The latest release in the label’s Lee Hazlewood Archive Series, The Complete LHI Recordings brings together the complete LHI Records output (1968-1969) of the girl group produced by Hazlewood and Mike Post, and arranged by Ian Fairbairn-Smith and Jack Nitzsche. The 13-track anthology is available now.
Laura Polkinghorne, Marsha Jo Temmer and sisters Joan and Alexandra Silwin first raised their voices in song at Detroit’s Wayne State University. Joan and Alexander had sung in church choirs since they were children, while Polkinghorne and Temmer met in junior high school and had performed together in local talent shows. As The Mama Cats, the quartet came to the attention of Bob Seger’s manager Punch Andrews, and soon, they were playing clubs alongside the young Glenn Frey. The Mama Cats and the future Eagle were even drafted to contribute backing vocals to Seger’s “Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man” and “Heavy Music.” Seger, in turn, wrote the Mama Cats’ single of “My Boy” and “Miss You.”
In 1967, like so many before them, The Mama Cats headed to Los Angeles in search of fame and fortune. Their first meeting was with one Barton Lee Hazlewood, then riding high from his Reprise Records production work with Nancy Sinatra and her famous pop. His LHI label signed the group, rechristening them the far groovier Honey Ltd. and introducing them to the Hollywood pop elite. Though the busy Hazlewood didn’t write any of Honey Ltd.’s material, his signing led to the release of the single “Tomorrow Your Heart” b/w “Come Down” and to appearances on television alongside Andy Williams, Joey Bishop and Ed Sullivan.
After the jump: what will you find on Honey Ltd.: The Complete LHI Recordings?
“Tomorrow Your Heart” - with its dreamy, sunshine pop harmonies - and “Come Down” found a spot on the group’s eight-song pop-psych debut LP, primarily written by Polkinghorne and Temmer. Laura’s pointed anti-war song “The Warrior” opened the album, setting the tone for an album which balanced airy pop harmonies with a surprisingly potent rock edge. Hazlewood produced the set, emphasizing the group’s sparkling four-part harmonies arranged by the members. Jack Nitzsche even stopped by to Hollywood’s United Recorders studio to arrange and conduct an offbeat version of the garage staple “Louie, Louie." Numerous members of the L.A. Wrecking Crew played on the album, including James Burton, Al Casey and Mike Deasy on guitar, Mike Melvoin and Don Randi on keyboards, Carol Kaye, Lyle Ritz and Chuck Berghofer on bass, Bill Pitman on guitar and bass, and Jim Gordon on drums. For Nitzsche’s unusually brassy take on “Louie, Louie,” Ry Cooder appeared on guitar.
Light in the Attic’s reissue of the self-titled album is housed in a digipak with OBI-style strip. It adds a handful of tracks recorded subsequent to the LP (covers of Laura Nyro’s “Eli’s Coming” and the folk-pop standard “Silver Threads and Golden Needles,” issued as singles, and the previously unissued outtake “I’m So Glad”) plus two backing tracks, for “Love, the Devil” and “Not for Me.” The entire set has been remastered by John Baldwin, and LITA has included a lavishly illustrated 32-page booklet with liner notes from Jessica Hundley and reminiscences from all four members of Honey Ltd. and LHI’s Tom Thacker, who logged hours in the studio with them. (One of the many fun photographs shows Honey Ltd. on a bill at Caesars Palace’s Circus Maximus showroom supporting Eddie Fisher!)
All four women continued to pursue careers in the music business following the break-up of Honey, Ltd. Temmer, Polkinghorne and Joan Silwin soldiered on at LHI under the name Eve for a 1970 album, and Temmer – after marrying and divorcing Thacker – sang backup for Tina Turner and remarried to Turner’s bassist. Alex (briefly) became Mrs. J.D. Souther, and she and Joan Silwin formed another band called Bijoux. Today, the sisters still sing together as Like Honey. Joan also toured with Loretta Lynn, and married onetime LHI artist Michael Glasser. Laura, too, has toured as a singer with Bob Seger, Kid Rock and The Black Crowes.
Honey Ltd.: The Complete LHI Recordings, filled with the hip sounds of “Silk ‘n Honey,” can be ordered now at the links below!
- The Warrior
- No, You Are
- I’ve Got Your Man
- Silk ‘n Honey
- For Your Mind
- Come Down
- Louie, Louie
- Tomorrow Your Heart
- Eli’s Coming
- Silver Threads and Golden Needles
- I’m So Glad
- Love, The Devil (Backing Track)
- Not for Me
Tracks 1-8 from Honey, Ltd., LHI Records LP 12002, 1968
Track 9 from LHI single LHI-3, 1969
Track 10 from LHI single LHI-12, 1969
Tracks 11-13 previously unreleased