Another suggestion from Tommy Morais, my Amazon rock buddy from the east! He wants to read about glam rock bands, and Canadian bands! I played a lot of each at the store, especially in the earliest days. I’m gonna throw some prog and metal in here too. Here’s some of my fondest memories.
LeBRAIN’S STORE-PLAY CLASSICS!
1996. We had just opened our flagship store, and I was selected as manager. This meant I’d be working alone for most of the day, and I could play what I wanted. In the earliest days there were fewer rules. The boss might make fun of me for playing Poison, but in the old days, he never told me to take it off as long as it was only once in a while.
I remember playing glam metal stuff like:
Poison – Native Tongue. I enjoyed trying to turn kids onto music they’d like, but would never touch if they knew who it was. It sometimes worked! I think I sold one copy of Native Tongue that way, anyway.
Motley Crue – self titled. This is in my top three Motley records of all time. The one without Vince Neil. A guy from the HMV store in Waterloo gave me props for playing it. I once sold it to a guy who hated the latest Crue, Generation Swine. I turned him onto self titled instead. Instant fan.
David Lee Roth – Your Filthy Little Mouth. I played this a shit-ton in the spring of 1995 too. I don’t know why I like it so much, it’s so cheesey. Dave does country! Dave does reggae! Dave does jazzy loungy stuff! Dave does VH! But Dave does write hilarious lyrics, and I did like that.
Van Halen – Any time, any where, any how. But any time we had a copy of 1984? Hell yeah! And you couldn’t keep Best Of Volume I in stock for very long. Certainly not if you played it. The first year or two it was out, I probably sold it every time I played it!
Def Leppard – Slang. Again, much like the Poison and Crue, I was trying to turn new kids onto these classic bands that had explored new directions. Unfortunately, Slang sold like shit. I think it was too different for the old fans, and too old for the new fans.
And now let’s talk about Prog rock. Ashleigh used to call prog music “smart-guy rock”. That’s one reason why I wanted to play it every shift we shared. I was trying to show her I was a smart guy, see?
Marillion – Misplaced Childhood. I played Marillion so frequently, that my co-workers Matty K and Ashleigh knew the words to some songs. Unfortunately, they didn’t consider that a good thing.
Fish – Kettle of Fish. See above!
Dream Theater – Images and Words. This came in so rarely, that when it did you had to play it. It always sold if you played it. We had so many musicians and wanna be’s (like me) coming into the store, they inevitably would ask what the fuck is this? This one kid, a drummer named Curtis, loved Dream Theater. I sold him his first Dream Theater. Do you know how cool that is, selling somebody their first Dream Theater? Curtis is a fantastic musician. He’s jammed with my sister, actually.
Rush – Moving Pictures. Like nails on a chalkboard to the girls in the Operations staff. Could not play this if they were in the city, let alone the store. But my fuck, what an album. I remember Tom put a sticker on it that said, “Best album of the 80’s!”. I thought to myself, “Then I need to hear the whole thing!” I had never heard “Vital Signs” before. I am sure Matty K remembers to this day, “Everybody got to evelate from the norm”.
And speaking of Rush! I did a lot of Canadian themes. We had a 5 disc changer. A lot of the time, I would specifically pick 5 Canadian artists to take up a shift. You’d often hear:
Sloan – 4 Nights at the Palais Royale. In my opinion one of the top five live albums of all time. It is also my favourite Sloan album.
Stompin’ Tom Connors – Anything we had in the store would work, as he didn’t come in frequently. Unfortunately, Stompin’ Tom didn’t fare too well for store play in Kitchener. Nobody seems to like him in this town.
Rush – duh?
Triumph – ditto.
Kim Mitchell / Max Webster – Another artist our Operations people hated. I did one entire 5 disc shuffle of nothing but Kim and Max. Kim was playing in town that day so I was hoping to drum up some sales. I failed to do so, but I did try. I was told to remove the Kim and Max from the player.
Helix / Brian Vollmer – I’d play Helix when it was in, which was infrequent. I remember playing the Brian Vollmer solo album for Kevin, one of the guys that ended up in my wedding party. I played the song “Good Times Don’t Get Better Than This” in the store. I thought he would enjoy it. Unfortunately, he did not. I believe the words he used were, “This is not good.” Kevin, I kindly submit that I strongly disagree to this day.
Even more rarely though came the opportunity to play the early stuff, the stuff with Brent Doerner singing lead. Once — just once — Breaking Loose and White Lace & Black Leather came in. I’m kicking myself for not buying them. But when they were in store, I played “Billy Oxygen” on repeat for about 20 minutes.
Oscar Peterson – I only had the opportunity to do that once though.
Voivod – self titled. The first one with Newsted. Metallica had come out with St. Anger and a lot of fans didn’t like it. I tried to sell this, which was more traditionally prog metal like old Metallica.
Incidentally, at the same time, I was training a new franchisee around that time. He was amused by how excited I was that the album Angel Rat, by Voivod, had come in, with 3D glasses intact. I explained that usually these would be missing, but the CD was mint! And “Clouds In My House” sounded great in-store!
Voivod crosses the boundary from prog into metal (or is it vice versa?), but I certainly did play a lot of metal in the store.
Bruce Dickinson – Balls To Picasso. I played this virtually every shift during the fall of 1994. At the time, I thought “Tears of the Dragon” and “Change of Heart” were among the deepest songs I’d ever heard. Yeah, well.
Iron Maiden – Brave New World. I love this album. Matty K knows every word of “Blood Brothers”.
G//Z/R – Plastic Planet. Easily the heavist thing I have ever played in store. Even I was uncomfortable!
sHeavy – The Electric Sleep. Incidentally, the greatest Black Sabbath album that was not made by Black Sabbath. Every time, people would ask, “Is this the new Ozzy?” Every time. You could put money on it.
Judas Priest – Turbo. It was the only one I could get away with!
Man, those were good times! I am sure I could write another dozen of these. I mean, we played a lot of music. From Esquivel to Brushy One-String to Pansy Division to Jaymz Bee & the Royal Jelly Orchestra, we tried and sampled everything.