The Bees (band)

The Bees (known in the United States as A Band of Bees) are an English band from Ventnor on the Isle of Wight. Although their sound is generally classified as indie rock or psychedelic rock, the band have a colourful range of styles and influences, such as 1960s garage rock, country, reggae and jazz.

The Bees
The Bees (2011)
The Bees (Rotterdam, 2011)
Background information
Also known asA Band of Bees (U.S. name)
OriginVentnor, Isle of Wight, England
GenresIndie rock, Psychedelic rock
Years active2001–present
LabelsVirgin Records (formerly We Love You) (UK)
Astralwerks (US)
Fiction Records (UK)
MapleMusic Recordings (Canada)
MembersPaul Butler
Aaron Fletcher
Kris Birkin
Michael Clevett
Tim Parkin
Warren Hampshire
Tom Gardner


The Bees have released four albums: 2002's Mercury Prize-nominated Sunshine Hit Me, its 2004 major label follow-up Free the Bees (which was recorded at Abbey Road Studios), and 2007's Octopus. Their fourth album, Every Step's A Yes, was released on 11 October 2010.

The first two albums featured songs that have been used in British television advertisements, which are partially responsible for the band's recognition: Sunshine Hit Me's "A Minha Menina", a cover of an Os Mutantes track, appeared in a Citroën car commercial and also an advert for Magners Irish Cider, whilst "Chicken Payback" and "Wash in the Rain", both from Free the Bees, were incorporated in adverts for Sure Deodorant for Men and Sainsbury's,respectively. The song was also used to introduce the Northern comic character Stan Hibbert on Sky's Soccer AM. "Chicken Payback" is also used as the 'bed' track for The Radcliffe and Maconie programme on BBC Radio 6 Music. The official video for "Chicken Payback" featured the band in an arcade-type dance game machine in a Japanese video arcade. The lead character, apparently a rock and roll dance diva, dances so quickly that his shoes catch fire. The song was used in a 60-second flagship advert produced by Karmarama commissioned by Age UK to launch the charity's 2011 "Thank You" campaign. It was performed by 81-year-old Joy Graham[1] accompanied by a jazz orchestra and was directed by BAFTA winning director Becky Martin of Channel 4 sitcom Peep Show.[2]

The Bees supported Oasis in 2005, and Madness in December 2007 during their Christmas tour, and supported Paul Weller in the UK on selected dates of his "Winter Arena Tour".[3] In 2010, The Bees performed a set for The Sun, covering "We Speak No Americano" and playing songs from their album, Every Step's A Yes. Paul Butler appeared on stage at the Glastonbury Festival in 2010 with Devendra Banhart, after performing two sets of their own.

In 2011, The Bees supported Fleet Foxes on their UK tour.

One of the influences the Bees have cited is the mind-altering drink called ayahuasca. Butler came to drink this plant medicine with shamans in Peru after being introduced to it by Banhart. "The whole thing has brought a lot of joy into my life. I think this kind of cleansing helps with your natural rhythm. Everyone has a song within them or a rhythm that is individual and personal only to you … and this kind of activity unlocks that."[4]

In 2018, Fletcher and Parkin announced that they had formed a new group, 77:78, and that their debut album Jellies was set to be released through Heavenly Recordings on 5 July.[5]



Studio albums


  • The Bees Present: The Sound Selection (2008)


  • You Got to Leave EP: "You Got to Leave" / "Elain" / "Whistle Chop" / "Jackel Head" (March 2002)
  • Listening Man EP: "Listening Man" (Radio Edit) / "Not Fade Away" (Buddy Holly cover) / "I Still Got Your Number" / "Listening Man" (Album Version) (2007)


From Sunshine Hit Me
  • "No Trophy" (7" only release, January 2001)
  • "Punchbag" (June 2001)
  • "A Minha Menina" (June 2002)
From Free The Bees
  • "Wash in the Rain" (April 2004) - UK No. 31[6]
  • "Horsemen" (June 2004) - UK No. 41[6]
  • "One Glass of Water" (7" and download-only release, October 2004)
  • "Chicken Payback" (April 2005) - UK No. 28[6]
From Octopus
  • "Left Foot Stepdown" (download-only release, November 2006)
  • "Who Cares What the Question Is?" (March 2007) - UK No. 53
  • "Listening Man" (June 2007) - UK No. 91
  • "(This Is For The) Better Days" (Ashley Beedle Remix) (Available as download through '', 2008)
From The Bees Present 'The Sound Selection'
  • "Papa Echo" (UK download-only release, July 2008)/ (US Split 7" with Mother Hips, 2008)
From Every Step's a Yes
  • "Silver Line" (July 2010)
  • "I Really Need Love" (October 2010)
  • "Winter Rose" (December 2010)

Digital Only Release


  • "Off the Lip" (aspects and The Bees, August 2004)
  • "Bill Murray" (Gorillaz and The Bees, 2005)


  1. ^ "Modern Marketing & Media". The Drum. Archived from the original on 17 September 2012. Retrieved 19 February 2013.
  2. ^ "Home". 2AM. Archived from the original on 22 July 2013. Retrieved 19 February 2013.
  3. ^ "Paul Weller visits Liverpool & Manchester during 13-date UK tour". Ellesmere Port Pioneer. 1 December 2010. Retrieved 19 February 2013.
  4. ^ Jonze, Tim (8 August 2010). "Ayahuasca: indie's new drug of choice". The Guardian.
  5. ^ "77:78 - Biography & History - AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 7 July 2018.
  6. ^ a b c d Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 52. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.

External links

Africa 100

Africa 100 is collection of afrobeat songs compiled by Pitchfork Media writer Joe Tangari in 2005. The origin of the collection, which Tangari put together on seven CDs for listening in the car, is explained in his 2010 article "The Indestructible Beat", which also recounts the history of afrobeat and includes a track-by-track analysis. Africa 100 has never been released commercially, but circulates as an illegal download.

Every Step's a Yes

Every Step's a Yes is the fourth studio album from British band The Bees, released on 11 October 2010. It is the band's first for their current label Fiction Records. It was preceded by the single "I Really Need Love", out on 4 October. The song "Silver Line" was released as a free download on the band's official tumblr page.

The band have described the record as having a "mature" sound, with "proper songs that are more about real life". They also claimed that the time frontman Paul Butler spent in Los Angeles recording Devendra Banhart's album What Will We Be and in the Amazon Rainforest helped influence the sound of the album, giving a sense of rhythm and groove seldom heard on previous efforts and gaining "a different approach to recording".

Free the Bees

Free the Bees is the second album from British band The Bees in 2004. Their first release for Virgin Records, it is also the first album to feature the current sextet that evolved during the tour that promoted debut album Sunshine Hit Me. However, all the members had performed with core duo Paul Butler and Aaron Fletcher before the album was produced, whether in other projects or simply in informal jams.

The album was originally planned to be recorded in Butler's shed (the same one where Sunshine Hit Me was produced). However, the band decided to record it at the famous Abbey Road Studios; Indeed, Free the Bees is a much more slick-sounding and uptempo album than their debut, but the group's diverse range of styles and influences remain intact.

"Chicken Payback" was released as a single in April 2005 and reached No. 28 in the UK Singles Charts.

It was used in a UK television advert for Sure Deodorant For Men during the 2006 World Cup and was subsequently used in adverts for Age UK.

Octopus (The Bees album)

Octopus is the third album by the British band The Bees, released on 26 March 2007. Continuing in the vein of the band's previous two albums, Sunshine Hit Me and Free the Bees, by recording their music in different locations, Octopus was self-produced in the band's own basement studio, The Steam Rooms, on the Isle of Wight. The style of the record is said to be a mix of both of the sounds of its two preceding albums.

A high-rip version of Octopus was leaked in its entirety in December 2006, three months before its scheduled release. The leak also led to the album's initial release date of 19 March being moved to a week later. Despite this, the album was generally well received by fans and critics alike, with some claiming it to be the band's best record to date.The CD version of Octopus is also an enhanced disc, which enables owners of the album to join The Bees' mailing list and have access to exclusive free content, including a downloadable version of the "Who Cares What The Question Is?" music video.

Psychedelic Woman

"Psychedelic Woman" is a 1973 Ghanaian song by Honny & the Bees Band. It was written and sung by Ernest Aubrey Honny, who worked mainly as a session keyboardist and recording engineer. Over a medium-tempo groove, the song begins with a spoken-word story concerning a "psychedelic woman" first spotted at a nightclub. The story ends with a transitional climax to a sung chorus of several voices. There are several more choruses, interspersed with solo singing, then a funky, jazzy electric organ solo, finishing with a brief recap of singing. Part and parcel of the afrobeat sound then becoming popular in Ghana, influences include reggae, James Brown, and perhaps even Britain's mods.Thirty years later it gained a new audience outside of Africa through its inclusion in multiple compilations of 1970's-era African music. Critics highlighted the song in their reviews:

"Many of the best original tracks are from the 1970s, when west African music was still largely ignored in the west, and they range from the pounding and jazzy Psychedelic Woman by Ghana's Honny and the Bees through to..." – The Guardian

"'Psychedelic Woman' is irresistible simply because it's so cheesy (but also very good)." – Allmusic

"Wild, kitschy" – National Public Radio

"Choice cut" – Robert Christgau

"A stunning collision of Western and African music in which both get their big moments" – PitchforkThe original was released as a 45 rpm by Essiebons, backed with "Kofi Salanga" and credited to "Honey and Bees Band".

Sunshine Hit Me

Sunshine Hit Me is the debut album from the British band The Bees. At the time when the album was recorded the band only comprised Paul Butler and Aaron Fletcher, who wrote, performed and recorded the album alone using a home studio in Butler's parent's garden. Both Butler and Fletcher had been notables on the Isle of Wight local scene for a while, performing in local indie/electronic outfits Pnu Riff and, more recently, the Exploding Thumbs. Butler had also guested on several other island albums, including some by Max Brennan.

The album is very eclectic and summery, with a range of influences, including psychedelia, Jamaican dub, reggae, indie, 1960s rock and others. As a result, it is very difficult to describe, and perhaps a somewhat surprising choice for a cult album. However its infectious grooves, and laid-back summer sounds propelled it to the front of the British music scene, even earning it a Mercury Music Prize nomination. The album also featured in the 2005 and 2008 editions of the book 1001 Albums: You Must Hear Before You Die by Michael Lydon. The main single "A Minha Menina" was used in a Citroën car advertisement, which also helped the band to get noticed. The track was also used in an advert for Magners Irish Cider in December 2008, as well as a Mars advertisement in Australia in 2002.

The band followed up the album by several tours, which resulted in the band expanding into the current lineup in order to play the material live. However, all the members had played with Butler before on the island, whether in his other projects or simply in informal jams (whilst Butler and Fletcher produced and performed the album themselves, the entire six-piece is credited on the back sleeve). After the huge success of the album, the band signed to Virgin, who released the follow-up Free The Bees in 2004.

The Bees

The Bees may refer to:

The Bees (band), the indie group from the Isle of Wight, known in the US as A Band of Bees

The Bees (American band), a 1960s garage rock band

The Silver Seas, the Nashville band formerly called The Bees

The Bees (film), the 1978 film

Brentford F.C., also known as The Bees

Barnet F.C., also known as The Bees

Las Abejas, the Mexican pacifist civil society organization

The Bees, a collection of writings associated with the Sarmoung Brotherhood


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