Jun 3, 2009
HONEYBUS - STORY (DERAM 1969) Jap mastering cardboard sleeve + 13 bonus
Their debut single, "Delighted to See You," which was cut with the help of Roulettes members Bob Henrit and Russ Ballard, sounded more like the Beatles than anything heard in British pop/rock since the Searchers had faded from view in early 1966. The B-side, "The Breaking Up Scene," could have been the work of the Jimi Hendrix Experience or the Creation. Actually, if anything, they sounded a great deal like the Bee Gees, who had just begun establishing themselves as something more than Beatles sound-alikes -- the difference was that the Bee Gees were a performing band as well as a top-notch studio outfit, fully capable of doing (and willing to do) most of their output on-stage Then Honeybus hit with their third release, "I Can`t Let Maggie Go," in March of 1968, which rode the British Top 50 for three months and peaked at number eight. One of the most fondly remembered examples of psychedelic pop/rock to come out of England in 1967, with a richly textured, reed-dominated arrangement (with a bassoon very prominent and a break played on oboes and clarinets) and a pleasant McCartney-esque lead vocal surrounded by gentle high harmonies, all wrapped up in a melody that wore well on repeated listening. The record should have made the group, but instead it shattered them. All three of the songs are on this cd.
"Honeybus` sole album was recorded in 1969 and released in early 1970, by which time "I Can`t Let Maggie Go" was fading from the memory of the British public, original leader Pete Dello was long gone, and the band themselves had been inactive for months. It`s therefore not entirely representative of what the group was about. They did show themselves to be one of the few bands that could emulate the lighter and quieter sides of the 1968-69 Beatles with a degree of competence, although as is usual when the Beatles were imitated, the songs and execution were much more lightweight than what the Beatles themselves recorded. At times it sounds like Badfinger without the muscle or occasional outstanding songs that made Badfinger recall the Beatles without sounding like tepid wannabes. The Beatlesque harmonies are nice and the lyrics sometimes clever, and the arrangements are tasteful, sometimes employing substantial traces of country music and subtle orchestration.