Friday, 6 February 2009

The Yarmouth Honeys

I’ve always had great respect for people who have the talent to write songs. I think that songwriting is an admirable trade and one that is not always as easy as it looks. It also seems to be the case that songs attributed to one particular writer are often ‘flavoured’ by the input of the rest of the band by a form of musical osmosis. This is identifiable as the unique ‘sound’ of any particular band.

My view on what is rather an academic subject was underlined recently when I received the latest batch of songs from my brother, a long time amateur musician (see pic). As a songwriter and bass player, he has recently compiled a new working band around him and currently hits the pubs and clubs of Norfolk (his current location) and Hertfordshire (the family seat) as the ‘Yarmouth Honeys’ playing his back catalogue of songs, a range of rock and pop in classic 1970s stylee. Some years back, he gave me some demos of songs he had written and recorded himself at home and many of these songs now turn up on the new CD, but now in a band context and it is interesting how they have developed.

Although clearly recognisable as the songs originally created on the first CD, the input of the other members of the band has moved them into a much improved musical setting. Not to put too fine a point on it, the superior vocals of the Honey’s regular singer have added drama and cohesion to the melody lines and the various personal styles of the drummer and guitarist have buffed up the musical arrangement and subtly altered the interpretation to a point where a good song has blossomed into a much better one.

It is the combination of talents that make a good band and it is the reason why we grieve when a member of our favourite outfits leaves and is replaced by an equally competent, yet different sounding member; the sound of the band after such a swap is never quite the same. Whether the band continues to succeed depends on whether the new combination creates a better or worse sound.

Everyone notices the difference between singing voices and no-one would say David Coverdale sounded like Ian Gillan when he replaced him in Deep Purple, yet other musicians are not always perceived in the same way. Drummers are often the least regarded in a band yet the difference between Yes with Bill Bruford and Yes with Alan White is quite marked. Similarly, bass players do not always get the kudos they deserve but I’m guessing most people would’ve noticed Jack Bruce’s absence from Cream?

In any event, getting the right balance is the key to elevating your songwriting so I wish The Yarmouth Honeys all the best in their endeavours. Listen to some of their stuff on drummer Gavin Smith’s website! My current favs are the moody '100 Horses' and the drive-time 'Over the Border'.

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