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Show Business Giants -
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Show Business Giants

Show Business Giants

Show Business Giants

The Show Business Giants began life as a collaborative in-joke between ex-Neo Steve Bailey and failed restauranteur Tom Holliston. Combining acerbic wit and chord changes much too complicated for "The Five-Fingered Ones", as they referred to their fellow-Victorians, they wrote songs about jerks and disease, with only one criterion: if Bailey had to stop rehearsal in the midst of a new work's unfolding to facilitate, they knew they were "on to something." Read more on
The Show Business Giants began life as a collaborative in-joke between ex-Neo Steve Bailey and failed restauranteur Tom Holliston. Combining acerbic wit and chord changes much too complicated for "The Five-Fingered Ones", as they referred to their fellow-Victorians, they wrote songs about jerks and disease, with only one criterion: if Bailey had to stop rehearsal in the midst of a new work's unfolding to facilitate, they knew they were "on to something." Conscripting to their ranks mandolin player Scott Hendersomething of skatepunks Shovlhed, they recorded their first cassette, Gold Love at Hendersomething's Dollhouse Studios. The tape was outsold in its first quarter only by Suicidal Tendencies and the amazing Neil Diamond. One of the songs, "My Girlfriend's A Robot", was later a big hit for SBG hometown coevals, puck-rockers The Hanson Brothers. For their second foray into the recording milieu, the boys were joined by Gulf Island cable TV personality Tom Holliston, and many hungry vagrants.

Expectations were high from press and fans alike after Gold Love's stellar chart performance, and pressure from the record company, Incentive, to duplicate the success of that collection's smash single, "Papa's Got Some Brand-New Lederhosen", was felt by the songwriters. A source close to the group described the atmosphere in the studio as "tense." Hendersomething, who was also engineering the sessions, was now smoking fifteen packs of cigarettes a day, while Bailey had visibly lost weight and was occasionally seen to kick the studio mascot, Imru The Dog, when he thought no one was looking. The Benevolent Horn was finally released in 1990 to mixed reviews and disappointing sales. Despite respectable airplay for the single, "Harbinger Of Love", the record was soon forgotten by the public and Bailey quit in disgust, vowing he would never accept money for playing music again. Bassist Marcus Pollard, who had experienced difficulty adjusting to the new drum-laden arrangements, was the next to go. The two remaining Show Business Giants dealt with this Brobdignagian setback setback with stoic resolution (resolute stoicism??) Rather than walllow in their misfortune they released an EP, Facts About The Troy Ounce, and set off across the world on a grueling eight-month tour accompanied by hired musicians who performed behind a drape.

Among these was apple-cheeked Tom Holliston, one-time cobbler-emeritus of the Southern-Aleutian Mung People, as well as the husband and wife team of Craig and Jennye Vishek, whose Vishek-Brand stilts concern was sufficiently prosperous as to allow them time to experiment with alternative lifestyles. This lineup formed the core of the group appearing on The Show Business Giants' next tape, I Thought It Was A Fig. Fig showcased a tighter, more menacing sound than its predecessor partly due to the streamlined production style of ex-NoMeansNo drummer John Wright, and the infusion of longtime friend to the group, Tom Holliston, who once remarked to bassist Andy Err, "Jargon is for jackanapes, whereas argot is for auteurs." Overall, the record was better received than the previous offering, and the 12" single "Let's Fill The World Up With Little Babies" was packing North American dance floors coast to coast. By all appeanances, Show Biz had successfully shaken the sophomore hoodoo that drove The Benevolent Horn underground. A ribald video for the second single "Fistful O' 'Luudes" passed into regular rotation on all major video networks and another extensive tour was about to get underway (sans-drape!) when bassist Err announced that he and drummer Ken Kempster (also of Shovlhed) were leaving the fold to form a combo of their own which they intended to call "Danzig." This was too much for keyboardist Gary Field who retired from public life to knit canvases for an artists' retreat in Djibouti. Momentum had been severely disrupted and morale was low. The rest of 1992 was veery quiet for the group.

They contributed to compilations such as the Blobs series on Way-Out! Records and a collection of French renditions of Mel Torme's music entitled The Velvet Frog, but live appearances were few. Relief came in the person of Tom "The Butcher" Holliston, a former trip-wire salesman with the history of the Big Beat tattooed on the back of his left hand. The new material he brought to the group inspired the others, and John Wright was brought on board to produce and drum on what everyone involved was sure would be "The Big One". The mood in the studio was joyous and enthusiastic. "The Butcher" would often lead the band through takes rocking back and forth on his heels, snapping his fingers or beating on the back of an acoustic guitar shouting "Yeah!" or "Go!" or "Alright now!" or "Moiety!" Sometimes he would smile and hum along with his eyes shut.

Clarinetist David P. Smith credited the easy-going feel of the sessions with ceasing the nocturnal teeth-grinding that had plagued him since childhood, and making his feet grow two shoe sizes. Sadly, it was to be the last record with vocalist Ford Pier, who, alone amongst The Show Business Giants didn't have a good time. "That Holliston's all wet," he was heard to carp, and, "Why do they call him 'The Butcher?' He's not a real butcher!" His departure shocked close associates who knew him to be wholly devoted to the band, and had everyone wondering what he would do with his time, as he had been in the group since the age of nine and had no other skills or interests.

Generally, it was agreed that his own bumptiousness was to blame: The Butcher's natural avuncularity had made him feel patronized and he felt inadequate faced with the older man's vastly superior songwriting talent. Consumed with jealousy, he slunk off into the night, never to be seen by anybody anywhere ever again. The Show Business Giants had no time for long faces. It was a new year, a new band, a new record label (Wrong Records), and the new CD was out. To unequivocal hands-down raves, Maybe It's Just Me hit the shelves in July of 1993.

"Crosswords" was instantly recognizable as the new theme tune for no fewer than three separate programs on CBC Radio, "Marvellous" was sung before football games, "I'm A Square" was used in a highly successful ad campaign for Mr. Pibb soda, and "The Story Of P." was adopted as the national anthem of Australia. Scott Hendersomething had to buy a new shelf for all the awards, and John Wright purchased a boat, which he lovingly named "Little Bear". It's colored blue. The details of The Show Business Giants' comings and goings since the breakthrough release of Maybe It's Just Me have been front page news across the globe, and the accodades and honours flung their way are far too numerous to set down in detail.

Suffice it to say that 1995 finds the group still at the top of the heap with a new John Wright-produced album all set to be unleashed on an eager and impatient world. Let's Have A Talk With The Dead features eighteen raging performances from a new pared-down lineup consisting of Hendersomething, Wright, "Hoppy" Joachim Stone, Lobster Legmeat, and newcomer Tom Hollliston (formerly of Jr. Gone Wild, Roots Roundup, and Tankhog) with soulful contributions from Carolyn Mark of The Vinaigrettes, and the mysterious Hugh Jarms. Consisting of live favourites like "Big In Real Estate", "The Other Side Of Mr. Sulu" and "Clams For Dinner 2-Nite! OK!" alongside more textured studioscapes like "Fireball XL-5", "Clams For Breakfast! Mm-Baby!" and a moving rendition of Lee Hazelwood's "Sugartown", the new record is sure to please both longtime fans and curious neophytes.

Complete with an eye-catching sleeve by former lifeguard and sometime Show Business Giant Roy Green, it's a rare bargain at any price. The future? Scott Hendersomething has this to say: "We've always got something on the go. We can't sit still. That's not us. We're going to get around to finishing the What's Under The Meatpaste trilogy...finally! That's been a long time coming.

Then there's this limited-edition of 300 000 CD box sets that we're doing which has us very excited. They're all going to be shaped like refigerators, you see, and each CD will be inside a jewel case shaped like something you'd likely find in a 'fridge. Capers, for example. Eggs, gelatin desserts, baking soda, things of this nature.

I won't tell you what the single's going to be, but itll be the one that falls out of the door when you open it! "There's also this on-again, off-again proposal for us to visit a low-orbit solar reflector as ambassadors of the Marubis - I guess they liked "I Can't Get Russell Johnson Off My Mind", eh? (laughs) I know that would thrill our bodyguard, Sen. He's always dreamt of visiting outer space! "As for me, I've got a solo album coming out on Incentive called Honcho With A Paunch-O, and a new daughter to enjoy. I may go back to phrenology, which is really my first love. I always felt pressured into music." For an instant, Hendersomething looks distant and sighs. "Well, what can I say? It keeps chlorine in the pool!" Ford Pier with W.

Buzz Ryan, Oct 1995 Read more on User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply..
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