Collectorsâ€™ Choice Music is reissuing â€œBeau Brummels â€˜66â€, an album of cover tunes by Bay Area, Beau Brummels for the first time on CD. Completely re-mastered with extensive liner notes by Richie Unterberger, this one of a kind classic is slated for release on July 17.
The Beau Brummels formed in San Francisco in 1963 and took its name from a 19th Century English arbiter of fashion, Beau Brummell. This along with band members wearing British mod style clothing was a way of identifying with the exploding British music scene of the mid 60â€™s. As a result, they were often mistaken for another one of those invading British bands that were populating the music scene at the time. However, it was this mixing of British rock with American folk and country music that created their unique sound. The Beau Brummels were really pioneers in creating what we now call folk rock and are considered by some to be the first. They were also responsible for influencing the succession of San Francisco groups in this genre, including Jefferson Airplane and the Grateful Dead.
The Beau Brummels are really best known for their chart topping 1965 single “Laugh Laugh” which is listed in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as one of the 500 most influential songs that shaped rock and roll.
In 1966, featuring the songwriting skills of guitarist, Ron Elliott and the distinct vocal talents of singer, Sal Valentino the Beau Brummels were poised for success. And, in that same year the band signed to Warner Bros. Records from indie label, Autumn. When the band already had an asset in Elliott, who had wrote “Laugh Laugh” just a year before, the band made a curious decision to record an album covering chart-topping songs. Ultimately, it probably led to the downfall of the band.
The album has some real gems on it, like The Beau Brummels version of Dylanâ€™s â€œMr. Tambourine Manâ€ and Simon & Garfunkelâ€™s â€œHomeward Boundâ€. Valentinoâ€™s voice with his signature vibrato inflections, lends itself well to the folk songs of the day. Plus, there is some pretty good tambourine playing on it too. The cover of â€œLouie, Louieâ€ emits a raw, garage band sound thatâ€™s a little reminiscent of Eric Burdon and the Animals but the track still holds up 40 years later. Now, if The Beatles never recorded â€œYouâ€™ve Got To Hide Your Love Awayâ€, you would think it was a Beau Brummels song after hearing this version.
But the album equally has some questionable choices as well. On the covers of â€œMrs. Brown Youâ€™ve Got a Lovely Daughterâ€ and “Play With Fire”, The band tries too hard to sound British and comes off like a bad accent. And, “Bang Bang” and “These Boots Were Made for Walking” are just better left for Nancy Sinatra to sing.
All in all, it is an interesting adventure back in time. The 5 or 6 songs that do rise to the top are definitely worth a listen and the ones that sink, well, they can be put in the pile of numerous covers that should be just covered up.