Honeybeat – Groovy 60s Girl Pop

Star Trek’s Lt. Uhuru and Aretha’s sister are just two surprises waiting for you in this excellent collection of lost gems

The early days of rock n’ roll were dominated by guys, while the girl-led music was viewed as merely “cute” and “throwaway pop.”  Over time though, the ladies’ contributions have been reassessed.  Now, girl group fans are some of the most rabid in all of popular music.  Honeybeat – Groovy 60’s Girl-Pop, just released from Real Gone Music, uncovers 19 obscure tracks which add to the canon of this much-revered sub-genre.

Many fans are drawn to the incredible depth of girl pop; the ladies had the freedom to express more complex emotions. So, you get the confident “I’m Gonna Destroy That Boy” from The What Four, alongside the pleading “You’re My Loving Baby” from The Sweet Things (which features Francene Hurd, later the “Peaches” in Peaches and Herb).

Plus, most girl group songs were handled by the best songwriters, musicians and producers in the business.  Van McCoy (known for his #1 hit, “The Hustle”) produced the aforementioned Sweet Things’ track, while Fame Studios ace Rick Hall tracked the gritty “Sweet Hunk of Misery” from Linda Carr.  Bob Crewe, who guided the early success of the Four Seasons, had high hopes for Tracey Dey, represented here with “Hangin’ on to My Baby,” another track that amazingly was not a hit.

Aretha’s sister, Erma Franklin, delivers one of the finest moments on the disc with  “I Don’t Want No Mama’s Boy,” while April Young turns in a perfect Phil Spector copy in “Gonna Make Him My Baby.”

Other highlights include the bratty chorus of “nah nah nah” on The Lollipop’s track “Don’t Monkey With Me,” and the hopelessly-dated hip talk of Clevelander Andrea Carroll’s “Gee Dad.”

There are some familiar names here too.  Little Eva, who hit with the original version of “The Locomotion,” does an unique take on “Stand By Me,” produced by the same guys who did “Hang on Sloopy,” while Skeeter Davis presents the only bona fide hit of the bunch with “I Can’t Stay Mad at You.”  Then, there’s Nichelle Nichols, known for her role as Lieutenant Uhuru on the original Star Trek TV show, here doing the Peggy Lee nugget “Why Don’t You Do Right?”

As an added bonus, the disc closes with the previously unreleased “Talk That Sweet Talk” from Dorothy Jones, a never-before-heard Gerry Goffin/Carole King composition.

The accompanying CD booklet features some fine detective work from DJ and Girl Group devotee Sheila Burgel; tracking down unknown artists from 50 years ago is no easy feat, but she manages to give background on every song included.

The biggest surprise of Honeybeat: Groovy 60’s Girl-Pop is the overall high quality – every one of these tracks is fantastic and worth of taking a place in girl pop history.  Let’s hope we see a volume two real soon. —Tony Peters