Number Ones: #68


  • HIPSWAY The Honeythief (Mercury)
  • Week Ending 19th April 1986
  • 2 Weeks At #1

Although my recent chart-toppers may not have reflected it, Record Mirror magazine continued to be a big part of my music-related world, and was still a source of influence and discovery, if not quite to the extent of 1984 and 1985.

RM (as it now branded itself) had undergone a major revamp in September 1985; it was literally bigger (in dimensions, depth and chart coverage) and to my mind, infinitely better. It didn’t last, sadly, but for a year or so it was absolutely essential reading and not just for the massive chart section with every kind of stat and slice of release information you could possibly want.

Stylish art-pop from North of the Border was one of RM’s particular cause celebres; during the period of late 1985 and 1986 this included bands such as The Big Supreme, Win and Hipsway. The latter were onto their third single, The Honeythief, before they clicked with me.

Previous 45s, The Broken Years and Ask The Lord, had somehow failed to inspire my adoration (despite The Broken Years featuring on RM’s seminal “RMC60: Spools Paradise” cassette that included a pre-fame Pet Shop Boys). The Honeythief proved to be their UK Top 40 breakthrough, and also their debut on my own chart.

It’s a big, bold, confident track. Lyrically it’s a mix of mystery, wordplay and nonsense, but the vocals from Graham “Skin” Skinner are a tour-de-force; rising and falling, stringing out the words to mirror the atmosphere they conjure up. The effect is the thing, not any earnest desire to convey everyday thoughts and feelings. The Honeythief is a completely stylised and stylish slice of confident pop, with a repeated instrumental break to take the breath away.

Curiously, the single also made the US Top 20 although I have no recollection of it happening; which is odd, given my interest in the Billboard Hot 100.

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