GUEST SHOT! Part 317.5: A Message From Statham


RECORD STORE TALES Part 317.5:  A Message From Statham

Long time LeBrain readers may remember guest contributor Statham.  He’s been quiet for a little while (he’s a very busy man), but he does keep up with all of us.  Statham must have caught wind that it’s almost time for Toronto Record Store Excursion III, because he asked me to post this:


Long time, no speak. Statham here. You don’t need excuses as to why it’s been so long. You know I’ve been out there kicking arses and taking f-ing names, as usual.

So word comes down to me that you ponces are going to traipsing off to Toronto at some point in the near future. Bloody great idea. But did it ever enter either of your pointed little heads that you should bring me along this time? I mean, you’ve gone on two of these little excursions without even giving me a thought (and I still owe you both ass-kickings for that, when I manage to get back to your parts of the world, remember that for damn sure).

So come on, you gits. Tell Statham when you’re going so I can show you how to do your little trip properly. I’ve seen both of your videos, and not once did you punch anybody or blow anything up. Ooo you drank one beer with lunch. I’m shakin’ in my boots, over here.

Statham. Toronto. Make it happen, you wankers. I’ll be expecting your call.


I don’t know what to say.  I try to keep punching and blowing things up out of my CD shopping.  What say you Aaron?  Three’s company, or a crowd?


Part 262: By Your Side

A sequel to Part 260: Sho’ Nuff – The Return of STATHAM

RECORD STORE TALES Part 262:  By Your Side

1999 was shaping up to be an exciting year.  The Black Crowes’ most recent disc, Three Snakes & One Charm, wasn’t bad but it didn’t excite me.  Rolling Stone magazine made negative comments about Chris Robinson’s beard as if the beard wrote the songs.  The rumour mill was going full speed, that the Crowes had returned to their “earlier” sound.  The new album, By Your Side, would be more like Shake Your Money Maker, and less like a bunch of bearded hippies jamming after a toke.  I know today the Crowes had recorded an album called Band (now available as CD 2 of The Lost Crowes), but it was rejected by American Recordings who wanted the band to make a basic rock n’ roll album, so they shaved off their beards and that’s what they did.

OK, sure, whatever – I was on board.  I don’t mind some changes to shake things up.  I don’t necessarily always endorse a full-on “return” to a sound, because you can’t really duplicate a specific era.  But this was the Crowes, a band who injected integrity into everything they’d done so far.

The first single released, “Kickin’ My Heart Around” was a frickin’ steamroller of a rock song.  It was released in November 1998, about two months before By Your Side was to come out.  It created a real buzz.  I was hearing excitement in the store from a lot of Crowes fans.  Naturally, the new Crowes album would be a subject for Statham and I to discuss, and discuss it we did.  Statham knew then that I collected Crowes B-sides, and “Kickin’ My Heart Around” had two that weren’t going to be on the album.

I’m not too sure about Chris’ Prince Valiant haircut

In late December, Statham strolled into my store with a surprise.  He had picked up for me my own copy of “Kickin’ My Heart Around” since I had been unable to locate one!  Best of all, it was a Christmas gift – the first gift that I was given by a customer at the record store that I can recall.  I was quite blown away.  I didn’t ask Statham to get the CD for me, and I certainly didn’t expect a gift from a customer!  But then again, as he has said in the past, he believes in treating his record store guys right.  That’s something I’ll never forget.

The two B-sides “It Must Be Over” and “You Don’t Have To Go” were both quality tunes on top of it all.  I was thrilled.  I brought the CD home and showed it to my dad.

“Get this, dad!” I began.  “One of my customers bought me this CD that I have been looking for!  It’s an early Christmas present!  Cool, huh?”

My dad, being the “negative Nancy” that he can be sometimes said, “I don’t think it’s a good idea for you to accept gifts from customers. What does he expect in return?”

“I don’t think he expects anything in return, dad.  It was just a thoughtful gift.  He’s a nice guy.”

“Well just be careful,” my dad cautioned.  “In my experience nothing’s free!”

I’m glad to say in this case, my dad was wrong.  Statham had no secret agenda, beyond friendship, and we’re still friends 15 years after that. If anything we’ve taken gifting music to each other to an extreme that we both enjoy.  The mutual benefits have been incalculable!  Thank you Statham for this CD, which I still treasure today.

REVIEW: Ozzy Osbourne – Speak of the Devil / Talk of the Devil (1983)


OZZY OSBOURNE – Speak of the Devil (1983 Epic)

After Randy Rhoads died, Ozzy really seemed to have gone into a tailspin. He just seems to have been completely miserable at the time and he really tries to bury the albums he made in this period. Speak Of The Devil, a live album featuring Brad Gillis (Night Ranger) on guitar, was not even included on Ozzy’s 2002 reissue program and went out of print.

Ozzy owed his label a live album, and had actually recorded one too (Randy Rhoads Tribute).  With fresh wounds from the loss of Randy, Ozzy didn’t want to do a live album at all.    So a compromise instead; Speak of the Devil (Talk of the Devil overseas) consisted entirely of Black Sabbath songs.  At the same time, Sabbath was releasing their own double live album, Live Evil.  This direct competition poured fuel over an already volatile feud.

SPEAK OF THE DEVIL_0003I always hate to compare Ozzy’s versions of Sabbath songs with the originals. Ozzy’s have always sounded different because of the guitar players he’s chosen to use over the years. These Gillis versions are about as authentic as Ozzy’s been, until the fortuitous discovery of Zakk Wylde five years later.  Gillis is a flashier player than Iommi, but without Randy’s intricate classical bent.

You absolutely cannot argue with the track list (from the Ritz, in New York). This is Sabbath boiled down to its black core. These are the desert island songs, and I love that “Never Say Die” and “Symptom of the Universe” were included.  Through the classics, Ozzy sounds tremendously drunk.  Colossally smashed, not quite completely out of his fucking head yet, but close.  Still lucid, not yet totally annihilated.  His voice takes on an angry shade when he starts reminiscing about the the groupies at the old Fillmore East (“The Wizard”).  (Sounds like a naughty word was awkwardly edited of out this ramble, too.)

I do love a moment when, just before breaking into the aforementioned “Wizard”, Ozzy says to somebody (a roadie?) “Hey, what’s happenin’ man?”

The vocals sound like they’ve been sweetened in the studio.  They’ve been double tracked, or manipulated to have that effect.  I’m normally not a fan of that kind of thing, but it’s still a great listen.  There’s some annoying feedback at points…it doesn’t bother me too much, hell, when I first heard this album (on cassette) in 1991, I couldn’t even hear the feedback, for the shitty fidelity of cassette tape.  I’m sure Ozzy considers the album to be sonically embarrassing, that seems to be his modus operandi.

Of note, “Sweet Leaf” did not manage to make the original CD release, but has been restored to this version, its CD debut.  It was on the original cassette version, a cassette-and-LP-only “bonus track” at the time.  (Aaron, that means you gotta buy remastered or LP.)

Band lineup: Osbourne/Gillis/Sarzo/Aldridge/Airey.

4.5/5 stars



REVIEW: Sultans of Ping F.C. – Casual Sex in the Cineplex (1993)

This one is by special request of Aaron who acquired this album for me!

SULTANS OF PING F.C. – Casual Sex in the Cineplex (1993 Rhythm King)

I’ve said a tremendous amount about this band already.  In case you need a refresher:

Needless to say I have some history with this album.  Before too long, T-Rev would start incorporating lyrics from this album into our daily dialogue.  For example:

“Hey Trevor, how’re you doing?”

“Back in the Tracksuit!”

I have a hard time describing this album.  It has a snearing punky vibe, hilarious shrieky lead vocals and lyrics to match, topped with an Irish accent and guitars! “Back in the Tracksuit” is a perfect example of this; a blast of punk guitars & drums with the bizarrely catchy lead vocals of  Niall O’Flaherty.  Half the time we couldn’t figure out what he was singing.  “Indeed You Are” sounds like he’s singing “Konichiwa!”

“Veronica” is a cute serenade with strings and harmonica.  Maybe it’s a take on early period Beatles, filtered through their own bedraggled lenses.  “2 Pints of Rasa” is in a similar spirit: a stroll through the park on a sunny Saturday afternoon “drinking with the guys”…and with strings!  In the lyrics, O’Flaherty proclaims to his girl of interest, “but I still like you, you are my ice cream.”

A broadside shot of breakneck guitars kick off “Stupid Kid”.  T-Rev and the rest of us loved this refrain.  The chorus was infectious!  “You’re stupid, S-T-U-P-I-D kid!”  I don’t think I’ve ever heard a more entertaining combination of snark and melody.  One of the best tunes on the album.  “You Talk Too Much” is a twin brother, shrieks and surf-rock drums notwithstanding.

A rollicky bass intro kicks off “Give Him a Ball (And a Yard of Grass)”, and the body surfing begins!  I have no idea what O’Flaherty is singing for most of it, but it hardly matters.  You can sing along as if you do, and nobody will notice.

“Karaoke Queen” is OK, a little slack, but it is quickly followed by “Let’s Go Shopping”.   It’s another one of those sentimental Sultans numbers about, well, going shopping.  We always found the jubilant lyrics quite mirthful:

Put on your flip-flops and we’ll go shopping, dear
Put on your flip-flops, we’ll go flip-flopping, dear
You can buy crisps and I can buy jam,
You push the trolley, I’ll push the pram.

The sentiment stops there, since the next song is entitled “Kick Me With Your Leather Boots”!  That means you can count on brisk, boisterous shenanigans.  “Clitus Clarke” approaches being skip-worthy, but who cares since the final song is our favourite, “Where’s Me Jumper?”

My brother knows Karl Marx
He met him eating mushrooms in the public park
He said ‘What do you think of my manifesto?’
I like your manifesto, put it to the testo.

It’s just great fun.  You can’t help but move to it.  To me this album would be worth buying just for the one song.

Thankfully, this collection has an assortment of really great songs and some pretty good ones too.  All of them are gladdening and memorable, so for that reason Casual Sex in the Cineplex has a permanent spot in my car’s MP3 player.

4.8/5 stars


Part 166/REVIEW: Anthrax – “Cowboy Song” (promo single)

RECORD STORE TALES Part 166:  Anthrax – “Cowboy Song”

Stuff like this didn’t happen often, but it did happen.  Sometimes one of my customers would just give me a CD that they thought I would want.  Unfortunately my journal didn’t record who gave these discs to me!

Date: 2005/11/26 13:14

WICKED!  Someone today gave me a free copy of the “Cowboy Song” single by Anthrax, a rare Thin Lizzy cover.  Also got Doin’ The Nasty by Slik Toxik for free.  SCORE.

Statham did on occasion give me free discs.  I recall once he gave me a Black Crowes single.  Another one of my customers (name long forgotten) gave me a Jimi Hendrix hardcover book.  But this was not a frequent occurrence.  Unfortunately, most people treated the guy behind the counter at the record store like shit.  I guess that’s part and parcel of working in a buy-and-sell environment.  Stuff like this helped make the job tolerable.

This single was a Sam the Record Man exclusive.  It came free with copies of Sound of White Noise purchased there, but for a limited time only.  I don’t know how rare it is today, but it certainly is a collectible, being a store exclusive.

I wish I could remember who gave me this cool Anthrax single.  It could have been somebody I knew that worked at Sam’s (that narrows it down to 3 or 4 people) or somebody I knew that worked for Warner (narrows it down to 2).  Either way, I thank you.

Onto the review!


ANTHRAX – “Cowboy Song” (1993 Warner Music Canada promo)

This promo single comes with no case or cover, but does have some liner notes printed on the CD itself.  It was produced by Dave Jerden and Anthrax, and all guitars were performed by Scott Ian.  Presumably, that means Dan Spitz doesn’t appear on the song.

This was recorded as a bonus track for the Japanese edition of Sound of White Noise, and can be currently found on the remastered edition of the same album.  This is an awesome cover, very authentic to the live version that Thin Lizzy used to do, made famous on the Live and Dangerous album.   The lead vocals are, of course, by John Bush.  John Bush doesn’t attempt to do a Phil Lynott impression (thankfully, that wouldn’t be wise) but does deliver the vocal with his trademark grit.

Scott Ian nails all the guitar parts perfectly.  You’d swear there were two guys playing.  It comes as no surprise that Charlie Benate’s drum parts are also perfect.  I think Brian Downey was and is one of the most underrated drummers in rock, and Benate does him justice.

I love this cover.  Anthrax are well known for choosing and performing great covers.  Add this one to the list.

4/5 stars

2012’s rockin’ stats, for your amusement!

In 2012, I posted 493 articles.  I did 157 chapters in a continuing series of Record Store Tales which has been extremely satisfying.  The rest have been a series of reviews, and rants!  Very popular was my series of Kiss reviews (53 of them!), when I covered every Kiss album in sequence. Currently, I’m finishing up my series of Iron Maiden reviews (42 so far in a series of 45), covering every album and rarity that I have access to. It’s been a blast!

Some personal statistical highlights:

1. Doing an interview with Brian Vollmer, of Helix (my 4th interview so far), which was a huge blast for me as a fan and writer.

2. The many Guest Shots (10 so far!) from contributors such as Tommy Morais, Statham, T-Rev, Mrs. LeBrain and Uncle Meat.  It’s been a pleasure to read and publish your work, gentlepersons.  Keep sending me stuff!

3. Record Store Excursion 2012, and the resulting video.  I love making videos, and this was a blast. At last check, it’s had almost 200 hits (194 to be exact) including some of the people at the stores that we reported on!

Thanks to all the readers out there who’ve made 2012 so much fun here at LeBrain’s Blog.  Let’s kick 2013 into overdrive.

My top ten posts of 2012, by hits:

Editorial: Paul Stanley’s voice problems 741
REVIEW: KISS – The Box Set (Deluxe mini guitar case edition!) 273
GEOFF TATE: Solo album KINGS & THIEVES song samples available now 270
REVIEW: Black Sabbath – Master of Reality deluxe edition! 254
REVIEW: KISS – Destroyer (Resurrected) (2012) 227
REVIEW: KISS – “Hell or Hallelujah” single! (2012) 211
Ex-Queensryche’s GEOFF TATE UPDATE: Still a douche 202
REVIEW: KISS – Destroyer (and a word about that 35th anniversary Resurrected thing) 193
UPDATE: Queensryche’s Tate is a Douche 185
Part 71/ REVIEW: Pink Floyd – Shine On (9 disc box set) 185

Top five LeBrain-reading countries:

Country Views
Canada FlagCanada 13,754
United States FlagUnited States 6,242
United Kingdom FlagUnited Kingdom 2,417
Brazil FlagBrazil 739
Finland FlagFinland 629

Here’s a fun one:  Top five Google searches that led people to LeBrain’s Blog!

queensryche split 82
paul stanley voice 76
kiss revenge review 71
geoff tate is a douche 68
kiss hell or hallelujah 66

LOL…Geoff Tate is a douche!  That’s awesome!

Hope you didn’t party too hard last night.  Let’s rock 2013 like there’s no tomorrow!

VIDEO BLOG: Surprise Parcel From Aaron!

For the full story behind this, click here:

RECORD STORE TALES Part 135: Back In A Tracksuit


Part 128: VIDEO BLOG – Mike & Aaron Go To Toronto! (now with Store Report Card!)

Join Mike and Aaron as they hunt for rare albums!


Sonic Boom, 782 Bathurst St – 5/5 stars

BMV, 471 Bloor Street West – 3.5/5 stars (Mike) 4/5 stars (Aaron)

Rotate This, 801 Queen St. W – 3/5 stars  (no rating from Aaron)

Pauper’s Pub,  539 Bloor Street West – 3.5/5 stars

Paradise Bound, 270 August Ave – 4/5 stars * note I got the name wrong in the video

Moonbean, 30 Saint Andrew Street – 5/5 stars

Sonic Boom Kensington, 201 Augusta Ave – 4.5/5 stars

HMV, 333 Yonge Street – 1.5/5 stars

Sunrise, 220 Yonge Street, 1.5/5 stars (no rating from Aaron)


See what Aaron bought by clicking here!

FINAL NOTE:  I procured a the Japanese import from eBay a week later, October 27, for $41, free shipping.

REVIEW: The Darkness – Hot Cakes (deluxe edition)

I wanna dedicate this review to Patrick from Dave Nation, a regular reader and Darkness fan!

THE DARKNESS – Hot Cakes (Deluxe edition with 4 bonus tracks, 2012 Canary Dwarf Ltd.)

The Darkness are probably the band that came out in the last decade that I truly love most.  Something about this band just makes me feel GOOD.  They always have.  I love this band, much to the consternation of some of the people I used to work for at the record store!  I love this band, so I worked their music into our wedding reception, and played a shitload of air guitar to it!  I just love this band.

I loved the Stone Gods too.  But this is the original Darkness:  Dan, Justin, Ed and Frankie.

At first I was kind of “blah” to the idea of an original lineup reunion.  I liked Richie Edwards just fine too.  But Frankie co-writes a number of these tracks, and he has a great stage presence.  As for Ed, his trademark drum fills might not be Neil Peart material but he has his own identifiable sound, and his fills are always dead-on perfect for what the songs need.  Play air drums to The Darkness some time, you’ll see what I mean!

To get to the point, though:  Hot Cakes?  It’s magically delicious!

If you didn’t like their second album, the arguably over-elaborate One Way Ticket, then you’ll be happy with Hot Cakes.  They’ve brought things back to the basics of guitars, bass, and drums with only the odd embellishment along the way.

But the lyrics are certainly not toned down!

Every man, woman and chile wants to…


Justin’s lost nothing.  He’s still bonkshit!* Except maybe just a hint (just a hint!) of his high voice.  Or maybe it’s just the production that make it seem that way.  It might even be my imagination.  So who cares?  And to sing and play lead guitar and run around like Steven Tyler?  That can’t be easy either!

The majority of songs here are great, and would make my road tape.  Much like the first and second albums, there are songs that I keep coming back to over and over again.  You become attached to certain hooks in them and then suddenly, BAM!  The song is stuck in your head!  Examples of this:

“Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us” – Great fast catchy Darkness single, with one of their classic sounding choruses.

“With A Woman” – Simple, basic AC/DC rocker but with Justin’s flare and yet another catchy chorus.

“Everybody Have A Good Time” – “Come on people, tell me how you feel. You want a good time? Well you got yourself a deal!”  Along the blueprints of the feel-good tunes from the first album.

“She Just A Girl, Eddie” – Tied for best song on the album.  This is the one I can play 10 times in a row and still hit repeat (usually in the car).  As for the lyrics?  “There are four billion other girls, who want to make love to you.”  Eddie can’t argue with that math.  And speaking of Eddie, Ed’s drum fills are what I was talking about earlier — simple, powerful, perfect.

“Concrete” – Solid, riff-based song with great high Justin vocal.  Catchy as hell.

“Street Spirit (Fade Out)” – Holy.  Shit.

On the negatives:  The album somewhat follows the blueprint of the first one.  For example a ballad, “Living Each Day Blind” falls on track #5, the same place that the similar sounding “Love Is Only A Feeling” was on Permission To Land.  At times it gets predictable, but thankfully the song quality back it up.

I paid a fair chunk of money to have the deluxe edition shipped here from  I’m glad to say it:  These four extra songs are worth it!

There are two acoustic demos:  The campfire-like “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Love”, a song as good as any on the album proper.  Then there’s a demo version of the album song “Love Is Not the Answer”, which is better than the album version.  The album version seemed very much the answer to “Holding My Own” from album #1.  The acoustic version loses that soundalike aspect, and exposes bare Justin’s vocal prowess.

Then there’s “Pat Pong Ladies”.  No idea what this one is about since it’s not included in the lyric sheet.  This one has a more layered and operatic vibe, more akin to album #2.  Having said that, it’s a great tune, better than some of the album tracks.  It gets positively Queen at times.

Lastly, “Cannonball (Long Version)”.   As my fellow rock enthusiast, Heavy Metal Overload asked, “Where’s the short version?”  Maybe Ian Anderson knows.  He plays that flute part.  Of course!  But this isn’t a ballad, or even a Tull-like rocker.  No, this is The Darkness sounding like themselves (circa album #2 with some boogie piano underneath and layered screams)!

I’m so glad this band is back.  I hope to catch them live.  I hope Lady Gaga’s audience is into them…now there’s an odd pairing!

4.5/5 stars


* word coined by Statham

Part 113: Destiny (“It’s Like It Was Meant to Be”)

RECORD STORE TALES PART 113:  Destiny (“It’s Like It Was Meant To Be”)

Sometimes, like destiny, something cool arrived on my counter at random. Something I’d been hunting for.  Something special, that hit the spot at exactly the right time.  That was the beauty of used CD’s.  Even more than a box of chocolate, you truly never knew what you were going to get!

For example:

IAN GILLAN – The Best Of

I had pretty much cleaned up on Deep Purple, and I was ready to start exploring the solo projects of people like Gillan, Glover and Lord.  Like it was meant to be, suddenly The Best Of Ian Gillan showed up!  This compilation covered his two most recent solo releases, Tool Box and Naked Thunder.  Both albums are hard to get, and I still don’t have them!  This compilation hit the spot.

I remember Statham coming into the store while I was playing the opening track, “Hung Me Out to Dry”.  He chuckled at the opening screams!  “What is this?” he laughed.  But he respected my choice instead of mocking it which is more than I can say for some of the coworkers!   You never see this stuff used in these parts, but once in a blue moon.  I truly felt like I’d hit a home run!

Another example:

DEEP PURPLE – “Haunted” (CD single)

I’d been planning on ordering this one online. I found it on the German Amazon site, but only there so far.  All the single had was a bonus remix of “Haunted”, but as a Deep Purple completist, this is the kind of rarity that I seek.  CD singles tended to be a European thing and hard to get here.  I was prepared to have to pay up to $15 for this single….

When suddenly a guy brought in not one but TWO promotional copies with the bonus track!  Unmarked promotional copies, as in only the case was marked, which you can replace.  SCORE!  I saved myself some cash on that lucky happenstance, and the other copy sold off the shelf in short order.

A third great example:

JOURNEY – Trial By Fire (Japanese import)

I had been collecting Journey rarities, especially the Steve Perry years.  I saw a Japanese import of the final album they did with him, Trial By Fire, at HMV 333 Yonge in Toronto.  It was $40 or $45.  The bonus track was “I Can See It In Your Eyes”.  It just wasn’t in the budget that day.  I had several Japanese imports in my hands that day, and something had to be sacrificed.  Journey didn’t make the cut.

And then a couple weeks later, one of my regulars, Conrad, sold me a mint condition copy, bonus track intact.  Instead of paying $45, I paid $15!  Score!