This is one of those albums that's a bit hard to talk about--similar to the first few albums by the Free Design--who were a close harmony style group. When it was released Honey Ltd. (sisters Joan and Alexandra (Sandy) Sliwin, Laura Polkinghome, Marsha Jo Temmer) was pretty much the antithesis of rock'n'roll. They appeared on (among others) The Andy Williams (which I remember seeing with my parents), and had that soft, pop sound that only our parents could like. Me--well I just turned up my nose and thought this isn't "real" music. Plus--look at them--they were dressed in pseudo-hip bright outfits and had smiles a mile wide and had that scrubbed clean look. And the songs--hmmm. But that was then.
But now, with the help of time, this album (in mono) is now a good example of that pop/vaguely psyche sound many people find enjoyable--including me. Leave it to Lee Hazlewood to find something good and market it in his inimitable fashion. The four girls harmonies are really wonderful, the arrangements are typically good for this style of music-with musicians like James Burton on guitar, Don Randi-keyboards, Jim Gordon-drums, Carol Kaye-bass, and a whole host of other Wrecking Crew alumni and others loosely tied to them. Even Ry Cooder plays on a Jack Nitzsche produced (and played keyboards) track.
The songs--and here I have to differ somewhat from most people--I found to be better than I expected--even though "Louie Louie" is a bit of a stretch. True, some tunes are better suited to the group than others. But overall their lush, rich harmonizing covers over any weaker songs--at times their harmonies and vocalizations are ethereal. And the backing is never less than professional, and sometimes great. I even like the extra tracks that have been added to the album's original eight tracks--Laura Nyro's "Eli's Coming" is all shiny and upbeat, Likewise "Silver Threads And Golden Needles". Even bluesman Skip James' "I'm So Glad" (popularized by Cream) is alright--not that it could hold a candle ( dig that 2 second fuzzed up guitar solo!) to the original, or even Cream's version. The two backing track instrumentals are okay but nothing to get excited about.
The group admit they were involved in the anti-war movement of the day, and their anti-war song, "The Warrior" is another one of those "thought provoking" songs so prevalent at the time. But (for me) the best anti-war song from that period was "Draft Morning" by The Byrds--I could relate--I was staring at possibly being drafted. But that's another story. But I have to say that going overseas with Bob Hope (who first saw and liked the group on TV) to entertain the troops is a pretty interesting turn of events. In the booklet (that tells the musical life of the group) there's a photo of Hope and two members of the group visiting a wounded soldier in a hospital--so hats off to them for doing that.
So is this worth purchasing? If you're a fan/collector of 60's pop--yes. If you're not or have a passing interest, it's still worth hearing. The group's fine harmonizing that sounds so rich and mellifluous, and seems to breathe some sunshine into whatever they sing, makes this worth hearing. Is it something that you'll play over and over again? Probably not. But when you feel like something light, innocent sounding, and perky (and that's a compliment) this will fit the bill nicely. Check it out--it's better than you probably think.
Honey Ltd. is reminiscent of The Free Design--a two brothers/one (and then two) sister singing group--that made several (with the advent of time passed) now pretty good sounding albums from the late 60's/early 70's. Their close harmonizing is really quite good, and the group always used top-notch session musicians--including a number of well known jazz players. Check out the albums "Kites Are Fun", "You Could Be Born Again", "Heaven/Earth", and "Stars/Time/Bubbles/Love" for some beautiful singing that only comes from blood related singers. The albums have been reissued on the Light In The Attic label with extra tracks.
The booklet has a nice overview of the group, along with some period photos (plus a recent photo of the group), along with some "Back To School Tips By Honey, Ltd." for all the girls from way back when. There's track-by-track information listing all the musicians, but the font is perhaps the smallest I've ever encountered in a CD booklet--I have great close-up vision and I had some difficulties in reading the credits. But all in all this is a nice presentation of what was (at least for a time) popular music. You really should give this a listen sometime soon. You also get a "Honey Ltd." pink sticker--cool.