sand Hills, within the Township of Waterloo.
Land was converted to farms, and the Grand River enabled an early sawmill industry. Streets such as the present day King Street were built, as were landmarks such as the Heuther Brewery, in the early 1800’s. The town grew with waves of German immigrants, and in 1833 Sand Hills was renamed Berlin.
In 1856, Berlin was connected to railways, and industry grew. In 1912, Berlin was declared a city. During the First World War, anti-German sentiment in 1916 caused the town to be renamed Kitchener, after Lord Kitchener, a British war hero. His famous face adorned many British recruitment posters. The bust of Kaiser Wilhelm was thrown into Victoria Lake.
Although some still wish to rename the city Berlin, Kitchener today boasts strong industry, easy access to excellent post-secondary education, and a huge annual Oktoberfest honoring its German heritage. It is known for its OHL hockey team the Rangers, and for spawning many NHL athletes. It is also known as the birthplace of William Lyon McKenzie King, Canada’s longest-serving Prime Minister and possibly the only one who regularly sought advice from a crystal ball.
Kitchener is also known for its music. The annual Blues Festival is always popular. Kitchener has also spawned such international musical artists as Rob Szabo, Helix and Kathryn Ladano, and world famous writers like Michael Ladano.
Come to Kitchener (only 100 km west of Toronto) in the summer to enjoy boating, hiking, biking, music festivals, and much more, including a large population of Miniature Schnauzers. Don’t bother coming in the winter.
In the continuing saga of all the pets in the greater LeBrain clan, you may recall that Lil’ Shit was the most recent addition to the family. Bass clarinetist extraordinaire Kathryn Ladano recently acquired Daisi aka Lil’ Shit, below. I finally got to meet Daisi this past Canada Day weekend!
It was a great weekend full of bonfires and awesome Canadian scenery too.
Stompin’ Tom Connors – “It’s Canada Day, Up Canada Way”
It is my understanding that Daisi, while at my parents’ place, “piss and shit” all over the carpet. Hey, it’s what puppies do. But according to my dad:
“Little Shit is what I’ve named that dog. Because it pisses and shits all over the house!”
Please welcome to our family, Little Shit!