Angel Air Records (label)
11 March 2016 (released)
14 March 2016
If the address 304 Holloway Road is unfamiliar to you then perhaps you shouldn’t call yourself a music fan… that is, shall we say, if you are over 50 or 60 even. This was where famed producer Joe ‘Telstar’ Meek had his Islington studio above a shop, and THE HONEYCOMBS were one of a number of bands that Meek was responsible for putting on the map.
The Honeycombs were a rather short-lived outfit formed by Martin Murray back in 1963, and had one mega, foot-stomping hit in '64 with 'Have I The Right'. After a couple of years Murray left and formed another band. Some forty odd years later reformed The Honeycombs, obviously with a different line up including himself on guitars/vox, Linda Hall on lead vox, Zak Skjerdal on lead vox, guitars and keys, Mik West on guitars and keys, Ant Atkins on bass, and Allan ‘The Boy’ Gifford on drums (replacing the one and only Honey Lantree).
This album then is homage to those much missed halcyon days and one can only think Joe would have been happy with this tribute. A feel good factor wrings throughout and it is most definitely one for the 60's buff. A much less troubled time it was then (or so it would seem) preceding the summer of love. It would be fair to say the album is steeped in nostalgia and even if that were the case...so what!
The album kicks off with the catchy and oh so innocent ‘Leslie Anne’ and Mr. Meek is almost immediately invoked with that ethereal synth. We can get rocking with the second track ‘Mary Jo’ – altogether bolder but definitely not edgy (by rock n roll standards). Mind you, it’s a great little number and once can well imagine the late Alvin Stardust’s take on it – just why does the chorus remind me so much of ‘My Coo Ca Choo’? There’s a lot of easy-going guitar twangs in ‘Bring Your Heart With You’ while the hopelessly dated yet still energetic ‘It’s Crazy But I Can’t Stop’ has a country-feel ringing through.
‘That’s The Way’ in contrast sounds more ‘jazzed up’ and slick and Linda Hall, with her 60’s pop music voice, is perfect casting in the lead vocals department. Plenty of special key effects during ‘Love In Tokyo’ – it even sounds Far Eastern in that glorious kitsch kind of way, at least the keys do. The band’s greatest hit ‘Have I The Right?’ rolls along with considerable slower pace than the original and remains that pace throughout. It’s pretty and the arrangement is incredibly well executed (melodious guitar solos et al) though one can’t help looking upon it as an anti-climax compared with the snappier original.
Totally at odds with all the other tracks stands the hauntingly beautiful ‘Without You It’s Night’ – its dreamy and folky tune reminds me of one of my all-time favorite songs – ‘Forever Autumn’ from the War Of The Worlds soundtrack. Simply stunning, and I wish there were more songs like ‘Without You…’ on the album.
But hey, instead we have a Meek instrumental with ‘Totem Pole 9’ on the album – it’s the theme tune to 80’s BBC drama ‘Howard’s Way’ and yep, it’s the Meek sound through and through! Closing track is the feel-good ‘Too Way Out’ – more 50’s rockabilly than 60’s pop. Love the keys and choppy riffs on that. Now well into his seventies, Murray still sounds good vocally and there was never any doubt about his proficiency as a guitar player.
Get this album as a birthday pressie for your granddad - but give it a go first and put your troubles aside for a brief while.