While listening to my Honeybus greatest hits collection and battling writer’s block for the umpteenth time my memory sparked on something interesting: the little-known and heretofore ignored connection between Rockpile and the should-have-been legendary Honeybus.
Being the music freaks I know you are I have no doubt you know about Rockpile and it’s members Nick Lowe, Dave Edmunds, Billy Bremner and Terry Williams and are fans of both the band and the individual careers of the members. Now, if you need refreshing on all that, just peruse earlier editions of this blog and you will find a few tidbits of info included therein.
The Honeybus, on the other hand, I have never written about before even though I have become a big fan since picking up an obscure comp a few years ago.
The ‘Bus never really got the fame they deserved, having only one hit in England in 1968 called ‘I Can’t Let Maggie Go’ (which was a brilliant albeit radical slice of Brit-pop) and then breaking up soon afterward. Both the group and its’ fans knew the band was ahead of its’ time and the main cogs of the band, vocalist Colin Hare and guitarist Pete Dello, toyed with the idea of starting it up again a few years after the band split. Their solo careers not really taking off probably played a huge part. Dello actually had left music to become a music teacher not long after their hit petered out. Groups had quick life spans in those days. One hit and out? Jeezus.
After securing money from an interested party the two creative iconoclasts decided to create two solo albums instead of a Honeybus group album. Both Hare and Dello played on each other’s albums with various members of the defunct Honeybus helping out including a guitarist who had filled in for a missing guitar player on a couple of Honeybus last few gigs: Billy Bremner, who plays on Hare’s album.
While I am going to devote seperate blogs to each of these albums because they are each brilliant in their own way and deserve to be analyzed and appreciated, in brief I would describe Hare’s album as a rootsy Band-like gem with flashes of power pop brilliance (no doubt somewhat inspired by Bremner’s economical but tasty guitar licks) and Dello’s album to be a wacky psychedelic masterpiece with titles like Harry The Earwig and Uptight Basil (to give you an idea of how “out there” it is). Though okay as a vocalist, Dello’s tenuous vocal style adds just a little more weirdness to the proceedings as you are never quite sure if he will be able to hold on to the melody or not.
Both of these albums have recently been reissued on CD by Hanky Panky Records (www.hankypankyrecords.com) with a whack of bonus tracks added to each. While I am partial to Hare’s because of Hare’s excellent vocals and Bremner’s excitingly brilliant guitar playing, Dello’s is quite a treat as well and both are worth picking up if you are into a fanciful look at 60’s psychedelic pop and country. Or, if you are interested in checking out a member of Rockpile long before he started playing for the best roots rock/pub rock band ever.
Your choice. I’ve made mine. Got them both and you should too.
Who’s Harry the Earwig?
The Music Nerd Knows……..