7 September 2008

The Honeycombs - Eyes



Label: Pye
Year of Release: 1964


In terms of Joe Meek productions, there are endless examples one could pluck out of thin air to include on a blog like this one - including works such as "I Hear a New World" which seems to have become more famous and more talked about in the last ten years than in the 35 years following its release. By now, with a stageplay of the producer's life out on the streets and a film starring Rhys Ifans supposedly in the pipeline, an introduction to Meek seems unnecessary. If you've never heard of him, there are shedloads of books and websites out there (and a whole box set) that will tell you about his work, and if you have, me giving you a quick rundown of all the established facts about his methods isn't going to enhance your appreciation one jot. For one thing, it feels like far too complicated a story to effectively condense into one paragraph, and bullet points would be far too insulting.

One argument that Meek obsessives love to throw out to the rest of the world is that he was "ahead of his time", however, and this is one of the tracks which regularly gets pulled before the jury. The Honeycombs' flop third single "Eyes" is, to say the least, extremely melodramatic, unpredictable and peculiar sounding for 1964. The combination of pattering drums, pinging guitars and teeth-clenching vocals sound much more like the kind of ideas late sixties rockers like the Beacon Street Union would have thrown around towards the tail end of the decade, and even they would fail to chart with them.

Lyrically as well, rumours persist that this song is actually about seeking homosexual companions in gay bars. It's not explicit enough in its content to really call a bluff or otherwise on that claim, but if true, it certainly wouldn't be the last time Meek gave the subject matter a spin.

Conversations are also regulary had about whether The Honeycombs are an underappreciated sixties band - in truth, I add them to this blog with a feeling of slight reluctance, since they managed a number one hit with "Have I The Right?" (therefore finishing about 50 places higher than many superior bands in the latter half of the decade) and managed a small string of minor hits afterwards. However, there is something to be said for the fact that "Have I The Right?" is one of the better beat singles of the sixties, certainly more exhilirating than The Beatles earliest output, and tracks like "Eyes" do prove that the band could be tremendously forward-thinking. Lest you scoff and say that it was all down to Meek, it's also worth remembering that the band have frequently insisted that they created most of their arrangements, not him - which makes this quite an interesting piece of work in all, even though their overall back catalogue can be patchy.

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