Unlike fellow Californian petrol-heads the Ripchords, the Hondells really were a mid-’60s “phantom band”. The group was engineered by Brian Wilson’s early songwriting partner Gary Usher after he heard one of his buddy’s new tunes, “Little Honda”. Gathering top-notch Los Angeles session men, including guitar ace Glen Campbell, drummer Hal Blaine and vocalist Chuck Girard of The Castells, Usher set the wheels in motion, cut the single for Mercury and watched as “Little Honda” raced up the charts in 1964.
With a continually fluctuating studio line-up, the band’s only two albums were released in quick succession that year and now form this superlative 24-track package of reverb-fuelled surf instrumentals and sun-kissed harmony story-songs about, well, mainly, a groovy little motorcycle and the hipsters who rode her. Standouts include “Hot Rod High”, “Ridin’ Trails”, “Night Rider” and “My Buddy Seat”. Go Little Honda / The Hondells provides ample proof that not every manufactured pop group is a bad idea.