Big Business

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Nineteen Seventy Nine

(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.

Nineteen Seventy Nine



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.


California VS New York

(1979) Our Drummer, Tim Szukala aka Tim Jeffries, 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 - Reid and Ryan - after Angels players, and this seemed perfectly normal, to Tim. In the American league, The New York Yankees qualify as official Nemesis for most teams, and the California Angles were no exception. At some point during the 1978-1980 seasons, there was one particular game that the Angels dominated, and as hit after hit piled up the score, Guitarist Rich Hunter and Tim Szukala came up with the main beat and verse themes for "California Versus New York". Keyboardist John Clancy contributed the chorus - inspired somewhat by the chord patterns of "Thick As a Brick" by Jethro Tull - and Vocalist Armando Celeya capped it all off with melody and lyric filled with the baseball themed puns. Organ solo was meant to sound a bit like a baseball park organist, gone berserk. Bass by Dean Foster, Recording Engineer was Steve McDonald, of Wattever Recorders in Van Nuys, CA.

California VS New York



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.


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.

Heart of a Darkened City



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.


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.

Life's Dream



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.


How Long

(1981) We were rehearsing at our bass player Chuck Buchannon's home studio in the hills of Encino, which was nice in that an adjoining room had this grand piano, so we could do vocal rehearsals, work on harmonies. Mondo had been contributing to our songs up until this point, but this was the first time he submitted a song of his own for consideration. Mondo could play the piano, but for some reason I seem to recall that he hummed this one to us, and we sort of stumbled around with ideas until we did something that matched the sound he heard in his head. So, I give the band collaboration credit, even though this was certainly Mondo's song, start to finish. We were sort of shooting for an Alan Parsons / Abbey Road / Argent / Supertramp / Ambrosia vibe on this one, we probably ended up with something else altogether, and that's ok too. I can still remember writing the mini-moog solo while sitting on the floor, at my music room on Napa, the day before going in to do the overdubs. Nothing like a deadline, to focus one's attention.

How Long



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.


Magic Eyes

(1980) The divorce settlement between Rich & Philo, from the Coup d'Etat band split up, specified that Philo would get "Cat Fight", and what became "Let's Have a War" with FEAR, and Rich would retain the rights to "Magic Eyes". We certainly did use the bones of the earlier version, which borrowed liberally from Handel's Sarabande. I recall sitting with Rich in the middle entry way music room at Hell House, where I had squeezed in an old upright piano, with Rich learning the song, very early in the Big Business project, and making some contributions with modality, and dropping some beats here and there. It is my recollection that while the title was pre-existing, that I wrote the words...this is contradicted somewhat by Rich's better memory as to what the words actually are - I thought I "wrote" the words "coldest skies", while Rich recalls the words "cold disguise" - which makes way more sense, in context. I do know who I had in mind as I wrote the words, a certain local "muse/sprite" that had taken it upon himself to become "life coach" to all the lazy hippie types that he had surrounded himself with in the late 70's. An "inspirit" is term I coined for an annoying yet inspirational presence. It has yet to catch on.

Magic Eyes



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, 1980.


The Deadly Diner

(1979) BONUS TRACK - An unfinished song, included here with the clams, if only to document the back & forth solo work between myself on mini moog and Rich Hunter on his Gibson ES-335 guitar, after about the half way marker. Song title was inspired by a particularly bad case of indegestion that drummer Tim acquired, after eating a midnight meal at a local "open all night" diner. I think we made up a pseudo name for the diner so we wold not get sued, but now I cannot remember which name was real and which one we made up, so Deadly Diner it is.

The Deadly Diner



Song performed by Rich Hunter on Guitars, John Clancy on Keyboards, Dean Foster on Bass Guitar, Tim Jeffries on Percussion.

Engineering by John Clancy.


For Mom (1979) BONUS TRACK - Another unfinished song, included here because...well, I am not sure why, but for some reason Tim thought his mom would really like this one, maybe because he planned to add a drum solo in the middle someday. Maybe because of the heavy metal disco beat we added, and no, don't ask me why I am playing the theme for Star Wars on a mellotron over the disco beat. There may have been alchohol involved. But there is a pretty nice guitar solo from Rich in there, and you can hear a few spots where the gang locks in.

For Mom



Song performed by Rich Hunter on Guitars, John Clancy on Keyboards, Dean Foster on Bass Guitar, Tim Jeffries on Percussion.

Engineering by John Clancy


The Shed

(1979) BONUS TRACK - We have already established Tim's healthy obsession with Baseball; Football however, we would need to place in the "unhealthy" obsession column. Case in point would be the Super Bowl party with the unhappy ending, either a Rams loss or a Raiders win, that pushed the obsessive, compulsive, neatnick Tim past his breaking point, after which he needed to relieve the anguish, and unload it on someone, or something. He may have been drinking. He found his way to his landlord's backyard, somehow, and his gaze affixed to a helpless, outdoor metal tool shed, which he reckoned to be unnacceptably offensive. The short version is, that Shed ceased to be, that Super Sunday, as with only his bare fists did Tim rudely disassemble the enclosure, monstrosity that it was, and the next morning it lay in a rubble of twisted metal, never to recover, or be anything useful again. His knuckles were bloody and scraped, and he was in pain, so he suspected that he might be involved, himself. Somehow though, on some level, he must have felt better about the football game, and so it was a good thing that the Shed was there that night, or things certainly could have gotten... ugly. This song, inspired by that story, we more or less dedicated to finding an outlet, when one is needed. The crowd noise is simulated, but the rage is real. Rock on, Tim.

The Shed



Song performed by Rich Hunter on Guitars, John Clancy on Keyboards, Dean Foster on Bass Guitar, Tim Jeffries on Percussion.

Engineering by John Clancy, 1979


Demo - I Really Don't Know

A demo song from Mondo, played on my old upright piano on Napa, recorded on my Teac 4 track.

Demo - I Really Don't Know



Song performed by Mondo



Demo - Mystery Love

A demo song from Mondo, played on my old upright piano on Fallbrook, recorded on my Teac 4 track. This one was inspired by a coment John Lennon made in an interview, about Yoko.

Demo - Mystery Love



Song performed by Mondo



Demo - Here We Go

Another demo song from Mondo, performed acapella. Nice horn section Mondo!

Demo - Here We Go



Song performed by Mondo, recorded in the bedroom studio on Fallbrook. Percussion by Clancy, playing the Dos Equis bottles.



Ballad Demo - I Know (1981)

This demo is from Clancy, recorded shortly after moving into Napa street - my dad and Kathleen can be heard in the background discussing lobster. Not sure if this was intended for submittal to Big B or not, but fits into time frame. Next time this one shows up is as an instrumental, on Acts & Intermissions.

Demo - I Know



Song performed by Clancy