The Beau Brummels are mostly remembered for the exemplary folk-rock of “Laugh Laugh” and “Just a Little,” both Top Twenty hits in 1965. But they also crafted one of the earliest and best examples of country-rock, the masterful 1968 LP Bradley’s Barn.
I find it hard to not be somewhat conflicted about The Beau Brummels. Not in terms of quality, for they were one of the USA’s finest (and earliest) acts to emerge in the wake of the British Invasion, but simply in defining their historical legacy. For starters, they were signed to disc-jockey Tom Donahue’s small Autumn label during their early period of widespread popularity, a circumstance that limited the distribution of their two biggest hits (“Laugh Laugh” stalling at #15 and “Just a Little” at #8 respectively). And yet they were considered legitimate teen idols of the time, appearing not only in two motion pictures but also on TV’s The Flintstones (as the uh, Beau Brummelstones). It’s enough to make a mind contemplate what might have transpired had the band been in the hands of a more capable label, for their first two LPs Introducing The Beau Brummels and Volume 2 stand amongst the best records issued by American acts in the immediate post-Beatles aftermath.
But when the group made the switch to Warner Brothers, they were initially mishandled. Beau Brummels ’66 was an ill-advised (if not at all bad) covers-only LP conceived because the label didn’t initially control the band’s publishing. Their first “real” record for Warners, ‘67’s outstanding slice of baroque-psyche Triangle, remains one of the better psychedelic excursions of the period, an effort that unfortunately got buried in the year of Sgt. Pepper’s. Bradley’s Barn followed in ’68, and after it floundered commercially (Triangle only managed to briefly squeak onto the Billboard Album Chart at #197) singer Sal Valentino and guitarist Ron Elliott (the band having been reduced to a duo after bassist’s Ron Meagher’s induction into the Army Reserve during the recording of Triangle), called it a day.