In the mid-1980s I went on a real Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazlewood kick and I amassed a pretty good collection of Nancy and Lee-related stuff. (I even acquired a 6 sq ft reproduction of the Nancy in London album cover, which I still own and was, until quite recently, hanging in our kitchen).
Something that I knew about, but was never able to actually lay my hands on in any of my ruthlessly efficient record store haunts back then was the LHI Records (LHI stood for “Lee Hazlewood Industries”) release by Honey Ltd., a quartet of gorgeous Michigan-based co-eds who met at Wayne State University and headed west to Los Angeles seeking fame and fortune. The group’s original name was The Mama Cats, and in my imagination, they sounded like the Mamas sans the Papas, especially considering the likelihood of the same studio musicians, the infamous Wrecking Crew, backing Hazlewood’s girl group as well.
I can’t say that snagging a copy of the rare Honey Ltd. album on LHI Records was some kind of holy grail for me—I’d never heard it, I just knew what they looked like—but at one time I kept an active eye out for it. I had long forgotten about them until I was looking up Lee Hazlewood-related videos the other day on YouTube and lo and behold, there were some Honey Ltd. videos. Not only that, but one of the more recent comments mentioned that the fine people at the mighty Light in the Attic record label had put out a lovingly curated Honey Ltd. package, The Complete LHI Recordings.
L-R Alexandra Sliwin, Joan Sliwin, Marsha Jo Temmer and Laura Polkinghorne
If the idea of a Lee Hazlewood-produced girl group sounds like it might be a good thing to you, may I suggest acquiring this divinely luminous album of candy-colored sun-drenched Southern California pop vocal harmonies posthaste. It won’t disappoint, but you will feel disappointed that this is all there is. With all of their talent, looks and the PR machinery behind them, Honey Ltd. never made it, and soon found themselves demoted to a Vegas opening act. Their sadly stunted legacy included just eleven completed tracks, a few TV appearances and a 1968 Bob Hope USO tour.
When member Alexandra Sliwin left the group in 1969 to marry singer-songwriter J.D. Souther, Honey Ltd. dissolved and the other three carried on as the country-rock group, Eve.
Sample the sweet-sounding delights of Honey Ltd.
The dark anti-war number “The Warrior” has lyrics like “We must kill more people; strong men are what we need!” and “It’s good.” Something tells me that they probably didn’t sing this particular song during their USO tours with Bob Hope!
“Silk N’ Honey”
“For Your Mind”
A positively astounding version of Laura Nyro’s “Eli’s Coming”
This cover of “Louie, Louie,” with horns arranged by Jack Nitzsche, should be absurd, but it’s fucking brilliant.
“Come Down” on The Jerry Lewis Show in 1968. This is really outstanding. What a pity they broke up after one album.
Honey Ltd. performing Cream’s “I’m So Glad” for GIs at the Phu Cat Air Base in Vietnam during a Bob Hope USO show in 1968.