Australia

The Adventures of Edie Van Heelin’: Edie and the Quest for the Lost Lego

EDIE VAN HEELIN’ and the QUEST FOR THE LOST LEGO

By LeBrain with Harrison Kopp

“Hey Edie!” shouted a distraught Mr. Van Heelin’ from the Lego room.  “We’ve been robbed!  All my Lego is gone!”  He ran from room to room of the house, but it was true:  every single piece of Lego was missing.

Edie Van Heelin’ was relaxing with a tea and a menagerie of pets.  She had to remove about three cats from her lap to get off the recliner.

“You’re joking, right?” she asked but not without concern.  Mr. Van Heelin’ doesn’t joke about Lego.  He was continuing to search the house to no avail.

“I am not joking!” he shouted frantically from another room.  “Every set, every single piece, is gone!”  Then he added incredulously, “But nothing else seems to be missing!  What is going on here?”

Edie strode into the room that he was currently searching.  “It could be those pesky aliens again,” said Edie.  “But they’ve never shown interest in Lego bricks before.”  She paused a moment.  She knew that she was going to have to take care of this one herself.  As usual.

“I’m sorry sweety, but I need to go,” she told him.

“I understand,” he said.  “But be careful.  What’s your first move?”

Edie placed a well-manicured purple thumbnail on her chin as she thought a moment.  “I’ll need help.  Time to pay Fanboy Mike a visit up in Canada.  Don’t worry about me.  I can take care of myself.”  She gave him a kiss.  “Time to suit up.”

The Shoe Shed in the back is where Edie kept her prized collection of heels, but more than that, it also contained her ultra-secret superhero gear, and she was going to need all of it this time.  Edie zipped up her favourite rocket boots, a new pair this time by Christian Louboutin but rigged for flight with afterburners and a sweet pair of fins.  Decked in a suitably badass outfit with fishnets and black leather, Edie Van Heelin’ was ready to rock.  She applied a gadget-filled utility belt, and strapped her favourite red guitar to her back as the final touch.  The guitar was no ordinary instrument.  Enhanced with alien tech, it was a weapon in more ways than one.

Edie dropped a pair of smartglasses over her eyes and smiled.  She loved her rocket boots and it was time to fly!

“Set course for Canada,” she said to the smartglasses.  “Southern Ontario.  Fanboy Mike’s house.  Let’s fly!”

With the sound of thunder and a blast of flame, the boots fired!  In seconds, Edie Van Heelin’ was little more than a bright contrail in the sky.  It was mission time!


Winter in Canada.  Fanboy Mike’s least favourite time of year.  He stood knee-deep in snow, in his Croc-boots, panting heavily as he tried to remove the white mounds from around his vehicle.  Every shovelful that he removed seemed to be replaced by two more!  He stopped a moment to wipe the sweat from his brow, lest it freeze to his face.

“This sucks,” he said to no-one.  Everyone else seemed to be staying in today, which was wise.  He grabbed the shovel and kept digging.  It was then that he heard the sonic boom of rocket boots overhead.

He dropped the shovel into the snow.  “Yeah baby!”  He shielded his eyes as he looked for the tell-tale sign of Edie Van Heelin’ in the sky.  There she was!  Red flame and smoke contrails, heading his way.  He shouted for joy as he knew that shovelling time was over and adventure time was about to begin.  He tossed the shovel aside and watched as the superhero in black leather came to a landing.

“Edie!”  He trudged through the deep snow towards his friend.

“Fanboy!” she responded in glee.  “Great to see you!”  The two hugged warmly for a minute.

“Wait, no — don’t stop!” joked Mike.  “I’m friggin’ freezing!”

Edie laughed.  “Well it’s about to get hotter.  I’m not here to go snowshoeing with you this time.  I’m on a mission and I need your help.”

“Oh thank God,” laughed Mike.  “I thought I’d be shovelling this crap all day!”

“This crap?” laughed Edie.  “I love snow!”  She dropped on her back and quickly made a snow angel.  Laughing, she got up off the ground and wiped the snow off her fishnets and leathers.  “Sorry, I just had to.  Can’t be in snow without doing a snow angel.  Anyway, don’t worry about the shovelling.  If I remember, you have squirrels here right?”

Mike nodded in the affirmative.  “Huge, huge black ones!”  He winked.  “That was a joke.  But yes, yes we do.”

While Edie relied on her rocket boots for flight, she had one unique superpower.  He unique connection to animals allowed them to communicate.  Her animal allies helped her defeat aliens and Tommy Lee in the past.  Now they were going to help Mike.

Edie raised her arms up.  “Canadian squirrels!  Come to my side!”  In seconds, dozens of black squirrels could be seen dotting the snow, running towards Edie and Mike.  Mike’s eyes went wide as he saw the flood of animals in the snow!  He counted 18 large black squirrels, all now sitting on the haunches, at attention, in a semicircle around Edie.

“Wow, they really are big!” she said to Mike.  “OK, squirrels!  We need your help!  We are on an urgent mission and Mike has to go!  Please, help him dig out his car!  I’ll be back with a big bag of peanuts for you all, I promise!”  She blew them a kiss, and immediately the squirrels got to work, frantically digging around Mike’s car.

“That’ll take a while but you don’t have to worry about it,” she said.  “Now let’s saddle up and I’ll fill you in on the mission.  Let’s go somewhere warm.”


“Hi, do you have green peach tea, with watermelon honey?” asked Edie at the front of the line at the Tim Horton’s.  Mike tapped her on the shoulder.

“Edie, they don’t have stuff like that at Tim’s.  Just regular tea,” he advised.

“OK, just a tea then,” she settled.  The two soon had hot beverages and were seated at the Canadian institution, sipping their drinks.

“So what’s the mission?” asked Mike.  “I’ve been snowed in all day, I can’t wait.”

Edie explained to Mike how Mr. Van Heelin’ discovered that all his Lego had been taken, but nothing else.  Mike’s eyebrows rose in surprise.

“You’re not going to believe this,” he said.  “When I got up this morning, I couldn’t find my Optimus Prime Lego.  I thought Jen moved it and it got buried in laundry or something.  And I couldn’t find the Lego boxes that we gave each other for Christmas.  I was going to look for them later, but now I am thinking it’s a pointless search.”  He paused a moment to scratched his gray-beared chin.  “I have an idea.  Toys R Us is right down the street.  They still exist in Canada.  Let’s take a look and see if their Lego is gone too.”

“Good idea Fanboy!  That’s cool that you still have Toys R Us.  Of course, in California we have Legoland,” winked Edie as she finished the last sip of tea.  She stood up.  The Tim Horton’s customers stared when she did.  They were certainly not used to see a leather and fishnet clad women in nine-inch platform boots drinking tea in a Horton’s.  Fanboy smiled as he basked in his temporary attention by association.  Once outside, Fanboy grabbed hold of Edie’s waist as they rocketed to the Toys R Us store.

Inside, the pair made their way to the Lego section.  People stared, but Mike just smiled.  Meanwhile Edie just looked determined as she strode hastily down the aisle.

The empty aisle.

There was not a single Lego set for sale at the Toys R Us.  Not one minifigure pack, not one Star Wars, Marvel, Technic, or any other franchise.  Not even the old minifig pack from two seasons ago that was always under the shelves.  Nothing.  Edie was not surprised.  Mike was slowly beginning to take in the magnitude of what was happening.

“Let’s ask that guy if they have any Lego,” said Edie, pointing to a long-haired man with a broom.  Dressed in a Toys R Us uniform, the man with long straight dark hair didn’t seem to be working hard.  Mike knew what it looked like to me faking work, and that guy was definitely lazily pretending to be sweeping up.  “Let’s make him earn his paycheque,” said Mike.

“Excuse us,” asked Mike as he approached the long-hair.  The man turned to face them.  Mike was a bit stunned.  The man, a clean shaven younger fellow, looked terribly familiar.  “Umm, sorry, do I know you?  You look familiar.”

“No, we definitely do not know each other,” answered long-hair in some strange unidentifiable accent.  “Can I help you?”

“Yes,” said Edie.  “We’re looking for Lego.  Any Lego.  My husband is a big fan.”

“Sold out,” said long-hair as he resumed pushing his broom.

“Are you sure?” asked Mike.  “That…doesn’t seem possible.”

“Sold.  Out,” said long-hair dismissively as he turned his back.

“Come on,” said Mike to Edie.  “I know where we can get some real help.  I have a buddy.  I’ll give him a call.”

Fanboy Mike was proud of his rich circle of friends, many of whom he’s never met in real life.  There was Tim on the east coast, an author and music collector.  There was Rob, a local radio show host that Mike has known for decades.  And there were a couple guys way up north in Thunder Bay.  One of them was a bit of a technical wizard with a knack for problem-solving.  Mike dialled a number on his phone and was soon connected with the tech-wizard.  Mike filled him in on the situation.  He nodded with concern as his listened to the wizard on the other end.

“That’s right.  Every single Lego piece.  Gone.  Gonzo.  Double Live Gonzos,” said Mike into the phone.  His eyebrows raised.  “Really?  Yours too huh?  Your motorcycle set!  I gave you that set!  Holy crap.  This is serious!”

Fanboy paced the floor of the Toys R Us as he listened intently.  He nodded a few times.  Then he spoke.

“Ok.  Gotcha.  Understood.  We’ll be on our way shortly.  Thanks man.  I owe you one.  Again.  And say hi to your partner in crime for me.  Ciao baby,”  Mike hung up the phone and spoke to Edie.  “OK, it took some doing, but my tech wizard buddy has a danger alert system at his HQ, and he managed to jerry-rig it to detect Lego.  And guess what he found?”

Edie braced herself for bad news.  “No Lego anywhere in the world, right?” she gulped.

“Nope,” responded Mike.  “To the contrary.  All the Lego is still here.  It’s been moved.  The Lego signals were concentrated in one location on the globe.  Just one.  Care to guess where we’re headed next?”

Edie shrugged.  “Somewhere warmer than Canada?”

“How’d you like to throw another shrimp on the barbie?” he winked.

Edie’s eyes lit up.  “Australia!  I’ve never been there!  But that’s a whole continent.  Where do we start?”

Mike checked his phone for a text message.  “Here are the coordinates,” he answered.  “Australia’s east coast.”  Edie dropped her smartglasses over her eyes and scanned the coordinates.

“Got the location locked and loaded,” she answered.  “Let’s fly!”


Australia.  Summer.  The east coast.  A cloud of dust kicked up as Edie came to a landing, with Mike holding on tight.  The landscape, far from any city, was relatively barren.  Beautiful, but deserted.  A wombat burrowed nearby.  Edie removed her glasses and scanned the horizon with her eyes.

“Nothing here,” she said in disappointment.  “Nothing at all.  I’m sorry Mike but your friend was wrong this time.”

Mike shook his head to the negative.  “Not this guy, he’s rarely wrong about anything.  He said the signal was coming from within one klik of this location.  We just need to look harder.  Maybe your animal allies can help in our search?”

She snapped her perfectly manicured purple fingers together.  “Good call, Fanboy.  What’s that thing over there?”

“I can’t be sure but I think that’s called a wombat,” answered Mike.

Edie motioned to the wombat.  “Hey cutie!” she beckoned.  The wombat stopped burrowing and looked at her.  “I know you’re busy right now, but we need your help.  Do you have any friends around?  We’re looking for something in this area.”  She paused and bit her lip a moment.  “We don’t know exactly what we are looking for but I think a building of some kind.  A structure.  Do you know what I mean?”  The wombat nodded affirmative.  “OK sweet stuff.  Get your friends and let’s sweep this whole area.”

In seconds, a wisdom of wombats emerged and scurried about frantically.  As they busied themselves digging and searching, a few could be seen…pooping.

Edie blinked.  “Hey Mike, is it just me or is that poop…cube shaped?”

Mike grabbed his phone and googled.  He laughed out loud.  “Hah!  Yes, yes it is!  Look at this!”  He showed his phone to Edie.  “Don’t step on any brown cubes, it’s not Lego bricks!” he laughed.  Edie stared at the phone in a mixture of surprise and disgust.

“Noted!” she said.  “No wombat poop on my Louboutins!”

The wombats scurried around, doing their work. Suddenly, one started jumping around and making noise.  Edie saw and ran over to the wombat’s location.  “Mike!” she shouted.  “Get over here!  We found something!”  Surely enough, just inches beneath the soil, was concrete.  A hidden, buried bunker!

“How do we get inside?” panted Mike as he finished running over.  “I don’t see an entrance.”

“Neither do I,” said Edie as she scanned the area with her smartglasses.  “The structure beneath us appears to be a huge concrete cube, perfectly Lego shaped, but with no seams or openings I can detect.”  Edie then reached for her guitar, a beautiful red axe with serious modifications.  “Stand back,” she cautioned.

Mike did as told, while Edie aimed the neck of her guitar at the concrete.  She flipped a switch on the back, and hit a hidden trigger.  A laser blast jolted from the headstock, burning a neat hole in the ground.  Edie shone a light from her smartglasses down the smoking hole.  What she saw below looked almost like a warehouse, except one of Indiana Jones proportions!

“This is it!” she said to Mike.  “Your friend was right after all.  Let’s fly!”

With that, Mike jumped on her back and Edie rocketed down into the hole she had just created.  She activated some lights on her leather jacket that helped illuminate the underground bunker.  Mike turned on his Croclights.

The pair scanned the mammoth sized room with their eyes.  Boxes upon boxes, countless boxes.  Thousands, millions?  The human brain simply could not absorb the scale of the scene before them.  They turned slowly around and examined every side.  Over there, loose Lego bricks, in buckets and pails.  On that side, fully built Lego structures and sets.  The rest of the entire space of the massive room was taken up by box after box after infinite box of Lego.

“Hey Edie,” joked Mike.  “Know where I can find some Mega Bloks?”

“Hah hah,” she deadpanned.  Then she got serious.  “But who would do this?  And why?”

A voice boomed from a gantry above.  “I would!”  Suddenly every light in the building was switched on.  Edie and Mike covered their eyes as they were blinded by the sudden burst of light.  Edie could barely see a figure, a silhouette.  Suddenly the figure dematerilized.  With a shimmer of light, he was gone.  Then, a microsecond later, he rematerialized on the ground before her eyes!

“So that’s how you stole all this Lego,” she surmised.  “You have transporter technology.  Where did you get it?  Speak!”

The figure slowly became unblurred in their eyes.  To their shock, it was someone they both recognized.  Before them stood the clean-shaven, long haired man they met at the Toys R Us store in Canada earlier!  He was now dressed simply in jeans and T-shirt, his beautiful brown hair hanging like waterfalls over his shoulders.

“I swear you look familiar!” shouted Fanboy Mike to the villain.  “What’s your name, dick head?” he taunted.

“My name is Shinzon,” answered the Australian.  “I was cloned by a man named Tyranus over one of the moons of Bogden,” he sneered.  “Perhaps that is why I appear familiar to you, Michael.  Where I got my technology is of no concern to you two.  As for why I took all the Lego?”  The un-moustached Australian smiled an evil smile.  “Because I wanted it.”

“Selfish fool,” said Edie as she shook her head.

“Selfish?  Yes.  Foolish?  Look around you.  Who’s the fool and who’s the one with all the Lego?”  The Australian glared at the woman before him.  “Look at you…you think you can fight me in those heels?  If you agree to leave peacefully now, I’ll beam you back safely to wherever you came from.  What will it be, Edie Van Heelin’?  Yes, I know who you are.  I’ve heard of you.  You are starting to make a name for yourself.  Be careful.  You do-gooders are attracting the wrong kind of attention from powers greater than me.”

Edie yawned.  “Oh I’m sorry, were you speaking?  Listen, Shinface.  I just have two things I need from you and then you can take a nice vacation in prison, which is where I’m taking you when we’re done here.”  If looks could kill, Shinzon would be dead by now.  Edie set her terms.  “Firstly:  you beam every single brick of Lego back where you got it, and hand over your tech to me.  Secondly…” she paused a moment, as she had a rare shy spell.  “Secondly, how do you get your hair so silky and beautiful?  I have to know your secrets.”

Shinzon laughed.  “Let’s just say it’s a trick of the lights, no secret.”  Edie harrumphed at his answer.  Shinzon continued.  “As for the Lego?  You’ll have to make me, Edie Van Heelin’.”

Edie sighed.  “Oh well.  Prepare to get made.”

Shinzon growled, “They always said you were the Party Police, Edie.  Well not this time.”  He activated a switch on his belt.  Suddenly, from the ceiling, millions of Lego bricks poured onto to the floor!  “Try walking over those in your heels, Edie!” laughed Shinzon.

Edie laughed.  “Who’s walking, Shinface?”  She ignited her rocket boots and flew towards the villain.  With a mighty tackle worthy of the 49’ers, she easily knocked the villain to the ground.  But with a smirk, he beamed himself across the room before she could strike another blow!

Fanboy Mike was stuck on the floor of Lego, trying to move towards Shinzon but unable to get much traction.  “I’m sorry Edie!  I’m stuck!”

“Stand back, Mike,” she warned.  “This guy’s going down!”  She took aim with her laser guitar, but missed as Shinzon beamed himself to the top of a giant stack of Lego boxes.  He laughed in mockery as Edie struggled to get a clear shot.  She did not want to destroy any Lego in the process.  Then she had an idea.  She raised her arms to the sky and summoned the animals!

“Magpies!  Dingos!  Roos!  To my side!”

Suddenly, from the hole in the ceiling, poured every animal from the Australian wild!  Shinzon’s eyes went wide in terror as a magpie swooped at his head.  There was a dingo on each arm now, preventing him from activating his transporter!  Several kangaroos lined up to take the first kick on Edie’s command.  Shinzon struggled against the magpies and dingos but it was futile.  He was beaten, soundly and surely, as the animals immobilised him.

Edie aimed her laser guitar at the evil Australian clone.  “Don’t make me,” she warned.

Shinzon coughed up some red spittle as he barked back at her.  “Do it!  I double dingo dare you.”

Fanboy Mike groaned at the joke.  Edie kept the guitar aimed directly at the Australian.  “One last chance!” she warned.  “Give us the tech, and hair care secrets, now!”

The villain simply laughed.  “You don’t understand do you?  I want you to shoot!”

Edie shrugged.  Without hesitation, she fired the guitar.  The blast hit Shinzon square on.  “Ow!” he moaned as he felt the impact.  His body went limp as the animals let him fall to the ground.  Then he did something unexpected.  He smiled.  And then, like all villains ultimately must, he explained.

“My suit…” he coughed.  “My suit has a failsafe.  If I am critically wounded…it automatically beams me to a safe location to recuperate.  Goodbye, Edie Van Heelin’!  You lose!”  With that, a device on his belt sputtered sparks.  “Oh no…” said Shinzon.  “It’s broken!”  Suddenly he began to shimmer in bright light, as the broken device beamed him away.  Where to, would be impossible to know now even for Shinzon.  He had escaped…but to where?

Edie Van Heelin’ stood dejected.

“It’s OK Edie,” said Fanboy Mike as he struggled to walk in her direction.  All the animals made their way to her side to comfort her.  Mike continued.  “We didn’t lose, we won.  We saved the Lego.  Most of it, anyway.  Maybe he got away, but he may be worse off now than if he didn’t.”

Edie smiled.  “Thanks Mike.  You’re always such good support.  I guess not every ending can be the perfect ending, can it?”

Mike smiled.  “Not every ending.  But I’d give us a solid 9/10 stars for this adventure.”

“OK, 9/10 stars it is,” said Edie with a grin.  “What now?  How do we get all this Lego back to where they came from?”

Mike answered.  “I’ll give my wizard buddy from Thunder Bay a call.  He’ll know what to do.  As for what WE do now, we go for tea.  I assume they have tea in Australia!”

Edie’s eyes lit up.  “Tea time!  Let’s do it!”  With that, Mike jumped on her back, Edie lit the rockets, and the pair soared off into the Australian sky, basking in the Southern Lights.


Epilogue

On a distant world, his eyes opened wearily to an alien sky.  The stars were foreign to him.  He was now a stranger in a strange land.  His transporter was fully destroyed, the one last beam-out being the fatal one for its circuits.  Stranded.

“She won,” said Shinzon.  “But not for forever.”  He tried to stand, but fell back down into the alien dirt.

“Ow,” said the Australian clone as he laid down on his back in pain.

“My boss will not be happy about this at all.”

The End

 

 

 

THE EXTENDED LEBRAINIVERSE

The Adventures of Edie Van Heelin’:  Edie vs. Tommy Lee in the Bouncy Castle of Doom! (By LeBrain)

The Advenures of Edie Van Heelin’:  Edie and the Quest for the Lost Lego (By LeBrain with Harrison Kopp)

 

THE ADVENTURES OF TEE BONE MAN:  PHASE ONE

Chapter Zero:  Tee Bone Man – Origins (by LeBrain) Coming March 2023

Chapter One: A Friend in Need (by LeBrain)

Chapter Two: Hell Freezes Over (by Harrison Kopp)

Chapter Three: Hell Ain’t A Bad Place to Be (by LeBrain)

Chapter Four: Tee Bone Man and the Rink of…Doom? (by Aaron KMA)

Chapter Five: The Super Duper Vault (by John Snow)

Chapter Six: Tee Bone Man Goes to Camp (by LeBrain)

Chapter Seven:  The Revenge of Common Knowledge (by LeBrain)

Chapter Eight:  Tee Bone & Deke’s Time Travelling Adventure (by 80sMetalMan)

Chapter Nine:  Castle Communications (by Harrison Kopp)

Chapter Ten:  The Case of the Lost Iron Maiden Socks (by LeBrain)

Chapter Eleven:  A Tee Bone Man Christmas (by all five of us)

Chapter Twelve:  Lost In Space (by John T. Snow) Coming January 2023

Chapter Thirteen:  Clip Show (by LeBrain) Coming February 2023

 

The Writer’s Room: Chapter One

The Writer’s Room:  It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like a Tee Bone Man Christmas

 

Youtubin’: Jacko Johnson – Energizer OI!

Dedicated to the Australian Wunderkind, Harrison the Mad Metal Man.

“Energizer!  It’ll surprise ya!  OI!”

In the late-80s, there was a period of time when anything Australian was all the rage.  There was Paul Hogan, Crocodile Dundee, Yahoo Serious, Midnight Oil, INXS and Jacko!  Everybody was walking around doing terrible accents, saying “that’s not a knife,” and “throw another shrimp on the barbie.”  Even better though were the Energizer battery ads by footballer Jacko Johnson.  What energy!  He definitely popularized the phrase “Oi!” in Canada.

Youtubin’: Van Halen – “Without You” Live in Australia 1998

While I will admit that Van Halen 3 didn’t live up to the potential of the collaboration between Cherone and VH, it ain’t bad.  Many people said, “They should have changed their name and called it something else.”  That’s one perspective, but I don’t think Van Halen ever needed to go by any name other than Van Halen so long as Eddie and Alex were there.  Just my opinion.

“Without You” was arguably the best song (with the outtake “That’s Why I Love You” also a contender).  This live version from Australia helps illustrate what was working and what wasn’t.  The truth is, while Gary Cherone is a unique frontman, his gangly-geeky stretches and contortions didn’t suit Van Halen’s live show.  Vocally though?  No issues with Gary Cherone in Van Halen.  When they go into “We Can Work It Out” by the Beatles at the end, I’m sold.

#809.5: “Limited Edition” 2 1/2

A couple weeks ago, we looked at “limited edition” CDs once more.  Today, we follow up with a postscript reinforcing everything we discussed last time.

To recap:  Deep Purple have been issuing live albums from a recent “limited edition series”, but all is not as it appears on the surface.  As shown last time, the record company (Edel) couldn’t be bothered to even print the number of your limited edition on the sleeve, instead relegating it to a sticker.  That was on a copy of the second album in the series, Rome 2013.

Today I received my copy of the first release in the series, Newcastle 2001.  This is a track-for-track reissue of discs 5 & 6 of the 2001 Soundboard Series box set.  This time the discs have been “remastered” though there is surely nothing wrong with the original release.  They have also been numbered as part of a limited edition run.  Mine is copy #4222/20,000.

But wait!  Didn’t our friend Heavy Metal Overlord, who got his copy far earlier, have a higher number?

He sure did — #8616.  Proof that it doesn’t matter how early you order these things.  It will have little impact on the number you receive.  It’s also proof that there are plenty of copies to go around.  Confirmed:  you can take your time to order this “limited” release.

This time, however, I’m complaining about a little bit of false advertising.  There is a sticker on the front that says “only 2000 copies worldwide”.  A bit of a typo there.  20,000 is the correct number.  There’s quite a bit of difference between the two.  And we still don’t know if that is for CDs, or both CD and vinyl copies.

Once again, we state what should be obvious:  if the record companies can’t be bothered to get these “limited editions” right, then why should we care?

 

REVIEW: AC/DC – Can I Sit Next to You Girl (1974 radio broadcast)

AC/DC – Can I Sit Next to You Girl (1974 radio broadcast on Laser Media)

Very few things in this world kick as much ass as vintage live AC/DC.  If you need a taste, or everything you can get your hands on, then Can I Sit Next to You Girl will help.  The sound quality is alright, feedback notwithstanding.  The five included tracks are solid classics.

“She’s Got Balls” takes too long to get going (two whole minutes) and suffers a bit from feedback throughout.  Once you tune out the noise, you can appreciate one of the greatest rock frontmen of all time in Bon Scott.  “Soul Stripper” is slinky good, with Bon at his sassy best and Angus ripping it up delightfully.  On with the show:  a very raw “Show Business”.  Angus Young has solos after every verse, the energy palpable.  Moving on, next it’s “Can I Sit Next to You Girl” (the band’s first single with Dave Evans on vocals).  Bon snarls and Angus shrieks.

Perhaps best of all is the extended jam of “Baby Please Don’t Go”.  When AC/DC play for 10 minutes straight, it’s not like other bands.  It’s the relentless AC/DC groove machine, with Angus doing his thing as no other guitarist can.

Pick it up (cheap) and rock on, baby.

3/5 stars

Sunday Chuckle: Australian Calendars

Here’s a Sunday Chuckle for all our Australian readers.  Enjoy.

 

READER SPOTLIGHT: Harrison From Down Under

Welcome to the first ever Reader Spotlight at mikeladano.com!  It’s time to turn the mirror on you!

If you enjoy this feature, it might be the first of several.  Be sure to let us know.

There’s a story about how this came to be.  The timeline is as follows:

1997:  Record Store Tales Part 135:  Back in a Tracksuit

  • T-Rev discovers Irish band The Sultans of Ping F.C. and turns them into a local cult phenomenon.

2005:  Getting More Tale #425:  The History of the Holy Grail

2012:  Aaron FINDS THE SULTANS ALBUM and gives it to me for Christmas!

  • And there was much rejoicing.

 

2018:  Reader Harrison from Australia alerts me that there is a 2 CD “deluxe edition” of Casual Sex in the Cineplex, in stock at the Canadian Amazon store.

  • Three left in stock!  Ordered, shipped and delivered — thanks for the tip, Harrison.

In gratitude, I decided to do a Reader Spotlight on Harrison, a pretty cool guy who has now helped me solidify my music collection even further.  Harrison graciously agreed.  We had a chat and I asked him ten questions.  Then he went and added more on his own!

Meet Harrison!


M:  So Harrison, tell us how old you are and where you live, and what you’re doing at school.

H:  I’m eighteen (nineteen in July). I live in Perth, Western Australia and I’m currently at university studying Professional Writing and Economics.

M:  How did you discover heavy metal?

H:  Pure chance, almost. My dad likes Led Zeppelin a lot and my mother likewise with AC/DC, so I guess I kind of always had it in my life but is wasn’t until my uncle passed on his CD collection to my family after digitizing it that I experienced a moment of clarity (to quote LeBrain). Among the many other discs of varying genres was a battered copy of Iron Maiden’s Best of the Beast (2 CD edition but only disc 1 included). By the first chorus of the third song (“Man on the Edge”) I was hooked. That disc got a lot of play thereafter and is single handedly responsible for starting my love of metal.

M:  This helps explain why you love the Blaze era so much!  Was there ever any other music you loved this much?

H: My dad has varied musical tastes and a diverse collection, so I got to experience a wide variety of artists. Before Iron Maiden came along my favourite band was the Electric Light Orchestra

M:  Top five bands — GO!

H: Oh dear, I was dreading this question. Very difficult to do a top five, but here I go anyway.
1. Iron Maiden
2. Black Sabbath
3. Deep Purple
4. Dio
5. Electric Light Orchestra
(Honourable Mentions – Ozzy, Alice Cooper, Blaze, Zeppelin, Slade)

M: You’ve guest reviewed here before and I don’t think you’re done writing reviews. What’s next?

H: Well I’ve got some tales to tell but seeing as you can’t write your memoirs at age 20 that will have to wait until I’m older and (hopefully) wiser. I’m planning for it now though. I enjoy writing and discussing the reviews, so I hope to guest more in the future. I just want to keep them few and far between, to preserve the occasion.

M: Who would win in a street fight: Ozzy or Alice Cooper.

H: Hmm…yes…very deep question…very philosophical. They would never fight though. Ozzy can’t leave his mic stand for more than ten seconds, and Alice is too nice.

But for the sake of the question, Alice would. His head is bigger than a bat’s so he safe, and he once pulled a gun on Elvis. (Although he was promptly shown by Elvis how to deal with an armed man when you are unarmed.)

M: That’s right, Elvis was into Karate. Why the heck do you keep coming back here to read the garbage I post?

H: Firstly, it’s not garbage. Secondly, funny you should ask that, because there’s a bit of a tale involved (there’s a Japanese bonus paragraph if you want). In short, I stumbled upon your 2 CD Best of the Beast review a while back, and I enjoyed it a lot. The personal style and in-depth review was far better than the mediocrity I could scrape up from other sites. I liked it so much that I kept coming back to it (although I did disagree with some points). Eventually I branched out into other Maiden reviews before going the whole hog. It was definitely your writing style that hooked me at the start, followed by your great insights, humour and personality that kept me here.

M: Well thanks!  Speaking of writers:  Heavy Metal OverLOAD, or OverLORD?

H: Overload (which would make a decent Metallica album title).

M: Do you get a lot of concerts down your way?

H: Not really unfortunately. Of the classic rock and metal bands, AC/DC come here often. Sabbath has a couple times (they even filmed a DVD in Melbourne for some reason). Maiden seem to do it mainly for the album tours. While I’m sure we get a decent amount of concerts here, most of them are not by bands I would see (which might have something to do with the fact that most of them are pensioners now).

M: If you want LeBrain readers to know just one thing about you, what would that be? GO!

H: I love The X Factor. I love Virtual XI. And (Shock! Horror!) I love Virtual Lights Strikes Over France.

Dream Lineup:
Bass – Geezer Butler
Lead Guitar -Joe Satriani
Rhythm Guitar – Tony Iommi
Drums – Nicko McBrain
Vocals – James Hetfield
Keyboards – John Paul Jones
Acoustic/Harmony Guitar – Adrian Smith

Stats of Doom:
First album – Iron Maiden – Killers
First Concert – Haven’t been to one yet. Hoping Iron Maiden’s Legacy of the Beast Tour will be the one.
First Vinyl – Iron Maiden – Maiden Japan (notice a theme yet?)
First Bootleg -Iron Maiden – 24th May 1981
First album bought twice – None yet thankfully
Current Collection size – 45 jewel cases/digipaks


Thanks Harrison for taking part!  If you enjoyed this Reader Spotlight, please do let us know in the comments.  You could be next!

REVIEW: The Whitlams – Eternal Nightcap (2000 Canadian version)

Scan_20160513THE WHITLAMS – Eternal Nightcap (2000 Black Yak Canadian version)

I honestly can’t remember who I saw the Whitlams opening for in 2000. I know it was the Center in the Square in Kitchener, so by process of elimination, they were probably opening for Blue Rodeo on their Days In Between tour.*  I actually expected a country band, because I confused the Whitlams with the Wilkinsons.  What I got, much to my delight, was an Australian piano-based pop rock band with witty lyrics and a couple absolutely unforgettable songs.  I like piano rock:  Ben Folds, or Elton John for example.  You can see similarities with both in the Whitlams.

At that time the Whitlams were in Canada promoting Eternal Nightcap, essentially a compilation of selections from their Australian releases.  Having never heard those albums, I don’t know if you would consider this a “best of” or not, but upon listening for the first time, I was clueless that these songs weren’t all from one album.  They sound cohesive.

The opening track “No Aphrodisiac” showcases Tim Freedman on vocals and piano with a melancholy opener.  One of the most impressive things about the Whitlams is their lyrical prowess.  “There’s no aphrodisiac like loneliness,” sings Freedman.  Ain’t it the truth?  It’s “I Make Hamburgers” that has perhaps the wittiest words.  “I make hamburgers, I get all the girls,” sings Freedman, and somehow I believe him in this amusing tale.

Jazz pervades “You Sound Like Louis Burdett” until the pure pop chorus.  “All my friends are fuck-ups, but they’re fun to have around.”  Eternal Nightcap is a diverse album, and the “Charlie” suite (three songs) has a quieter, more serious tone.  I have wondered if these songs are at least partly based on the Whitlams’ late guitarist, Stevie Plunder.  “You’re killing your soul with an audience looking on.”  Plunder died of a suspected suicide.  These are beautiful songs, but lyrically very heavy.  Plunder himself sings “Following My Own Tracks”, a great rock tune that actually reminds me a lot of early Blue Rodeo — the Greg Keelor songs.  Then there is some Beatles-y mellotron on “Melbourne”, a mid-tempo track that I remember them opening with at the Kitchener show.

With such a strong mixture of soft and rocking material, coupled with hard to forget melodies and skilled wordmanship, Eternal Nightcap (the Canadian version anyway) is a pretty easy CD to justify adding to your collection.  Now, to be transparent and honest, I will say that I did own a copy of their next album Torch the Moon, given to me by a co-worker.  I didn’t keep it because there was nothing on it that struck me as memorable like Eternal Nightcap.  Whether or not this CD is all the Whitlams you need, I cannot say.

4.5/5 stars

Scan_20160513 (2)

*Confirmed via the Wikipedias.

REVIEW: Crowded House – Woodface (1991)

This is a special birthday review for my sister who turns “30 something” today!  Happy birthday kid!  By coincidence she got this album for Christmas three days ago…

WOODFACE1CROWDED HOUSE – Woodface (1991 Capitol)

Crowded House remain one of the most critically acclaimed bands of the 80’s and 90’s.  Formed from the ashes of Split Enz, they did two successful albums before Woodface.  Unfortunately the songs Neil Finn wrote for Woodface were rejected by the record company, so he asked his brother Tim (also ex-Split Enz) if he could use some songs they wrote together for a future project.  Tim said OK, and joined Crowded House as an official member to boot.  That partnership was only to last one album, but what an album it was!  It was arguably their most acclaimed record to date.

The packed-to-the-gills 15 track CD commences with “Chocolate Cake”.  The production is incredible on this.  The snare drum has an excellent snap to it.  Neil and Tim harmonize perfectly on this confection of pop perfection.  It’s a piano based jam with melodic hooks galore.  There’s a smoking harmonica solo and cool lyrics, immediately reeling you in.  This tune rocks.  “It’s Only Natural” is a little softer, an acoustic track more like what I was used to before from Crowded House.  It’s an immediate song, a timeless classic.  Neil and Tim’s harmony vocals seal the deal.  Too bad isn’t wasn’t a smash hit single around the world, because it could have been, if it didn’t come out right in the middle of the grunge downturn!

“Fall At Your Feet” may well be the best song here.  You know this one.  If you don’t, all you have to do is play it once and you won’t forget the chorus.  Neil wrote this one alone, but it is a major triumph of songwriting perfection.  The plaintive chorus is one that many singers wish they had written.  It is followed by the upbeat “Tall Trees”, a brief irresistible rocker.  Too bad it’s over in only 2:20!   It’s pretty guitar heavy for Crowded House.  This gives way to the Eastern sitar opening of “Weather With You”, which was the big hit.  The Finn brothers surely have a knack for a chorus.  “Everywhere you go, you always take the weather with you,” and I can’t get it out of my head.  This is a very 90’s sounding hit single.  I’m sure Bono was pissed that he didn’t write it.  He probably would have ruined it, anyway.

A funky vibe introduces “Whispers and Moans”, which took me by surprise.  I like a bit of funky bass every now and again, and then some horns turn it up a notch at the halfway point.  I have to admit, the song was starting to lose me until the horns kicked in!  It grows on you.

The party stops there for now.  The soft brushes on “Four Seasons in One Day” tell us that the next song is a slow one.  “Four Seasons” sounds like a great lost John Lennon composition, with its harpsichord and children’s choir singing in the background.  I’ll single out drummer Paul Hester as an MVP here for his delicate touch, making his 2005 death that much sadder.  The drummer is the foundation, and although “Four Seasons” is an outstanding track in any universe, Hester helps make it that little bit extra special.   “Four Season in One Day” is pure composition and performance excellent, absolutely above the bar.

“There Goes God” combines a funky beat with an exotic riff and lots of harmonica.  It’s definitely a cool mix.  As weird as the song is, it still contains one of those patented Finn/Finn choruses.  Then “Fame Is” has a bombastic sound.  It’s a brief pop rocker, a fast head-nodder to get you out of your seat.  This leads into the gentle strings of “All I Ask”, a smokey slow waltz.  One of the strengths of Woodface is its diversity.   Each song has an idiosyncratic Crowded House sound, but many veer far and wide in many musical directions.  “All I Ask” is unlike any of the previous.

Another great chorus is the centerpiece of “As Sure as I Am”.  Accordion in the background loans it a folksy feel, as do the lyrics about the rhinos going extinct.  (Sad that 23 years later the rhinos are no better off.)   Drummer Paul Hester contributed “Italian Plastic”, an interesting title to say the least.  It’s anchored by cool guitar licks, and more great melodies, as strong as those that the Finns write.

The album closer, “How Will You Go”, is one very familiar to me.  Marillion covered it on their excellent 2001 live album, A Piss-up in a Brewery.  They are acknowledged Finn fans.  I can see why they chose “How Will You Go”, as it gave Steve Hogarth a chance to belt out some killer melodies.  Fantastic song, not a single but shoulda coulda woulda!

But it’s not really the ending, as a joke song called “I’m Still Here” occupies the coveted “hidden track” slot!  Sounds like they’re trying to be The Clash!  Why not?   (Hester wrote this hidden track, too.)

I’m very impressed with Woodface.  It’s easy to listen to, but there’s more there than just pleasant melodies.  There’s vocal brilliance.  There are instrumental passages that are intricately composed and performed.  There are also great lyrics, all topped with perfect production and a cracking drum sound.  Some songs are more memorable than others, but give it time.  Woodface is a grower.

4/5 stars

WOODFACE BACK


 

Marillion’s version of “How Will You Go”:

REVIEW: AC/DC – ’74 Jailbreak (1984)

Welcome back to the Week of EPs! Each day this week, I’ll be checking out a variety of EP releases, both famed and obscure.

MONDAY: Aerosmith – The Other Side (1990)
TUESDAY: Wolfsbane – All Hell’s Breaking Loose Down at Little Kathy Wilson’s Place! (1990)

AC/DC – ’74 Jailbreak (1984 Epic)

As most AC/DC fans are aware, their Australian and American discographies differed greatly in tracklists and cover art.  Australia also got one more record (T.N.T.) than we did.   This amounted to a number of Bon Scott tracks that were left off the original American releases.  It made sense to eventually release them, so in 1984, five tracks were released on the tenth anniversary EP, ’74 Jailbreak.  Of note, none of these songs are actually from 1974.

The track “Jailbreak” itself didn’t become a hit until this compilation was released.  It was originally on 1976’s Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap in Australia.  It definitely sounds from that era, and it’s long been one of my favourites.  I found that little riff irresistible, then and now.  I love Bon Scott’s storytelling lyrics, still cool today.  “Big man lying on the ground, with a hole in his body where his life had been.” And c’mon, you have to love the music video, or you have no sense of fun in your rock!

The next four tracks were all from High Voltage, another favourite album of mine. “You Ain’t Got a Hold on Me” is one of those slinky Bon Scott rockers. I like the spare riff and Angus’ bluesy playing. Uptempo “Show Business” is a wry dig on the business side of rock and roll. “You’re smoking butts, they smoke cigars.” Angus’ playing here is especially tasty as he takes his Gibson SG for a ride. Then “Soul Stripper” takes it to a dirty place. AC/DC return to that slinky territory they used to do so well with Bon. “Soul Stripper” is a highlight among highlights, with those quieter bass-driven verses. “Pulled out a knife and flashed it before me, stuck it in and turned it around.”

A cover of “Baby, Please Don’t Go” closes the EP on a frenetic extended jam. Bon shrieks as if in agony. The band blast away as only one of the greatest pure rock and roll bands can. This is rock and roll 101, your teachers are in class, so pay attention to Mr. Young and Mr. Young!

None of the songs on ’74 Jailbreak are outtake quality. I never fully understood who decided what songs were to be left off American releases and why. Some of these songs were singles in Australia! As mentioned, these are only some of the songs unreleased on American albums. There were more and they too were pretty damn good. They are “Stick Around” and “Love Song” from High Voltage, “R.I.P. (Rock in Peace)” from Dirty Deeds, “Crabsody in Blue” from Let There Be Rock, and “Cold Hearted Man” from Powerage. All these songs can be had on the Backtracks box set today.

5/5 stars