honey honeycombs

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…

honey lantree from the honeycombs

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:

everyone loves jackie deshannon, surely?

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.

museum of bellas artes

i first heard about these swedish goddesses about a years ago. almost a year to the day, in fact – just checked when i downloaded their mp3 ‘who do you love’.

this is a cover of a song by lesser-known 60s girl group the sapphires and is pure cool. echoes and a beat that sounds like a car door shutting, over and over. who do you love. yeah. pure cool. listen, please:

download it here. and be their 509th (at the time of writing) friend on myspace.

NOW they have a new song out called ‘watch the glow’ which is just as good without being too samey. love. listen:

the car door shutting beat has turned into a paper-shuffling beatbox with a few more advanced synth noises thrown in but the echoey voices are still there. this is the sort of super-hyped slick swedish electro-pop that’s probably making robyn’s ears turn a bit red. love, love, love…

this lot are like the sapphires locked in a casio-branded box with a turntable offering unlimited record scratching opportunities. and ‘cos they’re swedish they’re instantly ultra-fash. new age fun with a vintage feel, 60s girl band in a synth – what’s not to like?

wikipedia says of the sapphires: “their sound was comparable to much of the music released on motown in the 1960s”

the sapphires

don’t let your friends say you have no taste

after the hottest disco ever – steamy windows by 10pm – we watched mermaids (click on that link, the wikipedia plot synopsis alone is laugh-out-loud hilarious). what a film. it’s love on a school bus-brilliant: winona, cher, indoor swimming, 1963, twee dresses (on winona), jimmy soul, shoop shoop and nuns.

this wee clip tells you everything you need to know about why mermaids is genius:

and what a soundtrack. for a moment, while preparing for saturday’s disco i realised i had three songs from it on my playlist. after removing ‘big girls don’t cry’, i stuck with ‘just one look’ and jimmy soul’s amazing ‘if you wanna be happy’. great tune, great lyrics, including the following pearl of wisdom:

“if you make an ugly woman your wife / you’ll be happy for the rest of your life / an ugly woman cooks her meals on time”

“don’t let your friends say you have no taste / go ahead and marry anyway / though her face is ugly, her eyes don’t match / take it from me she’s a better catch”

fact: it was written by frank guida and was billboard number one in 1963. appaz, the song is based on a calypso called ‘ugly woman’ by roaring lion (WLTM). and it joins a long line of distinguished tunes covered by kid creole and the coconuts.

might play ‘the shoop shoop song’ next time.

south carolina dreaming

south carolina looks just wonderful, if this music video by tennis is anything to go by:

vintage ladies dancing in their underwear with gratuitous feathers, viewed through a magic lantern, progressing to parrots and fireworks by the 2 min 30 climax of this enchanting apparition. if that’s what south carolina looks like then i’d like to visit. if it sounds like this too, then i’d like to go even more.

if i could bring this vision to the next dirtyconverse disco i totally would. i’m currently LOVING this song, as well as the other two on the tennis myspace page, which i’ve had on repeat for the past few hours, brightening the drizzlegrey.

best news of the day: you can freedownload ‘south carolina’ and ‘marathon’ HERE. super amaze.

unsettling news of the day: according to this interview, the owner of the band’s ghostly vocals (alaina moore), “was only allowed to listen to Christian rock and musicals growing up”.

file tennis near dum dum girls (less polished version) and besty coastyyy (less repetitive version), if you like. although as a colorado husband-wife set-up they are more like a 1960s- style girl group with a male chaperone. delightful, and wholesome. and on the playlist for saturday.