Thursday, 24 January 2008

Honey Bane "Girl On The Run" (from the "You Can Be You" EP, Crass Records, 1980)

Lord only knows why, but I've been listening to some slightly disturbing tunes over the last week or so. It's that little frisson of pleasure that you get, from hearing something which simultaneously excites and somewhat appalls you at the same time. It's the sort of feeling you get when listening to "Hamburger Lady" by TG ......

See what I mean?
Anyway, there's that, there's another song called "Highschool Massacre", which is about Columbine (and is actually quite heartbreaking) and there's this little gem from Honey Bane. It's got that perfect mix of anger and sweetness, a sense of longing and love, underpinned by the breathless chase from evil, the unseen menace that stalks the subject of the song: as she descends further into desperation, the evil gets closer; you can almost feel it's breath on her back. Of course, all of this would probably be nothing without Crass providing the backing
track (it's credited to "Donna & The Kebabs", with delicious irony, for perhaps the most high-profile group of Anarcho-Vegetarians of the punk years). Crass were masters of the sinister, adept in churning out uneasy waltzes of confusion and paranoia: driven by Penny Rimbauds strict drumming, and overlaid with waves of scratchy, twitching, fuzzed-out punk anger.
Yet this single also displays something of a tender side to Crass: at its heart it's a pure pop song: from the "Boredom" riff, with its two-note semaphore, to the clever little guitar chords, floating over the time signature; this is a consummate piece of pop brilliance. But, it was never seen as such, and probably never will be. It still places a chill in my heart though: it's Honey's detachment, her matter-of-fact vocal sneer, it's the vicious treble wash of the guitars, it's that horrific flushing noise at the end of the track, as the song seems to vanish into some sort of vortex of unfeeling savagery, it's still quite the most wonderful mix of sweet and savage.
Honey Bane had an upbringing which added extra gravitas to this single, and seemed to be on the run from pretty much everything when it was released. She had previously voiced the Fatal Microbes single "Violence Grows", and a homage to it, "Porno Grows", appears on the other side of this single. Her talents would be temporarily, and unsuccessfully channeled into trying to be a bona fide pop star after this, as Jimmy Pursey produced a couple of her singles for Regal/Zonophone, which tickled the lower reaches of the charts. However, you always got the feeling Honey was slightly uncomfortable with the whole thing, and she vanished from the sight of the mainstream, to enjoy a lower, but more creatively enriching profile, from that day to this. She's still very much with us, and her myspace can be found here.
And, as a final footnote: how great was it to have "pay no more than..." on the single sleeve? It simultaneoulsy makes a statement of intent, and also freezes that single to a moment in time: remember when singles cost 65p? That's what I payed for this when it came out, and it was worth every single one of those sixty-five pennies. Enjoy.

Honey Bane "Girl On The Run" (mp3)

1 comment:

kingdeath said...

Thanks for this post, read about this blog on Honey's page, I had the ep when it first came out!