The Hondells

The Hondells were the recipient of the best song that Brian Wilson donated to another artist, "Little Honda." One of the best hot-rod tunes, it made the Top Ten in 1964 (the Beach Boys would record their own version that year, but would not issue it as an A-side). Like numerous Southern California groups in the mid-'60s, the Hondells, despite numerous picture sleeves, were not a bonafide group. Their recordings were put together by floating lineups of Los Angeles session men, overseen by producer Gary Usher. "Little Honda" itself featured ace guitarists Glen Campbell and Richie Podolor, as well as drummer Hal Blaine. Hondells groups were put together for live performance in the wake of "Little Honda," but session musicians such as Podolor were always present on the recordings. The Hondells never had another hit on the level of "Little Honda," but recorded a surprising quantity of material, putting out two albums and thirteen singles before the string ended in 1970. Most of their early songs were written by the songwriting team of Gary Usher and Roger Christian, both of whom had helped write early Beach Boys tunes with Brian Wilson. Wilson himself would have a songwriting credit on just one more Hondas recording ("My Buddy Seat," which he co-wrote with Usher) after "Little Honda." For all their manufactured personnel, the Hondells weren't bad. Indeed, they probably made the best hot rod music aside from the Beach Boys and Jan & Dean, and were cuts above the generic stuff Usher ground out on several hot rod exploitation discs, although nothing else was as cool as "Little Honda." Usher eventually turned over the production reins to Mike Curb, and the Hondells made the middle of the Top 100 with a cover of the Lovin' Spoonful's "Younger Girl," although a competing version by the Critters outsold it by a large margin. ~ Richie Unterberger

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