Heritage Hump Day: Jimmy Jay and the First Responders

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With all the tacky advertisements reminding us that it’s the 15th anniversary of 9/11, from the  fizzy Coca Cola Walmart display recalling the Twin Towers (above) to the San Antonio, TX  based Miracle Mattress that ran the most brain-dead excuse for a Twin Bed mattress sale ever, we at Onus Records were wary that our regularly scheduled Single of the Weekend by Jimmy Jay and The First Responders would be misinterpreted as a way of cashing in on people’s love for firemen, so we withheld it to midnight after 9/11.

In truth, this song could never be a 9/11 created cash-in as it was originally recorded in 1968, a time of great political upheaval in this country but also the high water mark for crass and meaning-free bubblegum music.

Onus Records is proud to be able to license (heck, give away for free)  this obscure bubblicious nugget from the Lucky Puppy label out of Chicago where our back history begins.

According to the legend, “Jimmy Jay was a Chicago fireman whose band consisted of fellow firefighters he met from other engine houses all responding to a 20-story blaze. After the fire, the men who worked so well together decided to form a firehouse band and raise temperatures with their hot brand of bubblegum music.” Of course, none of this is true, Jimmy Jay and the First Responders is actually the brainchild of jingle writer Morty Guildenstein looking to break into the world of pop music in 1968.

“I played everything on the record and made the whole firefighter thing up, basically,” Guildenstein says. “I was hoping to tie it in with a story song I had written about The Great Chicago Fire of 1871 but DJs flipped the record and started playing the shitty b-side, “Your Heart Ain’t Sayin’ (What Your Mouth is Thinkin’)” instead. When it took off in Chicago and parts of St. Louis, we had to find a Jimmy Jay and the First Responders to go out on the road and promote it. So me and my partner Arnie Shapiro went to the nearest bowling alley and looked for five clean cut kids who might want to leave home for awhile.”

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That started a trek that lasted ten years, long after the Jimmy Jay fire died down and this song was safely ensconced on numerous Oldies But Nothing collections. At one point Peter Brandel, the blonde young man who was Jimmy Jay on the road for all the Jimmy Jay boom years (and who still plays the occasional casino and amusement park gigs), sued for the rights to his own stage name.

“Peer actually accosted me on the street and followed me into Sam’s Club, demanding I give him the legal rights,” says Guildenstein. “‘You gotta be kiddin’ me,’ I barked back at him.. But, hey, I gave the kid $279 right outta my pocket that I was gonna use it to buy a portable TV. It was more money than Peter had seen in a while.”

Download or stream for free this great new Single of the Weekend and plenty more from onusrecords.bandcamp.com

 

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Sneak peak into Carol Pacey & The Honey Shakers’ new album

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Not a lot has been heard from Onus Records’ alt-country and roots rock  imprint as of late. Last year saw the release of  Mill’s End’s EP The Swann Sessions and several tracks by The Extended Play  but that’s about to change now that Carol Pacey and the Honey Shakers will shortly be releasing their new album “Eyes on the Prize”  under the auspices of Ca-Ho-Nus and commemorating this latest offering with a CD release show October 8 at Pho Cao.
The first recorded evidence  of the 14-song set is being issued as this week’s “Single of the Weekend” and it’s called “State of Affairs..” It captures the heavier sound the band evinces when they play in clubs that was not as apparent on the band’s first CD.

“It’s an uptempo in-your-face rock song!” says the group’s guitarist Andy Borunda, who is also the song’s co-writer.  “’State of Affairs’is a band favorite to play and interestingly enough, one of the very few songs of ours  based in a blues key.”

For Carol, it’s the first song she’s ever co-written with anybody. “And that anybody is Andy Borunda,” she says. “I wrote part of the song then I asked Andy to play along with it to see where he would naturally take it musically. I then used his direction to finish the song. What it’s about it up to the listener!”

cahonus-1-sleeveDownload for  free and stream “State of  Affairs” by visiting onusrecords.bandcamp.com.

epicAnd  while you’re there, download a plethora of other great music including Carol Pacey and the Honey Shakers’ previous Single of the Weekend, “Epic Love Fail.”

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The Butane Brothers: still carrying a torch for Bowie

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Eight months ago, the world lost singing legend David Bowie. Six months ago there was a Tribute to Bowie show at the Rhythm Room in Phoenix , AZ and on a bill which also included Field Tripp, The Lonesome Wilderness and Serene Dominic, there was a little noticed duo at the bottom of the bill called The Butane Brothers who were unproven talents but fit the Sunnyslope residency requirement.

7-Mast-Brothers1-1800x1200The brothers, Bowie superfans Hal and Cal Haversham performed only two songs that night, “The Little Bombadier,” a rightly obscure item from Bowie’s 1967 debut album when The future Thin White Duke seemed more interested in being the present day Anthony Newley. The other song was “Breaking Glass”  from Bowie’s 1977 album Low, This recording, selected for this week’s Single of The Weekend, is not only is the first Onus live recording but also the first ever cover song of someone not from Sunnyslope or even  nearby Arrowhead. And it was recorded live at that very same Rhythm Room show.

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You’ll note that the Brothers gave it a Latin feel, sorta like a couple of tracks from David Live but incorporating a lot of the progressive sounds from his Berlin trilogy and nothing from Never Let Me Down, an album even Bowie superfans like Hal and Cal never much cared for.

As for the brothers’ group name, it can be attributed to losing Bowie to a secret 18-month bout with cancer. Considering the amount of minutia we know about the Kardasians without even wanting to, we still don’t know what kind of cancer it was that killed someone we genuinely cared about. This medical riddle perplexed no one more than Hal and Cal, who called themselves The Butane Brothers to quell their own speculation.

“Bowie is holding a cigarette in every album cover, it’s gotta be lung cancer” said Hal to Cal and without the benefit of a fact checker nearby so Cal naturally agreed.

“Breaking Glass can be streamed and downloaded for free from onusrecord.bandcamp.com

 

Greenhaven denies its “1944!” was influenced by 2016 Eurovision winner

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Jamala_-_1944Surely you have heard that  song called “1944”  by Ukrainian singer Jamala that garnered the greatest number of votes at 2016 Eurovision Song Contest, a grand total of 534 points, officially surpassing the previous record set by Alexander Rybak with his song “Fairytale” in the 2009 Eurovision Song Contest, which won with 387 points.

What? No?  Of course not! This is America, baby, What care we about a song contest where we’re not even allowed to enter? The hell with them! We’ll have our own best song contest. Just like we have our own World Series and ignore that 3/4 of the world that thinks a middle reliever is  someone who takes the center urinal.

And anyhow, Greenhaven has had this song waiting patiently like Prince Albert in the proverbial can for three years, back when Jamala was still singing about “1941′.  “And ours has an exclamation point,” says Greenhaven lead singer and lyricist Matt Strangwayes, who actually forced a recall of the digital single when early copies were pressed sans punctuation.  Here he gives us the real inspiration behind “1944,” Onus Records’ latest Single of the Weekend:

“Here we have a guy who finds himself in the midst of human civilization’s greatest conflict. Entrenched in the battlefields of Europe and the Pacific theatre, his letters to a lover contain snippets of war in all it’s glory and horror. Bravado and fear clash to create an anxious mix. The drums evoke the barrage on Dresden and the guitar pierces like bullets. The bass rumbles across weary fields of death and a yearning for home is whistled in the post-clash delirium. Along the way we experience bravery, despair, jingoism, and perhaps even a mercy killing.

The original version of the song was a lot more cynical. It included dialogue in German, Japanese, Italian and other WW II appropriate languages. Real dark stuff that contrasted with the hopeful tone of the English lyrics that represented letters to home. It got a little dark for even my own tastes (though pretty funny too) and I had to rethink it a little. It was hard to give up all the foreign stuff, but it made for a better song. 

Russell Walton from Jack of All Pipes Productions provided the voiceover at the beginning. He was great and worked with our budget, asking only for ” a pack of fags and a packet of crisps.” I think we just gave him $100 instead as we weren’t sure what he meant and he’s kind of a big guy.

Also note the appearance of Serene Dominic as he leads us to the conclusion,  whistling away Vera Lynn’s World War II  anthem “We’ll Meet Again” the final din of combat. I did a fair amount of research on “war rock” when writing this one – there’s  more out there than you think.”

“1944!” is available for streaming and name your price at onusrecords.bandcamp.com

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How a summer song gets born at Onus Records

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When the coffeemaker is broken and the owner wants to talk about summer songs.


Not everyone gets to sit in on one of Onus Records’ “Quality Control Meetings.” You have to be part of Onus Records CEO Tommy Globbit’s inner circle, like his dentist or tree trimmer. Sometimes you have to be an unpaid intern. Or else you’re lucky enough to write for The Arrowhead Community Ledger (yeah, I know you’ve never heard of it) and you’ve got the man himself hungry for some media attention and inviting you to a closed door session.

But today, no one is loving this Monday meeting, especially since it has spilled over to Tuesday and the coffee maker isn’t working. Every once in a while, Globbit gets a wild hair about what kind of music the world needs now, what it’s already got too much of  and what music will sell the day this non-profit label decides to not operate in the minus. Today he’s armed with charts, graphs and theories.

“Songs with girl’s names always sell. But song’s with guys’ names? Not so much. Everybody bought the Monkees’ record “Valerie,” but nobody bought “She’s Movin’ in with Rico,” see what I mean?”

Like most of these meetings, the yard groomers and peers of Globbit’s age group nod in agreement while the interns have no idea who these artists of 40 and 50 year pedigrees are. Last week he brought up The Ink Spots and was being totally serious about the lack of songs about glow worms.

After going off on the girl’s name tangent, Globbit shifts gears and is back to asking the interns about summer songs they like.

“I thought you were going to bring me examples of summer songs. All I’m getting are these depressing drones.” he sighs.

“These are the summer songs,” says Natalie, pointing to an online blog theorizing which chartblazer is going to be THE summer song of 2016. ”

“Aww,” grunts Globbit. “Does Pharell have to be sued again before we can get another song that sounds like summer? That Drake song could’ve come out in the dead of winter. What’s so summer about it?”

“Well, it’s kinda depressing, like this summer.” says Cathy, looking up from her iPhone.

“What about this one?” asks Annette before playing the recent Justin Timberlake single. “It mentions sunshine once.”

“I’ll grant you, that’s a fun sounding song. But it’ll remind people of Michael Jackson and ultimately make them despondent. It’s too soon.”

“But he’s been dead for five years,” the gardener pipes in

“Yeah but it’s only been six months since they published the police reports of his little cherub pornography stash. I’m sick of these glum anthems. I want songs about the beach, rubbing some sun tan-lotion on a curvy girl’s back, picnics in the park. Just enjoying the outdoors.”

“This is Arizona,” counters the tree trimmer. “Everyone is enjoying air-conditioning.  No one picnics in the park.”

“Pascal, that’s because there are no songs about picnicking in the park or taking a walk to suggest such jollity! Used to be Top 40 would always mark  the passing of the seasons. There’d be songs about Mom timed for mother’s day. Songs about snow when it was winter. I just want a goddamned song I can paddleboast to.”

“Maybe,” says Natalie, “you can get No Volcano to write a vacation song, like, those guys have kids. If they had a song called “Are We There Yet?” it might do real well with station wagon owners.”

“I already thought of that. Their album isn’t due till the fall. But I hipped them to this theory about acknowledging the seasons and they’re gonna have plenty of songs about jack-o-lanterns and foliage.And one about the Pilgrims.”

Globbit sifts unhappily through a pile of CDs. “What about this one?” he ask before cuing up a track by Serene Dominic called “If Tallulah Were Mine.”

“I can see paddle boating to this. It’s lazy and hazy. But goodtimey. Like jugband music.”

The interns suddenly perk up , thinking that the meeting could devolve into a session of binge drinking on the company’s dime.”

“There’s even a jug being hit on it, it says here. OK, let’s make that one Single of The Weekend next. See if we can change someone’s mind about summer music. It shouldn’t be glum and bummer. It should be…”

1627“Lazy and hazy,” everyone dutifully mumbled back after Globbit writes those very words on the erase board.

“Like ‘In The Summertime,'” says the gardener, singing the 1970 summer hit with a Venezuelan accent.

Just then Globbit turns to Annette from the art department. “See what you can do about sprucing up Serene’s look. He looks like an evil Donald Pleasance when he’s not smiling. Male him look fun. Give him a Mungo Jerry hair makeover.”

When the girls roll their eyes,  he knew what it felt like to be the oldest living thing in the room.

“If Tallulah Was Mine” is avai;able for streaming and name your price at onusrecords.bandcamp.com

This article was written by Tim Melwatt of the Arrowhead Community Ledger.

How Don “The Phantom” Glasser discovered The Dee Cups

 

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Don “The Phantom” Glasser

Not much is known about Onus Records house producer Don Glasser. Some say he earned the nickname “The Phantom” for his ability to vanish at a moment’s notice, usually whenever it’s time to pay the lunch delivery boy.

Some say it’s because he continually fudges his background so no one knows if he is really a Boston blueblood who went to Harvard or a kid from Brooklyn who shelled blue blood horseshoe crabs at Lenny’s House of Steak and Shells at Coney Island. But everyone agrees on one thing- he’s a guy who’s hiding something. Something probably no one else cares about.

Says Onus Records CEO Tommy Globbit, “A lot of people mistake Don’s aloofness for malevolence. But really, all it masks is his inherent cheapness.The guy’s tighter than a condom from the small man’s shop.  I will admit however, seeing him try to split a dinner check five ways is pretty frightening. Otherwise, the guy’s a declawed pussycat. His leather jacket is made of vinyl and he doesn’t want you to know that he didn’t know that when he bought it.”

dcups.jpgAt one time people compared him to Phil Spector but in a good way. Now even as he tries to distance himself from his idol/convicted murderer, his love of mystery and castanets manifests itself within this dense and murky reworking of  Serene Dominic’s “I Am The Perpetrator, sung by three gals from  Brookline College  studying to be a paralegals. He claims the only reason he approached them at the Surly Wench in Tucson in the first place was to get them to stop with the chattering.

“Really I went up to them because they wouldn’t quit blabbering but the more i listened to them I realized  that they were blabbering in harmony.  Mitzy was way up here,  Bitzy (Verna) was somewhere in the middle and Dee (Aldeena) was way down low, but passionate. That’s when I remembered something I’d heard Tommy Globbit say a million times. “If I could only find a white girl who could sing like a congested black man,  I think we could sell a million.”

After some wrangling over  possible name for the group (Dee was really hot for Dee and the Deetonas for some reason),  they settled on The Dee Cups in honor of their producer and to placate Dee and her rapidly swelling ego.

Says Globbit, “I gotta be careful how I phrase this because of the whole Roger Ales thing, but when  Don said he was bring a couple of Dee Cups into the studio, I was expecting something else.”

Glasser applies his “Shag Rug of Sound” approach to this first-ever Dee Cups  track, throwing overdriven Hammond organ, twelve string guitar, claves, castanets, Fender Rhodes and acoustic guitars into the deep pile foundation hoping some of it will creep up. But it’s Dee who comes out on top, especially with her spoken word passage, which speaks for us all of us with a secret in our hearts:

“I’m so afraid of failure
I hate the shape of my head
I can’t live up to papa
The pressure is immense….”

You can download the song for free or pay what you want to contribute to our non-profit label by visiting onusrecords.bandcamp.com.

 

Sha-Pink release new song and video for “United For Pulse”

On Saturday, July 23rd, 2016, from 2 pm to midnight, Stacy’s on Melrose in Phoenix, AZ held a live streaming benefit for “United for Pulse.” As part of that streaming event,  synth-pop duo Sha-Pink premiered a new song and video in solidarity with the victims and the heroes of last month’s tragic massacre at the Orlando niteclub Pulse.

Onus Records is proud to present “We’ve Got Your Back Now (Extended Club Mix)” as its latest Single of the Weekend and  its accompanying video.

shapink pulse copy.jpgSha-Pink preface the video with this statement:

“Of all the horrific images that saturated the media on the night of the Pulse Nightclub attack, the most compelling to us were those of the brave people who returned to the club to help others to safety during an active shooter situation.

It was an in-the-moment affirmation that there are more good people than bad, and that when faced with adversity, the best of humanity will shine through.

That positive action inspired this song. We believe the entire community can carry it forward.”

The single is free to download at onusrecords.bandcamp.com and from Sha-Pink’s own website .

If you wish to donate to United For Pulse’s gofundme campaign, please click here.