A new CD dropped through my letterbox, and it's one I've been waiting a long time for. "It's A Baneful Life" is finally with us, BUT you're gonna have to be quick to grab a copy since they're selling out quickly. It's been made possible thanks purely to Honey's determination, ideals and her fans as she raised the money to press this herself by initiating a campaign on her very own website. Honey is very active on Twitter and Facebook hence she was able to generate much interest via that route as opposed to going someplace like Kickstarter. To finally have this CD in my hands and playing through my hi-fi, it goes without saying it's a magic moment for me and it also speaks volumes about Honey's own ideals and ethics that this has finally happened.
Honey is a unique lady - a true individual who stays true to herself. She's had one hell of a journey through life and "It's A Baneful Life" is her first ever anthology rounding up almost all of her recorded output since 1979 and ending in 2015 and that in itself has been a curious journey for Honey.
So... who is Honey Bane? She's a singer/songwriter who at the age of 14 in 1978 wrote a poem called "Violence Grows" which revealed she had a genuine and compelling way with words as she outlined the bleakness and futility of the times. She was part of the original punk movement and knew many of it's main figures. In 1979, she became part of The Fatal Microbes who issued just one single where "Violence Grows" was transformed into a song and for a debut, it's a remarkable moody stark and bold statement that remains so relevant to this day that Honey has updated the song as "Violence Grew" - both versions appropriately bookend this CD.
1980 saw her collaborate with Crass for a one off EP which contained the lead track the much loved and memorable "Girl On The Run" about Honey's own exploits fighting to stand independent. Not long after this, EMI Records signed her up. They had a vision of making her into a pop star whereas Honey had her own ideas as to how to go about this and unfortunately, EMI's vision for Honey clashed violently since they had signed Honey promising her total freedom and control but of course, EMI began calling the shots and trying to boss her around and if there's one person you do NOT boss about, it's Honey Bane.
The first EMI single "Turn Me On, Turn Me Off" was produced by Jimmy Pursey the ex-Sham 69 lead singer and it was a very catchy and endearing pop/New Wave hybrid that won Honey a spot on "Top Of The Pops" and combined with some other TV appearances and EMI's promotion, it reached number 37 in the charts which promised to be a good start for Honey's solo career and then... it quickly crashed and burned as EMI's motives became clearer and Honey rebelled against them. There were a few more singles most of which are featured here (a notable omission is her cover of The Supremes' "Baby Love" which for me was her nadir - a yucky piece of squeaky synthpop fluff) and they proved that Honey had a great way with words and had a genuine pop sensibility since some of these songs are rather catchy. Unfortunately, none matched the success of "Turn Me On, Turn Me Off" and after two more attempts in 1983, Honey and EMI parted company. Meanwhile, Honey had gotten into acting and she can be seen as Molly in the movie "Scrubbers" but her acting career, along with her musical career seemed to come to an end and all fell silent for the next twenty years as Honey busied herself raising her own family.
It's interesting to hear all these singles again, collected in one place, mostly in chronological order for they do reveal that Honey Bane ended up being a "lost" talent, one that could and should had been a star of the 1980's and it's a shame she was denied the opportunity to follow her own vision for listening to the music, one can't help but wonder what might had been. I, for one never heard of her at the time and I know for a fact had I heard "Turn Me On, Turn Me Off" back in January 1981 (whilst we were all mourning the loss of John Lennon) I would had LOVED it. Instead, I had to wait till 1995 when UK Gold repeated a whole load of 1980's editions of "Top Of The Pops" and one show was the edition Honey appeared on. It immediately grabbed my attention... she looked GREAT and the song sounded odd and quirky but very catchy. Thankfully I taped it and almost wore the videotape out just watching Honey's performance over and over, showing it to everyone I knew to try and draw attention to this great record they'd either missed out on, or had forgotten.
It became a bit of an obsession. These were the days before eBay so hunting down a copy of the disc meant having to trawl round record fairs and it took me nearly two years to find one! Again, I played it to death and sought out her other work. At this time, the internet was only just starting to stir into life and at that time trying to find ANY information on Honey was practically impossible so trying to find her other singles proved to be a lengthy slog. There was an interesting and fond mention of her in Boy George's autobiography but... where was Honey now? I was blown away when I finally got my mitts on the Fatal Microbes followed by the Crass EP since they proved to me that this lady was genuinely talented and rather original with it. I wanted more of her music! I wanted to know what had happened to her!
In 2006, Honey suddenly appeared with an account on myspace. I contacted her there and I was thrilled to actually hear back from her and we exchanged many messages and became friends. By now I'd completed my collection of her work thanks to eBay (the 1983 singles had eluded me for years) and I'd also bought some bits of memorabilia which I shared with her and also sent her a copy of the "Top Of The Pops" performance which she had never seen before which brought back some interesting memories for her. Better still, she was planning to return to the world of music and she began recording some new material. Over the next few years, Honey was delighted to discover she had touched many people with her work and that she had a loyal fanbase keen to hear her again. She also returned to acting working with Wade Radford on some films. Now in her 40's, Honey was keen to get back to what she does best - her music and acting.
After several years she's finally ready to unleash a brand new album "Acceptance Of Existence" - I'm looking forward to receiving my copy very soon as again as with "It's A Baneful Life" it's being printed to order via her website. The new tracks which conclude this anthology are excellent - she's in great voice, much more mature but boy she has power, passion and anger aplenty and hopefully very soon we'll get the chance to see her live which will be a treat.
"It's A Baneful Life" then is an intriguing journey through the life of an intriguing lady who still has plenty to offer and say. It's a perfect starting point to get acquainted with her work and styles and when you hear some of the older singles like me, you'll be wondering why you hadn't heard them before. There's plenty to enjoy and though Honey may not had been happy with the EMI era personally - and with good reason - it holds up rather well. Anyone who enjoys punk and new wave should give Honey a listen and give her appreciation and support since she truly appreciates and deserves it.
As mentioned at the start, if you want to get "It's A Baneful Life" then you're gonna have to get your skates on and be quick since it's likely once this sells out, it may not be re-pressed or reissued. You can get it from her website - click here - or on the album cover above to pay her a visit and snap up this gem whilst you can.
(23rd October 2015)
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