ARTIST: THE BEES
ALBUM: SUNSHINE HIT ME
LABEL (YEAR): WE LOVE YOU (2002)
FOR FANS OF: SMOKEY ROBINSON, THE SMALL FACES, THE CORAL, DEVENDRA BANHART
Words by Theo Kotz
The Bees have been around for some time, always straddling the space between the big-time and the unknown. They’ve never really reflected any kind of scene, or been followers of the mainstream. Saying that, the use of some of their tunes in TV ads, along with support slots with Oasis and Madness meant they were hardly underground either. I remember getting Free The Bees (the follow up to this one) for Christmas at age 13 from my cousin whose music I respected. It didn’t sound like a new album – I thought it was some obscure curiosity I could impress my mates with. No-one had heard of it, but a couple of weeks later I saw it knocked down to a couple of quid in HMV.
The point of all this is it’s hard to know how to place The Bees, which is fitting, because they aren’t limited to anything really. This first album was the work of Paul Butler and Aaron Fletcher in Butler’s parents' shed (before touring commitments meant they had to assemble a bigger crew). Both multi-instrumentalists who are obsessed with music, the result is a record with influences as wide as the Solent. Seriously, there’s so much going on here: afro-tinged bells, psychedelic blasts, gorgeously warm soul harmonies, sugar-cane-sweet love songs, ethereal jazz workouts, homespun comedy, that-cover-tune-off-that-advert-that-is-just-a-fuckin-heater, leather-trousers-tight funk, melt in the mouth R&B, beautiful tumbling pianos and an organ sound that never ceases to slap a ridiculous grin on my face.
It’s like getting a mix CD (back when people used to do that) from a friend whose music you love, which I suppose I kind of did that Christmas in 2004. Big up Bex.
(NB: Free The Bees is also class)