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Monday, 27 August 2012

The Honeycombs - Have I The Right

On the 27th August 1964, The Honeycombs topped the U.K. chart with "Have I the Right".





















"Have I the Right?" was The Honeycombs' debut single and biggest hit. It was composed by Ken Howard and Alan Blaikley, who had made contact with the Honeycombs, a London-based group, then playing under the name of The Sheratons, in the Mildmay Tavern in the Balls Pond Road in Islington, where they played a date. Howard and Blaikley were impressed by the group's vocalist, Dennis D'Ell and the fact that they had a girl drummer, Ann (‘Honey’) Lantree. The group were looking for material to play for an audition with record producer Joe Meek, and they played the songs Howard and Blaikley had just given them. Meek decided to record one of them, "Have I the Right?", there and then. Meek himself provided the B-side, "Please don’t pretend again".

Meek used his apartment at 304 Holloway Road, Islington as a recording studio. Three UK #1 hits were produced there: "Johnny Remember Me" by John Leyton, "Telstar" by The Tornados and the last of them, "Have I the Right?".

Conspicuous in "Have I the Right?" is the prominent part of the drums that carry the song. Their effect was enhanced by making the members of the group stamp their feet on the wooden stairs to the studio. Meek recorded the sound with five microphones he had fixed to the banisters with bicycle clips. For the finishing touch someone beat a tambourine directly onto a microphone. The recording was somewhat sped up, reportedly to the singer’s (Dennis D'Ell) grief, who regretted that he could not reproduce this sound on stage.

"Have I the Right?" was presented by Meek to several major labels, who turned it down. It was released in June 1964 on the Pye record label (Pye 7N 15664). Louis Benjamin (1922–1994), Pye’s later chairman, rechristened the group The Honeycombs, a pun on the drummer’s name and her job as a hairdresser's assistant. The single’s sales started slowly, but by the end of July the record started to climb in the UK Singles Chart. At the end of August the record reached #1. Outside the UK "Have I the Right?" was a big success too. The song became #1 in Australia, Canada and Sweden. In the US the record reached #5 and in the Netherlands #2. "Have I the Right?" sold worldwide about two million copies within a year.

The Honeycombs also recorded a German version of the song: "Hab ich das Recht?" (Deutsche Vogue, DV 14210). Both the English and the German version reached #21 in the German charts: the English one in October, the German one in November 1964. The German version was recorded without the group’s stamping their feet on the stairs and without speeding up. On the other hand one line was left out, so the German version is shorter than the English one after all. The effect of speeding up can be measured by comparing the B-sides: "Du sollst nicht traurig sein" is 20 seconds longer than its English counterpart "Please Don’t Pretend Again".

"Have I The Right?" was covered by Petula Clark on her 1965 album, The International Hits. The song was also covered in 1977 by The Dead End Kids. Their version peaked at #6 in the UK pop charts. The song was covered by the Dead Kennedys on the 1979 live album, Live At The Deaf Club and by Les Fradkin on his 2006 album Goin' Back. American indie pop act Casper & the Cookies covered the song on its 2006 EP Overly Optimistic, and Brooklyn indie-rock band Vampire Weekend included a version on its 2010 iTunes Session EP. (Info Wiki)


1 comment:

stonefish55 said...

Well you've certainly enlightened me - I didn't realize that there was so much to the story of The Honeycombs and it was damn good to hear the song again.