ONES “SHORT DRESS / TIGHTROPE” 7″ (MILWAUKEE, WI- BLUE RIBBON RECORDS, 1979)
I happened upon some information the other day about the band, and I am pretty psyched! Finally, after years of knowing virtually nothing about the band!
Here is a bigger, clearer scan of the A-side labels. The labels are
signed by bass player Ric Haines in the lower right-hand corner. I am
not sure what the letters “NG” refer to, though, because no one in the
band had those initials. The above picture also shows that “Short Dress”
was written by second guitar player George Mengel; the single was
produced by the band (always good to see!) as well as some guy named Marty
Wiedmyer; the label number is BRR 115 (which means the Blue Ribbon label had
a number of releases before this one); and the engineer was some guy named
Michael Boel… (sorry, but I cannot make out his entire last name).
Here is a video grab of the band (when they were still The Ozones) playing “Tightrope”
at- I shit you not- a United Cerebral Palsy Telethon (!?) in Milwaukee. See the telephone operators in the background? Kinda surreal. I think only in a city with such a great music
scene in the 70’s like Milwaukee would you see a punk-ish band playing LOUD at a live telethon. I’d love to hear the backstory on this one! Singer and lead guitarist Clancy Carroll is on the far left with the very late 70’s outfit of long sleeve, button-up red shirt, skinny black tie, straight leg black pants and matching red Chuck Taylors on his feet.
Here is a closeup of singer Clancy Carroll from the Telethon performance.
Unfortunately, I know next to nothing about The Ones. I wrote that 2 years ago in my original post, but now I know that…
The band members were:
Clancy Carroll- Vocals and Lead Guitar
Ric Haines- Bass
Jim Lynch- Drums
George Mengel- Rhythm Guitar
The band started their life as The Ozones but discovered that there was another band with that name (anyone ever heard of ’em?) so, at some point in 1979, they changed their name to The Ones and released their single.
I am not sure when The Ones broke up, or what the circumstances were that led to it, but singer and lead guitarist Clancy Carroll was in a bunch of other bands afterwards like The Dominoes, The Clancy Carroll Band, 3 on Fire and C2. He also had a label, Splunge Communications, which in late 2001 put out the GREAT History In Three Chords: Milwaukee Alternative Bands 1973-1982 double CD (with Haskels, Lubricants, Buck Bryon and The Little Seizures, Die Kreuzen and Sacred Order among others). It went through severl pressing and is now out of print but you can get it here. He was being modest (a trait common among us Midwesterners- I get it!) and did NOT include The Ones on the comp, though (!). Had he, the world would have been reintroduced to them about 4 years they were booted on the great Staring Down The Barrel comp in 2005.
In any event, Clancy Carroll has a MySpace page which has streams of The Ones, as well as his post-Ones projects. The MySpace page also has a vintage pic of The Ones, perhaps when they were The Ozones, where they all had long hair and appear to be posing in a snow-covered backyard in the Milwaukee area (gotta love those long Wisconsin winters!). He also has a picture of him and Joe Strummer posting together in 1984 which is pretty cool looking.
PUNK N’ ROLL SERIES, VOLUME 1
What I DO know is that “Tightrope” is one of my favorite punk n’ roll songs of all time. It’s a very tense number, which is always a good thing with me. And the underlying tension does not slowly build up throughout the song but rather lasts from the first guitar strum right down to its abrupt ending. Very nice! The singer sounds all stressed out and the guitar noodling is great, especially during the breaks when it has this sort of “ping ponging” effect goin on. Great guitar solo too. Actually, the whole band- including the drummer and bass player- are a pretty tight unit on this 7″ and just fucking nailed it on “Tightrope”.
The first time I- and probably many others- first heard “Tightrope” is when it was a standout track on 2005’s mostly-good Staring Down The Barrel comp LP (new copies of which are still pretty widely available). According to the brief liner notes, The Ones won a Battle of The Bands competition in Wisconsin (the Milwaukee area, I assume) and the “prize” was having this sleeveless 7″ released. I assume this info came from old fanzine/newspaper mention somewhere (where?!). If the band played “Tightrope” during the competition then I can clearly understand how they won. If you know anything else about this competition- or ANYTHING about The Ones- leave a comment. Because, like The Mel, The Ones also suffer from having an “un-Googleable” band name. Type “Ones Short Dress Tight Rope” into Google and you’ll also see that a bunch of horseshit pops into the search results.
I have pieced together a scant amount of information that I stumbled upon about the label who put out this 7″, Blue Ribbon. It was run by a guy named Jon Hall who, in the late 60’s and early 70’s, ran another small, local label out of nearby Thiensville, WI called Teen Town (how 60’s sounding is that?!). So perhaps Mr. Hall organized the Battle of The Bands that The Ones were victorious at, maybe as a way to help promote his Blue Ribbon label (?). I just love the name “Blue Ribbon” because it draws up images of Milwaukee-based Pabst Blue Ribbon beer which has been the preferred beer of underage teenagers and budget-minded adults for generations. You also have to love the label logo; for me, it conjures up images of a Wisconsin State Fair and someone named Mrs. Wisniewski proudly displaying the blue ribbon she won for her homemade apple pie during the big bake off competition. By the way, if you have never visited a Midwestern state fair in Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin or another nearby state fucking do it and you’ll have a good, non-ironic time if you allow yourself to.
Oh yeah, back
to the music- “Tightrope” is the best track on this two-sider and follows the KBD rule of “Best song resides on the B side”. The A-side, “Short Dress” does not grab me the same way but it’s a decent punk n’ roll track, perhaps leaning more towards the “rock” side of things a bit too much for me. It took me a few listens to get into it- I guess I wanted it to sound exactly like “Tightrope” but it’s NOT a horrible flipside totally detached and musically unrelated to the other song.**
Thanks to blog commenter John for the straight-from-original-vinyl rips of this 7″!
Punk n’ roll is a genre I greatly enjoy when done the RIGHT way, meaning that it seamlessly mixes punk and rock and rides the “tightrope”, if you will, between the two genres. Because if punk n’ roll leans too much on the rock side of things then it loses some of its flavor. There’s a fair amount of great, memorable punk n’ roll tunes scattered through American punk for me. Probably the best example is the Nervous Eaters’ Just Head 7″. Boston also churned out The Tracks Breaks On You 7″ which is quite a whomper for 1977 American punk. See also stuff like Scraps’ “Strike Three” for good punk n’ roll, that time mixed with a little pop (gasp!).
And others which I am not remembering right now at 4 in the morning. Here’s some more- Portland’s Cleaversput out “The Playboy” 7″ with its infamous, reactionary B-side in 1980. And let’s not forget the Corpsicles’ great Big Doings 7″ from 1982 New York. That one has a particularly driving A-side that makes me rank it as second best punk n’ roll record behind the “Just Head” 7″.
** For the “horrible flipside” phenomena, there are too many examples sadly enough. See Cowboys’ Supermarket (bad reggae-ish flipside to their great teen anthem “Teenage Life”); Sick and Lame’s “I Laugh At Dead Dogs” (fall-flat-on-your-face flip to the snotty classic “Ate Days A Week”); Jonstrom’s Inte vanda mig om (atrocious hippie crap flip to the stomper “P3”); and many others. I didn’t mention the flipside of Freestone’s Bummer Bitch 7″ because “Bummer Bitch” was a fake punk song to begin with- perhaps the best one ever- and fake punk is another thing altogether to discuss; just not at this time.