Growing up in the 1970s, my love of the 1960s pop scene was fuelled by my mother’s collection of 45rpm singles from the previous decade. Among the many favourites that became repeat favourites was The Honeycombs 1964 foot-stomper, Have I The Right? A track that would gain even more prominence to myself as a Doctor Who fan when I discovered the actor Tom Baker borrowed the title as inspiration for a line questioning whether the Doctor should avert the creation of the evil Daleks in the 1975 serial, Genesis of The Daleks.
Doctor Who connections aside, Have I the Right? Has become one of the most often returned to for inclusion on 60s compilation albums. My mother would frequently praise The Honeycombs for having a female drummer, Honey Lantree. Another pioneering asset was the song’s raw electric sound, created by independent record producer Joe Meek at his studio flat above a leather product shop in London’s Holloway Road.
Shooting to the number one spot in summer 1964, Have I The Right? with vocals by Dennis D’ell spearheaded a brief spell of chart success in the UK for The Honeycombs. The North Londoners would continue to endure over the following three years, with further success abroad. There were several other recordings, including two albums, The Honeycombs (1964) and All Systems Go (1965). RPMs new release, Have I The Right? – The Complete 60s Albums & Singles brings together both these releases a rare US single; I Can’t Stop as well as German and Japanese releases.
The pleasing thing about Have I The Right? – The Complete 60s Albums & Singles is that the release showcases the bands talents beyond their most famous hit. Although group founder, Martin Murray reveals in an interview that producer Joe Meek did a lot of extra production to get the Honeycombs sound perfected on record, it appears from the bands later live recordings in Tokyo they have no issue reprising a similar upbeat style (the truer sound of Have I The Right? exists on the singles German release – also included here) .
As for production, Joe Meek and The Honeycombs weren’t afraid to experiment with their sound or repertoire. While early tracks such as Please Don’t Pretend Again and Just A Face In The Crowd have the workings to the culminative success of Have I The Right?, The Honeycombs duet, the ballad That’s The Way, sung by lead vocalist Dennis D’ell and drummer Honey Lantree wouldn’t have sounded out of place sung by Bing Crosby and Grace Kelly, it was however punctuated with the signature Honeycombs beat. Other tracks also feature hints of gospel, pop and rock instrumentals over the release’ three discs, making interesting listening are the bands versions of the Bond theme, Goldfinger and a cover of Elvis’ Santa Claus Is Back in Town
Topped off with an informative booklet featuring several rare images compiled and written by Paul Moy, the triple album set not only serves as the definitive Honeycombs release for their 60s output but also a timely tribute to their producer, Joe Meek.
With the passing of my mother over the Christmas season, I have now been reunited with her original copy of Have I The Right? That along with this fabulous collection of Honeycombs tracks will no doubt make treasured listening into the years to come.