Originally from Detroit and going under the name of Mama Cats, the members of this four-piece female vocal group travelled to LA in 1968, signed with Lee Hazelwood Industries and were renamed Honey Ltd. Commercially the group failed and this collection gathers together everything they recorded during their brief lifespan - the eight songs that comprised their eponymous album, a couple of b-sides and three previously unreleased songs - and it's some of the finest Sunshine Pop ever recorded.
Featuring gorgeous female vocals, the music is a blend of pop-soul-psych-baroque and many of the musical and vocal arrangements are complex and there's plenty of brass and orchestrations in addition to the drums, bass and guitar (courtesy of the legendary Wrecking Crew session musicians). However, the highlight of Honey Ltd's sound is their spectacular sun-kissed vocal harmonies that elevate this music to another level.
The songs are predominately originals and there's a reworking of 'Louie, Louie' and also a cover of Laura Nyro's 'Eli's Coming'. Album opener 'The Warrior' is an anti-Vietnam war song with caustic "We must kill more people; strong men are what we need" lyrics. Overall the sound is mostly upbeat with songs about love lost and won with some mellow moments and there's not a single bad song to be found here.
Following the departure of one of the members, the remaining trio released an album under the name of 'Eve' on the LHI label in 1970 and again it was a failure. Reduced to a footnote in pop history, this fine compilation should go some way to re-addressing the balance and will hopefully introduce the music of Honey Ltd to a new audience. 4½ stars and recommended.
on 31 October 2015
Lee Hazlewood Industries was responsible for some of the best uncommercial commercial music of the late '60s, meaning that it had all the ingredients to be hugely successful sales-wise, but none of it was. Whether he worked with film stars, future stars, should-have-been stars or even on his own albums, in stark contrast to his work with Nancy Sinatra and regardless of the undoubted quality of most of the releases, Lee Hazlewood just could not have a hit with any of the psych-pop/country-pop LHI produced.
No band epitomised this more than Honey Ltd, and the sole album they released, included here with a handful of bonus tracks, is perhaps one of the top girl group albums there is.
Despite the crystal clear production, harmonies deserving of their name, and targeting the teen market - you even get an attractive pink Honey Ltd sticker which you may/may not wish to adorn your laptop with - they never veer into schmaltz or cheese, that trap that renders many such albums by some of the more successful vocal groups of the time a little frustrating. Silk and Honey and Tomorrow Your Heart are intricately constructed many-hued ballads, not a million miles away from Some Velvet Morning, that you could imagine hearing at the top of a late '60s top 40, but the quality never drops on the other album tracks, with memorable melodies driven along by strong upbeat rhythms and a stronger attitude.
on 15 February 2016
Looking for music to rival the very best in sunshine harmonies from the likes of The Collage, Roger Nicholas & Friends, Harpers Bizarre or The Comfortable Chair?
These are complex vocal harmonies entwined in beautiful string arrangement and production. So why anyone in their right mind would only release these songs in one dimensional mono format .. when stereo masters exist, is beyond my comprehension?
Mono sounds dull, mono is not cool! :/