Have I the Right?
|"Have I the Right"|
|Single by The Honeycombs|
|B-side||"Please Don't Pretend Again" (Meek/Lawrence)|
|Released||June 1964 (UK)|
|Recorded||RGM Sound: 1964|
|Label||Pye Records 7N15664 (UK)
Interphon Records IN-7705 (USA)
|Writer(s)||Ken Howard, Alan Blaikley|
|Producer||Joe Meek (R.G.M. Sound)|
|The Honeycombs singles chronology|
"Have I the Right" was The Honeycombs' début single and biggest hit. It was composed by Ken Howard and Alan Blaikley, who had made contact with The Honeycombs, a London-based group, then playing under the name of The Sheratons, in the Mildmay Tavern in the Balls Pond Road in Islington, where they played a date. Howard and Blaikley were impressed by the group's vocalist, Dennis D'Ell and the fact that they had a girl drummer, Ann (‘Honey’) Lantree. The group were looking for material to play for an audition with record producer Joe Meek, and they played the songs Howard and Blaikley had just given them. Meek decided to record one of them, "Have I the Right", there and then. Meek himself provided the B-side, "Please Don’t Pretend Again".
Recording of the song
Meek used his apartment at 304 Holloway Road, Islington as a recording studio. Three UK #1 hits were produced there: "Johnny Remember Me" by John Leyton, "Telstar" by The Tornados and the last of them, "Have I the Right".
Conspicuous in "Have I the Right" is the prominent part of the drums that carry the song. Their effect was enhanced by making the members of the group stamp their feet on the wooden stairs to the studio. Meek recorded the sound with five microphones he had fixed to the banisters with bicycle clips. For the finishing touch someone beat a tambourine directly onto a microphone. The recording was somewhat sped up, reportedly to the singer’s (Dennis D'Ell) grief, who regretted that he could not reproduce this sound on stage.
"Have I the Right" was presented by Meek to several major labels, who turned it down. It was released in June 1964 on the Pye record label (Pye 7N 15664). Louis Benjamin (1922–1994), Pye’s later chairman, rechristened the group The Honeycombs, a pun on the drummer’s name and her job as a hairdresser's assistant. The single’s sales started slowly, but by the end of July the record started to climb in the UK Singles Chart. At the end of August the record reached #1. Outside the UK "Have I the Right?" was a big success too. The song became #1 in Australia, Canada and Sweden. In the US the record reached #5 and in the Netherlands #2. "Have I the Right?" sold worldwide about two million copies within a year.
In July 1965 the British music magazine NME reported that it had been agreed in the London High Court that "Have I The Right" was the work of Howard and Blaikley. Composer Geoff Goddard agreed to drop allegations that he, and not they, had written the song. Goddard had been Meek's principal song-writer, but the two had fallen out. He claimed that the song was adapted from his earlier song "Give Me The Chance", but was too shy to testify in court.
The Honeycombs also recorded a German version of the song: "Hab ich das Recht?" (Deutsche Vogue, DV 14210). Both the English and the German version reached #21 in the German charts: the English one in October, the German one in November 1964. The German version was recorded without the group’s stamping their feet on the stairs and without speeding up. On the other hand one line was left out, so the German version is shorter than the English one after all. The effect of speeding up can be measured by comparing the B-sides: "Du sollst nicht traurig sein" is 20 seconds longer than its English counterpart "Please Don’t Pretend Again".
"Have I The Right" was covered by Petula Clark on her 1965 album, The International Hits. The song was also covered in 1977 by The Dead End Kids. Their version peaked at number six in the UK pop charts. The song was covered by the Dead Kennedys on the 1979 live album, Live At The Deaf Club. Other artists to cover the song include Les Fradkin, Casper & the Cookies, Vampire Weekend and Miki Lamarr.
|German Singles Chart||21|
|Irish Singles Chart||3|
|UK Singles Chart||1|
|US Billboard Hot 100||5|
Notes and references
- The Honeycombs at allmusic.com
- About Joe Meek and his hits
- "Please don’t pretend again" is credited to ‘Meek & Lawrence’. Lawrence was one of Meek’s aliases.
- Roberts, David (2001). British Hit Singles (14th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 36. ISBN 0-85156-156-X.
- New Musical Express, "Lifelines of the Chart Toppers: The Honeycombs", August 28, 1964, p. 9.
- Survey of 1964 hits
- Survey of #1 hits in Sweden
- Survey of 1964 hits in the Netherlands
- Tobler, John (1992). NME Rock 'N' Roll Years (1st ed.). London: Reed International Books Ltd. p. 148. CN 5585.
- About the German versions of Joe Meek’s productions, a.o. "Hab ich das Recht?"
"Do Wah Diddy Diddy" by Manfred Mann
|UK number-one single
27 August 1964
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