top on my list of music to mildly obsess over this week is the honeycombs – a 60s beat group with a rare example (certainly at that time) of a female drummer. the delightful honey lantree – whose brother john was the bassist in the band – hopped from hair salon assistant to the holloway road studio of independent music production lej joe meek when her boyfriend guitarist martin murray decided to form the band. pretty cool…
they are best known for super-60s pop stomp ‘have i the right’ which is all sorts of amaze and was number one in the uk charts in 1964. i read somewhere that the distinctive drumming was enhanced by actual stamping on the stairs of joe meek’s studio, recorded by microphones connected to the bannisters by bicycle clips.
the honeycombs teeter along the fine line dividing sixties suave and ‘little bit gay man’ with their beautiful matching tailored suits and sharp demi-quiffs – appaz, guitarist martin murray was a hairdresser before forming the band which could explain their well-informed sense of style. perhaps.
by taking her beehive onto every young person’s black and white tv screen and no doubt inspiring a plethora of impressionable young girls to join bands, honey lantree gets hero status. she also has a prrroper london accent and remains amazingly fashion conscious, sporting a sharp royal blue box-shouldered jacket in an interview where she talks about working with joe meek.
although 50 years on the band are still performing, honey took the graceful path, retired early and is no longer drumming. she is probably now someone’s very cool nan…
i bought a ‘best of’ the honeycombs album last week and despite being dubbed one-hit wonders it’s surprisingly good. highlight alongside ‘have i the right’ has to be the slightly sinister ‘eyes’, which seems to be all about eyeing up people in bars (or maybe just full-on stalking) – great lyrics, and of course, superb drumming:
Lady Gaga‘s festive freakshow rolls into London’s O2 Arena for two days entertaining girls, geeks, gays and even a few family units. The singer hops from Karen O-style studded leather jackets to Madonna-inspired breast cones complete with live fireworks, taking just over two hours to perform eighteen songs.
Most popular music cynics make an exception for Gaga whose brand of surrealist-shock chic has both enamoured and bonded an army of odd-balls, using collective appreciation of wacky hats and haircuts, pork product dresses and gender obscurity but perhaps most importantly, the love of a truly great pop song. And Lady Gaga well and truly proves her pop credentials tonight by firing out crowd pleasing treats such as ‘Bad Romance’, ‘Let’s Dance’ and ‘Poker Face’, mobilising the assembled devotees at this opening night show. Despite carting her crazy array of costumes and charisma around the globe for more than 150 dates (The Monster Ball tour began way back in November 2009) the Lady displays no sign of weariness as she grabs the O2 by the balls and entertains.
With only one full length album released she necessarily deploys a hefty dose of chat to fill her arena slot but cleverly mixes pensive life stories with filthy monologues and queasy videos to create a theatrical grand gesture. This is no ordinary gig. There’s a touch of Tim Burton to the sets and the audience anticipate the next costume choice as much as they do the next hit to be played from Gaga’s ‘The Fame Monster’ LP. Revelling in her position as pied piper for the socially awkward she sports a succession of oversized capes, leopard print leotards and boxy dresses as she looks out at glammed-up O2 Arena audience who have ‘got their Gaga on’ by wearing all manner of wigs, weird sunglasses and OTT dresses. On the odd occasion when she’s not hiding behind masks, monsters and costumes, and relies solely on her voice to grab attention, she proves to be a delicate human being, just like everyone else. And it is this rare flash of reality that keeps Gaga close enough to the ground to make her relevant. Seated at a piano she gives a haunting performance of album track ‘Speechless’ giving a glimpse of the inner Gaga and proving that she can sing and play her instruments, too.
‘Alejandro’ gets the full performance package with boy dancers kissing, but it is the perfect pop of ‘Poker Face’ which commands the loudest roar of approval. For ‘Paparrazi’ she fights with a giant monster, getting floored before rising from the bowels of the stage with fireworks exploding from her cone-shaped breast plates. Lady Gaga has already inspired a generation and the endless energy and enthusiasm of her performance means that no one goes home feeling short-changed by their trip to the Monster Ball tonight. Despite the incredible sets, wild hairstyles and provocative fashion, underneath it all is a genuine musical talent and a girl with a very relevant story to tell.
isn’t she just wonderful? not least because her real name is actually SHARON, and being wise enough to know that a name like sharon wouldn’t sell records – even in the 1960s – she created jackie dee shannon, as a non gender specific nom-de-song (pretty forward thinking of her, no?).
i would have gone for jackie-shaz, personally, but each to their own. anyway, dee shannon soon became deshannon and this wee blond rock star hit the stage, singing all manner of treats including dirtyconverse favourites, ‘when you walk in the room’ and ‘needles and pins’.
the searchers borrowed both of these gems and made them more famous in the uk, and they were well cool. badge of approval.
AND, after the beatles toured with her (well, she toured with them) they wrote a song called ‘ticket to ride’, which if you listen to the opening guitar riff, could sound less like ‘when you walk in the room’:
jackie-shaz also co-wrote the subtly theatrical ‘bette davis eyes’ which was immortalised in beautiful 80s techni-colour surround sound synth by kim carnes in 1983. and she hung out with eddie cochran, swoon. pure…love…her.
and so, it was to my delight to note that one of my NFBs, tennis have covered a jackie-shaz track. this wee cover is ACERS. cannae wait to go see them play live in london on jan 7 @ the lexington.