Sunday, October 23, 2011

Sunday Night Schmalz: A Taste of Honey

Remember Herb Alpert doing his early-sixties signature song "A Taste of Honey"? It's the hit track from the album showing a model covered in "whipped cream" with a seductive look on her face, and it's a sort of cliche of swinging sixties pre-rock bachelor pad music. Well now forget about that. Here's a version of that song from Andy Bey and the Bey Sisters, the singing group that launched the career of the amazing honey-voiced singer Andy Bey, who is quite still around. Recorded in 1964, this version slows the tempo way down and takes the song from the height of the party to late night at the bar. What is in other hands almost cloyingly perky is transformed into something else altogether. All of a sudden it's introspective melancholia, the perfect accompaniment to a neat glass of booze, some dim lights, and, like tonight, a chilly evening with dark streets that may or may not lead you to where you expect them to.

I didn't know it before looking it up for this entry, but it's originally from a 1960 Broadway show and was also popularized by... The Beatles. When I was younger I didn't get this kind of slow, bittersweetly lush vocal music. But as a middle-aged gay man this stuff seems to get right under my skin.

"I will return...
I'll come back for the honey and you."


  1. Schmalz you say?'s great, I think I've figured out why I fell in love to much during those years - it was the music.

  2. What a great sound! I've never heard a version quite like this one. I can't do it any better justice than your description.

    I take it that since you've just heard the Beatles' version that you're not a Beatles fanatic. I've heard them since I was a preschooler (I had an older brother who bought all their records) and they have always been a favorite of mine. Their version of this song was the first I ever heard. They also did a very respectable version of "Till There Was You". It is no conincidence that Paul McCartney, the Beatle most frequently accused of being schmalzy, sang lead on both. (Although it was John Lennon who sang "Mr. Moonlight", the schmalziest cover tune the Beatles ever performed.)

  3. @Annie...I missed the slow-dance generation. Was that you?

    @MrBill, I did grow up with the Beatles, but somehow I only wound up liking only their mid/late period. I'm gonna have to track their version of this down.

    Andy & The Bey Sisters did some great arrangements of standards. Their two albums are on a twofer CD; I imagine it's gotta be in download land somewhere. He still deconstructs standards somewhat like they did, and though I love his solo voice, it's a different experience than their amazing harmonies.

  4. Ah yes, the slow dance generation. All we needed was a dark corner of the gym........... I don't think we ever moved more than four or five inches. But we did mix it up with the rock 'n roll - whole lotta shaking going on... lol

    Nice memories.