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Harmony-drenched Sunshine Pop
on 20 July 2013
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.