Big Business

Big Business

1979

Copyright 1981, song written by John Clancy, Armando Celaya, Rich Hunter, Tim Jeffries

Song performed by Armando Celaya on Lead Vocal, Rich Hunter on Guitars, John Clancy on Keyboards, Chuck Buchannon on Bass Guitar, Tim Jeffries on Percussion.

Engineering by Steve McDonald, at Wattever Recorders in Van Nuys CA, early 1981.

1979


(1981) "Can I ask a question" - our manager, Terry Gray asked, standing in the doorway at the North Hollywood garage / studio that Dennis Wageman allowed us to use, while the band Quite Riot was occupied elsewhere. "Why are we singing about 1979, when it's now 1980 ?" Well Terry ...the song was an undeveloped idea for my previous band - The Cigarettes - from a 4-track demo I recorded one morning at Hell House, using Philo's Gibson SG guitar, his Marshall Amp, and a bunch of over dubbed vocals, probably in 1978, since I was working graveyard, and doing my writing and recording when I got home in the mornings. But I digress. The chorus was based on what I thought were the opening Main Title chords for "Mysterious Island", by Bernard Herrmann. With the new wave inspired opening beat from Rich and Tim, and Mondo's lyrical homage to a 1939 World's Fair view of the future, it was meant as a sort of goodbye to our late 70's flirtation with punk, and by the end of the piece, the introduction of the new band, rising from the ashes, and announcing our return to the heavier rock roots that we knew so well.

Terry stared at us for a few seconds, shrugged, and went back to his wheeling and dealing, about which, and about his whole world, I never had much of a clue, either.

Above - our friend and muse, Randy "The Judge" Austin, sporting his 1979 "T" shirt he created, in honor of the earlier Cigarettes version of the song, along with his brand new Pizza. Taken at The Scary Kitchen at Hell House, 1978.

California Vs New York

Copyright 1980, song written by Rich Hunter, Tim Jeffries, John Clancy, Armando Celaya

Song performed by Armando Celaya on Lead Vocal, Rich Hunter on Guitars, John Clancy on Keyboards, Dean Foster on Bass Guitar, Tim Jeffries on Percussion

Engineering by Steve McDonald, at Wattever Recorders in Van Nuys CA, 1980.

California Vs New York


(1980) Our Drummer, Tim Jeffries (aka Tim Szukala), was a California Angels fan. Now, Tim doubled down on everything he did, so when I say he was a "fan", what I mean by that is, for example, he named both of his sons - Reed and Ryan - after Angels players/personnel, and this seemed perfectly normal...to Tim. So, Tim was an interesting guy to watch a game with. Now then, in the American league, The New York Yankees qualify as Official Nemesis for most every team, and the California Angels were no exception. At some point during the 1979 season, there was apparently one particular game in which the Angels truly dominated the Yankess with power hitting, one on top of the other. As hit after hit piled up the score, Rich Hunter and Tim Szukala came up with the main beat / feel, and verse themes, for "California Versus New York". I contributed the music for the chorus, inspired by the chord patterns of "Thick As a Brick" by Jethro Tull (or possibly Keith Emerson's adaptation of America, by Leonard Bernstein), and Vocalist Armando Celeya capped it all off with an energetic melody, and lyrics over-flowing with baseball themed puns. Rich's Gibson ES-335 and Marshall Amp, Minimoog 3rds with the guitar, Clavinet D6 double tracked with Hammond Porta-B for extra bite, and an Organ solo bridge, meant to sound a bit like a baseball park organist gone berserker. Oh yeah, and lest we forget, thanks to Tim, this one does have plenty of Cowbell.

Heart of a Darkened City

Copyright 1981, song written by Rich Hunter, Armando Celaya, John Clancy, Tim Jeffries

Song performed by Armando Celaya on Lead Vocal, Rich Hunter on Guitars, John Clancy on Keyboards, Chuck Buchannon on Bass Guitar, Tim Jeffries on Percussion

Engineering by Steve McDonald, at Wattever Recorders in Van Nuys CA, 1981.

Heart of a Darkened City


(1981) I owned the soundtrack album to Apocolypse Now, I still have it actually. I was very interested in the use of Synthesizers in that now classic Film, although I have since learned that the creation of that soundtrack was a bit controversial; but I digress. My recollection is that all of Big Business was nuts over that movie, and so we all contributed something to this one. The main verse was most likely from Rich, with lots of inout in syncopation from the band. Pretty sure the chords and background melody for the chorus were mine, and as usual, the lyric and vocal performance were all Mondo...only excepton being the idea for the screaming bits in the middle, for which I can recall coaching Mondo in the studio, egging him on to get crazier, we / I was going for a Jim Morrison style train wreck, we even turned off the lights to get him in the mood...pretty much got what I was looking for there, nicely achieved, I think. Clavinet playing the pentatonic bits in the middle break (loosely inspired by Roger Powell's work in Utopia, "Hiroshima"), and a Prophet V that Steve had available at the studio provided the obligatory synthesized helicopter sounds for this blatant homage. The slow stacatto single note bass guitar was ripped directly from the movie, at least from my memory of the movie, the part where the boat slowly arrives at Kurtz's jungle compound. Very nice guitar solo from Rich to get us into 5th gear when we needed it, leading into the final chorus.

There are photos on this page of us setting up for a backyard gig, somewhere in Granda Hills as I recall. A somewhat amusing postscript for this song, when the police arrived to break up the unsanctioned block party, a real helicopter arrived overhead, with search lights, to help us out with the overall effects. It sounded much better than that Prophet V.

Life's Dream

Copyright 1981, song written by John Clancy & Armando Celaya

Song performed by Armando Celaya on Lead Vocal, Rich Hunter on Guitars, John Clancy on Piano & Prophet V Synth, Chuck Buchannon on Bass Guitar, Tim Jeffries on Percussion

Engineering by Steve McDonald, at Wattever Recorders in Van Nuys CA, 1981.

Life's Dream


(1981) The idea of recording a ballad for what would be the last recording session for Big Business was a late decision, so late that the band never actually heard or played this song, until we arrived in the studio. Most of the music for the song was written in the mid 70's, when I lived in my mother's guest house, in Northridge, CA. The "plot-line" for the lyrics were there at the beginning, although the only lyrics of mine that Mondo actually used were the lines related to the "Nightmare" bits. The vocal melody, and the other 95% of the lyrics, were written by Mondo and some acquaintences of his, only AFTER we had the backing tracks recorded. His work on this one knocked me out then, and it still does. And no, we were not trying to sound like Styx, not sure we ever even listened to Styx all that much.

Kathleen arranged to have the Grand Piano at our bass player's studio moved into the recording studio, and tuned, and then moved back again. It was Kathleen, and my father, that encouraged me to submit this to the band, after I played them an instrumental 4 track demo I had recorded at Hell House, playing all the instruments. The band listened to that demo, and pretty much performed it verbatim, except with MUCH better musicianship. Prophet V supplied the string sounds.

It only occurs to me now, as I write this some 34 years later, that this song was never actually performed or even rehearsed, by anyone, ever. We certainly never played it together, before or since, although I did include an instrumental piano sole of this on the Milestones CD, under the title, "Lost Love". So, not really a sanctioned Big Business effort, it probably would not have made it into a set list, so we shall call this one a solo effort by these 2 guys, with much thanks to the band, for putting up with it just long enough to get it recorded.