simon drake

Part 154: Cassettes Part IV – LeBrain’s Tapes (What Remains)

RECORD STORE TALES Part 154:  

Cassettes Part IV – LeBrain’s Tapes (What Remains)

I used to have a lot of tapes.  So many, that T-Rev converted my closet doors to shelving, just to store my numerous cassettes!  It was quite a feat of engineering on his part.

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If you’ve read the other three parts of this series on cassettes, then you’ve already seen some of the awesome artwork that T-Rev used to come up with for his tapes.  Doing those articles got me nostalgic, but very few of my own tapes remained.  A year or two before I met Mrs. LeBrain, I briefly dated this one girl who was getting into hair metal.  I had succeeded in replacing most of my tapes on CD (although still incomplete; I need a copy of Live Fast, Die Fast by Wolfsbane, and Phenomenon 1).  All my tapes were redundant, and I gave her boxes and boxes full of them.

God knows where those tapes are now.  I doubt she took them back home to Thunder Bay when it was all over, they probably ended up in a landfill.  No big loss really, the only shame of it is that, like T-Rev, I used to make a lot of my own custom artwork.

Mrs. LeBrain and I were visiting her mom yesterday, and I found some of my old Beatles tapes that I had made, at her place!  Her dad drove a delivery van with nothing but a tape deck inside.  He was more than happy to receive my old Beatles tapes, and he loved them.  And there they were, still at the house, complete with my computer generated J-cards.  Nothing elaborate, although I did paste the cover for Abbey Road onto that tape.

This inspired me to dig through some boxes here, and see if I had any of my own tapes left.  Surely there must be something here, with some of my own custom cover art!  There was just a handful left, stuff that I wouldn’t have parted with at the time, and lo and behold, there was my old artwork.  These sure brought back memories!

Back in the early record store days, cassette was my primary medium.  They were portable, you could leave them in the car and not worry about them getting banged up, so I recorded everything onto cassette.  It wasn’t until I had left the record store in 2006 that I got my first car with a CD deck.  Before then, I had one of those adapter kits to play a discman in the car, but it sounded shite.  I was glad to find the following treasures tucked away in a box!

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Ahh, Spinal Tap.  A Spinal Tap Reunion was recorded from a 1992 TV special.  Unavailable on DVD today, as far as I know.  That’s a shame.

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I bought Grande Rock by The Hellacopters on vinyl, to get that bonus track “Angel Dust”.  Or, more accurately, one of my record store compatriots got it for me at Orange Monkey Music in Waterloo.  I dutifully recorded it to cassette without making elaborate packaging, but I did put some effort into the cassette spine.

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You Fat Bastards by Faith No More was the full show that was released on CD in truncated form on the Live at the Brixton Academy CD.  This was from a VHS release.

Guns N’ Roses did a couple cool TV specials.  I recorded Live at the Ritz off T-Rev, who stuck on some demos for bonus tracks.  The cover was made by adapting an old Appetite For Destruction J-card.  I think this turned out pretty cool.  Invade Paris! was a TV special from 1992.

These two Maiden tapes were from VHS releases.  It’s a shame that Raising Hell was never released on a CD.  Here’s hoping the band will put that out on a future box set.  It was Bruce’s “final” show.  I just edited out the crap sections with “magician” Simon Drake.   Maiden England is also taken from VHS, but this is the full show.  The CD release omitted two songs:  “Can I Play With Madness”, and “Hallowed Be Thy Name”.  My cassette didn’t!  I thought my J-card for Maiden England turned out pretty cool, using an old Seventh Son cover as its basis.

Unfortunately, this is all that remains of my old cassette art.  I did some much more elaborate things, which Thunder Bay Girl probably tossed out.  One was for Savatage’s Dead Winter Dead.  When I recorded that one to cassette, I actually painted the gargoyle onto a J-card.  Wish I kept that one.  Rush’s Test For Echo may have been the most elaborate one I’ve done.  Using some old cardboard and a full-page ad for the album, I created my own digipack for that cassette.  It would be nice to still have.  Ahh well.

It seems funny, in today’s age of mp3 files and players, that a format as crappy as cassette was anyone’s main format.  But there you go.  Before I could play CD’s in the car, they were the best way to bring music with me.  I’ve always believed a music collection was for showing off as much as listening to, plus I enjoyed making the artwork.  I’m glad some still survives today!

REVIEW: Iron Maiden – Raising Hell (Bruce’s final show 1993) (DVD/VHS)

Part 19 of my series of Iron Maiden reviews!

IRON MAIDEN – Raising Hell (1995 BMG VHS)

28 August 1993:  Bruce’s final show.  And for the occasion, Maiden decided to team up with…a magic act?

I don’t know who this Simon Drake fellow is, but his “horror magic show” or whatever the hell you wanna call it is just plain awful!  Simon serves as a guest act during Iron Maiden’s final show, Raising Hell, available on VHS and DVD.  He does magic skits at various places during the show, sometimes interacting with the band, but always with this really bad cheesy metal music (not Maiden!) behind him.  And the bit where he kidnaps Dave Murray?  Awful!  D’y’think that the real Dave might actually be still behind the giant curtain they walked behind?  You can still hear his guitar even after he has it taken away from him, and has a hand chopped off!

Simon Drake sucked!  This is magic?  He pretty much ruined Raising Hell, for the most part.   Good thing VCR’s used to have “fast-forward” buttons!

Thankfully, Iron Maiden kick ass.  With a few Eddie’s and some big backdrops, they’re playing a smaller venue (a TV studio) and it feels really intimate.  Bruce is awesome, wailing and running around like a man possessed on opener “Be Quick Or Be Dead”.  He does “Hallowed” perfect…really, everybody in Maiden is flawless, on fire, possessed.  And by flawless, I don’t mean note perfect — there’s mistakes, but they make it perfect!

But you know who really stands out to me?  Janick Gers.  I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a more physical guitar player since Ritchie Blackmore!  So why the hell is the camera on Steve Harris during Janick’s manic “Afraid To Shoot Strangers” solo!?  There are quite a few missed money shots.  Why?

Because it wasn’t directed by Harris, that’s why, it was directed by somebody named Declan Lowney, I guess that’s the TV production type deal.  So beware:  Maiden England this is not!

One thing I find a little strange:  It’s Bruce’s final show, but they still played the instrumental, “Transylvania”.  Nothing against that song, but why not one more vocal number?  I know they were playing it live on that tour, but still.

Tracklist:

  1. “Be Quick or Be Dead”
  2. “The Trooper”
  3. “The Evil That Men Do”
  4. “The Clairvoyant”
  5. “Hallowed Be Thy Name”
  6. “Wrathchild”
  7. “Transylvania”
  8. “From Here to Eternity”
  9. “Fear of the Dark”
  10. “The Number of the Beast”
  11. “Bring Your Daughter… to the Slaughter”
  12. “2 Minutes to Midnight”
  13. “Afraid to Shoot Strangers”
  14. “Heaven Can Wait”
  15. “Sanctuary”
  16. “Run to the Hills”
  17. “Iron Maiden”

And of course, it is during “Iron Maiden” that Bruce finally meets his end.  One of the few highlights of the magic act is the end of Dickinson…

Rating for just the band, not the magician:

5/5 stars

Rating for the magician, not the band:

-1/5 stars

Rating for the overall video, setlist, stage show, direction, etc:

4/5 stars

Average rating:

2.666~/5 stars

What happens next?  Will the band carry on?  What will Bruce do?  Stay tuned…