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The Beau Brummels - Introducing The Beau Brummels (1965)

The Beau Brummels - Introducing The Beau Brummels (1965)


Biography by Richie Unterberger

While they only had two big hits, the Beau Brummels were one of the most important and underrated American groups of the 1960s. They were the first U.S. unit of any sort to successfully respond to the British Invasion. They were arguably the first folk-rock group, even pre-dating the Byrds, and also anticipated some key elements of the San Francisco psychedelic sound with their soaring harmonies and exuberant melodies. Before they finally reached the end of the string, they were also among the first bands to record country-rock in the late '60s.

The key axis of the band was formed by guitarist/songwriter Ron Elliott, who penned most of the Brummels' moody and melodious material, and singer Sal Valentino, owner of one of the finest voices in mid-'60s rock. Spotted by local DJ Tom Donahue in a club in San Mateo (just south of San Francisco), the group was signed to Donahue's small San Francisco-based label, Autumn Records, in 1964. With Sly Stewart (later Sly Stone) in the producer's chair, they made the Top 20 right off the bat with "Laugh, Laugh." The melancholy, minor-key original sounded so much like the British bands inundating the airwaves that many listeners initially mistook the Brummels for an English act. The follow-up single, "Just a Little," was another excellent, melancholy number that became their biggest hit, making the Top Ten.

The Beau Brummels made a couple of fine albums in 1965, dominated by strong original material and featuring the band's ringing guitars and multi-part, mournful harmonies. The best of their early work is nearly as fine as the Byrds' first recordings, yet the band was losing ground commercially, partially because Autumn, being such a small label, lacked promotional muscle. "You Tell Me Why" was their only other Top 40 hit, though "Sad Little Girl" and the Byrds knock-off "Don't Talk to Strangers" were excellent singles. The band also shuffled personnel a few times, and Ron Elliott was unable to stay on the road because of diabetes. Autumn was sold in 1966 to Warners, who made the lunkheaded move of forcing the band to record an entire album of Top 40 covers -- ignoring the fact that original material was one of the Brummels' primary fortes.

TriangleRegrouping as a trio, the group recorded a critically acclaimed, more experimental album in 1967, Triangle. Their last Warners LP, Bradley's Barn, found the group branching into country-rock, a year or so before it became trendy. The Beau Brummels re-formed for an unimpressive reunion album in 1975, and Ron Elliott and Sal Valentino continued to make music and work on various projects of their own, though they rarely matched the excellence of the Brummels' vintage work. In 2016, Ron Elliott teamed up with producer Lou Dorren to record a new Beau Brummels album, Continuum, with contributions from Sal Valentino, Ron Meagher, and Declan Mulligan. While John Petersen died in 2008, Elliott and Dorren discovered an unused drum track he had recorded, and it was used as the basis for one of the album's songs.

The Beau Brummels - Introducing The Beau Brummels (1965)

A much stronger debut than the norm for the era. Ten of the 12 cuts are Ron Elliott originals, including the hits "Laugh Laugh," "Still in Love with You Baby," and "Just a Little." The hard-rocking numbers are the weakest, but "Stick Like Glue" and "I Would Be Happy" are fine Beatlesque numbers, and "They'll Make You Cry" is a first-rate moody folk-rocker. The CD reissue adds two bonus tracks, a demo of "Just a Little" and the single "Good Time Music."

The Beau Brummels - Magic Hollow (1964-1968)

The Beau Brummels - Magic Hollow (1964-1968)

The Beau Brummels - Magic Hollow 2005

Magic Hollow is a box set compilation by The Beau Brummels comprising 113 songs recorded between 1964-1968, including hit singles, demos, outtakes, rarities and previously unissued material. The set was released on June 21, 2005 by Rhino Handmade
As a four-CD, 113-track collection of 1960s Beau Brummels recordings (nothing is included from their post-'60s reunions), Magic Hollow is an excellent overview of the career of one of the finest and most underrated American bands. There's a good balance between their most familiar material (including all of their hits) and rarities, 42 of the tracks seeing release here for the first time (though some of those are alternate versions). True, some die-hard fans of the group would have welcomed a Bear Family-styled no-stones-unturned box set, as for all this set's length, there are several CD's worth of cuts that don't appear here. Some of the Triangle album is missing, most of Bradley's Barn is absent, and there are a wealth of missing unreleased-in-the-'60s tracks that have shown up on other Beau Brummels comps. But if a four-CD size limitation had to be imposed, this is about as good as could be hoped for, chronologically sequenced so as to gracefully trace their evolution from the first truly fine American British Invasion-inspired band to folk-rock and country-rock innovators. For those who've collected the Beau Brummels for a while, the most attention-grabbing items will be the rarities, which are both plentiful and usually of surprisingly high quality. "People Are Cruel," a September, 1964 recording of a previously unheard Ron Elliott original (even pre-dating their signing to Autumn Records), has their excellent haunting British Invasion-style melodies and vocal harmonies already in place; the backing track "Here I Am in Love Again," sadly missing vocals, has an intriguingly complex, beguiling tune; "Darkness" is a fine Elliott solo demo from 1965. Though their Autumn era is heavily represented by two full CDs of music, there are less previously unreleased cuts on the set from the mid-'60s than there are from their stint at Warner Brothers in 1966-68, and discs three and four really pour on the vault discoveries. Disc three alone has a bunch of previously unissued Sal Valentino compositions that further prove him to be a fine composer in his own right, even if he was overshadowed by primary Beau Brummels writer Elliott. A wealth of early 1967 outtakes (including some solo Valentino demos, highlighted by "Only Dreaming Now" and "Magic Hollow" itself) show them moving toward the more sophisticated feel of Triangle, though without as orchestrated a sound. Disc four, in addition to containing much of Triangle and some of Bradley's Barn, rounds off the picture of their journey into countrified folk-rock with another generous helping of outtakes, demos, and alternates that are in most respects up to the level of the music they officially released between late 1967 and late 1968. Also, it should be noted that Magic Hollow contains all of the band's non-LP single sides from their Warner Brothers era, some of which have been fiendishly hard to find since the '60s. It's all iced with a fine, 48-page booklet, jam-packed with photos, track information, and extensive interview quotes with bandmembers that bring much of their less-documented history to light.

The Beau Brummels - Magic Hollow (1964-1968)

The Beau Brummels - Magic Hollow (1964-1968)

Thanks Cor !

****

The Beau Brummels - The Very Best of The Beau Brummels; The Complete Singles

The Beau Brummels - The Very Best of The Beau Brummels; The Complete Singles

They didn’t have an outsized streak of hits, but the Beau Brummels were one of San Francisco’s most crucial bands of the ’60s. They were ahead of the curve with regard to folk-rock, country-rock AND psychedelia; this comp of original mono singles includes their hits "Laugh, Laugh," "Just a Little," "You Tell Me Why," the stellar single "Don’t Talk to Strangers," rare solo singles by singer Sal Valentino and more!

The Beau Brummels - The Very Best of The Beau Brummels; The Complete Singles

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The Beau Brummels - The Very Best of The Beau Brummels; The Complete Singles


The Beau Brummels - Introducing The Beau Brummels (1965)The Beau Brummels - Magic Hollow (1964-1968)The Beau Brummels - The Very Best of The Beau Brummels; The Complete Singles

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