Collector's Choice is one of my favorite labels. Their mail-order catalogs have been piling up on my bathroom floor for several years and have rescued several employers from untold calls-in-sick by giving me a kickstart off the pot and into the shower on groggy mornings. And when it comes to soothing your existential troubles, the Honeys are a band among bands. Artificial dolls from their white patent shoes to their beehived curls, they demonstrate not a one of the unique qualities that flourish under God's smiley-faced sun. For they can in fact claim no talent as their own. They are not beautys. They are not musicians. They are not good songwriters. They are not good singers. They are not impresarios, svengalis, or masterminds. And they seem bred to display the grace of twaddling ducks.
Nepotism, as a matter of fact, brought the band into existence. While trying to get shows on the local amateur circuit, the blond in the group sucked up to a hanger-on of the biggest band on the west coast (Gary Usher, roommate to Dennis Wilson). They were duly introduced to Brian Wilson, who named them, picked one for his girlfriend (Marilyn, the one who spilled a milkshake on him), and began dabbling with them in the studio as a way of emulating Phil Spector. Wilson pitched the idea of his group to the band's A&R guy, & the label bit and promised to issue 2 singles. Henceforth the girls got demo work, helped on backing vocals for other projects, and scored an occasional further release. To this day, they are remembered sheerly because Wilson wrote, co-wrote, and produced most of their songs.
But you can be sure that Wilson was looking to make fries 'n a milkshake out of these girls, not a burger. Because as far as Beach Boys standards go, the resulting records exhibit rushed, muddy production and flat, strained singing. Although for some reason, the varieties of echo-drenched percussion were always given extreme attention. The real debate begins however, because Honeys' lyrics seem crafted expressly for the retarded. Best-loved titles, for example, include 'Surfin' Down the Swanee River', 'Oly Oxen Free Free Free', 'Pray for Surf', and 'From Jimmy with Tears'. Analyzing the levels of self-awareness (or lack thereof) here could qualify you for a master's in psychology.
This most recent collection has a few tracks to especially recommend it (Glen Campbell's 'Guess I'm Dumb' is a great song that's been overlooked too often). Unfortunately, it also includes a couple klinkers ugly enough to ruin the entire experience for you (early 80s attempts at disco like 'Running Away From Love').
Maybe those later tracks are necessary though. Because believe it or not, these things are exactly what people love about the Honeys. Their epiphany is one that shines through a glass darkly. And once you're clear on what the Honey's can't do, can you discover the populism in their pop. There's a peculiar kind of humanity when such white, suburban naivete collides with Los Angeles record hustling. If nothing else, the Honeys are proof that a fountain of sleaze is hidden even in the souls of the innocent and the dull.
So every time I wake up on the toilet wishing I'd never been born, and I want reassurance that there's some justice in the world, I know that God isn't torturing me personally. I know because I've heard records like the ones made by the Honeys. I'd recommend you hear 'em too.