Our Top 10 Songs By The Honeycombs presents the best Honeycombs songs like “Have I the Right?” “Love in Tokyo” “I Can’t Stop” and more. In 1963 in London, England, the group known as The Honeycombs was founded as an amateur band by hairstylist Martin Murray, along with his assistant and her brother, Honey and John Lantree. Shortly afterward, lead singer Dennis D’Ell joined the band, as well as Peter Pye and Allan Ward. In 1964, they met a pair of aspiring songwriters, Alan Blaikley and Ken Howard. After a friendship was formed, this group of newcomers collaborated together to bring forth the recording of “Have I the Right?” which was the hit single after a successful audition with an independent record producer in London. Not only did this song become the big breakthrough hit for The Honeycombs but remains their signature hit to this date. At the time, Honey Lantree was among the few female drummers performing for a band, which added to their fan appeal, especially with the UK audience. When this song was first recorded, the band was known as the Sheratons at that time before the name was switched due to the drummer’s name and her profession.
International Success and Reformations
On an International scale, The Honeycombs had a loyal fan following in their home nation, Australia, throughout Europe, and among the Asian nations, specifically Japan. Among the European nations, The Honeycombs seemed to make the biggest impression in Sweden where they experienced more number one hits there than any other nation. Between 1964 to 1967, there were a number of lineup changes within The Honeycombs before they disbanded as a group. The first to leave was the founder of the band itself, Martin Murray, who left near the end of 1964 before D’Ell, Pye, and Ward would do the same in 1966. In their place were Colin Boyd and Rod Butler. However, on March 3, 1967, the band’s record producer, Joe Meek, committed suicide after a dispute erupted between himself and his landlady. This prompted The Honeycombs to disband as a group where some of the members pursued solo careers.
The Honeycombs Legacy
During the short period of time, The Honeycombs were together as a band, they recorded and released three studio albums. They also have six compilation albums to their credit, along with eighteen singles. They are often considered a one-hit-wonder as “Have I the Right?” was their only recording that achieved chart-topping global success. As for music fans who saw beyond this one particular hit, what they saw was a group with a world-class roster of musical talent that rightfully earned themselves a loyal fan base worldwide.
Top 10 Songs by The Honeycombs
#10 – I’ll Cry Tomorrow
Written by Joe Meek, ‘I’ll Cry Tomorrow” was a fantastic song of what seemed like true love becoming anything but that. Riddled with heartbreak, the performance of this song also featured an organ solo that is nothing shy of magnificent. When listening to this musical display of genius, it’s easy to get caught up in the lightheartedness of a song that actually had the narrator wronged by his love interest. This was on the B-side of the same record that featured the hit single “Is It Because?.”
#9 – Is It Because?
In 1964, “Is It Because?” became a moderate hit for The Honeycombs as it peaked as high as number thirty-eight on the UK Singles Chart and at number sixty-seven in Australia. This quaint love song was written by the team of Alan Blaikley and Ken Howard as aspiring songwriters who were about to enjoy a lucrative career long after The Honeycombs enjoyed their career run as a group. The lyrical tale of a romantic relationship developing between two lovers was so well performed by Dennis D’Ell as a vocalist that it’s hard not to call this an easy, celebratory-style fan favorite.
#8 – Eyes
Released as a single in 1964, “Eyes” failed to make an appearance on any of the official music charts but did become a fan favorite thanks to The Good Old Days, a UK-based television show that attracted a large, mostly UK-based audience during its run from 1953 until 1983. “Eyes,” at one point, was suggested to discuss the matter of repressed homosexuality as it was well-known at the time producer Joe Meek, and songwriters Alan Blaikley and Ken Howard, were not heterosexual. However, the dynamic duo songwriting team was inspired to write “Eyes” after observing a young couple gazing into each other’s eyes which seemed to make the song write itself out for the lyrical magnificence it is. This is a remarkably powerful song that featured D’Ell’s vocals at their best, as well as the instrumental performance by a group that has also been regarded as one of the key influences behind post-punk music.
#7 – It’s So Hard
Originally recorded as “Hard to Love You” by Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich in 1966, The Honeycombs recorded and released a cover version to this song, titling it “It’s So Hard.” This came at a time when The Honeycombs made a lineup change, along with their music style that featured a powerful stamp beat and a mix of country-style guitar and rattling tambourine. Although this single failed to chart at the time, it did become something of a favorite among the fan base who seemed to appreciate this change. Heavy with tambourine and quick beats, “It’s So Hard” could have easily become one of those The Beatles-style hits.
#6 – Something Better Beginning
Written by Ray Davies from the Kinks, “Something Better Beginning” served as a hit for The Honeycombs after a string of recordings didn’t fair out nearly as well as “Have I the Right?.” On the UK Singles Chart, it peaked at number thirty-nine after it was released in 1965. For Dennis D’Ell, he met with songwriter Ray Davies who was attempting to pen “Something Better Beginning” but was struggling with it. This song was passed to D’Ell to finish and record, which he did. It was the fourth single released by The Honeycombs, shortly before The Kinks released their own version of what became a fan favorite hit. Cabaret-style with a bit of a tango flair, “Something Better Beginning” was nothing short of fantastic as Dennis D’Ell’s vocals were once again stellar, along with the equally impressive performance by a band that definitely knew how to make a song go from ordinary to extraordinary.
#5 – That’s the Way
In 1965, the decision was made to place Honey Lantree on vocals and she was replaced as the band’s drummer. “That’s the Way” became a number twelve hit for The Honeycombs but the argument had it that if the band was able to hold their ground in an argument with Pye upon the timing of this song’s release, it could have done better. The band members felt “That’s the Way” should have been the follow-up single behind their debut hit, “Have I the Right?” as the style of these two songs were vastly different from each other. Instead, Pye pushed “Is It Because” in front of “That’s the Way” at a time when The Kinks were gaining popularity in the UK in a similar manner The Honeycombs wanted to do all along.
#4 – She’s Too Way Out
In Sweden, “She’s Too Way Out” became a number one hit for The Honeycombs after it was released as a single in 1965. It also peaked at number seven on the Official Finnish Charts. It was released for the Scandanavian audience at that time. This song was written by The Kinks’ Ray Davies and the visionary producer, Joe Meek. Performed by Dennis D’Ell as the main vocalist, this cabaret meets garage-style tune featured the narrator taken by surprise as his love interest gave him the boot after all he had done for her.
#3 – I Can’t Stop
“I Can’t Stop” was a 1964 hit single that became a number forty-eight hit on the US Billboard Hot 100, a number forty-three hit in Australia, and a number thirty-seven hit in Canada. It was not released as a single in the UK despite the fact it came from The Honeycombs’ second studio album, All Systems Go!. Written by the dynamic songwriting duo of Blaikley and Howard, “I Can’t Stop” was a lyrical confession made by the narrator and their obsession over a love interest they simply can’t keep out of their mind.
#2 – Love in Tokyo
For the Japanese audience only, “Love in Tokyo” was on the A-side of the same record that featured The Honeycombs’ instrumental version of “Goldfinger” on the B-side. Of the James Bond movie series, Goldfinger was immensely popular as Agent 007 became a cult favorite that still continues to influence moviegoers to this day. The fascination of “Love in Tokyo,” as worded in the lyrics of this song, revolves around a love interest that won over the narrator’s heart. Fast-paced and festive in style, not only did this Japanese-only single win over the romantic fan base of The Honeycombs but almost served as an anthem of sorts for the nation, which added to its overwhelming popularity there.
#1 – Have I the Right?
“Have I the Right?” was a number one hit on the UK Singles Chart and in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and Sweden. On the US Billboard Hot 100, it peaked as high as number five and it was at least a top thirty hit among the nations of Finland, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, and Norway. At the time of the recording, The Honeycombs were known as The Sheratons but underwent a name change due to their drummer, Honey Lantree, whose name and profession before becoming one of the few female drummers in rock music history made quite the impression. The recording of this song featured the play of the tambourine directly into a microphone, a dramatic finish to what became a dramatic song Dennis D’Ell admitted was not able to reproduce on stage.
Feature Photo: Eric Koch / Anefo, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons
Top 10 Songs By The Honeycombs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2022
Classicrockhistory.com claims ownership of all its original content and Intellectual property under United States Copyright laws and those of all other foreign countries. No one person, business, or organization is allowed to re-publish any of our original content anywhere on the web or in print without our permission. All photos used are either public domain creative commons photos or licensed officially from Shutterstock under license with ClassicRockHistory.com. All photo credits have been placed at the end of the article.