MUSIC CREDITS: “Shit” parts 1 – 5 written and performed by AARON
GETTING MORE TALE #555.5: A Short Visit to Sonic Boom
Yesterday I took Mrs. LeBrain to Toronto to see a neurosurgeon. It was a great meeting; very positive, but we will get more into that in a future tale. (Look for an upcoming Getting More Tale story called “Seize the Day” if you want to know more.) After the meeting with the doctor, she had some tests. I didn’t need to be around for the those, so with a couple hours to kill, I went down to Sonic Boom on Spadina. I was accompanied by Mrs. LeBrain’s Mom, who insisted we cab to the store. It was a rainy miserable day outside. Wet, cold, windy and unpleasant. The cab ride wasn’t unwelcome.
I’m glad I shaved my beard down to a goatee the other day, because almost every dude in that store looked the same. Bearded hipsters buying vinyl, left right and center, lookalikes all! I tuned out the background noise and focused on the cool. Upstairs they had two colouring books I almost considered getting. Do you know anyone who is a huge fan of either James Franco or Benedict Cumberbatch? If so, I am happy to report that Sonic Boom had colouring books of both. (They also had Star Trek and Star Trek: The Next Generation.) I spied the new Mastodon among the new releases, but headed downstairs where the real treasures usually lay.
Although I put in a Herculean effort, there was little to be found. Maybe I have too many CDs, because everywhere I flipped it seemed to be “got it, got it, got it, got it…” Aaron asked me to look for Danny Michel and a few other titles. Nothing to be found. I was struck by how just about everything seems to be reissued on vinyl today. The Spice Girls’ first album, Spice. I fail to comprehend. It doesn’t compute. I considered buying some Kiss reissues, but I didn’t really want to come home with something I already owned.
With some persistence I did liberate three titles:
- The Sword – High Country (CD, used, $9.99)
- Queen – The Game (2 CD remaster, used, $9.99)
- Rush – Agora Ballroom, Cleveland Ohio, May 1975 (vinyl, new, $32.99)
The Queen set was in the recent arrivals, and that is a nice score. I’m nowhere near complete with my Queen remasters, but when I can pick them off one by one, used? That’s the best way. The Rush on the other hand is something of a chance I’m taking. This is a radio broadcast vinyl, and I’ve never bought one of those before. They had several available. I don’t have anything live from Rush in 1975, so that was the key factor. Also a non-album track: “Bad Boy”, a Larry Williams cover. 180 gram coloured vinyl to boot. Should be good times.
Not a knockout shopping excursion, but not a waste of time either. We walked back to the hospital (although Mrs. LeBrain’s Mom would have preferred a cab) and got soaked, but it’s good to stretch the legs when it’s a long day of driving and sitting. Besides, we enjoyed looking at the Toronto scenery. The fruit and vegetable markets smelled great. They even had bonsai trees.
Back in the hospital waiting room, I was able to do a little research for my Kiss Re-Review series in progress. Guess which album I have to write up next.
I don’t want to use the word “disappointing” for this Sonic Boom trip, because I am very pleased with my new albums. I told Uncle Meat I wanted some more The Sword, and Sonic Boom delivered. I’m more surprised than disappointed that I was only able to scrounge up three finds this time. Every visit is different, and I’m sure that next time I return (either in the fall with Aaron, or sooner for more tests) it will be another story. Sonic Boom is still an absolute must for any music fan visiting Toronto. Don’t miss out, and be sure to check out the new arrival bins. They are often the key to many great finds.
As always Sonic Boom gets 5/5 stars. And so does Mrs. LeBrain for being a tough-as-nails trooper.
GETTING MORE TALE #452: Mike and Aaron Go to Toronto Again…Again!
WE HAVE RETURNED, SIRE, WITH PLUNDERED TREASURE FROM THE TOWN.
Toronto was, in a word, perfect.
We have done this every year for four years now, Aaron and I, always in the fall. We go to the heart of Toronto and plunder its best music. Then, we return to our homes, and listen in glee while making evil laughing sounds and clutching our treasure in our greedy hands. This was the latest in the year that we had gone (November 28), but miraculously the skies parted that morning and we were not rained upon nor snowed. It was once again, just perfect.
Aaron’s complete post on this trip can be found by clicking here!
We were accompanied like last year by Aaron’s dad Wayne, who just wanted to walk around and see if there were any curiosities that struck his eye. After parting ways, Aaron and I made our way to Stop #1: BMV.
I found three treasures there, all of which I am very happy and excited aboot:
1. STYX – Equinox, $5.99 CD used. I’m still trying to grow a Styx collection so this great album was a find. Review is already written; to be published.
2. QUEEN – Queen – 2 CD remaster, $9.99 used. SCORE! Just reviewed the 1991 issue of this album recently. Can’t wait to dig into the bonus EP!
3. OASIS – Definitely Maybe – 3 CD remaster, $14.99 used. SCORE! Erk, wait! The discs were not inside! BMV will be sending me the discs shortly, but dang! Nice find. This is to be kept alongside my 2 CD edition featuring the live album, Oasis Live.
4. MARTIN POPOFF – The Big Book of Haἳr Metal, $14.99, originally $33. Lotsa text, loadsa pics, let’s go!
Music heard in store: Judas Priest – “Metal Meltdown”, “Ram It Down”, “Victim of Changes”. Pretty amazing shit to hear in a book store.
Total spent: $45.96.
471 Bloor St W
Stop #2: Pauper’s Pub (39 Bloor Street West). This is a lunch time tradition. Aaron had the veggie burger (with avocado and salsa) and fries, I had the Canadian (cheese and bacon) burger with a garden salad. I would put this lunch in my top five burgers of all time, easily. It was that good.
We hoofed it back to the point at which we started, the parking lot right next to Stop #3: Kops. The Cult serenaded us with “Fire Woman”. Lots of goodness found here:
1. HENRY ROLLINS – The Boxed Life 2 CD (sealed!), 2 for $5.
2. ROLLINS BAND – Come In And Burn (sealed!), 2 for $5.
3. TRIUMPH – Edge of Excess, 2 for $5.
4. STEVE EARLE – A Special Collection, 1989 promo greatest hits CD with 17 tracks! 2 for $5.
5. RAINBOW – “Can’t Let You Go”, 12″ single, $7.99. Features two live tracks unavailable on album including Joe Lynn Turner singing “All Night Long”. Can’t wait to spin this.
Total spent: $17.99.
229 Queen St W
Final Stop: Sonic Boom.
We always do well here and this was no exception. I told Aaron that I was hoping to buy some deluxe editions, and considering I’d already scored Queen and Oasis, I thought I had been doing well. I had forgotten that Faith No More had some deluxes out. I remembered this when I saw the vinyl reissues at Kops, so I was sure to look for the CDs at Sonic Boom.
1. BEN FOLDS – Ben Folds Live, $2.99 used.
2. BRANT BJORK and the LOW DESERT PUNK BAND – Black Power Flower, 2 bonus tracks, $14.99.
3. FAITH NO MORE – The Real Thing deluxe, $22.99.
4. FAITH NO MORE – Angel Dust deluxe, $22.99.
I have a really extensive collection of Faith No More singles and EPs. I had most of the bonus material already on physical copies, but with a few notable exceptions. Now I got ’em: “As the Worm Turns” with Patton singing, and some of the live tracks such as Sheffield 1990 and Munich 1992.
Total spent: $63.96.
215 Spadina Ave
Final Stop 1⁄2. Moonbean. Aaron had to grab some seriously impressive coffee. It’s the tradition! Moonbean can be found at 30 Andrew St. (1-866-595-0327), or online at moonbeancoffee.com.
But wait! That’s not all!
Aaron’s Box of Generosity:
As is his modus operandi, Aaron surprised me with some serious treasures.
1. EXTREME – “Tragic Comic” digipack CD single, featuring “When I’m President” live, which I didn’t have before!
2. KILLER DWARFS – Method to the Madness CD, out of print! I have all their studio albums now.
3. NIACIN – Live in Tokyo DVD, featuring Billy Sheehan on bass. This outta be a mindblow!
3. WILLIAM SHATNER – Shatner Rules, book. I’ve read a few of Bill’s books before and they’re fun.
4. WAYNE JOHNSON – The Colony of Unrequited Dreams. Know nothing about it, but I love Canadian settings in fiction.
5. MICHAEL ONDAATJE – Coming Through Slaughter. “My favourite book” – Steve Earle. ‘Nuff said.
6. HENRY ROLLINS – Fanatic! Vol 1, 2 and 3. An early Christmas has come. Rollins meticulously tracks every song he played on his radio show, with notes. Lots of metal and punk and more.
7. Rock the Cradle Lullabies – Dreamin’ with DEF LEPPARD. Might actually be good since Phil and Viv play on the CD! (Collectible regardless.)
8. Hot Wheels diecast starship USS Enterprise NCC-1701 (reboot version, in package). I love it!
9. A KISS backpack! To put all my goodies in!
Aaron can be found at keepsmealive.wordpress.com.
Aaron made three trips to Toronto in 2015, I now have made two (for record shopping). You might think we tapped that city out. Hell no! See you next year, Toronto!
Total spent: $127.91 (before tax).
Total items (not including Aaron’s generosity): 14.
Average cost per record: $10.94. Consider all those deluxe editions I bought, that is not bad at all!
Coming Soon: the annual video documentary of the trip!
I would buy any “instant live” type CD by Kiss — that’s a given. The sheer quantity available means I will never own a complete collection of them. What I chose to do was buy a handful, selectively. I was most interested in Canadian shows, and of course concerts where new songs from Sonic Boom were performed.
Kiss’ concert in Saskatoon on November 10 2009 fit the bill perfectly.* Something about Paul Stanley shouting, “SASKATOON!” The new songs performed that night were “Modern Day Delilah” and “Say Yeah”, both personal favourites. As a bonus to me, there’s also a version of “Shock Me” with Tommy Thayer singing. Some Kiss fans have taken exception to Tommy singing this song in addition to wearing Ace’s costume. I’m not going to get into that. All I will say on the matter is that I would rather hear “Shock Me” live than not.
The concert opens with four 1974 Kiss classics in a row: “Deuce”, “Strutter”, “Let Me Go Rock ‘N’ Roll” and “Hotter Than Hell”. “Let Me Go” seems to fall apart, giving the show a raucous flavour. It doesn’t get any more retro than that. That’s four of my favourite Kiss songs in a row; four songs I never tire of. Paul’s voice is sore, cracking in several places. The job still gets done with the backing vocals of Eric Singer, Gene Simmons and Tommy Thayer. Eric definitely pulls a lot of weight vocally. As much as I wanted to hear new songs, “Say Yeah” suffers a bit vocally.
Highlight: Undoubtedly, a 16 minute version of “100,000 Years”. Eric Singer does his drum thing, and then Paul and Tommy both pick up their guitars and do a call-and-response jam, throwing in a few Zeppelin licks. You don’t think of Kiss as the kind of band that executes 16 minute extended jams, but it works in a primitive, primordial way.
Paul Stanley’s stage raps are absolutely classic. Paul knows Canada. He knows that all he has to do is say “Montreal” and he gets the crowd going. Just before “Rock all Roll all Nite”, Paul informs the crowd that Shannon Tweed is in the house! The fellow Canadian is greeted warmly by the people of Saskatoon. However my favourite rap is this:
“There’s so much trouble in the world. If you came here tonight to hear some band tell you how to end global warming…if you came here tonight to hear some band tell you how to end world hunger…you are in the wrooong place tonight! I’ll tell you something, 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 you know if somebody says to you…’You outta be a little more socially conscious, you outta be doing what you can to help save the world.’ You say to them, ‘Listen to me. Tonight’s my night off and I wanna Rock and Roll all Nite and party every day!'”
Hard to argue with that, Paul!
*I still want a CD from a European show where they performed “I’m An Animal”, however.
Making these videos is a lot of work (a lot more than it looks like, thank you Winblows*) but it’s a labor of love.
Aaron and I did very well on Toronto Record Store Excursion 2013. We used modern technology, such as smartphones and GPS, to maximize our time. The weather was gorgeous (absolutely perfect) the whole day, and boy, did we buy a lot of music.
If you wanna check out the 2012 Record Store Excursion vid, click here. If not, enjoy this year’s videos embedded below (two parts)!
* Need to move on from Windows Movie Maker. Its glitchiness made this way too hard.
Not quite a year ago, Aaron and I went to Toronto to splurge on music. Today I have returned from what is hoped to be a regular occurrence. I present to you, the spoils of war below. This is just a teaser. My goal is to edit together another documentary video like I did last year. This year I shot everything on my new BlackBerry Z10, which means I have to do some file conversion. With any luck I’ll be showing you all the details and fun soon. Until then, enjoy this teaser.!
RECORD STORE TALES Part 173: Gene Simmons’ Asylum Demos
Back in 1994-95, when I was working at our original store, I would always proudly fly the Kiss flag. This was before the mega reunion, and on the heels of the Revenge album, which I was really into.
I had a small online presence back then, I had created our very first online ads in 1994. I was talking about music on every single BBS (Bulletin Board System) in the area, and on one board, called Wanderer’s Rest, I had a forum for my reviews. I was going by the online name “Geddy” (hah!) back then, and I was extremely prolific. Very little has changed since!
One guy, name long forgotten, messaged me. “Hey, I’m a customer at your store. I have some rare Kiss demos. Do you want to do a tape swap?” Of course I did. For him, I made a copy of the March 25 1974 show in Washington at the Bayou club. It was a cool show because they played an unreleased song called “You’re Much Too Young”.
For me, he made a tape of Gene’s Asylum demos, on one of our Maxell UR60’s that we sold in our store. Gene is a very prolific songwriter. Not everything he comes up with is gold (clearly!) but he usually submitted a dozen tunes or more for consideration on each album. Judging by this cassette, Asylum was no exception, even though he was very distracted by Hollywood at that time.
The tape, which unfortunately did not survive the years very well at all, contains 13 of Gene’s demos, 3 being instrumental ideas, and a bonus track. A couple songs made the final album. I tried to listen to the tape, to see if I recognized any ideas. Unfortunately, this tape now sounds terrible and is unlistenable. I ripped only one song, which was “Russian Roulette”, to see if it resembled the version that later ended up on 2009’s Sonic Boom album. From what I can tell, only the title survived to Sonic Boom.
Musically however, the song was recycled on the Monster album, as “Eat Your Heart Out”! It’s the same riff. Although you can’t make out the lyrics on the demo version at all, you can tell they are completely different.
See the pictures below for the tape made for me by the Mystery Kiss Fan back in ’94-95. If you know any of these Gene songs, please comment below! We can hope that good quality versions will come out on Gene’s “Monster” box set, if it ever comes out!
Next in line of my reviews from Record Store Excursion 2012! Check out the video below if you missed it. This one bought at Sonic Boom Music for a measly $7.99! Thanks, Sonic Boom!
MIKE AND AARON GO TO TORONTO
ALICE COOPER – Lace and Whiskey (1977)
I’m a big fan of some of these “lost” Alice records, the ones that might not be considered the big hits, from his late 70’s alcoholidaze. Alice Cooper Goes To Hell was a really cool record, one I like a lot despite its disco tendencies. Lace and Whiskey followed it a year later. This is actually Alice’s third solo record, post-Alice Cooper Band. (I talked about the disintegration of that band in a previous Record Store Tale, see the video blog below!)
Alice tends to write his albums in terms of themes: Alice in school, Alice having a nightmare, Alice horror. This time, Alice takes the guise of a heavy drinking detective!
It’s another diverse platter, from honky-tonk (“Damned if You Do”) to more disco and flamboyant balladry that Alice had become known for. I don’t find there to be a weak track on the whole album. I’m not a huge fan of the ballad “You And Me”, as it’s hard to compete with a tune like “Only Women Bleed” or even “I Never Cry”. But it was a hit for Alice, and it’s certainly not bad. It even made the Muppet Show. Who can forget Alice dueting with a peacock? Or whatever that is.
The whole album drips of Ezrin-isms, you can hear his touch on every track. From rich orchestras, horns, choirs, and the well-honed arrangements he was known for, this album could not have happened without Ezrin. Indeed, he co-wrote all but two songs.
“King of the Silver Screen” is a great example of a Cooper/Ezrin/Dick Wagner composition. It has that dramatic Ezrin touch, Alice’s Hollywood-homage lyrics, with a rock guitar riff that serves to anchor the whole thing. And what’s with those little musical segues there? I love when Ezrin does stuff like that!
I love “Ubangi Stomp” too. It’s a 1950’s boogie with Alice doing his best Elvis. Just great! Plus who else could possibly utilize the word “Ubangi” in popular music? Alice, that’s who.
Lace and Whiskey is surely one of the most diverse Alice records, and that is one thing I love about Alice. I even like the disco song. Yes, I like the disco song! No genre is sacred, nothing safe from his sabre. But it’s all in good fun. Nobody gets hurt.
Nobody but Alice, who checked into a mental institution shortly after this tour, to deal with his alcohol problems. But that’s another story.
The tendency from many mainstream music critics is to rate these mid-period Alice albums poorly. But why? The songs are good, they just don’t rock as hard. Disco? So what? One of Kiss’ best albums was a disco album.
So a middle finger to the mainstream critics. I like Lace and Whiskey and I’m glad I found it at a cheap price. Thanks, Sonic Boom!