The Brothers Four

The Honey Wind Blows

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Honey Wind Blows (1965) is a rather unabashed attempt by the Brothers Four to avail themselves of the new horizons in pop music. The effects of radical protest and message-oriented folk-rock -- not to mention the British Invasion -- were beginning to take their toll on the Brothers' decidedly passive material. Collectively, Bob Flick (upright bass/baritone vocal), John Paine (guitar/baritone vocal), Mike Kirkland (guitar/banjo/tenor vocal), and Dick Foley (guitar/baritone vocal) developed a sizable following for their revisions of traditional tunes and interpretations of concurrently popular songs. Despite the Animals' distinct rendition of "House of the Rising Son," the Brothers retain the blues-infused folk spirit of Woody Guthrie or Josh White and the Weavers, yet the upbeat cadence is undeniably influenced by the more modern remakes. The Brothers' cheery jangle on Bob Dylan's "Mr. Tambourine Man" makes their ersatz interpretation irrelevant when contrasted to the composer's own stark rendering or the Byrds' definitive fusion with electric rock & roll. Conversely, there is placidity and striking poignancy to the Brothers' intimate reading of the ballad "Somewhere" from West Side Story. Moving from the stage to the silver screen, as the New Christy Minstrels had successfully adapted "Chim Chim-Cher-ee" from the film Mary Poppins (1964), the Brothers actually one-up the Minstrels with a stunningly affective take of "Feed the Birds." However, those entries are deflated by throwaways such as the vaudevillian nature of "Lazy Harry's." While the spoken word introduction lovingly recalls a Laurel & Hardy sketch, its overall relevancy and tolerability is less than impressive. Similarly, Woody Guthrie's infectiously fun "Cleano" comes off as drivel when juxtaposed with the conspicuous anti-war sentiment of "Little Play Soldiers" -- especially in light of America's increased involvement in Vietnam circa 1965. Interested parties should note that Collectors' Choice Music has issued Honey Wind Blows with their preceding long-player Brothers Four Sing of Our Times (1964) on a single CD. The disc also adds a never-before-available stereo mix of the Brothers' "Hootenanny Saturday Night" -- which was used as the theme to ABC-TV's short-lived Hootenanny musical/variety show. Although a core audience remained for the Brothers Four, their innocuous vibe would quickly become replaced by amplified roots and rock from both sides of the Atlantic.

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