Chris Spence – Lead Vocals, Guitar
Steve Cox – Keyboards, Vocals
Ged Murphy – Bass, Vocals
Steve Dinsdale – Drums, Vocals
Honey Smugglers emerged on the London scene in late 1988, guided by front man Spence’s enigmatic take on life and powered by a neo-psychedelic backbeat of drums, bass and Vox Continental organ. Their pop sensibilities won them many admirers on the London gig scene, and they were courted by most of the major labels. In reality, however, they were perhaps too eccentric for mainstream consumption.
After several false starts, they were eventually signed by Fiction in the summer of 1990 and immediately recorded the classic `Listen’ E.P. The title track was totally in sync with the `baggy’ times (although more by accident than design, the track had been written nearly two years before). The Smugglers’ live set consisted of a far more varied cornucopia of pop styles than many gave them credit for (witness the B-Sides to the EP).
Following rave reviews in the music press, the band embarked on a British tour with Non Fiction label mates Eat, culminating in a spectacular sell out gig at the London Astoria, and forging inter-band relationships which lasted for many years.
Despite a place in `Sounds’ Magazine Top 50 Singles of the Year for 1990, The Smugglers were unaccountably dropped by Non-Fiction.
After a further EP (`Besides Which’) with new label Ultimate in early 1991, the band suffered an untimely split in the summer of that year in the midst of album sessions produced by Paul Noble from Eat. Chris Spence carried out his calling to pursue other projects.
A loose gathering of personnel including all of the Smugglers and Paul and Max Noble from Eat were to be seen on the London gig circuit in the years to follow in the revamped Honey Smugglers, (Superfine Dandelion), futuristic sci-fi rockers TV Eye, (featuring TV actor Paul Kaye) and Tiny Electric Company but never quite recaptured the momentum of those heady times.
Many years later, the Honey Smugglers `Listen’ was thrust upon the ears of a new generation when hit British TV comedy series`Trigger Happy TV’ included it in their soundtrack and subsequent CD. Chief prankster Dom Joly declared it “one of my favourite songs”.
© Steve Dinsdale 2002